OUTDOORS: Ahhh, spring — and the fish are biting

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT spring on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Each year it smacks me in the face like a wet rag . . . in a good way, of course.

Every now and then one needs to be reminded how close they are to beauty, even in one of the most of the most picturesque places in North America.

You’d think it would be easy to remember for yours truly.

After all, I grew up in Northern Illinois (think endless cornfields dotted with the occasional grain silo), which is about as aesthetically pleasing as modern artist Marcel Duchamp’s urinal.

Yet just like Leonardo da Vinci likely tired of his own Mona Lisa from time to time, I find myself passing through the Peninsula in a state of numbness on occasion.

Thankfully, scenes like I experienced last Monday, sitting under blue skies at the mouth of the Elwha with a snow-capped Mount Baker rising in the distance, keep me from forgetting.

And spring always seems to be full of them.

Salt winds down

Winter blackmouth season is winding down.

Marine Areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) close after today, while anglers in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) have through next Wednesday to reel in a chinook or two.

Farewells have been somewhat fond inside the Strait this week.

Monday’s sunny skies in particular treated anglers well, according to Bob Aunspach at Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles.

The Port Angeles Salmon Club’s monthly salmon derby saw its top three fish submitted to the ladder than day.

Topping the list was a 17-pound, 3-ounce chinook submitted by Port Angeles fishing legend Keith Aggergaard.

Other than that, “there were a few fish caught this morning, but [it’s been] a little bit on the quiet side,” Aunspach said.

Donalynn Olson at Olson’s Resort (360-963-2311) in Sekiu said there’s been, “pretty good fishing in close off the Caves [in front of Sekiu].

“The week has been pretty good. The ones that were here have done well.”

Port Townsend’s blackmouth fishery continues to be a mystery, however, with little in the way of success reported to Brian Menkal at Swain’s Outdoors (360-385-1313) in Port Townsend.

Halibut season is set to begin in a few weeks, starting with the April 23 opener in Areas 6 and 9.

Aunspach has already heard a few stories concerning the flatties.

“I’m hearing there are halibut around, quite a few recently have been caught,” by salmon anglers, he said.

Lingcod fishing opens off in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) next Thursday.

River fishing

The intersection of winter steelhead and spring chinook seasons is making for some downright decent fishing on West End rivers.

Winter steelhead runs out west are now starting to tail off, while springer season is just beginning in the Quillayute and Sol Duc rivers.

That means anglers can expect a grab bag of sorts when they head out west.

“The rivers are all in good shape,” Bob Gooding at Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.

“The steelhead run] is starting to tail off now from before, but it’s not bad. And they are picking a few [springers] out of the Sol Duc.

“For this time of year it’s really pretty decent [for springers].”

The Sol Duc and Quillayute are the only two rivers open for spring chinook fishing right now.

The steelhead retention fishery closes at the end of Wednesday on the Hoh, but will remain open through April 30 on the Quillayute River system (Bogachiel, Dickey, Sol Duc and Calawah).

“They are picking a fish out of the Bogachiel, but there’s hardly anybody fishing it,” Gooding said.

“Traditionally, the Hoh and Sol Duc are much better this time of year, so everybody goes there.”

Lakes warm up

The last Saturday in April, traditionally the opener for trout season in lowland lakes around the state, is only two weeks away.

Anglers can still get reacquainted beforehand at a number of year-round lakes on the Peninsula.

Perhaps the best places to start are Teal and Leland lakes in Jefferson County, both of which recently received trout plants, including rainbows weighing more than three pounds.

“People were getting some fish out of Teal,” Menkal in Port Townsend said.

“Some hatches should start going now by mid day. Mayflies, chironomids is what I would be use for flies . . . dragon fly nymphs [as well].”

Wentworth and Sutherland are also open year round in Clallam County, although neither has yet to receive any trout plants this spring.

Razor clams

I love the smell of razor clams in the morning. It smells just like . . . shellfish.

One can get a nice whiff this weekend, when Long Beach and Twin Harbors both open to morning razor clam digging.

Twin Harbors is set to open today through Sunday, while Long Beach will open on Saturday and Sunday. Kalaloch remains closed for the season.

As was mentioned in Thursday’s outdoors column, surf conditions should favor diggers today and Saturday. Those are also the days with the most favorable tides.

It’s always best to hit the beaches at least one hour before low tide.

This weekend’s tides:

• Today — -0.7 feet at 7:45 a.m.

• Saturday — -0.7 feet at 8:25 a.m.

• Sunday — -0.5 feet at 9:05 a.m.

Diggers are limited to 15 clams per person.

Another set of digs is tentatively scheduled for April 25-27.

For more information, visit www.wdfw.wa.gov.

More shellfish

One doesn’t have to trek all the way to the southwest corner of the state to score some shellfish this weekend.

There are a few beaches on the Peninsula where the clams and oysters are plentiful, and tides should be just right.

Among the beaches that might be worth a look are Shine Tidelands State Park, Quilcene Bay Tidelands and Dosewallips State Park.

This weekend’s tides:

• Shine Tidelands — Today: -0.51 feet at 12:04 p.m.; Saturday: -0.79 feet at 12:40 p.m.; and Sunday: -0.80 feet at 1:17 p.m.

• Quilcene Bay and Dosewallips — Today: -0.56 feet at 12:17 p.m.; Saturday: -0.87 feet at 12:53 p.m.; and Sunday: -0.88 feet at 1:30 p.m.

For information on beach closures, visit http://www.doh.wa.gov/, and click on “Shellfish” under the heading “Beach closures.”

Also . . .

• The ninth annual Port Angeles Kayak Symposium, which includes numerous clinics, speakers and vendors, returns to Hollywood Beach and adjacent Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles next weekend, April 17-19.

Admission to the beach is free, with a voluntary $5 donation or nonperishable food items that will go to charity.

For more information, visit www.raftandkayak.com.

• The East Jefferson chapter of Puget Sound Anglers will hold its monthly meeting this coming Tuesday at 7p.m. in the Marina Room of the Hudson Point complex in Port Townsend.

• U.S. Fish and Wildlife assistant refuge manager Lorenz Sollman will talk at the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society’s monthly meeting this coming Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Dungeness River Audubon Center, 2151 West Hendrickson Road, in Sequim.

• John Lockwood, owner of Pygmy Boats, Inc., will share photographs taken during his six-month odyssey around the South American continent in August 2006 during Admiralty Audubon’s monthly meeting at the Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St., this coming Thursday at 7 p.m.

• Washington Trails Association will gather an all-day work party at Tunnel Creek Trail in the Buckhorn Wilderness on Tuesday.

Workers should bring work gloves, water and a lunch.

Volunteers must pre-register 48 hours in advance. To pre-register, contact Washington Trails at 206-625-1367.

• The Washington Coast Cleanup is set for next Saturday, April 18, along a majority of the state’s coastline. For more information, or to sign up, visit www.coastsavers.org.

• Port Angeles’ annual Kids Fishing Derby returns to the Lincoln Park Ponds next Saturday, April 18.

The free trout derby is for children ages 5-14.

Call us, photos welcome!

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; e-mail [email protected]

__________

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

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