Opening Day 2014 Top Ten Tips!

If there is a more popular fishing “rite of passage” than the lowland lakes trout opener, I sure don’t know what it is!

The Nelson Clan at Perrygin Lake in Okanogan County a few seasons ago…

I would venture to guess that more “first fish” are caught on this final weekend of April than at any other time of year. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters all descend on the lakes of Washington, three-hundred thousand strong. In preparation of this massive effort, the State of Washington plants these lake with literally millions of rainbow and cutthroat trout which are ready, willing and more than able to provide action as well as dinner or a smoker full of a tasty treat!

To aid in their quest this weekend, I would like to offer the following ten tips for an enjoyable opening day experience!

1. Get legal!

The WDFW licensing cycle for the year runs from April 1 to March 31. In other words, if you are not sure if your license is current… it’s probably not. Which, brings us to the second item on our list:

2. Bring your crew to the store!

If you have a young bunch (and even if you don’t) it’s always worthwhile to bring the crew along to get their licenses, get a copy of the fishing regulations and do a little shopping. “There’s that new Snoopy rod Dad, Can we try this?” Let your fishing gang get a little fired up about their new gear and in all likelihood, your opening day will get a lot easier!

3. Know your fishermen!

What size raingear do they wear? Boots? Warm coats? Can they cast? What’s their favorite snack food? The correct answers to these questions are best found out well in advance of “O” day!

4. Know your gear.

Seriously now, when is the last time you opened your trout box? How old is the line on your reel? If the answer to either of those questions is “I don’t know”… You know what to do!

5. Float your boat

While a boat adds to the complexity of any fishing trip is also adds productivity, mobility, comfort and convenience. In my opinion, more than a fair trade. However, the early dawn of opening morning is a poor time to find out that the batteries are dead, the drain plug is missing, the trailer lights are burned out and the tabs are expired. Just don’t ask me how I found that out…

6. Rig all the rods

Another way to dodge Murphy’s Law is to rig all the rods in the garage the night before…or the night before that! Trust me, it’s a lot easier to tie up under a fluorescent light than a dome light.

7. Scout your location

One of my favorite opening day memories is taking my young son to our chosen opening day lake the day before the opener. The lake was stuffed to the lilly pads with rainbows that were literally jockeying for position to eat the next bug to hit the surface. Watching the surface activity was secondary to scouting out the ramp and available parking. A word to the wise: It’s time well spent!

8. Friday night load up!

Get it all in the rig the night before. If its missing, you still have time to find it or replace it… ’nuff said!

9. Get ‘em up easy…

Set the alarm a little early and let the gang go through a little of their morning routine. Rushing your charges out of the house so they can sit with you in a ramp line is not going to score you any points.

10. Make it fun!

Quick limits are great and are huge braggin’ rights fodder… on the Columbia for springers!…. Nobody is going to stop the presses and roll evening news tape for your stringer full of six inchers. The goal on opening day is to provide your friends and family with an introduction to a sport, a way of life that they will enjoy for the rest of their lives! Let the kids handle the rods and play every one of the fish! Let another kid handle the net, sit back and enjoy the mayhem that ensues!

Opening day is like a fishy Christmas. The more you give, the more you get and what you get from a successful opener you’ll never forget!

Tom Nelson

The Outdoor Line

710 ESPN Seattle

Sea Lion’s Invade Lower Columbia

On the heels of a record smelt run in the Columbia River there’s a new record, of sorts, being set by California Sea Lions on the lower Columbia River. Yesterday there was an astonishing 1420 sea lions hauled out on the floats of the East Mooring Basin in Astoria, Oregon. It’s the highest number of the furry pinniped’s ever encountered in the marina and biologists, as well as anglers, are hopeful the sea lions are heading downstream instead of upstream.

Here’s a shot from Q float in the East Mooring Basin. There’s 529 sea lions on this float alone. I’m not certain how these folks plan on getting to their boats…yikes!

Astoria - California Sea LionsRob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle


Anchor System Academics

The ability to quickly, effectively and safely anchor your boat is a fundamental aspect of seamanship that will help you catch more fish, enjoy a restful time on your vessel and most importantly, keep all aboard safe and sound in the event of a grounding or complete power failure.

My main focus for this project was to lay out and mount an anchor roller mount and deck pipe (deck top access to the rope storage locker) that would be easy, convenient and safe for everyone on board. Fortunately, the gang at Harbor Marine in Everett had everything I needed!

Our project boat is the Weldcraft 280 with nothing short of a bulletproof “pulpit”!



Our “raw materials” for this project are, top to bottom: Lewmar anchor roller mount, Rocna Fisherman 6kg modified plow anchor and a Perko hinged chain pipe.aRawmaterial


The anchor roller mount installation is straightforward, just line it up straight and make sure the anchor’s point, in this case the Rocna chisel tip clears the pulpit support under the roller.aDrill


Now it’s time to lay out the chain pipe hole and since this is a fairly significant jig-saw job, it’s definitely a case of “measure twice, cut once”!



Rest assured, I double-checked the area under the cut to make darn sure that there was no electrical or other “trouble” hiding under the deck!



Marine silicone around the pipe flange guarantees that the only water getting into that anchor locker is coming through the pipe… not around it!



Nice, clean, sturdy installation so far, now for some chain on that Rocna Fisherman!



A boat length of 3/8″ Galvanized Proof Coil chain shackled to the Rocna finishes the package…almost… 



While the installation looks bad to the bone, the anchor is a bit tilted and will rock back and forth a bit on the road and the last thing we want is to weigh the anchor on Interstate 5!…So…



Drill baby drill! The Lewmar anchor roller mount has three holes pre-drilled to fit a 5/16″ lock pin. Drill the anchor stock to fit one of the roller mount holes and add a piece of 150lb test mono with crimped loops for a pin keeper…and buy an extra pin just in case!


Now I’m ready to anchor fish for halibut in the Straits, springers in the Columbia or maybe even to take a little break in the action! These days, we all need a little break…Right?

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

The 2014 Salmon Forecasts!!!

A sure sign of spring after a long winter is the annual arrival of our salmon forecasts and the “North of Falcon” meetings. I await the salmon forecast numbers like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Hello, my name is Tom and I am a “salmon sicko”.

After watching the numbers for a number of years (never mind how many…) I’ve found that you can “call some shots” by digging into the forecast numbers. The WDFW, DFO Canada and The PFMC (Pacific Fisheries Management Council) work very hard to get their chinook and coho abundance estimates out in a timely manner. These figures take some pouring through to find the real “meat” but don’t worry, I’ve done all the leg work for you right here!

2014 Preseason adult Chinook Forecasts (in thousands)

Stock                    2009       2010     2011       2012       2013       2014 
Willapa fall             34.8      31.1       36.8        45.2         27.1        32.4
Hoh fall                   2.6         3.3        2.9           2.7           3.1          2.5
Nooksack/Sam       23.0      30.3      37.5         44.0        46.5        43.9

Skagit summer       23.4      13.0      15.9          9.6         13.2        18.3

Stillaguamish          1.0        1.4         1.9          0.9           1.3          1.6

Snohomish Wild      8.4        9.9         7.4          2.8          3.6          5.2
Snohomish Hatch   4.9         5.6         5.1         3.9           6.8          5.4
Tulalip Bay              4.0         3.4         3.5        5.9          10.9          4.7

S Puget Wild          17.2      12.7        8.9          8.9           5.2          4.8
S Puget Hatch        93.0      97.4      118.6       95.8       101.9       101.4

Hood Canal Wild     2.5      2.4           2.1         2.9            3.3          3.5

Hood Canal Hatch  40.1     42.6         38.3       43.9         65.7        80.6

Key Stock totals 255,600  253,100  278,900  266,500  288,600  304,300!!!

This is a very significant selected stock chinook forecast to say the least! Easily the highest number we’ve seen for over a decade.  We can be fairly safe in the assumption that chinook seasons may be similar to last year. Generally these particular stocks stable with respect to 2013, while the Skagit,is up sharply and the Nooksack/Samish checks in with a solid forecast as well which should drive a very strong Marine Area 7 summer chinook season. The number that really stands out to me is that 22% increase in Hood Canal hatchery chinook… North area 9 should be smokin’ again come July!
The Silver Story! 2014 Preseason Adult Coho Forecasts (in thousands of fish)

Stock                     2009         2010            2011          2012        2013        2014
Straits Wild              20.5          8.5              12.3           12.3       14.8         14.5
Straits Hatch            7.0            7.8              12.7           18.6       15.4         15.3
Nook/Sam W           7.0            9.6               29.5           25.2      45.4          20.8
Nook/Sam H          25.5          36.0               45.7           62.8      49.2          61.7

Skagit Wild             33.4          95.9             138.1          48.3     137.2        112.4

Skagit Hatch          11.7            9.5               16.2           14.9       16.3         15.8

Stilly Wild               13.4           25.9              66.5           45.5        33.1        32.4

Stilly hatch              0.0              5.4                0.6             4.1          3.1          3.1

Snohomish W         67.0           99.4            180.0         109.0     163.8        150

Snohomish H          53.6           24.5              80.4           80.5      111.6        78.1

S Sound Wild          53.6          25.3              98.9           43.1       36.0         62.8

S Sound Hatch        188.8       186.4            173.3         162.9     150.9        172.7

Hood Wild                48.6          33.2              77.5           73.4       36.8         47.6

Hood Hatch              52.0          51.2              72.1           62.6       68.6         82.7

Key stocks Total   338,600   320,800      916,000   628,600     783,200   869,800


Is this the “new normal”? Ever since the 2011 coho run we’ve been experiencing some absolutely world class coho fishing. The increase in south Puget Sound stocks alone have me thinking that 2014 will not see many anglers stray far from Puget Sound come September! In fact, the overall feeling among fisheries managers is one of optimism bone of increasing oceanic salmonid survival.

If all this is not enough to get -and keep you- fired up, how about a Frasier River sockeye forecast that’s conservatively estimated at 24.3 MILLION with another 345,000 headed for the Columbia! Lake Washington sockeye anglers may have another year to wait with only 166,000 headed for the Ship Canal but a look north to the Baker River gives to 35,377 bright, red reasons to be encouraged!

Keep in mind that these numbers are but the “raw material” that the co-managers will use to craft our local seasons and only by attending the North of Falcon meetings can you have an impact on the process. We will keep you posted here but I sincerely look forward to meeting some of you….at the meetings!!!

For a schedule of the North of Falcon meetings near you hit WDFW’s North of Falcon page.

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

My New .300 Winnie – From Set-Up to the Field

Last winter I decided to pick up a new rifle that would work a little better for long shots in open country…a long range bomber if you will. The time had come to retire my old Browning 30.06 and get with the times.

My search turned up a dizzying number of quality rifles that would work just fine, but in the end I settled on a Savage Bear Hunter in .300 Winchester magnum. The rifle came stock with a muzzle break, a fluted barrel, and Savage’s patented Accu-trigger system amongst other things. Savage has come a long, long ways and their new rifles are definitely worth taking a peak at.

Here’s the unique look of the Accu-trigger assembly. The trigger is set at the factory for 2.5 pounds of pressure and it comes with a tool so that you can adjust the trigger to your liking. I left it at the factory setting.

Savage Accu Trigger - The Outdoor Line on 710 ESPN SeattleFor optics I chose a Leupold VX-3L 4.5-14 scope with a 50 millimeter objective and Leupold’s patented Custom Dial System, or CDS. With the CDS system you sight the rifle in at 100 yards with the ammunition that you’re going to hunt with and then send your dial covers back to Leupold with a card filled out with all your ammo’s ballistics. They then make a custom set of dial covers specifically for that ammunition that effectively eliminates the need to use the mil dot system. Simply range your animal, set the scope on the correct range setting, hold on the kill zone, and fire!

This whole package came together around late April last spring and since I leave for Alaska in late May there would be little time for me to set this gun up properly. So I reached out to Steve Turner (360-801-0716) from and Don Davis from Snake River Hunt Club. These guys have been setting up rifles for years and they offered to set mine up and perform the much needed break-in on my Savage while I was away. Like anything the devils in the details and these guys know the details much better than I do.

Mounting the Scope

After talking with the guys we decided to set my Leupold up with two scope mount bases instead of a solid base. While solid bases can lend a little more stability to your scope they can sometimes get in the way of the throw of the bolt. Since the Leupold VX-3L sits very close to the barrel Don decided to mount my scope up with two Leupold bases made specifically for the Savage Bear Hunter series. This would eliminate any interference from the scope.

Leupold Scope MountsNorthwest Hydroprint

The Savage Bear Hunter comes with a stainless barrel and bolt assembly, which I really like since I hunt in the rain quite a bit. The downside to this is that it sticks out like a sore thumb on days when it’s sunny. Even though Savage brushes the stainless steel to dull it down considerably we felt like the great folks at Northwest Hydroprint could help us out a little here.

Don’t ask me how this works because I can’t begin to understand, but they use a water process to apply graphics to metal. Applying just about any camo pattern to a rifle or shotgun is a snap for these folks. Don drove my Savage to their facility in Montesano, Washington and had them apply a Mossy Oak break up pattern to the barrel that very nearly matched the camo pattern on the stock. The rifle looked absolutely awesome when it came back!

Here’s the finished product and you can see the muzzle break and the heavy fluted barrel in this photo.

Savage Muzzle BreakThe Break-in Process

Most off-the-shelf rifles come with microscopic burrs that will effect the long range accuracy of the gun. These burrs can either be removed by hand lapping the barrel or by simply shooting the rifle at the range. Steve and Don chose to break in my rifle on the range and I purchased some fairly inexpensive ammunition, if there is such a thing, for this task.

Montana X-Stream Rifle Cleaning Products

Steve fired 40 total shots of this ammunition thru the barrel over the course of nearly a full day at the rifle range. For the first 20 shots he cleaned the barrel with Montana X-stream bore conditioning products after every shot and he let the barrel cool for long periods of time between shots so that the barrel didn’t heat up. This is a tedious task and well worth the money if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.

Then Steve fired an additional 20 rounds thru the barrel and cleaned the barrel after every three shots. Again, waiting enough time between each shot to allow the barrel to cool down.

Sighting-in with Leupold’s CDS System

I sighted this .300 win mag in with Federal ammunition in a 165 grain Barnes bullet and my dial covers are set for shots up to 650 yards. The difference in the sight-in process when you’re getting set up for custom dial covers is that you sight in dead-on at 100 yards instead of holding two or three inches high. I took two trips to the range to get this bad boy dialed in at 100 yards. This .300 Win Mag is a tack driver!

Leupold CDS Scope Dial Covers - The Outdoor Line on 710 ESPN SeattleField Ready

As luck would have it the shot I took on my Montana mule deer this year was only a 120 yards and I didn’t even utilize this rifles full range. I’ve never felt more confident in taking a long range shot, however, and perhaps next year I’ll get the opportunity to truly test out this rifles long range characteristics.

Rob Endsley's 2013 Montana Mule DeerI really need to thank both Don and Steve for taking so much time to set up my rifle properly. I’m always in a rush and I can guarantee I wouldn’t have allowed myself enough time to put this rifle package together correctly. If you pick up a new rifle and want someone to do the same for you I highly recommend these guys.

Now that you’ve gotten this far here’s a couple of links that might be helpful:

Complete instructions on how to break in a rifle properly visit- Scope mounting instructions – and click on the video section..  Northwest Hydro Printing –

Ah man…hunting season is officially over and I’m already finding myself thinking about the possibilities of the 2014 hunting season. To keep from going too stir crazy (read that as…driving my wife crazy) I’ll be doing some shooting to get even more comfortable with this rifle and researching some out-of-state hunting opportunities. I may fish for a living, but the hunting addiction burns deep!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Guest Blog: Tony’s Tacklebox by Tony Floor

Like clockwork, every February, saltwater salmon fishing for winter blackmouth gets better and better in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sekiu east to Smith Island. As the microscopic tag, inserted in tip of the snout of about 10% of Washington’s hatchery produced chinook salmon indicates, these winter fish that gather in the Strait at this time of year come from all directions. However, a high majority of them come from Puget Sound and Hood Canal salmon hatcheries. Your tax dollars at work!


This month, I intend to dive into this late winter and early spring fishing phenomena, particularly focusing on the banks of the eastern Strait. Take it to the bank, baby!

Winter blackmouth are the result of Washington’s impressive chinook salmon hatchery production, as noted above, entering their third and fourth year of life. They will become sexually mature in the next few months, when we then refer to them as king salmon, bound for the salmon hatcheries of their origin at the end of the summer, primarily in late September and October. During these early fall months, they will make babies for future generations of chinook salmon. Thank you very much.

Turning back the pages of time, I was introduced to winter blackmouth salmon fishing in the late 70’s by my mentor, Frank Haw and some of his Top Gun salmon fishing colleagues at the Washington Department of Fisheries. Mooching for blackmouth was the game back then, which was a wonderful introduction to understand blackmouth fishing techniques, such as the feel of the bite, then reeling down and driving a single hook into the jaw of a feisty winter blackmouth. We free drifted the currents back then, from 80 to 120 feet of water between Sekiu and the mouth of the Hoko River, trying to find schools of herring in the water column, working our plug-cut small herring from the surface to the bottom. Ninety percent of the time, that light tapping of a chinook salmon, which had come to our baits, happened while free spooling and dropping toward the deck. Uh-oh, customer! Reel down fast! As fast as you can until the line got tight with the chinook… on.

Frank planned those trips, usually in mid to late February as the winter blackmouth were arriving in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was a blast and I learned significant skills on my way to becoming a better blackmouth angler. The fish were uniformly in the seven to 12 pound category as they are today, some 35 years later.

Unlike those salmon fishing glory years, you can hear a pin drop in Sekiu today, as this isolated rural community struggles to stay alive. In the evolution of winter blackmouth fishing, most anglers have discovered great fishing, much closer to home. With that said, however, the blackmouth still live at Sekiu from mid-February through early April (opensFeb. 16 and closes April 10). You want quality blackmouth fishing? Trailer your boat and make a trip to Sekiu during this timeframe and you’ll have the fishery to yourself.

I did exactly that, last March with fishing buddy Dan Tatum from Discovery Bay. I think we went through three props on his outboard in two days as the result of vicious attacks by blackmouth! Okay, not quite that level of smoking hot fishing, but catching our limits of blackmouth up to 14 pounds in a half hour is more accurate. Yep, Dan and I are going back.

As my addiction to winter blackmouth fishing became full blown crisis in the 80’s, thanks to Frank, I met Mike Schmidt from Sequim, who wore a badge for the Department of Fisheries when not fishing. Although Mike rarely put the heat on another angler, violating the fishing rules when we were fishing together, we did handcuff countless limits of winter blackmouth, fishing the banks in the eastern Strait. My oh my, did Mike ever take me over the edge!

I think it was somewhere around ’86 or ’87 when Mike first introduced me to Hein Bank on a blue bird March day. Hein Bank, for simplistic purposes, sits on a line drawn from the easterly tip of Dungeness Spit to the west side of Salmon Bank, on the south end of San Juan Island. From Dungeness Spit, following that line in a northeasterly direction, it is about two-thirds of the distance toward Salmon Bank, or about 14 miles in open water. With today’s gps technology, and mapping chips, it seems like I’m describing it’s location writing from a cave in the Himalaya’s. Sorry about that.

Mike and I, as old as we are becoming, did not discover Hein Bank. The bank was actually discovered by A.D. Bache, Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey Program back in 1854. How’s that for a piece of history available via Google! ‘Ol A.D., or whatever his name is, named the bank after his dispersing agent Samual Hein, which makes it okay to refer to Hein Bank as “Sammy’s Bank.”

What A.D. and Sammy did not know at the time, was that Hein Bank would become one of the most productive feeding pastures for chinook salmon at least for the first half of every year.

Back in those years when Mike and I pounded the bank, we mooched it from the southeast corner, drifting west across the southerly tip in around a 120 feet of water, working our plug-cut herring up and down in the lower 20 feet of the water column. Fish after fish after fish was common as they bit like crazy on those ebb tides, running at about a foot per hour.

Today, nearly three decades later, you’ll hardly find a boat on the south end of Hein Bank. The fishery, while still productive on an outgoing tide, is a downrigger show, trolling a 12 pound lead downrigger ball a few feet from the deck, fishing with the current. Now, anglers start on the north end in about 100 feet of water or less, maintaining a southwesterly course while managing for a depth from 100 to 140 feet of water. And the fish are there. I’ll bet money that they are there now, as you’re reading this column. Mercy!

As a side note, never overlook this area in July, as it can be lights out for king salmon migrating east down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I fished it in late July last summer and my wrist is still sore. Don’t you love fish induced pain? Herring won’t work in the summertime as the Strait is inundated with dogfish. Slap on the spoons or hoochies and you’ll be in the game.

While a plug or whole herring is very effective at this time of year, trailed 20 feet behind a downrigger ball in what some call a “naked herring,” Coyote and Coho Killer spoons, or a white hoochie following a flasher by about 38-40 inches is extremely effective. Using the word extreme in this description is accurate. Some anglers like to put a tiny strip of herring on the forward hook, when using a hoochie which is a lethal technique.

Other banks in the eastern Strait can also be equally productive during the next two months. Trolling along the sandy bottom on an ebb tide at Salmon Bank, close to the ledge of the east side of the bank is usually a slam dunk. Never overlook the SW corner of McArthur Bank, or the NE corner of Eastern Bank (ebb tide) and of course Coyote Bank (ebb or flood), located about 5 miles west of Hein Bank are my favorites in today’s bank fisheries. Clearly, all of these locations are driven, in productivity, by the presence of baitfish. And when we talk baitfish on the banks, we are talking about sandlance (candlefish). Gobs and gobs of sandlance, swarm the banks either as feeding juveniles or reproducing as adult sandlance in a preferred habitat during the late winter and early spring months. Predominately, as noted above, moderate ebb tides are ideal and most productive.

As long as we’re zeroing in on February fishing opportunities, you might want to consider the upcoming Roche Harbor Salmon Classic, February 6-8, paying out $25,000 in cash prizes. If it’s not sold out yet (100 boat cap), it is, in my view, the premier annual blackmouth fishing tournament in the San Juan Islands and the kickoff to the NW Salmon Derby Series.

The Roche Harbor tournament is followed immediately by the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, February 15-17. This derby, with a history of nearly 40 years, is known formerly as the Iron Man Salmon Derby, or the Discovery Bay Derby, which draws about 800 anglers every year, competing for the largest blackmouth worth a cool $10,000. I like cool! The fishing boundaries for this tournament expanded a few years ago taking in most marine waters east of the Port Angeles region and including Admiralty Inlet waters. It is one of the most popular winter tournaments and the second tournament in the NW Salmon Derby Series. All participating anglers are elgible to win a new 21-foot River Hawk grand prize boat, fully outfitted and powered by Mercury 4-stroke outboards for a total value of over $60,000!

Enough of this talk about this February blackmouth fishing. I can’t take it anymore! I’m headed north for the banks! See you on the water.

7 Ways to Piss off your Guide!

Wanna piss off your next hunting or fishing guide? Here’s a few tried and true tactics that work every time:

The Low-Holer

There are very few things that will piss of a fishing guide more thoroughly than a Low-Holer. A Low-Holer is the customer that plays stupid but their true intention is to learn a guide’s favorite fishing hole  and then low-hole them days or weeks later. A perfect example of this is spending a day on the water with a river guide and then launching early and beating the guide to their absolute can’t-miss spot the very next day. If you really want to be known as the ultimate douche bag on the river…do this!

Showing up at Camp out of Shape

I honestly don’t see how big game hunting guides can consistently get their guests into trophy game animals when most of them show up to camp so out of shape that they’re winded just getting out of the truck. There are so, so many people that really “want” a trophy class animal and truly think they deserve that animal because they shelled out thousands of dollars to hunt with the best guide on the planet. They’ve done their research, found the highest density of trophy game animals on earth, and booked the best guide in the area to help them fulfill their destiny. There’s only one problem…they haven’t set foot in the gym or on the mountainside in years and they think exercise is pushing a pen across the desk. Sorry pal, but you still have to hike your ass off and in some cases run your tail off to make it happen out there in the hills. If you book a trophy hunt do yourself, the guide, and the animal a favor and get yourself in a small modicum of shape long before the hunt starts. Most off all your guide will appreciated it.

Proficiency with Your Weapon

Here’s another conundrum that hunting guides have to deal with – the customer that arrives at camp with a rifle that’s never been sighted-in or a bow string they’ve only plucked but a few times. They’ve communicated to their guide countless times how proficient they are with their weapon. When the time comes to harvest the game animal of a lifetime, however, they’re all over the place.  Most hunting guides will have their guests sight their rifle in before a hunt begins to make sure the rifle is on target and also to see how the hunter reacts to their firearm. This can usually be achieved on the range in just a short time. Getting comfortable with a bow, however, takes many long hours of practice. Get the work done ahead of time and you won’t get “the look” from your hunting guide. The animal deserves this respect also.

Don’t Listen

There’s little worse than the customer that does the exact opposite of what their guide tells them to do and then wonders why they don’t have anything at the end of the day. If you’re guide has a good reputation for getting people into fish or tagging out animals there’s a darn good chance they know what they’re doing. This is generally why women catch more fish on guided trips than men…because they listen. Some men are more concerned with rattling their sabers and sparring with their guides to show them up while the wife is listening intently and catching all the fish.

Damn I’m great…Just Ask Me

They’ve got the perfect cast, the finest of gear, they can hit a gnats ass at 2,000 yards blindfolded, and they’ve harvested the largest specimen of every single living creature on the planet. The DIGJAM is the self-appointed ideal human being. There are some legit DIGJAM’s out there, but they are few and far between. A guide friend who happens to be an ex-Navy Seal took a guy fishing for a few days in search of a world record chum salmon. The guy had broken line class records, world records, casting records, and DIGJAM records all over the world. In the end the guide didn’t get paid and said DIGJAM artist probably shouldn’t set foot in that river valley again. This cat was the perfect combination of DIGJAM and Pay-You-Later. No bueno!

Pay You Later

Most guides that I know live month to month and certainly aren’t guiding because of the money.  They are “living the dream”, so to speak. The deposit you sent in for the trip covers most, but not all of the expenses it takes to run the trip and receiving the final portion of the trip payment barely put’s them into the black. If you leave them with “hey, I’ll get a check in the mail right away” at the end of the trip your guide’s brow will furl and you’ll probably get “the look”. Don’t get lumped in with DIGJAM and Low-Holer…pay the guide their due.

Showing Up Late

Believe it or not ten minutes can spell success or disaster on most hunting or fishing trips on America’s public lands and waterways. This is particularly true on coastal salmon and steelhead streams when the rivers are super low and gin clear and the fish are spooky. If you show up 30 or more minutes late on a day like this your guide will fake like everything is ok, but the little voices in their head are saying “Told you so!” when hole after hole produces nothing. If the guide is new to the business they’ll act like everything is hunky-dory and it was just a “tough day”. Fish with a guide that’s been around for years and I’m afraid those voices in their head will be voices in their mouth. Do yourself a favor and show up on time or even better, a little early. Your guide will appreciate and you’ll hook a few more fish.

These are just a few things you can do to throw your guide into a tail spin. There’s plenty of things that a guide can do to piss off their customers too, and I’ll crank out a short list of those things soon. In fact, you can take some of the items listed above and simply turn them around and they’d fit nicely in the “7 Ways to Piss off a Customer” list. I’ll get to work on that one right away!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

“Inverting” My On-Board Electrical Thinking.

When you get right down to it, there are only a couple things you can absolutely control on your boat: One, the amount of fuel you have on board and two, the health of your batteries.

For the former, I’m a habitual tank “topper”…for the latter, I’ve always been a big proponent of on-board battery chargers. I mean heck, what can be easier than pulling into the driveway, climbing into your boat with an extension cord and plugging in your built-in battery charger? After a talk with my friend Lauren Bivins at Harbor Marine, I learned exactly what is easier and makes your boat’s electrical system more versatile too!

For starters, how about a dedicated weather-resistant 30 amp shorepower connection installed on your boat…



…and, instead of installing on-board battery chargers for all your battery banks, how about a single Inverter/Charger?


An inverter converts the 12V DC energy stored in your batteries into household 115V AC electricity to run standard business and household appliances when shore power is not available. Ok, this is where I have to admit that the Koureg coffee maker that I got for Christmas is one big, hot, steamy reason  behind all this but keeping bait frozen in a portable freezer, warming a sandwich in a small microwave, charging camera batteries, cell phones, rechargeable flashlights/spotlights are several other great reasons to have 115V AC power on board.

Inverter/chargers have outputs that include a powerful battery charger, associated battery monitors and remote controls. Inverter/chargers almost always include an automatic transfer switch, so that when your inverter/charger detects another source of AC power (because you plugged into shore power) the inverter/charger shifts gears from inverting to charging batteries. If the outside source of AC goes away, it automatically switches back from battery charger to inverter. Inverter/chargers become an integral part of your boat’s electrical system and can rapidly replenish battery banks.

Here’s a simplified Inverter/Charger schematic. Keep in mind that several batteries can be charged by a single I/C unit!



The bottom line is the tremendous handiness of having a couple of AC outlets on board and a simple, small panel locked up securely inside the cabin.



Not to mention having an on-board monitor which constantly displays my batteries state of charge. If you look close you can see “FUL” on the display, indicating a “FULL” state of charge which is a very good thing!


When you consider that all of your boat’s vital functions are completely controlled and governed by your electrical system, it really pays to add to your boats electrical capacity. If you think about it, we use more electricity on board now than ever before. Large electronics displays, defrost fans, electric downriggers, stereos, lighting and marine VHF radios add up to an amp draw that your kicker motor’s 4 amps doesn’t have a prayer of keeping pace with.

Adding an Inverter/Charger to your boat’s electrical system is a great way to stay in front of your boat’s growing electrical demand and will make your boat more comfortable in the process. Go see my friends at Harbor Marine at the Seattle Boat Show and you’ll see what I mean!

Hot coffee anyone???

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Hunting in Alaska, It’s No Walk in the Park!

Hunting in Alaska, It’s No Walk in the Park!

Brown2For all those that don’t hunt-It’s hard in Alaska and you EARN it! Take for example this Brown Bear hunt.

First you have to get yourself and your gear to a remote location by small plane.

Then you must unpack all the gear and generally hike to a favorable spot with all your gear AND food AND cooking utensils AND camping gear-you need lots of it if you are going to stay comfortable for ten or more days at a time.

Then you must endure days of fowl weather all the while staying warm and dry.(did I mention packing clothing?)

Then there are days of endless hiking and glassing for game. Yes, Alaska has a lot of game, but we also have a LOT of country for game to hide in.

Now, after days upon days of inclement weather you get lucky and bag that trophy of a lifetime more work begins!

BearloadIn the photo this Brown Bear hide was so heavy it could not be packed out on a frame-I tried and it BROKE the frame, now what? I told the client at the time that I would have to cut his trophy bear hide in half to pack it-he almost fainted! I was of course kidding but the only other option I had was what you see in the next photo. Roll it up in a tarp to protect it and then proceed to drag it three mile back to base camp where the small plane could be used to fly it out.

After all that work, I had to go back to spike camp and get all the gear and get it back to base camp where the plane was to haul all of that back.
Folks, hunting in Alaska is the hardest hunting in the world-bar none!

Bearload2You earn everything you get here. We don’t have Landrovers like they do in Africa or horses like they do in Montana or pickup trucks like you do in the Lower 48!

If you ever plan to hunt in this Great State, be prepared to WORK HARD-it’s no walk in the park!

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