My Comments on the Rules Proposals for 2010-2012

Please feel free to copy and paste any portion and send to or take a copy to the public meetings on the 4th and 5th of Dec.  I also encourage you to write your own and  comment on some of the other 100 plus rules proposals.

As an avid angler, and someone that makes at least part of my living in the sport fishing industry, I would like to take this opportunity to weigh in on some of the proposed rules for 2010-2012. 


Proposed Rules:


9.  I would like to support identical bag and slot limits for angling and spear fishing.  Further, I would like to recommend seperate seasons for each to reduce conflict.  I would also like to oppose the slot limit decrease that appears on page 145 of the rules proposals and was added September 29th well past the deadline.  The lingcod population has recovered nicely from where it was a few years ago with the slot limit as it currently is.  Lingcod are also a much faster growing bottom fish species. Lastly, the lingcod season is very short as it is, I see no reason for this proposal


10.  I do not support the depth restriction at this time.  The department has not defined how it would enforce this proposal or shown that rockfish retention in waters deeper than 120 ft has caused the problem that we currently have with rockfish populations.  Furthermore, the department refuses to either endorb se or study release techniques that would limit the mortality of these species.  I do support the closure of rockfish retention in areas 8-13 except during lincod season.  The lingcod fishery is the fishery where the most interaction with rockfish will take place and it would be ashamed to waste the resource due to post release mortality during this short 6 wk season.  I do not support allowing a spearfishing season in marine area 5.


13.  Please oppose the daily limit for dungeness crab fom 5 to 4.  The recreational crabber has been getting the short side of allocation for years despite the economic and social benefits of recreational crabbing.  I would much more prefer a more equitable allocation for the recreational crabber.  I do support the Friday to Monday open days.


32.  I would also urge that the state not pass this proposal.  The stated goal of the organization pushing this proposal is to ban lead weights in all waters.  The study that they are using is seriously flawed. This study would not stand up to any independant scientific review.  9 birds in 13 years without any toxocology reports of proof of cause of death is hardly a reason for such drastic action.  Tungsten, the replacement for lead is much more harmful on the environment and much more expensive for the American consumer.  It is made overseas and would cost jobs for Americans as well.


The proposed halibut and bottom fish closure in Neah Bay needs to be opposed as well.  This proposal was made months after the deadline and proposed by a sitting commissioner in an unprecedented way.  The proposal is purely an attempt by one user group to shut all others out.  This area is one of the top destinations in our state for recreational fisherman and has healthy populations of halibut and other bottom fish.  Additionally, it provides access to small boat anglers that would not have access to the ocean due to frequent dangerous conditions. The halibut season is already very short and the bottom fish are only targeted during select times of year due to conditions.  

Lastly, I urge the commission to say no to any proposals to have a recreational limit on albacore. There is minimal pressure from the recreational community.  The US harvest is only 15% of the entire North Pacific Catch.  The Washington recreational albacore fisherman is less than 1% of that total.  When looking at those numbers I don't see how you can manage a fishery with such a minor user group.  There is no proposal to limit the commercial catch.  The albacore stocks are healthy and I am not comfortable with limiting peoples access just because someone thinks it's a good idea.     

Thanks for taking the time to read and review my comments.


Robert Tobeck

Feel free to comment below.  I want to hear from you.

Thanksgiving Waterfowl Hunt

A total of 17 hunters rendesvous'd in the Skagit Valley near Conway on Sunday for the Outdoor Line Thanksgiving Waterfowl combo. The parking lot was full of camo at the Shell station in Conway at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday before the gang from North Sound Waterfowl rounded up our herd of excited hunters for the short drive across the Skagit River to one of their many goose fields. After we stuffed all the four wheel drives into the small parking area I grabbed Bryce Baker for a quick "How ya doin?" before we got going and his response, "We set 2500 snow goose decoys last night." With a wink and a nod he walked off to unload the duck tank. Hocheeeemamma!

The plan was to split into two groups, with a large group of 13 hunters in layout blinds in the middle of 2000 dekes and a second group of 4 placed along a brushy hedgerow next to 500 dekes where the geese had been flying the day before. No walking to the blinds here…we were all taxi'd out our hidey-holes in North Sounds Argo/M1 Abrams duck tank shown in the photo below.  

Here's a quick shot I took of the guys settling into the layout blinds in the middle of 2,000 Sillosock snow dekes.

What's a layout blind? Layout blinds are the ultimate concealment tool for field hunting. Here's a shot of my dad chilling in his blind, most likely sleeping. It's hard not to fall asleep in these things! 

Shooting hour came and went at 7:10 a.m. and we all sat and waited nervously for the first geese to fly off the bay and head inland. After an hour of waiting it started, just a little at first and then a LOT! The first wave was mostly small flocks of one to maybe 8 birds, but then the entire bay erupted and 40,000 snow geese ended up in the sky at the same time. I was sitting along the hedgerow next to Harold Cashman from Bellingham and both of us pretty much just sat there with our jaws dropped in total awe of the whole scene. Half of the massive flock tornado'd around our field as we banged away at them, dropping a dozen or more snow geese from the swirling mass of birds. 

Here's a few of the 21 snow geese harvested on the Thanksgiving hunt. You'd think with all those birds in the sky we would have gotten more, but with all those birds comes a lot of well trained eye balls. With the relatively mild weather we've been having here in Washington so far this winter many of the snow geese and ducks haven't needed to move down from the north. On a normal year with normal cold weather and a flock of over 200,000 snows, half of which are juveniles, Sunday's hunt would have been one for the books. Ah, Mother Nature, gotta love her…pass the beer nuts! 

Seattle firefighter Jared Fields and his dad, fire Chief Tom Fields, grabbed a few nice snows from the flock. Jared got two snow geese on his first time ever hunting waterfowl.

Woodinville fencing contractor Terry Glen got his share of the geese. Notice the ear protection…a very good idea!

Where do I know that guy from? It's John Keizer from Salt Patrol with a couple of Skagit Valley snow's. 

Here's dad and "Uncle" Frank Reed with some snows from our Monday morning hunt with North Sound Waterfowl. I haven't hunted with dad in 20 years…what a great time! At one point this morning we had a thousand snow geese locked up and committed. There's more to this story…tune in to Saturdays show for the full scoop on what happened next. I'll be throwing ma'sef under the bus on this one!

Dad and I with todays snow geese. Nothing like sharing these hunting adventures with dad!

All good things have to come to an end. We spent some time helping Justin and Bryce pick up the massive spread today before heading home.

I have to hand it to the crew from North Sound Waterfowl! They went well above the call of duty for this hunt and worked their tails off to provide the best day possible for our listeners. We also need to give a huge THANK YOU to the great companies that were so supportive of this event. Columbia Sportswear, Outdoor Emporium, Hunter Specialties, Holiday Sports, 4 Wheel Parts, and Otis Gun Cleaning Systems all geared up our hunters in a big way. In addition, North Sound Waterfowl discounted the trip by 15%!

Everyone went home with Goretex waterfowl gloves and hats from Columbia Sportswear, shirts and lids from Outdoor Emporium/Sportco, $50 gift certificates to 4 Wheel Parts, calls/lanyards/camo compacts from Hunter Specialties, and these few lucky folks walked away with a little more.

Billy Dyas, Columbia Sportswear Super Wader Widgeon jacket 

John Keizer, One dozen Greenhead Gear mallard dekes, Holiday Sports

Terry Glen, One dozen Greenhead Gear mallard dekes, Holiday Sports

Harold Cashman, Decoy bag, Hunter Specialties

Robert Aguilera, Tactical gun cleaning kit, Otis Gun Cleaning Systems

Jim Heins, Duck call, Outdoor Emporium

I also need to thank all of you that joined us for the Outdoor Line Thanksgiving Waterfowl Hunt today! I really had a great time with everyone and hope to see you all again out in the field sometime soon. Thanks a bunch guys!

Rob Endsley 

Top 6 Plug Colors for Winter Steelhead

Backtrolling plugs has become somewhat of a lost art with the recent explosion of side drifting, but if you want to put trophy steelhead in the boat plugs are still the way to go. Plugs accounted for the majority of the truly humongous metalhawgs I put my customers into over the years because they are invasive and they stay in the steelies view long enough to piss them off.

After fourteen years of guiding for winter steelhead you'd think I'd have dozens of color combos for all the different situations that we face on the river, but that's hardly the case. Over that span of time and thousands of days on the water I honed my plug selection down to just six colors. Perhaps I'd use a different plug design in different situations, but in the end these six colors found their way to the top of my plug box and they stayed there.

Jim Visbeek caught this high 20's Skagit System buck on a pink Tadpolly 

Bright colors really seem to piss off fresh-from-the-salt territorial winter steelhead. Winter steelhead hit the river sexually mature and there’s just something about bright colors, like orange, that drive them into hammering a plug.  Orange works great in off colored water, low light conditions, and in combination with both silver and gold in medium flows.

Like orange, pink works great in off colored water or low light situations and really strokes wild winter steelhead when water temperatures get over 42 degrees. Pink is a great all around color for winter steelhead in both off colored water and on bright sunny days when water temperatures start creeping up.

On bright sunny days it’s tough to beat the flash of a silver plug in clear water. Used in combination with other colors, silver gives off enough flash to attract a lethargic steelheads attention during the frigid days of winter. 

Gold and its cousin, Copper, work especially well in low and clear water fishing over pressured fish that have been in the river for a while. While gold still gives off plenty of flash, it’s subtle enough to keep from spooking steelhead wise to the plastic wiggler.  Gold plugs can also be dressed up to look like other space invading fish that steelhead don’t want in the kitchen.

Green is a subtle color that works great in low and clear water or on pressured steelhead. It works especially well on overcast days or in combination with silver on sunny days.

Like green, blue is another subtle color that fools pressured steelhead in low and clear water. Used in combination with silver it works great in medium to low flows and it really strokes steelhead during the summer months.

New Columbia River License Requirements

Dear Washington Angler,

Licenses for the 2010 license year (April 2010 – March 2011) will be available for purchase beginning December 1, 2009.

In April 2009, the Washington State Legislature passed into law the requirement beginning April 1, 2010, that any person 15 or older wishing to fish for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River or its tributaries must have a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead endorsement in addition to their fishing license.  The cost of the endorsement is $8.75 (all fees included) and can be purchased at a license dealer or online ( ).  The endorsement is good for the license year.  Revenue from the endorsement will be dedicated to supporting salmon and steelhead fisheries in those areas.

For more information about the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead endorsement and to view a map that shows where the endorsement is required, please visit

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Car Hits Coyote and it Survives

Meet the wiliest of all coyotes: Hit by a car at 75 mph, embedded in the front bumper, rode for 600 miles – and SURVIVED!

When a brother and sister struck a coyote at 75 mph they assumed they had killed the animal and drove on.They didn't realize this was the toughest creature ever to survive a hit-and-run. Eight hours, two fuel stops, and 600 miles later they found the wild animal embedded in their front fender – and very much alive. Daniel and Tevyn East were driving at night along Interstate 80 near the Nevada-Utah border when they noticed a pack of coyotes near the roadside on October 12. When one of the animals ran in front of the car, the impact sounded fatal so the siblings thought there no point in stopping. 'Right off the bat, we knew it was bad,' Daniel explained. 'We thought the story was over. After the incident around 1:00 a.m., they continued their 600 mile drive to North San Juan – even stopping for fuel at least twice. But it was only when they finally reached their destination at 9:00 a.m. did they take time to examine what damage they may have sustained. At first it looked as though it was going to be quite gruesome. 'Daniel saw fur and the body inside the grill,' Tevyn East said. 'I was trying to keep some distance. Our assumption was it was part of the coyote – it didn't register it was the whole animal.' Daniel East got a broom to try and pry the remains out of the bumper and got the shock of his life. 'It flinched,' Tevyn East said.'It was a huge surprise – he got a little freaked out.' 'We knew it was bad': Tevyn East, who was in the car when it hit the coyote, bends down to take a look at the fur poking through the fender.

Fur Pete's sake: What Mr. East spotted as he bent down to inspect the damage to his car – the body of the coyote poking out through the radiator.


Wily coyote: The animal's head can be seen as rescuers took apart the front fender to save it after it was struck by the car at 75 mph.

Miracle escape: As the animal struggled, wildlife protection officials put a loop around its neck to prevent it from further injuring itself. The front of the car is completely taken apart as the coyote begins to
wriggle free.

And viola! Tricky the toughest coyote ever rests in a cage after its ordeal – which it survived with just some scrapes to its paw.           

My favorite Grilled Salmon Recipe

Everyone has their own favorite way to cook salmon on the grill and believe me I've tried them all.  The one that I keep going back to however, is the first one that I ever tried.  It's a very simple recipe and goes with just about anything that you want to serve with it.  The ingredients include the following:


Lemon Juice


Minced Garlic

Minced Onion


Sea Salt

Dill Weed

Hot Sauce


First, melt the butter in a microwave safe dish, then combine lemon juice and re-heat.  After re-heating add garlic, dill, onion, pepper, sea salt and your favorite brand of hot sauce.  Don't over power the dish with the hot sauce just add enough to give it a little kick. 

After mixing the ingredients, take a piece of foil and make a boat for your salmon filet.  Baste your salmon before putting it on the grill and repeat often.

Grill your salmon on medium heat til done.  Serve immediatly.  Your guest will love it and swear that you are master of the grill! 

What's your favorite salmon recipe?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Flip the calendar, scratch the steelhead itch!

You know the feeling…
Hunting seasons are a memory, the leaves are all but gone from the trees and then comes that unmistakable chill in the air that renders our breath visible.

You start looking for the “Annual Steelhead Edition” of your favorite magazine and start tying leaders for no apparent reason.

While most people are heading Christmas shopping at the mall, you are heading for the crick.  


Question: What’s the direct cultural opposite of the perfume counter at Nordstrom’s?
Answer: Any hatchery steelhead hole on the West Coast.

It usually starts around Thanksgiving… That feeling, that urge, the irresistible attraction that pulls you to the river like a magnet to steel.
Winter steelhead remain more of an enigma to northwest anglers than any other species.

Maybe it’s because after months of rapidly darkening salmon, steelhead represent the first bright fish in our river systems; a promise of spring in the dead of winter.

Maybe it’s the fact that steelhead start to arrive around the holiday season and some of our favorite memories have something to do with that first fish of the season on Thanksgiving weekend or that new rod under the Christmas tree.

Or, maybe just maybe it’s because they’re one of the most challenging fish to consistently catch. 

To turn the steelhead odds in your favor there’s a bunch of things you can do without even leaving your computer. I never thought I would say this, but the fact of the matter is that the internet kills steelhead! 

How you ask? The ‘net, particularly sites like this, provide you with information that was just not available as recently as ten years ago. Hatchery plant numbers are available on line and will point you to the most likely river systems. Message boards and websites like Piscatorial Pursuits  and offer technique info and the chance to exchange information with other anglers. The USGS river level website and the River Forecast Center  are invaluable tools that provide you with river height and flow in real time for every significant drainage in the Pacific Northwest.

NOAA,  the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration offers weather forecasts that in many ways is the most valuable information of all. An understanding of weather patterns provides insight into precipitation totals, air temperature trends and snow levels that drive river heights & temperatures. Steelhead migrations and distributions are influenced more by river conditions than any other factor and the importance of an understanding of these influences cannot be overstated.
However and wherever you choose to chase the elusive ironhead, keep in mind how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to pursue this grey ghost of the misty Northwest. The steelhead forces you to enter his riverine environment which just happens to be some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet.

Compare that to the perfume counter at the mall…?

The steelies are doing you a big favor!

Blacktails in the Rut

Blacktail deer are the toughest big game animal to hunt here in the Northwest because of where they live. For 49 weeks a year they burrow themselves into the west side jungle, worming themselves into the deepest, darkest holes they can find. One step and they're gone. Sometimes you get a glimpse of them in the headlights on the road at night, or perhaps in a neighbors back yard eating rose bushes in a residential area, but outside of that they are pretty damned hard to find….until the RUT!

Once the rut is on everything changes. I was sitting at my computer a week ago and a nice two point blacktail walked right past the window of my office, hot on the trail of some buttercup that may or may not be in the neighborhood awaiting his arrival. It didn't matter if she was there or not, he would go until he found what he wanted.

The great BLACKTAIL I got a few weeks back was just entering the rut and I knew things were about to get really whacky when a two point stopped me on the road as I peddled my deer-laden mountain bike out of the blacktail hell hole I was in. "If I could only have two tags," I thought. Not for this buck but for the late hunt that's happening right now on the wet side of the hill. Now is the time!

Find yourself someone that's spent his entire adult life logging around the Hood Canal and you'll find someone that knows blacktails. That guy is my childhood fishing and hunting partner Fred Fein. The guy knows which clear cuts produce, hunts with a lot of patience, and knows when to get really serious about the wet side blacktail hunt. After getting my deer in the general season I asked Fred what his plans were and his response, "Yawn…I'll get one on the late hunt….no problem." Fred's confidence comes from years of chasing these cagey critters and the timing of the rut. "They loose they're minds during the rut," says Fred.

Sooooo, today I'm talking to 4 time duck calling champion Robert Strong about the Moses Lake goose herd when I get the "beep" of another call coming in and "Fred Fein" on the screen of my Schmackberry. "Gotta go Robbie," as I quickly switched over to the incoming call, knowing full well what I was about to hear.

He had just bagged yet another good, very good blacktail from a heavily trafficked area near Hood Canal. Quite a few hunters had been in this area during the general season, but they weren't there for the rut. Guess who was?

Fred grabs one of the many blacktail racks from his shop wall.

Blacktails are definitely difficult to hunt, which also makes them one of my favorite big game animals here in Washington. Only 48 more weeks until next season! 

Massive Yukon Elk Scores 450!

This massive 10X9 elk taken in the Yukon Territories in September scored 451 5/8 Boone and Crockett. Just when you thought elk couldn't get any bigger! The huge bull was taken by long-time Canadian sheep hunting guide, Al Klassen, and after deductions from the 2nd and 3rd points net scored 402 3/8 Boone and Crockett. After 50 years in the Yukon it's safe to assume that an even larger elk is hanging out in the Yukon. More on the Yukon elk herd below…

A Short History of the Yukon Elk Herd

Rocky Mountain elk were first planted in the Yukon in 1951 and 1954, with 49 total elk released along the Dawson Trail west of Braeburn. Another 117 elk were released over the next 15 years and the elk herd never seemed to grow as well as biologists thought it would, only replenishing itself on a yearly basisi for decades. Then in the mid 1990's the herd began to grow, almost doubling in the course of two or three years to around 265 animals. Whether global warming was the cause of the sudden increase in population or a lack of predators, no one really knows. The herds growth finally warranted hunting the last couple of years after several incidents on the highway and an elk tick outbreak within the herd. 15 permits were issued in 2009 and Al Klassen was lucky enough to draw one of them.

Big Game Photos, Some Goofy, Some Not

Each and every week I invariably end up with a gaggle of hunting and fishing photos, some of which make it past the initial screening and onto The Outdoor Line. Here's a handful of hunting photos that made the grade:

Bill Swann from Swanny's Fishing zapped me a photo of this crazy Unit 99 antelope from Wyoming. This thing is right out of the alien bar scene in Star Wars! 

Freaky Friday! Jana Joseph Waller passed up 4 big whitetail bucks to get a shot at this odd-ball, non-typical spike that she'd seen scouting prior to the Wisconsin bowhunting season. Oddly enough she'd been waiting for this deer for several days and when does it appear…on Friday the 13th! Of all the Pope and Young bucks on Jana's wall I'm sure this lil freak show will grab the most attention after the mount is finished. In addition to her bowhunting mastery she also has a company called Painted Skulls. Some interesting artwork for your European mount!

Don Zwede from Bellingham killed this monster blacktail near the North Fork of the Nooksack River in Washington at the end of the general season.

Tommorrow…a monster bull elk!