Northwest Outdoor Report

Razor Clam Dig This Weekend
The second razor clam dig of the season will take place on the Washington coast October 27th thru the 30th. Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks beaches will be open over the weekend of October 27th and 28th and Twin Harbor’s beach will remain open thru Tuesday. The digs are scheduled for evening tides, so don’t forget your LED Lensor headlamp and check the WDFW regulations before you hit the beach.

Bayside Marine Blackmouth Derby Next Weekend
Tickets are on sale now for the Bayside Marine Blackmouth Derby next weekend in Everett. Glenn Helton took first place and $2000 in last year’s Bayside Derby with a 15.52 pounder and Dave Buckley and Dave Pitcher from Sims Honda took the two-day team weight prize with 31.1 pounds of winter blackmouth. Tickets are $30 per angler and can be purchased at Bayside Marine in Everett. Anglers can get 5 dollars off the ticket price by donating 5 cans of food.

Chums Prowling Minter Creek
Tom Pollock from Sportco in Fife (253-922-2222) reports that the chums are starting to show up in front of Minter Creek near Purdy. He says the fishing has picked up there this past week and he expects it to get really good in the coming weeks. He recommends fishing a whole green label herring under a slip float at the mouth of the creek for cruising chums and he also said to bring along some Vibrax spinners and purple and pink jigs. Anglers have been catching a lot of Minter Creek chums the last couple of years twitching jigs at the mouth of the creek.

Snohomish System Pumping Out Chums
Derek Anderson from Screamin’ Reels Guide Service (206-849-2574) has been tearing up the chums on both the Snohomish River and the lower Skykomish this past week. He’s been catching woofers into the double digits almost daily backtrolling Kwikfish with a sardine wrap. He says the best colors have been the Double Trouble Kwikfish and any Kwiky’s with pink on them. Anderson has also been catching a handful of silvers every day casting Wiggle Warts on the lower Skykomish. He expects the chum fishing to hold up into early December and commented that he’s already heard of at least one winter steelhead being caught on the Skykomish.

Skokomish and Chico Creek Festooned with Chums
Ben Rogers at Defiance Marine (360-813-3600) in Bremerton says theres plenty of chums and a few silvers in the Skokomish River right now. The bulk of the fish are being caught driftfishing Corkies and yarn.  He’s also reporting excellent chum fishing in front of Chico Creek near Silverdale. The Chico chums have been hitting an anchovy under a float so well that he’s had to order more bait at the store to restock their freezer, which got cleaned out last week because of the good fishing.

Black Bear Trapped in Entryway
Alaska State Troopers responded to the call of a black bear trapped in the entry way of a home last Sunday in Ketchikan, Alaska. The bear had snuck into the entryway of the home during the night looking for food when it tipped over a garbage can that blocked the door. The bear knocked over a freezer and did $1000 in damage before troopers showed up to free the bear in the morning. The bear fled the scene immediately and they are hoping it learned its lesson. Unfortunately it won’t be able to repair the damages to the entryway.

Simple Smoke Barbequed Salmon!

Well, you’ve spent all summer and a good part of the fall chasing -and hopefully catching- salmon and now it’s time to reap the benefits!

There are as many ways to barbeque salmon as there are barbeques… and I think I’ve seen ’em all: Foil & fruit, butter and BBQ sauce, but my favorite is simply smoke and seasoning!

Trim the rib bones and membrane and sprinkle the filet with equal parts Lemon Pepper and Montreal Steak Seasoning. Let the mixture work into the filet for at least an hour before cooking.

So much for the seasoning, now how about the smoke? If you have access to some alder, cherry, apple or other hardwood, then you’re set. If not, it’s Peterson’s Pucks to the rescue!

Scrape the grill and spray with non-stick spray. Then slip a couple Peterson’s Pucks (alder is my favorite) under the grill -but on top of the heat- and wait for the smoke to develop.

Pre-heating the grill is a big key but don’t get it too hot! Seafood cooks much, much faster than beef or chicken and cooks at lower temps as well. Think “medium” on your grill instead of the “high” setting.

 

As the filet cooks, you’ll note a golden brown coloration start to show and the edges will curl. More importantly, observe the fish beginning to cook into the thickness of the filet.

How do you know when to flip the filet? That, my friends is the question! Look closely at the middle of the slice and if it’s close to cooked halfway through…Flip it!

Sometimes the smoke source will develop small flames. For that reason, I keep a “squirt bottle” of water nearby to douse the fire! Adding water has the side benefit of developing steam which speeds the cooking process!

The wide, metal BBQ “Spatulas” are the best for lifting the filet from the grill and supporting it during the flip. Sometimes with larger pieces of fish, two “flippers” are better than one!

 

Once you’ve executed the successful flip, you’re greeted by mouth-watering grill marks and it’s almost dinnertime!

How do you determine if your filet is done? There is a simple test you can perform to ensure the fish is cooked all the way through.

Insert a spatula or “pancake flipper” into the filet’s suture at the lateral line. If it’s done, easy pressure will allow penetration from the surface all the way to the skin.

Like I said, there are many, many ways to barbeque salmon. The above method is simple, and has one very strong recommendation: I’ve prepared salmon this way hundreds of times for friends & family and never, ever had a complaint!

Northwest Outdoor Report

Squid Showing Up in the Sound Already
Tim Bush at Outdoor Emporium (206-624-6550) says the squid fishing in Puget Sound has been excellent since late August. Bush says Pier 86 is the best place to target squid because they have power plug-ins built right into the dock for lights. He also recommends Seacrest Pier, Des Moines Pier, Edmonds Pier, and the A Dock in Ballard for squid. The hot squid jig lately has been a Colman glow in the dark squid jig and they’ve got plenty of them ready to go at Outdoor Emporium down on 4th Street just south of Safeco Field.

Skagit River Levels Yo-Yo’ing
John Koenig at Johns Guide Service (360-708-3166) is reporting great numbers of silver salmon in the Skagit River. He says the only thing keeping him from getting limits every day is river flows, which have been yo-yo’ing up and down this past week with the heavy rain fall. John’s been getting all of his silvers twitching a 3/8th ounce Warnie jig in pink and purple in the back eddy areas on the upper Skagit. John has also seen quite a few chums in the Skagit already this month. Bank fisherman should take a look at the Cascade River, which Koenig says is “stuffed” with coho right now.

Skagit Good, Samish Slow on Waterfowl Opener
Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington (360-757-4361) reported good numbers of ducks on Skagit Bay for the hunt opener last weekend, but very poor shooting on Samish Bay just to the north. He said most of the action has taken place on the bay front because nearby fields have yet to accumulate any water. Kevin said the water level in the Skagit River came up enough with the rains to allow hunters to access the Skagit River delta from the Conway boat ramp. 5,000 to 6,000 snow geese were in the Skagit Valley prior to the opener and Kevin reports a lot of Canada geese are also in the valley right now. The migration will bring thousands more snow geese into the Skagit Valley in the coming months. Kevin mentioned that Holiday Sports has cases of Federal Powershok waterfowl loads on sale right for $100, which is a $30 savings over the regular box price.

Potholes Opener Solid for Local Ducks
Levi Meseberg at Mar Don Resort (509-346-2651) on Potholes Reservoir reported very good hunting on the lake on the opener last weekend. He said hunters had really good shooting last weekend for both mallards and pintails. Meseberg said he’s never seen so many local pintail this early in the season. Ducks Unlimited is reporting a 58% increase in northern pintails this year and we should see an increase in just about all the other duck species in the Pacific Flyway this year also. If Washington gets any foul weather this winter the duck hunting could be some of the best in years.

Humptulips River Slow, Slow, Slow for Salmon
Phil Stephens of Mystical Legends Guide Service says the salmon fishing on the Hump has been far from spectacular this past week. He says there are very few coho in the river and he’s been spending all of his time targeting king salmon. Stephens has been catching a few king salmon every day backbouncing eggs cured with Pro Glow and says his biggest king so far on the Hump has been 36 pounds. In regards to the slow fishing he thinks the silver fishing should improve dramatically in November when the late run of hatchery silvers hits the river.

Deer Harvest Similar to Last Year
The rains helped deer hunters sneak around the woods a lot quieter last weekend, but it didn’t exactly translate into a lot more deer tags being filled. State game check stations saw about the same number of deer being this year as they did last year. The Winthrop game station in popular Okanogan County checked 127 hunters with 17 deer. These numbers are almost the same as last year. WDFW staff noticed a drop in the numbers of hunters again this year. High fuel prices may be keeping some hunters from going to their traditional hunting areas. The Deer Park check station in Northeastern Washington checked 114 hunters with 12 deer last Sunday, which was very similar to last year’s numbers. A 4 point minimum requirement in GMU’s 117 and 121 are keeping a lot of hunters out of those areas.

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

6 Tips for Taking a Late Season Blacktail

I’ve developed a real passion for blacktail hunting because I live in blacktail country and I’m a glutton for punishment. Taking a mature blacktail buck is like catching a winter steelhead on the fly. It takes a lot of work and patience but when it all comes together and you get one…oh how sweet it is!

If you haven’t taken a blacktail yet this season the best is yet to come. The latter part of the general season and the late buck hunt in November are the two best times to tag out on a blacktail. While blacktail inhabit many different habitats in Western Washington the industrial logging areas and the clear cuts they produce offer the best chance to find one of these illusive deer.

Here’s a few strategies that have helped me tag quite a few nice blacktails here in Washington:

Look for Sign

There’s a ton of great blacktail habitat in Western Washington but unfortunately they don’t use all of it. The best thing you can do is to check multiple clear cuts early in the season and see which ones have the most sign. Look for fresh rubs on small trees, tracks in the mud, and tracks crossing the roads that surround the clear cuts.

If you can’t find fresh rubs indicating that a buck is using the area it might not be the end of the world though. You do need to find the ladies though as the bucks will find them as soon as they come into heat. If you’ve located good numbers of does in your favorite clear cut the chances are good that a buck will eventually show up. The does almost act as a live decoy once the rut starts. And if you’ve found both does and fresh buck rubs in the same area I’d plan on spending quite a bit of time there once the ruth gets going.

Get Into Their Kitchen

The nice thing about blacktails is that they usually won’t run for miles after they are spooked. Where you find them is where they live, much like whitetails in the Midwest. If I’m dead certain that a clear cut is going to produce a buck (i.e. sign, rubs, etc) I’ll sit tight and glass it for a few hours, but if I’m not entirely confident in the cut I’m usually on the move to the next cut.

I’ll cruise as many as four or five clear cuts in a day of hunting and I’ll usually check the timber around them for sign as well. By doing this you may jump a deer or two, but you’re doing some great scouting in the process and you’ll possibly find yourself a sweet spot full of blacktails. If you jump a good buck chances are he’s going to be right back in the same place within a day or two. If they’ve got food, cover, and does they aren’t going to journey too far away from the goodies.

Glassing

Now that you’ve found a great clear cut with lots of sign you need to park your fanny on a stump or landing with a great view and do some glassing. I generally use my naked eye to scan the areas closest to me and then I start slowly scanning the clear cut in a grid pattern until I’ve covered every square inch out to about 400 or 500 yards. After I’ve done this I’ll take a break for a few minutes and then do it again, and again, and again.

Most good clear cuts will have quite a bit of brush to hide a blacktail, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t glass any deer right away. Blacktails will often bed down in the same clear cut they are feeding in and it could be an hour or two before they get out of their beds. When you’re glassing look for the flick of an ear, antler tips, legs, or the swish of a tail. Any small movement can be a blacktail feeding thru the undergrowth. I glassed for over two hours before the mature blacktail I took three years ago presented himself. He was bedded down in a gulley in the clear cut and finally stood up to feed.

Scent Control

I just started using the Scent Away system a few years ago and I am totally sold on it. The local Hunter’s Specialties rep asked me if I’d ever wished I had a couple of extra seconds to get a shot off at an animal. Heck yes I would! Scent control does just that, it gives you a little more time to get a shot off and allows you to move thru the blacktail woods without alerting the troops of your presence.

Two of the last three years I’ve taken nice blacktails that should have winded me. Because I used scent control, however, I was able to get shots on two great bucks that I might not have otherwise gotten. Most shots you’ll get on blacktail are less than 100 yards in fairly tight cover. It’s usually close-quarters hunting and every second counts. If you can get a buck to hold for an extra second or two you’re likely to get a shot off and tag a nice buck. After a couple of experiences like this I’m a firm believer in Scent Away.

Hunt the Rut

Most of the blacktails taken in Washington aren’t harvested on opening weekend. They are tagged either late in the general season or on the late hunt in November. Mature blacktails are extremely nocturnal and simply don’t travel around much during the daylight hours. When they go into the rut, however, the odds of seeing one of these wary critters goes up substantially. My advice is to pass up all the spikes and forkies early in the season and spend some quality time later in the season when the rut is on. That’s when you want to be out there and that’s when it gets fun!

Know Your Ground

Clear cuts that are 2 to 8 years old are generally the best place to find a blacktail. If there are draws or ravines in a clear cut chances are blacktails will use those areas as travel lanes and bedding areas. After a morning of glassing don’t be afraid to hike into these areas and do a bit of bird dogging. It’ll be tough going but often times you’ll find that all the blacktails are in the only part of the clear cut you can’t see into.

When I make a trip thru the middle or along the edge of a clear I’m making a note of the trails that lead thru the clear cut. If you can generate a mental map of these trails you can come back during the rut and access some of these difficult areas without making a bunch of noise.

Another great place to find blacktails is in timbered areas that border a clear cut especially if the timbered area is full of mature cedar and douglas fir trees. Western cedar and douglas fir are both a favorite food item of blacktail deer. We hunt the same general area every year and have gotten to know quite a few of their escape routes and “honey holes” by spending a lot of time there.

Quite often we’ll find blacktails bedded down just on the edge of a juicy clear cut near timber like this. They can see quite a ways from their bed and they have a quick escape route if something spooks them. The edges are also where the big boys are most likely to hang out. With a few steps they can quickly disappear into the jungle. Pay close attention to the sign in these areas.

If you get a nice blacktail this fall and don’t mind sharing a photo I’d love to see it. Shoot me an email at “rendsley@earthlink.net” and share your story or better yet, post it on the Outdoor Line forums. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment but I love hunting blacktails!

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

Do you have “The NAK” for fishing

I’m often asked which scents I use. And, while there are many options available, most of the time, I use three: Pautzke Nectar, anise and krill. These scents, when combined and mixed properly, make a difference. Nectar, Anise, Krill or “NAK”, as I call it, is the additive I rely on for Northwest salmon and steelhead fishing.

Let me explain how to use these scents to your benefit. Nectar is only found in the Pautzke line up. For those who are not familiar with this product, you’re missing out. Nectar is created when the factory is cooking Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs. In essence, it’s the run-off of all that egg juice, salts, sugar and additives, which are drained into large vats and bottled.

Bottled salmon egg juice is your friend. It comes in five colors. However, for fall salmon red is my favorite. I also invest in krill, the liquid form (Liquid Krill) and powder form (Fire Power).
To create “NAK” for steelhead the first thing I do is pour a small amount of Nectar out of the bottle to make room for the krill and anise. (Only pour a little out, keeping the level to the top of the label). Then pour half a bottle of Liquid Krill and one heaping tablespoon of Fire Power.

With Nectar and krill mixed in, it’s time to add anise. I purchase 100% pure anise and add 10-15 drops. That’s it: simple and effective. With this mixture it’s best to pour some in a small container and dip your baits in it every few casts.

For salmon it’s important to add a half-teaspoon of sodium sulfite. However, when fishing an area where salmon respond better to a higher percentage of sulfites I add a full teaspoon.

Normally, I carry three bottles of NAK: one of the basic mixture (the steelhead version), one with a half teaspoon of sodium sulfite and one with a full teaspoon. It’s best to let the fish tell me what they want.

To dress up my eggs by giving them extra scent and milking ability I cut pieces of roe and place them in a separate tray adding a shot of NAK on some of them. Traditionally, I won’t do a whole skein if I think there is a chance that the fish may not respond. Once I add it, the skein has the scent/additives and if it doesn’t work I’m stuck fishing eggs that the fish don’t want.

One other tip; don’t be afraid to give your sand-shrimp a quick squirt. You’ll be surprised with the results. Give NAK a try. You’ll be glad you put in the extra effort.

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

Man Loses Eye Shooting at Salmon
A 51 year old man is recovering from injuries he received while shooting at salmon with a .22 caliber rifle on the Deschutes River near Olympia last Sunday. The man took a shot at what he thought was going to be dinner, only the bullet hit a rock and ricocheted back hitting him in the head. KIRO News talked to the man’s mother in law, who said she thought he was going to lose his sight in one eye from the accident. The maximum fine for shooting a salmon with a gun is up to one year in jail.

Mean Mountain Goats Paintballed in Olympic Park
The Mount Ellinor trail in the Olympic National Park just reopened after being closed since July 3rd due to a rash of mountain goat sightings. One wouldn’t think that mountain goats would pose a problem, but in 2010 a mountain goat killed a hiker in the park and the Forest Service isn’t taking any chances. Since the closure Forest Service employee Kurt Aluzas has been using paintballs, repellent and yelling and screaming to clear goats from the trail. The goats have become aggressive from years of feeding by hikers on the trail, a practice the Forest Service says need to stop. The trail is now open again and hikers are advised to stand their ground and yell at the goats if they are confronted.

Sekiu Awash with Silver Salmon
Jackie Tonzales at Olson’s Resort (360-963-2311) in Sekiu says the silver salmon fishing is nothing short of amazing there right now. She weighed in a 24 pound hatchery coho at the resort last night and a 35 pound king salmon was also weighed in yesterday. She says people are catching limits of coho all day long in front of Sekiu and even the beach fishing has been outstanding. Jackie says anglers fishing off the jetty in front of the resort and off the beach in Clallam Bay are finding limits of silvers in the 10 to 12 pound range. Olson’s is having a king and silver derby at the resort next weekend with $4500 in cash and prizes. Tickets can be purchased at the resort for $15. With such great fishing they expect a big crowd at the event.

October Caddis Hatch Underway on the Yakima
Mike Canady at Reds Fly Shop (509-933-2300) on the Yakima River says the October Caddis hatch is just getting started in the upper reaches of the Yakima River. He says the best hatches have been around the farmlands above the canyon, but he expects the hatch to spread up and down the river as water temperatures continue to cool down. Canady’s heard of rainbows up to 19 inches on the river this past week. October is typically one of the best months to dry fly fish on the Yakima River because of the huge caddis hatch that happens there every fall.

Wenatchee Fire Update
Mick Mueller from Incident Command on the Wenatchee Fire Complex says that crew have made significant progress this past week on the fires surrounding Wenatchee. He reports that  most of the Chiwawa River road is now open and the Entiat River road is also open 25 miles up from the mouth of the river.  The south side of Lake Chelan is also now open. Mueller says the area east of Highway 97 on Blewett Pass, however, is still closed from Liberty over to Ruby Creek and that the Table Mountain fire has been acting up again with the recent winds. He urges anyone planning to hunt in a burned area to be very away of fire spotting. Hunters travelling to the area for opening day of deer season should visit www.inciweb.org for updates on fire status and road and area closures.

River Days at Defiance Marine
Don’t forget to stop by Defiance Marine next to the Bremerton Airport today for River Days. The event is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features river fishing seminars, screaming deals on tackle, and a tackle swap meet to unload some of your old gear. The event will feature special guests Bob Kratzer from Anglers Guide Service, a representative from custom rod builder Batson Enterprises, James Beasley from Wicked Lures, and Rob Endsley and Duane Inglin from the Outdoor Line will be at the store to do seminars and answer questions. Attendance is free for this fun event!

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

Tackle Review: Mustad Open Eye Siwash Hooks

I’d like to say Mustad’s open eye siwash hooks are new, but they’ve actually been on the market for a few years now. I’ve tested them extensively the last two years on my salmon fishing trips and I can vouch for the sharpness and holding power of these hooks. They are float out wicked!

Mustad’s 10848 open eye siwash hook is in fact a true straight-shanked siwash hook that is manufactured with the bend of an octopus hook. There’s no need to put an offset in these hooks to increase your hook up ratio…the lethal bend is built right in.

I use 2/0 Mustad open eye siwash’s for my Vibrax spinners and 5/0’s on my Kwikfish and I’ve been very happy with the performance of these hooks.

When river flows are right I run a lot of K-15’s for king and silver salmon in the fall and most of the rivers in Washington have single hook regulations in place nowadays. That used to mean a lot of take downs and very few fish to the boat. A standard siwash hook with a plug pushing against it pushes out of a salmons jaw far too easily and no matter how well a big king salmon seemed to be hooked up, well, they’d almost always find a way to shake loose. You had to bend and tweak your hooks to make them work and half the time you’d break or weaken them in the process. Not any more!

Once you get a solid hookup with one of these hooks you’re going to end up with a salmon in the net. They are sharp as heck and the octopus style offset attached to the split ring with a heavy rolling swivel makes them hold very, very well in a thrashing salmon’s jaw.

Another advantage to these hooks is that they are manufactured with an eye that’s quite a bit larger than any other hook I’ve seen on the market. You can see the over sized eye in the first photo…it’s huge.

The big eye is perfect for making hoochie spinners because it helps to hold the mini-hoochie over the top of the hook so it doesn’t slide down. It makes rigging up hoochie spinners quick and easy.

I’m not sure if Mustad intended this, but the eye is also a lot easier to crimp.

Several saltwater charter captain friends in the Puget Sound also use these hooks exclusively on their trolling spoons and they swear by them.

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again…these are wicked hooks that have already been tested on the proving grounds by savvy fisherman.

If you need another weapon in your fall salmon arsenal this fall I suggest you give these hooks a try. Mustad’s open eye siwash hooks are a proven winner!

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

 

The Colossal Coho Run of 2012: A look into our future?

It’s been difficult to come up with new ways to describe a coho run that has exceeded forecasts and expectations, a run that started early -in mid August- and as of early October is still providing limit action.

Chris Beard and his daughter with the results of a morning aboard Big Red!

By any measure you can choose, this run of coho or silver salmon has not failed to impress. At the Edmonds coho Derby in early September,  over 600 coho were entered and the two-day Everett Coho derby posted a record 1700 fish…so many that the Derby’s data-entry system was overwhelmed.

Former Seahawk and Outdoor Line host Robbie Tobeck would have made a dent in the Everett Coho Derby but this coho came the day before the event!

License sales are a key statistic when considering the significance and popularity of a fishery. If we compare this seasons sales to the last non-pink salmon year (2010), September Annual Saltwater license sales are up a whopping 45%! Sportfishing is alive & well in Puget Sound! Just show anglers some fish and they will come…in droves.  In fact, WDFW’s  angler trip data suggests at or near record numbers of people went salmon fishing in the successful summer of 2012!

While it’s fun to look back -and it’s hard not to grin while doing so- there may indeed be a larger, longer term aspect to this 2012 bumper crop of salmon. This aspect has a foundation in scientific research and it’s nothing short of great news!

The climate cycle that drives the El Nino/La Nina weather trends is known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation or PDO. This 25 to 30 year cycle has a profound effect on salmonid abundance on a coast-wide basis and research now suggests that the Pacific Northwest is in for a very productive decade…or two!

The current phase of the PDO is known as “negative” which results in cooler ocean water off the west coast of the U.S. and Canada. Cool sea-surface temperatures unlock the vital oceanic process known as upwelling.

Upwelling opens up the “refrigerator door”, allowing nutrient-rich cold water to come to the surface and experience direct sunlight which brings temperatures up and drives photosynthesis.

So, how do we know if the PDO is responsible for the upswing in local salmon stocks?

Stay tuned… If winter-run steelhead show up in numbers above forecasts and Columbia River springers show up fat and early, the reason may well be increased oceanic survival. If that is indeed the case, you may not have to travel far for world class salmon angling!