The 2013 Salmon Forecasts!

A sure sign of spring after a long winter is the annual arrival of our salmon forecasts and the “North of Falcon” meetings. I await the salmon forecast numbers like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Hello, my name is Tom and I am a “salmon sicko”.

After watching the numbers for a number of years (never mind how many…) I’ve found that you can “call some shots” by digging into the forecast numbers. The WDFW, DFO Canada and The PFMC (Pacific Fisheries Management Council) work very hard to get their chinook and coho abundance estimates out in a timely manner. These figures take some pouring through to find the real “meat” but don’t worry, I’ve done all the leg work for you right here!

2013 Preseason adult Chinook Forecasts (in thousands)

Stock                    2009       2010     2011_    _2012       2013
Willapa fall             34.8      31.1       36.8        45.2         27.1
Hoh fall                   2.6         3.3        2.9           2.7           3.1
Nooksack/Sam       23.0      30.3      37.5         44.0        46.5
Skagit summer       23.4      13.0      15.9          9.6         13.2
Stillaguamish          1.0        1.4         1.9          0.9           1.3
Snohomish Wild      8.4        9.9         7.4          2.8          3.6
Snohomish Hatch   4.9         5.6         5.1         3.9           6.8
Tulalip Bay              4.0         3.4         3.5        5.9          10.9
S Puget Wild          17.2      12.7        8.9          8.9           5.2
S Puget Hatch        93.0      97.4      118.6       95.8       101.9
Hood Canal Wild     2.5      2.4           2.1         2.9            3.3
Hood Canal Hatch  40.1     42.6         38.3       43.9         65.7
Key Stock totals 255,600  253,100  278,900  266,500  288,600

This is a very significant Puget Sound chinook forecast to say the least! Easily the highest number we’ve seen for over a decade.  We can be fairly safe in the assumption that chinook seasons may be similar to last year. Generally these selected stocks are up from 2012, most notably in the Skagit, Snohomish, Tulalip Bay and south Sound. However, on the coast Willapa is down sharply and the Nooksack/Samish checks in with a solid forecast as well which should drive a very strong Marine Area 7 summer chinook season.
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The Silver Story! 2013 Preseason Adult Coho Forecasts (in thousands of fish)

Stock                     2009         2010            2011__ __2012        2013
Straits Wild              20.5          8.5              12.3           12.3       14.8
Straits Hatch            7.0            7.8              12.7           18.6       15.4
Nook/Sam W           7.0            9.6               29.5           25.2      45.4
Nook/Sam H          25.5          36.0               45.7           62.8      49.2
Skagit Wild             33.4          95.9             138.1          48.3     137.2
Skagit Hatch          11.7            9.5               16.2           14.9       16.3
Stilly Wild               13.4           25.9              66.5           45.5        33.1
Stilly hatch              0.0              5.4                0.6             4.1          3.1
Snohomish W         67.0           99.4            180.0         109.0     163.8
Snohomish H          53.6           24.5               8.4             8.5        12.6
S Sound W              53.6          25.3              98.9           43.1       36.0
S Sound H              188.8       186.4            173.3         162.9     150.9
Hood Wild                48.6          33.2              77.5           73.4       36.8
Hood Hatch              52.0          51.2              72.1           62.6       68.6
Key stocks Total   338,600   320,800      916,000   628,600     783,200

 

Bottom line: we should see a smokin’ coho fishery in Puget Sound this summer. The increase in Skagit stocks is almost double last year’s run and a look at the Snohomish numbers have me thinking that 2013 will not see many anglers stray far from Puget Sound come September! In fact, the overall feeling among fisheries managers is one of optimism bone of increasing oceanic salmonid survival.

Speaking of survival…. We can look for over 6 million pink salmon to stream into Puget Sound this summer as well!!! We’ll have a better breakdown of the “Humpy Hordes” coming to you in this blog in the very near future!

Keep in mind that these numbers are but the “raw material” that the co-managers will use to craft our local seasons and only by attending the North of Falcon meetings can you have an impact on the process. We will keep you posted here but I sincerely look forward to meeting some of you….at the meetings!!!

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

River Etiquette 101

By Dennis Dickson

I was floating a popular run on the Sauk River one spring day. The April morning found the river in prime shape and I knew the flyboys were going to be out in numbers. As we rounded the corner of a long bar, there near the bottom of the half mile run, was another fly guide boat I hadn’t seen for a while. There is a nice slot in the tailout, so I figured they probably had already fished the upper drift, and were about to fish the lower. The day was still young and there could be new fish moving in so why not give this upper pool a go anyway? The guide and his client were just chatting in their boat. Couldn’t really tell if they were climbing in or getting out, and as they were not within shouting distance, I thought I would drop down and talk, after I got the boys fishing.

My guys had been fishing for a few minutes, and the guide heads up the gravel bar towards me so I waded out of the river to talk.

“How come you stole my water!” He demanded.

Gee, I am sorry,” I apologized. ” I saw you parked down in the lower run so I assumed you had either passed on this water to fish the lower pool, or had already fished it.”

“Everybody knows I always park my boat at the bottom of this run” He said. ” You should have asked.”

“No,” I said, “Obviously I didn’t know, (I had been on the water every day for the last month) and its not river etiquette to have ask permission, to fish the water behind someone, particularly, when they are not even in the river. Now, if it’s a really big deal, you take the pool, and we will slip on down the next pool.”

He declined.

Contrast this episode with an experience a few weeks before.

I was fishing some new water in early season, and we passed another guide with a couple clients. They were pulling plugs so I gave them a wide berth so not to disturb their water.

“Good morning Dennis!” Rod yelled. ” Swam anything this morning?”

Not yet,” I answered. “You?”

“Lost one in the upper run” He said. “Say, have you fished that new fly water down in the tailout?” “We hit two in here yesterday.”

I had to admit, it looked fishy. I shook my head, No.

“Tell you what,” He continued, ” Why don’t you fish it today, and tell me how you do?”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

I wanted it bad but it was his water.

“Yeah, What the hell.” He answered.

We hooked three steelhead that morning……all from that pool. I made it a point to thank Rod the next morning. As more and more anglers hit the rivers, it seems this fishing pressure brings out the aggressiveness in some anglers. It’s a little like driving in freeway traffic. We are all trying to get somewhere, but we sometimes forget we are All trying to get somewhere. The rules of the road get forgotten.

Here is a rundown on some of fishing rules on our local rivers.

Rule # One: First Comes First:
Anglers know that a steelhead undisturbed is probably going to hit the first thing that is presented reasonably. The Dawn Patrol is the angler that gets on the water in the wee hours of the morning to take advantage of “new fish”. The rule is ” If you are first on the water, you get to fish down through first, provided, you are on the pool ready to fish, and you are stepping downstream in a reasonable manner, so the next angler also has a chance to fish.” Standing at the head of a run and fiddling with your gear, in hopes that the angler who showed up, a few minutes after you, will finally get frustrated and go away, is not good etiquette. Neither is any reason that hinders or prevents an upstream angler from fishing down through the run.

My assistant Jackson said he was following a fellow down through the Buck Island Pool, on the Skykomish, when this downstream angler sees another fly boy walk up. By the number of patches on each of their vests, you would think they were in the armed services. This fishing angler wades out of the pool and begins a conversation with the new arrival.

Jackson continues to step down. The boys keep talking and Jackson keeps
stepping down.  When Jack gets even with these boys, the guy that was fishing, yells out, ” Don’t you be fishing down through my water, buddy!”

Fortunately for him, he caught Jackson in a good mood. He breaks people. The rule implies that, if he begins fishing upstream of you, he has every right to be there. If you get out of the water long enough to slow the progress of the upstream angler, let him fish through. The key, be reasonable.

Rule # Two: Don’t Crowd;
Just as you do not appreciate it when you have someone come up and tailgate you, when your driving, try to maintain a reasonable distance between you and your downstream buddy. Downstream buddy – read rule # one.

Rule # Three: Be reasonable about your concept of the pool. Little rivers tend to have little pools. Sometimes when I am fishing even two anglers, I will space them, allowing each to fish his own pool, if the waters are strategically close.

By contrast, a river the size of the Skagit may have pools a half-mile long, if you were to fish the whole thing. The Mixer on the Skagit comes to mind….but the taking water may be only about one hundred yards in length. If you know you won’t be fishing the lower waters for a least a half hour, and a guy walks up to ask if he can fish, let him. If you are looking forward to fishing that water yourself, and you know you are fishing iffy water, you should reel up and go down and fish the prime stuff yourself, but do not hoard the whole pool, simply because you happen to get there first. IT’S NOT YOUR POOL! You just have the right to fish it first.

Don’t pull this crap about ” We consider this to be two pools”, which is your excuse to step down in front of someone into prime water. If there is a question about what the fishing anglers intentions are, ASK, but permission is only necessary, if they are downstream of where you want to fish.

Rule # Four: Hooked fish goes to the back of the line.
You really see this get abused on the popular waters. The idea here is, If you are lucky enough to play a fish and you are in front of somebody fishing through, give him a chance at the next fish. I once saw an angler get on a Grande Ronde pool and proceed to play and release five steelhead, always going back to the front of a long line of anglers after each fish! What was he thinking?

Rule # five When in Rome…..
Different rules apply to different waters. All these rules don’t mean jack to a combat fishery like Hoodsport ,or around a bunch of gear guys, or even a crowded morning at Fortson Hole. If you go waltzing in and start in on the locals as to where and how they can fish…You Are Out Of Line. Not only that, but you are probably going to get thumped.

Rule # Six No Sponging or Bragging
I was just pulling into the Ben Howard boat launch. It was the same two guys I had seen the day before, and the day before that. The conversation would start off innocuous enough with a “So how was fishing today?” and then they would launch into the twenty questions, about where, when, how many, which fly and yada yada…….. As soon as they would sponge as much information from one boat, they wouldn’t even say thank you, they were off to the next boat. I actually witnessed one guy sponge the new arrivals and walk back up and get on his cell phone to pass on the information, like he was doing the flyfishing kingdom this great service! I finally got so irritated by the third day, (didn’t these guys have a life?) that as sponge # one came up while I am pulling my raft up, before he could even open his mouth, I said, “look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I will make you a deal. If you don’t ask me the questions, I won’t lie about them.”

At first he was shocked, then he just laughed, and ambled over to the next boat. Some fellows want desperately for everyone to know, just what a wonderful fisherman they are, they can’t wait to tell everybody about it. Young guide want-a-be’s are bad for this. They will start by asking how the day is going, and before you can hardly answer the question, they will start in about all the amazing fishing they have had that day. If they are really feeling their oats, they will hang around the takeout and drill the guide boats as they come in. Kind of their way of saying ” Boy, now if you were in my boat today, you could have had thissss much fun. You could term this as “Reverse Sponging”. Very annoying.

You see, the problem with all the rule breakers are, they simply don’t care about anyone but themselves. The problem is, even if they read this, they won’t get it. Nothing tries my patience more than some flyboy that will scream bloody murder when they think someone else steps out of line, but will do the same thing, given the opportunity, and never even think twice.

The Golden Rule is still the best rule:
Simply treat others the way you would want to be treated, and we can all get along.

Best of fishing
Dennis Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

“There are only two types of anglers in this part of the world, those that catch steelhead on a fly and those that want to.”

Northwest Outdoor Report

Jerry Thomas Wins Oly Pen Salmon Derby

A record catch of 351 hatchery Chinook were weighed in at the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby last weekend setting a new record for the 40 year old derby. 820 anglers fished in the event compared to 650 last year. Mount Vernon native Jerry Thomas took first place and $10,000 with a 15.90 pound blackmouth, Lauren Selvig from Port Orchard took second with a 14.80 pound blackmouth, and Don White of Hansville took 3rd place with a 14.35 pounder. Thomas hooked the winning fish first thing in the morning on Saturday near Protection Island on an orange label herring. It’s the first time he’s fished the Olympic Peninsula Derby and he says he’ll be back next year.

Lake Roosevelt Producing Limits of Rainbows

Don Talbot at Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee says the rainbow fishing is still good on Lake Roosevelt. He recommends trolling small Apex lures in either purple or bright red with anywhere from a half ounce to an ounce of lead. Talbot says the fish are cruising in the top 20 feet of the water column and anglers should set the gear as much as 200 feet back from the boat to get strikes. Talbot also recommends using a K-Fly tipped with a nightcrawler if the Apex’s aren’t working. Talbot says to launch at Spring Canyon boat launch and fish the lower six to eight of the lake just above Grand Coulee Dam.

Steelhead Showing in the Cowlitz

Derek Anderson from Screamin’ Reels Guide Service reports that a few of the “B” run steelhead are starting to show up in the Cowlitz. He said a friend of his caught three the other day and there were some fish being caught by the bank anglers at Blue Creek, as well. Anderson thinks that things will pick up the first week of March when the run typically starts to show up. The majority of the hatchery steelhead planted in the Cowlitz River now show up in the river as a late “B” run that starts in late February and goes all the way thru the end of April. These fish are big too…averaging around twelve pounds and steelhead into the upper teens aren’t uncommon.

Razor Clam Dig Scheduled for this Weekend

WDFW approved another razor clam dig for this weekend at Long Beach and Twin Harbors on the Washington coast. Today’s tide is at 5:12 p.m. and tomorrows tide is at 5:47 p.m.. Clam diggers are limited to 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Check out the WDFW website for more details.

Spring Chinook Seminar at Three Rivers Marine

Northwest salmon fishing expert Josh Hughes will be doing a spring Chinook seminar at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville on March 9th. Hughes will cover in detail where to fish on the Columbia River for springers and exactly how to rig up to catch these prized fish. Three Rivers will also be conducting mini-clinics starting at 10:00 a.m. on everything from how to rig a cut plug herring to wrapping and tuning a Kwikfish. If you’re at all interested in fishing the Columbia and its tributaries for Chinook this spring this seminar is a must. There’s bbq’d hot dogs and soda at the event and please RSVP to let them know you’re coming.

100,000 Descend on Tulsa for the Bassmaster Classic

Approximately 100,000 people are expected at both Grand Lake and in the city of Tulsa this weekend for the 43rd annual Bassmaster Classic. It’s the first time the Bassmaster Classic has ever been held in Oklahoma and the farthest west the Classic has been in more than 30 years. The angler with the best three day bass total in the Classic wins an impressive $500,000 and much, much more in endorsements. The big story at the Classic this year is the weather. There was snow on the ground for practice during the week and temperatures are supposed to drop below freezing every night.  The cold weather didn’t slow down Mike Iaconelli and Cliff Price though, who are both tied for 1st place after day one with 21 pounds, 8 ounces apiece. 4 time Classic champion Kevin VanDam is in a very close 4th place with 19 pounds 12 ounces.

Wolf Population Doubles in Washington

According to a survey just released by WDFW the number of gray wolves in Washington has nearly doubled in the past year. The survey found at least 51 wolves in 9 packs in Washington state. In 2011 there was just 27 wolves in the state. Bioligists suspect that there are two additional wolf packs in the state and think there could be as many as 100 wolves in Washington state.

Russian’s Crowned Ice Fishing Champions

From the A.P. – The Russian’s just took the gold medal in the World Ice Fishing Championships in Central Wisconsin last weekend. Eleven teams from around the world competed Saturday and Sunday on Beg Eau Pleine Reservoir near Wausau. The Finland ice fishing team took 2nd place, Lithuania took 3rd, and the the U.S. team took fourth place despite having the “home ice” advantage. Last year the ice fishing championships were held in Khazahkstan where the U.S. team took 11th place.

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

Fishing Pink Rubber Worms for Steelhead

The 2012-2013 Steelhead season has, as we’ve discussed on “The Outdoor Line”, shaped up to be a big fish year. Both hatchery fish and natives alike have made more than one fisherman perform a double take because of their eye-poppin’ size.

Check out some of the mondo steelhead we’ve taken time to post up in our “Heavy Metal 2013” photo album over in the Outdoor Line fishing forums. These are just some of the big fish we’ve been exposed to via friends and followers of show.

Without a doubt, it’s been impressive thus far. The exciting thing is we are actually now on the door-step the time when a good number of our large, and I mean LARGE, native steelhead enter our rivers.

On some of our favorite rivers some sections are regulated “artificial lure” only, which means no bait. On other rivers it just makes sense to use certain artificial lures because they flat out work.

One choice that many anglers seem to be drawn to is the well-respected “Pink Worm”, or Count Wormula as Endsley likes to call it. The rubber worm for steelhead has been proven time and time again and for good reason.Big steelhead love the worm!

When most anglers think about fishing a soft plastic worm the first thing they try to figure out is how? “How do I rig it or even more-so, how do I fish it”?  Well, here are a few simple options to give you some things to think about.

The first thing to understand is that “not all worms are created equal”. To be more specific, some float, some do not. Some are actually considered neutrally buoyant. They also come in several sizes lke 3 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch, and even 6″ worms are common. Also, pick a color, any color or even multiple colors. Lastly, what kind of tail do you prefer? Straight, paddle, curly…I think you get the point. As you stand in the isle at your favorite tackle distributor take some time, read the package, and if all else fails ask for help.

Now that you have your worms selected lets take a look at “How-to-Rig”. One of the easiest ways to present a worm is to simply drift fish it. You have a choice, worms that float or at a minimum are neutrally buoyant. You’ll definitely want to run a neutrally bouyant worm with a corky or cheater on your leader to give it some floatation. You can also put one on with your buoyant worms as well for more color, but it’s not necessary for buoyancy.

You’ll want to use a long needle or a worm/bait threader to pull your pre-tied leader  through the worm. You want to start a few inches from the tail and thread the worm onto the needle all the way through to the top. Placing a good plastic or glass bead down the leader on top of the hook, helps prevent the hook from being pulled into the worm and tearing it. You can also use something called a sequin. Sequins are those reflective do-dads used in costumes and found at most craft stores. These are actually a great choice as well.

This rig works great for drift fishing; however my favorite method for my worms rigged in this manner is “float dogging”. Of course I’ll run it with my stick lead and the only change I am making is to use an artificial lure vs. bait like I normally do. One thing to keep in mind, you’ll want to run an 18″ to 20″ leader so as to keep your buoyant worm down in the strike zone.

Here is another option and in my opinion the easiest way to rig a worm. If you can tie a leader on under a float, then you are 3/4ths of the way there.

I usually go with a 2 foot or 3 foot leader tied to a size 1 hook. This presentation works best with 3 inch worms and usually no larger than 4 inch. Place just a few split-shot on your leader to get it down under the float a bit faster and your leader is ready. Simply hang the worm on the hook at about the mid-way point, and your set. This is known as “whacky style”.

It can be flat-out deadly and I’ll fish this in most areas where I would also fish a jig. It’s a great way to present a worm suspended and creep it along structure, such as wood. I also like the fact that if I want to change out to a different color or style, it doesn’t get much easier. Remember that a buoyant worm isn’t necessary, as we want to make sure the worm is suspended under the float.

Similar to the wacky style and also fished under a float, is an inverted presentation. You have a couple options. Buoyant worms can be fished with a bullet sinker on a bead on top of the hook. Using the bait threader, this time you slide the worm on from the top first and only go about 1/3 of the way through. At this point you want to push the needle out through the side. As you thread this worm onto the leader, the leader will come out the side, allowing the worm to bend over and create a lot of movement when hanging upside-down.

If you use a non-buoyant or neutral buoyant worm, you can add a few split shot to the leader, again to get it down under the float. These also fish very well in water ideal for jigs.

“Got jig heads”? Yep, just that simple…. put a 2 inch or 3 inch worm on a jig head, suspend it under a float, and you are fishing a pink worm. Don’t be afraid to use these little guys to dress up some of your big steelhead jigs, as well. If you are looking for a big profile with a lot of action this just might be your ticket.

As my buddy “William” has been quoted in saying, many, many times…..”What isn’t tried won’t work”.

All I know is that several years ago I rigged a pink worm on a leader, with a series of beads and a Spin-n-Glo. My intention was to fish it on a bait diver. The first time I did this I was in a buddy’s boat. He put out a plug, I put out my worm and bait diver. In about 3 or 4 minutes we had a violent take down, and it wasn’t on the plug. I grabbed the rod, put a little pressure to it and POW….. the fish was gone. I reeled in and brought back my bait diver and half of the 5′ to 6′ leader. I could tell I must of had a nick or a knot or some defect that caused the leader to break.

The bottom line is that it worked and it worked well. I will use it on occasion when the conditions are right. You fish it as you would a plug. I rig the worm so as to increase the action. Again, using the bait threader I start a few inches from the bottom. Threading up towards the top and pop the needle out about an inch from the end. This little end of worm pointing slightly down below the beads and Spin-n-Glo actually act like a bit of a rudder in the water and creates additional movement on the worm. You are basically backing this crazy moving worm down right at the fish on a 5 foot to 6 foot leader. This particular rig is a little more involved but it can work very well.

There ya go, a number of choices and options on how to rig and fish a pink rubber worm in hopes of banging a huge wild steelhead this spring. There is still plenty of winter-run season left. Go get yourself some worms, get them rigged up, and go out a catch a big chrome nate. Just make sure you send us a picture of that “Heavy Metal Monster” here on our FORUMS page, under “Fish Reports“. Or feel free to post it up on the Outdoor Line Facebook  page.

Good steelhead fishing to you!

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

2013 Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby -Day One

Last year was our first time at the Olympic Penninsula Salmon Derby and after experiencing the event, the location and of course the fishing… there was no way I was going to miss this year!

The Harborside Inn was very generous to host us and we did a remote broadcast of The Outdoor Line Radio Show from the lobby over the excellent complementary breakfast! Many anglers competing in the event stayed at the Harborside Inn and took no small enjoyment in pointing out that they were heading out on the water while we were stuck in the lobby to do the show. To make matters worse, our cell phones started blowing up with fish pictures from our “friends”…Brutal!

When we finally got out on the water, Robbo was still getting reports… and while he was on the phone…  Hey ROBBO! YOU GOT ONE!!! …Uh, just a sec Nelly…I’m on the phone…

Needless to say, we lost that first fish…and it was a good one… but it wouldn’t be too long before the good ol’ Coho Killer produced a nice blackmouth for me.

 

Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby rules call for a 3pm weigh-in deadline so after a late start…it was an quick trip to the scale where lucky anglers were lined up to enter their fish.

Tony Dobson of Snatchin’ Lips Rods, fishing aboard John Keizer’s Team Lowrance boat, shares a laugh with the crew at the weigh in.

 

After my 8.9 pounder was weighed in, WDFW personnel were there to scale sample and measure the hatchery chinook entered in the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Lowrance heads for its slip at Point Hudson to get ready for day two of this three day event… Three solid days of fishing… No wonder they call this derby the “Iron Man”!

As of the end of fishing Saturday 2/16/13, 123 fish have been submitted; top three are 15.90, 14.80, and 14.30. With a “sporty” forecast for Sunday… it would be nice to be sitting atop the leaderboard.That 15.9 pounder is looking good for the ten thousand dollar first prize!

Dickson’s Flyfishing Report

Skagit Steelhead

By Dennis Dickson

The Bitter Sweet

The good news is: A very nice pulse of late winter native steelhead have shown up in the lower Skagit river, just before the season closure. Big brawly steelhead. The kind that when you see them you think,

“Must be Sauk fish with their thick caudal peduncles and broad shoulders.” The kind of steelhead you can’t get your hand around the wrist of their tail, nor take your eyes off that big male shovel nose. The kind of fish, you are willing to stomp the twilight chill just to make it onto first water. Where anticipation is pumping  adrenalin so hard through your veins, you don’t just feel, you can taste it.

February has always been a big fish month for me. Of the seven Washington state steelhead I have taken over twenty pounds on a fly, five have come from February 10 to March 10. God created large dominant male steelhead to enter first, it’s just the way it is.

It used to be; Valentines was the unofficial kick off for another great Skagit River Catch & Release season. Life just didn’t do better than March & April. That is why nature built the season Spring right?

But a Skagit steelhead’s life has reduced itself into a political football. Those that destroy it’s habitat still blame the harvesters, the harvesters still blame habitat. The hapless angler stares from the shore at the vacant memory of another lost opportunity. The burden is so painful, he can barely drive along the river roads during those early months of the year. It simply hurts too much.

He tells himself it’s for the best. Certainly for the greater good. Even as I point my truck & trailer towards the coast, I try to convince myself, it’s better for business. Maybe someday I may even believe it.

I hear the Skagit numbers finally came in over escapement for last year. I don’t know. It’s what I’ve heard. I know this. I didn’t fish. Perhaps the final tally will come in well again for 13.

So I wish I could explain to the powers-to-be, that my being out on the water, transcends the dragging around a hook with feathers. Maybe if you and I could get out on the river, we could call it fishing, or hookless casting. I do find myself conjuring up in my head, hookless fly patterns that would take the pull, but hold no fish. Would that be enough? I wonder.

So maybe this pulse of fish means the ocean survival is up and it will bode well for the few Washington rivers that remain open. That would be nice.

And what does that do for the fish that swim in Beaver Flats or White Creek along the Sauk? The Mixer, Larsons, Chapel or the Power Line pool on the Skagit. Oh don’t mind him. He just doesn’t get it.

So as I ready for a trip to the coast, I get on line to get a beat on what’s going on. I stumbled onto a site that was so foul in language, so rude in commentary, it prompted me in digging up a piece I wrote, River Etiquette, but that is another story.

So there you have it. The North Sound rivers are closed, the coastal waters will be heating up. Watch for that next good rain. The  O.P. rivers shouldn’t have anything less.

The shameless plug. Son Mike, me and a whole bunch of my long time fishing cronies will be on hand for our Flyfishing winter steelhead seminar/workshop coming up February 23 @ Cabelas (Tulalip) 5-7pm.

Come join us, maybe we can share a story about the days on the Skagit.

Best of fishing,

Dennis & Mike Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

 

Dickson’s Flyfishing Report

By Dennis Dickson

And so it goes.

Well, I am back to writing weekly fishing reports again. I hope you find them informative if not entertaining.

The Puget Sound river season is coming to a close early, again. The bright news is, The Queets on the Olympic Peninsula is posed to have another stellar year. If you have a large steelhead in your horizon, you might want to hook up with Mike ASAP. His dates are booking fast. 425 330 9506

Me? I get to guard the home front conducting the Casting classes & Lakes Schools for the next few months. You can read all about it in the Flyfishing Made Easy program. Teaching 300-500 fly anglers a year. Guiding isn’t All we do!

So the river reports:   The Skagit in the Rockport area is fishing the best. (5000-6000 cfs. @ Marblemount). Hatchery winter steelhead was short lived at best but the Dolly fishing has held up. Its hard to beat Cop Car for taking these fish, but anything big and wiggly will get a bite.

So many fly anglers have gone to swing fishing with tips but I maintain it is still the most misunderstood technique for taking winter fish. Here is an updated article I originally wrote some 10 years ago called Flylines are what catch fish.

Next reports will be relayed from Mike out on the coast.

Speaking of which:

Dickson Flyfishing will host a second seminar at Cabelas Topic: Swing Fishing for winter Steelhead, Olympic Peninsula and beyond.

We have decided to make this one into a workshop with 10 different displays covering everything from fly-tying to spey rods & equipment. We will have plenty of experts there to answer your questions, plus lots of hands on do-dads. Mike will be on hand to show his Queets River video, while I will host the show. Here’s the Scoop.

Where: Cabelas @ Tulalip

When: February 23 Time: 5-7 PM

Come as you are. It’s free!

Best of fishing,
Dennis & Mike Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

New State Record Lake Trout Caught
Phil Colyar from Wenatchee just caught the new state record Mackinaw trout from Lake Chelan on Monday. The huge lake trout weighed 35 pounds, 10 ounces and beat the old state record by just 3 ounces. Colyar caught the fish in 270 feet of water in front of Kelly’s Resort on the south shore of Lake Chelan. After a 35 minute battle he and fishing buddy Jack Stagge raced to the nearby hospital in Chelan, which happened to have the only certified scale in the area. Colyar, Stagge, doctors, and nurses all watched as the scale ticked up to 35 pounds, 10 ounces. Colyar is having the fish mounted and plans to keep fishing for big Mackinaw’s in Lake Chelan, as he thinks there’s even larger Mackinaw to be caught in the lake.

American Lake Still Kicking Out Rainbows
Mike Barr from Bill’s Boathouse on American Lake says that anglers are still getting limits of nice trout fishing off the of the boathouse dock. He says a bunch of small trout in the 7 to 9 inch range just showed up, but the people that are putting in some time are going home with limits of trout in the 13 to 15 inch range. He recommends fishing yellow or lime green Power Eggs on the bottom in 12 to 35 feet of water. Barr says there’s definitely no shortage of trout in American Lake.

First Springer Caught on the Cowlitz
Todd Daniels from Tall Tails Guide Service knows of at least five spring Chinook being caught on the lower Cowlitz River this past week. Daniels says the springers have been caught in the Castlerock area and he knows that at least one of them hit a Kwikfish. There’s been sporadic reports of spring Chinook being caught on the Kalama River, as well. The forecast for both rivers is down this year with only 5,500 springer’s projected for the Cowlitz and just 700 spring Chinook projected for the Kalama River.

“Uncle Pete” Leading in the Roche Harbor Derby
After day one of the Roche Harbor Derby “Uncle” Pete Nelson is leading the derby board with a 16.7 pound blackmouth. Carter Whalen is in a very close second place with a 16.4 pound blackmouth and Derek Floyd and company are leading in the total weight category with 46 pounds 3 ounces. There’s still one more day to go in the two day derby and we’ll have more coverage and the final list of winners available on TheOutdoorLine.com.

Oly-Pen Salmon Derby Offers $22,000 in Cash
Tickets are on sale now for the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby happening February 16-18. The derby area extends from Freshwater Bay all the way to Port Ludlow and includes the banks in the Strait of Juan De Fuca and the western shore of Whidbey Island. Derby weigh stations are located at Freshwater Bay, Port Angeles, Sequim, Gardiner, and Port Townsend. Tickets are $40 apiece and derby chairman Dan Tatum expects well over 1,000 anglers to fish in the event, which boasts $22,000 in cash and prizes. John Otness from Tacoma won the event last year with a 17.60 pound blackmouth. The Outdoor Line will be fishing in the event and broadcasting live from Port Townsend next Saturday. For more information log onto GardinerSalmonDerby.org.

Hood Canal Derby Next Weekend
Tickets are on sale for the Bill Nik Memorial Derby next Saturday at Misery Point boat launch. The derby is ran by the Kitsap Poggie Club and boasts $2000 in cash and a ton of prizes. Last year’s derby was won by Shane Morrison with a 13.6 pound blackmouth he plucked from Hood Canal. Tickets are available at Kitsap Marina, Defiane Marine, Aqua Tech Marine, Brother Dons, Seabeck General Store, Papas Eats and Treats in Port Orchard, and Camp Union Saloon in Seabeck.

Maine Legislators Out to Ban Swim Baits
KeepAmericaFishing.org is reporting that legislators in Maine just introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of all “rubber” lures. The intent of the bill is to ban the soft plastic swim baits that most Maine anglers use every day. The bill would also ban the use of biodegradable swim baits, as well. Extensive tests have proven that plastic baits cause minimal problems for fish and they usually regurgitate them or pass them without problems.

REI Executive Named Secretary of the Interior
The Associated Press is reporting that President Obama just nominated REI’s Chief Executive Officer Sally Jewell as the new Interior Secretary. Jewell has helped push REI to nearly 2 billion in annual revenues and a place on Fortune Magazine’s “Best Places to Work”. The Interior Department manages more than 500 million acres in national parks and other public lands and more than 1 billion acres offshore. If confirmed by the Senate Jewell will replace current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has announced he will step down in March.

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

For the Love of the Game!

By Josiah Darr

Mountain climbing…. Back to the roots

When I was a wee little lad, barely cutting my tiny teeth in the world of steelhead fishing, I used to see the armada of drift boat launching at various points in the river and think to myself that there wasn’t anything better being in a drift boat. Of course I had only been in a drift boat a few times at that point in my life and I was barely old enough to drive. Plus pushing carts and carrying out groceries at the local Fred Meyers between baseball practices put me a long way from ever owning a boat. Hell, I couldn’t even afford a Sevlor blow up rubber raft that was sure to drowned me if I’d owned one. It’s probably better that I didn’t. So, to quench my thirst for the pursuit of the flawless electric flashes I’d felt so few times in my adolescent life, I took to the bank.

Summer, spring, winter, or fall…it didn’t matter. All that mattered was if it was a steelhead!

Never catching jack squat!

I started my banking career in a tiny unnamed creek that I don’t believe is even open for steelhead fishing anymore. Of course that wasn’t due to my steelhead fishing prowess. I didn’t catch jack! What I did do was learn how to fish. Where to put my body to cover certain pieces of water. How to raise and lower my rod tip to get the perfect drift through a likely looking spot. I learned the art of falling in while crossing more times than I care to elaborate on, but I learned every day what to do and what not to do.
I’ll never forget the first time a pitched too much pencil lead, a corky that looking back was way too big and bright for the size of this creek, and a cluster of eggs the size of my 14 year old balled up fist, into a swirly hole along side of a bridge abutment.

My friend Dan and I stood there in amazement as a flash like neither of us had ever seen came firing out from the shadow underneath the pillar, scarfed my eggs and disappear down a rapid before either of us knew what to do. The line came tight, the fish freaked out, Dan and I about peed ourselves and the fish was gone in a matter of a tenths of a seconds. It was over before it barely ever started, but that single unidentified flash lit a fire like a ember falling in an old hay loft. It was on…. I was hooked and I wasn’t going to stop until I felt that rush over and over again or until I wasn’t fun anymore…. That has never happened.

It was never about the number or the size. It was always about how much fun I was having.

The College Years

Besides being the most fun I ever had with my clothes on, and occasionally off, college was the perfect time to be completely irresponsible and use Uncle Sam’s dime to fish and much as humanly possible. Teachers didn’t take attendance, classes weren’t graded on participation and there was no mom and dad to give me that, “You should be doing something more productive with your time” look when I ditched a class and headed for the river. It was awesome.

It was the college years where my steelhead fishing skills were honed. They weren’t exactly razor blade dangerous, but I could pop a balloon or two if they held still.

With the limited success came learning…. I just got one. Or better yet, I hooked five today. What did I do to make that happen? What were the conditions? What day of the year is it?  What did I catch them on? The mental Rolodex of fishing information started to build and steelhead fishing became more of a math problem than a fishing trip. “If water level “A” + time of year “B” +  sand shrimp tail and a pink pearl corky “C”  all come together it should equal = steelhead “D”. That might have been the only math problem I learned in college, but unlike the ones that were taught in class, this one I was going to use over and over again for the rest of my life.

The more practice and the more techniques learned, the more arrows I had in the quiver.

Buying a Boat

It wasn’t long once I figure out how to earn a few bucks, I bought a drift boat. And the rest, as they say, is history. All the learning and tromping up and down moss covered rocks and the countless endos into root wads, sticker bushes, branches or whatever else God and left to soften my dismounts had finally been worth it. All that work climbing and learning and backlashing into tree behind me was over. Now I could float these mountainous raging rivers through the pristine glory that is steelhead water. I could position the boat where ever I wanted and cover every spot from the perfect angle time and time again until I was certain I’d caught every scaly critter in a run. I could float for miles at a time covering dozens and dozens of likely looking spots with the easy of simply pulling on the oars. I could….. wait…. All my friends are fishing…. Damn it!!! I’m just rowing!!! I’m back to never catching anything!!! This sucks!!!

Always a Brides Maid, Never the Bride!

The Guide Life

To rid myself of all the ungrateful friends and all the awesome times we had hanging out on the river, I got my guide license so I could fish with people who had more money. Of course I didn’t know them from Adam, but who cares? I was getting paid to fish. It seemed like a great idea at the time, and looking back it still was.

I’ve relearned more about the passion of the chase and the desire to learn and experience something I’ve done so many times. It’s awe was often lost on me and watching other people experience is brought it back for me. It’s that gleam and excitement that every guest bring to the boat with them that reinforced my love game. There’s nothing like it. It’s the greatest sport in the world.

There’s chance, there’s practice, there’s patience, there’s heartbreak, there’s pain and there’s love. Pure, unadulterated, unblemished, inspiring, life changing, love. A love that is hard to find or duplicate at any corner of the earth. A love that is so overwhelming it can steal a man’s mind for years and years even if he’s only felt it once for merely a second under a bridge with Dan when he was 14 years old.

I said I’d stop chasing steelhead when I stopped feeling the rush…. It still hasn’t happened.

…because watching someone else get the fish of a lifetime, is better than getting it yourself. Especially when that someone…. is your Dad.

Josiah Darr
The Outdoor Line “Young Gun”
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Hot Lap Around the Portland Sportsman Show

The Pacific Northwest Sportsman show is in full swing and the crowds thus far have been pretty impressive. This is the biggest Sportsman Show on the West coast and it’s well worth spending a day or two walking the isles.
I am down here once again, all week, manning the Pautzke booth with fellow Pro Staffers John Albrich and Brett Stuart.

There is never a shortage of folks stopping by to say Hi and ask questions relative to pretty much any bait that can be cured. It’s pretty convenient this year, as they moved our booth location with-in close proximity of the Bait Stage. I spend about an hour and a half each day doing the Pautzke Bait Lab seminar. My seminar has a little something for everyone, as we cover a handful of recipes on Eggs, Coon Shrimp, Tiger Prawn and Herring. You also walk away with a recipe packet and the knowledge of the “How-To” to be successful in curing any bait for Salmon and Steelhead.

This is the first year in a very long time that they decided to bring back the Steelhead River. This is a staple and well attended by many, for the Puyallup Sportsman Show. They finally brought it back down here to Oregon and the seminars have been nothing short of packed.

 Here is the one and only Buzz Ramsey, giving his well-known seminar on “Drift Fishing for Steelhead”, always a crowd pleaser.

I took a few minutes to catch up with our friends Scott and Tiffany Haugen. The Haugen’s are always great to talk to and one of the busiest outdoor couples that I know. I look forward to having them on the show again in the near future.

Here is my buddy Cody Herman, of Outdoor GPS down in Portland. Owin Hays and Cody, have been doing Outdoor GPS for a number of years which is a well-respected outdoor show that airs on Comcast Sports NW, several times a week. Cody has also started a new adventure with the creation of “Day One Outdoors”. Go to http://www.dayoneoutdoors.com/ to find out all about what Cody offers for both local and international trips relative to hunting a fishing.

Walking around the sportsman show you realize just how big this show actually is. In my opinion, it owns the bragging rights to the title, “Mini Boat Show”.

It also has an extremely large selection of ATV’s and RV’s like no other show.

Sometimes you stumble onto unique finds. I was amazed by the work of Joanne Graham of Gundog Productions. Joanne creates very life like replicas of your dog. I watched as she simply held onto a couple photographs of someone’s dog and began to create this very life like chalk portrait in no time. Great stuff and reasonably priced.

 Another gem of a find that everyone is grabbing a hold of is the very popular “Gun Mug”. OK not really, but something tells me that I know what Nelly and Robbo might be getting for Christmas in 2013.

 Something which was a bit of a surprise, was the running of the Rainer’s. Yep they are still around and if you had the luxury of growing up in the Northwest, then you are well familiar with the history of these Northwest icons.

We have talked about it on the show before and I was glad to see them here at the Expo Hall. Bore Snake is in the house. I was impressed with the fact that they actually make 27 different models to choose from which will pretty much cover any size of rifle, handgun or shotgun manufactured.

Of course all The Outdoor Line favorites are here; the Lowrance booth and learning center has been well attended.

Daiwa is here in full force and pretty much has a reel for anyone.

The latest with Cannon is here, the staff was on break, but they are available to answer any question you may have.

Of course our favorite rod manufacturer is here and believe it or not I actually caught the boss man himself John Posey, working the crowd… Looking good buddy…..

If you have never been here, you need to put forth the effort and check it out. There is a lot to see and do there are also tons of seminars everyday, given by the pros and they are all free. Do yourself a favor and make the drive…

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