MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS WEEKEND: Crabbing back just in time for crab festival

IF YOU LIKED this summer’s recreational crab fishery, get ready for round two.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca and most of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) will reopen to crab fishing starting this Saturday.

If that seems like a quick turnaround from the summer season, which came to a close after Labor Day weekend, it’s because it is.

Rarely do crabbers get to begin the fall/winter season before November or, for that matter, during Crab Fest weekend.

But with the state refining its number crunching techniques during the past few years, that has become a reality, state shellfish biologist Steve Burton said.

“We’ve now gotten to that point to where we can do away with the phone survey,” Burton said.

“That was the time-consuming piece to all of this, and it’s taken us years to get rid of that.”

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

After all, crabbers are in the midst of a banner year.

From most accounts, this was one of the better fisheries in recent memory, with Dungeness and Sequim bays being particularly plentiful.

Don’t expect that to change for the fall/winter fishery either — long a popular time for night-time crab wading.

“It has been a very abundant year in all areas, it’s almost been unprecedented,” Burton said.

“Right from the very beginning of the season we were getting reports that it was really strong, and it just didn’t really taper off that much.”

Outside of Hood Canal and the southern portion of Area 9, the Peninsula will get to reap the benefits the next three months.

Crabbing reopens to seven-day-a-week fishing in Area 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 9 (north of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff) on Saturday and will stay open through December.

Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in Hood Canal because the annual quota has already been reached.

All crab caught in the late-season fishery should be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid until Dec. 31. Catch reports are due by Feb. 1, 2012.

For more information on crabbing, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/

shellfish/crab/.

Rivers runneth

The annual dance of salmon seduction has begun.

Recent rains inspired a conga line of fall coho and kings to start making their way into the Quillayute system and Hoh River the past two weeks.

If Mother Nature can add a little extra spritz to the surroundings, anglers could have a field day.

“The rivers are kind of low and clearish, and that is not the best thing for salmon fishing,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.

“The Sol, Quillayute, Bogachiel, pretty much all of them [have salmon]. The Sol Duc and Quillayute have been the best, but they have gone off the bite because the lower clear water.

“They are still getting them, but it ain’t as good.”

According to Gooding, there has been a fair amount of kings swimming around.

“This year starting off, at least they are getting a reasonable amount of kings,” Gooding said.

“Certainly the silvers outnumber them by quite a bit, but there’s more of a mix.”

The Elwha, open for the final fall before a five-year fishing moratorium, has been spotty at best, Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.

There’s also reason to believe that the Quilcene River coho run is petering out. No word on whether that has to do with the reported prevalence of poop in the area.

Strait salmon

The anything-goes salmon fishery in Area 6 (eastern Strait) got off to a predictably hot start last weekend.

With coho and chinook retention of any kind allowed in the area, anglers cleaned up on the former and hooked a couple of the latter as well.

“It definitely has something to do with the rain we’ve been getting,” Aunspach said. “It’s that time of year. The fish have to come in [to the Strait] and got to get to the rivers.”

As has been the case in recent weeks, the Port Angeles Buoy has been one of the more popular fishing holes for those targeting silvers.

That has to do with where the fish are headed, Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

“A lot of fish are heading up north to Fraser River and Skagit, so they seem to hang further out,” he said.

“I’m hearing all kind of reports about PA, hot and cold. Some guys are doing really well, and other guys aren’t doing well at all.”

A couple of spots that should be productive right now are the beaches near Port Townsend.

More than a few late coho ought to be passing by Point Wilson and Marrowstone Island beaches during the next few weeks.

Hunting

Muzzleloaders had themselves a decent week going after elk out west.

Animals were herding up, and the conditions allowed a few hunters to take their pick during the seven-day hunt.

“I heard a lot of the elk were in big, big groups, where they had multiple branch bulls in one herd,” Aunspach said.

“When it’s in breading season, the elk seem to really all kind of come close together, for what reason I’m not sure.

“Earlier in the rut you’ll see smaller groups, but as the rut starts to wind down, which it is, then they start to come together.”

Today is the last day of the early muzzleloader season for elk.

Next up will be the always-popular modern firearm season for deer Oct. 15-31.

General hunting seasons for ducks, coots and snipe start Oct. 15-19 and then reopens Oct. 22.

Grouse season is already underway, but so far that’s been a snoozer.

“I know several guys that have pretty much quit already,” said Gooding, an avid grouse hunter.

“You get out there and you have good days and bad days, but when they are all bad days you figure out . . . hey, you know what, it ain’t real good, and it ain’t going to get better.

“There’s not a lot of birds this year.”

Also . . .

■ “Mushroom Mania: A Fungus Festivus” is at risk of death by disinterest with just two submissions after one week.

The annual mushroom photo contest asks mycophiles to send in shots of the largest and prettiest pieces of fungi they can find, as well as one resembling a notable figure.

All submissions must be emailed by Nov. 7 to matt.schubert@peninsuladailynews.com.

Full contest rules can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/6dd39xr.

■ A little bird told me that fly fishing for sea-run cutthroat trout has picked up recently on West End rivers.

As I wrote last month, the October Caddis hatch tends to translate into a lot of action for fly guys on the Quillayute system rivers (in particular, the Sol Duc.)

Of course, with so many salmon streaming in at the same time, the cuts tend to get ignored.

■ The East Jefferson Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers will hold its monthly meeting Tuesday in the Marina Room at Hudson Point Marina in Port Townsend.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with refreshments served.

■ Admiralty Audubon will visit Kah Tai Lagoon and Chinese Gardens for its first birding trip of the fall Saturday at 8 a.m.

Birders can expect a smattering of ducks, some shorebirds and perhaps a Virginia Rail or two.

To pre-register for the trip, email David Gluckman at cgluckman@aol.com.

■ Dungeness River Audubon Center will hold a free presentation for beginning birders and newcomers to the area next Saturday, Oct. 15, from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Carrie Blake Park.

The presentation will help familiarize participants with birds and birding techniques.

To pre-register, contact Dave Jackson at 360-683-1355 or djackson@wavecable.com.

■ Washington Trails Association extended the deadline for its annual Northwest Exposure Photo Contest to Monday, Oct. 17.

The outdoor photo contest includes five categories: wild landscapes, flora and fauna, hikers in action, families on trail and offbeat outdoors.

For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/yj29nxg.

Send photos, stories

Want your event listed in the outdoors column?

Have a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique, why not share it with our readers?

Send it to me, Matt Schubert, Sports Department, Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362; phone, 360-417-3526; fax, 360-417-3521; email matt.schubert

@peninsuladailynews.com.

__________

Matt Schubert is the outdoors columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column appears on Thursdays and Fridays.

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