Outdoors Q&A - October 2000

Seabury Blair Jr.

Mr. Outdoors

October 27, 2000:

Q - What's the fly fishing like out there in early January? Would like to stay somewhere around the Hoh rainforest and would love to find a remote cabin to rent. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Have a great day.

- Mark Hunt

A - Thanks for your question about fly fishing on Olympic coastal streams during early January. Since I'd rather be freezing on the slopes of Mount Rainier or Hurricane Ridge than freezing in the middle of the Hoh River, I talked to a few of my fly-fishing friends who know a good deal more about it than me. Here's what they had to say:

First, the fishing part. Probably your best fishing in January will be for winter-run steelhead in the Hoh, Queets, Quinault and Sol Duc Rivers. Both hatchery and huge native steelhead weighing in at 20 pounds or more cruise these waters in the winter, providing some heavy-duty thrills for the fly angler.

The Hoh is the mightiest of these rivers and offers steelhead fishing from December to April. The peak of the run is usually around late February or early March.

You can fish the Hoh from the bank at a number of locations along both sides of the lower Hoh and along the north bank of the upper river off the Hoh River Road. You can fish downstream from the Olympic National Park boundary and you'll find a number of put-in and take-out sites if you plan to float.

The run of hatchery fish on the Sol Duc is usually well underway in January, although the big natives don't usually arrive on the scene until later. You can find several places to fish from the bank along the Sol Duc River, which Highway 101 crosses about 600 times (it seems) between the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road and Forks.

Most of the fishing on the Queets is within the boundaries of Olympic National Park. For information on special fishing regulations, call the park at (360) 452-4501. You'll find both bank and boat access from Sams Rapids, just below the end of the road at the primitive Queets Campground, Mud Creek, at Streater Crossing and Hartzell Creek. Best angling is probably from the Hartzell Creek access downstream past the Salmon River to the Clearwater Road bridge for hatchery steelhead.

Perhaps the best steelhead fishing of the rivers mentioned here is in the Quinault, with the lower section of the river yielding huge natives and hatchery fish. You'll be fishing within the Quinault Reservation and must hire a guide and tribal permit. For information on fishing the lower Quinault, contact the Quinault Tribal Office (360) 276-8211.

You can also fish about 10 miles upstream from Lake Quinault to the Olympic National Park boundary. That part of the river is beautiful, but steelhead that get past the gauntlet of the lower river fishery are few and far between, especially in early January.

The upper Quinault also yields native whitefish, which can usually be taken on a small fly. But in his book, "Fishing Washington's Endless Season," Steve Probasco writes of catching a 14-incher on a No. 4 sandshrimp pattern.

Probably the best place to pick up timely information about the rivers, or hook up with a local guide, is at Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks. Call (360) 374- 6330 or stop in and visit. You can also get the names of several of the local fishing guides on-line by visiting:

http://web.archive.org/web/20010215000849/http://www.forkswa.com/

You'll find all of the information about licensing, fishing regulations, seasons, steelhead punchcards and more by following the link on my Web site to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their URL is:

http://web.archive.org/web/20010215000849/http://www.wa.gov/wdfw

Now, about lodging: I'm guessing you don't want to camp, so I'll mention only that you'll find some beautiful (if wet) campgrounds along all of the rivers mentioned above - the most remote and well developed being the Hoh River Campground in Olympic National Park (no hookups, but flush toilets and running water).

A quiet, secluded resort east of the posh Lake Quinault Lodge (800) 562-6672 is the Rain Forest Resort, which offers cabins with fireplaces and is close to the mouth of the upper Quinault River flowing into the lake. You can call the resort at (800) 255-6936.

The Westward Hoh Resort is a good place to pick up information on fishing and you might consider staying there. Call (360) 374-6657. Another is the Hoh River Resort, (360) 374-5566.

I'm sorry, but none of the people I talked to could give me the names of anyone who might be renting river cabins on the Hoh or West Fork of the Hoh. Your best bet is to call Diane Shostak at the Forks Chamber of Commerce, (360) 374-2531.

Good luck with fishing. Don't forget your umbrella!

October 20, 2000:

Q - Seems I spend a lot of time fishing when it is raining and also spend a lot of time standing in water. I usually wear an old Mustang suit and rubber boots.

My boots are not insulated and do not have a non slip bottom. Can you reccommend a good pair of boots? Also my old Mustang must be 10 years old. Again just buy another or is there something else available that may be better.

I fish from a 17-21ft. boat most of the time.

Thanking you in advance,

- Lee Hibbs

A - Thanks for your note regarding boots for fishing.

I know exactly how you feel, because if you fish anywhere in the Northwest, you are likely to be fishing in the rain (or snow, if you go after steelhead). The way I look at it is: if water is good enough for the fish, it is good enough for me.

I'm going to tell you what I wear and why, and then I'm going to forward your question to a real fishing expert, the Fishin' Magician, Drew Harthorn. Drew just loves a good, wet fishing expedition and knows at least a thousand times more about it than me.

When I go out with Drew, I wear moisture-wicking long underwear such as REI's M.T.S. or Duofold's CoolMax underneath a pair of neoprene chest waders with neoprene stocking feet. The underwear gets soaked, of course, over the course of the day, but it feels dry to the skin. The neoprene insulates and whatever moisture is inside is kept at body temperature - all the way down to your toes.

For further foot insulation, you might try a heavy rag wool sock under the waders (you can also wear these outside the wader for traction and to protect the neoprene stocking foot). A good, oversize pair rubber-soled deck shoes will probably give you the best traction. They're canvas or nylon and dry out quickly.

I wear an old pair of Teva sandals over the neoprene stocking feet, which also gives good traction on slippery boat decks. The only reason I need anything over the neoprene is to protect the wader and provide traction - the wader provides excellent insulation.

I have heard horror stories about falling overboard while wearing chest waders. They are said to fill up with water and drag you down, but I always wear a PFD, which provides both flotation and a seal at the top of the wader.

My waders cost about $60 and are about 3 mm thick, which are considered medium thickness for neoprene. I have worn them while wading waist-deep off the Homer Spit in Alaska for hours at a time and never gotten cold.

- Mr. Outdoors

October 13, 2000:

Q - When is the season or days that razor clams are available fresh? Do the Indians follow the same season...

Thanks,

Frank

A - Thanks for your note about razor clam seasons. Pending a final test for domoic acid, the razor clam season begins on the coast Oct. 25, with digging from noon to midnight at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch.

Additional digging dates for the beaches above are Oct. 27 and 28; Nov. 24 and 25.

In addition, Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch will be open for digging Nov. 10 and 11, Dec. 8 and 9, and Dec. 13; and Kalaloch will be open Nov. 12-16, Dec. 10-12 and Dec. 14.

Don't forget to check the Shellfish Hotline at (360) 796-3215 for updates, and always call the Marine Toxin Hotline before digging clams. That number is (800) 562-5632.

Department biologists say they may add more digging dates after they've analyzed the results from the December digging dates.

Clam diggers must keep the first 15 razors they dig, regardless of size or condition. All diggers must keep their catch in a separate container.

Here's a list locating the five beaches that will be open on the dates above:

- Long Beach, from North Head to Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula
- Twin Harbors, from the South Jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor south to the mouth of Willapa Bay
- Copalis Beach, from Ocean Shores to the Copalis River
- Mocrocks Beach, from the Copalis to the Moclips River
- Kalaloch Beach, from the south beach campground to Trail 3 in the Olympic National Park.

For complete information on digging regulations, limits and licensing requirements, see the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife news release on the clam season at:

http://web.archive.org/web/20010215000849/http://www.wa.gov/wdfw/do/sep00/sep2800a.htm


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