SHOW BIZ 2013!

For those of you that have not yet had the opportunity to attend, here’s a “Virtual hot lap” around the 2013 Seattle Boat Show at Century Link Field!


Stabicraft is here in Boat Country’s booth, showing off the new Pilot House design. One very salty ride here…

Master Marine of Mount Vernon has a huge display of Osprey’s and Weldcrafts just take your pick and Big Larry Carpenter will hook you right up!


Defiance Boats in ‘da house! In a relatively short time, Defiance has become synonymous with offshore success and with Arima joining the line they have added versatility to the mix!


Power to weight ratio is a HUGE aspect to choosing your next outboard. Look no further than Evinrude for trouble-free, dependable, low-maintenance power!


Three Rivers Marine is sporting a new logo and a new line with North River Boats joining the TRM family of brands!
Jeff Lalone and Annie from Bayside Marine are ready to answer any and all your questions and make your boating life a whole lot easier!

Looking for tackle and accessories??? Everything is right here in the Sportco/Outdoor Emporium booth and the gang is ready, willing and able to get you the right gear…at the right price!

I don’t know if the word “accessory” quite fits the Lowrance label… If I didn’t have a fishfinder as effective as my Lowrance, I wouldn’t catch as many fish…

Harbor Marine… “right on your way no matter where you’re going”, is showing heavy duty marine diesel power and transmissions to get you where you’re going dependably!

Cannon Downriggers? Don’t leave the dock without them… ’nuff said!!!

I sincerely hope you can make it to my seminars at the Seattle Boat Show! Here’s the rundown!

Tom Nelson – Seminar Schedule at the Seattle Boat Show:

Triple Threat Salmon Angling:

February 1st – 2:00 PM

February 2nd – 3:00 PM

Dirty Downrigger Tricks:

January 31st – 7:00 PM

February 1st – 4:00 PM

February 2nd – 1:00 PM


Northwest Outdoor Report

Bogachiel Best Bet in Forks Area
Bill Myer from Anglers Guide Service (206-697-2055) in Forks said the Bogachiel River is currently fishing the best of all the rivers in the area. Myers said fishing has slowed down quite a bit with the low and clear water, but he’s still getting a few fish a day out of the Bogey fishing 1/8th ounce Beau Mac jigs. He said that decent numbers of wild steelhead have pushed all the way into the upper Bogey already and that there’s been fishable numbers of hatchery steelhead stacked up around the hatchery. He’s just waiting for rain to jump back over to the Sol Duc, which has been really slow the last few days because of the low water.

San Juans Still Hot for Blackmouth
Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington (360-757-4361) says the blackmouth fishing in the San Juan Islands is still rock solid. He says Tide Point and Eagle Bluff are still producing good numbers of blackmouth and anglers should also take a look at Lopez Flats and Fidalgo Head in front of Washington Park. He’s getting reports of really small bait in the islands and anglers should match-the-hatch by trolling Coho Killer’s and 3 inch Kingfisher Lite spoons. The go to color lately has been any spoon with purple in it. Kevin says that anchovies are also catching a lot of blackmouth and he’s having to continually order more anchovies into the shop on a regular basis. He recommends trolling the anchovies in a JDS or Bullet Roll hood 6 feet behind an 11 inch purple or green UV flasher.  If the weather holds for the big Roche Salmon Derby in a couple weeks we could record numbers of fish caught in the derby.

Seattle Boat Show Open Now
The largest boat show on the West Coast opened at CenturyLink Field yesterday and runs thru February 3rd. The doors open at 10:00 a.m. on the weekends and 11:00 on weekdays and tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for kids between the age of 11 and 17, and free for kids 10 and under. The show features more than 1,000 watercraft, boating and fishing seminars, and the latest in boating accessories and it’s all indoors at CenturyLink field in Seattle.

Puyallup Sportsman’s Show Closes Tomorrow
You’ve got today and tomorrow to attend the Washington Sportsman’s Show at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. The show boasts a one-of-a-kind indoor “Steelhead River,” over 150 hours of free “how to” seminars, camp cooking demonstrations, the Kid’s Free Trout Pond, the “Head & Horns” competition and much more. You’ll find plenty of fishing lodges, river guides, hunting outfitters, and the latest and greatest tackle and hunting products at the show. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for kids under 16, and free for kids under 5 years of age. Save some money by clicking on the Washington Sportsman’s Show banner on the to print a coupon worth $2 off on your entry ticket.

Harrisburg Sportsman’s Show Postponed After Vendors Pull Out
Reed Exhibitions, who operates the Eastern Sports Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has decided to postpone the popular sportsman’s show after a decision to limit the display or sale of “assault rifles” caused hundreds of vendors to pull out. The show was originally supposed to be held February 2nd thru the 10th, but there was enough controversy surrounding the show that Reed has decided to postpone it for now. While Reed Exhibitions has always kept attendance figures confidential it’s estimated that as many as 1 million people attend the show every year pumping approximately $80 million into the local economy. They will announce a new date for the show soon, but for now the largest sportsman’s in American is shrouded in controversy.

The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Going with the “Flow”

By Joseph Princen

The past few weeks have been nothing short of challenging, trying to persuade those silvery ghosts to commit to the presentation you spent hours prepping, tying, wrapping and curing. One thing is certain, when it all works out there is nothing more spectacular than rolling fresh chrome in shallow gin-clear water. Its an image you’ll never forget. Its burned into your mind and it will replay over and over in slow motion bringing you back again and again for more.

One moment its just another slated gravel bottom and you can see every rock, every detail, your mind telling you its too shallow and you should move on. All of a sudden those thoughts are pushed aside as you see the shallows exploding with big bright flashes and white water foaming on the surface as a thick steel tail slices through the cold winter water. Its only in these conditions that a steelheader will get to see the strike first hand from the bite to the finish. An angler never forgets these moments.

A steelheader must think smarter, harder, and longer about how he’s going to spend his time on the river though. Even if its just an afternoon trip to the local home-river or a 3 day excursion to the coast to backpack or drift boat into his favorite water. Low water means you need to consider all the options, such as which section of the river you will choose to fish.

Here’s some things to consider when searching for low water winter steelhead:

Does the river fork anywhere? East or West fork? Does it have streams and small creeks that dump into the main stem?

In low water it is MOST important to try and gain as much flow as you can get. This means to fish below any forks, streams, creeks or major sources of water that relay into the main stem of the river system you are fishing.

Get to know your river! Google Maps on your smart phone will show you detailed satellite imagery of small creeks, streams and river forks that dump into the main river.

That means to concentrate your efforts on those lower portions of the river and spend very little time higher in river systems. Staging fish will be below those forks in appropriate deep water areas making it easier for you to locate water that is suitable to hold multiple steelhead. These fish are far too smart to risk being attacked by misjudging safe living conditions and hurrying up river to hold in shallow, exposed areas.

Don’t waste your time fishing the fast 2-3 foot gin-clear sections or those 1-3 foot “long runs” on the sides of the river that you would normally beat up all day in medium to high flows. Even with overhanging trees and shaded cover those fish simply are not there in any fishable numbers when the water is low.

Its a numbers game and by numbers i mean… how many feet deep! In low flows steelhead will lie in deeper water making it safer for them to break cover from the safety of the depths to hit a plug or lure. After all, the most important thing in any steelheads tiny little mind is to ensure that their genetics are passed on from generation to generation. Deep water with a bottom covered in boulders provides the cover they need to feel safe.

As soon as it rains these types of runs will be full of migrating fish and I specifically target those long runs that dump into deep canyon holes that low water fish have been hunkered in during periods of low flows.

– Which water holds low water steelhead?

It’s imperative to find those slots that have water with walking speed flows that you could physicality walk into and the water would be over your head, especially those runs with shade and size to the pool that gives steelhead an element of safety. These fish will set up shop in these areas when water visibility increases past the 5 foot margin to well below median stream flows.

Why risk the threat of their journey being cut short laying in risky, shallow water when you can lay in a deep, “walking speed” canyon slot that’s 5-15 feet deep, preferably shaded, with structure and most importantly a riffle at the head of the pool.

Riffled surface water provides full, all around cover from the sides, top, and bottom.You have to think that most the time in low water conditions its sunny, cold, and clear out so having riffles or choppy water on the surface of a hole is vital to feeling secure from anything that poses a threat looking down into their holding area.

– How do I fish for low water steelhead?

Going small with your baits, jigs and plugs will always pay off. A good rule of thumb for 7-10 feet of visibility is using nickle-size baits and decreasing your Cheater or Corkie sizes to size 14’s or smaller. Using neutral/natural color schemes with your presentation really helps and pays off too.

By neutral I simply mean colors that aren’t neon, radiant, or vibrant. This includes shrimp pink’s, peaches, whites, and that opaque and translucent look that looks like worn out egg skein (peach/white). Using small sand shrimp and very lightly cured medium sized tiger prawns that are coated with just Mike’s Gel Scent and sugar can be deadly in this situation also.

Here’s how I cure my tiger prawns for low water steelheading:
– 1 Bag raw medium-size tiger prawns
– Leave the shells on, but cut off 1/4 up from the tail end
– 1/4 Cup Orange Borax O’ Fire
– 1/2 Bottle Mikes Pink Gel Scent
– 1/4 Cup Sugar and Sprinkle salt on top.

Mix, mix, mix this all together by shaking the container gently until product is evenly distributed and then simply put the cured prawns into a fridge.You can even throw them into your boat on your drive out to the river and the prawns can be ready in less than 2 hours. Remove the shells and cut the prawns down the middle of the slit in their back or cut them in half into small chunks. Either the flap or the chunks will fish just fine but I prefer using the flap style because they bend and flex with the flow of the river giving them a more natural “free-flowing” appearance.

Over the past few weeks my boat has been on the Satsop, Wynoochee, Queets, Humptulips, and Hoh rivers. Call me a groupie, but I love to get around! Knowing each rivers positives and negatives gives a guy an advantage over just fishing one river and being limited to a small fishable area.

On the coast the Queets and Hoh rivers run through giant open gorges with classic gravel bar runs and giant boulder strewn stretches. One thing for certain that gives these rivers the “nod” in low water and that’s the fact that they are fed from grey clay cliffs!

These clay cliffs constantly bleed grey clay sediments into the river 24/7 giving the river the “carbon emerald green” appearance in ALL conditions. This carbon green look is IDEAL for low water conditions because it gives the fish a sense of security and they are more willing to continue their journey up higher into the systems. Fishing those 1-2 foot travel lanes can still produce in these systems and you’ll find me here more often then not in low water. Plus these rivers have naturally higher flows in terms of CFS than almost all of the others in our state so they fish better in low flows.

Below are some photos of the past 14 days in my driftboat. They are pictures of only some of the steelhead that have been caught in my boat, but each one was special in its own way. Steelheading is a lifestyle for me. It’s gotten into my blood and there’s no cure to get rid of it. Salmon season is just a time filler anymore and during spring, summer and fall I dream about those cold crisp wintery mornings when I finally get to hook those cold silvery steelhead once again.

Capturing the shot, sometimes we take 20-30 photos and only one works out

Wynoochee hatchery buck, this fish was caught by Daniel Hubbard and it was hooked way under a down tree. This fish was jumping into brush and we were able to pull it out from structure and get a solid net job

This enormous steelhead took over 225 yards of line at one point

This huge hatchery steelhead caught by John McCleery was just shy of the 20 pound mark

2ynoochee hen! this fish took red Borax O’ Fire Eggs!

Nothing like Limits in the fish box! Let the chrome shine!

A hatchery buck from the Wynoochee system just prior to release

14lb Wynoochee buck that fell to a yarn ball

My father with a beautiful hatchery buck that hit the Dr. Death K-13 Kwikfish

Spots for days

Limits by 9am!

John McCleery with a big buck caught at first light

Limits of huge hatchery steelhead that fell for backtrolled plugs

I swung by to take some photos of Duane Inglin and limits of hatchery steelhead

Rain or Shine – a true steelheader will fish in any conditions on any day just to feel that tug, see that float dissapear or the chance to capture the moment with a photo of the most elusive fish in the pacific northwest!

The release of a native steelhead very high on the Queets River last week.

A fine wild hen steelhead caught by fellow Outdoor Line “Young Gun” Lael Paul Johnson.

One of the many primitive launches on the Washington coastal rivers.

A hatchery hen with blue haze on her back, fresh as can be!

A customer with his first steelhead…and his second steelhead!

If steelheading is in your blood as much as it is mine please feel free to drop me a line to chat about your addiction or perhaps book a day of fishing with me on the Washington coast. Hope to see you out there and don’t be afraid to stop by and say hello!

Joseph Princen
Outdoor Line “Young Gun”
710 ESPN Seattle

(Joseph Princen operates Rainforest Wild Guide Service on the Southern Olympic Peninsula and he will be a regular contributor to the Outdoor Line. He can be reached at (253) 347-5300.)


Stabicraft 2600 Pilothouse

There’s a dirty, little secret in the boating industry that no one is willing to admit or even talk about. The fact of the matter is that the Florida and southern California boating markets are so large that they tremendously influence domestic boat designs.

If you want to appeal to warm weather markets…you build a warm-weather boat. So, here comes another Boat Show season and what do you get along with it? The endless array of plastic, “T-top” boats with “Clear Canvas” windows. Or, as they have been come to be called, “Florida boats”.

Friends, if the only time I used my boat here in the Pacific Northwest was during weather you could call “warm”…my boating season would be quite short indeed. The Northwest is hardtop boat country. Boats that will keep you -and your expensive marine electronics warm and dry. T-tops with clear canvas windows need not apply.

Stabicraft of New Zealand recognizes that most folks want to use their boats more than a couple of months per year and outfits their hulls with diesel heaters, insulated fishboxes and a ride that makes even winter waves whimper…

Introducing the Stabicraft 2600 Pilothouse

Stabicraft Marine pioneered positive buoyancy boats, turning out the first rigid hulled aluminum pontoon boat from a back street workshop in Invercargill, New Zealand. Word quickly spread about the reverse chine pontoon design boat that posessed a ride that had to be experienced to be believed.

The original Stabicraft design was a compilation of the wish list of local divers. They wanted an evolution of the traditional Rigid Hulled Inflatable boat – one that retained the RIB’s superior buoyancy, stability on the water and ease of handling, but within a sturdier construction framework to make it even safer in rough waters.

Need serious fishbox space? The 2600 Pilothouse will challenge any angler to fill these three fish coffins! The aft box (top of pic) even has cutting board lids!


We’ve been talking a lot lately about the ride, safety and stability of reverse chine hulls. Stabicraft has -without a doubt- the “gold standard” of reverse chine.


I actually got a shot of this Stabi 2600 before the top was attached to the hull. Here is a unique shot of the interior giving you a perspective of the “fisherman friendly” layout of this model.

Stabicraft 2600 Pilothouse Specifications

Length:  26 Feet
Max Adults – 9
Recommended HP – 225hp
Maximum HP – 300hp
Fuel Tank – 95gal
External Beam – 8ft 2in
Internal Beam – 6ft 8in
Deadrise (Transom) – 21.8
Tube Thickness – 5/32in
Hull Thickness – 1/4in
Reserve Buoyancy – 930gal*
Dry Hull Weight – 3858lb
Tow Weight – 6172lb
Length on Trailer – 31ft 2in
Height on Trailer – 10ft 3in

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Any Time is a Good Time to Chase Wild Steelhead

Do you ever run into a situation where you are looking to find information on how a river is fishing? I do, and sometimes you just need to decide to make your way out to the river and get a report yourself. This is the situation that fellow Outdoor Line “Young Gun” Joseph Princen, Phantom Custom Rods owner Kris Jellesed, and I were faced with early Monday morning. Ideal conditions were all around us on many rivers but we were in search of much more than a limit of hatchery fish. It may seem a bit early for the chase of natives to begin for most but the search for a trophy with the anglers involved in this trip never stops.

After making a three hour plus drive to where I had landed a 21.5 buck last year in April, we began our journey. The area on this morning was completely void of any other anglers which makes you think “has the river changed since last year? Is it safe? I wonder if there are any obstructions I cannot navigate through safely?”

I do not recommend to anyone blindly floating a river but in the quest for being a hero risks must be taken. As we ventured out on the “steelie green” water we noticed that the water was about 500 cfs lower than our previous float, but the obstacles and sections of river where fish were caught last year were remembered.

On the right side of the river about an 1/8 of the way down the float Joseph recognized a rock shelf that had deep slow rolling water which produced a fish last year. This time was no different. With a three plug rod spread and a K-13 Kwikfish attached to all of them the slow back troll began. Right after the boat had passed a large boil and the plugs began to track straight again…..BOOM…FISH ON!!!

I took control of the oars as Joseph grabbed his rod and the fight was on. The 13-14lb chrome hen gave us a great fight that lasted about 6-8 minutes and then came to the boat as I gently netted the fish. I rowed to shore quickly to begin the revival and the snap a picture but before my camera was out of my bag the feisty native slipped out of Joe’s hands and slowly disappeared into the emerald water.

Anglers remember this! Steelhead pair up, so if a female is caught there should usually be a larger, more aggressive male nearby. Repeat the process that was used to hook fish number one and it should yield the same results.

With all of minds thinking the same thing we began to slowly back troll again with my rod on the far right closest to the rock shelf and again…..BOOM….FISH ON!!!

I had thought that the fish had come off after about thirty seconds but of course she was just running with blinding speed right at the boat. After that she took about 40 yards of line of and then I began the slow retrieve to bring her back to the net. As I lifted the head and Joe scooped her into the net the hook of course fell right out. The power of a steelhead is amazing!

Personally, I have landed many fish on plugs over the 20 pound mark and I have not until this day seen a hook bent back 30 degrees by a 14lb fish. Joe rowed to shore as before and we snapped a couple of pictures for the fish album, I revived and released the beautiful creature, then we began to move down river to another section of water that had similar features.

As we approached the long back troll slot which produced my 20 last year and gave birth to the Dubb Club it was a very slow to get a fish to take. When back trolling a section of water be sure to completely cover the water until the plugs reach the tailout and start striking bottom. Seconds away from instructing Joey and Kris to reel up, the left rod in front of Kris went off….FISH ON!

This situation was a little different due to the fact the fish came off after about 30 seconds but again in the same type of water we had already hooked fish in earlier that day. Recognizing the water you need to produce fish is very important, so when you find fish continue to work that same type of water effectively.

Knowing that time was not on our side and that a very long moped turnaround was ahead of us we decided not to run the plugs again and move down river. During our push toward the takeout Kris hooked a very nice fish on a pink worm that came off due to the speed of the boat moving down and the fish running  up.

This is a very hard situation to control but if you can gather yourself after the excitement of hooking up, dig the oars very hard and try to stop the the boat without throwing anyone off board. Going 2 for 4 is not a stellar day by any means but searching and finding wild fish on a river with no reports is a wonderful feeling. The opportunity for success is always there, all you need is the confidence in yourself and your fishing abilities to make your day memorable.

Good luck and tight lines,

Lael Paul Johnson, a.k.a. LPJ
Outdoor Line “Young Gun”
710 ESPN Seattle

Northwest Outdoor Report

Hit Lake Washington for Winter Cutthroat
Tom Pollock from the fishing counter at Sportco (253-922-2222) says he’s been hearing really good reports about the cutthroat fishing on Lake Washington. Customers have been catching cutthroat to 17 inches and one customer landed a 4 and a half pound cutty on the lake last week. Pollocks go-to trolling rig is a pink mini-hoochie 10 to 12 inches behind a mini Sling Blade. He tips the hooks with as many as four Berkley Gulp Maggots and also adds Smelly Jelly Crawfish scent to the dodger. Pollock says to troll 15 to 20 feet down on the downrigger and get the gear at least 100 feet behind the boat before clipping it in. The best fishing on Lake Washington this time of year for cutthroat is the south side of Mercer Island in 100 to 120 feet of water.

Travis Brewer Banded Hunts
Travis Brewer from Banded Hunts Washington (360-333-2488) said the field hunting in Skagit County has been lights out this past week. They’ve been taking limits of greenheads and widgeon in the fields close to Samish Bay. Brewer says  there’s thousands of ducks wintering on Samish Bay and they are pouring into nearby fields to feed in the mornings. He expects this next week to provide some exceptional hunting as North winds push birds down from BC. Brewer says to hunt the fields closest the the bay fronts for the most consistent action.

Forks Area Rivers Fishable This Weekend
Bill Myer from Angler’s Guide Service (206-697-2055) in Forks, Washington thinks the Olympic Peninsula rivers will be in shape and fishable just in time for the weekend. Myer says theres already been a couple of 20 plus pound steelhead caught on the Sol Duc and Bogachiel and either one of those would be his choice this weekend. Bill says the tribal nets weren’t in all week because of high water and this weekend could be a telltale of how the run is shaping up.

Whitetail Buck Crashes into Ohio Classroom
From the Associated Press. Early Monday morning a 10 point whitetail buck jumped through a window at Kings Junior High School in Warren County, Ohio. When officials arrived at the school at around 7:00 a.m. they found the deer trapped in the classroom. Administrators had to have students wait in the auditorium while firefighters and the local game warden tranquilized the deer and removed it from the building. The buck was removed at approximately 8:45 and classes started on schedule at 9:00 a.m..

Spurned Woman Sells Ex-Boyfriends Secret Fishing Spots
This drama actually went down in January of 2012, but it’s just now getting play in the media.  New Zealand’s Stuff magazine reports that an un-named boyfriend had hightailed it to Australia without giving his girlfriend notice. The only problem is that he forgot to grab his GPS containing all of his secret fishing spots out of the garage. When she found it in the garage she immediately placed it up for auction  on the web and was surprised to get more than 90,000 hits on the secret fishing spots. The GPS coordinates went for $3,000, which she spent on herself.  Stuff magazine reports that she’s now dating a new fisherman, but she says she won’t share her ex’s fishing spots with him. She is more honorable than that.

Bluefin Tuna Sells for $1.7 million in Japan
A single bluefin tuna just set a record at Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market, fetching over 1.7 million dollars. The 489 pound bluefin was caught in the North Atlantic and sold in Tokyo for a whopping  $3,476 a pound. The “New Year Tuna” was purchased by representatives from Tokyo Zanmai, which is a popular Japanese sushi restaurant chain. The tuna more than doubled last year’s record purchase of a 593 that fetched $736,000 dollars. Bluefin tuna have become increasingly rare as stocks worldwide have been overharvested to keep up with demand, which is one of the reasons why they fetch such a high price on the sushi market.

Pro 2nd Amendment March on January 19th
The group “Guns Across America” is holding a peaceful pro 2nd Amendment rally at the state capitol building in Olympia on January 19th at high noon. The group is asking anyone and everyone that’s interested wants to retain their right to bear arms to show up at the rally. Hunters, pistol shooters, gun collectors, and patriots are asked to show up at the rally and show their support of the 2nd Amendment. Rallies are taking place on the steps of every state capitol building across the country on January 19th.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle 

Green Sinkers’n Cut Plug Herring

All that dad and I brought with us blackmouth fishing on Puget Sound today were our mooching rods, some sinkers, and a couple dozen fresh herring from Narrows Marina.

Reports of rock solid winter blackmouth fishing in Area 10 have been trickling in to the Outdoor Line for the last couple of weeks and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew that if fishing was that good I could get’em to bite a cut plug herring served up old-school style.

Yesterday I bolted on my new Lowrance HDS 7 Touch to the sled and hollered at dad to make a couple of lunchs…we were going mooching.

State of the art electronics make a world of difference when you’re mooching for salmon. I know this first hand, as the Lowrance gear I have on my charter boat in Alaska has put a lot, and I mean a lot of fish in the boat. You can spend a lot of time straining empty water or you can fish the high percentage areas that are full of bait and fish.

Part of using a good sonar is understanding what you’re looking at though. There’s a salmon center stage in the photo below and another one on the right side of the screen, right on the bottom, chowing down on bait. I was licking my chops when I saw this.

Dad and I dropped our baits into this mess and were immediately rewarded with a double header. A double header on mooched cut plug herring…we were laughing!

Dad was fishing with an orange kidney sinker, a standard in Southeast Alaska, and I was using a green 4 ouncer. His rod went cold immediately after the first hookup while my green weight just kept getting bit.

We gave it a while just to make sure it was the lead and sho’nuf, it was his orange lead. For some reason these fish weren’t digging the orange, so I switched dad over to a green 4 ouncer and he was on a fish almost immediately.

By the time we went thru two dozen herring we had landed three nice keeper blackmouth, released half a dozen shakers, and missed quite a few more bites. Dad even took home a nice, fat sole to fry up for dinner tonight.

How did we find these blackmouth? Basically, I would putter around on the kicker motor until we found a large school of bait and then we would stop and work our baits up and down close to the bottom around the bait. This is when having great electronics gives you the ultimate edge.

One key point to mooching is to always keep some line angle and keep working your baits. We were constantly dropping our baits to the bottom and reeling them back up 15 to 20 feet, right in the blackmouth zone. The bites came both on the drop and reeling up. The Lamiglas Salmon Moocher rods that I use telegraph everything. You can detect a bite from even the smallest shaker.

I tied up some 7 foot leaders with 15 pound Maxima Ultragreen and two 3/0 fine wire Mustad hooks that are soooo perfect for mooching. Flourocarbon would also work great for this. In the winter I would keep it light and keep it limber though. Frozen herring will work, but fresh herring from Narrows Marina is da bomb and it works a LOT better.

Blackmouth fishing has been outstanding on Puget Sound this winter and one would expect Area 9 to be quite productive when it opens up on January 16th.

There’s a lot more productive ways to catch blackmouth, but anytime I can get them mooching I’m a happy man. If you’ve got a spot that you suspect has some blackmouth I recommend you give this technique a try. I know you’ll like it!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Cured Tiger Prawns for Steelhead

How many different colors can you make your Tiger Prawn? I guess the question should be, “How many different colors of Nectar does Pautzke’s actually produce”?

If you said 5, then you are on the right track. With that, we will stick with the basics just to make sense of it all. If I start mixing and matching colors, there is no limit as to how lengthy this article could end up. With 5 Nectar colors to choose from, you could actually create what I refer to as the Tiger Prawn Rainbow…

Now to say that Pautzke’s Nectar will add some color to your Tiger Prawn, is an understatement. The colors are very vibrant and basically jump off the page at you. Nectar not only adds tremendous color to your Prawn, but also additional bite stimulants that you get just as a result of how the Nectar is produced. You are essentially soaking your Prawn in Egg Juice, which adds additional scents and attractants, Oh and by the way, did I mention COLOR…

Another question to ponder, Are you using Tiger Prawn for Salmon and Steelhead? If not, then How Come? Ok, I guess that is actually two questions.

If you have sat through any of my shrimp Curing Seminars, Coon Shrimp, Tiger Prawn etc. then you have heard me talk about the versatility of these baits and just how much you can do with them.

The first thing I like to remind folks is that fish, absolutely love them. They are a very natural smelling and looking bait that fish very well raw with a little salt and sugar.

Now we are going back into the Bait Lab to take our beloved Tiger Prawn to the next level. For me at different times of the year, adding color to my Tiger Prawn is great way of creating multiple baits and giving me multiple options from just one simple bait.

I can also create two different baits using just one color of Nectar. If I soak my Tiger Prawn, for example in Blue Nectar, it will turn my Prawn, very, very Blue. An option that I like to use more than not, is simply this. Some of the Prawn are soaked with the shells peeled off and some are soaked with the shell left intact.

For the Prawn that are soaked in the Nectar with the shells removed, you will notice the color penetrates the Prawn completely and makes all of the Prawn Meat a very bold color based on the color you have selected.

For the Prawn that I soak with the shells In-Tact, the Nectar color of choice penetrates the Prawn Meat around the edges, leaving the center of the Prawn almost a natural color or just slightly colored by the Nectar. For me this creates a bait with “Color Contrast” which at times, may be just the difference needed to stimulate a bite.

Now, past practice for many is to chunk cut your Prawn and use it while side drifting, drift fishing and or even tip a jig with it every now and again.

For me, as I have mentioned before, chunk cutting is ok, however I like to change it up a bit and fish bait that has a little more natural action. I find that by simply cutting your prawn length-ways, down the center of the back, you end up with a very nice thin Prawn Fillet. This will fish very well when side drifting or drift fishing, it will also fish very well under a float. The thinness of the fillet allows the bait to tumble and role and in some respects float naturally, to more so resemble natural bait then just a chunk of meat tumbling along.

How about to tip a jig? Have you ever strip-cut your Prawn.

Once you have mastered the skill of cutting your Prawn Baits into nice even Prawn Fillets, the next step is to cut them once again, length-wise, to create a nice long strip of Prawn that resembles a very small worm. We know that pink worms and actually multiple colors of worms have become very popular for fishing Steelhead and Coho. Why not create your own colored mini-worm that has great scent properties, and when tipped on a jig actually has the added bonus of action. You cannot get that by simply putting a chunk of Prawn on your jig hook.

Using Pautzke’s Nectar is a great means of adding tremendous color and scent to your Tiger Prawn. To get your Prawn to fish the very best that they can, you still need to add a little more to create the ideal cure.

A basic recipe I like to use is simply this:

One Bottle of Pautzke’s Nectar (any color)
1/4 cup Non-Iodized Sea Salt
1/2 cup Sugar, (White or Natural)

That’s all there is to it, really it is just that simple. If you are curing Tiger Prawn for Salmon a 1/4 cup of Salt and just a 1/4 cup of sugar will do just fine. For Steelhead, I like to sweeten them up a bit and will add the extra sugar, as much as a 1/2 cup. This can actually cure up to about 25 Tiger Prawn, in the 51 to 60 count size.

I will generally soak Tiger Prawn for about 24 hrs. in my colored cure mixture and then they are ready to fish. The Pautzke’s Nectar adds the color and bite enhancements and the salt and sugars add the sweetness and durability I can depend on that makes these little baits fish so good.

I will fish them right out of the soaking container the first trip out and cut as I go. If I have some left over and plan to fish within the next week or two, I can take the Tiger Prawn out of the cure and place them into a tupperware container and store them in my bait fridge. Just for test purposes I have had Tiger Prawn cured in this exact recipe last in my bait fridge for up to four months and still fish very well.

Which color of Nectar you choose is entirely up to you. I will however let you in on one additional secret. If you do select the Red or Yellow Nectar, you will also be adding UV to your Tiger Prawn, which may just be the difference you are looking for, when fishing low light or off colored water conditions.

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Northwest Outdoor Report

First Razor Dig of 2013 Scheduled

WDFW just approved the first razor clam dig of 2013, starting Tuesday (Jan. 8) at Twin Harbors and expanding to include Long Beach, Mocrocks, and Copalis beaches later in the week. Twin Harbors will be open from January 8th thru January 14th and Long Beach, Mocrocks, and Copalis Beaches will be open Thursday January 10th thru Saturday January 12th.
Commission to Consider Removing Gillnets from Columbia Mainstem
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet January 11th and 12th in Olympia to consider shifting gillnets off the mainstem of the lower Columbia River and into designated off-channel fishing areas. The plan would also shift allocation on many of the Columbia’s salmon runs over to the recreational sector. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 back on December 7th to adopt the plan and now it’s up to their counterparts in Washington to move the plan forward. The meeting will be held in the Columbia Room of the state Legislative Building starting at 8:30 a.m..

Brant Hunt Approved for Skagit County

A flight by wildlife biologists last week determined that brant numbers would support an 8 day hunt in Skagit County. At least 6,000 birds are needed to support a hunt and wildlife biologist Don Kraege counted 8,960 brant in Fidalgo, Padilla, and Samish Bays. The hunt is scheduled for January 12, 13, 16, 19, 20, 23, 26, and 27. Be sure to check out the WDFW website for more details on this special brant hunt, as there are special license requirements in place.

Wild Steelhead Showing Early in the Skagit

John Koenig of Johns Guide Service (360-708-3166) in Rockport reports catchable numbers of wild steelhead in the Skagit River right now. He’s been surprised by the number of wild fish this early in the season and thinks that the Skagit could be in store for some excellent fishing in late January and February when the wild steelhead show up in earnest. In stark contrast the hatchery steelhead return on the Skagit has been so poor that the Cascade River was recently closed down so that the Marblemount Hatchery could meet its egg take goals.

Sol Duc Fishing Well

Mike Zavadlov from Mike Z’s Guide Service (360-640-8109) in Forks has been seeing really good numbers of wild steelhead in the Sol Duc already. Mike’s caught steelhead into the low teens, as well as a few Snider Creek steelhead. One of Mike’s go-to jigs lately in the low and clear water has been a pink and purple Beau Mac 1/8th ounce jig. While the Snider Creek broodstock program was discontinued last year, anglers can still expect to catch those fish for at two more years on the Sol Duc River.

Potholes Spotty for Ducks, Good for Geese

Levi Meseberg from Mar Don Resort on Potholes Reservoir reports great goose hunting over the Christmas break with limits or near limits of geese for the last couple of weeks. He says the cold weather that’s made the goose hunting so good has pushed a lot of the ducks south though. While there’s been a few pockets of birds around he says the duck hunting hasn’t been all that great lately. With temperatures forecast into the mid-40’s for the Potholes region next week he thinks the duck hunting could be some of the best of the season. Waterfowl season will close on January 27th this year, so duck hunters have just a few more weeks to get their hunting in.

Kent Man Attacked by Coyotes

When Faron Scarberry moved to Kent two weeks ago he had no idea how dangerous going for a walk with his dogs might be. Last Friday night while he was walking his dogs three coyotes attacked him in back yard. They initially went for Scarberry’s face and he was able to block them, but one of the coyotes grabbed him by the leg. He was able to ward off the coyotes, but he still spent the night in the emergency room and got 24 rabies shots on his leg and hip. Coyotes rarely attack humans, but wildlife officials recommend keeping garbage contained and pets inside at night this time of year to reduce the chance of an encounter.

Gun Map Backfires on New York Publisher

When the Journal News in New York recently published a story called “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood” burglars and crooks immediately took notice. Along with the story was a map of every gun owner in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam Counties. While the intent of the insanely stupid article was to “out” local gun owners the article did nothing but help crooks and enrage gun owners. Burglars who needed guns now knew which homes to hit and the information also let burglars know which homes were gun-free and easy to rob. One blogger reacted by posting a map showing where key editorial staffer live. Outraged groups have called for a boycott of Gannett Publishing’s advertisers and the newspaper now has armed guards stationed outside at least one of its offices.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Build an Insulated Box for your Little Chief Smoker

The ability to have fish, fowl, game and even cheese, turn out consistently good in your smoker comes down to a few control measures. I’m not going to waste your time telling you the absolute best wet or dry brine for fish. I am also not going to tell you how fantastic your duck will turn out when wrapped in thick cut bacon…. You can read my smoked duck blog on that one..

I am, however, going to tell you or more importantly show you the importance of temperature control.

I have a Luhr Jensen Little Chief smoker. I’ve had it for years and it does a great job. Back when it was new and when I was smoking fish in the fall and winter I would follow the manufacturers recommendation and use the box it came in as an insulator. The smoker itself is not insulated so the recommendation in cold weather is to place the box over the smoker to help keep some of the heat in.

Once the box wore out, I actually used an old sleeping bag. I did this for a couple years until I finally decided that there had to be a better way.

It always amazes me the idea’s a guy can come up with by simply by walking through a Home Depot or Lowes. There is so much stuff in there it’s just a matter of time until you find everything you need for any project.

Now I was thinking insulation, as in insulating my smoker, when I was walking thru the store. So, I found myself standing in the area of Home Depot that has anything to do with everything in the realm of insulation. I decided to go with structural foundation insulation foam.

To build this insulator box, here is what you will need…
-4 X 8 sheet of one inch thick R. Tech Insulation Foam
-10 ft. of 1 ¼ in. corner molding
-Lock Tight Power Grip multi-purpose adhesive. Make sure it is foam compatible
-Duct-Work aluminum tape (aluminum foil tape)
-Hardware components and grommets

There are several different models of the Little Chief and Big Chief smokers. You need to measure your individual smoker, length and width, to get the accurate measurements. Check if your smoker has handles on the sides or front that you measure the overall width to accommodate for them. When your insulated box is finished, it slides down over the top and it needs to clear the width of the handles.

Cut your four panels using a straight edge with a very sharp fillet knife. I found that when I used a utility knife I had to cut each side of the panel. The utility knife cannot go completely through the one inch thick foam from one side.

The length of your panels should be about 24 inches. The length of your 1 ¼” corner trim should be about 26 inches. The important thing here is that the length of your corner pieces are two inches longer then the panels.

Next you’ll need to take two of your panels and cut a one inch recess along both edges of the panel. Make sure it’s the two panels that are aligned opposite. For example, you should have two panels that are 14. 5 inchs in width and two that are 16 in. Pick a set and make your cuts along each edge. The other set you can leave full dimension. This is so you can glue the panels together and the corner trim will fit evenly.

This is an example of how the corners will fit together, with the recess cut and the corner trim in place.

Once I have the four panels cut and trimmed, it’s time to glue it all together. I put a bead of Lock Tight along the cut-out edge that I made. I also put a thin bead along each side of the corner trim. I put all the pieces together and try to keep it square.

I then wrap the heck out of the box with a heavy string or small diameter rope. I make sure I pull it tight as I continue to wrap and again try to keep it square. The pressure of the string against all four corners will ensure the box holds together tight as the glue drys. I give it at least 24 hrs. to dry. You may need to move it into the house to dry if you are building your box in the fall or winter. The garage may be a bit to cool.

While I have the box wrapped and squared up I measure and cut the top to fit.

The fact that this is styrofoam, I don’t like to leave the edges unprotected. I found that duct-work aluminum foil tape works great for covering all foam exposed edges.

Basically I was able to do the lid with one long strip. You can do it in sections if you prefer.

Next you will also want to do the top edge of your box and the bottom. Again, I tape any exposed foam on the edges.

Next I need to cut a hole in the top for the heat vent. I use a quart jar, narrow neck lid. I make sure the hole that I drill is a bout a ½ inch smaller in diameter then the lid. I want to make sure my vent cover actually covers the hole when I need it to. Also, I need room at the edge to anchor the vent lid.

To make sure I can spin or pivot the vent cover open I use stainless components and plastic grommets.

I drill a hole through the top and reinforce the hole on both sides with some aluminum foil tape. Then, push a plastic grommet in both sides of the top.

I attach the vent cover lid with the stainless screw, nut, and washers. Next I drill a hole and insert a grommet for the thermometer. Depending on the model of smoker you have you can align the thermometer hole with one of the vents in the lid of the smoker. Or if there are no vent slits, you will need to drill a hole in the smoker lid.

If there is a vent, simply open it up a bit with a screwdriver so that your thermometer will fit through the lid. Having the thermometer through the lid and into the actual smoker is key. After-all, this entire project is all about temperature control…

The final two steps are to simply measure your smoker for the location of your pan door on the front and power cord on the back.

Measure and cut out both front and back and reinforce the edges with the foil tape. Again, having no exposed styrofoam makes for a stronger box.

That is pretty much it. This is one of those projects that takes a little time to complete, but it’s so well worth it. You will have an insulation smoker box with temperature control that will last you for years. If you’re like me, sometimes do-it-yourself projects are actually kind of fun.

Good luck and if you decide to build one, make sure you post some pictures on the Outdoor Line forums or over on our Facebook  page.

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle