Soggyblog

To simply state that there is water everywhere just doesn't do justice to our current state of affairs.

At least we are armed with more information for this season's series of November drenchers. Thanks to the new Langley Hill radar we have a better view of incoming fronts.

This new view is particularly helpful to coastal residents but also invaluable to Olympic Peninsula bound anglers. This morning's view shows another front heading our way. 

 

My primary concern with November gully washers is the fate of our wild salmon populations that have spawned and placed their fragile eggs in the gravel. This fall in particular we have a good run of pink or "humpies", coho and chinook eggs already incubating in our area streams.

 

Generally when we experience an early November cold snap that dumps the first real mountain snows, the table is set for a tropical moisture tap or "Pineapple Express" (warm rain) to quickly melt the early snow and provoke a serious November flood. Thanks to our current, colder "La Nina" pattern, the low pressure systems hitting us are originating from farther north. UW Meterologist Cliff Mass calls these the "Sushi Express".

 

Although these cooler systems are not as severe, they still have a tremendous effect on our rivers. Here is this morning's Skykomish River USGS graph showing the "rain on snow" effect! You can see that there is a little window of opportunity to hit the rivers as they should remain on the drop throughout Turkey Day!  

 

While our rivers get a breather, Puget Sound will remain a little "sporty" given the Gale forecast for the Holiday weekend!

PZZ135-241715-
PUGET SOUND AND HOOD CANAL-
300 AM PST THU NOV 24 2011

…GALE WARNING IN EFFECT…

TODAY…S WIND 10 TO 20 KT RISING TO 25 TO 35 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT BUILDING TO 4 TO 6 FT THIS AFTERNOON. RAIN BY AFTERNOON.

TONIGHT…SW WIND 25 TO 35 KT EASING TO 10 TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 4 TO 6 FT SUBSIDING TO 1 TO 3 FT. RAIN TURNING TO SHOWERS.

FRI…S WIND 10 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 OR 2 FT. CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE MORNING.

FRI NIGHT…S WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT.

SAT AND SUN…S WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT.

 

So, what's an outdoor's minded fella to do this weekend?

If you're an upland hunter, the last pheasant releases of the season take place on Thanksgiving weekend and since many Western Washington release sites feature a bit of waterfowl habitat…well, you get the picture.

Several area lakes have been planted with jumbo rainbow trout and they will be biting right up to the next real frost and beyond. Check WDFW's website for a listing of recently stocked lakes.

If you're just hung up on steelhead and salmon, my advice for you is to take advantage of the dropping streams and temporarily calm waters and make a break for it!

If you can't bargain an out pass or sneak out the back door, you're resigned to eat turkey, watch football and tie some leaders….Get ready for December! It's gonna be a good one!!!

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

Another Mar Don Medley

This weeks adventure took us to Mar Don Resort on the Potholes Reservoir for a combination duck and goose hunt with the Meseberg's, owners of the Duck Taxi. Seven of us hit the road on Monday afternoon for two days of fun in one of the Pacific Northwest's most productive regions for waterfowl hunting. Here we go!  

It's impossible to drive thru Cle Elum, Washington without stopping at Owen's Meats to grab some goodies for a hunting or fishing trip. They have a wide variety of quality smoked meats at this awesome little shop, but the lanjager is my all time favorite. The shop has been in Cle Elum since 1897 and here's one of the 5th generation of Owen's showing off what's left of the lanjager supply after we rolled thru.

Seven of us checked in at Mar Don Resort at around 6:00 p.m. on Monday night. After a quick meal at the Beach restaurant right in the resort we hit the sack early to rest up for our 5:00 a.m. departure with the Duck Taxi. Levi had already set out all of the dekes at both blinds, so all we had to do was jump out and get situated. He dropped us off first and then headed off to blind #2 with Doug Spadey from Dougs Boats, Nick Kester from All Star Charters and his lifelong buddy Rory, and Tom Nelson.   

It didn't long for the action to heat up in our blind. Here's Frank Reed from Poulsbo with a nice pintail and guide Mike Meseberg in the background. I got to hunt with Frank, my dad, and Mike who is a pleasure to spend the day with. 

Here's Calvin, who did all the heavy lifting in our blind. Here's the old boy in action retrieving a drake mallard.

Calvin always kept an eye out for the next group of birds heading our way.

We were fortunate to have a lot of action in our blind in the morning, with numerous flights of mallards and pintails keeping the barrels warm. By around 11:00 a.m. the action tapered off and bluebird conditions settled in and it was time to cook up some chow for our always hungry crew. Mike got the briquets going and it wasn't long before we were feeding our faces with Mar Don's famous duck kabobs. The Meseberg's are some of the best waterfowl guides in the Pacific Northwest and they also have the service end of the guiding business nailed!

With the shoot over for the day we gladly washed down the duck kabobs with some local red wine.

I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to be able to take my dad and "Uncle" Frank hunting with Mike Meseberg. When I was old enough to hold a shotgun Dad brought me to Mar Don to hunt ducks in the dunes with the Mesebergs. That was in 1980!

The four of us ended up downing 26 mallards and pintails in our blind on Tuesday morning and, as usual, there were plenty of ducks that got away. More great memories made on this trip!

Capt. Nick Kester is always along on these hunting trips. He's a salty old bugger like the rest of us!

Now that the work is complete it's time to spoil the dogs!

Walleye anyone? We capped off an incredible day of hunting by fishing for walleye off the dock at Mar Don in the evening. Pops was lucky enough to nab this whopping six pounder on a swim bait that Levi had set us up with. We had quite a few more bites and both dad and I each lost a nice walleye apiece before we called it quits. The Mar Don dock used to be open to the public, but after numerous problems with vandalism and burglary it's now only open to guests staying at the resort. Welcome news if you're headed over for some hunting! 

Wednesday morning found us in the goose field watching a beautiful sunrise. 

Here's Doug Spadey with a bunch of lesser Canada geese. We had plenty of action in the morning, downing 17 honkers and we had more than enough opportunities for more. It seemed like the flights were on about a 30 minute schedule and it wasn't exactly warm, so we'd all invariably end up out of our layout blinds pacing around and shooting the b.s. when a flock would appear out of nowhere. I can't tell you how many large flocks of geese we fouled up…it was quite a few. The only one we couldn't blame was Nelly, who was sound asleep during these out-of-blind b.s. sessions.

Dad and I with our honkers. We had one helluva good time as usual!

Nick Anderson shows us the snow front moving towards us. Gotta love technology. I think it's time to pack up and got on outa here!

Nothing like a cold Blue Moon with ice chunks in it to polish off a totally awesome day in the goose field with these guys. 

Tommy Crotchlow shows off his vintage 80's MC Hammer duck hunting waders. 

The duck and goose hunting is just starting to heat up around the Potholes region. We experienced the first push of northern mallards and pintails on Tuesday and with the weather shaping up the way it is the next few weeks over there the hunting should be lights out. You can bet I'll be making another run over just as soon as my busy schedule allows for it!

While you're here check out this blog I wrote from a hunting trip to Mar Don last fall:

Waterfowl Weekend at Mar Don Resort

And here's the Best Damn Duck Recipe Ever!!!

Bacon Braised Goose in Honey Mustard Sauce

Until the next adventure…good hunting to you!

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

 

Bayside Marine Salmon Derby 2011: Blackmouth On The Bite!

For the second year in a row, I've had the opportunity to fish the Marine Area 8 & 9 opener to "scout" or pre-fish the opening event of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series, the Bayside Marine Derby.

Usually,  there are a few "easy" fish available on opening day and you get a good read on the location and feeding habits of our local feeder chinook. No such luck this year!

Long-time Everett Herald Outdoor Writer Wayne Kruse manages a smile as Jay Field releases yet another undersize or "shaker" chinook and we did not find a keeper on the opener.

After spending his last ten-plus summers in southeast Alaska chartering for big, bruising chinook, it's hard to get Robbo Endsley fired up about blackmouth fishing but since we did the radio show live from Bayside Marine, he decided to stay and fish day one of this event.

Photographic evidence that Robbo actually caught a blackmouth in Area 9. Flat calm water greeted us as we experienced a pretty good afternoon bite on Possession Bar!

 

Our day one catch totales 28.3 pounds but none of our fish would qualify for the top ten largest fish in this event. We were in the running for team total so going in to day two, that was our focus.

 

The two "Daves" left to right Buckley and Pitcher with their 12 and 13 pound jumbos entered in day one was a very strong showing and when they added another keeper Sunday was good enough to win the $1100 Team event!

 

Gunning for the win, Jay Field hooked up on a dandy fish on Sunday morning. We had our fingers and toes crossed as Jay expertly played the fish while the NMTA's Tony Floor mans the net.

 

With the fish in the net, we saw what we dreaded… an adipose fin! it was a wild chinook we estimated to be 17 or 18 pounds. We let it go and it would be the last fish we would land in the derby.

 

After the scale closed at noon on Sunday, the crowd gathers for the annual feed and Jeff Lalone of Bayside Marine addresses the faithful prior to awarding the prizes.

 

Derby winner Glen Helton is all smiles as he accepts the $2000 cash grand prize! Bayside Marine owners Jeff Lalone and Dan Hatch hand over the "big fake check"!

 

Team Overkill takes the $1100 team pot with a total catch of 31.1 pounds over the two day event. Bayside's Jeff and Dan dole out the dough to Dave Buckley and Dave Pitcher.

 

 

Here's the final leaderboard down to the top 20 fish entered. For complete results, click on to Bayside Marine's website 

 

Winter chinook season is just getting cranked up! Don't forget your warm clothes, crab geat and watch the weather.

When the holiday hams and turkeys have got you stuffed… you can always mix in a little seafood!  

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

Washington OK’s Another Round of Razor Clam Digs

OLYMPIA – Clam diggers today got a green light to proceed with a two-day razor clam dig Nov. 11-12 at three ocean beaches.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig after marine toxin tests showed that the clams on the three beaches are safe to eat.

Beaches scheduled to open for the two-day dig include Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks. No digging will be allowed either day before noon.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2011-12 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licensing options range from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, which can be purchased on WDFW's website (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov) and from license vendors around the state.

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day, and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container.

"It's important that diggers keep the clams they dig to prevent wastage," said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. "It's not unusual to encounter some small clams, especially this early in the season."

For best results, Ayres recommends that clammers start digging an hour or two before the evening low tide. On Nov. 11, an evening low tide of -0.4 feet will occur at 6:48 p.m. The evening low tide Nov. 12 will be -0.4 feet at 7:23 pm.

"This season's tides are not as favorable as those in the past few years," Ayres said. "Low tides will occur later in the day, so diggers will have to be prepared for the dark during evening digs in fall and winter."

Copalis Beach is not included in the two-day dig, said Ayres, who cautions diggers to observe the boundary between Mocrocks Beach and Copalis Beach, which are adjacent to one another north of Grays Harbor.

Mocrocks Beach, which is open for digging Nov. 11-12, lies north of the Copalis River and includes Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Seabrook, Pacific Beach and Moclips. Copalis Beach, which will be closed for the dig, lies south of the Copalis River and includes Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis.

WDFW has tentatively scheduled three other razor-clam digs through the end of the year – all pending final approval until future toxin tests confirm the clams are safe to eat. The tentative schedule for future openings is posted on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

Winter 2011/2012 Steelhead Smolt Numbers Released!

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

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

Look at the "bumper crop" of pinks & coho we've seen this year! There couldn't be a better indication of more oceanic forage and better feeding conditions  available to this seasons winter run.

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

Stabilized oceanic productivity back when this run's smolts hit the ocean (spring '10) might add up to better survival resulting in improved catch numbers.

The biggest fact in favor of a decent winter run this year? Brothers and sisters, WE ARE DUE! We've had a couple down years and 2011 and 2012 is PAYBACK TIME!

Agree or dissagree, love them or hate them; here are the State, tribal, federal and regional enhancement groups steelhead smolt releases between April 15 and May 31, 2010. Smolts are defined as hatchery reared juvenile steelhead released at a minimum size of 10 fish per pound. The majority of the adult returns from these releases are expected during the 2011-2012 seasons.

Here are the regional "major players" with the river system listed first, followed by the hatchery plant and the change from last year.  If you don't see your favorite crick check out the entire list at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/steelhead/2010.html

Winter  Steelhead Smolt Stocking – 2011/2012


Skagit  231,500 (up from 174,000 last year)
Nooksack 106,200 (down from 146,500)
Snohomish  339,500 (down from 370,000)
Skykomish 148,000 (down from 153,900)
Snoqualmie 167,600 (up from 155,185)
Stillaguamish 76,600 (down from 125,165)
Green River 56,900 (way down from 270,800)
Puyallup River 26,300 (way, way down from 239,100)
Elwha River 124,700 (up from 98,889)
Bogachiel 120,300 (up from 100,000)
Hoh 79,200 (down from 99312)
Quinault 224,300 (up from 217,173)
Chehalis 368,100 (up from 331,280)
Wynoochie 175,000 (up from 140,380)
 Satsop 64,100 (up from 47,400)
Kalama 99,600 (down from 115,344)
Lewis 210,200 (up from 115,335)
Cowlitz 719,000 (down from 808,359)


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

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

 

Four Techniques for Schwacking Chum Salmon

Rob Endsley of the Outdoor Line with a huge Skagit River chum salmon caught on a twitched jig

I was talking to guide Phil Stephens of Mystical Legends Guide Service last week about how the fishing had been recently on the Humptulips River and he exclaimed, "There's plenty of kings and silvers in there but you can't get past the infestation of chums to get to them!" Eeek…tough duty Phil!

I'm still chuckling about his comment, as I know what its like to have every single piece of tackle in the boat thrashed to pieces by these gory critters. What they lack in sexiness, however, they more than make up for with fighting ability.  

Chum dawgy's usually start to trickle into the rivers in Western Washington around late October and by the middle of November many rivers, as Phil would say, become "infested" with them. While the North Puget Sound chum runs have been down considerably in recent years that's still a great place to tear up some tackle on these fish. The Nisqually, the Chehalis system rivers, the Humptulips, and the rivers of the Hood Canal all provide excellent chum fishing. 

As with any other fish species there's a handful of techniques that consistently puts fish on the bank. Here's my top four techniques for targetting chum salmon after they enter the rivers of Western Washington:

Curtis Meyers of BC Fly Fishing Charters with a Chehalis River chum salmon

Kwikfish
Backtrolling Kwiky's is by far the most lethal technique for schwacking chums. The plugs that reign supreme in this category are the "Funky Chicken" 3132 and the Silver/Cerise/Purple model 0745. Wrap these plugs with a sardine fillet and they will get tatered all day long. There are several sizes to choose from, but I prefer the K-15 because it's easy to tune with a large sardine fillet and they'll dive as deep as 15 feet flat-lined. Don't be surprised if you catch a Chinook, silver, or even an early winter run steelhead doing this!

Floatfishing
Chums simply go goony-goo-goo for a large pink or cerise jig under a float. Fish jigs for chums the same way you would for steelhead except you'll want to use a jig with a much larger profile for chums. I like to use rabbit zonker strips and marabou in my jigs so that they have a lot of action underwater. They will definitely hit a naked jig, but tip the jig with some prawn meat or an 18 count shrimp tail and hang on. The advantage of using this technique for chums is that you also limit the number of foul hooked fish.

Twitching Jigs
Chums will pounce on a twitched jig with authority. The best jig colors for chums are pink, cerise, and purple and marabou jigs work better on the Puget Sound rivers and hoochie jigs dominate the action on the coastal rivers. If you're not familiar with this technique here's a great VIDEO with Forks area guide Bob Kratzer on how to twitch jigs for fall salmon. 

Flyfishing
Chums hold over deeper gravel bars and in a lot of the steelhead travel lanes making them super accessible to fly fisherman. A good day of landing scrappy chums on the fly can be a total blast! My favorite way to fish chums on the bug rod is to use a floating line with a strike indicator and a heavily weighted pink, cerise, or purple zonker strip or marabou fly. This presents the fly in a way that reduces the amount of foul hooked fish. If chums are holed up in a deep back eddy a sinking tip with a purple/pink egg sucking leach is another great way to approach them. Cast the leach into the pool, let it sink a few feet, and then strip it back to the rod with short, sharp strips. We caught a lot of smoking hot chums doing this in my guiding days.

You'll notice that I left drift fishing off this list. I did that because the number of foul hooked fish using this technique usually out-weighs the number of legit hookups. Sure, there are days when chums will pound a corky and yarn, but the majority of the time you'll end up dragging them in the by the tail and that just ain't cool.

Chum fishing just got really hot in the last week on a few west side rivers, as was evidenced by my conversation with Phil, and the action will continue to be good well into early December. Take a turn at landing some chum salmon this fall and don't be afraid to post your photos and fishing reports over on the Outdoor Line forums. Ciao…for now!

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

One-Thousandth Group Joins Coalition as Leaders Focus Congressional Attention on New Economic Report

WASHINGTON – One-thousand groups and businesses have joined in urging Congress to consider the economic impacts of the great outdoors and historic preservation as it makes critical decisions concerning America's fiscal health, the recently formed national coalition "America's Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation" announced today.

At a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., by the coalition on Monday afternoon, Theodore Roosevelt IV joined CEOs from prominent AVCRP organizations to cite strong new evidence of the employment opportunities and economic growth driven by natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation in America. Read a transcript of today's event and view video as it aired on C-Span 3.

Roosevelt, a leading figure in American conservation and the great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, noted America's long-standing tradition of conservation. "For more than a century, conservation is part of what has made America unique," Roosevelt said. "From our public lands tradition to the ethic of private land stewardship, conservation has enjoyed broad support with the public and bipartisan support from their congressional representatives. As the Southwick Report clearly shows, conservation is an economic driver, accounting for more than 9.4 million jobs. I hope we reinvigorate our bipartisan commitment to conservation as we work to reduce the budget deficit."

Congress is currently determining federal funding of conservation, recreation and preservation programs in the bicameral, bipartisan "Super Committee" as well as in fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills.

AVCRP is a national coalition of organizations and businesses representing tens of millions of citizens with diverse political backgrounds and areas of interest. AVCRP members are united in a shared understanding that federal investments in natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation programs are vital to the future of our great nation. The 1,000 supporting entities signed a letter urging Congressional leaders to sustain the federal funds that are critical to the American way of life.

AVCRP represents an extraordinarily broad and diverse set of interests ranging from conservation and the environment to hunting, fishing and many other forms of outdoor recreation as well as historic preservation. AVCRP is made up of nonprofit organizations as well as major American businesses. Read the AVCRP letter and a list of signatories.

Other speakers at today's event included Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited; Bill Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society and AVCRP co-chair; Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy; and Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

"The Economics Associated with Outdoor Recreation, Natural Resources Conservation and Historic Preservation in the United States," a report released this month by Southwick Associates and commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, was highlighted by Roosevelt and AVCRP leaders at the Washington, D.C., press conference. The study defines the huge economic stakes associated with continued federal investments that are leveraged and matched with private funds.

The study cites the following compelling figures for the combined value of outdoor recreation, natural resource conservation and historic preservation:
• 9.4 million American jobs
• $1.06 trillion in total economic impact
• $107 billion annually generated in tax revenue

"From an economic perspective, the bottom line is clear – America's natural resources are a critical part of our national economy. Investments in nature produce a great return. Federal spending on conservation and protection of our natural resources should not be singled out for disproportionate cuts in the budget," said Tercek. "Americans across the country agree, as you can see from support by more than 1,000 organizations joining together to call upon Congress to address the federal deficit while still investing in critical conservation programs."

"This economic report highlights how cost-effective conservation and preservation programs make a clear profit for the U.S. taxpayer and benefit our nation's economy," said Hall, who is also former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "This coalition has come together because all of us understand how critical conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation are to America's legacy, economy and people."

"This study shows just how historic preservation has proven its value many times over," said Meeks. "The remarkable impact of the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit is just one example, creating over 2 million jobs since its inception and leveraging $90.4 billion in private investment. Preservation projects not only generate economic activity – it brings people together and creates a legacy for future generations."

Contact:
Vaughn Collins, 202-639-8727, vcollins@trcp.org
Alan Rowsome, 202-429-2643, alan_rowsome@tws.org