Northwest Outdoor Report

Banks Heating up for the Anacortes Derby
Anacortes Derby chairman Jay Field says the banks in the Strait of Juan de Fuca have been putting out good numbers of fish lately. Anglers have been scoring blackmouth on the banks the last couple of weeks on whole and cut plug herring. He also recommended hitting the north end of Orcas and the west side of Orcas for a chance at a bigger blackmouth. Field reported that Rosario Strait has slowed down from what it was a month ago, but there are still a few to be in there too.

7 Percent of Springer Quota Taken by Sporties on Columbia
Thru last Sunday anglers have taken just 7 percent of the anticipated spring Chinook quota on the lower Columbia River. Despite favorable conditions fishing has been quite slow on the Columbia River for spring Chinook so far this season. The quota is set at 6,100 fish and the season is set to close on April 5 with closures on March 27th and April 2nd to allow for gillnetting.

Wolf Management Costs to Rise to $2.3 Million for 2013-2014
In wolf management related testimony in Olympia this past week WDFW wildlife manager Dave Ware told legislators that the cost of managing wolves in the state of Washington will rise to approximately $2.3 million dollars in 2013 and 2014. He said the cost for last year’s work alone was $750,000, but with an increase in the states wolf population those costs are expected to rise significantly. The cost to remove the Wedge Pack in Northeastern Washington was $77,000 alone. There are 51 confirmed wolves in Washington and the total population is likely just over 100.

Razor Dig Scheduled for Easter Weekend
WDFW just announced yet another razor clam dig for the Washington coast for next weekend. Twin Harbors will be open Thursday, March 28th and Sunday March 31st, and Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, and Mocrocks beaches will all be open on March 29th and 30th. These are perhaps the best tides of the entire winter for digging razor clams with low tides between 7:57 a.m. on Thursday and 10:16 a.m. on Sunday.

Surf Perch Hitting Clam Necks at Ocean Shores
Ben Rogers at Defiance Marine in Bremerton says razor clam diggers should bring their surf perch gear along with them when they head to the coast next weekend. He and a buddy have done really well on surf perch at Ocean Shores on the last couple of razor dig weekends. Rogers likes to use a two hook rig and run a clam neck on one hook and a sandshrimp on the other hook. Rogers likes to use bigger 2/0 baitholder hooks as they tend to hook bigger perch and he’ll run a 2 ounce pyramid sinker and a perch spreader rig. He says most of the tackle shops on the coast have perch spreader rigs which are really easy to use and keep the gear from getting tangled up in the surf. Next weekend’s clam tides are in the morning giving surf fishers plenty of time to catch perch in the afternoon.

Halibut and Lingcod Seminar at Three Rivers Marine
Don’t miss the halibut and lingcod seminar on April 6th at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville featuring John Beath. John will be discussing the benefits of using UV lures and techniques for catching trophy halibut and lingcod. Three Rivers Marine will be raffling off fishing gear at the event and smoking deals on halibut and lingcod gear. Mini-clinics start at 10:00 a.m. at the store and John Beath’s seminar begins at noon. Three Rivers Marine suggest you RSVP to get a seat at this event.

Muzzleloading Pioneer Tony Knight Dies at 67
Muzzleloading rifle innovator Tony Knight of Knight Rifles passed away last Monday at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. Knight modernized the muzzleloader rifle when he introduced the in-line muzzleloader in 1985. This endeavor would eventually earn him the distinction as the “father of in-line muzzleloading.” Knight is survived by his wife, two children, and four grand children.

Man Sends WDFW $6,000 Check for Poaching
Northwest Sportsman – Washington fish and wildlife officers say they’ve never seen anything like it: A $6,000 check out of the blue from a man who needed to clear his conscience about poaching three deer out of season more than 40 years ago. Apparently the man known only as Roy contacted WDFW officials in Spokane recently to ask how much the fine would be for illegally killing three deer. Officers told him the fine had gone up from around $200 in the late 60’s to approximately $2,000 per violation now. A week, or so, later WDFW recieved a check for $6,000 from the man who apparently was trying to clear his conscious after years of guilt. WDFW officials say they’ve never seen anything like and that it’s never too late to do the right thing.

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

Steelhead Flies – Fact and Fiction

By Dennis Dickson

I would venture to guess, one of my most asked questions, the most misunderstood answers in steelhead flyfishing is; “So what is the hot fly?”

Steelhead has an allure as an illegitimate son. His noble cousin Salmo Salar, the Atlantic Salmon has a rich and traditional past, fished by kings and nobleman. Steelhead was almost found by accident and early flyfishers knew very little of this great fish’s behavior and life history.

When we approach the topic of “Fly Effectiveness”, I always think of the words of the great steelhead flyfishing pioneer, Roderick Haig-Brown.

He said ” It is good to remember there will be a lot more steelhead caught on a piece of yarn, than all the fanciest flies ever fished”.

This is sage advice, for the angler that comes to me is looking to catch a steelhead, which means he is looking for a fly that will be successful and assumes that some flies, like lures, are more effective than others. He may even be hopefully assuming that the reason for his lack success to this point was, he is simply fishing with the wrong fly. Let me explain something. Flies don’t catch fish…people do. You see, steelhead have a disposition just this side of a large mouth bass. If a lure or fly is presented well, and Mr. Steelhead is in the mood, he will hit just about anything!

Does such a thing as a magic fly exist? Sorry, generally no. Can he prefer types and colors? Sometimes. My point here is not to lead you farther down the path of finding a “Mystery” fly, but rather to teach you to recognize a better constructed fly, coupled with better presentation and more confidence.

I am reminded of an incidence that happened to me up on the North Fork Stilly. I was standing up on a high bank watching a pair of anglers fishing their way down through a popular run at Boulder Creek. The dozen or so steelhead holding here, looked absolutely mesmerized, literally frozen in place. These poor anglers apparently had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at these fish to no avail. A small alder leaf happened to fall to the surface and tumbled in the current. A very nice hen just lifted to the surface, ate the leaf and coasted back down into her holding position. Now I am not advocating fishing with Alder leaves, but rather to make the point, its not the fly.

My guide flies tend to reflect the parameters of the waters I fish. Seasons, water temperature, sexual maturity, (the fish silly, not me), lighting, water clarity, fishing pressure and presentation are but a few parameters that may dictate the fly I choose. Now, before you become overwhelmed trying to compute all these variables into a logical decision let me simplify.

For each river I fish, in a particular water condition, I will fish maybe two or three different fly patterns. Here is a general overview, but before we go there let me re-emphasize….its not the fly.

Early Season Native winter steelhead.

The steelhead that swim our northwest waters in late winter are the large, wild, sexually maturing steelhead (even though he may be rock hard and nickel bright). He is a big brawley, aggressive steelhead. He enters when the rivers are generally running full, and the water is cold. A larger fly will not scare him. Number 2’s and 1/0 are about right. I like to fish flies that swim well. I tell my anglers that if they ever loose confidence in the fly just bring in next to them and watch it play in the currents. A well balanced fly should look alive in the water. Unless I am fishing really dirty water I believe that less is more. The greatest knock that I see with the guys that meet me on the river is the flies they have bought or tied are so overdressed the thing looks more like a lure than a fly. Easy on the flash.

I tend to fish subtle colors like purple, cherise, and blue when the water is clear and bright and black colors when the water is off color. Stiff patterns like the General Practitioner, Poacher, Skunks, and other hair wings are good in the streamy currents that provide lots of action and a good silhouette of the bug. Marabou, bunny leeches, and spey patterns are excellent in the softer flows.

I pay particular attention to fly construction and I will admit, some of my ties are a little unorthodox. Why? Because many flies on the market today are tied to please the angler. The fly I hand to a client, well, it better please the steelhead. Different tying materials will react differently in the river currents and it’s good to know, what does what. For example, marabou plays seductively in mild currents but tends to collapse to strong flows. Hair wing patterns show very little action in soft water, but maintain a great profile and a lively action in streamy flows. Fly construction then is important to fly action, and fly action triggers fish.

I am reminded of an experience on the Skykomish River some ten years ago. I used to spend my March guiding anglers there. It was catch and release and the Sky steelhead enter early. I was fishing a couple gentlemen along this popular gravel bar pool when I happened to look down and find a fly that had fallen off someone’s vest. (I personally think these fly patches are a flyshop conspiracy because there is a lot more flies lost falling off the drying patch than from the river, itself).

I am always curious of other angler ties and I picked it up. I could tell immediately this fly was from a serious flyfisher. This fly was tied on a 2/0 iron, traditional upturned eye hook. (I don’t particularly like these hooks because the angle of attack is wrong at the eye, and the diameter of the metal is too fat) This cagey guy answered both these problems by breaking off the eye and tying in his own braided loop eye. He had also filed his hook point down to a long taper edged on three sides. This angler was good. I then began to examine the fly for color and action. I noticed it was tied fairly sparsely and instead of the long webby marabou that is so popular, but fouls in the hook so easily, he used the shorter chickabou.

The number one knock in materials like spey feathers and marabou is it fouls easily around the hook in the water. This kills the action of the fly. Any time you have a feather that extends beyond the bend of the hook, you risk fouling your material. Some of the most artsy twenty-hour flies are poor fish producers because they foul when fishing.

What should you do? Get to know your fly material. Different fly materials react differently in river flows. I mentioned a couple characteristics of marabou. Bunny fur tends to pooch out, shlappen feathers breath nicely but can also foul. I have swam many a fly (to my patient wife’s chagrin), in the bath tub while the water is turned on. It works really well. If the fly is going to foul it will do it here.

I like to think of the fly in two parts. Any material tied at the rear end of the hook is not going to foul. That’s why most tarpon patterns are tied in this fashion. Epoxy bait fish flies carry a good silhouette but are anti fouling because of the material – it’s hard to the bend of the hook. You should realize that any free flowing material ahead of the hook bend can and will foul if it extends past the rear of the hook. Try the bathtub test. You can see what your flies are actually doing as you nose it up to the turbulent flow.

Another Guide Trick:

“Show them something different.” The popular Blue/Purple marabou that you see in the shops today, is a fly I developed in the early days of the Sauk River, C&R. There was at that time, a goodly number of gear fisherman throwing the tradition bright colors of orange and florescent green in those days. Flyfishing winter fish was new. Even the most ardent flyfishers would often choose their gear rods over their fly rods at this time of year.I noticed that when the water was clear a guide buddy of mine was doing very well with a blue/purple Hot Shot plug. Now that was different. I simply copied the color combination in a marabou pattern. You talk about work. Those clear water fish went nuts for it. To this day, if I don’t mention what fly to start with, many of my long time clients will fish the blue/purple. Why? Shows the steelhead something a bit different from all that color everybody else is chucking.

Here are a few of my pet winter steelhead fly patterns:

Cop Car

Intruder

Articulated Flies

General Practitioner

Popsicle

Will steelhead ever show preferences in color and construction? Occasionally, but even for all these trick fly patterns you are generally better off to simply look for a fly that swims well for the waters you are fishing. Have just enough color to get his attention, fish it well, and let Mr. Steelhead do the rest.

Please feel free to check out more of our steelhead flies at Streamsideflyshop.com

Best of fishing!

Dennis Dickson
Dickson Flyfishing Steelhead Guides
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

Boat trailering: Cougar Style!

Meet Robert Lee Tobeck:

His resume is very impressive. Academic All American lineman at Washington State University, Pro Bowl center of the Seattle Seahawks during the highpoint of the franchise history: the 2006 Superbowl and former host of The Outdoor Line Radio Show.

Unfortunately, none of this tremendous life experience has prepared him for what has now become the greatest challenge of his life: Boattrailerautism.

Boattrailerautism or “BTA” is a fisherman’s developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of boat ownership and affects the brain’s normal development of mechanical, spacial and navigational skills. Most fishing buddies of the boattrailerautistic suspect that something is amiss when angry motorists pull up alongside, gesturing and yelling. In extreme cases of BTA, one may even observe the occurance of the dreaded “missing fender” syndrome.

Quite unfortunately, I was to bear witness to Tobeck’s latest BTA flare-up on what was to be merely a simple transducer installation. We met at his marina and due to high winds, Robbie was unable to get the boat on the trailer by himself so he requested my assistance and I was only too happy to help my friend out.

Tobeck’s trailer for his 30-foot Seaswirl Striper “Salmon Hawk” is a monster 5th wheel style extra heavy duty model with a “goose neck” design which requires the hitch to be placed directly above the rear axle to reduce tongue weight and increase trailer maneuverability.

While I remained ground level to crank the trailer up to above the ball height, Tobeck backed the truck up and then jumped in to hook up the lights, safety chains and secure the hitch…or so I thought…

We towed the empty trailer about 100 yards to the ramp and I jumped in Robbie’s boat to drive it on the trailer. Once the boat was secured to the trailer winch and cranked up tight, Tobeck returned to the truck. Little did we know that the unfortunate malady BTA was about to rear it’s ugly and mortifyingly embarrassing head.

I remained aboard as Robbie pulled the boat and trailer up the ramp. As the trailer started bearing the weight of the boat, I happened to be looking forward and BOOM!!! Simultaneously the trailer hitch jumped off the ball, landing in the bed of his truck as a geyser of Starbucks coffee hit the inside of Tobecks windshield.

Someone other than my friend Tobeck then emerged from the truck, hurling a blue streak of epithets and dripping with the remains of his mocha.

“Thank goodness for safety chains” was all I could utter as the bed of Tobeck’s new truck now appeared to be,…well… used.

As we cranked the tongue winch up, the hitch came up alright but the truck bed remained somewhat depressed.

Once we got the hitch back on the ball we found that Tobeck has a little bowl in the center of his truck bed that, once filled with rainwater, will be a handy and very mobile bird bath!

Always good natured -until he’s not- the Crimson Crusader takes his Boattrailerautism in stride and lets this latest “flare-up” roll off his back.

The rest of the morning and the transducer installation proceeded without incident. Heck, it could have been a lot worse….It could have been my fault!!!

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

 

Springer School!

Just as every northwesterner counts down the waning days of winter looking forward to spring, salmon anglers eagerly await the arrival of our earliest running chinook affectionately known as “springers”.

Trying to fit the four-hour springer sojurn to the Columbia into a busy schedule is challenging enough. Add to that the inconsistent, early season springer fishing reports and the term “forcing the issue” comes to mind.

After Saturday morning’s weekly installment of The Outdoor Line Radio Show and then the annual Master Marine Spring Seminar in Mt Vernon, “The Commish” Larry Carpenter and I hooked up to Big Red and did some I-5 time, launching in the Columbia just before dark.

A Columbia River Sunday morning sunrise greets us. We had great baits -and great attitudes- working early and late…

 

Unfortunately for us, despite great bait and a long effort, we would not get a single bite on Sunday. Mark Coleman of All Rivers Guide Service was the only guide boat we saw land a fish. Here is Mark and his happy clients with a springer right under the I-5 Bridge.

 

Enter my ol’ buddy Eric Linde for a little technique refresher… “springer school” if you will… Eric and his clients had a tough day on Sunday as well and since he didn’t have clients on Monday, he agreed to jump onboard Big Red for the Monday morning bite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes,… true to form, on the second drag of the day Eric’s rod lit up and no matter how hard he tried to pass off the rod, no one would accept it! We “made” him play the fish!

 

I’m pretty sure there was no more experienced net man on the entire Columbia River that day than Larry Carpenter. Here he checks traffic ahead while he waits for Eric to get control of a hot springer.

 

Just one more run alongside the boat….

 

…and our first Columbia River springer of the season is in the bag!

 

Nothing quite says “chrome” like a St. Patty’s Day springer. Eric Linde’s smile says it all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are springers a lot bigger than this one, but what he lacks in size, he will more than make up in taste on the table tonight!!!

 

This year’s springer season is just getting cranked up. We’re guarenteed a season in the main stem of the Columbia through April 5th. After that, we’re at the mercy of an in-season update which may result in more days on the Columbia, but probably not until May. The Willamette, Wind and Drano Lake will remain open through April but keep in mind that until we see springer numbers over Bonneville in excess of 2000/day, the Bonne pool “bubble” fisheries will not be worth the drive.

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I have to put a springer on the “Bar-bie”

Tom Nelson

TheOutdoorLine.com

710 ESPN Seattle

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

I-5 Stretch Producing Springers on the Columbia
Eric Linde from Linde’s Sportfishing in Vancouver, Washington says that about a third of the boats are catching springers on any given day on the Columbia and traffic has been light so far. Linde says he’s been getting a few bites a day fishing just above Interstate 5 near Portland International Airport. His go to setup so far this season has been a green label herring behind a chartruese Fish Flash. Linde expects the fishing to continue to get better in the coming weeks.

Chelan Cranking out Phat Kokes
Don Talbot at Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee says the Kokanee fishing on Lake Chelan is starting to heat up. He said the Kokanee are running in the 16 to 17 inch range and most of the action has been taking place around Wapato Point and Rocky Point. Talbot also likes to troll the area between Wapato Point and First Creek in about 300 of feet of water, targeting the water column between 50 and 100 feet to find kokes. He said to use a pink and white mini-Ace Hi Fly tipped with white shoe peg corn behind a Luhr Jensen 50/50 dodger. He also like to run a couple of larger size 1 hooks with his hoochie rig, as it helps to keep these soft-mouthed fish on the line. Don said to be sure to swing into Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee to get help rigging up any of the troll gear necessary to catch Kokanee on Lake Chelan.
Use Swim Baits to Target Sea Bass off Ocean Shores Jetty
John Martinis at John’s Sporting Goods in Everett has gotten some great reports from the jetty at Ocean Shores last weekend. Martinis has a tackle shop customer that’s been catching his limit of nice sea bass casting swim jigs off the jetty. John says the go-to lure is a 4 inch red-flake motor oil twin tail grub rigged with a 2 ounce jighead. The successful angler has been walking to the end of the jetty on days when the weather is nice and working the jig over the submerged rocks.  Martinis says to wear foul weather gear and to watch the weather carefully though, as the surf often pounds across the jetty at Ocean Shores. Martinis notes that ling cod season opens today in Marine Area 2 and the jetty’s are a great place to find them also.

Catch and Release Only for Sturgeon Starting in 2014
Starting May 1st recreational fisherman will be limited to one white sturgeon per year in Washington. By 2014 new regulations require the release of all white sturgeon in Puget Sound, its tributaries, the Washington coast and the Lower Columbia River below Bonneville Dam. The new rules were adopted to address drastic declines in the population of white sturgeon in Washington state the last five years. Catch and release fishing will still be allowed for white sturgeon in all the effected areas.

Spot Shrimp Seasons Announced
Recreational shrimp fishers will get more days to fish and a larger share of the catch in areas of Puget Sound under fishing seasons announced by WDFW. The spot shrimp season is set to begin May 4th and will run from one day to several days longer in areas of the Sound due to policy changes recently adopted by WDFW to give recreational shrimpers a larger percentage of the overall quota. In the San Juan Islands the shrimp fishery could be open for more than a month in Marine Area 7-West and the shrimp season is expected to run for 13 days in Marine Areas 7-East and 7-South, up from just 6 days last year. Hood Canal and Discovery Bay shrimp seasons will be open a total of 5 days this year and Marine Areas Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10 and 11 will be open two days this year. Please log onto the WDFW website for a complete listing of the new shrimp seasons.

47 Lakes Stocked with Trout
With Spring Break fast approaching WDFW is stocking dozens of lakes in Washington with more than 250,000 rainbow trout. The 10 to 12 inch trout will be stocked into year-round lakes in Grays Harbor, Thurston, Pierce, Mason, Kitsap, Island, King and Snohomish Counties. The State is planting the lakes to give families a chance to get out fishing over spring break and to give them a chance to tune up their gear before main trout opener on April 27th. A complete list of the lakes being stocked can be found on the WDFW website.

Blackman’s Lake Planted with Triploids
The Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club just planted Blackman’s Lake in Snohomish County with about 200 triploid trout ranging in size from one and a half to as large as six pounds. Blackman’s lake is on the north edge of Snohomish County and has a large fishing pier and an improved boat launch.

Little League Raffles off an AR-15 in Illinois
Associated Press – A youth baseball league in the eastern Illinois town of Atwood wasn’t happy with the previous fundraiser’s it’s held to raise money for the league, so they’ve decided to raffle off an AR-15 assault rifle. A local gun shop owner provided the Rock River Arms AR-15 for the league, which is in bad need of baseball equipment that it can’t afford. Charidy Butcher of Atwood Armory is the shop that donated the gun and they said the raffle is going gangbusters. They’re phone has been ringing non-stop since 4:30 in the morning the day after the AR-15 raffle item was announced. Butcher says the lucky winner of the AR-15 will need to have a background check and will need an Illinois Firearm’s Owner I.D. card to get the gun.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
TheOutdoorLine.com

Gearing Up for an Alaska Charter Season

It’s March 13th and while I should be thinking about steelhead fishing or something “current” my mind is already preoccupied with all the little things that could make my life easier on the boat this summer in Southeast Alaska. If you didn’t already know I own and operate Prince of Wales Sportfishing in Craig, Alaska during the summer months. I leave the Outdoor Line radio show in the trusted hands of the very-capable Tom Nelson and head north to Alaska to make a living doing what I love…fishing.

You’d think after ten plus years of running charters in Alaska I would have just about every gizmo known to man. That’s partially true, but there’s always something that will put more fish in the boat, provide a higher level of safety for my customers, and possibly make my job easier.

Here are just a few of the items that are on order for the coming saltwater charter season in Alaska:

I just picked up two new retractable steps from North River Boats for getting into and out of my 28′ aluminum charter boat, the “Polar Bear”. It’s a long step down from the dock to the deck of the boat and stepping onto a bucket, well, that just isn’t safe. It’s high time I installed some of these steps to make that transition in and out of the boat a lot easier. Plus, I’m not a spring chicken anymore and these steps are just as much for me as our guests.

A new custom bait station is on order from Three Rivers Marine and Tackle in Woodinville, Washington. The constant bending over cutting herring or simply reaching down to pluck a cut plug herring out of the cooler can put a serious strain on your back. Last summer I went thru 20 cases of bait, which means I had to bend down around 8,800 times. That, folks, is a recipe for major back problems.

The bait station will attach to the stern of the “Polar Bear” and can be adorned with any number of attachments. I’m thinking cup holders and rod holders on the side will work great. I’m very much looking forward to this upgrade to the boat.

Good luck trying to find one of these in Alaska. This is a long-shanked stainless hook remover that happens to be built by Calcutta, although there are several others on the market that also work. When we’re salmon fishing in certain areas we are constantly, and I mean constantly having to release ping-pong-paddle sized halibut and this tool is a must for that chore. Reaching down the throat of a gyrating halibut with mooching hooks flying everywhere results in barbed hooks right where you don’t want them…in your hand. This tool is a must for that task!

I’ve got two Lowrance HDS Touch 9’s going on the boat this summer too. I mounted a Touch 7 on my jet boat this winter and all I can say is this machine is the cat’s ass. They are super easy to operate and have a much brighter display than the Gen 2 HDS 10’s that are currently mounted on the charter boat. I thought the 10’s were bright…I will have no problem seeing these all the way from the stern of the boat. If you’ve operated a touch screen iPhone you will have no problem dialing in one of these units.

A Lowrance 4G radar will replace the 3G radar that’s mounted on the boat now. These broadband radars don’t require any warm-up time and the image you get with this technology is second-to-none. My Lowrance gear has treated me great over the years and I have the same high expectations for the new Touch 9’s and 4G radar that I’ll be mounting on the boat in May.

I’m making the switch to Daiwa Saltist line counter reels this summer. I’ve used their spinning and small levelwinds for years for steelhead and salmon fishing on the rivers in Washington and they have never let me down. I have some old Daiwa Laguna spinning reels that are pushing a decade old and remarkably they still work. That’s unheard of for a spinning reel that get’s that much abuse!

The new Saltist’s are built with a one-piece aluminum frame, alloy gears, and a drag that can hold up to 22 pounds of pressure. You simply can’t test them in a more harsh environment than Southeast Alaska and I’m hopeful that these reels will perform just as well as all the other Daiwa products I’ve used over the years.

I finally broke down and added Cannon downriggers to the charter boat last summer and I am so glad that I did. The fish were scattered early in the season and we tore up the king salmon using Cannon DT5 downriggers to cover large chunks of water. We simply couldn’t have covered that much water mooching.

This year I’m upgrading to Cannon DT10 downriggers for one very important reason…they have the Bottom Track feature. I’ve used this on my partner Tom Nelson’s boat on numerous occasions and it’s nothing short of a lethal weapon.

In the beginning I was skeptical of this new gizmo and being the stubborn sort I decided to run the downrigger on my side of the boat manually while Tom ran his on Bottom Track. What was the end result after multiple days of testing? He soundly kicked my ass. Bottom Track is da bomb!

Another news bit about Cannon downriggers is that they just redesigned their boom-ends, so they won’t jump out of the track. This is welcome news!

That’s just a little taste of what I’ve been up to folks. I’ll be diving into a huge pile of Mustad 92568 black nickel hooks here shortly too, as I begin the task of pre-tying all of our mooching leaders for an entire summer of hardcore saltwater fishing. More on that later.

Good fishing to you and thanks for stopping by!

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

 

Beau Mac Floats, More Options Then Ever

I have been a big fan of Beau Mac Floats for years. For me, I’m sold on the quality and the variety of floats now offered by Beau Mac.

I look for several things when I am looking for a quality float. First and foremost is durability. I don’t like fishing floats that can’t take a little abuse and stay intact over the course of a tough day of fishing.

When you take a lot of buddies fishing your float’s get abused because, well, that’s what your buddies do to your gear. This wouldn’t happen if they were simply cast into the water. It’s the amount of time my floats spend in trees, banged against rocks and the shoreline that tends to beat’em up a bit. And no, I’m not talking about me…

Another key point that I like about Beau Mac floats is the color or the color contrast that they have. The vibrant colors at the top end of their floats not only make it possible for you to see your float, but it’s also an indicator as to how deep your float should be floating on top of the water. This indicates that you have your float weighted properly.

With so many styles of floats and weight ratings on floats how do I decide which float to use and when? One thing is for certain, not all floats are created equal. Several floats may perhaps be marked 5/8ths oz. but they actually perform completely different when rigged exactly the same in your presentation.

Let’s take a look at some of the floats Beau Mac now offers and I’ll identify some practical applications for each type or style of float.

One of the more popular styles of float and one of my favorites for my go-to technique of float-doggin with a stick lead is an in-line sliding float. For a majority of the season, for both salmon and steelhead, I match a 5/8 ounce float with my stick lead which weighs on average about .42 ounce.

As a comparison this is very close in weight to a four bead slinky. Keep in mind that with this presentation we are dragging the weight. That is why you have a float that is rated much higher then the weight you are actually matching to the float.  At times for summer steelhead I have cut the stick lead in half and then I’ll match it with a smaller 3/8 ounce float. Beau Mac’s In-Line Slider float has a wide range of weights starting at 1/4 ounce going up in 1/4 oz. increments to 1 oz.

The new Beau Mac wood floats are an extremely nice float too. If you’re looking for durability, this is the one. The wood is extremely tough and it does not crack easily. The brass inserts on both the top and bottom prevent line from cutting into the float. The brass inserts also ensure that the float slides extremely well.

My ideal conditions for this float application is fishing any presentation vertically. The wood float works very well for jigs, but it also is well suited for fishing bait suspended. The torpedo design makes for a float that goes down on a fish take with little to no resistance and the weight of the float aids in cast-ability when fishing small jigs.

As with all floats match your float, jig and in-line weight so that the float rides correctly in the water. With a 5/8 ounce float fishing a 3/8 oz. jig you should use a 1/4 ounce Beau Mac in-line sinker to get the proper presentation.

Even though this is a 5/8 ounce float it’s not what I will use for float dogging. It’s labeled 5/8 ounce as is the foam 5/8 ounce that I use. However, the difference in buoyancy is just enough that the wood float will not stay up where I like them to be in the water column while dragging weight.

The new Beau Mac clear floats are a very good choice for multiple steelhead fishing applications. One thing to keep in mind is that these floats are marked in grams (gms). Here is a simple conversion to memorize: 20g = 0.70oz, 25g = 0.88oz, 30g = 1.05oz.

The clear floats come in several sizes. I have had great success using the 25 gram float for float doggin and the 20 gram is great for fishing jigs. I will definitely use the 30 gram for fall salmon, fishing bait suspended under a float.

These clear floats are a great choice for low clear conditions or even moderately clear conditions anytime. They are extremely tough and I haven’t had any issues with the floats separating and filling with water. I think if you check these out you’ll also be impressed with the retail price.

Beau Mac also offers a great selection in their torpedo float design. There are several sizes and weights to choose from. I have used the torpedo floats for both float doggin and fishing jigs. I find the in-line slider to be a much more durable float for float doggin and really like the torpedo design for jigs or fishing bait suspended. The narrow taper allows for even the lightest biters to take your offering without feeling the resistance of the float. They are also extremely easy to retrieve as they do not create a lot of drag on the water. The shorter  and more round taper style is also a good choice on lakes for trout or spiny-ray fisheries.

Beau Mac offers the complete system for float fishing. You have a couple of options when it comes to Beau Mac bobber stops. The dacron thread stoppers work great on braid and they also work well as a line marker on your plug rods for knowing the distance of line you have out. Simply measure an equal distance of line on your reels for your plug rods and slide on and secure a bobber stop. You can even use multiple colors perhaps marking with a bright green stopper at 30 feet and a bright pink at 40 feet.

When I rig up my rods with a top shot of mono for float doggin, I will always run my bobber stops on the monofilament. This is where the rubber stoppers come in and work very well. You only need to remember a couple things when choosing which stopper to use. The dacron stops don’t work well on mono, so use the rubber stops if your using monofilament or flourocarbon. The rubber stops don’t work well on braid, so use the dacron stops on braid.

There ya go…..Hopefully some of this info helps you decide on which style of float to use specific to the application or technique you are trying to master.

Beau Mac is a great local tackle company that’s been around for decades and best of all they make gear specific to our fishing needs here in the Pacific Northwest. Their floats work for me and I’m sure you’ll find them to your satisfaction too.

See ya on the water!

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
Theoutdoorline.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockfish Submersion Devices Required for SE Alaska Charters in 2013

One of the regulations that’s been looming for a while for sportfishing charters in Southeast Alaska is the requirement to use rockfish descenders for all rockfish caught that aren’t going to be kept. These devices will be required on all charter vessels for the summer of 2013. That’s me…I’m a charter guy in the summer!

While it’s going to be somewhat onerous to connect a rockfish up to the device and send it back down to a safe depth before releasing it I’m firmly behind this new rule. I grew up fishing in Washington’s Puget Sound and if you don’t know how many rockfish are left in the sound I’ll tell ya…very damn few!

We didn’t have this rule sooner because no one knew exactly what submersion method was best for the fish. After a lot of experimentation with fizzing needles and milk crates, to name a few of the test methods, biologists finally landed on this type of device.

Some of the gents associated with this rockfish catch and release project tell me that 50 to 60 feet of depth was all that was needed to relieve barotrauma and get these precious bottomfish headed in the right direction. And get this, they had a more than 90 percent success rate during the study. The regulations state that fish need to be released at a depth of at least 100 feet, so I’m guessing that fatality will be next to nothing.

The device in the photo above is made by Shelton Products and it’s had great reviews. You can either order one directly from Shelton or build one yourself. Ron Garner, President of the Puget Sound Anglers here in Washington, has been building them with a large Siwash barbless hook, a couple pounds of lead, and a large snap swivel. I think a pipe jig with an upside down barbless hook attached to it would also work.

Most of the bottomfish that live in Southeast Alaska waters live a very, very long time and releasing them alive is a good thing for the long haul and the sustainability of charter fishing. If using this device means that my daughter can enjoy rockfishing with me in the years to come I’m all for it. I also want to continue taking all of you fishing, as well.

Good fishing!

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

Northwest Outdoor Report

Cowlitz Slow for Steelhead, Columbia Picking Up for Springers
Justin Leach at Bob’s Sporting Goods in Longview says the fishing has been really slow on the Cowlitz for steelhead. Leach says the guys that are catching fish on the Cowlitz right now are working extremely hard for them. He says most of the guides are catching just a couple of steelhead a day for four or five rods. The springer bite in the Portland area, however, has picked up quite a bit this past week. Leach said he’s heard reports of springers in the Lower Cowlitz around the Camelot area, as well.

The Year of Big Fish Continues in Forks
Bill Meyer of Anglers Guide Service in Forks said he taped three steelhead in the mid-20’s last week and he heard of several more trophy class steelhead being caught by other local guides. Meyer’s customers caught two of the big steelhead on the Sol Duc and the third one came out of the Calawah River. He said to time your fishing with the rains on the coast for the best chance at good fishing.

Blackmouther’s Still Catching Fish in the San Juans
Kevin John from Holiday Sports in Burlington is reporting decent blackmouth fishing on the banks and on the northern side of the islands around Parker Reef and Pt. Thompson. He says the fishing seems to have slowed down quite a bit in the Rosario Strait, which has been producing fish all winter. Kevin’s top choices in the Strait of Juan de Fuca would be Coyote, Hein, Eastern, and Salmon banks. He said most of the blackmouth have been falling to either cut plug or whole herring or small spoons and hoochies.

Kokanee on the Surface at Lake Stevens
Marcy Rockenbach at Gregs Custom Tackle in Lake Stevens says the kokanee fishing is starting to pick up on Lake Stevens. She says the fish have been really shallow and anglers are catching them flatlining Dick Nite spoons, Apex lures, or wedding rings tipped with shoe peg corn or Berkley artificial maggots. Marcy says the fish are averaging around 10 to 12 inches and that the numbers of fish being caught has really picked up this past week.

Trout Still Biting on American Lake
Mike Barr at Bills Boathouse on American Lake said that anglers are still catching nice rainbow trout off the boathouse dock. He said there’s been some nice trout in the 16 to 17 inch range and they’re mostly hitting Berkley Power Egg’s in yellow or lemon lime. Mike hit the lake for Kokanee yesterday and didn’t come up with anything. Barr says the kokanee bite usually starts to pick up around early April.

Yet Another Razor Dig this Weekend
State fishery managers have approved another razor clam on the Washington coast this weekend. Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, and Mocrocks beaches will be open today and tomorrow and Twin Harbors beach will remain open thru Monday. Todays low tide is at 4:50 p.m., tomorrows tide is 6:33 p.m., and Mondays tide at Twin Harbors is at 7:12 p.m..

Poachers Busted in Okanogan
Wenatchee World – State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers seized 9 trophy deer heads from a poacher in Okanogan last Friday. A 10th deer head was recovered last month. Officers say the killing was the work of a poaching ring made up of several individuals working together to poach trophy bucks. Both mule deer and whitetail deer were taken and all of them were 4 point or better. One impressive buck was a 5 by 6 with an impressive 29 inch spread. Those arrested in the case face a fine of up to $6,000 per animal.

New Product Allows Mushers to Go…on the Go
With the 2013 Iditarod dog sled race underway in Alaska this past week some of the female mushers are testing out a new product called Pee Pants. Pee Pants are described as a combination of bicycle shorts, a funnel, and a tube that pokes out next to the mushers boot. The women mushers testing the product are hoping the invention will allow them fewer pit stops along the 1,000 mile long Iditarod trail. Pee Pants were developed by a North Carolina doctor seeking to provide a more pleasurable outdoor experience for women. You can find Pee Pants online at MyPeePants.com!

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

Flyfishing Leaders – The Steelhead Connection

By Dennis Dickson

I would like to think my success in helping anglers find and catch steelhead has improved over time. I will openly admit, as a biologist I study  “cause and effect”, “stimulus and response”. I don’t mind adhering to tradition as long as my personal experience concludes that it is the most effective way to fish. My assignment as a flyfishing guide is quite simple, attach angler to fish.

There are elements of flyfishing equipment I am fairly flexible on. For example, I was a G Loomis pro staff and so are some of my rods. I personally don’t care if the rods you fish are Sage, Scott, Loomis, or whatever. Single-handed, double, it doesn’t really matter. Waders: You should be comfortable, and they shouldn’t leak.

I do get fussy about items that can determine the outcome in hooking and or landing steelhead. These components are; hooks, leaders, flylines, and reels.

Today I will talk specifically about the leaders for sink-tip lines.The sink-tip leader has several functions but the three critical parameters for steelhead are; abrasion, tinsel strength, and camouflage.

Let me preface these remarks by saying I am going to speak speak from personal experience of teaching fly fishing hundreds of days a year. Ever want to find out how good you really are? Spend one week taking a new angler out each day, try and coach them into a steelhead. You will find out real quick, what you know, and what you think you know. I don’t say, what I teach is the only way to approach steelhead, but these techniques must be effective, because we do find the fish.

Leaders are broken down into two categories: Those on floating lines, for fishing in or on the surface and leaders attached to a sinktip. Today, I am only going to address sink-tip leaders.

Sinktip Leaders: Tradition in steelhead fly fishing says that to fish close to the river bottom, leaders must be short. (Less than 5 feet in length). Tradition also says steelhead are not leader shy and you can fish leaders as thick as you want.

On the other hand, experience has taught me to adapt to the river conditions I fish. If fishing during spring runoff with less than 3 feet visibility, I know I could probably tie the fly on the end of the fly-line and these new fish  wouldn’t care. My dirty water leaders are usually less than 4 feet long.

Do steelhead ever find conditions where they do care? Yep. A good example may be the time was fishing the Sauk river a few years ago. Conditions found the water that day both low and clear. Fish were skittish at best.

You see, steelhead didn’t grow to maturity by being stupid, they know when conditions are such where they feel secure. They also catch on fast and know when they feel “exposed”.

Low lighting such as found at daylight and dusk find steelhead holding and moving through soft and or shallow waters. They know predators can’t see them. Dirty water does the same thing. Why do I enjoy fishing off colored water for native steelhead? Because that’s when the really big boys feel comfortable about lying in close to shore. Why can the Dawn Patrol fish with light sinktips and thick dark leaders? Because at first light, the unmolested steelhead are lying in soft shallows and these fish can’t see the leaders.

As conditions in the day change to bright and sunny, the water clears and angling pressure increases, steelhead naturally move to waters that are deeper and faster. Line shadow and boat shadow can both produce hide and seek conditions.

I grew up fishing the Stilly North Fork. This little river becomes gin clear through the summer and angling pressure can really wise these fish up. That same leader that did just fine in the security conditions can send these mid day gin clear fish a scurrying. (My low lighting summer time sink-tip leader is generally about 6 feet.) So what does Joe angler think when sun gets high and his short leaders won’t work?  “Fish won’t bite”.

Solution: You can extend your fishing day significantly by changing your leader length and material. How long will I go? Out to nine feet. I can almost hear you now. “A nine foot sink-tip leader? You must be nuts! you can’t get a fly down on a 9 foot leader.”

It used to be a trade secret, but I learned long ago, these longer leaders accomplish depths simply by using compact weighted flies. By the by, that new fluorocarbon mono leader material that was originally built for lakes, and saltwater flats is awesome camouflage in clear water conditions. Same principle.

Now here is the rub:

These same leader materials that have smaller diameter and camo so well are not what I prefer to use in sink-tips conditions. Many tend to be brittle and have little abrasion tolerance. – not good for fishing your flies in and around the rocks. But if and when the water goes to clear that new fluorocarbon that has revolutionized gill netting is getting the bite, I will take my chances on a broken leader.

What leader gives me good abrasion factor and camouflages well? For sinktips I fish Maxima Ultra Green, until the water goes to 15 feet visibility, then I go to Max. Clear. Max. The camouflage is hopefully fine under normal “feel secure” conditions.

If you are having trouble hooking steelhead in “exposed conditions”, instead of telling yourself “they just aren’t biting”, try changing your leader up a little. What do you have to lose?

Here is a summary of my favorite knots for steelhead sink-tipping:

Knots

Nail Knot:  

This description shows tying directly into the fly line end. For steelhead & tarpon, I prefer doubling the fly line end into a loop and whip finishing it with the nail knot thus making this fly line/leader connection twice as strong.  Its only down-side is that the connection is also twice as bulky going thru the rod tip guide, while landing a fish. A solution: If you find yourself pulling the fly line/leader connection into the rod while your big fish is in close and he decides to make that one last run, try rolling your rod over (reel up) thus inverting the guides, and the connection should pass easily through the rod tip. “Knot Sense” or better yet, “Aquaseal” over the knot will both protect the knot and build a smooth line/leader transition.

Butt Leader Knot: Instead of tying a round perfection loop on the leader butt, try the double surgeon loop. It’s faster and easier to tie, especially with cold hands. Makes a nice loop-to-loop connection with the fly line in my opinion.

Leader/leader connection: Double Surgeon Knot

I know, I know. There is a myriad of leader to leader connections. The blood knot being the most popular. It’s not the knot I use and this is why. My son Mike and I teach some 300-500 new anglers the sport of flyfishing each year. Couple that with a full guiding itinerary and you are talking some busy guys. Sorry, I digress. Anyway, when you spend this much time teaching, you have to break it down. …Keep it simple. The only leader to leader knot we teach is the double (and triple) surgeon. Why? Its simple, strong and anglers pick it right up. Blood knots are nice, maybe a little straighter, but not stronger, and not easier to tie.

Leader/fly connections:

Duncan Loop [Uni-Knot]:

Ok, for all you clinch knot people, listen up, I am about to show you a knot that has not failed me in the past 30 years. (all the clinch knots have) fly-boys call it the “Duncan Loop’  everybody else calls it the “Uni-knot”.

I use this connection on all my steelhead sink-tipping, but I do it with a modification. Tie the knot as normal, but instead of cinching it all the way to the fly, pinch the leader with thumb and finger, right in front of the fly. pull the knot down to your thumbnail and you have a n open loop. Fly will swim more naturally until the fish grabs it, loop closes, and knot holds. I don’t bother to fish this open loop with an articulated or marabou streamer because the back end the fly is wiggling independently, anyway.

Non Slip Loop Knot:

I like the loop knot anytime I am fishing a nymph or wet fly that isn’t imparting action to the fly. Sometimes I want a weighted wet to have a certain “hang”. It is not as easy to tie as the Duncan Loop, but it is never a bad idea, if you want to take the time to tie it.

No doubt you will come up with your own favorite knots, but until then, feel free to use these, I do.

Best of fishing,
Dennis Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com