The 2011 Salmon Forecasts!!!

I know, I've got it bad… I await the salmon forecast numbers like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.

Hello, my name is Tom and I am a "salmon sicko".

After watching the numbers for a number of years (never mind how many…) I've found that you can "call some shots" by digging into the forecast numbers.

The PFMC (Pacific Fisheries Management Council)  chinook and coho abundance estimates take some pouring through to find the real "meat" but don't worry, I've done all the leg work for you right here!

2011 Preseason adult Chinook salmon stock forecasts (in thousands of fish)

Stock                                  2009                                    2010                        2011
Willapa fall                            34.8                                  31.1                        36.8  
Hoh fall                                  2.6                                     3.3                          2.9
Nooksack/Sam                       23.0                                30.3                        37.5
Skagit summer                       23.4                                13.0                        15.9
Stillaguamish                           1.0                                   1.4                          1.9
Snohomish Wild                       8.4                                  9.9                          7.4
Snohomish Hatch                     4.9                                  5.6                          5.1
Tulalip Bay                             4.0                                    3.4                           3.5
S Puget Wild                         17.2                                  12.7                         8.9
S. Puget Hatch                     93.0                                   97.4                       118.6
Hood Canal Wild                      2.5                                  2.4                           2.1
Hood Canal Hatch                  40.1                                 42.6                        38.3
Key Stock totals                255,600                          253,100                  278,900!!!

From the above numbers, We can take a guess that chinook seasons may be similar to last year but a bonus 25 thousand chinook can't hurt!!!
The Silver Story!

2010 Preseason adult coho salmon stock forecasts (in thousands of fish)

Stock                                            2009                                2010                    2011
Straits Wild                                      20.5                                8.5                     12.3
Straits Hatch                                     7.0                                 7.8                    12.7
Nook/Sam W                                      7.0                                9.6                     29.5
Nook/Sam  H                                    25.5                               36.0                     45.7
Skagit Wild                                      33.4                               95.9                   138.1
Skagit Hatch                                    11.7                                9.5                      16.2
Stilly Wild                                        13.4                                25.9                     66.5
Stilly hatch                                        0.0                                 5.4                       0.6
Snohomish W                                    67.0                              99.4                    180.0
Snohomish H                                    53.6                              24.5                      54.9
S Sound W                                      53.6                              25.3                      98.9
S Sound H                                     188.8                             186.4                    173.3
Hood Wild                                       48.6                               33.2                      77.5
Hood Hatch                                     52.0                               51.2                      72.1
Key stocks Total                        338,600                       320,800                 966,000!!!

The obvious bright spots in the coho numbers are, well take your pick!!! We're looking at a very serious silver season here!

About the "humpy hordes" ??? Six million Puget Sound pinks are on the way!

Keep in mind that these numbers are but the "raw material" that the co-managers will use to craft our local seasons and only by attending the North of Falcon meetings can you have an impact on the process.

We will keep you posted here but I sincerely look forward to meeting some of you….at the meetings!!!


Seven Things I dislike About Nature

I know, I know, you’ll give me the ol’ “you’ve got to take the good with the bad and accept everything in nature” drovel that I would expect from all of you that love the outdoors as much as I do. Shoot! I’ve even said it ma’self.

If there’s a thousand, or even a million, things that are so great about nature there’s just got to be a few things, just a few, that are no bueno. Read thru my list below and tell me these things haven’t caused you grief or freaked you out at some point in your life. I bet most of them are on your list too!

Gale Force Winds
You’d have to be a certified nut-job to actually like gale force winds. I mean, seriously, I’ve been on the water in more gale force winds than I can remember and not one single time have I enjoyed it. They turn the ocean into a roiley, boiley mess, make hunting close to impossible, and just try rowing a driftboat in a gale. No beuno! Gale force winds are like jogging. Have you ever seen a jogger smiling. I rest my case.

This is the one creature in nature that scares the living crap out of me. Couldn’t Ma Nature come up with something a lot less creapy to eat bugs. We have bug-zapper lights , exterminators, and gooey-stickum fly strips now for crying out loud. Couldn’t we invent a gooey spider strip to do the same job. I think so. Why do we even need spiders? They only serve to create nightmares and paranoia…nothing else.

I have to admit that I hate snakes less nowadays than I used to, but they still score an 8 out of 10 on my most-hated list and thus they make the cut. In Africa they actually have a snake called the black mamba that chases down people and kills them just for the hell of it. Another snake, the king cobra, spits venom in your eyes to blind you, then it bites and kills you before wandering off to killl something else. It doesn’t even eat you. What kind of crap is that?

Breaking Branches
There is never anything there…just a broken branch. I can honestly say that a large branch breaking in the night is something that makes me nearly shart me’drawers. On a mid-night hike into Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness for the early mule deer hunt in the mid-90’s my good friend Mike Jesch and I stopped along the trail at around 1:00 a.m. to rest our aching clown feet. We turned off our headlamps and sat there in the who’s-your-momma-now, pitch black darkness and listened to the total nothingness in the old growth forest. The night was soot black and there wasn’t a sound, not any one thing making a single, solitary sound. Creapy! Then, no more than forty feet behind me a giant branch breaks. It went “Kaaaa-rack!” and then like in so many other branch-breaking episodes there was terminal silence. No thump-thump-thump of a deer bounding off or primal growl from Big Foot…just nothing. We grabbed our packs and beat feet!

Slush isn’t rain and it isn’t snow. It’s 100% pure freezing ass cold. I’ve spent days on end guiding for winter steelhead in the pouring down slush and not one time did I think, “Man, this is rad dude!”. It penetrates every form of rain gear created by man and it even permeates human skin, chilling right into the very marrow of our bones. I wish they would build a gi-normous, pollution-spewing coal factory in Seattle that would provide enough localized global warming to make it impossible for Mother Nature to produce slush here. We may have pollution, but we would rid the Northwest of slush. Fair trade? I think so.

No See Ums
They fly up your nose, into your ears, in your eyeballs, and bore microscopic holes into your flesh that itch like the dickens for days. The worst part about the little buggers is that YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE THEM! You can swing your ball cap around wildly to ward them off, but you’ll be swinging at nothing but clean air. They can hang out on the gooey bug strip with the spiders. Bu-bye!

What good do hornets do anyway? I’ve never seen them make honey or help an old lady across the street. They are only a mechanism for terror and the earth should be ridden of these foul creatures. Have you ever had a pleasant encounter with a hornet? Hell no you haven’t and neither have I. Wouldn’t nature be a lot more enjoyable without them? I think so.

There’s my list. How about you? I’m sure there’s something about the outdoors that drives you to swinging your hat around like a lunatic.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle


2011 Columbia River Fall Chinook Preseason Forecasts!!

This is just a preseason forecast but if they are as accurate as they were last year then we are in for another great year of chinook salmon fishing in the ocean and on the Columbia.  I can't wait to get this season started. 


Stock Group                            2011 February Forecasts    2010 Actual Returns    2010 February Forecasts
Lower River Hatchery – LRH                     133,500                               103,000                         90,600
Lower River Wild – LRW                             12,500                                10,900                           9,700
Bonneville Pool Hatchery – BPH                 116,400                              130,800                       169,000
Upriver Bright – URB                                398,200                              324,900                       310,800
Bonneville Upriver Bright – BUB                  37,600                                29,400                         30,300
Pool Upriver Bright – PUB                           62,400                                49,600                         42,300
Columbia River Total                           760,600                             648,600                      652,700

2011 Forecast Highlights
 LRH – Best return since 2003 and greater than the 10-year average (92,500).    
 LRW – Improved over last four years, but slightly below 10-year average (15,400).
 BPH – Slightly less than 2010 actual return but greater than the 10-year average (105,900). 
 URB – 2nd largest return since record keeping began in 1964 (The largest return was 420,700 in 1987).  Over 60% of the 2011 return is expected to be age-4 fish.       
 BUB – Similar to the 10-year average of 47,500.
 PUB – 3rd largest return on record (1986).  Greater than 10-year average (43,800). 
 Total forecast of 760,600 Columbia River fall Chinook is the 5th largest since at least 1948 and greater than the 10-year average of 565,800.

In other news, the Governor's idea of killing the Fish and Wildlife Commission appears to be dead but the compromise is only slightly better.  Substitute Senate Bill 5669 that was passed out of Senator Ranker's Senate Natural Resources Committee will keep the commission a commission but will do a few other things that I don't like. Things like changeing the name of WDF&W to "Department of Fish, Wildlife and Recreation. 

This  bill also gives the Governor the ability to appoint a Department Secretary from a list of 5 names jointly submitted by both Parks and F&W Commissions.  This would once again give the Governor more power with the ability to appoint and then dictate policy to whoever sings the Governor's tune.  Would someone from the Parks Commission really be good for anglers and hunters in this state?  Maybe, but more likely the answer would be no.  Would a possible Secretary of this new department be taking away from the users that pay to play (license fees etc.) and appropriate it somewhere else? 

Lastly, this bill creates a transition team for this entire process to take place.  This thing is supposed to save the state money and now we are talking about a transition team and the costs involved there.  The Governor's proposal would supposedly have saved $2.5 million and now Senator Ranker says he can save $10 million by doing this.  Senator Ranker, where is the savings?  To my knowledge he has not shown where he is getting that savings but he sure is talking about it.  I fear that this is more fuzzy math from a politician.  We need to remind Senator Ranker that he is up for re-election and that his dreams of being in DC some day will not come to fruition if he goes through with this.  Believe me, I am all for shrinking government and eliminating waste but in my opinion, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has to stand on it's own in this state. 

Finally, we had Rep. Hans Dunshee on the show last weekend and he mentioned making sure that we call or email our senators and representatives and tell them to make sure they give plenty of funding to the capital budget so that we can properly fund hatcheries and habitat.

Double Derby Weekend!

Formerly known as "Presidents Day", this national holiday has been hijacked by local salmon anglers and derby organizers!
The Hot Plug and Olympic Peninsula Salmon derbies offered over $30,000 in cash and prizes during one of the best winter chinook or "blackmouth" seasons in recent memory, which certainly added up to a memorable three-day weekend!

The 25th edition of the two day "Hot Plug" Derby drew over 100 anglers plying the waters of Marine Areas 8-1 & 8-2.

Despite the gale force winds on Saturday,  Curt Schaffer boated this 20.03 pound dandy good for the $2100.00 first prize. 


Darrell Clark pulled a blank in the Saturday storm but scored this 16 pounder on Sunday which was good for second place in the Hot Plug and $925.00! 


The larger of the two events in anglers and fishing area was the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby featuring an incredible prize list worth $24,032, including a $10,000 first prize. An awesome 248 fish were submitted, resulting in a prize ladder of 34 fish; the smallest prize-winner was 11 pounds, and the winners had an average prize-winning weight of 13.2 pounds.
The first prize of $10,000 went to Rob Schmidt of Sequim, with an 18.90 pound blackmouth. 


Second prize of $5,000 went to Ray Lampers of Snohomish for his 18.05 pounder.


Third prize of $1,500 went to Mike Thacker of Chimacum for a 17.35 pound chinook taken during the height of Saturday's storm. Thacker was motor mooching just outside the Port Townsend harbor just after first light! 


After the event, Derby official Dan Tatum was beaming. “This was a giant undertaking. 500 square miles of fishing, five weigh stations, and a huge number of fish. But it‟s all gone really well and everybody is feeling great. We were worried about the weather, and we think that deterred a lot of people from Seattle and further away. This turned into more of a local derby, even though our ladder includes Santa Cruz CA and Scappoose OR.” Tatum also reminds us that the Derby is continuing to demonstrate that Selective Fishery is working. “This derby was „Clipped Fin to Win,‟ and we had plenty of fish. This is a sustainable fishery.”

The event was put on by the Gardiner Salmon Derby Association, a Washington State Nonprofit Corporation. Proceeds support local emergency services and other important community needs.
The Derby is part of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series, run by the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA). All Derby ticket holders are entered in the NMTA’s end-of-year (September) grand prize boat drawing.

The next events on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series are the Geoduck Derby the weekend of March 5-6 followed by the Everett Blackmouth Derby at Bayside Marine on Saturday, March 19th.

See you on the tournament trail and good luck!


Smart phone, dumb guy and a two handed Spey Rod

BY ROBERT STRONG. “How  tough could it be?” I said to myself as I slid my credit card across the counter to the girl at the fly shop.  After all I’ve been fly fishing since the age of 13 and I can double haul a large Wooly Bugger with the best of em.  Every Summer I’ve enjoyed fly fishing trips in Canada with some crazy Canuck friends of mine and I always felt as if my skills were comparable.  However the last couple of trips I’ve felt a bit inferior, something my fragile ego cannot forego for long.  Mi Amigos de Canada have all converted to two handed rods in a big way!  They’ve left me in the dust, making 100 ft casts with ease, working over long runs in half the time and stickn twice as many fish.  So I did what any sensible steelheader would do (Oxymoron alert) and dropped six  bones on a two hander of my own, complete with gel spun backing, Skagit Line, Rio multi shooting heads in variable weights and of course…an instructional video.

Man was I excited to watch that video! I popped it in the DVD player and let the absorption begin.  What I didn’t realize was that all Spey Casting videos feel it’s necessary to play Native American flute music during their casting instruction because apparently Spey casting is highly spiritual. Me, couch, flute music, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.  So after three unsuccessful attempts to watch this video in it’s entirety I felt that I had enough tools to go out and get’er done.  The entire trip out to the Olympic Peninsula I was imagining all the fancy casts I was going to pull off.  The Single Spey, Double Spey, Snake Roll, underhand casts, the Perry Poke, snap T, the Circle C and of course….the Wombat.

As I drove up the gravel road that followed the river my eyes were keenly searching for perfect swinging water where big Native Steely lie. Then I saw it, 200 yards down river, just past the closest tailout was a long green run. It had everything, good speed, medium depth, broken surface and a structured tailout.  That was big fish water and it was going to be the site of my glory!  I yanked on my waders, jacket and gloves.  I laced up my rod in a rushed excitement, missed an eye and had to repeat the process with a little swear word in between.  I dug into my box of flies and tied on a big nasty hot pink looking chicken.  A stranger drove by and I could tell he wanted to ask for a fishing report but I managed to avoid eye contact, nothing was going to slow me down now!

I approached the head of the run and planned out my attack. I quickly ran through my mind everything I had learned earlier in the video, anchor points, steady acceleration to a one o’clock position, D-loop, forward cast, mend the line, take a step down river and repeat.  I stripped out the proper amount of line, plus forty feet of running line that I was sure would be rocketing out into the river as planned.  For the next forty five minutes I managed to hook my waders, my backpack, my stocking cap, some logs lying on the shore, but definitely no steelhead.  I was ready to give up, take the walk of shame back to my truck where I left my pride.  I decided to take a break on a rather large fallen tree lying on the shore. My hands were a little numb from being flailed around in sub freezing temperatures and could use a little time in the pockets.  When I reached my right hand into my pocket I felt my Android phone. Now usually I would have left my phone in the truck for fear of dunking it in the river.  But this time in my haste I forgot to pull it out.  Suddenly a light bulb went off in my head!  I could quite possibly get streamside instruction via you tube on my phone.  I looked at my phone and had no service, “figures” I said aloud, but what if I climbed atop this downed tree I thought? 

A few well placed branches made safe foot holds as I made my ascent.  I was in business, two bars of service!  My cold numb corn dog sized fingers struggled to type out the words Spey Casting in the search bar.  Up popped a video from local legend Mike Kinney.  I closely studied his hand movements, timing and rod angles.  After several views I made my way back to the water, stripped out the proper length of line again, this time with only a humbling ten feet of running line.  I swirled the line around and let it fly…Zip.  To my surprise the line screamed out the rod, the running line shot out the tip, even jerking on the reel a bit. “Holy Cow! What did I do?”  I feverishly stripped the line back in, not even waiting for it to fish out.  I tried to remember every movement I just made so I could mimic it once again.  I swung the line around once more and it piled up at my feet a short distance in front of me.  A few more attempts had similar results; however the line was making its way out into the river.  I climbed up the tree several more times, each time resulting in small improvements, each time my confidence was gaining. This went on for two hours until my phone battery was finally dead.  My casting ratio improved greatly, about one out of three casts had positive results.  The line was laying out straight and I was getting a respectable 60 to 70ft lengths.

I wish this story had an amazingly happy ending, with me hooking a monster buck steelhead in the tailout, having to pull a River Runs Through it maneuver down to the next hole and having a smiling Kodak moment to share with you all.  But it ends with me strolling back to the truck, not with my head hung down low doing the walk of shame, but feeling pretty good, like I had won some small victory.  Maybe Spey Casting is spiritual after all.

The End

Robert Strong
Ruckus Outfitters

Expo Aftermath, Trying to Figure it All Out

The fly-fishing section of the International Sportsman’s Expo in Sacramento was an entire building complete with casting pond and corner stage for presentations by experts.

Since my buddy Nate was too overwhelmed to ask questions about upgrading his eight-weight fly-rod, I assisted. I asked a Sage rep what he had under $200.

Impossible, so he silently redirected us to the Redington Models.

Sage is a premier brand name and makes premium rods that cost as much as four premium Toyo truck tires. Most brands in this price range have a cheaper rod that they consider an introductory rod to the sport, but are really more of an introduction to spending a heck of a lot of money.

The salmon and steelhead version of the Redington CPX was in his price range, but negotiations broke down. While all this was going on, I slipped over to the Sage rods.

I had a bit of a Wayne Campbell moment as the Sage Z-Axis stood, seemingly outlined in angelic light.

“She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine.”

Unfortunately, the $700 tag was more than a little out of my monetary universe.

After the Expo I became bent on finding what I’d get for $500 more than I was comfortable spending. With the help of my buddy Klinger, guides and trusted sources, I got in to some product reviews, all of which naming expensive premium rods the key to longer casts, better accuracy, loading, and a power to stiffness ratio that doesn’t end in jelly arms and casting knots.

I remembered my starter kit, the $59.99 Plueger combo, and how sore my arm was from whipping that 5-weight broom-stick back and forth for months until I upgraded to a Temple Fork Outfitters.

Placement improved, back-casts and roll casts were entertainment themselves. The more sophisticated rod did increase my enjoyment, but that was a $100 difference, not a month’s rent.

I contemplated further.

If I wanted to just catch fish, I’d put gobs of Powerbait or worms on hooks, or toss a spinner that creates a hellish disturbance in the water inciting bites, in other words, allowing the technology put into the bait to do the work.

In fly-fishing, the technology is put into the equipment, because the margin for error is slight when dealing with bait made from hair, yarn and thread at the end of a line that one can only hope stays straight.

As someone that fishes at least as much with a spinning rod as a fly-rod, I can confidently say I get zero enjoyment out of 100 empty casts with a spinning rod.

But watching a tight-looped cast unravel and delicately place a fly next to a cut bank can almost make me forget it’s been 45 minutes since my fly has been assaulted from below the surface.

You can’t enjoy fly-fishing, if you don’t enjoy fly-casting. But can more enjoyment come from throwing money at equipment?

I called a local fly-shop and spent 28 minutes talking about the plight. The guy agreed that with regards to a stick that truly makes fly-casting enjoyable, few match the premium rods, and if I want to make a deep investment in to the sport, and find a deeper joy in catching fish with a rod that casts smoother is lighter and won’t require rotator-cuff surgery, I should get one.

There are cheaper rods that cast well, but they usually come with qualifiers such as, “for a cheap rod” or “for the price” or “although it can’t.”

So I am no closer to a decision — or buying a rod.

I do have a ton of new knowledge, a couple good resources and another reason to collect change.

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

Legislative Update

I was able to attend the hearing for SB 5669 today and I couldn't have been more proud to be associated with all of my recreational angling brothers and sisters.  We showed up in big numbers, big enough in fact that we couldn't fit everyone in the room and many had to wait in the hallway.  Everyone that testified had well thought out points that were made very respectfully and those that didn't testify were seen and signed in to oppose this bill as written.  Way to go people!!


This was 20 minutes before the hearing and it was already packed. 

 As proud as I was of our side, I was disgusted when the commercial lobbyist Ed Owen felt the need to arrogantly proclaim that the people he repesented weren't great in numbers but had a lot of money.

Moving forward, Senator Ranker has called for a stakeholders meeting to discuss SB 5669 further.  This meeting will take place this Monday the 14th at 5:30 in Hearing Room #2.  I know this is Valentines Day but if you can make it, we need everyone there that can be.  The house will have a hearing as well at some point, stay tuned to The Outdoor Line for more on that. 

In my last blog, I talked about the coming HB 1717 which addresses the need to make mandatory lost gillnet reporting.  The senate version of this bill, SB 5661, will be heard on Monday the 14th at 1:30 in the afternooon.  The hearing will be held in the Senate Natural Resources Committee, Hearing Room #2.  We need everyone that can be there.  If you can't be there, and I hope you can, then please take a moment to email your senator, representative and the governor. Tell them to support these bills and make reporting of lost nets mandatory. 

On the cigar front, I was able to attend and testify the hearing for HB 1683 this morning as well.  I felt it was well recieved by the committee and hopefully this is the first step to adults in America being able to enjoy a legal product and share that pleasure with like minded people.  The lat word I got was that the senate will hear their version of the bill on Thursday the 17th.  See you there.

Roche Harbor Rundown!

The third stop on the 2011 Northwest Salmon Derby Series was the Roche Harbor Invitational and I have to say that it is one of the best run events that I have ever had the pleasure of participating in!

Start to finish from the location, to the wonderful Roche Harbor facilities, the fishing and the people the experience was nothing but exciting, educational and a whale of a lot of fishing fun! The "educational" portion of the weekend came at the hands of one Derek Floyd of Reel Class Charters who absolutely dominated the field and displayed a mastery of one of the most challenging fisheries in the state.

Speaking of the start, Rob Endsley posted a video of the Shotgun Start which signaled the beginning of the tournament Friday morning.

Once we reached our destination, it wasn't long before we were joined by several other anglers. Here, Jay Field of Dash One Charters works his gear in the choppy waters of west Rosario Strait. 


David Arnold and his crew are all smiles with the day one leader which pulled the scales down to the 21 pound mark!


Tony "the truth" Floor served as Judge, Jury and Executioner for this year's Roche Harbor Invitational and here he is seen manning the scale for Friday afternoon's rush of fish!


WDFW personnel were on site taking scales to obtain age composition and coded wire tag data. Once compiled, this information is a vital aspect of the management of our chinook fisheries.

The first day's top four fish are displayed for all to see and they are a fine, fat bunch of San Juan Island winter chinook!

Top five fish are posted on the leaderboard as well as the top boat weights. Here are the day one leaders!


Day two started out with The Outdoor Line Crew interviewing tournament leader (and eventual winner) Derek Floyd as we broadcasted live from Roche Harbor.


After his on air appearance, Derek went back out and dropped the hammer on this 28.10 “blackmouth"! This monster, caught on the second day of the Roche Harbor Salmon Classic, beats the all-time record chinook from this tournament by over two pounds!!

Here are the final standings from the 8th Annual 2011 Roche Harbor Invitational Salmon Classic

100 Derby Boats; total 337 Anglers
43 fish weighed in on Friday February 4, 2011
25 fish weighed in on Saturday February 5, 2011
38 boats weighed in a total of 68 Fish
$25,000 cash prizes awarded:

$10,000 1st Place: Derek Floyd          Stanwood, WA 28.10
$5,000   2nd Place: Richard Sakuma  Bellingham, WA 22.04
$3,000   3rd Place: David Arnold         Bellingham, WA 20.16
$2,000   4th Place: Kirk Hawley          Bellingham, WA 19.15
$1,000   5th Place: Tony Petosa         Bothell, WA  19.0

$2,000         Mystery Fish Neal Kamrin  Bellevue, WA  9.0
 $2,000        Best Boat Total Weight   108.04 lbs  
                  Derek Floyd  Stanwood, WA
                  Julie Floyd  Stanwood, WA
                  Scott Bumstead Everett, WA
                  Shannon Bumstead Everett, WA

Derek Floyd ended up 1st place individual, 1st place, total boat weight, and the traditional side bet, for a total payout of $21,000!!! Congrats to Derek Floyd and we'll see you next year at the 2012 Roche Harbor Classic!