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Originally published Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 4:27 PM

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Summit East ski and snowboard area getting close to opening

The opening date for Summit East ski and snowboard area at The Summit at Snoqualmie — originally pegged for this weekend — is...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Reel Time Northwest

Seattle native and lifelong angler Mark Yuasa blogs on fishing in the Pacific Northwest.

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The opening date for Summit East ski and snowboard area at The Summit at Snoqualmie — originally pegged for this weekend — is up in the air, but much progress has been made to get things up and running soon.

"Summit East's opening is still somewhat uncertain," said Guy Lawrence, marketing director for the resort. "We've made great progress over the last few days."

"The Hidden Valley double chair now has all it's chairs on, and the crews are hanging chairs on the East Peak triple chair (the front-side chair) as we speak," Lawrence said.

The electrical work is taking a little longer than anticipated, but the crews were working on everything on a daily basis.

"We know that it won't be too much longer," Lawrence said. "We obviously still need to do load-testing as well, and that is the final piece."

Summit East's two new chairlifts will provide access to more than 150 acres of intermediate and advanced terrain.

The long-awaited expansion of Summit East comes on the heels of a landslide that took out the area's main chairlift in January 2009.

Skagit brant hunt a go; other waterfowl hunting slow

Hunters will get a chance to take aim at brant geese in Skagit County this month as numbers have steadily improved in recent years.

"Our aerial brant count (taken Monday) shows there's enough birds for the hunt," said Don Kraege, a state Fish and Wildlife waterfowl manager. "Bird numbers in Skagit County are up from last year, and there are a lot more birds in Whatcom County."

During the aerial count, 8,519 brant were tallied in Fidalgo, Padilla and Samish bays.

The hunting season adopted in August was contingent on a count of at least 6,000 brant in Skagit County.

"The total number of brant we saw up to the Canadian border is up to 15,000, and we should see a pretty good season," Kraege said.

This year's count in Skagit County is about 860 more birds than the 10-year average. About 16,200 brant — the largest number in 14 years — were counted during aerial surveys in 2009.

The brant hunting dates in Skagit County are: Jan. 15, 16, 19, 22, 23, 26, 29 and 30. The daily limit is two brant per hunter.

To participate, hunters must have written authorization and a harvest record card from state Fish and Wildlife. After taking a brant, hunters are required to record their harvest information immediately, and report them by Feb. 15. Hunters who fail to report will be ineligible to hunt brant in the 2011-2012 season.

Hunters who bag a brant with a fitted colored leg band should report the leg band's numbers and color at 800-327-BAND or www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/bblretrv/. The leg bands help biologists identify and track the birds. For more information, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.

The waterfowl hunting season success has been up and down, although the Quality Waterfowl Hunt areas have produced ducks in Whatcom, Skagit and north Snohomish counties (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/wqhp/).

"It has been kind of slow, especially up in the Skagit area, and lately we haven't had the type of stormy weather to move the birds around a lot, plus many places were still frozen," Kraege said.

Word on razor clams

Looking back and ahead on the coastal season, digging has been very good, the weather in general is cooperating and success should carry on into the months ahead.

"It was very cold during the past digs (Dec. 31-Jan. 2), but we had a lot of people turnout and it was our biggest ever on New Year's Eve with 18,300 digger trips (previous high was 10,600)," said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish biologist.

"A fair number of people struggled to get their clams (especially at Twin Harbors and Kalaloch), and the clams were on the small side," Ayres said. "Digging was best on (Dec. 31 and Jan. 2), and when the surf came up a little (Jan. 1), the success dropped off."

The three-day dig generated 35,000 digger trips and an average of 12.4 clams per person (first 15 dug is a daily limit). Diggers at Kalaloch averaged seven clams per digger on Dec. 31, but then it dropped off to 1.4 by Jan. 1.

The next tentative digs are Jan. 20-22 at Twin Harbors and Long Beach; Jan. 21-22 at Kalaloch; Feb. 17 at Twin Harbors; Feb. 18-19 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. Digging is allowed from noon to midnight each day.

Ayres says more digs are also planned this spring, but dates and beaches are contingent on how many clams are left to harvest.

"We have some morning digging dates in mind for March and April, but we'll need to take a quick look after the February digs to see what is left to harvest," Ayres said. "I know the Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival is March 19, and we should be able to have some digging opportunities then and likely beyond that."

Notes

• The Washington Sportsmen's Show is Jan. 26-30 at the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup. Cost is $10. Hours: Jan. 26-28, noon to 8 p.m.; Jan. 29, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Jan. 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Details: www.otshows.com.

• The Seattle Boat Show is Jan. 21-30 at Qwest Field Event Center and South Lake Union in Seattle. Come view an array of boats and more than 200 free seminars from boating, fishing to the latest gear and technology. Cost is $12 adults ($24 for five-day pass); $5 youth 11-17; kids under age 10 are free. Details: www.seattleboatshow.com.

• The Puget Sound Anglers of Lake Washington meeting is 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Community Center at Mercer View, 8236 S.E. 24th St. on Mercer Island. Retired state Fish and Wildlife biologist Jack Tipping will discuss tiger muskie fishing and a proposal for saving Lake Washington sockeye. Details: 425-823-0704.

• The Renton Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers meeting is 6:15 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Kennydale Memorial Hall, 2424 N.E. 27th St. in Renton. Kyle Wagoner of Outdoor Adventures will discuss the Lake Washington cutthroat fishery. Details: www.rentonpsa.com.

• The Edmonds Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla is offering two 12-week boating classes for experienced and novice boaters beginning in early February. Details: 425-774-4033 or boatclasses@hotmail.com.

• Crabbers are reminded that winter catch cards, whether you caught any crabs or not, must be submitted by Feb. 1. Those who fail to submit cards will receive a $10 fine when they purchase their 2011 crab endorsement. Mail to: WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA. 98501-1091 or report online from Jan. 3-Feb. 1 at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html.

• The Washington Sea Grant and Port of Seattle Fishermen's Terminal are sponsoring two Coast Guard-approved First Aid at Sea courses 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Jan. 21 and Feb. 10 at the Nordby building at Fishermen's Terminal in Seattle. Cost is $80. Details: 206-543-1225 or e-mail sfisken@ u.washington.edu.

• The Bellevue Orvis Store, 10223 N.E. 10th St., is hosting a four-week beginning fly-tying class at 8:30 p.m. starting Jan. 17. Cost is $100. Details: 425-452-9138.

• The Washington Sea Grant and the Port of Seattle Fishermen's Terminal are hosting a four-week boat engine troubleshooting and maintenance workshop beginning March 8 at the Nordby Building at Fishermen's Terminal in Seattle. Cost is $150, and preregistration is advised. Details: 206-543-1225 or sfisken@u.washington.edu.

• The Mount Rainier National Park is seeking public input through Jan. 31 on a proposal to increase annual pass fees for climbing Mount Rainier beginning in 2011. Details: www.nps.gov/mora/parkmgmt/climbingfee.htm.

• The Issaquah Alps Trails Club hosts weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.

• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and trail conditions. Details: www.wta.org.

• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.

• The Western Bass Club meets every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Kennydale Hall in Renton. Details: www.westernbassclub.comor www.nickbarrfishing.com.

• The new nonprofit Cascade Musky Association is looking for members. Cost is $25 or $35 for a couple/family membership. Details: www.cascademuskyassociation.com or www.wafish.com.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com; twitter.com/MarkKYuasa.

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