FINS, FUR & FEATHERS Steelhead is holiday fishing treat

The holidays are a time for traditions, many handed down for generations. While many may involve visiting family and exchanging gifts, there are some that involve hitting local rivers.

Historically the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day has been the prime time to hit area rivers for steelhead. Currently the Skagit is holding decent numbers of fish, which should peak this week. Like any other outdoor activity here, a lot will depend on the flow of the river. Lots of rain will cause the river to swell and cloud up and make fishing a bit more difficult. With the peak of the run you will find the banks a little more crowded, but there should be plenty to go around. There has not been one sure fire method of landing a metal head this year. Plunkers and angler chucking spoons, along with fly-fisherman have been taking fish. Drifting baits will work during dirty water time, while tossing lures works better during clear water periods.

Fresh water fish available

For the fresh water angler, Cranberry, Pass and Lone Lakes are the best bet for hooking into a decent sized trout. A few die-hards will try their hand at a cold-water bass in Campbell, but odds are against you there. If you must get your fishing fix, try the other side of the state. Action on Roosevelt Lake in Stevens County and Potholes Reservoir in Grant County are all producing decent action on trout and walleyes. If traveling is out of the question, then now is a good time to remove old line from your reels, give them a good cleaning and lubrication and re-spool with fresh line. This will pay dividends when spring arrives.

Crabbing open for now

Crabbing is still open on area waters, but the department is reporting that the area between Port Gardner to Port Susan could close because of soft shell requirements. Keep your eye on the weather. The Sound is not the place to be with the recent winds we have been having.

Duck hunters still shooting

For the hunter, waterfowl is the prime target. With all the rain and wind, this is prime duck hunting time. Be advised that when we do have a calm day, the ducks will be rafting up on the big water. These ducks and geese have been shot at for a couple of months now, so any secluded water will be a haven for the birds. With a blustery day, the dikes along the Headquarters Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area would be a good choice to intercept snow geese. The fields at the preserve on Fir Island Road is loaded with them, and with the right conditions you may be able to intercept them before they get there. You have until Jan. 6 before the season closes for snows in Skagit, Snohomish, and Island counties. Don’t forget to submit your harvest report card to the state before the deadline. If you fail to turn it in you will not get an authorization card for next season.

Canvasbacks are now legal as part of your bag limit and good numbers of mallards and pintails have been reported. The general duck season runs until Jan 20. Grouse season runs until Jan. 31. With recent weather, birds are harder to come by.

Big game reports due

Since big game seasons have come and gone, it would be a good idea for all hunters to submit their hunting report for deer, elk, bear and turkey. If you were successful, you had ten days to report and until Jan. 31 if you did not take an animal. Those unsuccessful hunters that report by Jan. 10 will be entered into a drawing for one of nine special deer and elk hunts. You can report by either calling 1-877-945-3492 or visiting the department’s web page.

2001 was a memorable year for Evergreen sportsmen and women and I have had fun reporting the good and bad. I know we all look forward to what next year brings and I will try and bring you as much useful information as possible. If you make one resolution this year, try and introduce someone to hunting and fishing. Increased participation will ensure the sport we love will continue.

To all of your families I wish you a Happy Holidays.

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