New Years Steelhead Prospects

Dan Sanberg hit this beautiful early wild buck a few days ago on one of the Forks area rivers with guide Brett Lowe from Westside Guide Service. They're already seeing a good push of early wild steelhead in the Forks area rivers and the Bogachiel continues to crank out it's share of hatchery fish. The Hoh River to the south has been putting out decent numbers of hatchery steelhead for driftboaters and we've recieved reports of a few wild steelhead in this river, as well. Further south yet the Queets and Salmon River should heat up again with the rain that's predicted for the coast the next few days.

Regulars that know the Wynoochee well are finding some hatchery steelhead in the middle river and the Cowlitz has been uber-busy with a fair number of fish being caught around the hatchery outlet pipe above Blue Creek. In the North Puget Sound the Skykomish River got a good push of hatchery brats late last week. Guide Derek Anderson of Screamin' Reels Guide Service has had action in the stretch of river above and below Sultan sidedrifting egg clusters from his sled.

Watch the rains carefully the next few days and get in on the action if your favorite river is on the drop. If the rains cooperate I'll be headed to Forks early next week for a ride in Bill Myers driftboat before heading off to Panama later in the week. Smoke'em if ya got'em!

Rob Endsley


Sierra’s in the Surf

"Amigo, that's the black butterfly…lot's of people say it's bad luck mang!" The hotel concierge noticed that a brown, not a black, butterfly was crawling on my hand the night of our arrival in Cabo San Lucas and just had to mention this little trollip of good news. The Brady Bunch "Tiki Idol" episode snapped onto the mental video screen…you know, the one where Bobby finds a Tiki on a construction site and brings it back to the family condo, dooming the family vacation with bad luck. 

Nu-uh! The butterfly was definitely brown and the concierge was definitely blind, probably from an older brother that made him stare at the sun when he was little after losing a match of Paper-Rock-Scissors. I couldn't help but wonder how that darned bug was going to effect my surf fishing the next few days though.  

After a combined 6 hours of casting a 15 foot surf rod in search of the regal and grand roosterfish the next morning I plopped down next to Nicole in the sand, who was sound asleep in the sun, and gazed off into the wild bluewater yonder. Convinced that the bug had ruined my chances of catching a roosterfish I was officially done, sort of.

A swell from an inside set was arching its back just short of the beach when I saw it, a roosterfish, zipping thru the wave. In a blink I grabbed the 38 pound rod, or so it felt, and raced into the surf, rocketing the Ranger as far as I could send it offshore. One, two, three casts and WHAMO! A roosterfish I'm guess-timating at 25 pounds slammed the Ranger and went airborne. The fin, the stripes, everything was there. It thrashed around on the surface for another ten seconds, made a short run, and spit the hook. That damned bug!

I limped into Jansen Lures in Cabo the next day and told Stephen Jansen, the owner, my story. He quickly pointed me to a beach on Google Earth that was about 15 kilometers north of Cabo and talked of a "wide open" bite for sierra mackeral the day before. There were some huge roosterfish in there, as well, and if you let your sierra swim around long enough there was a good chance of hooking one. Sounded like a good plan to me!

Vacationing in Cabo for Christmas was one thing, but fishing on Christmas day…saweeet! We hit the beach at just after sunup and shor-nuf, there was already a stack of sierra's forming behind the thirty or so surf casters that were hammering away at an unseen school of mack's within casting range. The program was pretty simple really. Huck a Krocodile spoon, diamond jig, or anything else shiny as far out as you could and then crank like mad. Everything in the bluewater swims 50 mph and sierra are no different.

The bite was a here-and-there deal for around an hour until a huge school of mackeral boiled up to the surface off the point. Everyone, including me, bolted to the corner of the beach and launched every sort of lure into the school. Hookups occured the instant the lures hit the water and mackeral were sliding up the sand left and right until the school sounded again and disappeared. One fellow, a Canadian named Kenny, was hooking a fish, and sometimes two, on every single cast. 

I'm sure this went on for most of the day, but we pulled the plug after a couple hours of madness and headed off to the beach where I had hooked the roosterfish two days earlier. No roosters were in sight and I quickly dismantled my travel surf rod and called it quits. The brown butterfly had gotten to the rooster-feesh, but thankfully the macks had slipped by unnoticed. Christmas day on a remote beach in Mexico and sierra for Christmas din-din back at the condo. Saweet!  


Funding the return of the king!

It's no secret that several populations of chinook salmon -North Puget Sound in particular- are in trouble. Unwise land-use practices, over harvest and the ever increasing population of Western Washington have pushed the Puget Sound chinook to the point of an ESA or Endangered Species Act listing.

Fortunately, efforts to save habitat for the endangered chinook salmon are getting a much needed and LARGE infusion of cash.

Snohomish County is the second-largest recipient of the $42.8 million going out statewide. Skagit County got the most. The state Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced the awards this month.

Some funds are headed to a controversial -and quite visible due to it's location adjacent to I-5- project to restore habitat on Smith Island in the Snohomish River estuary. Other portions are slated for the Stillaguamish River basin and Port Susan Bay.

“The rivers in Snohomish County have the second-largest population of chinook salmon in the Puget Sound,” said Susan Zemek, spokeswoman for the funding board. “If we’re going to recover salmon from the brink of extinction, this is an incredibly important area.”

Skagit County has the largest number of chinook, also called king salmon, in the Puget Sound region.

Grants for Snohomish County projects total about $5.5 million. The work is being done by the county, the Stillaguamish Indian Tribe, the Tulalip Tribes, the Stilly-Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force, the Nature Conservancy and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The recovery board chose the projects after reviews by local panels of scientists and community members known as "Lead Entities". Lead entities are local, watershed-based organizations that solicit, develop, prioritize, and submit to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) habitat protection and restoration projects for funding consideration.

The Snohomish County projects aim to create more habitat by reconnecting flood plains, side channels and marshes that have been cut off from the Snohomish and Stillaguamish rivers. The work involves replanting creek banks with native species, clearing sediment, fixing culverts and removing levees. That should give the fish places to rest, hide from predators and spawn.

The projects are possible because of cooperation between the county, tribal governments, businesses and sport fishermen.

The grants from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board ranged from $10,000 to nearly $900,000. They were awarded to organizations in 28 counties for work ranging from planting trees along streams to cool the water for salmon, to replacing culverts that prevent salmon from migrating to spawning habitat, to restoring entire floodplains.

A better understanding of how salmonids use their habitat is leading to more effective enhancement projects and hopefully more wild fish.

As a society, we need to recognize that salmon and people can co-exist and we need to have the will to make the tough public policy decisions that make salmon recovery possible.

Hatcheries are also a crucial part of the recovery picture as hatchery fish can shoulder the brunt of the harvest and provide opportunity while our wild runs recover.

 What can you do? GET INVOLVED! Join CCA, and/or Puget Sound Anglers and become part of the solution!

Southern Cooking, Fried Turkey

You can take the boy out of the south but you can't take the south out of the boy.  Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to food.  The south has the most the most distinctive and flavorful food in the country.  I have missed some of the foods that I grew up on but one that I am glad to see making it's mark here in the NW is fried turkey.  When I first moved to the NW I could barely find the supplies I needed to prepare my favorite holiday food.  Now however, stores like Outdoor Emporium and Sportco carry everything you need. 

Start with a pot (with basket) big enough to handle up to a 15lb turkey, an outdoor propane burner, a big food injector, your favorite marinade, and 3-5 gallons of peanut or vegetable oil.  As a word of caution, make sure that you prepare your turkey outside and your garage is not outside enough.

The first thing that needs to be done is to measure the amount of oil that you will need.  Simply place your turkey in the basket and lower in to the pot.  Next, you will want to fill with water until the turkey is just covered.  Make sure there is plenty of room at the top to allow for the oil to "boil up". 

Next, remove the basket with turkey and mark the water line.  This will be your fill line for the oil.  Make sure that you empty and dry your pot thoroughly after this step.

Injecting the turkey is when you can get creative.  You can use any marinade off the shelf or create your own.  I have used everything from steak sauce to salad dressing with my favorite being a butter creole.  Basically anything you think sounds good with turkey will work.  The process is simple, fill your injector, insert, and inject.  Make sure to inject at various sites on the turkey.


You will know that the bird is full when it starts to overflow.

After all of the preparations have been done, fill your pot with oil and heat to 325 degrees.  Slowly (very slowly) lower your turkey into the heated oil.  Fry your turkey 4 minutes for every pound at 325 and then remove.  The skin may look a little crispy but do not be alarmed, the meat underneath will be the most tender and flavorfull turkey you have ever tasted.  The process of frying the turkey turns the skin crispy and in turn seers in the flavors and juiciness.


Welcome to the 2010 Salmon Derby Series!!!

There are salmon derbies and then there are FISHING EVENTS!

The Northwest Salmon Derby Series definitely falls into the latter category.
Each and every one of the events is timed to coincide with solid fish numbers, allowing participants a great opportunity to be successful at each and every event location. In fact, when planning your fishing year you could do a lot worse than just following the scheduled events!

The Northwest Salmon Derby Series is a fishing promotion program directed by the Northwest Marine Trade Association – producers of the Seattle Boat Show. In 2010, the Northwest Salmon Derby Series partners with 16 derbies throughout the region to promote fishing opportunities and events. At the conclusion of the derbies in September at Everett, the Derby Series will award the grand prize Stabicraft to one lucky winner!

 2010  Northwest Salmon Derby Events:

  1. 1. Roche Harbor Salmon Classic, Feb. 4-6
    2. Geoduck Restaurant Salmon Derby, March 6-7
    3. Everett Blackmouth Derby, March 20
    4. Anacortes Salmon Derby, March 27-28
    5. Salmon Quest (Portland), April 17
    6. Bellingham Salmon Derby, July 9-11
    7. Elliott Bay Salmon Derby, July 24
    8. Des Moines Salmon Derby, August 7
    9. Gig Harbor Salmon Derby, August 14
    10. Hood Canal Salmon Derby, August 21-22
    11. Sinclair Inlet Salmon Derby, August 28-29
    12. Willapa Bay Salmon Derby, September 4
    13. Edmonds Coho Derby, September 11
    14. Everett Coho Derby, September 18-19
  2. 15. Bayside Marine Fishing Derby (Everett), November 6-7 
  3. 16.Roche Harbor Hook 'em & Hold 'em Tournament December 4-5 


In 2010 the grand prize is a brand-new Stabicraft 2050 powered by an Evinrude ETEC 130hp outboard. The package comes ready to roll on an EZ Loader Galvanized trailer and rigged to fish with a Lowrance HDS fishfinder and radar!!!.




In order to win the Stabi-Craft grand prize boat, anglers can fill out a Northwest Salmon Derby Series raffle ticket at any of the 16 derbies. Every angler’s name, address, telephone number and e-mail will be entered, free, into the drawing during the derbies. One ticket will be issued per angler per derby. For example, if an angler entered all 16 derbies, their name would be entered 16 times, whether they caught a fish or not during any derby. Remember, in order to win the boat, purchase of a derby ticket from the host derby is not required. One entry per person, per derby.

The Northwest Salmon Derby Series was created in 2004 by the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) for the purpose of promoting salmon fishing opportunities in the Pacific Northwest. In the first year of the Series, six existing derbies were identified to become partners of the Series. Since that year, the Series has expanded to 16 tournaments in 2010.

Carefully and selectively, the Series has been very keen to partner with derbies that are wild fish friendly. Each event occurs within the guidelines of open fishing seasons that occur at a time of the year and area where hatchery chinook and coho salmon exist. In fact, some of the tournaments have gone to “hatchery fish only” even during times and places where retention of unmarked chinook and coho are acceptable for retention in accordance with the Department of Fish and Wildlife rules.

Here at The Outdoor Line, we will be hot on the tournament trail and we will keep you updated most if not all of the events.

For complete derby info, log on to the NMTA's derby website

Good luck and good fishing in 2010!

Christmas in Cabo!

We're off to celebrate Christmas in warm and sunny Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Everyone keeps asking "Are you chartering a boat while you're there?" and at this very moment we likely won't be heading out on a marlin charter. With trips to Panama and Costa Rica on the calendar the next few months I'll get my fill of the bluewater this winter (Liar, Liar!). While in Baja we're opting instead to hit the many beaches between Cabo and Todos Santos in search of roosterfish, jacks, and sierra mackerel. Our accomodations are at the Bahia in a condo owned by my brothers in-laws, the Martins, and they've been kind enough to offer up their Jeep Cherokee.

I've packed my Okuma Epixir EF80 coffee-grinder spinning reel loaded with 65 pound Suffix, a 15 foot travel surf rod, and a mess of Williamson poppers and jigs to huck into the surf. 100 pound flourocarbon for the poppers and 40 pound for the jigs. Roosters and jacks hang around the rocks and sierra are an early morning drill in the surf, casting jigs to the outer edge of the surf, letting them settle to the bottom, and then crank like all get out! A short wire leader keeps the sierra from sawing thru the leader with their razor sharp teeth.  

As the sun comes up on Christmas day Nicole and I may very well be casting from a beach somewhere along the Pacific coastline in search of fish like the one below. And if we don't catch anything, who cares, it's Christmas in Cabo!

Merry Christmas Everyone! 

Salmon River Steelhead On the Move

After a few phone calls to some fellow steelhead sicko's like Bob Ball from Piscatorial Pursuits, Steve "The Legend" Maris at Enumclaw Auto Rebuild, and Justin Crump of AEG Media fame I settled on the Salmon River as our destination for this weeks steelhead expedition. Our original destination was the Bogey, but Bob wasn't sure if it would still be in shape on Tuesday after the monsoon started and both Stam and Crump matched my opinion about the Salmon. Conditions were setting up nicely for this little Olympic Peninsula river.

Crump gave me the number of a somewhat new Quinault guide named Jordan Curley that "really had a great gig going on the Salmon." A quick phone call to Jordan confirmed an opening for Tuesday and dad I quickly jumped on it. In just a few minutes on the phone I knew we'd get along great with him and I couldn't have been more right.

Heavy rains on Monday night had made the Queets borderline fishable and after flogging one of the best gravel bars to no avail first thing in the morning we headed up to the Salmon River hatchery to find the place devoid of people. Hit the Salmon River just after a big rain in December and nutty things can happen. While I knew that this wouldn't be one of those insane 30 fish days that happen here the hint of color the river was taking on from the previous night's rain would have'em snapping.

Dad was pitching a pink jig into a pocket right at the mouth of the hatchery creek for oh, say, ten minutes when Jordan walked up and pitched one of his beads into the run. A 12 pound chrome steely slammed the bead immediately and went berserk, busting the leader just before running the mainline around a snag. All grins, Jordan pointed to another little pocket just downstream and dad promptly hooked into an 8 pound buck on the pink jig. Jordan pulled the same stunt on me later, waiting patiently until I finished drifting a run before slipping in and hooking fish with his home-brewed beads. The kid is fishy, real fishy! 

We picked apart the pocket water downstream approximately 1/4 mile from the hatchery and hooked somewhere around ten steelhead and a chrome silver that Jordans friend Carl hooked on a small Gooey Bob. I fished a small cluster of eggs under a float, dad stuck with the jig, and Jordan used his Raven centerpin to deliver small beads to the wary steelhead. Both he and Carl had great luck with the beads, one of which was Jordans own custom bead. I'm sworn to secrecy, you'll just have to see it for yourself.

The upper Salmon River near the hatchery can only be fished with a Quinault tribal guide and most charge approximately $125 per day for access to the river. With the number of steelhead in the river this time of years it's money well spent, as hookups are all but guaranteed if it's fishable. Jordan Curley has a great personality, excellent customer service skills, is very knowledgable, and flat out just loves to fish. He specializes in flyfishing and center pin fishing, but don't hesitate to call him for a gear fishing trip on the Salmon either.

With the rain Washington is getting right now this little river is poised to produced some off-the-charts steelhead fishing in the coming weeks. Jordan Curley's phone number is (360) 580-4857 and his email address is Better get your spot while he still has dates available!  

Click on the image below for a quick VIDEO I slammed together from yesterdays Salmon River steelhead action. It was POURING down rain and I didn't break the camera out as much as I would have liked. Can't wait to go back! 

Oregon Tuna Classic Sets Records in 2009

The books are closed on the 2009 season for the Oregon Tuna Classic. The upside down economy had the organizers wondering if they’d see a decrease in participants and sponsors as they worked diligently through the spring making final preparations for the first event in Newport on July 18th. 

 That question was answered by a record number of participants that exceeded well over 1,400 people involved in this past summer’s events. Allstate agents Ron Brockmann along with Dennis Pendley, from Corvallis Oregon, were the title sponsors while Shimano, G.Loomis, Daiwa, The Mill Casino and Coast 105 Radio anchored the sponsorships with a combined $65,000 in donations between just the top six. That generosity and support carried over to another 81 sponsors making it another record year with sponsorships.

The popularity generated from past events drew teams from Montana, Idaho, California, Washington and Oregon. To witness the energy and excitement from 500 people setting inside one of those big tents this year is contagious and you can really see the heart of a fishermen when it comes to helping those in need. People are still talking about the impressive line of boats that slowly worked their way out of the port of Ilwaco in the dark, it looked like a Christmas boat parade. That sight was witnessed again, a few weeks later, when over 100 spectators gathered in the dark standing on the north jetting and watched the boats come out of Garibaldi. They couldn’t see the flare start due to the fog that moved in on the beach but they could hear the tremendous roar of engines as everyone raced offshore to their favorite fishing spot. 

To say these events grew this year would almost be an understatement. Today, the Oregon Tuna Classic is the fastest growing charitable fishing tournament on the west coast. When registrations started pouring in the organizers were forced to rent three very large tents capable of handling 500-600 people. People were coming out of the woodwork to volunteer because they wanted to be a part of the excitement. Some Sponsors jumped in at times and gave more than their donations as witnessed by the guys from Weldcraft Boats who were there just to watch but got caught up in all the excitement and the next thing you knew they were helping to unload fish and help with whatever else was needed.

The growth of these events is starting to bring much needed economic benefits to the communities visited by the armada of fishermen, volunteers and spectators. Businesses in Ilwaco saw record sales for the year while Garibaldi City Manager John O’leary speculates the Oregon Tuna Classic might rival the annual Garibaldi days in generating business.

The original purpose of the Oregon Tuna Classic, OTC as many call it, was to provide a forum for fishermen to have a little friendly competition, catch albacore and donate it to the local food bank. This past summer those fishermen gave coastal food banks 18,600 pounds of tuna in addition to the economic aid from just visiting their communities. Since 2005, over 44,300 pounds of tuna and $103,000 has been donated to the Oregon Food Bank. The OTC’s donation helped the Oregon Food bank purchase six pounds of food for every dollar donated, equivalent to a contribution weight of over 662,300 pounds of food.

Dates have been set for the 2010 summer events, plans are being made and sponsors are being contacted to again get ready for another season. With the continued support of volunteers and sponsors alike, the OTC will continue the fight against hunger bringing its armada of fishermen and spectators into these communities. Thank you for your support and involvement in 2009. 

Del Stephens
OTC Chairman 

Floatfishing Success with Bait

Fishing sand shrimp or eggs under a float is an excellent way to target both hatchery and wild steelhead in Washington's rivers. Floatfishing is easy on the gear and using bait for steelhead is a no-brainer, but if Cheater weights from Beau Mac are great for using with bait under a float for steelhead and salmon fishingit's rigged straight up without any weight it tends to flail away in the current and isn't always in the strike zone near the bottom. Many years ago I would drill holes in slinky balls and paint them up in bright colors to use on my bait leaders. Like the early stages of most tackle tweakings it was messy, halfway dangerous, and the paint never stayed on the weights nearly as long as I would have liked. 

Alas, a few years ago some folks in the tackle industry started producing weights specifically for floatfishing and my bloody fingers can't thank them enough. To the best of my knowledge Dead Fish Tackle in Anacortes was the first to produce these weights followed by the great people at Beau Mac in Auburn, Washington. They come in different sizes and colors and so little gear is lost floatfishing that I have yet to restock my supply of these weights. 

Here's a diagram that further explains how adding a Cheater weight or egg sinker can keep bait down in the strike zone.


470,000 reasons to get fired up!

Only the deeply disturbed anglers among us would start dwelling on next spring, especially with such solid winter blackmouth and steelhead opportunities available right now!

Hello, my name is Tom, and I am a deeply disturbed angler…

It's not entirely my fault that I got all excited since late on Friday in the very dead of winter, a glimmer of spring in the form of the following headline appeared in my email:

Fishery managers predict 470,000 Columbia River spring Chinook in 2010
SALEM, Ore.—The technical committee advising Columbia River fishery managers has released its forecast for the 2010 spring chinook run. If the fish show up as projected, the forecast of 470,000 spring chinook would be the largest return to the Columbia since 1938.


Ok, now back to reality for a moment. The spring chinook run forecast accuracy over the last few years has been, well, optimistic to say the least.

Here is a table that shows the Columbia River spring chinook prognosticators track record over the last decade with the largest "overshoots" highlighted in yellow.  

The 2009 springer run was forecast at nearly 300,000 chinook and yet only 169,000 showed up! When only half  (56%)  of the projected run shows up in a fishery that is as hotly contested and highly coveted as the Columbia springer run, well, there is bound to be some unhappy folks.

Among 2009's "unhappy" were the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission who is demanding payback for last year's shortfall. Fortunately, with this bumper crop of springers heading this way, WDFW and ODFW should be able to craft seasons that will allow us sport fishers to have similar or increased opportunity to last year while still fulfilling the tribal allocation issue.

So why the optimism of an accurate forecast in the wake of the most inaccurate springer forecast in history? Members of the joint WDFW/ODFW and Tribal co-managers who actually calculate the forecast are known as the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The TAC had to reconsider the model they have used in past years to predict the number of returning fish.

According to Stuart Ellis, current chair of the TAC and fisheries scientist of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), committee members were leery of the record number of spring chinook “jacks” counted at Bonneville Dam in 2009. Jacks are immature, precocious males that return after just one or two years in the ocean. In the past few years, forecasts relying heavily on jack counts from the previous season had overstated the actual return of adult fish by an average of 45 percent.

Ellis said this year the committee considered several additional models that took into account other factors such as ocean conditions.
“The number of jacks that returned in 2009 was four times greater than anything we’ve seen before, which made the number a statistical anomaly,” Ellis said. “At the same time, we know the environment for young salmon appears to be changing and we needed to account for that.”

“We’re still projecting a strong return for upriver spring chinook salmon next year, but we needed to temper last year’s jack return with other indicators of spring chinook abundance,” he added.
The seven models chosen by TAC generated a range of predicted run sizes from 366,000 to 528,000 adults. The committee members agreed on 470,000 as an average of the models. This forecast will now be used by the managers to develop preseason fishing plans.

So now we're looking straight down the barrel of a possible springer run of 528,000??? How can you read that number and not get fired up???

Now, if only it would stop snowing….