Buoy 10 salmon fishery opens Aug. 1, and don’t expect solitude at highly popular late-summer destination

While king salmon garner most of the attention at Buoy 10 look for some huge coho like this one hooked last August.

By Mark Yuasa

Year in and year out, the Lower Columbia River mouth near Buoy 10 has been deemed one of the top salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest and anglers will see an added caveat in later-summer.

Tony Floor, the director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association has made this is second home in late-summer since the mid-1980s, and indicates Buoy 10 usually produces decent action right when it opens.

State Fish and Wildlife says the projected catches at Buoy 10 will be around 22,100 chinook and 16,560 coho (including 1,500 release mortalities).

The good news is anglers will be allowed to keep wild and/or hatchery chinook daily, unlike last year when wild chinook needed to be released on Sundays and Mondays. During those two days last summer there was a big drop in effort as not many of the kings are hatchery-marked fish.

The fishing season will get underway on Aug. 1 through Labor Day (Sept. 4) with a daily limit of two salmon, and only one of which can be a chinook. The daily limit at Buoy 10 from Sept. 5 through 30 will be two hatchery coho, but all chinook must be released.

From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, the Buoy 10 rules allow anglers to keep two adult salmon daily, but coho must be hatchery-marked.

In-season considerations include a potential for allowing a chinook mark-selective fishery during all or part of the non-retention season from Sept. 5-30.

The red navigational buoy – known as Buoy 10 – is located just south of the Port of Ilwaco which marks the western boundary of this nearly 20-mile fishing area that heads east upstream to the Tongue Point-Rocky Point boundary above the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

Just like last year, if you haven’t already booked moorage space don’t expect to any spaces as the Port of Ilwaco has filled their allotment in August. Anglers will still be able to get their boats in the water at various boat ramps, but be patient and expect long waiting times at the ramps.

The red navigational marker known as “Buoy 10” is a place many anglers flock to, but there are many other areas to fish at the Lower Columbia River mouth.

A Columbia River fall chinook forecast of 582,600 closely mirrors last year’s actual return (951,300 was forecast last year with an actual return of 643,300), and was the fourth largest on record but down significantly from the record runs in 2013 to 2015.

The all-time actual return record dating to 1938 was 1,268,400 adult chinook in 2013, which was 227 percent of the 2003-to-2012 average of 557,600 adult fish. In 2014, the actual return was 1,159,000, which was second-highest on record.

The Columbia River coho forecast calls for 496,200 to arrive off the Washington-Oregon coast, compared to a preseason forecast of 549,200 last year and an actual return of 317,000.

That is a stark difference in comparison to a forecast of 1,015,000 in 2015 and an actual return of 322,100 and a forecast in 2014 of 964,100 with a return of 1,240,800.

The Columbia subtotal this season is 386,300 (380,600 last year and 223,100 actual return) – these are fish that turn the corner of southwest Washington and into the “Big-C” and doesn’t include the northern Oregon coast.

The Columbia forecast last year was 777,100 coho, but less than a third actually returned – 242,300. Poor ocean conditions and a lack of feed could have played a negative role.

The gear at Buoy 10 is fairly simplistic and consists of a weighted diver with a KoneZone- or Fish-Flash-type flasher tied to a leader with a whole or cut-plug herring in 30 feet of water.

Clyde McBrayer of Olympia hoists a beautiful king salmon caught just below the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

Anglers will need to constantly check their herring as it will get tattered while being dragged along the sandy bottom or from the extremely strong tides. Spinners like a Toman’s Thumper Flex with a blade in red/white or chartreuse attached to a plastic squid or a Brad’s Super Bait Cut Plug lure.

In the early morning on a flood tide, plan to first stop along the Wing Walls – located outside of the Port of Ilwaco – and work your way up and down the river.

The Desdemona Sands (a flat sandy bar which is exposed at low tides) is a place to look at during a mid- to late-flood tide as fish move along the drop-offs. Many will also work the buoy line on the Oregon side up to the bridge, which has also become a very popular area.

Fish either above or below the Astoria-Megler Bridge during flood tide change because that is where the kings tend to hang as they get pushed in with the tide. Others will concentrate at the Church Hole off Fort Columbia State Park; and the northern tip of Fort Stevens State Park on the Oregon side west toward Hammond.

A newly discovered location this summer has been the channel leading out of the Port of Ilwaco marina where anglers were scoring on “dip-in” salmon.

The area is very diverse so if the bite is off at the mouth of the river, many will head out into the ocean along the 30-foot line just outside the surf off Long Beach near the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. This is a relatively easy place to fish when ocean conditions allow with anglers letting out 13 to 15 pulls of line (two feet per pull) with a diver or Fish Flash and a whole or cut-plug herring.

The best time off Long Beach is August as salmon stage before moving into the Columbia River, and it doesn’t matter on the tide or time of day as long as the fish are holding. On the surf line look on your depth-finder for huge anchovy baitfish schools.

If the batfish aren’t holding off Long Beach, then another option is the the ocean fishing grounds about 7 to 10 miles to areas west of the CR Buoy at depths of 50 to 80 feet, and ofen-times the Ilwaco charter boat fleet will venture even further to the 300-foot depth line.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife data from last season taken between Aug. 1 and Oct. 2 showed 5,018 boats with 15,701 kept 3,004 chinook (plus 1,332 released), 1,478 hatchery coho (plus 763 coho released) and 12 steelhead (plus two steelhead reelased) for 0.19 chinook per rod average and 0.09 on coho and 0.29 for both species.

The week-by-week catch per rod average was 0.11 for Aug. 1-7; 0.20 for Aug. 8-14; 0.22 for Aug. 15-21; 0.41 for Aug. 22-28; 0.50 for Aug. 29-Sept. 4; 0.48 for Sept. 6-11; 0.17 for Sept. 12-18; 0.13 for Sept. 19-25; and 0.16 for Sept. 26-Oct. 2.

The ocean outside the Lower Columbia River mouth produces very good catches of salmon.

Catches abound outside Buoy 10

The Rocky Point-Tongue Point line to the Lewis River/Warrior Rock line is open from Aug. 1 through Sept. 7 for chinook catch-and-keep, and then only hatchery-marked chinook may be kept from Sept. 8-14. Daily limit is two adult fish, and only one may be a chinook. Chinook retention will reopen Oct. 1 with a two fish daily limit of which two may be chinook.

The Lewis River/Warrior Rock line to Bonneville Dam will be open for chinook from this Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. The daily limit is two adult salmon of which two may be chinook.

In those two areas, state fisheries expect a catch (including release mortality) of 21,890 adult chinook (33,620 last year) and 1,040 adult coho (1,570 last year).

Areas from Bonneville Dam to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco will be open Aug. 1 through Dec. 31 with a daily limit of two adult salmon. The catch expectation is 4,080 adult chinook.

Anglers on the boat may keep fishing until the catch limit is achieved for all aboard from Buoy 10 up to the Oregon/Washington border.

Shore fishing is option at Buoy 10

Both sides at the Lower Columbia River mouth have good shoreline fishing options where anglers can have a decent chance to catch a salmon.

The North Jetty on the Washington side is open daily when the marine area off Ilwaco or Buoy 10 areas are open for salmon. The daily limit and minimum size restrictions follow the most liberal of either of these areas. A saltwater or combination license is required to fish from the North Jetty.

On the Oregon side, anglers on an incoming tide can cast from long sandy stretch of beach-line along Clatsop Spit west of Hammond in the State Park. Most will cast a Blue Fox or Mepps spinner attached to a 30-inch leader with a one ounce banana weight to run it off the bottom. Other will use a number 5 or 6 bell-body red or orange lure with a small Nickle-blade dodger.

Willapa Bay another worthwhile destination

Buoy 10 isn’t the only later-summer option to catch salmon, and just north is Willapa Bay near Tokeland and from the towns of Raymond down to South Bend along Highway 101.

Not only does the Willapa River system host a good number of chinook, but the Columbia River chinook tend to dip-in at Washaway Beach.

The Willapa system itself is expecting a good run of 32,674 (36,200 was forecast last year) hatchery kings for a total run of 36,805, and has seen an increased hatchery production with boosted runs since 1988. This shallow water fishery will be good from August and peaks usually around Labor Day weekend. has seen an increased hatchery production with boosted runs since 1988.

More than a decade ago, the best fishing occurred along the shallow surf line at Washaway Beach on the outer perimeter of Cape Shoalwater, which is the major migration highway for salmon.

Now the fishery has shifted inside the bay’s deep channel and is dotted with red and green channel markers numbered from 2 to 27. The markers start in the middle of the bay and run all the way to the Willapa River mouth, and it is here where the salmon park before heading into the Willapa River salmon hatchery and some to the spawning grounds.

The preferred technique is to slowly troll in water 10 to 25 feet deep using a 6-ounce drop sinker ball on a three-way sliding swivel attached to a chartreuse green Kone Zone flasher and a 6-foot leader laced with a cut-plug herring.

Be sure to keep your bait about 1-2 feet off the bottom, smack dab in front of the fish’s face.

Salmon move in and out of the bay to feed on baitfish pushed in by the tides. Stay away from big tidal flows as grass that gets pushed into the bay can make it virtually impossible to keep off you gear.

 

Retired state fisheries regional director Bob Everitt may have caught a new state Pacific sanddab record

Ichiro Nakata of Mercer Island holds up a small flounder he caught off Possession Point. Retired state fisheries regional director Bob Everitt has set a possible new state record for a sanddab flounder he caught on July 1 off Jefferson Head.

Something mighty fishy has been happening in Puget Sound, and it deals with one tiny bottom-dwelling sea creature that often gets no respect in the sport-fishing world.

Just a short while ago – on May 25 to be exact – the state record for a Pacific sanddab was set by Juan Valero of Seattle who caught a 1.00 pound fish off Possession Point in northern Puget Sound.

Now it looks like that newly established record could be in jeopardy after recently retired Bob Everitt, the former Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife director for the Region Four Mill Creek Office, could have broken the record during a fishing outing on July 1.

While unofficial until verified by WDFW, Everitt who spent 33.7 years as a state fisheries employee, was out fishing with Danny Garrett, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist, off Jefferson Head where the duo was mooching for resident coho salmon and seeking out Dungeness crab on the opening day in Marine Catch Area 10 (central Puget Sound).

“It was Everitt’s first day of retirement from our department, and he was super excited,” Garrett said. “I’ve never mooched for salmon before so I wanted to try and catch a coho. We had only hooked a couple of (dogfish) sharks and a few sanddabs, and gave it just an hour or two while we soaked our crab pots.”

“We weren’t taking anything too seriously, and it was around 4 p.m. when (Everitt) hooked not just one but two sanddabs on each of his (tandem) hooks,” Garrett said. “After he caught it I told him we should get it weighed because I knew it was bigger (than the previous record) just by looking at it.”

Everitt and Garrett followed all the procedures to make it an official state record (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/records/) by immediately taking it a grocery store that had a certified scale.

“It weighed 1.22 pounds and was 14 inches long, and that would edge out the record fish caught by Valero by .22 pounds,” Garrett said. “(Everitt) has been a fixture with the state agency, and what a great way to kick off his retirement.”

While unofficial until official, the soon-to-be record is being processed by WDFW, and an announcement along with a picture should come to light very soon.

 

 

Scout Now for Fall’s Hunts!

by Jason Brooks

With special permit draws being announced hunting season is starting to feel a little bit closer. If you drew your “dream tag” or struck out once again now is the time to start your scouting. If you attended my seminar last April then you heard me talk about other resources to help with your scouting, if you missed the seminar then keep reading as I highlight some of the details. A record snowpack means that you might not be able to put “boots on the ground” to find your big buck or bull this fall for a few more weeks or even a month but you can start your scouting right now!

Finding bucks in the summertime helps find them again in the Fall-Jason Brooks

Start with your state’s Fish and Game website and their hunt planning tools. For Washington it is the “Go Hunt” feature at the WDFW Hunting Tab. On this planner you can find public lands, private lands that allows access, integrated maps with satellite photos, roads, unit boundaries and harvest data.

WDFW Go Hunt allows you to find maps of your unit as well as harvest data-Jason Brooks

Once you have your unit figured out then it is time to start thinking about other places for information. Websites such as Hunting WashingtonEastman’s Hunting , Muley Madness, and other sites offer articles and even forums where hunters give up information. You can also contact members and ask them directly about their experiences, especially for the hard-to-draw tags.

The SNOTEL website lets you know how much snow is still in the high country-Jason Brooks

As you start to narrow down your areas search maps and topography websites such as “Google Earth”. You can also find other maps and data about your area from government websites such as the SNOTEL site that gives you up-to-date snow depth information. This will let you know when you can actually head to your unit and do some physical scouting of the ridges, mountains, draws, and drainages you want to hunt.

Google Earth shows you topography as well as other features such as lakes, open slopes, and ridges-Jason Brooks

Other websites that provide information are ones that non-hunters frequent and provide trail reports for such as Washington Trails AssociationWilderness.net and wildland fire data at National Interagency Fire Center.

Before you head to your unit make sure to check the local forest service website if you are hunting the national forest. This will list road conditions and closures, trail conditions, planned projects such as construction or prescribed burns, and other information including ATV use.

National Interagency Fire Center provides up-to-date fire maps and information-Jason Brooks

Now that you know if your hunting the yearly “deer camp” or are heading to a new unit and a dream hunt it is time to start scouting. Between weekend trips keep up to date with various websites and maps. Learn the area and talk to those that are familiar with the unit such as biologist, guides, and other hunters. Just remember to share information as well when asked.

Kyle Hurst knows scouting pays off and helped him harvest this mule deer during a general season-Jason Brooks

Jason Brooks
Outdoor Line Blogger
Northwest Outdoor Writer 

Sockeye countdown begins in many areas with Skagit River fishery opening soon


By Mark Yuasa

The salmon watch has commenced for sockeye – one of the first summer migrating salmon species – making the long journey back from the ocean to natal streams and lakes.

This has many anglers organizing their gear to fish the Skagit River and Baker Lake where 47,000 sockeye are forecast to return somewhat down from 55,054 last year.

“The sockeye return forecast is pretty similar to two years ago, and that was a good year for fishing,” said Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

The three-year-old sockeye returnees are coming off a juvenile outmigration of 939,879, but more importantly a two-year-old outmigration of 787,650 that makes up the majority of adult sockeye returning this summer.

“If we used the median age specific from smolt to adult survival rate historically the ocean age two fish is 5.1 percent, and the age three fish is 1.2 percent,” Barkdull said. “The survival rates for sockeye are all over the map. It is like throwing a dart into the middle of dart board and hoping it is good year.”

In the last few years, ocean age two-year-old sockeye had a survival return rate between 12 percent and 1 percent, which indicates it was all over the dart board.

Mount Baker looms in the background of Baker Lake where sockeye fishing is expected to be good later this summer. Photo courtesy of David Kim.

“If you look at run timing there already should be fish in the river when it opens,” Barkdull said. “It does change from year-to-year, but the best two weeks of fishing should be last week of June and first week of July when a lot of fish are passing through. That is based on a normal run curve.”

The first sockeye opportunities will begin on the Skagit River from Memorial Highway Bridge to Gilligan Creek, which opens  June 11 through July 15 (closed June 28-29, July 6-7 and July 11 to avoid gear conflict with the tribal fishery).

With all the snow in the hillsides above the river, anglers can expect plenty of glacial runoff, and high water and flows now through early summer.

“Based on one data point when we had really high water the river fishery seems to be better wit those types of conditions, and terrible when we don’t have much runoff and low water levels,” Barkdull said.

That river fishery will be followed by Baker Lake opening July 8 through Sept. 7 with the typical peak being in late-July and early-August.

Last year’s lake fishery experienced one of those strange seasons when there wasn’t any time you could take day-to-day success to the bank.

“There was a lot of inconsistency at Baker Lake last summer, and the fish didn’t seem to be holding in upper locations of the lake like they usually are,” Barkdull said. “The fish were scattered around in different areas. It appeared the majority of sockeye had vacated a particular area, and moved back down toward the dam. It was really a matter of fishing in the right place at the right time last year.”

Like any fishery moving around will be a key to success so if you don’t mark much on the fish-finder head to another location.

Two young anglers are all smiles after catching a Baker Lake sockeye. Photo courtesy of David Kim.

“In the past it wasn’t like that and people didn’t have to do much searching, but last year the fish used the whole reservoir,” Barkdull said. “It kept people guessing a little bit more than in the past. Surprisingly during our creel surveys last year, I would say on average the fishing was just as good last year as it was in previous years.”

The key to tracking when the best fishing occurs in the lake is to follow the fish trucking on WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/sockeye/baker_river.html.

Baker sockeye were first introduced from an artificial enhancement that started in 1896 when the state built a hatchery on Baker Lake. The natural run at that time was estimated to be approximately 20,000 fish, which was way before the dams were built.

Success of sockeye returns is based on improved juvenile fish production. Puget Sound Energy work crews have a huge fish barge collector anchored above Lower Baker Dam on Lake Shannon. This draws migrating juvenile salmon unto a funnel where they’re held until being transferred below the two dams and released to begin their outmigration.

Since the 1920s, annual adult sockeye returns averaged 3,500, and then by the early 1980s it dropped off the charts and hit an all-time low of 99 fish in 1985.

Also, anglers looking forward to the chinook salmon fishery – opening this Thursday (June 1) through July 15 in the Skagit River from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to Cascade River Road Bridge and the Cascade River from mouth to Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge.

“There’s chinook already in the river, no question, and we have fish in the hatchery,’ Barkdull said.

Sockeye outlook elsewhere

Dave Graybill holds a sockeye he caught from Wanapum area of the Columbia River. Photo courtesy of Dave Graybill.

 

All eyes will also be glued to the Columbia River sockeye returns, and to a lesser degree on the Lake Washington returns situated in the backyard of the Emerald City.

The Columbia River return this summer is 191,200 – 137,000 to Okanogan River and 54,200 to Wenatchee River.

“The Columbia return is a strong run-size on paper and not a record return, but sockeye are definitely a challenge to forecast,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “Last year we had a forecast of 100,000 and ended up with 350,000 so we can only hope that something similar materializes this summer.”

Hymer says on a positive note high water like we’re currently seeing this spring will help boost the sockeye fishery as they tend to migrate closer to shore allowing bank anglers along the lower river below Bonneville Dam better chances to target them.

“We could see decent catches this year, and that is good news for anglers from the lower areas (below Bonneville Dam) clear upstream to Okanogan area,” Hymer said.

The Lake Wenatchee fishery will open around the third week of July, and is based on sockeye passage at Tumwater Dam and mainstem Columbia River Dams. The spawning goal is 23,000 fish so any above that will be free game for sport anglers.

The Lake Washington forecast is 77,292, which falls well short of the 350,000 escapement goal before any fishing can be discussed. It will make for great viewing at the Ballard Locks fish ladder viewing window beginning as soon as early June, but highly unlikely a fishery will occur.

But, with that said due to unpredictability of sockeye returns don’t count out a Lake Washington fishery until an in-season peak run-time happens in early- to mid-July.

State Fish and Wildlife is still developing the fishing regulation pamphlet for 2017-18, and should be available soon online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ or at local tackle shops.

Mark Yuasa

Outdoor Line Blogger

710 ESPN Seattle

 

Spring Trout Tips

Ryan Brooks with an opening day rainbow -Jason Brooks

Ryan Brooks with an opening day rainbow -Jason Brooks

Spring trout fishing brings back a lot of memories for most of us as this is where we learned to fish. Getting up an hour before the sunrise and heading to our local lake to fish for the planter rainbows, filling our stringers and having fried trout for dinner. Today this tradition is still going strong and creating memories for generations of anglers. To increase your catching here are a few reminders and pointers.

 

A feisty rainbow makes it fun -Jason Brooks

A feisty rainbow makes it fun -Jason Brooks

1. Know where the fish are

By first checking the fish plantings for your local lakes at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/ you will have a better idea of how many and when the trout were planted. The “when” is the most important as it takes a few weeks for the fish to acclimate to the lake after being raised in holding ponds at the hatchery. Trout typically stay near the surface when recently planted and as the days go by they slowly make their way to a more comfortable thermocline and adjust to finding the food sources the lake offers. If the lake was recently planted, fish near the surface, if it’s been over a month deeper.

 

Pro-Cure jars of single salmon eggs with UV are a great trout bait -Jason Brooks

Pro-Cure jars of single salmon eggs with UV are a great trout bait -Jason Brooks

2. Baits

It seems Powerbait by Berkley has almost “dummied” the angler as that’s all we use. But it wasn’t too long ago that we used salmon eggs and did just as well. Since the trout are near the surface after planting try using a slip float and go back to salmon eggs, as Powerbait floats and is hard to fish under a bobber. Pro-Cure makes jars of salmon eggs with added scent as well as being UV enhanced, I don’t know any other salmon egg on the market that does the same thing right out of the jar! Also try nightcrawlers, small pieces of prawns or cooked salad shrimp. I always douse my baits with scents to give them that extra advantage.

 

The Super Duper by Luhr Jensen is one of the author's favorite trout lures -Jason Brooks

The Super Duper by Luhr Jensen is one of the author’s favorite trout lures -Jason Brooks

3. Trolling lures

Speed is key when trolling. Slow is the name of the game for spring fishing, no matter if it’s for rainbows or kokanee. The slower you can troll and still keep your gear near the surface the more fish you will catch. My top lures are gold or silver 1 ¼” Super Duper’s by Luhr Jensen, black ¼ ounce Roostertail’s by Yakima Bait Company, and Double Whammy Wedding Ring Spinners by Mack’s Lure. In fact the Wedding Ring has probably caught more trout than any other lure when tipped with a piece of nightcrawler.

 

The whooly bugger, Mack's Smile Blade Fly, and Chironomids are productive flies for trout -Jason Brooks

The whooly bugger, Mack’s Smile Blade Fly, and Chironomids are productive flies for trout -Jason Brooks

4. Fly Fishing

Casting and slowly stripping in a fly or trolling them; using flies in the right water conditions and the right time of day is a lot of fun and very effective. This time of year it’s a wet fly game unless you get a really warm day and just at dusk and start to see fish rising. My main flies are the Mack’s Lure Smile Blade Fly (a whooly bugger with a small smile blade at the eye of the hook), Carey Specials, and Chironomid’s.

 

Adding scents attract fish and also cover any unwanted smells you put onto your baits or lures -Jason Brooks

Adding scents attract fish and also cover any unwanted smells you put onto your baits or lures -Jason Brooks

5. Scents

When bait fishing, trolling lures, or even fly fishing and I am planning on keeping the trout for the frying pan or smoker I always use extra scents. The main reason why I put on scents is to attract more fish to my hook. Especially when bait fishing as it will draw in a lot more fish and increases your catch rate. For trolling it creates a scent trail and I will often do a figure eight pattern with my boat as the fish will be attracted to the area of the lake I just trolled through. The other reason to use scents is to help mask any other scents you put onto your gear. You just touched a lot of stuff while getting your boat in the water and it can repeal fish away from your hook if they smell it. Pro-Cure’s Super Gel’s stick to your bait or lure and cover any unwanted scents.

Give the Gift of Bobblehead this Christmas

In case your wondering what to get the fisherman in your family for Christmas, well, here it is!!!

Their very own custom fisherman bobblehead. All you have to do is submit a photo of him or her and ElyBobblehead will custom sculpt a head in their likeness.

Custom Bobble Head

Custom bobblehead’s run $79. Jump on this link to order yours today:

Custom Fisherman Bobblehead

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Christmas Gift Idea – Age Your Own Whiskey

Heritage Distilling in Gig Harbor has put together the perfect Christmas gift for the whiskey lover in your life. I can’t think of too many of my fellow sportsman that don’t like a fine whiskey on the rocks after a long day in the field. I know I do!

With this handy kit you can age your own whiskey at home until it reaches the perfect aroma, taste, and richness that we all love in a good whiskey. Acquiring this taste generally takes about two months…if you can wait that long.

Heritage’s kit sells for $125 and the 1.25 litre cask will produce about two 5th’s of whiskey. Best of all, they can ship it just about anywhere!

heritage_distilling_webThey also have a Cask Club and they offer classes that allow you to distill your own custom blend of whiskey, gin, or vodka from start to finish. The classes are approximately three hours long and sound like a heckuva lot of fun.

Can you tell I’m excited about having a distillery just miles from my house? Heritage Distilling…check it out!

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

 

Build an Insulated Box for your Little Chief Smoker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

My Top 4 Breakfast Joints

Maybe I was thinking about this because I just polished off my boring breakfast of oatmeal and fruit. At the ripe old age of 41 I’m trying to watch my diet a little closer these days, but don’t think for one furry second that I’ve forgotten about the memorable morning meals I’ve had at these four brekky joints.

Someday and someday soon I’ll once again find myself staring wide-eyed at the menu at one of these places…wife permitting. These restaurants know how to turn what is normally the most boring meal of the day into a breakfast you’ll never forget. That’s why they made the top of my list.

Without further adieu…

Mckay CottageBend, Oregon
The first time we visited McKay Cottage for breakfast in Bend, Oregon I ate so much I could hardly shuffle out of the place. There’s so many tastie dishes on their breakfast menu that my wife, her best friend Brandy, and I decided to order breakfast “family style” so we could sample as much of their grub as we could.

We greased up the skids before the main course arrived with mochas from the espresso bar and a plate of fresh raspberry scones from McKay’s awesome bakery. Most people would have called in quits there, but I had my sights set on a full blown Thanksgiving style, lay-on-the-floor-with-my-pants-unbuttoned food coma.

It wasn’t long after we ordered before the kitchen door flew open and hot plates began to hit the table. Our outdoorsy and fit waitress presented us with Smith Rock Benny, pumpkin pancakes, Joe’s Special scramble, and a breakfast burrito before hustling off to keep up with the orders. How these waitresses stay in such great shape with all this awesome food around is beyond me. I was sitting with two ladies that also eat like birds and my food coma dreams were about to come true.

Breakfast was nothing short of oh-mazing and my plans for an active day in the Oregon outdoors quickly evaporated. Mass rump was destined for a couch. I’m ashamed to admit that I watched football the rest of the day. Next time I’ll go hiking girls…I promise!If you visit McKay Cottage plan on getting there early and bring an appetite. Don’t forget to try one of their scones while you wait!

Duck Brand Hotel and CantinaWinthrop, Washington
My wife and I make frequent trips to Winthrop, Washington to hike, hunt, and relax in what can only be described as a little slice of Montana. When we’re there we always make a point to visit the Duck Brand Hotel and Cantina for a Mexican style breakfast. The Duck Brand has seating inside the main restaurant and plenty of outdoor seating so you can enjoy the warm Eastern Washington mornings out on the deck.

The breakfast menu here has a Mexican twist and most of the dishes come with a side of black beans, which is a different but totally awesome addition to breakfast.

My favorite breakfast thus far at this place is the Eggs McDuck, but the Huevos Rancheros is a very close second. Unlike my visit to McKay Cottage I leave the Duck ready to clamber up any of the scenic ridges in the Methow Valley.

I like breakfast joints that are hustle-bustle and the Duck Brand doesn’t disappoint. Spoons clanging into coffee cups, short order cooks hollering at waitresses, and lots of outdoorsy folks waiting to fuel up for the day. It’s busy for a reason…the food is yummers!

Blue Star Cafe-Seattle, Washington
I was going to keep this list to just my favorite small fishing town breakfast joints, but I simply couldn’t resist adding the Blue Star in Seattle’s Wallingford District to my list because of it’s totally ri-donk-ulous breakfast menu. The Blue Star is also a bar, so you can grab a Bloody Mary and watch football pre-game shows before the Smokey Mountain scramble or Eggs Seattle arrives.

The Smokey Mountain Scramble is one of the most memorable egg dishes I’ve ever inhaled. It consists of as many eggs as you’d like, pepper jack cheese, and Little Smokee sausages. Pure genius!

Or if you’re in a more eclectic Northwest’y mood you can order the Eggs Seattle, which is smoked salmon on an English muffin with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. This one’s also a dandy!

There can be a long wait on weekends at the Blue Star so get there early. The wait, however, is well worth it!

Forks Coffee Shop-Forks, Washington
The Coffee Shop’s montra is “Nobody Leaves Hungry” and that ain’t no bull. Both fisherman and loggers alike need to prime the pumps early in the morning for a long day in the woods or on the water and the breakfast plates here are served accordingly.

I can polish off a lot of brekky before hitting the water and I’ll be darned if the servings here don’t test me every time.

My favorite brekky chow here is the Sol Duc scramble, which consists of veggies, country sausage, and hash browns scrambled together with eggs and served with toast. Douse it with Tabasco sauce and you’ll be ready for a day of steelhead fishing on one of the many nearby rivers.

Most of the locally famous Forks river guides meet their guests at the Coffee Shop in the morning, so if you want the latest fishing intel this is the place to be before the sun rises on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

If you’ve got a favorite breakfast spot that I should be checkin’ out please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m always on the hunt for good fishing…and good food. Adios muchachos!

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