OUTDOORS: Rains signal recharge for area rivers

Last days of saltwater salmon fishing; three halibut days added; free day Saturday in parks

BLESS THE RAINS. Not just an ’80s music ear worm, the first large-scale rainfall of autumn provides the opportunity for recharge — especially for North Olympic Peninsula rivers and streams that have been deprived of water flows during the long summer season.

And the rains will provide a bounty of fungi, as mushrooms seem to need little encouragement to begin to sprout in all manner of forest locations.

With West End river flows spiking as of Thursday afternoon due to heavy rain the past couple of days, it’s probably a good bet to avoid a river salmon fishing trip until the rivers recover from the current blown-out phase and revert to lower levels and slower flows.

Today through Sunday is the final weekend to get out on the saltwater and retain salmon in the waters of Marine Areas 3 (La Push), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca); and 9 (Admiralty Inlet). Those areas will close to salmon fishing Sept. 30 and in most cases won’t reopen for months as winter blackmouth season has been eliminated for 2020-2021.

There will be a couple of saltwater options for salmon as Marine Area 6 will have its usual Dungeness Bay fishery for hatchery coho from Oct. 1-31, and Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) will remain open for hatchery coho through Nov. 30.

Final halibut days

As expected, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife approved a three-day extension to halibut season running Sunday through Tuesday.

Poor weather and air quality in recent weeks limited angler effort, and catch totals already were running low since the halibut season reopened in early August.

Only 60 percent of the recreational catch quota had been landed by Sept. 13.

These will be the final days of the season, regardless of leftover quota poundage.

Free day in parks

There are other activities available this weekend as we celebrate National Public Lands Day on Saturday with free admission to Olympic National Park and state parks.

Nationally, National Public Lands Day is typically the largest single-day volunteer effort across the country. True to form, a forest-wide cleanup is planned in Olympic National Forest on Saturday.

And organizers say Forest Service lands need some sprucing up with littering on the rise after seeing many more visitors this past summer due to the pandemic.

Interested volunteers are asked to meet at 10 a.m. at the Quilcene National Forest Service office, 295142 U.S. Highway 101, to sign in and pick up supplies.

After picking up trash around the forest, volunteers can return to the station at 2 p.m. to drop off trash in exchange for prizes.

For more information, email Nicolette Burtis at [email protected].

Muzzleloader deer

Deer season technically opened Sept. 1 with the early archery season in a number of game management units around the area.

The modern firearm high buck hunt also wraps today on the eastern portions of the Olympic Peninsula.

But the fall portion of deer season begins Saturday when early muzzleloader season gets underway.

Make sure to check out eregulations.com/washington/hunting for open areas and full rules and regulations.

Quilcene’s Ward Norden offers up some information for those seeking deer in Jefferson County.

“Several very popular hunting areas south of Port Townsend have road closures due to fire danger by Rayonier that bought Pope Resources tree farm [properties] off of highways 104, 101 and 20, as well as Center and Dabob roads,” Norden wrote.

“With the heavy rains predicted for this week and weekend, it will be interesting to see when Rayonier reopens those roads for non-motorized use since firer danger will be much reduced.”

River & Ocean Film Fest

The second batch of short outdoors films in the seventh annual River & Ocean Film Festival were released online Thursday at tinyurl.com/PDN-River OceanFest2.

The four films in Episode Two include “The Olympic Coast as a Sentinel: Tribal Communities at the Forefront of Ocean Change,” submitted by Meg Chadsey of Washington Sea Grant; “Coho Fight Club,” by David Hahn; “Summer Backpacking at NatureBridge,” by Annie Schuler of NatureBridge and “Stories from the Blue Million Waves Project” by James Roubal of Washington CoastSavers.

The annual event is typically held in April in Forks, but was moved online due to the pandemic.

Event sponsors are the North Pacific Coast Marine Resources Committee and Washington Sea Grant.

Week one’s offerings can be seen at tinyurl.com/PDN-RiverOceanFest1 with the third and final week of outdoors films coming Thursday.

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at [email protected].

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