Fish & Feathers: Outdoor update

<I>RON MALAST photo</I><BR>The setting winter sun glazes an evening ocean swell.

With the end of Daylight Saving Time, the early darkness, the colder nights and the chilling winds, you know it's time to change your outdoor gear. Wool hats, Gore-Tex outer clothing, wool gloves and warm boots replace T-shirts, shorts, wind- breakers and tennis shoes.

For the hunting sportsmen, quail, duck, pheasant, deer and elk make up the majority of our winter itinerary as we search for warmth in our duck or deer blinds.

Fred Dobler, Wildlife Program manager at WDFW says, "17 percent of the buck harvest takes place on opening weekend with about 40 percent being taken during the late buck season." The remainder is spread through the rest of the earlier season. As the colder weather and snow move in and drive the deer down from the higher elevations, the larger bucks become available.

West-side elk season opens Nov. 6 and runs through Nov. 14.

Recreational crabbing on the Lower Columbia (Chinook west) is about to commence, with the crab filling with meat and growing in size. Some recreational crabbers have been crabbing for months but their "take" has been less than desirable.

While crabbing, you may notice two species of sea lions, the much larger Steller and the smaller California sea lions. About 10,000 California sea lions migrate north to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia during the winter months. The U.S. California sea lion population is estimated at 300,000.

The colder weather has also brought thousands of northern ducks and geese within range for waterfowl hunters throughout the state. There are plenty of opportunities for these birds in and around Sand Island and Willapa Bay for the hardy souls willing to fight the weather.

Nov. 14, 15 and 16 mark the second opener of our clam dig along the Washington coast. So far the toxic levels appear to be fishable - 2 parts per million - but that could change on a whim of the currents. If you do not currently have a shellfish license, try to purchase one before the November opener, as it gets quite crowded at the license offices.

Landlubbers Nautical TermsRunning Free - Cruising without using the engine.

Spinnaker - A large sail used in dead calms to keep the crew busy.

Square Rigger - A rigger over 30 years old.

Ron Malast is owner/operator of the charter boat Big Dipper running out of Pacific Salmon Charters in Ilwaco.

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