OUTDOORS: Does superstition help at this weekend’s salmon derby? Can’t hurt!

ANGLERS WILL DO anything to turn things around.

In the case of Wayne Bibbins of Down Home Charters (360-643-1960) in Port Townsend, it’s getting his ex-girlfriend’s undergarments off of Moonshine.

As a man who once refused to remove a spilled bag of Chex Mix from my Mitsubishi Mirage’s rear dash for more than two years for reasons that will not be divulged in print, I understand completely.

Sometimes, objects just come with a certain energy. You just have to make sure the ones that are kept around possess the right kind.

No doubt a few anglers will be rubbing their lucky lures when they head out onto the water for this weekend’s Discovery Bay Salmon Derby.

The three-day derby, set for Saturday through Monday, returns to the Peninsula for the 33rd time this Presidents Day weekend.

There will be $16,682 in prizes up for grabs, including $5,000 for the top fish in the ladder, during the popular piscatorial contest.

Last year’s event had more than 800 participants, with a total of 113 fish making it on the final ladder.

Driftwood Key’s John Goldingay brought in a 19.4-pound clipped blackmouth to claim the top prize.

The way Bibbins tells it, anglers are going to have to put in their time to make the ladder this weekend.

“The guys that really know what they are doing are catching one to two fish a trip,” he said. “The guys that are partly in the know, they are not catching any. It’s tough fishing. There are fish around and there’s a biomass of bait around, but you’ve got to be creative.

“Go to different spots and try new places, because there’s not a huge concentration of blackmouth in and around Port Townsend right now.”

The derby spans waters in both Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), pretty much from Discovery Bay eastward to Double Bluff.

Of course, nobody really knows what’s going on west of Point Wilson in the virgin waters of Area 6.

The only real information anglers have to go on is what’s happened during the first month of the Area 9 fishery.

“It’s not as big a stock as last year,” Bibbins said of the Area 9 blackmouth. “That could change, but that would be overnight, and that’s hardly ever the case.

“If a guy puts a good day in he could get three good strokes. It’s going to make the derby real competitive.”

The Derby runs from daylight until 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and daylight until noon on Monday. Only clipped fish can be entered into the ladder.

The awards ceremony will be at 2 p.m. at the Gardiner Boat Ramp.

Tickets cost $30 and are available at many local merchants, and also online at www.swainsinc.com. All proceeds support Jefferson County Volunteer Fire District No. 5.

For more details, including information about discount moorage, hotel specials, and reduced launch fees for participants, visit the derby Web site at www.DiscoBaySalmonDerby.com.

More blackmouth

Anglers don’t necessarily have to join the derby fray to partake in this weekend’s Strait of Juan de Fuca blackmouth opener.

With all of Area 5 (Sekiu) and 6 opening to salmon fishing on Saturday, there will be plenty of water for everyone. Whether there will be plenty of fish could be another matter all together.

Bob Aunspach at Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said those who went out in search of bait this last week came back disappointed.

“They weren’t finding anything,” he said, “but that doesn’t always mean something. There will be plenty of boats in the water on Saturday, so we’ll find out.

“We have some pretty easy going out-going tides on Saturday morning, which is some of our best tides for PA.”

Both areas will remain open for blackmouth through April 10. Anglers are limited to one salmon, clipped or wild, a day.

Steeling away

Welcome to bizarro Peninsula, where the West End sees more snow than rain, the Hoh is the most consistently fishable river, and I’m being overwhelmed by women begging me to be their Valentine.

OK, maybe I made up that last one, but the first two are true.

Rivers throughout the West End remain low and clear, with the notable exception of the Hoh.

And even that particular stream, notorious for being blown out of shape with regularity during the winter, is a bit on the shallow side, according to Bob Gooding at Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks

“[The fishing] has actually picked up some, but it’s work,” Gooding said.

“There’s more fish around, but boy it hasn’t rained out here in forever and everything is really down and clear. That makes it tough. It’s kind of bizarre, but it is what it is, what it is.”

As is the case this time of year, it’s pretty much a wild steelhead show everywhere on the West End, but the Hoh does have a few hatchery fish swimming around.

“The Hoh is where most everybody is fishing because you wouldn’t dare float down the Calawah [and] the Sol Duc is pretty bangy for most people,” Gooding said.

“The Hoh still has enough flow to get down but it’s down too. It’s spitting out the most fish because 90 percent of the fisherman are down there.”

Ridge news

That explosion you heard last Sunday? Just 31 years finally catching up to Hurricane Ridge.

The intermediate rope tow finally burned its last palm on Sunday when the main drive that runs it self destructed at about 2 p.m.

No worries, a new and improved version should be up and running by Saturday morning, mountain manager Craig Hofer said.

Now if we could get four to five feet of snow, we can start talking about some Poma lift action.

“If we get [the snow] I will get it running,” Hofer said. “I have run it this year, just not to ski on. We got the motor running and checked it all out. Mechanically, it’s going to work, but we can’t do it until we get enough snow on the ground. There’s just nothing I could do.”

Provided Hofer gets the intermediate tow running on Saturday morning, both rope tows should be in operation the entire holiday weekend, Saturday through Monday.

Single-day lift tickets cost $20 for the intermediate and bunny lifts, and $18 for a half day. All-day and half-day bunny lift tickets are $10.

Skis are available for rent at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Snowboards can be rented from North by Northwest Surf Co., 902 S. Lincoln St. in Port Angeles.

Other activities on the Ridge include snowshoeing, tubing and sledding (weather permitting) and cross country skiing.

Free ranger-led snowshoe hikes, lasting about 90 minutes, will be offered Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 2 p.m.

Since space is limited, participants are encouraged to register at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk 30 minutes beforehand.

Hurricane Ridge Road is open today through Monday, weather permitting, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

All drivers are required to have tire chains on their tires or in their cars. Always check road and weather conditions before your trip by calling the park’s 24-hour road conditions hot line at 360-565-3131.

Information on weather conditions at the Ridge is also available at www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/hurricane-ridge-current-conditions.htm.

Kalaloch likely out

Razor clams at Olympic National Park’s Kalaloch Beach might need to start drinking some milk, because they just aren’t growing.

Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres and a team of samplers visited Kalaloch last Thursday to check out the population and they found the same small clams that had been there last summer.

“We dug clams as many places as we could find them, and was shocked to see how small those clams are,” Ayres said. “They just haven’t grown. The average size was 3.5 inches, with just a couple of clams I’d consider taking home.”

The state samplers’ findings matched that of the National Park Service, which has been taking samples at the beach on a monthly basis as part of a long-term study.

Kalaloch has been closed each of the last two seasons to razor clam digging due to depressed populations.

There was some hope that the beach would open this spring, the idea being that the generous amount of smaller clams found during a late summer sampling would have grown to harvestable size.

Yet Ayres said that likely won’t be the case, and that he’s recommending that the beach not be included on the spring harvest dates to be announced next week.

“There weren’t a lot of clams, and they were small,” Ayres said of the recent sampling. “Any other beach, if we were averaging 3.5 inches [in size], we wouldn’t open them.”

Last week’s dig at Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Long Beach were quite successful, however, with harvesters averaging nearly 13 clams per digger.

That should bode well for the morning digs coming up this spring.

Bird count

Get binoculars on the ready this weekend for the Great Backyard Bird Count.

The annual Presidents Day weekend count runs from today though Monday, with everyone invited to join in the tallying.

All it takes is 15 minutes of counting in one location to participate, but birders are more than welcome to do a little extra.

The nation-wide count asks people to tally birds in their backyards and everywhere else to assess how populations are changing in North America.

For more information on the count, as well as how to participate, visit www.birdcount.org. Also . . .

• Hunter education classes will be coming to Port Townsend on March 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20 and 21 at the Jefferson County Sportsmen’s Association, 112 Gun Club Road.

Classes are set from 6-9 p.m. with the exception of March 9, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. for registration.

The Saturday, March 21, session will be for field and firearm testing starting at 10 a.m. Registration is available at Swain’s Outdoors (360-385-1313) in Port Townsend and Hadlock Building Supply Rental (360-344-3443)

For more information, contact Riley Brazil at 360-732-4003, Rick Olsen at 360-765-3947 or Mark Castillo at 360-732-4002.

• Waypoint Electronics owner Hank David will discuss getting the boat ready for blackmouth season at the monthly meeting for the Puget Sound Anglers, North Olympic Peninsula chapter at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave., in Sequim at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday.

• The West Sound Wildlife Shelter’s Mike Pratt will discuss his expertise on bird rehabilitation and captive management at Admiralty Audubon’s monthly meeting next Thursday at the Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St., at 7 p.m.

Pratt is the director of Wildlife Services at the wildlife shelter on Bainbridge Island. He has more than 18 years’ experience in wildlife rehabilitation, avian captive management, and training of raptors.

• Dungeness River Audubon Center director Bob Boekelheide will review 33 years of Sequim-Dungeness Christmas Bird Count data at the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society’s monthly meeting next Wednesday at 7 p.m. The session will be held at the River Center, 2151 West Hendrickson Road, in Sequim.

• Waters West Fly Fishing Outfitters has three free fly-tying seminars scheduled at its shop in Port Angeles at 140 West Front St., in the next month.

Dates for the seminars include Feb. 21, March 7 and 21. For more information, contact Waters West at 360-417-0937.

• Washington Trails Association will gather an all-day volunteer work party at Elbow Creek Trail in the Hood Canal Ranger District on Thursday, Feb. 26.

Volunteers will meet at the Quilcene Ranger Station at 8:30 a.m. Volunteers must pre-register 48 hours in advance. To pre-register, contact Washington Trails at 206-625-1367 or visit www.wta.org.

• The monthly hi-power rifle match at the Jefferson County Sportsmen’s Association on Sunday came down to the smallest of margins, the “X Count.”

Both Tab Severns of Silverdale and Merrilyn Ide of Sequim shot the same score, 582, but Tab had 22 X’s to Merrilyn’s 15 to win the top gun title. Gary Ide of Sequim was third out of 10 shooters with a score of 579-21X.

• Sean Carter took home the junior title with a score of 142, and Lyman Twing (150) the senior crown at the Peninsula Rifle and Pistol Club’s monthly light rifle match last Saturday.

The match is held on the first Saturday of the month at the club’s indoor range on 18th Street in Port Angeles.

For more information, contact Ed Phillips at 360-461-2510 (days only).

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, 417-3521; e-mail 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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