I hate Labor Day!

I hate Jerry Lewis…

Don't get me wrong, he's a talented guy, a huge influence on many of today's stand-ups and unquestionably broke a lot of comedic ground.

It's just that as a youth, school was not my favorite thing, summer was -and in a lot of ways still is- my favorite season. So for years as a kid when I saw the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon coming, I knew that school was on its way and summer was all but over.

Maybe that's a lot to throw at Jerry.

After all, he's just trying to put a dent in MD and  help some kids & their families… So, let me start again…

I hate Labor Day…

If Memorial Day is the springtime promise of summer,
Labor Day is the end of a season, a door closing.

Seeing the end of summer crab season coming, I cleaned out the crab bait freezer last week. Like so many of you,  I use all the backbones and heads accumulated from a summer of salmon fishing.  Baiting the crab pots one last time with my son Matthew was like a "rewind" of our salmon season.

There was the pair of kings we got on the July first San Juan opener, a bunch of Midchannel  Bank  backbones and the August 40 pounder we got on the last day of the first Skagit opener in 16 years….A great summer that I have had the good fortune to share with you through this website and a series of blogs.

An old saying goes: "As one door closes, another one opens".

The door that I'm walking through takes me away from the salt water and into the fresh, trading the downriggers for drift rods.

 

The door that I'm walking through leads an angler to experience the rivers in their absolute best…in numbers of fish… and scenery…

 

The door that leads from summer to autumn takes one to different roads.

 

Away from the coast and over mountain passes…

Good bye flip-flops, hello hunting boots. See ya summer. Hello fall!

Perhaps summer is just one of my favorite seasons.

Maybe Jerry Lewis isn't such a bad guy after all…

Humble Pie

Since I retired from playing in the NFL people always ask me what I do to get that rush or thrill from competition.  Most people assume that I miss the game so much that I go by camp to watch practice and try to get down on the sidelines for games.  Sorry to disappoint but I've been there done that.  Don't get me wrong, I am very thankful to the game and all of the opportunities that it has given me but after 14 years it was time to find something else to get that thrill of competition from.  For me, I get my competitive juices flowing when I get on the water.

It doesn't matter if I am in a tournament, derby, or just fishing with my son's.  If I am on the water, I am competing.  I can't think of any other sport that offers more things to compete against than fishing.  You have the fish, the elements, other boats, other fisherman on your boat and perhaps  most difficult are your buddies that are expecting a report.  I don't know about you guys but I wnat to have something to brag about when I call someone with a report.  Having this thought in the back of my head always really motivates me to elevate my game.  Whether it's my game plan before I get out on the water or the decisions that I make once I get out on the water, I want to be dialed.

On the flip side, sometimes when you are competing you get your butt kicked.  This happened to me recently when I was fishing with Bob Funk of Mustad Hooks.  Bob fishes for salmon on Lake Ontario and used to guide here in Washington State. I knew I was fishing with an excellent fisherman and I was really putting some pressure on myself to perform.  The original plan was to go tuna fishing but after looking at the swell forecast and knowing that we only had one day I thought it best to go salmon fishing.  I had caught some fish the week before and was feeling pretty darn confident. After all, the kings have been on the bite and the pinks were showing up in force.     

 

Good coaching is always a plus when you are trying to raise the level of your game.

 

 Bob's son boated our only salmon of the day.

Well, what happens when you get a little cocky?  You guessed it, that's when you get your but kicked.  It reminds me of an experience I had when I was playing in Atlanta.  I was playing guard and was matched up with Warren Sapp.  I was having a great game and wasn't giving him anything.  Right before the half, Sapp went out of the game and some no-name guy that I hadn't even seen on film came in.  I said to myself "no problem", I can relax a little and still wear this guy out.  No sooner did I say that the guy beat by me for a sack.  The first and to my knowledge the only sack he ever got in the NFL. Years later as my career was winding down with the Seahawks my teammates were looking at an advertisement in a real estate magazine and this guy has an add with a picture of his sack and me laying on the ground.  Let's just say some lessons learned keep on teaching years later. 

Fishing is the same way.  It teaches us hard lessons sometimes but that is when we have the opportunity to ask questions and get better.  When I was out on the water with Bob and his son we were watching people catch fish all around us.  Boats over here, boats over there, singles, doubles, triples, everyone was catching fish.  Except us, that is.  It was a hard pill to swallow but I had to take my lumps.  I tried to blame our lack of success on Bob's UW sweatshirt but that probably didn't have anything to do with it.  After reviewing the day and asking myself and some other guys some questions and really trying to learn from the experience I think I have some answers.  The next time I am out on the water and people are catching fish without me I will do things differently.

   

 

2009 charter season goes out with a bang!

I skipped a fishing report post here on our website last week because, well, I just ran out of time on our last turn around day to post one. The last report is available over at www.theoutdoorline.com if you care to see some great fishing photos and a couple of humpback whale shots that might be better than seeing the
real thing.

The action on silver salmon was just starting to fizzle here a little bit the last few days when we got a report of some big hooknose coho a 40 mile run from our dock. With a fairly big swell and 20 knot winds forecast we thought about it for roughly, um, 5 seconds before deciding to make the run and we couldn't have been happier with the results.

It took roughly three minutes for coho chaos to descend upon the boat and all four rods lit up immediately with chromers jumping everywhere. Out of the four ballistic silvers hooked one ended up meeting Mr. Yamaha 250, another fish got snapped off with the weight making a big "Kaa-rang!" on the side of the boat, and the two others made it aboard the Polar Bear. Coho chaos…you betcha! The action yo-yo'd up and down for the next 4 hours as schools of fish moved thru until both boats were loaded up with fish and ten happy guests. A good majority of the silvers were between ten and fourteen pounds with the biggest hitting the scales at 17 pounds caught by Pete Rathwell of Phoenix.

Rusty Phillips was just here from Montgomery, Alabama with a group of friends and all he wanted was a big halibut. With 13.5 foot tides I knew it was going to be more than difficult and I was right. The guys cranked up more ling cod than you can shake a stick at, yelloweye rockfish, sea bass, and chicken halibut to 45 pounds, but we just couldn't find the barnie halibut we were looking for. Sooooo, at the end of first day we pull into a well known black sea bass area on the way home to grab the guys some white meat on the salmon rods and Rusty hooks the mother of all halibut in 240 feet of water…ON A SALMON ROD! The big mamma clamped onto a small quillback rockfish and towed us around the ocean for twenty minutes before thankfully coming unbuttoned. I have no doubt that this hefty grandma was anything less than 250 pounds and who actually knows how big it was. Sorry Rusty…maybe next time!

Now that the last group is outa he-ah I've got a few days to pack everything up, take inventory of the gear, tackle, and supplies for next year, winterize the boats and RV, and check in with all the people we do business with with here in Craig. We had a very succesful summer here in Southeast Alaska with good weather, good fishing, and a very busy schedule full of great customers. Thank you very much for fishing with us this summer and we look forward to seeing many of you back in 2010.

What's up next? I'm really looking forward to getting back into the 710 ESPN studio with Tom Nelson and Robbie Tobeck on Saturday mornings for "The Outdoor Line" radio show. In addition to being informative for our listeners it's a heckuva lot of fun for all three of us to agree, disagree, and take endless shots at each other over the subject of fishing, hunting, and other outdoor related topics. While I'll miss the August 29th show due to a marathon drive home from Alaska I'll be front and center for the September 5th show and very much look forward to it.        

Here's a few pics from the last part of our season here in Southeast Alaska.

Steve, Pat, Will, and Paul from Pennsylvania and Virginia had three days of great action for coho, chicken halibut, and ling cod. 

We had outstanding silver salmon fishing here in Craig, Alaska this summer. Here's Pete Rathwell from Phoenix with a big 17 pound coho he took with us the last day of the season. Nice work Pete!

Rodney “Dangerfield” Frederickson from another charter company here in town gives a customer some very detailed instructions on how to mooch up one’a them fiesty silver salmons.  Lots of fun having Rodney around out on the water!

Tuna Time with Tobeck!!!

This is a bookend blog.
Back in April, I poked a bit of fun at my "partner in (on-air) crime" with my May 18th entry entitled "Tiger Muskies, Tobeck, Tarps and Trees"
 After a day out tuna fishin' aboard Robbie's boat "Salmon Hawk" I gotta give my tuna-lovin' Coug counterpart his due… And, as a loyal Husky it stings… but just a little.


As a former Cougar and Seahawk center, Robbie's a load and his boat and tow rig…Well, the banner says it all…

We pulled into Westport, Launched and then loaded ice and grub on the boat (some folks do it the other way but this is a Coug we're talkin' about here…), then dinner and bunk down at the Islander for the night.

 

We hit the bait dock just before dawn and loaded up on fresh, fiesty anchovies!  

 

The run out over the Grays Harbor bar was not bad at all and by full light we we're full speed ahead.

 

Forty-five miles off shore we found the blue water and the clouds too!  

We started trolling the "Tobeck spread" of  Tuna Feathers and Tuna Clones from the outriggers, upper rod rack and gunnel rod holders. Rob likes his gear in a "W' pattern (similar to the big "W" on the middle of the field in Husky Stadium), with the closest rigs in the second wake back and the farthest rigs slightly behind the third wake.

Fish on!!!! the reel screams and Rob's son Mason -who is one HECKUVA young angler- jumps on the rod!

 

Rob deftly gaffs the first tuna of the day for his son Mason.

 

Tuna numero uno comes over the rail with a Tuna Clone screwed into his grill.  

 

Score a jumbo albacore for the Tobeck clan as Rob and Mason pause for a pic.  

The bite was best early in the day when the low light and rain had the tuna feeding near the surface. Despite the low light we still had difficulty scoring on the "slide" or transition from trolling to live bait, swim baits and "irons" or jigs. Most of our fish on this day would come on the troll which is a bit unusual.
As a salmon angler at heart I can promise you that this NASCAR-quick switch from trolling to vertical techniques is a vastly under-rated and under-utilized aspect of salmon angling that has the potential to double your catch!

 

When the sun came out and things slowed down, Rob jumped on the bow in his underwear, looking for jumpers.  

Tobeck assured me that these were "very manly shorts" from Florida. My only reply was that we must have a different definition of "manly" here in the Pacific Northwest… As we were fifty miles off shore, I thought it prudent not to point out that his "shorts" had no pockets and an open zipperless fly in front…

 

On the way back in we were greeted by porpoises who were crashing bait on the surface, but no tuna below them.  

 

Back at the dock, we hoist the day's catch, I'm on the left, Mason's in the middle and Rob's friend Mitch on the right.  

It was great to get out with Tobeck in his element, the blue off-shore waters inhabited by big game fish. I've had the good fortune to fish with Rob from here to Alaska and back and my friends, he is an thoroughly experienced angler with more species under his belt than I can count.
Why did I call this a "Bookend blog"? Well, I picked on Rob in the Tiger Musky piece and I took a few shots here too. Hey! I'm only human… But in fairness I've got to give the man his due.
 While I've spent a good portion of my life chasing salmon, steelhead, halibut and lings, Robbie has traveled much of the Pacific putting the hooks to marlin, tarpon, permit, dorado, sharks and other species I've only dreamed about. What it all boils down to is that while I'm a bit of a one-trick-pony, Robbie is a one man fishin' band that I'm proud to call a friend and who anyone can recognize as an accomplished angler.

Don’t mess with Texas!

When you see a lot of whale pictures in my reports you know the fishing is good. Sunny days and a relatively calm ocean have been the scene here the last few days with plenty of action to keep the rods bent. Two boats worth of Texans, with Robert "Permagrin" Aguilera on board to keep them honest, have kept the halibut and salmon rods jumping on the Polar Bear and Makai the last three days. The silver salmon action has been a everything from a "slow pick" to fairly wide open and we had a full boat limit of shiny silver salmon on the Polar Bear yesterday by 10:20 a.m and two days earlier it was an all day program to get our silvers.  

Halibut and ling cod fishing has been absolutely ridiculous on the ocean with one spot producing wide open action on "perfect size" chicken halibut from 15 to 30 pounds and wear-your-arms-out ling cod action. The Texans and Mr. Permagrin really wanted to try their luck at some big halibut, so we ventured slightly offshore a few days ago to a sandy hump that comes up from 550 feet to 225 feet, dropping pipe jigs, gut rigs, and scampi tail jigs to the ocean floor. Robert was the first to hook up on our boat, hammering a 115 pound 'but on a 2 lb pipe jig rigged with a Berkley Gulp grub and a salmon belly strip. Two other barnies smoked 100 lb Berkley Big Game braid off the Penn 340 GTi's before coming unbuttoned. A 122 pound halibut snapped up a silver salmon head and carcass rigged with two 12/0 J-hooks and came aboard the Polar Bear 20 minutes later. It was the same scene over on the Makai with Rick Preddy and Jim Elliot landing 115 and 172 pound halibut with Capt. Troy Thain. Both boats rounded out their halibut limits with halibut from 25 to 90 pounds.

Julia Kearney and Alan Sloka doubled up with a 17 lb Chinook and a 15 lb silver mooching herring in the ocean, one of many doubles, triples, and quad hookups the last few days on salmon. Just prior to this double I was staring at a huge bait ball on the Lowrance HDS and said something like "Here we go guys!" 

The Texas gang with halibut from 60 to 172 pounds

Rick and Sally Preddy and Jim Elliot with a mess of fish and chips 

Robert Aguilera with a keeper-sized ling cod. Rob definitely earned his ling cod merit badge the last few days here in Craig cranking up countless oversize lingers on pipe jigs. He finally raised the white flat yesterday…"That's it…I'm done!" 

Rob brings in a silver on the Pacific while a humpback whale breaches nearby

"The only thing that would top off today is a whale show on the way home." Ask and you shall recieve! A couple of humpback whale pics I snapped with my Nikon D70 rigged with a Nikon 18-200 lens on the way home yesterday.  

Capt. Rob Endsley

www.princeofwalessportfishing.com

McChord and Mason

I had the privilege last week to go to McChord Airforce Base to MC their first annual salmon derby.  As is always the case with these type of events I was very humbled by the outpouring of hospitality from a group of guys that we all owe a debt to.  When I first arrived I was greeted by my own special parking space designated by a nice sign with my name and number from my playing days with the Seahawks.  I was then greated by Kevin Ritter an FLW bass pro as well as a member of the Airforce.  Kevin helped me MC the event and showed me around the facility.  After a meet and greet with a few of the Airmen and a chance to welcome their new Commander we had the weigh-ins and award ceremonies.  It was great to see the first and second place winners catch their first keeper salmon ever.  It was also great seeing that these two fish were seperated by only 2/10ths of a pound.  All in all it was a great first year event and one that I hope I will be invited back to year after year.

  

 

After seeing the salmon being weighed in and hearing some good reports I had to get out on the water Friday morning.  My son mason and I came through the locks at about  5:30 am and dropped some crab pots before heading to Elliott Bay.  After winding my way around a couple hundred other boats Mason and I decided to head on up to Meadow point.  We kept hearing of fish being caught on the radio but we weren't seeing any action at Meadow Point se we kept heading north up to Jeff Head.  Immediatley we felt better about our chances as we didn't see the crowds that we had seen in Elliott and unlike Meadow we were marking bait. 

We had made a bet on who would catch the bigger fish and after Mason boated a 3# pink he started with the smack talk as he didn't think the old man would come home with anything.  Shortly after giving him a warning and telling him we still had a lot of fishing left my rod went off.  I could tell immediatley that it was a good fish.  I was excited because it was my first fish on my new Featha Stix True Hero downrigger rod.  Both the fish and the rod performed and after a 15 minute battle I was rewarded with a fiesty 20 lber.  After boating that fish I decided that maybe we didn't have much time left to fish and we headed to pull some crab pots.  Sometimes it's good to be DAD!!

 

Home River Redemption: Skagit River Chinook (Part III)

With my nephew, Dan Warns home on leave from the Navy, the pressure was on to get this sailor’s rod bent! Petty Officer 3rd Class Warns has a serious smoked salmon addiction and once he got a whiff of my hard earned summer stash, it started disappearing fast!

  Faced with massive smoked salmon predation, I had to take swift and decisive action so, you guessed it, out to Midchannel we went! It was a special day since my mother Marie came along as well as my best fishin’ buddy and son Matthew. Mercifully, the fishing pressure was light, we were marking bait, we had the tide right and the chinook were in a mood to bite!
 
Dan and Mom with the day’s first chinook and Dan’s first in quite a while!  

Nothin’ better than breaking the ice and following it up with catching your career king of 21 pounds! Good job Sailor!  

 

We were able to “lather, rinse and repeat” until we had a worthy fishbox…and work to do once we returned home.  

Secure in the knowledge that we were sending our soldier back to Norfolk Naval Station with a pile of smoked salmon, it was time to take a chance… on the Skagit.
 
   Late July’s heat wave worked the glaciers over, punching the Skagit completely out of fishing shape, essentially eliminating the third of the four chinook sportfishing openings. However, ticket sales for the Ray Reep derby in Mt. Vernon indicated that folks were betting on the big crick dropping back into fishing shape for the annual event. I was invited to attend the derby so right after the radio show on Saturday up to the Skagit we went.
 

As I came to the ramp after our Saturday afternoon “boat ride” I caught a glimpse of what turned out to be the winning fish!  

A gentleman named Otis bagged the winning chinook worth a cool two grand and weighing in at one ounce under 36 pounds. Mark Coleman of All Rivers Guide Service took second place with a beautiful king of 31 pounds. With the numbers of chinook entered in the derby boosting our enthusiasm, we planned on making a day of it on Sunday, the final day of the 2009 Skagit chinook season.

The lower Skagit reverses its current on high tide and the current slowdown is felt clear up to the forks. With a Sunday morning high tide on the chart, we knew we would have to fish near the forks early on. We sat on the pick until my friend JD Lundberg who was staying in his Fishtown cabin called and let me know that the current was heading in the right direction down low.


  After hoglining up with JD, we saw pinks starting to pop all around us and those fishing humpy gear were getting decent action.
   Suddenly the stern rod started screaming line out!


“That ain’t no humpy” JD cracked.


I grabbed the rod and handed it to my nephew Dan as Matt and I got the other rods in and threw the float…for the first time in sixteen years!


We drifted out, cut the distance between us and the slab chinook and pulled him out in the current away from a few snags. The big king made the mistake of swimming back toward the boat… I bagged him on a torpedo pass…
My Dad would have hit me in the back of the head for that risky move…

The work “Chrome” does not do this net full of chinook justice. I’m still looking for the right word. 


Just to make sure, we put the scale to him and he pulled it down to a number I have not seen for quite a while.  

 

I read this as forty pounds. We fished Sitka in June for 12 days and 39lbs was the biggest we found up there…

Here’s the happy crew aboard the Wooldridge DaWg Sled with a Skagit specimen that I waited sixteen years to catch.  

Talking with the folks in the know at WDFW, the summer chinook opportunity on the Skagit is viewed as a yearly possibility. Despite the fact that the fish were a bit late, they did indeed show and next year as sportsmen we can hope and argue for a bit longer season.


For my nephew, Petty Officer 3rd Class Warns, he can go back to duty at NAVSTA Norfolk, toting a pile of smoked salmon (which won’t last long) and telling a story (which should last a while longer) of catching his career king in salt water and nearly doubling it two days later in the Skagit river! Now, that's a fish story!

 But there is an even better fish story… Something that happened right after we boated our king…Stay tuned…

Great fishing continues in SE Alaska!

We just came off another great week of fishing here in Craig, Alaska with daily coho limits and wide open action on both halibut and ling cod.  King salmon fishing is starting to fizzle, but there are still a few kings around here and there.  Yesterday we got into a completely stupid coho bite on the Polar Bear…one of those scenes you just never forget.  Every pass we made past a particular kelp patty was producing one to three hookups and then a massive school moved in with silver salmon finning all over the surface and crashing bait in every direction. The guys were dropping their baits over the side and watching the silvers zip in and grab them right next to the boat. On the last circus bite one big coho was twisting around in the kicker motor, two more were literally ripping monofilament across the surface as they slashed and jumped wildly around the boat, and the fourth fish (a king) was screaming line off the Tekota until it finally stopped around 200 feet.  As I quickly tried to uncoil a 14 pound coho from the kicker motor propellor Stu exclaims, "Mikes got a king!" Mikes 26 pound king jumped from the water and landed with a Ka-Wooosh!  I quickly gaffed the fish next the prop, cut the line, grabbed the two other 'hos and off we went to get Mikes king.  Three big 'hos on the deck and a king in the bag. That would be the definition of coho chaos!

Halibut action has been absolutely wide open right now for chicken halibut from 15 to 35 pounds right now and there are bigger flatties around if guests want to put in the time. The ling cod fishing has also been very, very good and we've limited the last two groups on keeper ling cod, releasing plenty of bigger ones.  Both the lings and the halibut are stacked in the areas the trollers are working and the action on heavy scampi tail jigs is fast, very fast.

Mike Hammes and his 26 pound king salmon 

Stu Heatons 82 pound halibut, winner of the Ram group halibut jackpot

Stu also took the Ram king salmon jackpot with this 29 pounder.  The jackpot money all went to our fish cutter Tim "Slice and Dice" Koentop, who's wife Nan is fighting cancer right now. Our prayers are with them!

Rod Tople with a big ocean fresh 14 pound silver salmon

Always a good time with the Marshall group. They also were kind enough to donate their group jackpot to Tim's family.  Thank you so much guys and we look forward to seeing you again next summer!

Fishing in SE Alaska is about more than filling up the freezer. The wildlife and scenery our guests enjoy here is second to none and whale shows like this one occur almost daily.  This big humpback was slapping it's tail repeatedly on the surface on the way in a few days ago and we were able to grab some great pics.

This big fella was breaching just around the corner from town yesterday in the early morning mist. 

Look closely and you'll see the bubble ring around this feeding humpback whale. This whale was bubble feeding along the same kelp line we were hammering the coho on yesterday and on several occasions we had to move because the bubbles were getting a little too close for comfort. 

Capt. Rob Endsley

www.princeofwalessportfishing.com

 

Robbo’s Rancho Halibut Burritos

It's pretty safe to say that you won't find many rice cakes on my dinner plate and friends who have ordered at restaurants with me often hear me ask,"How big is it?", or "How much food is there with this?" To keep this big frame moving at A.D.H.D. speed all day long I need to take in a lot of calories and these burritos definitely help keep the pumps primed. Outside of the sheer size of these burritos they can also be built in a fashion that's good for the heart. Eat a couple of these man-sized burritos and I guarantee a food coma-induced nap in your favorite chair in the living room. Just be sure to hide the remote control…we wouldn't want you waking up to Oprah or Dr. Phil!     

Ingredients:

One pound skinless halibut

Refried beans

6 baby red potatoes

One cup grated chedder cheese

Flour burrito-size tortillas

Two eggs

¼ cup milk

Two packets favorite taco seasoning

One cup flour

Sliced iceberg lettuce

Three to four diced Roma tomatoes

Mango salsa

Ranch dressing

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Slice baby red potatoes into fourths and fry in olive oil until crunchy, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Begin heating refried beans on medium heat in small pot. 

Whip two eggs in small bowl and add ¼ cup milk for egg wash. Combine two packets of favorite taco seasoning with one cup flour in one gallon Zip Loc bag and shake thoroughly to mix.  Cut halibut in one inch thick strips and place in egg wash.  Remove halibut from egg wash and place into Zip Loc bag, being careful to seal the bag, and shake to thoroughly coat the halibut.  Fry halibut in olive oil in a non stick pan until golden brown on each side.

Spread refried beans onto flour tortilla and add cheese, halibut strips, potatoes, iceberg lettuce, and tomatoes. Add ranch dressing and desired amount of mango salsa and roll into burrito, folding over the ends. There is typically enough for four to five burritos.

Use nonfat refried beans and ranch dressing for an extra healthy version of these delicious burritos. Another trick to make for more crunchy halibut is to dust the strips first in the flour/seasoning combo, dip in egg wash, and then dust the halibut a second time in the flour mixture.

Capt. Rob Endsley

www.princeofwalessportfishing.com

 

Welcome to the 2009 Ray Reep Skagit Chinook and Pink Salmon Derby!!!

It’s no secret that the Skagit is my “home river”. I literally grew up on it, guided on it and scattered my father’s ashes in it.
After this weekend I will add another item to the list and that will be: Fishing Derby MC!
I have been asked to host the 2009 Ray Reep Derby this Saturday in Mount Vernon!

Please accept my personal invitation to attend, enjoy and compete in this friendly event and who knows? You could walk away with FIVE HUNDRED bucks for a humpy or a cool TWO GRAND for the biggest king!
Seriously, this is your last shot for a Skagit chinook this summer and you still have room in your freezer right?