Four Techniques for Fall Coho

 

Steve Maris and I with limits of chrome coastal silver salmon from last fall

When I opened the door to the house this morning to hustle the garbage out to the street corner I was greeted by rain. Lots of rain!

Dragging the can out to the street in my usual morning coffee outfit of shorts, slippers, and a worn out Prince of Wales Sportfishing t-shirt I was getting soaked. Indicative of my fishing addiction I hardly noticed the wet dog look as I hustled back into the house not to get out of the rain, but to pull up a handful of river graphs on the computer to see what they were doing. There were more important things at hand than getting wet.

Sho’nuf! Some were going straight up and others were just starting to bump up a little. Silvers staging in Puget Sound, Sekiu, and off the coast of Washington would be headed upstream soon, very soon!

Here’s a handful of tried-and-true techniques that I always had in the boat during my days as a full time river guide here in Washington. You can bet I’ll be pulling this gear out of tackle storage soon, today in fact, to start hitting these rivers festooned with silvers.

Spinners

Hucking spinners for fall silver salmon in the river is one of my all time favorite things to do because it’s hands-on, somewhat technical, and they simply crush it when they hit these puppies. Silvers are prone taking refuge in downed timber in the river and slowly spinning a standard Vibrax or Vibrax Bullet spinner by those holding fish can be ultra productive. Spinners are also a great way to cover water and pull wary fish out of cover, as they give off a lot of vibration and silver attracting flash. That combination makes them super lethal in stained or off color water too. My favorite colors are chartruese, flame orange, blue, and purple with either a silver or gold spinner blade. The latest craze for coastal silvers is to add a hoochie skirt to the spinner to give it an impressive action. Silvers go nuts for this riggin’s!

Twitching Jigs

Twitching jigs is a technique that’s really caught on the last five years to the point of being downright mainstream. Prior to that it was a pretty closely guarded method used by some of Washington’s top guides for catching silvers and even kings in the fall. Not so much anymore. It involves casting a 1/4, 3/8, or 1/2 ounce marabou or hoochie jig into an area that holds coho, letting it sink into the fish holding zone, and then slowly twitching the jig back to the boat or bank. Silvers jump all over a twitched jig, with hits occurring anywhere from the first twitch to within inches of the rod tip. Colors span the spectrum, but jigs in pink, cerise, purple, blue, and orange seem to get bit the most. To learn how to twitch jigs check out this great Jig Twitching Video featuring Forks area guide Bob Kratzer from Anglers Guide Service.

Dick Nite Spoons

It’s hard to believe how hard a big hook-nosed silver will crush these seemingly microscopic spoons. Dick Nite’s work in all sorts of water conditions, but they really produce in low water conditions when silvers are lock-jawed. The most popolar method of fishing these spoons is along the bottom with a dropper weight. Drift them thru the run and then reel them slowly back to the boat or bank at the end of the drift. Like both jigs and spinners, don’t be surprised if they hammer the spoon as you’re just about to pull it out of the water. The best colors are the 50/50, Froggy/UV, silver/chartreuse, and silver/orange.

Casting Plugs

This technique consists of casting a Wiggle Wart into deep water that’s holding coho and then cranking it bass-style back to the boat or bank. When silvers are in the mood for a plug fished in this fashion they will pound it agressively. I’ve had them explode on plugs within inches of the surface just as I’m ready to lift the plug out of the water and make another cast. Simply awesome! Since most plugs come adorned with two treble hooks you won’t typically miss many fish. Just make sure you check the regulations before tying one of these babies on. The most productive colors are fire tiger, flame orange, pink, cerise, purple, and gold/orange. They also work well trolled or back trolled from a boat.

The silver salmon forecast is great for the Southwest Washington and North Puget Sound rivers this fall and this rain is going to seriously jump start the coho bite. Get acquainted with a couple of these silver salmon catching techniques and head out to the river to scrap with these great fighting and eating fish.

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

 

Ten Tips for Better Scent Control

I’ve got to admit that I didn’t really get serious about scent control until just a few years ago when someone pointed out to me how ridiculously short our big game hunting seasons were in Washington. I, like so many otherers, did everything absolutely back-asswards when it came to controlling my own scent in the woods. Despite all my fumblings I’ve always managed to get a deer or at least have a few opportunities to bag a legal buck every season.

My enlightenment came when I reflected upon all the big bucks that I’ve busted over the years that I could’ve gotten if I’d have just had another second or three. Those extra critical seconds could be gained if that four hooved sniffing machine didn’t know exactly what he was looking at before he beat feet for the next county. Oila…scent control!

Here’s some scent control tips that might help you this fall:

-Launder all of your hunting clothes in a scent free laundry detergent like Scent-A-Way from Hunter Specialities.

-Store hunting clothes in a scent free bag and include scent wafers like pine, cedar, or fresh earth in the bag. If scent wafers aren’t available put some pine needles or cedar chips in a fine mesh bag and place it in the scent proof storage bag with your hunting clothes. Here’s a VIDEO of the bag I use to store my hunting clothes.

-Make sure you are scent free by using a system like Scent-A-Way that includes bar soap, shampoo and conditioner, anti-perspirant, toothpaste, and foot powder.

-Avoid pumping gas into your truck the morning of the hunt. If you absolutely have to get fuel wear rubber gloves and stand off to the side of the vent as the vehicle is filling.

-Don’t wear your hunting boots when you pump fuel either, as the concrete under the pump is generally covered with hydrocarbons from spillage.

-Avoid sitting around a camp fire in the hunting clothes you’ll use the next day.

-If that smoke isn’t bad enough, lay off the cigars and cigarettes for the weekend. There’s nothing that shouts “human being” more clearly to a deer than ciggy smoke.

-The inside of most trucks smells like a combination of Little Tree scent fresheners and the drooling black lab that always insists on riding shotgun. Try to keep an extra set of clothes for driving and keep the hunting clothes in a scent free bag in the back of the truck.

-Use a cover scent or scent eliminator spray before you head into the field. I’ll be using Hunter Specialties new aerosol spray this fall.

-Always stay down wind of an area that could be holding deer or elk. I know it’s a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many hunters underestimate this.

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

Post your hunting photos and chat with other hunters in the Outdoor Line Hunting Camp forum!

 

 

Budweiser, RMEF Remind Hunters of Safety Responsibilities

MISSOULA, Mont.-With hunting seasons nearing, Budweiser and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation-two longtime partners in wildlife conservation and responsible outdoor recreation-are reminding hunters of three fundamental rules for safe gun handling:

1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
This is the most basic rule of firearm safety. Never allow a gun to point toward people or anything you do not intend to shoot. Whether you are loading or unloading, carrying or cleaning, inspecting a scope or dry firing, no injuries or damage can occur if the gun is pointed in a safe direction. The safe direction may be up, down or to one side-and may change frequently-depending on the situation. Remain vigilant at all times.

2. Keep your finger off the trigger
Always treat guns as if they're loaded and never touch the trigger until you're ready to fire. Do not rely on a gun's safety to prevent it from firing and do not handle a gun carelessly simply because the safety is on. A safety is a mechanical device that could malfunction, so consider it merely a supplement to safe gun handling. Until you're ready to shoot, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun.

3. Unload your firearm when not in use
Firearms should only be loaded when you are ready to shoot, whether you're in the field or at the shooting range. Once it's loaded, don't lean a gun against anything, as it could fall with enough force to discharge. Also never cross a fence, climb a tree, get into a blind or perform any physically awkward action with a loaded gun. Unload your gun as soon as you are finished shooting. Keep your gun's action open when not in use.

Along with these fundamentals, safe hunters have many other considerations. Make sure of your target and what is beyond. Know basic operation and safe handling characteristics of a firearm before you pick it up, or get help from someone who does. Ensure all guns around you are unloaded and safe. Properly maintain and clean firearms. Use correct ammunition. Wear appropriate eye and ear protection. Store guns securely. And always use common sense.

Hunters should never drink alcohol or use over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or during the hunt.

"Many hunters enjoy relaxing with a beer back at the cabin or around a campfire with friends after the hunt," said Bob Fishbeck, senior manager, Budweiser Brands. "It's a great way to celebrate the day."

Budweiser has been the official beer of RMEF for over 23 years.

Since 1999, the "Help Budweiser Conserve the Outdoors" program, along with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and RMEF members, has raised more than $1.1 million for conservation and education.

David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, said, "Budweiser continues to be a true friend to hunters and conservationists, and is one of RMEF's longest standing and most valuable partners. The company's dedication to our mission began in 1988 with a major gift for our first-ever permanent land protection project, and it continues today with sponsorship and support on many levels throughout our organization."

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.9 million acres-a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

Coho Know How 2011

Last season was nothing short of a silver bust in local waters but hot on the heels of a pink salmon run is a very solid showing of chunky coho salmon!

With the Everett Coho Derby looming in a little more than a week, let's brush up on some silver slaying strategies!

Robbie Tobeck gets in a stance to bonk this double on silvers! 

 

One look at the forecasts for Puget Sound coho should make you forget all about the end of summer with over 105,000 headed for the Skagit, 31,000 Stillaguamish silvers, the Snohomish chipping in with 124,000 and the mid & south Sound totaling over 200,000 more! That's over 450,000 reasons to get fired up for fall fishing and the upcoming culmination of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series, The Everett Coho Derby.

 Tobeck hoists two chunky coho that would have been a dandy derby day catch! 

 

In order to get off to a fast fall start on coho, let's talk technique & tackle. I tend to view saltwater coho angling in light of chinook techniques. After all, we spend winter, spring and summer targeting chinook and only get a crack at coho in the fall so it's useful to consider chinook techniques as a "baseline".

Coho are nothing short of metabolic machines and as such, tend to be interested in smaller offerings trolled faster and shallower than their chinook counterparts. We've spent a good part of the summer keeping our gear close to the bottom while running familiar bottom contours. No more! Silvers seemingly avoid structure and have an affinity for the shipping lanes out in the middle of the sound.


Quick, morning limits are often the case when the silvers come streaming in!  

 

So where do we start our search for silvers?

By looking for Surface activity: Bait jumping, birds working or my personal favorite: tide rips. Generally there is a "dirty side" and a "clean side" of a Puget Sound rip. While trolling, try not to cross the rip and stay on the clean side to minimize gear fouling but don't feel like you have to "rub" the rip. In other words, if you can clearly see the rip, you're close enough!

Kevin Gogan and his daughter Hannah were "close enough" to a tide rip for this limit of silvers! 

 

To place numbers on the other concepts, start fishing at first light with a cut plug herring six feet behind a blaze orange trolling "kidney" or mooching sinker fished twenty "strips" deep (a two-foot pull of line off of your reel is known as a strip) and run a downrigger 40 feet deep. Keep your speeds in the 2.5 to 3.5 mph speed range which should result in a 45 degree downrigger wire angle assuming you're using 12 pound Cannonballs. As the light level increases throughout the day, increase your depths and when you hook up, enter a waypoint into your plotter so you can troll back into the school. Silvers tend to mill around and when you find one, there is sure to be more!

Fairly new to the salmon scene is Brad's Super Bait cut plug. Just open this plug up and fill with oil packed tuna and you're good to go! 

 

Silver Horde's "Coho Killer" have been a winning piece of gear for not only coho but chinook as well! Run these 36 to 40 inches behind a Jim's Breakaway Flasher by QCove and you're in business! 

 

Get out there this late summer and enjoy some of the fastest, wildest salmon fishing of the year! Heck, summer isn't really over…is it????

 

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

Hunting Products that are on my Wish List for 2011

After a long and successful charter fishing season in Southeast Alaska you’d think my mind would still be awash with visions of salmon, halibut, ling cod, and every other saltwater critter that’ll bite a cut plug herring. Oh contraire mon frere!

The sight of a small Sitka blacktail buck on a beach in early August was all it took to jump start the hunting bug and it all came rushing back. The memories of last years epic fail were saved conveniently on my minds desk top. Like it or not, the visual’s played of the big mule deer buck that I just couldn’t pull the trigger on, the legal bucks I passed up, and the three point blacktail that I missed in the torrential monsoon rain in the closing moments of the Washington late hunt.

“Hey Rob? What kind of deer is that over there on the beach?”, one of my guests inquired. “That’s a Sitka blacktail. Small, but man are they tastey,” I responded as I snapped back from Okanogan County to the wheel of the charter boat.

I’ve always been an old school, lunch-pale type deer hunter, choosing to keep my gear simple and rely on extremely hard work, some strategic planning, and extended time in the field to bag my Washington buck. My approach has always been fine-and-dandy until I glassed that mule deer with a drop tine last fall that was juuuuust out of my comfortable shooting range.

He stared at me from his perch 400 to 500 yards away for not less than five minutes and then vanished. Rolling onto my back and gazing into the sky I raised the white flag. It was time for me to come out of the dark ages of hunting and at least purchase a range finder. A raven flew overhead and laughed at me. Yes, it was time!
Bushnell Fusion ARC 1600 Binocular/Rangefinder

My summer long search for a combination binocular/rangefinder led me to the Bushnell Fusion 1600 ARC. These binoc’s seem to possess every feature that I’m looking for and at a reasonable price of around $800. The Fusion ARC’s come in both 10X42 and 12X50 field of view and are equipped with anti-fog lenses and a fully waterproof housing for those soggy days in the blacktail woods of western Washington. A simple push of a button activates the range finder, which effectively displays target range from 10 to 1,600 yards. The Fusion ARC’s can be programmed for rifle sight-in of 100, 150, 200, and 300 yards and come pre-programmed with 19 different ballistic charts. They are a long ways from my twenty plus years of stubborn-ness, but with all these features I’m not sure I can resist this product.

I’ve also done some digging around on the interwebs and found some very positive reviews of the Bushnell Fusion ARC’s, including this one over at LongRangeHunting.com.

Next on my wish list are some trail cam’s to help root out the blacktails that live in the Amazon-like jungle of tangled-up underbrush here in western Washington. There’s something alluring about these creatures. Perhaps it’s because they’re so hard to hunt that I’m drawn to them. If they aren’t fouled up by the rut when they seem to appear under every rhododendron bush in the Seattle suburbs they simply don’t exist. At least not the big ones anways. Ah, but with a trail camera I can tune into your sneaky ways Mr. Blacktail!

Moultrie GameSpy M80 Trail Camera

My search for a trail camera led me to the guys at TrailCamPro.com and eventually to the new Moultrie GameSpy M80. If you’re searching for a trail camera this website has a plethora of information.

In terms of field testing the Moultrie GameSpy M80 ended up somewhere in the middle of the pack. It was the price point of $139 that attracted me, which is a solid price for a trail cam with this many features.  It features 3 different operational modes including infrared, a time lapse plot cam, and infrared by night and time lapse plot cam by night.

It’s night camera has been rated best-in-class, which is exactly what I want for nocturnal blacktails. It’s powered by 8 rechargable AA batteries and while battery life is only 2-4 weeks I don’t want to pay another $100 at this time for a camera with extended battery life. My blacktail haunts are relatively close to home and this will give me yet another excuse to keep a close eye on these areas.

Last but not least is the new Scent-A-Way aerosol spray from Hunter’s Specialties. Scent-A-Way’s been on the market for a while, but the aerosol spray is a new delivery system that provides a much finer mist and better coverage than the previous pump bottle. I’ve used Scent-A-Away products forScent-A-Way Aerosol Spray several years now and also acquired the new TEK-4 odor control clothing last winter for an additional leg up in the field. With a short, very short, modern firearm deer hunting season here in Washington I think it’s critical to give yourself every advantage you can possibly get in the field. I’m a big guy, not exactly sneaky in the woods, and I need all the help I can get. A friend was kind of enough to point this out.

There’s a lot more hunting products that I’d sure like to have for this fall, but with baby Endsley on the way the likelihood of going hog-wild aquiring a mess of new hunting gear is highly unlikely. Unless, of course, I could do it without the wife finding out!

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