LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS: The dark side of the sun

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

THE WEST END has been plagued by great weather recently.

At least that’s how hunters and plunkers probably view the recent stretch of warm and dry conditions.

This dry spell came on the heels of a soggy few weeks.

The last few months have been almost exactly the opposite of what happened last year.

In 2012, the North Olympic Peninsula was dry from August to mid-October. This year, August had rain and September and early October had even more.

Then, the faucet was turned off.

“It has been downright hot,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) said of the weather in Forks.

“It has been 70 to 75 degrees; blue skies, sunshine.”

Despite his occupation and outdoor hobbies, nice weather doesn’t irritate Gooding. As he’s told me a few times, he has seen enough rain.

On Tuesday night, Gooding took his dog out to do some grouse hunting.

“It was 5 p.m. and I was wearing a T-shirt, and I was more than warm enough,” Gooding said.

So, how was the grouse hunting?

“It was OK. It’s not the best weather for that,” Gooding said.

Therein lies the problem with warm, dry weather: It can ruin hunting and fishing.

‘Skinny’ rivers

The rain from a few weeks ago moved the salmon through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to their native rivers.

That was great news for river fishing, but it was short-lived because the rain stopped and the rivers dropped, and dropped, and dropped.

“It’s OK,” Gooding said of the fishing on the West End Rivers.

“We haven’t had any rain, so the fishing has slowed down.

“There’s still fish around . . . but it’s not gangbusters like it should be.”

Coho are the main catch, but Gooding said kings are being reeled in, too.

“The Sol Duc and Hoh [rivers] are the places to be,” he said.

“But the Sol Duc is pretty skinny to be banging a boat down it.”

Big-game hunting

Lack of rain makes hunting for deer and elk tougher, too.

“It’s not the best weather for that, either,” Gooding said, echoing a familiar refrain.

The modern firearm deer hunt lasts through Thursday, Oct. 31.

The modern firearm elk hunt season opens Saturday, Nov. 2, and ends Wednesday, Nov. 13.

“It needs to be a little rainy and nasty to hold your scent,” Gooding said.

Also, it’s hard to be quiet when you crunch leaves every time you take a step.

“Believe me, the dear will hear that,” Gooding said, “and they won’t stick around.”

Duck hunt

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, dropped me a line about the ongoing duck hunt.

“From what I see, about 60 percent of the local birds on Hood Canal are pintails so far this season,” Norden said.

“That can make things interesting since, while the limit is seven ducks, only two can be pintails, and the most common ducks that come later, widgeons, aren’t here yet.

“You have to be good at identifying ducks in the air while they fly by at 50 miles per hour.”

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Sports Editor Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 23. 2013 6:12PM
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