A Smattering of 2010 Big Game Photos

I saute'd my Washington deer tag last night in butter and garlic and while it was a little dry…have to say it didn't taste all that bad. I had my chances and have no regrets about my 2010 hunting season. 

I just typed "smattering" and spell check didn't highlight it, soooo here's a smattering of pics that ended up in my inbox this fall. Several of you axed me if I could post some pics…here you go.

Greg Brower harvested this phat blacktail with John's Guide Service in Washington's Skagit valley during the general rifle season.

Gerald Sexton tagged this blacktail with John Koenig also. This one is featured in my blog, Rattle Up a Late Blacktail

Tim Cowan from THC Hunting Videos sent me this pic of Desi's first Washington blacktail.

Pete "Bing" Bingham used a mountain bike to access the backcountry in Washington's Snohomish County. That's where he found this big blacktail!

Kody Kellum and the boys from Born and Raised Outdoors in Roseburg, Oregon with an awesome northern California blacktail. These guys may be hunting with me in Southeast Alaska for blacktails next fall.

Kody with a southern Oregon archery blacktail.

Captain Kim McCarthy shot this huge Methow Valley whitetail from his lawn chair in the Tripod burn. Two days of scouting payed off big time!

Tigger's 2×3 Okanogan County mule deer, his second deer in three years. We used the Butt Out when we field dressed this animal. Slick way to go!

Glen Wooldridge from Wooldridge Boats in Seattle terrorizes me with mule deer photos every fall. This is one of the mule deer the Wooldridge gang downed on opening morning somewhere in Okanogan County. I'm sworn to secrecy!

Taken with Glen's cell phone last week. A gagger mule deer. Fuzzy photo…you get the idea. How am I supposed to get any work done around here!

Here's another of Glen's infamous cell phone photos. We all know how close you need to be to get a photo like this on your cell phone. Again…a full stoppage of work in the Endsley house on this one.

My college buddy and long time hunting partner Doug Hodgson got this whitetail on one of the Okanogan County special late tags. Like Glen, he also likes to torture me with cell phone photos.

9 year old Kenzies first Oregon buck. This one appeared in my blog, 9 Year Old Bags First Buck.

Jana Waller from Painted Skulls with her 2010 Wisconsin whitetail.

…and her 2010 Alberta mule deer.

…and her 2010 do-it-your-bad-self Montana whitetail. Felling inferior? I am.

Buzz Ramsey was on a tear this fall with his .338 Model 700 Remington. Here's his northern BC moose.

Eastern Oregon mule deer.

Eastern Oregon 6×7 Rocky Mountain elk taken at 550 yards.

The boys from Born and Raised Outdoors had a helluva year. I lost track of how many archery elk these guys filmed in Oregon this fall. Check out there dvd "The Reason"…I have a copy and it's awesome!

Another B.R.O. Roosevelt elk.

You get the idea!

And another.

A trailcam blacktail from the B.R.O. gang.

Some trailcam pics from Tim Cowan of THC Hunting vids with a couple of trail cam pics of his own.

Is that peanut butter I smell?

There's more, but I actually have to get some work done around here today!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Cowlitz Commute!

If you say "Thanksgiving", I think "Steelhead" and so does Ryan Bennett of Reel Deal Guide Service!

Ryan and I had planned to head down to the Cowlitz one week ago but the snow storm that snarled traffic changed our minds in a hurry. So, we waited a week, got up early on Monday morning following Turkey Day, jumped on I-5 with the rest of the commuters and headed to Blue Creek!

Buoyed by rumors of large, fresh hatchery fish we were pleasantly surprised that the parking lot at the Trout Hatchery was not stuffed to the rafters with rigs! Unfortunately, there was a reason that there was a light turnout on this misty morning.

Ryan Bennett positions the sled for the first drift and we are quickly drifting through some of the most productive steelhead water in the state!

 

 

Big Phil Michelsen increases his odds of hooking steelhead by setting the hook on every rock! This time however, something actually pulls back!

 

Ryan and Phil show off a fine, chrome three-salt hen steelie brimming with eggs and pulling the scale down to over 12 pounds!

 

One of the great things about hitting the Cowlitz is checking out all the different boats! Here's a home made wood sled that definitely caught my eye!

 

The bank anglers were keeping up with the boaters just fine on this day! Here's a couple bank bretheren swapping tips and packing a dandy Cowlitz steelie!

 

Here's where the're all heading: The Cowlitz "Crack Pipe" or hatchery outlet. If you look close you'll see a few steelies bumping their nose up the grate!

 

Ryan Bennett of Reel Deal Guide Service show off a dandy Cowlitz chromer and if you see him out on the water, you can bet you're in the right place!!!

Bucket List Bonefish, Hawaiian Style!

One of the things that I love most about fishing is chasing those bucket list fish in other parts of the world.  One of those bucket list fish that I have heard so much about is bonefish.  I have often thought about heading down to the keys on a trip to Florida but the urge to head offshore has always won out.  Recently however, I have been seeing shows on TV and reading articles in magazines about the little known, but worlds biggest bonefish on the flats surrounding Oahu in Hawaii.  Combine that with my wife's desire to return to Hawaii for a vacation and before I knew I was in the air over the Pacific Ocean.

Not having ever targeted bonefish, I knew that I was going to need a guide to show me the drill.  I decided to employ the islands finest in Capt. Mike Hennessy of Hawaii on the Fly.  Capt. Mike usually takes people out on his brand new Action Craft flats skiff for fly-fishing trips but with limited fly experience I decided to go with spinning gear instead.

The first morning started out early as Capt. Mike wanted to hit the morning low tide so we could wade for tailing bonefish.  Let me tell you, nothing gets the adrenaline going like seeing your target fish tailing in 8 inches of water.  As excited as you are however, you have to move in a stealth like manner as these fish will spook easily.  Our first target was spotted about 50 yds away and I snuck up as quickly but quietly as possible.  When I was finally in casting range I loaded up and put the live crab we were using about 10 ft in front of the fish.  Unfortunatly, the fish changed directions but I still had it as I loaded up for another cast. This time the fish swam right over my crab but didn't take it.  Capt. Mike had said I want to put the bait out in front in the direction it was swimming but not too close or it'll spook. I was still on the fish so I decided to do it my way and put the bait right on the fish.  Thats exactly what I did when the water erupted and the fish swam off with the speed of a torpedo.  I guess I should have listened to the pro. 

After seeing that display, I was hooked.  We continued chasing tailing bones for another hour and a half and had at least 20 shots at fish.  As the tide started to flood we jumped back in the boat and Capt. Mike did some poling.  I switched to a Capt. Harry's Jig and hopped on the bow.  Now the name of the game was spotting and casting but as I quickly found out, it's still a stealthy approach.  We had a few shots at the second location but I still wasn't hooking up.  No worries, as I was about to learn, Capt. Mike still had a few tricks up his sleeve. 

We decided to put the boat back on the trailer and head to the other side of the island.  Capt. Mike had already delivered on his promise of up to 30 shots at a Hawaiian bonefish but I still had to get that first one on.

After getting back in the water we decided to head over to an area where Capt. Mike said the biggest bones on the island were.  This time the drill was to anchor up, put a piece of squid on a size 4 circle hood, and toss aout a few freebie pieces of squid for good measure.  About 15 minutes into the waiting game I told Capt. Mike that I usually don't catch anything unless I have a cigar in my mouth.  We decided to lite up and shortly after it was fish on!  After a fierce initial run that almost spooled me, we dropped the anchor and drifted towards the fish.  Capt. Mike swore I was on at least a 10 pounder which is top 1% of all bonefish.  Well, the good capt. was right.  After about a 10 minute battle I had caught my first bonefish ever!  A 13.2# world class size bone!  Capt. Mike said, "I might never see another bone that big the rest of my life" and he was right.  I'm just glad I at least got to experience it once. 

 

Check out our video!

The next day we slept in a little and hit a different area.  The idea was to get Sonya in on the action and Capt. Mike took us to an area that doesn't always hold the huge ones but numbers is what we were after.  After about 20 minutes, Sonya was boating her 2nd fish.  Another 20 minutes went by and she was up to her 4th fish of the day.  After that the bite seemed to stall.  As I said earlier, these fish a very spooky and maybe with all of the action they left the area.  We gave it another half hour and decided to leave.  As we were bringing the lines in, one went off just as I was reaching for it.  It wasn't even 10 am and we had caught 5 bonefish already.  We bounced around and looked at few more areas, did some trolling for giant trevally and decided to call it a day a little early.  After all, this vacation was my wife's birthday present, we should probably do some of the things on here bucket list.

Danner Pronghorn GTX Field Test

How do you write a review for a pair of hunting boots? I’ll tell you how. You put them on your feet and wear the hell out of them for three years. I’ve hiked, climbed, side-hilled, walked, stalked, ran, ascended, descended, and slept in these boots. I’ve put my barkin’ dogs (that’s what I call my feet) thru every bit of torture and cruelty you can imagine. A few hundred miles later my Danner Pronghorn GTX’s have passed the field test with flying colors.

I’m one of those guys that buys something and then uses it until it falls apart. My last pair of Danner hunting boots lasted me 18 years, so when it finally came time to buy some new boots there was no question which brand I’d go with. I loved those boots so much that I had the Russian shoe guru in my old hometown of Bellingham, Washington slap a new set of soles on them towards the end of their life. Wishful thinking, but it bought me a couple more years of abuse and would’ve been more, but I melted them badly attempting to dry them out next to a camp fire on a cold and soggy deer hunt. Time for some new boots!

After trying on a number of different styles I settled on the 8″ Danner Pronghorn GTX’s with 400G Thinsulate. The boots are available in 200G, 400G, and 600G Thinsulate insulation. I chose the 400G because I wanted some insulation, but didn’t want to overheat in my boots. We just don’t get that many frigid hunting days here in the Pacific Northwest, at least not where I hunt, and I thought that overheating could be an issue.

When I was checking these boots out I liked the waterproof Realtree Goretex outer layer and the Predator TF outsole that provides what Danner describes as a “super-gripping, claw-like” quality that reduces the chance of slipping on the gnarly ground I’m typically hunting in. I also like the sole because it’s stiff enough to keep my feet from aching after climbing around in the rocks all day, yet soft enough to provide much needed “grip-tion”.

A 1000 Denier nylon upper section and Camohide leather makes these boots lightweight, yet tough as nails. Danner uses a system they call Terra Force to construct these boots that results in a very rigid and stable platform. That and a full eight inches of ankle support have kept me from rolling an ankle on numerous occasions, one of which was this fall. I rolled my ankle badly coming down off a ridge at the end of the day and had I not had been wearing these boots I would’ve spent the rest of the season, well, here on the computer. No swelling, no ankle sprain, no nothing. Good to go!

I would recommend the Danner Pronghorn’s to anyone looking to invest in a hunting boot that’s going to last a very long time. I’ve done the field work for you on this one and I can attest to the toughness and hunt-ability of these great boots. I’ve put my Pronghorn’s through three hard years of work and expect many more out of them.

For more information about Danner Pronghorn boots visit www.dannerboots.com.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com        

Ankles, anecdotes & attitude adjusters

By JEFF LUND
Frightened or appalled by the prospect of walking up an escalator that dared to stop working, the lady stepped aside and allowed the guy with a frayed deltoid ligament on his left ankle and the other guy with a chewed up meniscus to hike up the stuck steps.

Ah, the mall.

It’s no airport, but it’s pretty good for human wildlife viewing a few times a year. Too much, though — can cause faith in humanity to wane.

Nate and I eventually settled onto a bench on the lower level after a few laps meant to walk off lunch and check the stability of our injured joints.

We watched boyfriends and girlfriends, grandparents, high school kids, dudes who are apparently way cooler than any other human on earth or at least love themselves as such, families about to take portraits, and parents using the ATM machine as an attitude adjuster.

We didn’t really get that one.

If we were acting out in public at their age the absolute last thing we would get was a stack of $20 bills. Some kids really have their parents trained.

Everyone then faded as we drowned ourselves in anecdotes of Russian River and American River steelhead, Alaskan Dolly Varden, trout and a possible drift boat trip this spring on the Upper Sacramento. Though there will be more fishing before the calendar rolls, it seemed appropriate to look back and maybe build toward a response to the “thankful for” question. We thumbed through our cerebral filing cabinets and spent a few minutes at the Klamath River, its fish and the great stonefly attack of June 1.

We consulted memories to conclude the potency of prince nymphs, egg-sucking leeches and why we would start with anything else.

We discussed the benefits of juicier nymphs, but considered the thin Montana Special that has never disappointed and I declared my desert island fly. Though I doubt a desert island would have a river that could sustain trout and salmon. It would have to be a river in a cooler environment with enough rain and snow to feed the river throughout the year and little to no pressure to create the circumstances that would fit the scenario.

This actually sounds pretty good. Wait, that’s where I grew up and spend every summer. 

Suddenly I feel a little like the brat at the ATM machine, whining when I don’t get my way. Of course it’s not that I don’t get my way. I’ve fished plenty of beautiful water within a few hours of the barn and caught plenty of fish.

It’s just not the same as home. Plus, though Nate and I both suggested a padded bank account would be nice, it wouldn’t change our lives.

I save enough money to go home, and home just happens to be a dream trip for outdoor and fishing enthusiasts.

In the words of John Gierach, “most of us don’t even want money; we just want relief from the struggle for it”.

Most, of course, because it wasn’t much of a struggle for those kids to pout their way into their parents’ bank account.

I’ll take seconds of turkey and give a lot of thanks tomorrow for the fact that I don’t have the means to go on exotic trips like dudes that have their own shows or huge bank accounts, but couldn’t ask for much more than what I already have.

Sure I’ve muddled through my mid- and late-20s with fishless trips, pay cuts, my brother in Iraq (now Guam) and the deaths of family and friends, but all are simply parts of being human and not dissimilar to the life stories of anyone else.

Maybe the best part of Thanksgiving is to be able to see what I have, rather than what I don’t, whether it be family, a job, health or even stories, rivers, flies and people with which to share them.

This column appeared in the November 24th issue of the Manteca Bulletin

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail aklund21@gmail.com.


Jeff Lund
Teacher/Freelance Writer
Manteca, CA

"Its the coming back, the return which gives meaning to the going forth. We really don't know where we've been until we've come back to where we were. Only, where we were may not be as it was, because of whom we've become. Which, after all, is why we left." – Bernard Stevens  Northern Exposure

Skagit Flats Freeze-up Ducks!

I hung up the phone and opened my mouth to tell my wife what was going on… She knew without me uttering a single word.

"You're nuts!!!"

Kathy had just weighed in with her opinion on my tenuous grip on sanity. "You're going out duck hunting in this weather???"

"Honey, this weather is exactly why we're heading out duck hunting!"

The phone call that set this hunt in motion was made by my good friend Larry Stauffer who has a Duck Shack on the lower Skagit River. Larry had been keeping a sharp eye on the weather and the same "Arctic Blast" that gridlocked area roads also "locked up" all the standing water, leaving the bay front as the only open water in the area.

Puddle ducks such as mallards, pintails, widgeon and teal all must have open water as they dabble to feed on seeds, rootlets and tubers of aquatic plants off of swamp and river bottoms.  Since the Skagit Flats held the only open water in the area, most of the ducks in the drainage were,… you guessed it: hanging out down at the Duck Shack!

The cold weather front also jumpstarted the migration of the "Northerns" or ducks from central and northern British Columbia prairies.  What fired us up was a rare opportunity this early in the year to get the birds and the right weather at the right place at the right time! 

We settled in at the Duck Shack and our dog Dakota made sure I was placing the guns correctly in the rack. 

Larry built the Shack and decorated it appropriately for the "Man Cave" on  the river that it is! 

With the dekes set up we climbed into our blind and we didn't have long to wait!

Dakota with a mouthful of mallard drake! This scene would be repeated quite a few more times during the day! 

Larry shows off a fine brace of drakes and we have our limit before 11 o'clock! 

One of our mallards was sporting a US Fish and Wildlife band. We will get the band location info and post it in a future blog. 

As we left Fishtown, the river shacks were incased in ice which gives one pause since it's not officially winter for almost a month!

A major part of this wonderful game we call fishing and hunting is taking advantage of both geography and meteorology. When weather conditions exist that concentrate fish and game in predictable locations, it's "Hammer Time"! With the La Nina winter upon us it will be our challenge here at The  Outdoor Line to keep you informed and in the right place at the right time!

 

Who Cares About Rockfish?


By BEAR HOLMES.  Frank Eshpeter, South King County PSA chapter President, always gives me the opportunity to provide a short update to the membership on the progress of CCA’s artificial reef proposal or some other rockfish related topic at our monthly meetings.  This month I asked how many of the audience members were familiar with the no bottom fishing deeper than 120’ rule.  Not surprisingly, less than half raised their hands.  I went on to explain the 120’ rule and also touched on the Marine Area 4-B proposal and asked them to get involved and send feedback to the Commission supporting “status quo” on MA 4-B.


After the meeting a guy came up to me and asked me why I waste so much time talking about rockfish.  He said “We can’t fish for ‘em, can’t keep ‘em and really, who cares about rockfish?”  His message was essentially that I was wasting his time (all 5 minutes) talking about rockfish every month.  I told him I happen to care about rockfish and like them because there is a wide variety, they are cool looking, fun to catch and great to eat and I’d like my grand-kids to have the opportunity to catch them in Puget Sound.  I also said:  “A more important question is: ‘Why should you care about rockfish?’  The answer is because they have the potential to affect every fishery in Puget Sound.”  He said “That’s bullsnort (or something close) they don’t have anything to do with salmon or steelhead or anything else except maybe lingcod and you’re full of snort!” and then he walked off.

Rockfish populated this artificial reef after just a few months.

That caused me to wonder how many how many sports fishers actually know how serious and far reaching the ramifications of the rockfish demise could be to their particular fishery.


Here’s an indisputable fact: the ESA listing of Canary, Yellow Eye and Boccaccio, has the potential to adversely affect all sports fisheries in Puget Sound including crabbing and shrimping. 


The 120’ rule is in response to the ESA listing; it is designed to protect the older larger rockfish, the wild “broodstock” if you will.  As it stands, the 120’ rule for no retention “only” applies to bottom fish and that includes rockfish and lingcod but excludes halibut.  There are serious on-going discussions about extending the 120’ rule to include salmon and especially halibut.  By the way, the 120’ rule covers about 60.8% of Puget Sound waters or more than 1.1 million acres; it is a serious hunk of real estate and sports fishers need to open their eyes and pay attention to what is going on around them.  There are some issues with the 120’ rule we still need to address but I’ll leave that topic for another day.


Also in response to the ESA listing, the Puget Sound Rockfish Conservation Plan recommends establishing “a series of Marine Protected Areas”.  The scientists we’ve talked to recommend setting aside a minimum of 20% of Puget Sound as MPA’s and another yet to be defined series of rockfish recovery areas.  Once MPA’s are established in the name of rockfish conservation and restoration, they will be “no-take zones” where all (recreational) consumptive activities, including crabbing, shrimping and clamming will be prohibited.  Rockfish restoration is discussed in terms of “decades”.  So… it is my opinion that every sports fisher, crabber and shrimper in Puget Sound should care about rockfish or, more correctly, what measures are in play for rockfish conservation and restoration.


The longer restoration takes, the longer the other fisheries could be affected.  It is my opinion any reasonable measures to jump-start rockfish recovery in Puget Sound should be seriously considered.  That brings us to my favorite topic; CCA’s proposal for a scientific study of artificial reefs in Puget Sound. 

 

Reef Balls have been shown to be very effective in other parts of the world.


There are studies showing properly designed and constructed artificial reefs produce fish as well as, and in some cases better than, natural reefs.  CCA is proposing a group of public and private stakeholders combine their resources and put together a scientific study of artificial reefs in south Puget Sound for the purpose of determining if man-made structure has value in rockfish restoration.  To that end, Rob Tobeck and I along with Ron Garner, State Board President of Puget Sound Anglers, met with WDFW Director Phil Anderson and his senior staff to discuss this proposal.  The proposal is supported by PSA, NOAA, the Washington SCUBA Alliance and many others.

Sunken ships also provide great habitat.


I will provide updates if (when) this proposal moves forward.  In the meantime I strongly encourage all of you to pay attention and look at what's happening around you and if you still don't care about rockfish… you might want to take another look.


Bio:  Bear Holmes is a fourth generation Washingtonian, lifelong sportsman and longtime sports fishing activist.  He sits on the South King County PSA chapter board, CCA State Board, CCA Government Relations Committee and is the Chair of CCA's Puget Sound Marine Enhancement Committee.

Marine Area 8-2: Home Water

The first place I ever used a downrigger was here in Possession Sound.
Having grown up in this area, I've spent more than my fair share of time fishing these waters. Although portions of 8-2 are open during the summer, most notably the Tulalip "bubble" fishery outside of Tulalip Bay, the longest opportunity we have is our winter chinook season November 1 through April 30 and that's our focus here.

You've heard this advice so often that you're probably tired of listening to it but nowhere is it more important to find the bait to locate the blackmouth.

Fortunately, The largest boat launch facility in Washington State, the Port of Everett's 10th Street ramp is located right in the heart of Area 8-2 so you will not have far to run. In fact, one of the best locations, south Gedney ( known as "Hat Island" in the local parlance) is literally minutes outside the harbor!

Less than three miles from the Everett Harbor Jetty lies Hat Island and no matter where the wind is coming from you can always find a place to hide. The funny thing is, Hat is so close to the harbor that is often overlooked by local anglers! You can't really blame the guys… Heck, as soon your boat gets on plane leaving Everett, Hat Island goes by before you have a chance to think about fishing it! That's a shame because the sandy flat around the south end is something of a "mini Possession Bar", holding herring, shrimp and even the occasional candlefish hatch! Follow the edge of the sand bar outlined on the map and don't be shy about contacting the bottom with your downrigger balls!

To the north of Hat Island lies the "Racetrack" or underwater ridge that extends from Hat Island to Camano Head. Often you'll find bait all along the ridge and the area immediately around Camano is some of my favorite water in this area.

Due east of Camano head,  Tulalip Bay is a large eel grass flat that amounts to a big bait factory. Herring must have a protected area that supports underwater vegetation in order to spawn successfully and Tulalip Bay fits that description very nicely. "T-Bay" remains an enigma, winter or summer but on the days that you just cannot find bait anywhere… You'll find it here and don't be surprised if you find a springer or two here come March and April!

Speaking of springers, that's the only way I could describe this March monster my wife Kathy caught at Tulalip Bay a few years ago. To this day, it's still the biggest blackmouth..or springer we've ever caught!

When wet weather approaches, the prevailing southerlies can severely reduce the water that we can comfortably and safely fish. On those days, I often head for Langley on Whidbey Island. Starting at Sandy Point, you are in fairly protected water that can be fairly productive as well!

Mabana is something of a non-descript bump on Camano Island that is often bypassed by anglers heading for Elger Bay or Baby Island. If you're looking for an out-of-the -way spot to keep in your bait and blackmouth search pattern, Mabana is it! It's almost always worth one pass and if it's holding herring it may produce a fish or two for you as well!

Setting up the J-Hook Decoy Spread

You'd think a bird with a brain the size of a tomato seed would find it's way into the decoys no matter how they are arranged, but as we all know that's seldom the case. Ol' "bird brain" isn't as gullible as you'd think. Here's some tips from frequent Outdoor Line guest Robert Strong, owner of Ruckus Outfitters and state duck calling champion, on how to set up your next decoy spread for a successful hunt.  

The "J" spread that's been around for decades is Strong's go-to setup early in the season. "If the wind is blowing right to left I'll pack the right side of the dekes pretty tight and set up my kill zone right in front of the blind at about 25 yards. I'll put a long string of decoys at around 40 yards to form the long leg of my "J" and that tends to funnel them towards the blind. Once they hit the tight group of dekes they'll generally throw down the landing gear and try to settle in front of the blind," he says about his decoy arrangement.

Hen mallards are usually the ones doing the majority of the talking and Strong will place two or three hen mallard decoys right in front of the blind so that his calling seems more natural. He also likes to direct his calling down towards the decoys instead of up towards the sky as much as possible. "When I do this it sounds like the decoys are talking and not the blind," says Strong.

The most important part of tricking ducks into the decoys is to impart some motion. He used to employ the Winduk religiously, but really likes a new decoy called the Knotty Duck that allows hunters to start and stop the flapping wings by pulling on a string. Once the action is stopped the mechanical wings automatically fall back into place with the dark side of the wing blade facing up.

Strong also likes to have a jerk string on at least one decoy in the spread to make things look even more natural. He'll designate the jerk string to the second hunter in the blind and he'll concentrate on calling and manipulating the Knotty Duck to bring'em around and into the landing zone.

As the season carries on and ducks have been hunted over for a few months Strong will usually go with the "less is more" philosophy. "The more dekes you have later in the season the more reason you have for them to find something wrong and flare away. The birds get wary of four to six dozen deke spreads after looking at them all winter and will usually respond better to a really small spread of only four to eight decoys.     

Get some duck calling tips from Robert Strong in this Outdoor Line podcast:

 

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Best Hatchery Steelhead Year Since ???!

Throughout all this talk of budget cuts, ocean survival and La Nina the fact remains that the hatchery steelhead are on their way! 

Here's why I'm looking at this year's hatchery runs more positively that the last couple years:

This fall there were less coho salmon "in front" of the returning hatchery steelies leaving the possibility open of more oceanic forage available to this seasons winter run.

A true La Nina winter could provide stable water conditions allowing us more fishing days (better opportunity) than the El Nino "Pineapple Express" river-level roller coaster.

Stabilized oceanic productivity back when this run's smolts hit the ocean (spring '09) might add up to better survival resulting in improved catch numbers.

The biggest fact in favor of a decent winter run this year? Brothers and sisters, WE ARE DUE! We've had a couple down years and 2010 and 2011 is PAYBACK TIME!

Agree or dissagree, love them or hate them; here are the State, tribal, federal and regional enhancement groups steelhead smolt releases between April 15 and May 31, 2009. Smolts are defined as hatchery reared juvenile steelhead released at a minimum size of 10 fish per pound. The majority of the adult returns from these releases are expected during the 2010-2011 seasons.

Here are the regional "major players" with the river system listed first, followed by their biggest tributaries and the associated hatchery plant. If you don't see your favorite crick check out the entire list at:
http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/steelhead/2009.html

Skagit  174,000 (Baker 28,000, Cascade 146,000)
Snohomish  370,000 (Skykomish 148,000, Snoqualmie 155,185)
Stillaguamish 125,165
Green River 270,800 (Mainstem 208,500, Soos Creek 62,300)
Puyallup River 239,100 (Mainstem 34,000, Carbon/Voight Cr. 205,100)
Bogachiel 100,000
Hoh 99312
Quinault 217,173
Humptulips 129,509
Chehalis 331,280 (Wynoochie 140,380, Satsop 47,400)
Kalama 115,344
Lewis 115,335
Cowlitz 808,359

There's the numbers! Now go out and get those hatchery fish out of those streams and don't forget to post your reports on The Outdoor Line's Fishing Report Page!!!