LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: River water levels down

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By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

THE WEST END rivers are low again, and will probably remain that way for the near future.

Which is another way of saying they are low until it rains again in Forks, and it appears that won’t happen for a few days.

“We have blue skies and sunshine, and the air is chilly,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.

“We could use a splash of rain.”

According to my last check of the 10-day forecast, showers won’t arrive until next Wednesday.

Lower waters make for clear waters, and clear waters reveal an angler’s intentions.

“You can see a long way in [the river], and the fish can see a long way out,” Gooding said.

“They don’t know what you are, but they are pretty sure you are not good for them.”

So, you can take your rod and reel to a river, but the harvest won’t be easy.

“[The fishing] is tough. You’re going to have to work at it,” Gooding said.

I come from a land of drought.

The only time the rivers rise drastically is when March and April are too hot, so the mountain snow melts too quickly.

This up-and-down routine the Bogachiel and other West End rivers do is difficult for me to comprehend.

So, forgive my astonishment.

“I’ve seen it come up 30 feet overnight, and I’ve seen it drop 30 feet overnight,” Gooding said, adding that he has planted a stick into the ground at the edge of a river and then sat and watched as the water levels rose up the stick.

“It’s just part of our weather here on the West End.”

From sap to syrup

Quilcene’s Ward Norden is a fishing tackle wholesaler, former fishery biologist and all-around outdoorsman.

Norden fishes, hunts and picks mushrooms.

He also harvests sap and turns it into maple syrup.

“Most don’t know this, but our Northwest big-leaf maples make better maple syrup than the sugar maples of New England,” Norden said

“There are a couple commercial producers on Vancouver Island but none on the U.S. side around here.”

He said it takes about three gallons of sap to produce an 8-ounce jar of maple syrup.

The time to harvest sap is now, but like every outdoors activity, the weather is a factor.

“We have harvested our first couple gallons of sap from our maple trees for the season, and it won’t be long until we have enough for our first reduction to maple syrup,” Norden said.

The maple ‘tapping’ season in our area starts much earlier than in New England and lasts much longer — 10 weeks — but the sap only flows when there is a sunny day after a cold night.

“This is my third season and I am hoping to produce eight jars for us and a couple friends.”


Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 16. 2013 5:57PM
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