Opening Weekend at Bay Lake

Nicole poses with her 14 inch Bay Lake trout from opening weekend

Every year just prior to opening weekend mom would stuff the last of twelve months worth of bread bags into one of the kitchen drawers. The bags would be used to store our cache of opening weekend rainbow trout. The only problem with this was that I would pester our poor mother year round to keep the 100% whole wheat bags because they signified trout. She would jump up and down on the pile of bags in order to get the drawer closed. Clearly her son had a problem.

Back then our opening day destination was nearly always Bay Lake on the Key Peninsula in Pierce County, Washington. The little lake was only 30 minutes from our home in nearby Port Orchard, but it seemed like it took forever-in-a-day to get there.

The small lake is relatively round and we'd either troll small frog-pattern Flatfish from our 12 foot do-everything Smokercraft skiff or anchor up and stare at a red and white bobber with a couple of Pautzke Balls'O Fire eggs under it. Zip Loc bags and doughbaits didn't exist then.  

Occasionally I would take my eye off my yellow Eagle Claw 4-piece pack rod to take a jab at my innocent little brother, but otherwise my eyes were glued to the rod and the fish it was about to catch. "About to catch" is what's kept me pegged all these years. There's always hope in fishing.

So when Nicole mentioned that she'd like to get outside this past weekend I knew exactly where we were going. I even broke out the ol' Eagle Claw for the occasion, which has been mothballed for nearly 20 years.

Saturday's weather was nothing short of crappy, so we decided to go Sunday at the crack of noon.

After a short drive that was nothing like the epic road-warrior journeys of my childhood we arrived at the launch. The lake was full of small boats and every other waterfront home seemed to be having an opening weekend bash.

The boat launch was also stuffed with people and I had to dig deep into the patience bucket to get the boat launched. The main thing was that everyone was having a great time enjoying the outdoors. 

I opted to troll instead of using bait because we didn't want to keep many of the fish we were about to catch. Washington law requires anglers to retain the first 5 trout caught if bait is used.

Yakima Bait Company has been all about the UV Flatfish and Triple Teasers lately and those went into the water first. I rowed the driftboat halfway around the lake without a sniff on either of the hot new lures, so I switched out the UV's and put a silver/blue Triple Teaser on one side and a copper/red one on the other. I placed a couple of small split shot on the lines a few feet ahead of the lures to get them down a bit.

The switcharooni payed off and in the next hour and a half we hit 12 fat rainbow trout on the spoons. The silver and blue was the hot tamale and the orange-headed spoon hooked a handful also. Some of them would hit the spoon three or four times before hooking up and we had one exciting double header.

All of the rainbows were stockers with the largest a nice 14 incher that jumped and took out line several times on the light steelhead spinning rod. We let them all go but the big one. He'd get eaten later in the evening along with some silver salmon, asparagus, and sourdough bread. 

They weren't the epic battles I remember as a kid and we didn't bring a bread bag along, but the trip back to Bay Lake sure stirred up a lot of memories. We guess-timated that 30 to 40 kids were on the lake yesterday with their parents and you could hear the "I've Got One!" cries clean across the lake when one of the kiddo's would hook up. I can only hope that some of those kids take a lifelong liking to fishing. Those early trips to Bay Lake sure did a number on me.  

 

Opportunity Abounds!!

This has to be the most exciting time of year for me.  Not because the Seahawks have two first round picks, or the fact that the Mariners have a team worth watching this year and no it doesn't have anything to do with the Cougars spring game this week either.  What gets me excited these days is that this weekend is the start of our season and by our I mean recreational fisherman. 

I know the Bassmaster Classic was a few weeks back but for us her in the NW the bass fishing is just now starting to really heat up.  Ever since last spring when we were catching so many bass from shore I have been waitng for this week to happen.  As I said in my lake Washington report earlier this week, I started fishing the shallow waters in my area of the lake looking for that spring time bass bite. On Monday it finally happened and it has been happening every day for me since.  I am quickly developing an obsession for chasing these critters.

My son Mason with Bass Pro Marc Marcantonio on Lake Washington

Not in to bass fishing?  No problem, this weekend also marks the start to trout fishing all over the state.  This is probably the single best opportunity to get someone on there way to a healthy fishing addiction.  Many lakes throuought the state have been stocked and my two local favorites are Beaver Lake and Pine Lake on the Sammamish Plateau.  For more on joining 300,000 other Washington residents this weekend for the trout opener read Nelly's blog.

Not in to the freshwater game?  Well all of you "old salts" get your chance next weekend with three openers that you can bet will be well attended.  First, the shrimping openers is one that has seen participation rise over the last few years.  Whether you are a fisherman or not, if you own a boat you like to shrimp.  Not only are these the tastiest morsels that come out of the Puget Sound but they are also a great pastime with the family.  Mix your bait, find a spot, drop your pots, drink beer, retrieve pots, harvest, and repeat.  It's that easy and a great time out on the water.

For bottomfish lovers, next weekend has to be your favorite weekend of the year as well.  We see both lingcod and halibut opening on the same day and after last years halibut season you can bet the fleet will be out in full force.  Although Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island was red hot last year, with the late opener this year your best bet is probably hitting the various banks out in the Straight around Port Townsend.  For lingcod, find a good rocky pile or breakwater, toss a jig, and your in business.  Many ling lovers take time to go out the night before to catch some flounder to use as bait.  Lingcod is one of the rare opportunities that we have to use live bait here in the State of Washington. 

Good luck to all that will be hitting the water the next two weeks, and make sure you tell us about by phoning in a report at 866-979-3776 from 6-9 every Saturday morning or posting a report with some pics on our reports page.

Off-The-Grid Spring Chinook

 

Travis McClure of Seattle with a 22 pound spring Chinook he bagged with Bill Meyer of Anglers Guide Service on the Sol Duc River while fishing for steelhead last week.

With all the hype about spring Chinook eminating from Southwest Washington another relatively small Olympic Peninsula river has been quietly filling with chrome kings. It's talked about and publicized every year, yet you'd be surprised at just how few people actually participate in this fishery. Why is that?

It's because the Duc is a Double Black Diamond, Pucker-Factor-5 river to float and not just any-old-body can handle the ultra-technical whitewater and Super G boulder gardens that make it such great steelhead and salmon habitat. And, well, there are much easier places to fish for spring Chinook. Easier, but not quite as fullfilling!

Sol Duc spring Chinook are planted every year by the Sol Duc Hatchery near Sappho and you'll find the bulk of them between the hatchery and the Sol Duc's confluence with the Quillayute River at Lynedecker. Bill Meyer of Anglers Guide Service in Forks knows the river and it's Chinook as well as anyone and has already been banging away on these prized fish, bagging several fish in the mid-20's this past week incidentally while steelhead fishing.

"This years adult return is coming from a plant of 500,000 smolts from the State hatchery and there were even more smolts planted from the tribal hatcheries near Bear Creek and Riverside. With a friendly ocean for those fish the last few years we're expecting a lot of spring Chinook in our little river in the next couple of months," said Meyers. He's referring to cold ocean temperatures that have allowed many Northwest king salmon stocks to rebuild the last few years and the Sol Duc is benifitting from it, as well.

Bill suggests leaving the heavy duty king salmon gear at home and uses steelhead-type gear for this fishery. "The water is air-clear out here for most of the season and they shy away from the big plugs and 50 pound hi-vis braided lines. I like to use 17 pound monofilimant main line on my plug rods and when we're backtrolling bait divers I'll run 15 pound leaders, but most of the guides out here will go pretty light and run 12 pound bait leaders and 15 pound main," says Meyers.

Sand shrimp fished behind a black Hot'n Tot or Mud Bug bait diver are the ticket on the Sol Duc and they work either with an egg chaser (Shrimp Cocktail) or straight up. Bill likes to fish 15 pound leaders rigged with 1/0 hooks and a size 12 Spin'n Glo in either orange or blue and red metallic with white wings above the bait. The Spin'n Glo gives the bait added floatation to keep it out of the rocks and a little extra action to draw strikes. 

He likes to use a little heavier gear to keep the super-charged kings under some semblance of control, as most of them will use downed timber and log jams as cover in the gin clear water and hooking hot fish near cover like that, well, we know how that goes. He likes the stretch of river from Rayonier to Lynedecker, but there's plenty of great water from the State Hatchery all the way downstream.

In addition to bait divers Bill also likes to run plugs on the Duc for spring Chinook.

"There's more fish caught here on plugs than just about any other technique," he mentioned about the salmon's fetish for plastic. With the clear water he'll downsize his plugs and likes to run K-11's or K-13's in chrome with orange or blue pirate and M-2 and T-4 Flatfish in "Cheese Measle's".

"Cheese Measle's" is the mentally-warped river guides name for the M-2 Flatfish with a chrome body and kelly green dots with chartreuse dots inside. After a couple thousand days on the river I came up with a few names like this ma'self, many of which can't be talked about in public!

The Sol Duc will fish well for spring Chinook all the way thru July and anglers that hit the river later in the season have the chance of nabbing a sockeye or three while they are targetting kings. The sockeye run overlaps the latter part of the spring Chinook run on the Duc and they just so happen to eat sand shrimp. It's feast-or-famine for the sockeye, but Meyer's has caught as many as 8 sockeye on a good day on the Duc and who wouldn't want to go home with two of the best eating fish on the planet.

For more information about fishing the Sol Duc River for spring Chinook or to book a trip with Bill Meyers call 206-697-2055 or log onto www.anglersguideservice.com.

Rob Endsley

Tired of Chores? Try Looking Ahead

By Jeff Lund. The trick to enjoying manual labor is cluttering the mind with good thoughts. Happy Gilmore called it his, "happy place", and he was right, though the most effective are within the realm of possibility.

Thats how I tolerate mundane things like pulling weeds, mowing the lawn or shoveling dirt, because after 30 pages of a good fishing book my hands can work without my head which is drifting nymphs, stripping streamers in the Central Valley California rivers, or using crank-baits in the Delta; anything but seeing little deltas of roots come up from the earth.

This is also how you get blisters and hurt your back. The brain likes thoughts of delicate swings of a fishing rod and sometimes forgets that repeated swings of an ax separates layers of skin and floods said area with blood. That happens a lot during the summer, but its nice to feel the result of hard work, its a necessary reminder of what life used to be like before everyone became seemingly entitled to a freedom from hard work.

Thinking about using the fly I was tying Saturday, I lost focus on a No. 12 elk hair caddis and pinched my left pinky with my new scissors. I can report they cut quite efficiently whether it be thread, marabou, or flesh and though the wound bled more, it hurt less than a blister.

Outside unintentional self-mutilation, I’ve been known to put the milk in the freezer and even coffee filters in the microwave – not sure they do that sort of filtering – all because I was watching the water poor into that deep pool by the rock cliff on the Russian River, in my mind that is.

Emerson said passion is a bad regulator, but a powerful spring. Its a spring from which happiness bubbles, most of the time right when needed, though dropping everything to chase trout, a romantic notion, is imprudent. A bad way to regulate your life. But what is life if void of day dreams? The potential of something yet to come? Not imagining Apple wants you to give you an iPad and shoot a commercial with your choice of Hollywood Stars. Not gunna happen. But releasing a single trout, or even a cup of hot coffee from a thermos next to a blown-out river, thats possible.

I’ve known many people that have grown hard by the years, even though they’re not that old. Their youthful exuberance replaced with a calloused way of looking at reality. The inner 10-year old locked in a padded room with only a broken fishing rod as a friend.

Being realistic is to not look back at what you used to do, and remember tallies for the day, but to have something pure that can supersede all else, that elixir that reminds you  of what makes you happy, not what makes you money.

When passion becomes a memory, or turns into nothing more but one-upping strangers with “well, one time I…” what’s the point?

Maybe you ruined it with competition or tried to make it solve all your problems and discovered it can’t.

Maybe take Emerson’s advice and rekindle, and ride that spring again.

It doesn’t prevent blisters but it sure makes the time go faster.


Jeff Lund
Teacher/Freelance Writer
Manteca, CA

Opening Day “Top Ten”

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

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!

Revised Puget Sound Rockfish Plan

As many of you who are regular listeners the show or readers of the website already know, I have been heavily invested in the fight to try and recover our rockfish populations so that hopefully someday, we can have sustainable fishing for rockfish in Puget Sound.  This past fall, the WDFW released it's first version of the Puget Sound Rockfish Conservation Plan and a draft Environmental Impact Statement.  These plans were required by NOAA as they wanted to know what WDFW was going to do to protect soon to be listed rockfish species. 

What surprised WDFW and NOAA was the amount of comment and concern from the sportfishing community as well as other stakeholder groups.  There was passion on this issue coming from all groups and sides of the issue so WDFW Director Phil Anderson decided to step in and extended what was to be a 30 day comment period and also mandated a Citizen Advisory Group be formed.  WDW staffers Greg Bargmann, Craig Burley, and Wayne Palsson were tasked with putting together a balanced group of stakeholders and holding a series of meetings with the advisory group over the next few months.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the department for going through this process and giving it the time that it deserves. 

On April 6, 2010 the department released the revised plan that is now open for comment thru May 21st.  I have read this revised plan and, while not perfect, I think that it is an accurate reflection of the comments that were made during the meetings with the advisory group.  I for one would still like to see some changes and still have some questions.  Fortunately for me, I will get that chance at a follow-up advisors meeting.  You can and should make your comments heard pro or con because there are groups out there that will be commenting and they don't care about the future of sportfishing in Puget Sound.

As I mentioned earlier, I do have some changes that I would like to see and some questions that I would like answered.  First of all, I still do not know what success looks like.  How will we know that we have been successful and when rockfish have been recovered to a sustainable level to allow for fishing?  I also don't like the idea that this plan does nothing to stop the tribes from catching rockfish.  We still have a tribal trawler in the closed area, what if some of the other tribes decided to start harvesting these fish as well?  Are we recovering so that someone else can harvest?  The recreational take is still small relative to all the problems we have with regards to rockfish populations and if we can't fish then no one should fish.  I also noticed in the revised plan that there was some updated infromation used in regards to recreational harvest.  That's all well and good but why wasn't the most recent and up to date information on rockfish populations used?  I know for a fact that recent studies have shown good spawning recruitment and some increased populations but that is not used.  There  is also quite a bit of anecdotal evidence as many of these fish are showing as by-catch in recent years.  Why is this evidence not provided?  Could it possibly show that we aren't as bad off as we thought?  I think it is misleading to not include it.

There are a few other issues that others have reaised as well.  Many think that the idea of using MPA's, Rockfish Recovery Areas, or Rockfish Conservation Areas has already been established with the new 120ft bottomfishing depth restriction now in effect and zero retention in Marine Areas 6-13.  I agree, I would like to see these rules stricken if we have any additional MPA or recovery areas added in Puget Sound.  Others get a little uncomfortable knowing that all other fisheries can be managed and or closed to ensure rockfish populations.  Although not intended, this has the potential to be abused.

One of the things that I do like about this plan and the reason that I got involved in the first place is that it opens the door for the possibility to use artificial reefs and hatchery supplementation to aid in recovery.  I don't want to wait up to 85 years to recover some of these species as some estimates have it.  I believe that artificial reefs with varied high relief and vertical structure will be the most effective way to provide spawning and life stage habitat for these fish.  Even though they aren't mentioned in the plan, there are many studies that show just that.  When you combine artificial reefs and hatchery supplementation until recovery, you have a combination that will get us on the road to recovery now and get us there faster.

 

PS. In addition to making comments via email at the links above, the department will be having a public meeting April 21st at the Port Angeles Main Library 2210 South Peabody St.  The meeting begins at 6pm.

Half the truth: agenda-based “journalism”

It appears that the Seattle Times is about to take its rightful place next to the National Enquirer on the tabloid rack in your neighborhood grocery store.

The article below appeared on the front page of the Times on Saturday, April 10, 2010. It featured a sensational headline sparsely embroidered in fact and the whole truth of the issue is not to be found anywhere within its text.

Nowhere in this unabashed attack on Sportfishing does it mention that the chinook in question are paid for by license fee increases agreed to by the salmon fishing public and the reader is led to believe that the entire Sportfishing industry is greedily feeding at the public trough contributing nothing to the greater state economy.

In fact, the “audit” that produced this “finding”  was originally called for by late Senator Bob Oake, a proponent of the blackmouth fishery who believed the funds generated by the license increase were being inappropriately used by the State for other purposes!

State on the hook for $768 for every salmon caught in Puget Sound
And audit revealed Puget Sound’s popular blackmouth fishery costs $768 for every fish that’s caught.

 

By Craig Welch
Seattle Times environment reporter

 

Puget Sound’s popular blackmouth fishery — made possible by a complex system of hatcheries that produce and rear these plump young versions of chinook salmon — costs $768 for every fish that’s caught.
That’s a calculation made by the state Auditor’s Office in an audit released Friday of the state’s politically popular key winter fishery.
Each year the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife produces hundreds of thousands of the juvenile salmon in hatcheries, then raises them for 14 months or more in ponds until they lose the instinct to migrate. Then the fish are released for fishermen to hook for sport.
But some of the same environmental conditions that helped push wild chinook onto the Endangered Species list — such as pollution and habitat loss from development — mean few of the young blackmouth live long enough to get snagged. And the many fishing restrictions imposed in response to the 1999 listing of wild chinook also scaled back chances for anglers to try to catch the hatchery chinook.
That means catch rates for blackmouth are such a fraction of what they once were that the state may produce 900 fish for every one an angler nets. And each of those 900 fish costs about 85 cents.
“They’re expensive to raise — more expensive than most fish,” said Heather Bartlett, hatcheries division manager for Fish and Wildlife. “And their survival lately hasn’t been very good.”
The auditor’s performance review suggested the program was so inefficient it must be changed, a charge Bartlett’s agency doesn’t dispute.
But the program’s goals were dictated by legislative edict in 1993 as a means to sustain and promote sport fishing in Puget Sound. It’s paid for by license fees derived from saltwater anglers, money that is dedicated to improving fishing. So as salmon listings have curtailed other angling opportunities, there’s been little political will to cut back blackmouth production.
“Fishing used to be open unless we closed it,” said Jo Wadsworth, Fish and Wildlife’s deputy assistant director for fish. “Now it’s closed unless we open it. And this is a unique fishery because it is open in winter when many other things are not.”
Sport fishermen on Friday were immediately wary. The audit calls on the Legislature to change the law to let hatcheries produce far fewer and far younger fish — juvenile chinook that cost only about 11 cents each.
But that could reduce even further the number of fish available to be caught. And that frustrates longtime fishermen.
“Has this program always worked right? No,” said Clint Muns, with Puget Sound Anglers. “But I think we’ve made great strides. The department’s commitment to hatchery reform is without question.” Environmentalists, meanwhile, say the recommendation would be a step in the right direction, but they believe the auditor missed the key issue. They say blackmouth production should have been halted years ago because the large hatchery-bred fish are built tough and compete with threatened chinook for food.
“The financial issues absolutely must be considered,” said Kurt Beardslee, with Wild Fish Conservation Northwest. “But I always hoped they would kill this program for biological reasons — not just because we can’t afford it.”
Fish and Wildlife officials have said they support the auditor’s recommendations.
Craig Welch: 206-464-2093 or cwelch@seattletimes.com
One of the comments on this article on the Times’ website says it all:

“Wow, that is one impressive piece of analysis! The Seattle Times figured out that if you divide the cost of the program by the number of caught fish, you arrive at the cost per caught fish!

I wonder how much the performance audit cost that came up with this revelation? Say it cost $500,000, and they came up with 4 other similarly stupid findings. That would be $100K per stupid finding!”
This sad piece of misguided writing was bound to attract the attention of most, if not all in the Sportfishing community.

The legendary Frank Haw, acknowledged “Father” of the blackmouth fishery penned the following response:

All:
I was heavily involved in establishing the original program that began in the late 1960’s and continued to be successful well into the 1980’s (after I left the Department of Fisheries).  During the heyday of the program upwards of 10% of the “delayed releases” of Chinook salmon from south Puget Sound were subsequently caught by Puget Sound anglers.  Instead of migrating from the sound and residing off the west coast of Vancouver Island, the fish tended to remain in Puget Sound where they contributed heavily to a year-round fishery.  The resulting benefit/cost ratio was very high and the “delayed release” programs (for Chinook and coho salmon) were primarily responsible for establishing record sport catches in Puget Sound.

Since then conditions in the South Sound, including the primary holding area in a section of Olympia’s Capitol Lake, have worsened to the detriment of survivals.  Migration patterns have, on the other hand have apparently remained unchanged.  The mandating legislation was championed by State Senator Oake (deceased) during the late 1980’s as I recall.  As I understand, Senator Oake later called for the audit because he had reason to believe that the funds were being misused.  Since then questions have also arisen regarding the elevated level of PCBs in “resident” Chinook salmon.  


Instead of mandating the annual release of 3 million delayed release Chinook into Puget Sound (which, though never achieved is way too many) the program could better serve anglers by being more broadly goal oriented (e. g., increase the quality and opportunity for salmon angling in Puget Sound) and flexible to accommodate the changing productivity and fisheries management requirements.  As recommended by the audit, the HSRG should become involved in the program to some degree.   The inability to adequately monitor mark selective fisheries is a determent to harvesting fish that already exist and this could be use of funds that is highly beneficial to Puget Sound anglers.

As far as I know, the basic techniques used for producing resident fish are the same as we used 40 years ago.  The program should also focus new ideas, experimentation, and evaluation for the purpose of enhancing resident salmon populations.
Rather than defending the existing program we should be calling for the changes needed to make it successful.  This is obviously something of great interest to the Puget Sound Anglers and we should be working with them to establish a response.

Frank
Let this be a wake-up call to all who call Puget Sound “home” and enjoy treating family and friends to a day on the water. Get involved! Join CCA and Puget Sound Anglers!

The sad fact is that newspapers are going the way of the 8-track tape, the Drive-In theater and will evidently resort to sensationalism to survive.

With drivel like this article by Craig Welch sullying the formerly proud tradition of the Seattle Times, I will find another use for this publication.

The Seattle Times will now be found hanging next to my water closet.

If the paper is not quite what you expected, then we will be glad to revise it until you are completely satisfied. And if it still does not match your requirements, we will provide you with full refund. The refund procedure, unlike as you might be expecting, is not long and painful. If there is a chance to improve your paper – we will, if there is no chance – then we will be happy to return your money as soon as possible.

Turkeys Should be Active for Opener

When we interviewed Jerrod Gibbons from Okanogan Valley Guide Service on March 20th on The Outdoor Line about the upcoming turkey season he was looking to the high ground to find birds after six weeks of unusually mild weather here in Washington had prematurely pushed the birds higher. Just as soon as he hung up the phone with us, however, Mother Nature sent the gobblers high-tailing it back down to their normal winter habitat with three weeks of brisk weather breathing down their necks, and that's where they've been ever since.

"The cold snap we just went thru really put the birds back in their normal routine and with temperatures in the 70's forecast for the next few days in Eastern Washington the birds should be really active for the opener," said an excited Gibbons about the April 15th opener.

Meriams dominate the north east part of Eastern Washington and Rio Grandes can be found in the creek bottoms and foothills along the Blue Mountains near Walla Walla. Gibbons mentioned that there's not much difference in hunting methods between the two sub-species.

Ironically the only place to find the Eastern variety is in Western Washington, as they fair much better on the rainy side of the hill than the other subspecies.

A decoy technique Gibbons likes to use is to situate a jake and a breeding hen decoy close together and sometimes he'll even set the birds so it looks like they're mating. Of course I got a chuckle out of that scenario, but Jerrod was dead serious about it's effectiveness. "When a big tom sees a jake with one of his hens it's all you can do to keep them away," noted Gibbons of the illicit decoy arrangement.

He also recommends finding a spring or a creek bottom bordered by sparse timber as a prime area to find birds. Scout these areas for sign in the days before the opener and leave the calls in the truck, as there's no need to educate these smart birds before the season opens.

Once birds are located keep a distance and "put them to bed" the night before. The birds will usually fly downhill from their roost first thing in the morning, so it's important to set up near where you think the birds are going to fly well before the sun peaks over the hill in the morning.

After a likely landing zone is located and the dekes are set concealment is the key and he likes to use either a small blind or full-body camoflouge that matches the surrounding folage. Turkeys have excellent eyesight and once they're locked into the decoys it's ultra important to keep still, as any amount of movement no matter how small, can put the birds off. 

The first turkey season in Washington took place in 1965 and lasted for one and a half days. Nowadays, hunters enjoy a spring season that lasts from April 15th thru May 31st and as many as 5,300 wild turkeys are harvested by 15,000 plus hunters in Washington annually.

The North East corner of Washington state is by far the most productive area for wild turkeys with over 3,000 harvested annually since 2002 and the Southeast region, Klickitat County, and Okanogan County make up the bulk of the remainder of the harvest.

For more information on Washington turkey harvest statistics click HERE. 

Okanogan Valley Guide Service puts their hunters on approximately 10,000 acres of private ground in both Okanogan and Walla Walla Counties, targetting both the Meriam and Rio Grande sub-species. To book a hunt with Okanogan Valley Guide Service call 509-429-1714 or log onto their website at www.okanoganvalleyguideservice.com.

Thanks for the Tip SWS

Ahhh!  All those fond memories of when I was a kid holding a spool of mono with a pencil through it so that my dad could spool up his new reel.  I always swore that I wouldn't do that to my son, but of course 20 years later there I am fussing at my boys to hold the line tighter or pay attention.  Don't get me wrong, I tried ot to burden my son's with the task of being a human line spooler.  I first bought a commercial grade spooler and then the electric motor burned out.  I then went through all sorts of "at home" spoolers that I purchased from this or that catalog, those all had issues or just didn't hold up.  Finally, now, I think I have the answer.

I was reading through my Saltwater Sportsman Magazine a few weeks ago and I came across a tip for making your own line spooler.  I usually ignore many of the tips that readers send in as they normally don't apply to me.  This one however, kept jumping out.  Every time I opened the magazine, the page would inevitably flip to this great line spooler idea. I finally decided to give it a try and after a quick trip to Lowes I had what I needed. 

A couple of 8 inch peices of 2×6, a 1/2 inch bar, 6 washers, 2 springs, and 2 bolts and I was in business.  After laying everything out, it was time to drill a hole for my support bar to go through.  This is the part that made my wife nervous, she has seen what I can do with tools in my hand.  I however, felt confident in my ablilities to drill two holes and have them line up.

After drilling, all that had to be done was assembly.  I got out spool of braid, ran my support bar through, then washer, spring, washer, 2×6, washer, and bolt.  All that had to be done was to tighten the bolts to the tension that I wanted on the spool and I was in business.

This was a great tip and one that I will use for years to come.  One of the things I like about it is that it is not fully automatic, my boys will still have to hold the line spooler, but isn't that just a right of passage?

Easter Bunny?…How About The Easter BEAR!!!

While most of us were plotting Easter egg hunts this past holiday weekend, the hardcore hunters out there were working on a different hunt!

Enter Randy Bridwell…

Randy Bridwell is a fanatical bear hunter and has a buddy that loves to fly around in his Piper Cub.

I think you know where I'm going with this…

As any decent bear hunter knows, once a big brown bear comes out of hibernation, their first thought after leaving their den is:… BREAKFAST!
Randy is in the construction supply business which keeps him hopping and he was worried that he was gonna miss the bears emerging from their dens. Fortunately, on one of his "joy rides", Randy's pilot buddy saw a moose kill with a huge boar brown bear actually sleeping on the carcass just outside Denali park boundaries and decided to call Randy.

The next plane to Anchorage had Mr. Bridwell on the passenger manifest.

By Friday at 3PM, Bridwell was making his solo camp at the base of Mount McKinley.

Friday night at the base of Mackinley the northern lights were so intense that they lit his tent and he could actually hear the aurora borealis.
With all the lights and commotion, Randy didn't get much sleep and decided to just get up and start the hunt. He headed over to where he had marked the moose kill a day earlier and as the light came up… THERE HE WAS!!!


A 300 Winchester Magnum pushing a 180 grain Nosler Partition brought the bruiser bruin down at 7:45AM Saturday morning! 

The "Easter Bear's" hide squared out to over NINE FEET!!!

After bringing down the trophy brownie, Randy called his pilot on the ol' satellite phone.
The Piper Cub landed 20 yards from the bear and Randy was back in Anchorage at 3 in the afternoon!
  

Randy's enthusiastic email note accompanying the pictures says it all:

"I hope all had a Great Easter Weekend! I DID….. Flew in Friday in
the Alaska Range and made camp at 3PM..got up Saturday AM and shot the
brown bear at 7:45 AM Saturday, while he was on a moose kill….squared
9'….Hide is awesome..300 Win Mag 180 Grain nosler. What a wonderful, Great Hunt!"