Catch a Big Fish and Win a Million!!

My boys and I always talk about catching record fish and how cool that would be.  Mustad has now come up with a million reasons to go out and do more than talk.  Mustad is having their Hook A Million contest.  Catch an IGFA all tackle world record on a Mustad hook and you could win $1,000,000.  Catch a state record and it could mean $100,000 in your pocket.  All you have to do is register at and go fish.  The contest runs from October 1, 2011 thru September 30, 2012.

The eligible species for this contest are largemouth bass, white crappie, walleye, and channel catfish in the freshwater, calico bass, redfish, speckled trout,and yellowfin tuna in the saltwater and coho salmon and striped bass in either.  This gives NW anglers 5 different  species that swim on our waters to choose from, coho, largemouth bass, white crappie, walleye, and channel catfish.

The opportunity to catch a world or state record and make money doing it got me curious about what I would be up against.  There’s no question that the anglers in Washington State have made this no easy task.  The state saltwater record for coho salmon is 25.34 lbs caught by Martin Cooper fishing out of Seiku September 28, 2001.  For freshwater coho it’s 25.27 lbs caught by Brad Wilson fishing on the Quinalt River on November 11, 2001.  For Walleye, the record was set February 5th, 2007 by Mike Hepper.  His monster Walleye weighed in at 19.3 lbs and was caught on the Columbia neat Walla Walla.  The largest of the state records eligible for this contest is the 36.20 channel catfish caught by Ross Kincaid September 6, 1999.  He caught his fish while fishing the I-82 pond #6 in Yakima County.  From the largest to the smallest, we drop down to the 2.80 lb white crappie state record.  This fish was caught by Don J Benson on July 21, 1988 while fishing the Burbank Slough in Walla Walla County.  Last but certainly not least is the longest standing state record eligible for this contest.  The largemouth bass record has been standing since 1977.  The 11.57 lb bass was caught by Carl Pruitt fishing Banks Lake.

Other notable state record fish are smallmouth bass at 8.75 lbs, halibut at 288 lbs, chinook (saltwater) at 70.50 lbs, chinook (freshwater) at 68.26 lbs, Steelhead (summer) at 35.06, steelhead (winter) at 32.75, striped marlin 134 lbs, and most importantly, albacore at 52 lbs.

For the IGFA world records go to

Potential state record yellowtail.

As I sat down to write this I received news of a pending state yellowtail record.  This fish was caught during the 2011 Washington Tuna Classic and doubled the 10.72 lb size of the previous record set by Dane Ledbetter fishing out of Westport in August of last year.


Nailing Down Nootka!

After visiting the Nootka Sound Resort in late April on our "scouting mission" the prospect of fishing my own boat out of this incredible facility on the west coast of Vancouver Island had me counting the days until I could return.

I was not disappointed.

Unlike all our other fishing trips where we fend for ourselves for meals and lodging, staying at the Nootka Sound Resort's floating lodge, literally yards from world-class salmon angling was nothing less than luxurious!

It's all about maximizing the time you spend on the water! No time is wasted traveling to and from the boat or finding food & fuel. You simply get up in the morning and head down to the dining room for your hot breakfast, coffee, grab your ready-made lunch, jump in the boat and go fishing!

How far is the run to the fish? You can see chinook jumping from the Moutcha Bay Lodge and from the floating lodge at Nootka Sound Resort we hooked a king salmon within sight of our room. Of course if the ocean is more to your liking, a 45 minute run will get you outside for halibut, lings and of course, salmon!

"Sure." you're thinking,  "The salmon are not far from the lodge, but how long will it take me to get to the lodge?"

First and foremost, forget about the Canadian Ferries, especially if you are bringing your own boat! The Washington State Ferry System's Anacortes to Sydney, BC on Vancouver Island is less than half price than their Canadian counterpart and there are virtually no lines going through Customs!

Starting the clock at the Anacortes Ferry Dock at 0800, the crossing is two hours so your on your way to Campbell River at 1030hrs. We arrived at Campbell river a little after 2pm and were backing the boat down the ramp at Gold River at 4pm. We had two chinook in the boat and were in the lodge having dinner at 6:45pm!

With "Big Red" on the Ferry, we're ready for the first leg of our journey!


Once we got there it was obvious that there we other ways to get to Nootka! Nootka Airlines? Really???


Despite the fact that it rained 6 inches hours before our arrival, scattering the fish, it wasn't long until Lee Andersen boated our first fish of the trip! This feisty chinook grabbed a 6" Tomic 602 plug with only 21 feet of wire out!


My son Matt got into the act and Moutcha Bay produced very well for us that first evening.


When we were done for the evening, the lodge was literally minutes from where we were fishing and it was kick back and relax time!


The Nootka Sound Resort was built by fishermen, for fishermen as evidenced by the fish cleaning dock, attached to the lodge that you can tie your boat up to!


From your room, you can see your boat at the ready with one of the better inside spots, just outside the island guarding Gagliano Bay, visible from your room!


On our first full day at the lodge, we headed to the ocean for some solid salmon action. The gang from Crabby's Charters had halibut on their minds and crushed 'em! Halibut and lingcod open in August…What a concept!


On our last full day at the lodge, we were treated to a misty, Vancouver Island sunrise over Moutcha Bay.


Put yourself in the picture! We hope you can join us for next year's Outdoor Line Nootka Adventure!


We are currently in the process of securing the dates and rooms for the 2012 event. We are planning on early August so keep an eye on our trips page and listen in on Saturday morning for more information.


Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle 

Sweaty Socks, Leaky Waders, and Rainbow Trout

BY JEFF LUND. Saturday morning when I couldn’t sleep past 6:30, I decided to head east because even though the water would be high, still, and there would be a ton of people, I hate excuses.

I looked back through my fishing log from the summer and wondered what kind of lame excuse I made on the days I didn’t fish. Sure I had to paint the house, chop firewood, sand and stain the deck, but there were trout two miles away and some stupid reason kept me at home.

Not Saturday, because California's Sierra Nevada are filthy with beauty and fish.

The river banks were packed in the most fishable spots as I expected, but I found a stretch of river on the Upper Stanislaus not being assaulted by anglers with spinning rods, and caught a little brown trout.

I continued hopping up highway 108 until the road left the river and went up. I followed, deciding shortly before reaching Sonora Pass that I should keep going all the way to Bridgeport and scout the East Walker River. Time on the water would suffer since even without the distracting enormity of the Sierra divide, it’s about an hour beyond the pass.

I stopped more than a few times to snap photos and dip Wheat Thins into peanut butter for lunch.

The road dropped me down into a valley, at the bottom of which was the West Walker River. Since it is unsafe to look out the passenger window while driving down a steep curvy grade, I stopped at a pull-out. The two Euro-looking dudes getting back in their Mustang eyed my shorts, wet from leaky waders, and socks split by flip-flops. I smiled and nodded hello, because they were probably going to tell all their Euro friends that they saw a guy that not only had an accident while driving, but had a medical dictionary grade case of athletes foot. I decided to just be polite and let them conjure up whatever story they wanted.

Anyway, I stared up at the snow still stuck in sunless creases that birthed the West Walker and followed the jagged erosion lines down as best I could to the blue river that carved back and forth through the valley.

I felt small.

I like moments like that.

The road leveled and turned a few more times before I made it to Bridgeport, then took a left past the lake to the East Walker.

There are a ton of little trails from pull outs and dusty roads that provide access to the river.

I picked one for no reason in particular then stood on the shore, and was clueless. I had no idea where to start.

If I was at the Thorne, I’d put on a bead-headed prince nymph or orange scud-type pattern. I’d tie on a Jimmy Legs if I was on the Upper Sacramento, but I was on the East Walker, and felt unprepared.

I went through the normal battery of prospecting flies, red and blue Copper Johns, prince nymphs, birds nests and even a few dry flies. There were fish, just none that wanted what I had. After a few hours I retreated to town for a tri-tip sandwich and advice from the local experts at Ken’s Sporting Goods – probably should have gone there in the first place, but I was too excited.

I found that my fly selection wasn’t off, but the size were. I bought some size 18 zebra midges and Copper Johns, things smaller than pinky finger nail clippings, but obviously prettier.

The prospect of catching a 20-inch trout on such a tiny pattern drove me back to the river for another session.

It went the same, so I headed back over Sonora Pass and the familiar Stanislaus, and got into some rainbows.

I fished my way back down the western slope toward the central valley, watched the sunset then finally made it home, rank with the stench of sweat from the ridiculous day trip.

I couldn’t believe I had almost talked myself out of a day on the water.

Not only had I caught fish and seen serious nature, but scouted two new rivers and it only cost a tank of gas, one meal and a couple flies.
Days don’t get much better than that.

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 Thrill is in the Hunt


I still can’t get past the thrill of this past Friday morning’s bear hunt and can’t help but wonder if you other hunters out there feel the same about hunting as I do. I’m anxious to hear your comments on this, so please feel free to leave them.

The Scenario:

It’s black bear season and you have already done your pre-season hunting homework or hired a guide to do the pre-season homework for you. You’ve identified the desired black bear you wish to harvest, his traveling routes, routines, food sources in the area, etc. There’s fresh sign everywhere and you know it’s only a matter of time before preparation meets opportunity.

The time for your hunt has arrived.  The first couple of days during your hunt you know for sure your homework has paid off. You have some close encounters where you can hear your quarry but no shot presents itself. You know that you’ve just missed crossing paths either by being in the right spot minutes too late or a little too early.  Timing is more than a good idea. 

Then comes the moment of truth.  Does it ever.  Our destined paths cross.  Game time.  Is it ever.

This is what it came down to for us last Friday morning: Coolest morning of the week so far.  The day before the full moon.  Now or never. We’ve been sitting in the truck waiting for first light to come, discussing the game plan for the morning before dousing ourselves down with bug dope (mosquitoes are unusually bad this season) and gearing up for the “fair chase” spot and stalk morning hunt to come.

The morning is crisp and cool with a morning fog rolling up the mountainside from the valley floor below… custom made for a good hunt.

First light and we’re off starting our morning hunt with the first few footsteps from the truck spent glassing the surrounding hillsides for any sign of our quarry and getting rid of a little extra morning coffee. The surrounding hills have been thoroughly glassed and our hunt continues, trying to hone our senses back in from a long night’s sleep. With soft slow steps we continue onwards.

Then it happens, not 40 feet away from our parked truck and not 10 to 15 feet below us.  The hills come alive with the loud crashing and parting of brush and branches below us. We immediately look at each other and the first words since starting up the hill are spoken, “Bear!” Of course he’s headed away from us into the unit we just spent the last half hour or so glassing and into the morning fog just now rolling in. Go figure, right?

Hard to make out much of anything visually but we can still hear the crashing of brush as it comes to a rest somewhere in the middle of the unit below us. The best vantage point of the entire unit and best place to set up a shot is from right where we’re standing. However, we can’t quite zero in on the location of our quarry.

Adrenalin is not passive.  Alive and surging. 

I head down into the unit below us leaving my client, good friend John, at the best vantage point for a well-placed shot. The fireweed in this wide open unit is over six feet tall.  More than hard to see much of anything from where I’m at. I try and find my best vantage point from where I think our bear has gone and begin calling.

Didn’t take long before I got my answer to where our bear had gone.  He starts huffing and puffing threatening to blow my ass down. He charges in from the hillside below, and all I can see is the tall fireweed parting in front of me before he comes to a stop some 30 to 40 yards away.  You can hear his loud huffs and snorts as he tries to get wind of me. Now I’m just praying that my client, John can see him from his vantage point and set up his shot.

With a light breeze now coming up the hill to my advantage, but of course bringing with it the morning valley fog, the bear retreats back down the hill. I keep calling and you can hear the bear’s huffing, puffing and growls as he moves up the hillside a bit more. Again, the fireweed parts as if this bear were Moses himself, and again he charges in and stops some 30 to 40 yards short of my position. 

Still no visual… “C’mon John, take the shot”, I think to myself. All the while, also thinking how freaking awesome this moment is.  The adrenaline has found its voice, almost a scream.  The bear, still not getting wind of me and not quite sure yet if I’m prey or predator, again retreats up the hill.  Moves up a bit more. I keep calling and now this bear is really pissed off and getting very vocal about the whole situation. He defines primal scream,  charges yet again. Only this time the light breeze has me at a disadvantage and I’m winded. Sorry, but being scent free and being eaten alive by mosquitoes is not my idea of an enjoyable hunt. The bear heads up the long hill and off towards the old growth timbered forest. I keep calling hoping and praying I can turn him around but he wanted no part of my little charade anymore and the whole time he’s headed up the hill he remained very vocal about his discontentment. Crap!

I head back up the hill to meet John… Cursed by the fog and lack of a good sight window for a shot, we both were pumped with adrenaline by the shear “thrill of the hunt”. John could hear every single thing I did even being a couple hundred yards away and appeared just as pumped as I was. To me that’s what hunting is all about…The thrill of the hunt! How about you?

This is the second season in a row that John has come hunting with us and the second season John has not bagged his big bear…but… over the past two seasons we have seen bear, passed up on a small one, missed a long shot, had a couple of close encounters and my “friend” John has already rebooked for next season as well.

So, to you… Is the Thrill in The Hunt or Is The Thrill In The Kill?

John Koenig is a full time hunting and fishing guide that lives in Rockport, Washington. He can be reached at (360) 853-9801 or visit him on the web at Johns Guide Service.

Choosing the Right Bait Hook

Are you tired of wondering if you still have bait after every microscopic bite or even worse, losing fish after fish because your may have selected the wrong bait hook. Check out these hook designs for a little help on selecting the correct bait hook the next time you go fishing.

Circle Hook
Circle hooks nearly always hook fish in the corner of the mouth, which is exactly what they’re designed to do.  The key to hooking fish with a circle hook is to let the fish eat the bait and as they swim away they hook themselves.  The circle hook lends itself well to both bait fishing on the bottom or suspended baits.  The best hookset with a circle hook is to not set the hook at all.

Baitholder hooks work great for night crawlers and have small barbs on the shaft of the hook to hold slippery baits on the hook.  These hooks are strong and once set into a fish’s mouth they won’t shake out easily.

Ringed hooks have been used for fishing live baits in the saltwater for years and they have recently become popular with freshwater anglers using live bait.  The welded ring attached to the eye of these hooks allows bait to swing freely.

The Kahle’s wide gap and long shank puts the hook far back in a fish’s mouth when it takes a bait.  With a wide gap and an offset it typically won’t shake loose once set.   These hooks work great for live baiting minnows, chubs, worms and leeches.

These hooks are typically made of light wire and will bend before they break.  They work great for fishing minnows and their long shank makes this hook a great choice for stacking nightcrawlers.  The light wire construction of the Aberdeen makesfor excellent hook penetration.

Octopus hooks are used widely by salmon, steelhead, and walleye fisherman.  These hooks are sharp and strong and will usually break before they bend.  The short shank of the octopus hook makes it easy to conceal within salmon roe, single eggs, herring, and small leeches.

Live Bait
This hook has a very short shank and is very strong.  It used widely in the saltwater for live bait because its small size makes it easy to conceal.  This hook is used throughout the world by big game anglers using live bait.

Capt. Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

“Selective” Summer (So far…)

One of my favorite regional salmon fishing opportunities is our local summer chinook season.
The Marine Area 9 & 10 selective harvest opportunity dates back to 2007 when, after several years of closures, the north central Sound again got to fish for summer kings.

“I hope anglers remember how we got here”  states Tony Floor, Director of Sportfishing affairs of the Northwest Marine Trade Association.

“This fishery would never have been a reality without the momentum provided by Congressman Norm Dicks, the advent of mass marking of hatchery fish and WDFW’s support of selective fishing” says Floor.
Saturday, July 16, 2011 rang in the opener of the 5th year of our selective chinook season and while the catch rates are not quite what we’ve seen the past few years the average size of the fish has been quite respectable.
I dashed out of the studio and headed straight to Possession Bar where we released two wild fish before Phil Michelsen put this mid-20’s king in the box!


Our largest of the season (so far) is my son Matthew’s 31 pound chromer which absolutely crushed a Silver Horde Ace Hi plug.


The second weekend of the season was marked by the inaugural Salmon Smackdown tournament which was won by Capt. John Keizer’s Team Lowrance. Here, boats jockey for position for the “shotgun” start near Jefferson Head.


Team Outdoor Line took third in the Smackdown behind Jim Fahey’s “Team Eight Balls”. Here, Tournament Sponsor Ken Pinnell on the right presents the “big fake check” to Tom Nelson and his son Matt on the left.


Midchannel Bank became the “go-to” location during the end of July and Tom was joined by his friend Walt Hylback for a good day on the water during a trip in which the largest fish of the day got away!


Nelly hoists a pair of kings aboard the Evinrude powered Stabicraft “ESPN Boat” also known as “Big Red”.


The key to chinook success this season has been to keep the information network active as the best fishing has rarely been in the same place for very long. On our Saturday morning radio show we do our best to keep our listeners in the loop!

While Silver Horde Coho Killer spoons have been the ticket out at Midchannel where candlefish are present, at Point No Point and Possession Bar herring are much more prevalent and larger spoons and plugs have been more productive. Larger terminal gear also have the benefit of keeping the dogfish sharks at bay.
We still have the remainder of August to target chinook but the “humpies” or pink salmon are hot on their heels so don’t miss out…Go limit out! Good luck and see you out on the water!

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle 



I was having lunch with a few friends last week and somehow we got around to telling stories about funny mishaps we had on our boats.  I remember sitting there laughing and thinking to myself, “Boy, I’m sure glad I don’t have stuff like that go on anymore, I mean I’m pretty dialed, a real pro”.  Well, as you probably know already, that kind of attitude will cost you.

You see, instead of sitting here writing this blog right now, I am supposed to be 40 miles off the coast of Washington reeling in my 20th tuna for the day.  Instead, I have been back and forth to the boat launch three times, had multiple repairs done on my trailer, and I am now sitting and waiting on a call to tell me that the fiberglass repair is done on my boat.

What happened you ask?  Well, as many of you know, I’ve got a fairly big boat to trailer but we generally do a pretty good job with it.  Recently, instead of having my wife or son drive it on, we have walked the boat on and thenpowered it on.  It has worked great and I have noticed a little less nervousness on my wife’s part.  This time however, it didn’t work so well.  I purposely did not back the trailer down as far as normal.  I thought that this would allow the guides to help a bit more and make things even easier.

What I learned though, is that by not backing the trailer down as far, it caused the bow of my boat to split my forward bunks and turn them outward which, of course, exposes metal to fiberglass.  This is not good.  I didn’t realize what had happened until we had the boat out of the water and we were strapping it down.  I couldn’t help but notice the two, long, half inch deep scrapes out of my fiberglass.  I wondered how this had happened and after a little investigation, I noticed that by bunks weren’t even connected to the trailer any longer.  Thankfully we didn’t head down the road before we noticed what had happened.  Who knows what kind of damaged we could have caused.

A special thanks to Tom and the good people at Seattle Boat in Bellevue.  Tom has always looked out for not only me but all everyone that has ever brought a boat in for service there.  They’re getting my trailer and boat repaired and in time for me to fish the Ilwaco OTC event this weekend.