Nothing Beats a Hot Dog

BY JEFF LUND. Hot dogs are synonymous with summer cuisine, and though there are plenty of hot dogs – gourmet dogs, foot-long dogs, ball park dogs, nitrate-free dogs, kosher dogs – I don’t get too picky. I know what I am getting when I buy or order them so I do not worry much about the health stats because it’s not foods’ fault, I’m the one that chose to eat it. That’s why I stay away from fast food and only indulge in dogs half a dozen times a year.

Anyway, few things taste better than a hot dog during summer. Better yet, few things are better than cooking them over a fire while camping.

My buddy Steve picked me up one morning last week, and we were fishing just before noon. It rained a little, but was otherwise calm and the fishing was outrageous. To be completely honest, Steve was catching fish on nearly every cast. This is because Steve is a fishy dude. I caught my share, but he was dialed in.

We stayed at that spot for four hours, laughing and talking a little smack then drove a mile down river, caught more fish then moved three more miles. The water was high and fast, but we landed a few, then moved another mile to our camping spot.

After seven hours of swinging flies and drifting nymphs at hundreds of trout and snobby sockeye salmon, Steve and I settled onto an elevated spot that looks down on the Thorne River. We set up our tents, built a fire, fished a little more, then carved sticks, stabbed dinner and roasted it over orange coals.

Of course the first hot dog jumped off my roasting stick and into the flames because those sort of stupid little things happen to me just as I am about to make claims about the perfection of a moment.

Steve laughed, I got another.

We toasted pieces of our gas station bread loaf on a two-pronged roasting stick, wrapped it around the dog, added chili and leaned back against spruce trees to devour.

I stretched my tired legs forward and even closed my eyes as I chewed. The soft peaty forest floor was comfortable, and the spruce behind me seemed to arc back a bit for the purpose of helping campers untangle their spines and minds.

Outside of wind being forced through the feathers of bald eagles as they floated above the river, a few crows, some invisible song birds, water sneaking over rocks and the popping of fire coals, it was completely quiet.

Twilight was still hanging on when we went to bed. It does that up here. The sun will set around 9:45, but it’s still light enough to drive without headlights for awhile longer. Morning came before the sun as usual which can be problematic.

It’s light outside so you think it’s time to fish, but then realize it’s 3:45 and the sun won’t officially be up until something like 4:09. This can work for a few days for those that are solar powered, or really excited to fish, but bodies get tired so I have an unofficial “three turn” rule when camping at home. Each turn is usually around 45 minutes, which adds up to a more reasonable fishing start.

I relit the fire, Steve cooked another hot dog and I cut up a cube of spam with a knife Steve found in the river and let it cook next to the flames while the coffee warmed.

Steve didn’t have a cup for his coffee, so he cut a water bottle in half and wrapped it in paper to insulate.

Reminding myself what it is to live simply could be my favorite part of summer. There is no need to get wound up about what was forgotten back home, cell phone signals, to-do lists, a little dirt on a dropped chip, or whatever else we’ve been taught to worry about.

You just make things work, and are happy and content through self-sufficiency and industriousness.

I bet a lot of societies ills could be solved with a couple of sharp sticks, some hot dogs, and a campfire.


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

The Mack’s of Lake Chelan

When you spend 250 days a year for ten plus years on any body of water it’s pretty safe to say you know it well. Anton Jones of Darrell and Dads Guide Service in Chelan has done just that and doesn’t plan on quitting any time soon. With a lake full of kokanee and lake trout in his back yard, why go anywhere else?

The deep water of Lake Chelan is home to some darned big lakers too. Anton’s personal best was a slab that hit the scales just over 30 pounds. That, my friends, is one helluva big lake trout!

Anton really likes Mack Island and Mack Bar for the big macks, as well as Minneapolis Beach, trolling 120 to 140 feet of water in both areas with the gear within five to ten feet of the bottom.  Anton Jones of Darrell and Dads Guide Service with a huge 23 pound Lake Chelan Mackinaw trout

During the early summer Anton will look to areas like the lower basin, on either side of Rocky Point, and around Minneapolis Beach for bigger numbers of fish.  Working in 200 to 250 feet of water where schools of bait collect scores the most fish and he also recommends working the trench in the middle of the bay in front of Minneapolis Beach.

The U20 and T4 Flatfish in luminous chartreuse and purple glow see plenty of action on Anton's boat, as do wide bodied spoons like the Critter Git’r from Macks Lures in nearby Wenatchee. “The mackinaw’s primary food base in the lake is the Mysis shrimp, but they also feed heavily on peamouth chubs, cutthroat, northern pikeminnows, and kokanee.  If an easy meal of any these items comes along they’re sure not going to pass it up.  That’s what we’re trying to emulate with the lures,” says Jones of his lure choice.

In addition to excellent lake trout numbers Chelan can also have some great kokanee fishing with fish ranging from nine to as large as fifteen inches. Kokanee are known for their superb eating quality and even though the numbers of “kokes” in the lake fluctuates wildly from year to year it’s still possible to catch them just about any time.

Anton will usually run a couple of rods up shallow near the surface with Kokanee Pro spoons or mylar blade Wedding Ring spinners for the kokes. The key to getting strikes, according to Anton, is to add some Pautzke Fire Corn to the hooks of the lure. “The addition of the Fire Corn drives the kokes crazy,” says Anton.  He’ll also run a Hot Wings as an attractor instead of a flasher when trolling for kokanee, allowing for a more sporting fight on light tackle.

At this time there is no limit on lake trout on Lake Chelan. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife instituted the new policy several years ago to reduce the numbers of mackinaw in the lake. Anton agrees with the policy, as it will likely produce some whopper lake trout in the years to come. The daily limit on kokanee has also been increased to ten per day, up from a previous five fish limit. Before heading to Lake Chelan be sure to check the most recent regulations on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website though.

Holding excellent numbers of both lake trout and kokanee Lake Chelan is definitely worth a look for both the traveling angler and the vacationer who just wants to get out for a day on this beautiful lake while the wife and kids kick it in the sun by the pool. With over 300 days of sunny-sun-sunshine this Eastern Washington fishing gem is worth some serious consideration.  

Anton can be reached by either logging onto www.darrellanddads.com or at 866-360-1523. Hooked on Toys (509-663-0740) in Wenatchee is another great source of information and is fully stocked with tackle for this fishery. 

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

Fun, Sun and Fish in Florida!

One of the great things about fishing is that there is something for virtually everyone.  Nelly has his annual trip to Sitka and I have Florida.  One of the things that I love about fishing in Florida is the variety that it offers.  In two and a half days of fishing this past week, we caught 16 different kinds of fish and had shots at a few others. 

As with any fishing trip, timing is everything.  The fish have to be around and the weather has to co-operate so you can get to them.  Over the past couple of years, my timing hasn't been that good on my trips to Florida but this year has been a different story.  We've had great weather on or trips and the fishing has been incredible!  This trip was no different, we had flat calm seas and quick limits of grouper.  

Normally we try to anchor over a spot and chum the fish to us but with the seas being so calm we decided to drift and cover some water. By the time I got the boat stopped and said lines in, my dad was already pulling in a keeper sized red grouper. Mason and Sonya quickly followed and I hadn't even wet a line.  We marked our spot with a buoy and kept drifting over and around it for the next three hours as we sorted through one just short red after another before we got our limit.  We were using finger mullet, squid, sardines, jigs and swimbaits and all were equally successful.

 

While we were grouper fishing we couldn't help but notice all of the life out on the water, schools of bonita and small dorado were everywhere.  We decided to find out if there were any blackfin, bigger dorado or kingfish mixed in as well.  We did a little running and gunning after schools of fish busting the water.  Mason and Madden were on the bow tossing swimbaits and jigs into the feeding schools and pulling out bonita.  It wasn't what we wanted for the table but it sure did make for some nice bloody bait to use for shark fishing later in the week.

Day two was a carbon copy of the first day only we had my brother Jonathan on the boat as Sonya elected to stay home.  We went out to the same general area and before I could get a line wet fish were coming over the side.  We made pretty quick limits of red grouper and threw back some really nice gag grouper (closed season). Mason hooked up with a nice 37 inch cobia to top off the morning. 

 

After having seen all the life the day before, we made sure we came ready to do some trolling.  My brother Jonathan had just installed our new Cannon downriggers on the boat and I needed to show him how to use them.  Downriggers are just starting to become really popular in Florida and Cannon dominates the market. We rigged the downrigger rod with a spoon and dropped it down to about 20ft.  On the other side we had a plug with a small tuna feather on the shotgun rod.  It didn't take long and we had our first takedown on the downrigger.  Jonathan brought the spanish mackeral boatside for a "gentlemen's release". As he was putting the spoon back down a big kingfish hits and blisters Jon's thumb before he could get the bail flipped.  The birdsnest that ensued was one of the finest peices of work I've ever seen, no saving that line.  We trolled for short while longer and had a few more hits before Jonathan landed a final bonita.

With two great days offshore, we decided to stay close and fish for sharks off Anclote Key.   We made the 5 minute run and dropped anchor.  We were fishing a deep channel and hoping for a big shark while keeping our eye out for any tarpon that might be within casting distance.  We saw a tarpon in the distance tearing up some bait but we couldn't get that shallow with our boat. We decided to go to a differentspot where we had great success before.

This time the sharks showed up, first it was an 8ft hammerhead that decided to take a look at the boat after breaking us off.  I was up next and knew I had a nice one on when all of a sudden the shark goes airborn putting on a show like he thought he was a marlin.  Unfortunately, a minute later the line snapped and I had nothing to show for it.  We did manage to land a few sharks but the ones landed were on the small side.  The plan had been to just fish the first few hours of the morning outgoing tide and then head back to the house.  Mason had talked his grandpa into some BBQ and if there is anything we Tobeck's like as much as fishing, it's a good BBQ.      
 

PEOPLE AND THE FISH THAT RESEMBLE THEM

Aside from having forgotten about more money than I'll ever see fashion mogul Donatella Versace looks to be about an exact replica of a grouper. The Goretex lips that reek of catch and release with circle hooks and the swept back eyes that see in the dark are a dead giveaway for the Grouper Combo at any one of the 10,000 nip'n tuck clinics in Miami. If you're going for the fish look I guess the grouper ain't a bad way to go. Donatella…you're alright! 

I rest my case!

The only thing that's missing from Dennis Rodman's cakehole is a 16 ounce pipe jig rigged with a giant hoochie skirt and a 10/0 Mustad treble hook. There's only one fish that swims in the sea that could possibly resemble this homo sapien…Ophiodon elongatus, better known as the ling cod.   

I rest my case!

This one actually crawled out of the water and sprouted legs a few years back shocking the science community. Evolution at it's finest! This specimen is mostly humphead wrasse blended with a little bit of man, a hundred or so heavy duty split rings, and eleven different colors of backlashed chenille. By the expression on his face I'm pretty sure there's a treble hook or three firmly embedded somewhere out of the frame. Just a guess!

The humphead wrasse, also known as the Napoleanfish!

Extreme skiier Glen Plake is one bad dude and it's only fitting that he resemble one of the worlds baddest-to-the-bone fishes, the roosterfish. Roosterfish are lightning quick, agile, cunning, and don't take jack squat from many of the other fishes in the surf. In the early years of my ski career I used to try to emulate this guy. Nowadays, well, anytime I make it off the mountain in one piece is an exceptional day.

The roosterfish…baddest of the bad!

That's all for now. From Alaska…good fishing to you!

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

Sitka 2011: Lots of flat water…and flat fish!

If there is a constant to our annual Sitka, Alaska adventure, it’s that every year has it’s own personality and pace. It seems that each year the fish are found in different locations & depths and it’s our job to decipher the puzzle.

In stark contrast to last year, 2011 was marked by a flat calm ocean and a chinook forecast to cause even the most seasoned salmon angler to salivate! With an increase of over 100,000 chinook headed to the Columbia and nearly 30,000 additional Puget Sound bound kings, we anticipated great chinook fishing and we were not disappointed!

As soon as we hit town, we got the boat in the water, I jumped in the captain’s chair and we were on our way!

 

It wasn’t long before we were into a good chinook bite! Here, Larry Stauffer holds up his end of a double on kings!

 

Here’s a chunky 25 pounder that is coming home with your’s truly! This dandy king bit a herring in a Krippled “Helmet” fished above a flasher on the downrigger ball.

 

Phil Michelsen on the left turns away from the camera in shame after boating the first humpy of the year. Larry Stauffer on the right offers some words of comfort to Phil with little effect.

 

You know you’re in Southeast Alaska when you find puffins! These cheery little blokes take the place of the marbled murrlet commonly found in Washington.

 

Here’s a pair of 25 pound halibut with starkly different coloration. Despite the fact that they were caught in the same location, these two specimens were “dressed” quite differently!

 

My friend Dave Heiser on the right, helps me hoist my largest career Sitka halibut that pulled the springs down to the 109lb mark! This lunker inhaled a humpy belly rigged on a circle hook and mounted a tough battle from 400ft down!

 

Our last full day on the water yielded a great catch with limits of halibut, chinook, yelloweye and lings. Nothing to complain about when you’ve got a full fishbox!

The biggest regulatory change to the Sitka scenery for 2011 was the draconian, one fish 37-inch maximum size restriction on halibut for chartered anglers.  In all of our years in Sitka, we’ve never seen more commercial longline fishing… or less sportfishermen in town. Tourism is the economic straw that stirs the drink in Southeast Alaska.  I sincerely hope that the commercially driven IPHC (International Pacific Halibut Commission) recognizes the impact that their misguided management is having on these coastal communities.

I cannot help but be fired up over the amount of coho and pinks that we encountered during our quest for chinook. If the early presence of these fish are any indication at all, we are in for a banner season on the coast and here in the Puget Sound! See you on the water!

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com 

Mia and I Got Our New Athens Archery Bows!!

One of the exciting things going on for me right now is the prospect of deer hunting this fall.  I remember hunting with my dad as a kid but as I got older and started playing football and basketball it seemed that there just wasn't any time to dedicate to hunting.  As I got older and my NFL career was taking off, I figured that hunting just wasn't in the cards for me.  It had been so long since I had even shot a rifle or bow that I didn't even really know where to start. 

Sometimes though, life has a funny way of bringing us back around.  While my boys and I really enjoy being on the water chasing fish, neither one of them ever really expressed a desire to go sit in the woods with a rifle in hand.  It was my daughter Mia that kept bringing up the prospect of hunting.  At first I thought maybe she was saying it in jest or that it was just a phase but as time passed it became apparent it was something that she really wanted to do.  When I saw the youth hunt available for auction at this years CCA SeaTac auction, I knew that if I was ever going to start hunting again, then this was it.  I knew that having this opportunity to do something like this with my daughter would be a real motivator for me. 

This hunt was provided by Thomas Milfsud of NW Hunting Addicts and after calling and talking to him for awhile he new he was going to have his work cut out to get us ready.  He mentioned that he would be able to get us hooked up with some new Athens Archery Bows and then teach us the basics as we work to get to the level that we need to be.  This past week was our first introduction to our new Athens Bows and both Mia and I were immediately hooked.

Mia was up first and as she took aim at her first 20 yard target.  As a proud dad I was nervous for her first few shots but she was calm and confident.  I have no doubt that she'll do well when she draws the bow for the first time on a deer.

 I couldn't believe her first spread at 20 yards, almost every arrow was in the kill zone. Now the pressure was on dad to see how he would perform.  I couldn't be outdone by my 13 year old daughter, could I?

Thomas did a great job of giving us coaching points that we could use for immediate success.  By the end of the day both Mia and I felt confident and couldn't wait to get back out and practice.

Thanks again Thomas for all the help and thanks to Athens Archery for helping us get set up with some top of the line bows.  Keep track of our progress on the Outdoor Line Forums Hunting Camp page.

June One Skykomish Opener!

The June first river opener on several area streams has been marked on many an anglers schedule for many a day.

Why???

Most Puget Sound rivers closed on February 28th -if not earlier- so to the opportunistic angler paying close attention might observe that the salmon and steelhead have been unmolested for at least three months. The fish's lack of an "education" for 90 days means that the first guy to get a bait in front of their face is more than likely to get bit!

Armed with the above facts, a weak excuse of a summer last year, a winter that got an early start and a spring that you could only identify with a calender, the faithful, long-suffering northwest angler was chomping at the bit to get out for some Skykomish summer-run steelheading!

Can you say "pent up fishing demand"? The parking lot was full to bursting at both Sultan and Monroe (seen below) with both boat trailers and bank fishermen. The launch line at daylight? Fierce!

 

Since I couldn't make it for the "Fierce" dawn patrol, Derek Anderson of Screamin' Reels Guide Service was kind enough to give me the "civilized" 0630 pick up at the ramp. The guys made sure  I knew that they had already released a fine native steelhead of 14 pounds!

 

On our first drift, Derek's long time client Wayne Smith quickly hooked up with a chrome torpedo of a steelhead which just as quickly came unhooked!

 

Derek hooked another dandy steelie on the next drift and tried to hand someone the rod but we made him play the fish! Todd Lalone of Bayside Marine stands ready with the net.

 

Derek's steelhead didn't want much to do with that net and did the standard steelhead "fly by".

 

The big hatchery steelhead got a little too close to the net and found himself in the bag!

 

Derek Anderson with a fine, 12 pound hatchery steelhead. This larger female is referred to as a "three-salt" hen due to the fact it has spent three year in the ocean putting on some extra weight!

All in all, a very strong start for the Skykomish summer season! Good numbers of chinook and steelhead are already in the Wallace hatchery and the peak of this run is weeks away! Over the course fo the summer we will see this fishery transition from steelhead to chinook and then from pink salmon to coho or silver salmon.

It's going to be a great year in local waters… Don't miss the boat!

 

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com