Sometimes the elements of the universe align in the most peculiar ways and make us behave in a manner that is all at once unfamiliar and instinctual.
When the old heat dissipates and the new rains pause and all that’s left is the smell of summer’s dust lingering in the air. When the leaves are just beginning to turn to rust on the trees but still rustle like wind reeds in the breeze. When the moon plays peekaboo through the clouds and casts shifting shadows that spin on the sidewalk like so many whirling dervishes.
That’s when you know. More accurately, that’s when you feel it in your marrow.
Reflections dazzle in oil slicked parking lot puddles and a soft stillness fills the air as birds and bugs shake dry and slumber away in the safety of their nests. The creek rises ever so slowly and flows freely through coursing cracks in sunbaked soil. Strangers stroll the streets in silent solace, their faces hidden by the soft blanket of night. They do not stop to interrupt the sanctity of anything along their route. They hum softly and breathe slowly as they pass into the nothingness.
Some nights just seem to evoke a particular reverence. You can feel it in the air. You just know.
Cats jaywalk across empty streets stalking invisible prey with slipper soft feet. Coyotes howl into the inky abyss but dogs remain unbothered and drool on their beds with tongues too big for their heads. Tomorrow seems so far away and yesterday seems unimportant. In the cool heat of the night now and forever is all that matters. There is no in between. Perhaps there never was.
Lovers hold each other in a robust embrace beneath tired maples and fumble a kiss between sets of smiling lips. They laugh and know there will never be another moment precisely like this. The sun will rise. The birds will sing and crowded streets will roar back to life in the morning making passersby forget one another all over again.
Together, though, they vow to make time for many more moments. They promise to dance together whenever the music plays. It is the only thing that seems to matter. In that moment, beneath the spotlight of the moon it's the only thing that makes any sense at all.
A two-day catch-and-keep sturgeon fishery has been approved for the lower Columbia River beginning next Saturday. Anglers will be permitted to harvest qualifying sturgeon on Sept. 21 and Sept. 28 between the Wauna powerlines and Bonneville Dam. Anglers will be able to keep sturgeon on the Cowlitz River on those days as well.
“This is a popular fishery, and these openings allow us to provide opportunity while continuing to closely monitor the conservation issues we’re facing in this area,” said Laura Heironimus, WDFW sturgeon unit lead, in a press release.
Sturgeon fisheries were reintroduced below Bonneville beginning in 2017 following several years of full-time closures. Fishery managers have determined that the population of the river monsters have improved enough to sustain limited recreational harvest opportunities.
During a two-day sturgeon fishery last fall sport anglers kept about 85 percent of the allotted quota. In the spring fishery anglers kept about 96 percent of the available sturgeon over an 11-day period. Sturgeon must measure between 44-50 inches to be legal for harvest and only single point barbless hooks may be used. Anglers are limited to one sturgeon per day and two per year.
Salmon fishing on the lower Columbia River is currently limited to just coho between Warrior Rock and Bonneville. The Chinook fishery ended on Sept. 6 and steelhead were taken off the catch list weeks before that. The daily limit is two adult silver salmon.
On the tributary scene last week the WDFW sampled one bank angler on the Elochoman River with one steelhead. Another 35 bank anglers kept one Chinook jack, two coho, and five coho jacks while releasing one Chinook. Six rods on five boats kept one coho.
The Cowlitz River saw a fair amount of pressure but limited return on time and effort. Downstream of the I-5 Bridge the WDFW sampled five bank rods with no catch but 19 rods on eight boats were able to keep three coho and one coho jack while releasing one adult coho, one jack, seven adult Chinook, and two jacks. Between the Barrier Dam and the freeway another 13 bank rods showed no catch at all. However, six rods on three boats kept one steelhead, while releasing one Chinook and one steelhead.
At the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery fish separator last week crews retrieved 67 spring Chinook adults, one jack, 37 mini-jacks, 66 fall Chinook adults, four jacks, 46 summer steelhead, 42 coho adults, 13 jacks and four cutthroat trout. Crews also trucked four coho adults, one jack, and one cutthroat to the Cispus River near Randle and dropped five spring Chinook adults, one jack, one adult coho, and one jack at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood. Another 28 fall Chinook adults, five coho adults, and ten jacks were put into the Tilton River near Gust Backstrom Park in Morton. River flows just below Mayfield Dam were reported at 2,470 cubic feet per second on Monday with water visibility of 14 feet and a temperature of 54 degrees.
Elsewhere, there are still angling opportunities on the lower Chehalis and Willapa rivers. The Chehalis is currently closed to all fishing above the South Elma Bridge but will reopen between Elma and the Black River beginning Sept. 16. Until then anglers can keep up to six salmon per day on the lower river. That catch can include one wild coho but all wild Chinook must be released. The Nisqually and Puyallup rivers are also providing anglers a place to test the piscatorial prospects. Both rivers have a daily limit of six salmon, including two adults but chum and wild Chinook must be released. The Nisqually River is closed to all fishing on Sundays.
Out in the ocean anglers still have an opportunity to bring in salted salmon. Anglers are currently allowed two salmon, including one Chinook, per day in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco). In Marine Area 2 (Westport) anglers can keep two Chinook as part of their two salmon daily limit. All four coastal marine areas are scheduled to close to salmon fishing by Sept. 30.
Back on freshwater, a 16-year old from Blaine recently broke the state record for largest catfish ever caught. Cole Abshere broke the decades old record at Lake Terrell in Whatcom County with a 42 inch long channel cat that weighed in at 37.7 pounds. According to reports Abshre, who was fishing with his grandfather, had to play the fish for about an hour before wading into the water to land the fish without a net.
It’s finally hunting time.
With a wave of hunting season open already and more to follow soon it’s now possible for hunters to keep busy nearly all the time so long as they know how to pursue a variety of species. Bow hunters in search of black-tailed deer continue to have their run of the woods until Sept. 27. After that it will be time for muzzleloaders to take aim.
With some of the best elk hunting grounds in the state located nearby the WDFW is asking anyone who winds up in the woods this fall to keep an eye out for elk showing signs of hoof rot. The disease has spread across most of Western Washington in recent years and causes a slow, painful death to the animals it afflicts. In order to help limit the spread and impact of the malody officials are asking the public to sever and leave behind the lower leg portion of any harvested animal at the kill site. Additionally, any elk with hoof deformities should be reported to the WDFW and any harvested elk with a neck collar should also be reported.
Area archery hunts for elk are set to continue through Sept. 19. According to WDFW stats some of the most successful areas for elk in southwest Washington include GMU 520 (Winston), 506 (Willapa Hills), 530 (Ryderwood), 550 (Coweeman), and 560 (Lewis River).
Next week youth hunters (age 16 and under) will be able to target pheasants on Sept. 21-22 Then, from Sept. 23-27, hunters age 65 or older as well as those with documented disabilities will be able to wing pheasants. The general pheasant season will begin on Sept. 28 with hunting hours restricted to the hours between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Forest grouse and crow season began in early September and will run through the end of the year. Additionally, the general turkey season began on Sept. 1 in GMUs 101-154 and 162-186 with a limit of two beardless turkeys and two of either sex. GMUs 382, 388, and 568-578 will open up Sept. 28 with a limit of one turkey of either sex.
Canada goose season started up last Saturday and continues through this Sunday in Goose Management Area 2. That area includes all of Pacific County as well as the slab of Grays Harbor County that lies west of Highway 101.
Cougar season began back on Sept. 1 and will continue through at least the end of the year. Cougars are most common in the remote timberlands of eastern Thurston and Lewis counties due to large deer and elk populations. The Skookumchuck unit (667) dependably has the highest cougar harvest in the district. Bear hunts have been underway since August with an end date of Nov. 15.
Additionally, bobcats, foxes, raccoons, cottontail rabbits, and snowshoe hares will be fair game until the Ides of March. Of course it’s important to remember that coyote season never ends in Washington.
Good times appear to be just around the bend for connoisseurs of the succulent bivalve.
Last week the WDFW proposed a three-day razor clam dig on the Long Beach Peninsula that would get started Sept. 27. Then, this week the WDFW came out with a new proposal that would add a heap of digging dates through the end of the year.
The first set of digs are proposed for the following dates and morning low tides:
Sept. 27, Friday, 5:52 a.m. -0.9, Long Beach only
Sept. 28, Saturday, 6:36 a.m. -0.8, Long Beach only
Sept. 29, Sunday, 7:19 am -0.6, Long Beach only
Final approval of those digs will be dependant upon marine toxin tests conducted closer to the dates. No digging will be allowed after noon during those digs with low tides in the morning.
"We know people have been looking forward to digging razor clams at Long Beach, and we're pleased to say we believe based on our surveys that the beach is going to enter the line-up more frequently this fall and winter," said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, in a press release. “There will be some terrific razor clam digging in the months ahead.”
The remainder of the proposed digs for 2019 would take place on the following dates, tides, and beaches:
Oct. 26, Saturday, 5:59 pm, 0.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Oct. 27, Sunday, 6:47 pm, -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Oct. 28, Monday, 7:33 pm, -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Oct. 29, Tuesday, 8:18 pm, -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Oct. 30, Wednesday, 9:03 pm, -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Oct. 31, Thursday, 9:50 pm, -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 1, Friday, 10:38 pm, -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Nov. 11, Monday, 5:51 pm, 0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Nov. 12, Tuesday, 6:27 pm, -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 13, Wednesday, 7:03 pm, -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Nov. 14, Thursday, 7:41 pm, -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 15, Friday, 8:22 pm, -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Nov. 16, Saturday, 9:08 pm, -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 17, Sunday, 9:59 pm, -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Nov. 24, Sunday, 4:47 pm, -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Nov. 25, Monday, 5:34 pm, -1.0 feet; Long Beach Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 26, Tuesday, 6:18 pm, -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Nov. 27, Wednesday, 7:02 pm, -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 28, Thursday, 7:44 pm, -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Nov. 29, Friday, 8:29 pm, -0.7 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 30, Saturday, 9:10 pm, -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Dec. 10, Tuesday, 5:28 pm, -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Dec. 11, Wednesday, 6:06 pm, -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Dec. 12, Thursday, 6:45 pm, -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Dec. 13, Friday, 7:26 pm, -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Dec. 14, Saturday, 8:08 pm, -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Dec. 15, Sunday, 8:53 pm, -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Dec. 16, Monday, 9:41 pm, -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Dec. 23, Monday, 4:35 pm, -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Dec. 26, Thursday, 6:47 pm, -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Dec. 27, Friday, 7:26 pm, -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Dec. 28, Saturday, 8:05 pm, -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Dec. 29, Sunday, 8:43 pm, -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
During the digs that take place after September no digging will be allowed before noon with low tides taking place in the afternoon or evening. Those digs will all be contingent upon the results of marine toxin testing. Unlike past years the tides did not cooperate this year for the popular New Year digs.
“Abundant razor clam populations on all beaches, except Kalaloch, are allowing for more digging opportunity this year,” added Ayres. “But, it is important that razor clam diggers be sure to only dig where it is allowed.”
All diggers age 15 and up are required to possess a fishing license and each digger is limited to 15 clams per day. No high grading is allowed and all diggers must dig their own clams and keep them in a personal container.
The Columbia River Sturgeon Festival is set for Saturday, Sept. 21 in Vancouver. The free celebration of the relatives of dinosaurs will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Water Resource Education Center.
The event will include an assortment of all-ages entertainment including a live reptile show, two live bird shows, a clown, and a group walk to the Columbia River. Biologists will also dissect a few fish in order to let visitors see the guts of the creatures’ operation.
The Water Resources Education Center is located at 4600 S.E. Columbia Way, Vancouver.