LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS: Skiers and anglers are waiting on the weather

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

SKIERS AND SNOWBOARDERS are dreaming of a white Christmas.

Anglers are hoping for a wet Christmas.

I don’t mean to point fingers, but Mother Nature is being a bit of a Scrooge about the moisture she allows to fall on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Hurricane Ridge is ready for skiing and snowboarding except for the all-important presence of the white stuff.

Frank Crippen, owner of North by Northwest Surf Co. (360-452-5144) in Port Angeles, said the Ridge needs 3 feet of compact snow before it can open to snow sporting.

“We need a supportable base so the groomers don’t run over the shrubbery,” Crippen said.

According to the Northwest Avalanche Center, Hurricane Ridge only had about 12 inches of snow as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We need a good dump of snow,” Crippen said, adding that the requisite amount of snow can fall at the Ridge fairly quickly.

“Two feet of fluffy snow doesn’t do a lot of good; 2 feet of heavy snow does do a lot of good.”

Snow could be on the way.

The National Weather Service is giving the Ridge a 90 percent chance of snow Thursday night and 100 percent chance of rain or snow Friday.

Regardless of whether it snows or not, Hurricane Ridge will not be open for the holidays due to budget cuts (read this story from Wednesday’s edition of the Peninsula Daily News: www.tinyurl.com/pdnRidgeCuts.)

But a white Christmas, just like the ones we used to know, would mean the Ridge should be able to open in early January.

Of course, the Ridge will only be open on the weekends — unless budget cutbacks take those two days away as well.

Steelies still stalled

A lack of rain on the West End is still preventing hatchery steelhead fishing form taking off.

“We’re waiting for a big push of rain,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim

“We’re in a holding pattern.”

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, worries about the current lack of steelhead is worrisome.

“I was out in Forks talking to Kevin Hinchen, sporting goods manager at Forks Outfitters, and he showed me the fish-checker stats for the Bogey,” Norden said.

“He and everyone else out there are very concerned. Catches are only 20 percent of normal since Thanksgiving. Even with the low, clear [river] conditions, there should be at least four times as many.

“[Earlier this week] I was out on Whidbey [Island]. Almost no steelhead have been caught in weeks, and the residents at Lagoon Point can confirm only one.

“Even with the low run [of steelhead] I am expecting, there should be more than this, especially for the Whidbey beach casters.

"Not good signs.”

Razor clamming off the charts

And now some good news: Razor clam diggers continue to have a stellar season.

“On the ‘very good sign’ side, I have talked to people who have been razor clam digging,” Norden said.

“They have not seen this many razor clams in years, and some don’t recall ever seeing them this large in winter.”

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has tentatively scheduled one more razor clam dig for 2013.

This dig is pending marine toxin tests before being approved, which should be announced some time next week.

Here are the tentative dates, low tides and participating beaches”

■ Sunday, Dec. 29: 4:05 p.m.; -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks.

■ Monday, Dec. 30: 4:55 p.m.; -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks.

■ Tuesday, Dec. 31: 5:42 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks.

________

Sports Editor Lee Horton's outdoors columns appear here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 18. 2013 6:18PM
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