Halibut sport quotas set and season starts May 11, and salmon season process meeting is Tuesday

The halibut catch quotas were finalized this past week, and anglers can start making plans to pursue these hard-fighting bottom dwellers when the season gets underway on May 11 off the coast and open areas of Puget Sound.

“The catch quota of 1.19-million pounds (for sport, tribal and non-tribal commercial fisheries) was adopted in Catch Area 2A (Washington, Oregon and California),” said Heather Reed, the state Fish and Wildlife policy coordinator who also mentioned success last year was good in all marine areas open for halibut fishing.

Last year, the catch quota in Area 2A was 1.33-million, and 1.14-million in 2016.

The total Washington sport catch quota this season is 225,366 pounds, down a bit from 237,762 in 2017, and a bump up from 214,110 in 2016, 2015 and 2014.

A breakdown of sport catch quota is 11,182 pounds for the all-depth fishery off Ilwaco (Marine Catch Area 1) with another 500 pounds set aside for a near-shore fishery.

At Westport (Area 2) it is 44,341 pounds for the primary season and 2,000 pounds for a near-shore fishery. At Neah Bay and La Push (Areas 3 and 4) the quota is 111,632 pounds. In Strait of Juan de Fuca/Puget Sound (Areas 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) the season total is 60,995 pounds.

The halibut fishing dates for Neah Bay, La Push, Westport and Strait of Juan de Fuca/Puget Sound are May 11 and 13, and May 25 and 27. Other potential dates – depending on harvest totals – are June 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, 28 and 30.

The Westport near-shore fishery will open first Saturday after the closure of the primary fishery and be open daily until the quota is projected to be taken.

The opening date at Ilwaco is May 3 for the all-depth fishery. Fishing will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays only, and closes Sept. 30 or until the quota is achieved, whichever comes first. The Ilwaco near-shore season opens May 7, and fishing allowed Mondays through Wednesdays only.

In all areas the daily limit is one halibut with no minimum size limit.

A change in how fishing seasons were structured occurred in 2017 to avoid exceeding catch quotas in Strait of Juan de Fuca/Puget Sound waterways.

Reed says this new guidance and more consistent season has allowed the sport allocation to stay within the guidelines set forth, something that hadn’t been accomplished for several years.

The average size of halibut last year at Neah Bay and La Push was 18 pounds; Ilwaco, 14 pounds; Westport, 16 pounds; and Strait of Juan de Fuca/Puget Sound, 24 pounds.

The most popular fishing area is the northern coast off Neah Bay and La Push at Swiftsure Bank located 10 to 14 miles west of Cape Flattery; Blue Dot; 72 Square; Table Top; the Prairie; Umatilla Reef; Garbage Dump; Waadah Island; and Duncan Rock.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca try off the mouth of the Sekiu River and Hoko River; Eagle Bay; Clallam Bay; Slip Point; Whiskey Creek; Freshwater Bay; Green Point east of Port Angeles; and Rock Pile north of Ediz Hook.

Good underwater shelfs where halibut tend to hug the bottoms are Coyote, Hein, Middle, Eastern and Partridge banks as well as inner-waterways like Mutiny Bank, Bombing Range, Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend, Admiralty Bay on west side of Whidbey Island; and Useless Bay.

Once you get your fill of halibut, be sure to get your fill of black rockfish and lingcod, which opened on March 10 at Ilwaco, Westport and La Push. Neah Bay is also open for bottomfish fishing except the lingcod fishery opens April 16.

Deckhand Johnny Zelepuza on the charter boat Slammer hoists a 30 pound lingcod caught off Westport.

The black rockfish population remains strong off the coast. A spike in the canary rockfish population will also allow sport anglers to keep one daily off Ilwaco and Westport only as part of an anglers seven rockfish daily limit. Fishing for canary rockfish is still off limits at La Push and Neah Bay.

Sport anglers may keep all lingcod regardless of their size. Anglers should also be aware of certain depth restrictions in coastal deep-water lingcod fisheries.

Sport anglers who pursue halibut and bottomfish are now required to carry a descending device onboard their boat in all marine areas, including the coast.

Descending devices are used to release rockfish back to the depth and improve their survival when released. For details, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/bottomfish/rockfish/mortality.html.

North of Falcon salmon meeting is Tuesday

A little more than a week remains before state fisheries and Pacific Fishery Management Council develop final salmon fishing seasons for Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca and coast.

In a move to create more transparency in the process the state and tribal co-managers on Tuesday’s North of Falcon meeting will offer an open joint session where the public can take part at 1 p.m. at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites, 20610 44th Ave. West.

The discussion will cover a variety of topics on salmon-related issues including conservation objectives for Puget Sound chinook salmon, habitat restoration efforts and salmon fisheries. The public will be invited to ask questions after brief opening remarks by the state and tribal co-managers.

”We are working very hard on the (NOF) process and have the commitment from our co-managers to have a better understanding of salmon issues and to work together on getting to an agreement even though we have our own differences,” said Ron Warren, the WDFW assistant director.

In the first North of Falcon meeting on March 20, an early “wish list” of fisheries were created with the emphasis put on being cautious on some wild salmon returns that have fallen into the poor status category.

One highlight is hopefully getting a Puget Sound coho fishing in late-summer and early-fall, which has faced some tough times in recent years due to very poor returns. In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Sekiu and Port Angeles could also see a hatchery coho season from July through mid-September.

For hatchery-marked chinook, a proposed fishery Sekiu and Port Angeles would see it open from July through mid-August. Then reopen at Sekiu mid-March 2019 through April and at Port Angeles from March 2019 through April 2019.

Northern Puget Sound is earmarked for the normal mid-July through mid-August hatchery-marked chinook fishery as well as from December through April 2019.

A central Puget Sound hatchery-marked chinook fishery could happen from mid-July through August and November through April 2019. There also might be more time on the water in inner-Elliott Bay, a popular summer fishery right in front of the Emerald City skyline.

The south-central Puget Sound proposed hatchery-marked chinook season would go from June through April 2019.

The three sport ocean salmon fishing options show summer seasons will likely be somewhat slimmer than last year in the overall catch quotas as some salmon returns to the Columbia River are going to be down.

The final seasons will be adopted at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings on April 6-11 at Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, 8235 N.E. Airport Way in Portland, Oregon.

In meantime public comment is being accepted on the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/. You can also view a list of other public meetings as well as salmon run-size forecasts.

 

Preliminary halibut dates set for 2018, but catch quota will likely be reduced

The preliminary halibut fishing dates for 2018 have been set, but catch quotas won’t be decided until late next month and it’s likely they could be lower than it had been in past seasons.

“The (Pacific Fishery Management Council) adopted the 2018 halibut dates at the (Nov. 28-29) meeting, but still need to be approved by (International Pacific Halibut Commission) in late January and then officially adopted into federal rule sometime after that,” said Heather Reed, the state Fish and Wildlife policy coordinator.

The preliminary halibut fishing dates for Neah Bay, La Push, Westport, Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca (Marine Catch Areas 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 only) are May 11 and 13, and May 25 and 27. Other potential dates – depending on harvest totals – are June 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, 28 and 30.

The Westport near-shore is open first Saturday after the closure of the primary fishery and open daily until the quota is projected to be taken. State fisheries plans to set aside 10 percent of the to be determined catch quota or 2,000 pounds, whichever is less.

The opening date at Ilwaco is May 3 for the all-depth fishery. Fishing will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays only, and will close Sept. 30 or until the quota is achieved, whichever comes first. The near-shore season will open May 7, and fishing allowed Mondays through Wednesdays only.

In all areas the daily limit is one halibut with no minimum size limit.

While the tentative dates are decided, the discussion at the IPHC November meeting found that halibut populations weren’t as strong as they’ve been in previous years.

“There were some pretty strong declines for halibut populations in (Washington, Oregon and California), and (Canada and southeast Alaska),” Reed said. “This means the quota could potentially be down this coming year.”

The entire West Coast catch quota in 2017 for sport, tribal and non-tribal commercial fisheries was 1.33-million pounds compared to 2016’s quota of 1.14-million pounds.

Of that the Washington sport catch quota was 237,762 pounds in 2017, and 214,110 pounds in 2016, 2015 and 2014.

A change in how fishing seasons were structured occurred in 2017 to avoid exceeding catch quotas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and inner-Puget Sound marine waterways.

“The good news was we stayed under our sport allocation, which we haven’t done for several years and that was regarded as a success,” Reed said. “The 2017 fishing season was good overall.”

Reed said the average size of halibut at Neah Bay and La Push was 18 pounds; Ilwaco was 14 pounds; Westport was 16 pounds; and Puget Sound was 24 pounds.

The IPHC will meet the week of January 22 in Portland, Oregon to set catch quotas from California north to Alaska.

The National Marine Fisheries Service will then make its final approval on fishing dates sometime in March or sooner.

Celebrates the New Year with coastal razor clam digs and more on horizon

Coastal razor clam diggers can ring in New Year’s Day on some beaches, and more digs have been set in late January to early February.

The next digs are New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks (minus-1.2 feet low tide at 5:12 p.m.); and Monday (Jan. 1) at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks (-1.7 at 6:02 p.m.). Digging is allowed during low tides after 12 p.m. only.

Other proposed digs are: Jan. 28, (-0.4 at 4:06 p.m.) at Mocrocks; Jan. 29 (1.0 at 4:59 p.m.) at Copalis; Jan. 30 (-1.5 at 5:47 p.m.) at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Jan. 31 (-1.6 at 6:33 p.m.) at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis; Feb. 1 (-1.5 at 7:17 p.m.) at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Feb. 2 (-1.0 at 8 p.m.) at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis; and Feb. 3 (-0.4 at 8:42 p.m.) at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.

Marine toxin levels remain low on all coastal beaches, but protocol will have WDFW staff out taking clam samples, and two clean samples are needed before the digs can be approved.

During the previous digs Dec. 1-4, 26,688 diggers dug 242,674 razor clams.

“It was kind of a mixed bag of clam digging, and the weather didn’t exactly cooperate for the first couple of days (Dec. 1-2),” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager.

By Dec. 3, everything turned around and it was fairly easy limits – diggers must keep the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition – at three open beaches (Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis) although some still struggled at south-end of Long Beach.

“I was back at Mocrocks (Dec. 4), and it was perfect clam digging conditions,” Ayres said. “The surf was down, but it was cold (36 degrees) with a light northeasterly wind that felt like you were in a cold storage room.”

“The people who came prepared with lanterns did fine,” Ayres said. “Some good diggers managed to get their clams by 5 p.m. before it got dark, but I saw some who struggled especially since they had a tiny headlamp or simply nothing at all.”

Diggers were still finding a mixed bag of razor clam sizes, and one of the keys is if you’re finding small ones in a certain area of the beach don’t be afraid to move to another spot.

A breakdown by beach showed 11,578 diggers at Long Beach Dec. 2-4 had 78,587 clams for 6.8 clam per person average; 6,910 at Twin Harbors Dec. 2-4 had 69,210 for 10.0; 6,583 at Copalis Dec. 1 and Dec. 3 had 79,000 for 12.0; and 5,566 at Mocrocks Dec. 2 and Dec. 4 had 55,518 for 10.0.

The season total for 10 days of digging that began Oct. 6 is 82,774 diggers with 962,647 razor clams. Season average per digger is 10.9 at Long Beach; 11.9 at Twin Harbors; 12.2 at Copalis; and 12.0 at Mocrocks.

“I talked anecdotally with some local community business folks who were thrilled about the turnout, and said customers were coming and spending the night,” Ayres said.

Ayres pointed that state fisheries plan to save as many clams as they can for daylight morning low tide digs in the spring.

How to Rig the Gibb’s Hali Hawg

Adding a Gibb’s Hali Hawg grub to your halibut rig can make a big difference when you hit the water in search of flatties this spring. They swim, wiggle, glow, and give an added measure of attraction when you’re ringing the dinner bell on the ocean floor.

In this Gibb’s Delta video longtime Vancouver Island charter captain Trevor Zboyovsky from No Bananas Charters shows how to rig a Hali Hawg grub with two “J” hooks to hammer Pacific halibut. Hali Hawg grub’s are manufactured with a hole thru the center that makes rigging them on a halibut leader really simple and effective.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Englefield Again: Provin’ it!

After our unbelievable first trip to WestCoast Resorts Englefield Bay last year, my son Matt and I could not wait to get back up there. In fact, we were so fired up about our amazing experience that we put a 710 ESPN Listener trip together so we could share the Englefield experience with listeners and friends.

In fact, we’re announcing a second chance trip in late August

Did the trip live up to expectations? Without a doubt it did! Most anglers on the trip had their best chinook days ever in both numbers and size! Bottomfish? How about two ling cod per day with no size restrictions and six in possession! Couple that with two halibut and a pile of rockfish and you are talking new home freezer time!

The WestCoast Resorts Englefield equation for success is solid. Place a floating lodge alone in a remote location accessible only by boat and helicopter.

Oh, the helicopters…C’mon now, aren’t you the least bit intrigued by a fishing trip that begins and ends with a heliopter ride?

Or, more correctly a Helijet which we boarded in Sandspit after our chartered 737 flight from Vancouver, BC.IMG_0880

 

As the lodge comes into view we’re just stunned by the remoteness and beauty of the luxurious, floating lodge at Englefield Bay.IMG_0521 (Medium)

 

Once we’re on the docks the level of organization and experience of the WestCoast Resorts operation is readily apparent. Every boat  is clean, identically rigged and READY!IMG_0536 (Medium)

 

 

The info board is updated daily and hooks you up with weather, tides and hot spots. No secrets here! Since the only boats in the area are from the lodge and fish are plentiful, info is shared freely.IMG_0889

 

After the brief lodge orientation, we jump into our gear and we’re off fishing before noon on our first day!IMG_9100 (Medium)

 

And just how good is the midday chinook bite at Englefield Bay? Well, we only kept three that first day so wouldn’t burn through our four chinook per angler possession limit but we had a double-digit king bite the first afternoon! Simply stated the most smokin’ hot chinook bite I had seen all season which included a three-week stint running my boat in Sitka, Alaska.IMG_0325 (Medium)

 

The next morning, I went out with Chef Patrick Fagan of Bait2Plate.com and my summer on air pard John Martinis. We absolutely STUFFED the fishbox with ling cod, yelloweye, black rockfish and chinook!John&Patrick 

 

The next day? Well, halibut was on the itinerary and we were again very successful but here is the thing that you need to know: Once you’re back at the lodge, the dock staff label, weigh, process and vacuum pack your fish while you relax in the lounge!

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Our final morning, we had our possession limits of bottomfish in the lodge freezer so we got to concentrate on chinook and again, the bite was simply epic! Matt Nelson and John Martinis are working a double which started out as a triple but someone had to take the picture…IMG_0471 (Medium)

 

After the fishing was done, I couldn’t help but take a few pics on the way in to the lodge. The beauty of Haida Gwaii, the Queen Charlotte Islands is well known but this untouched tide pool with a small stream entering it would be an even more fascinating sight in the fall with a few salmon sneaking in when the bears came to feed!IMG_0496 (Medium)

 

The anglers that came along on our Listener trip were very successful and while the fish you take home is not the only way to measure an adventure such as this, it’s interesting to note that the 44 anglers boxed catch weighed over 4500 pounds!IMG_0895

 

The helicopter flight out of the lodge was accompanied with a stitch of sadness but also a feeling of satisfaction for a trip that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.IMG_0553 (Medium)

 

Back at Sandspit Airport, we literally walked off the Helijet and walked right on to the jet to Vancouver where we landed before noon and headed back home over the border.IMG_0623 (Medium)

 

We all played “Horse” on the basketball court when we were kids and after that last shot that hung that “E” on you, the ball was flipped back to your opponent with a defiant “prove it”,

That’s what this trip to Englefield Bay meant to me. After an unbelievable first trip last year highlighted by a tyee for my son and a memorable Father’s Day for all.

WestCoast Resorts has repeated that feat, essentially “proving it” and now Englefield Bay is permanently carved in stone in my annual angling itinerary and I hope you’ll consider making it part of yours.

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

Defiance Bait Tank Installation

After his Seattle Boat Show tuna seminar, Defiance Marine Pro-staffer Tommy “Cornfed” Donlin stuck his big ‘ol head into my boat which was on display at the show.

“Where are you gonna put your live bait Nelly?”

“How about this transom fishbox? I should be able to make it flow…”

Cornfed shook his head “You put anchovies in that square box and they’re gonna die before you get to the grounds. You’ve got to have a circular flow to keep them swimming, healthy and the tank has to be round so they can’t hit corners and injure themselves.”

Donlin is a well-known pain in the neck but I knew he was right and heck, there are a number of reasons beyond live anchovy fishing for tuna to install a live well. Shrimping, crabbing, live bait fishing for lingcod and even halibut are great reasons to install a tank. Also, let’s not forget the prospect of jigging herring and putting up your own trays of bait or even fishing them fresh!

Defiance Marine’s DNA is saturated with blue water angling and a quality bait tank is as vital to the tuna fisherman as the downrigger is to the salmon angler. Fortunately, Defiance is recognized as the finest bait tank available and not all that hard for the do-it-yourselfer to install!

First off you’ll need to get organized and get your parts list together including a sheet of one-inch Starboard for the mount. Tank water supply is 1″ and required an 1500GPH livewell pump. The drain is 1 1/2″ and you’ll need a shutoff or seacock valve. Thanks to Harbor Marine at the Port of Everett, it’s a one-stop shop!

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This is the very definition of a “measure twice, cut once” project and it’s vital to make a cardboard template of the tank footprint for an accurate installation.

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Once you’ve got your template, lay it on the deck in your desired location and take a good look around, above and most importantly, UNDER the location!

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The best way to look under your chosen location is to pull up the deck floor which, you’ll have to do anyway to run the electrical and plumbing. On my Weldcraft, I had to plan around a deck support but that will add to the strength of the mount.

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With the deck floor section out of the boat, it’s template time and a jigsaw drill to position the deck plate that will allow access for the plumbing to the tank.

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With the hole cut in the template and the deck floor, we need to trim the template to now fit INSIDE the tank as that’s how it’s going to mount to your deck.

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Lay the template on the Starboard and start making a whole pile of white plastic dust! Make sure you’ve got a fairly accurate fit to the inside of the tank bottom!

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Once you’ve cut the Starboard to fit, it’s time to drill and tap 1/4″ x 20 (threads per inch) hardware into the perimeter of the tank. Four or five will do the trick!

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Time to take all your work back to the boat, cut that nice 1 1/2″ drain hole above the waterline, finish it with a SS hose barb through hull. Add the livewell pump to your water pickup, run the hoses forward and through the deck plate.

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Being careful not to kink the hoses, lay the floor plate back down and fasten it back in place.

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To lay flat on the deck, the Starboard mounting board’s center hole has to be larger than the mount ring of the deck plate. Use the existing deck floor bolt pattern to hold down the deck plate and you’ll have to get one-inch longer hardware to reach!

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Lay the tank down to make the plumbing & electrical connections and you’re almost there! Again, take care that excess hose does not kink!

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Stand the tank up, pop in your perimeter hardware and launch the boat! Test the system for leaks and you now have a 50 gallon bait tank installed!!!

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Removing the tank takes all of five minutes and the only way you’ll know it was there is the plastic deck plate and a wet ring where the tank was…

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I didn’t go into great detail on the transom plumbing aspect because each boat is different and let’s just say that climbing into the transom was not pretty…

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This summer with all the North of Falcon “noise” going on, we’re going to have to be a bit more versatile to get our days on the water. My Defiance Marine bait tank is a HUGE step in that direction!

Give them a call and whatever you do, DON”T tell them TOMMY DONLIN sent you!!!

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

 

Sitka 2015: Adjustments

Every year of our annual sojourn to southeast Alaska, I seek a pattern, a clue or a theme to the location and distribution of fish that may lead to an understanding or “edge”, eventually guiding us to a successful season. We’ve all read -with varying degrees of interest and concern- of the changes in sea surface temperatures in the northeastern Pacific Ocean and little did I know when I boarded the plane to Sitka that the ocean temperatures would play a pivotal role in our approach to this world-class fishery.

Most seasons the predominant chinook forage base in the Sitka area is sand lance, commonly known an “needlefish”. Sand lance are a preferred salmonid food item as they are usually abundant, readily preyed upon by chinook, very rich in oil, easily digested due to their delicate structure and can be packed away by an adult chinook like a belly full of spaghetti!!!

Chinook are so fond of sandlance that a large abundance will virtually stop a migration, making these chinook vulnerable to vertical techniques such as mooching and jigging. The problem this season was that the nutrient-poor warm water had in all probability, reduced local zooplankton (euphausiids and copepod) levels, causing the sand lance population to take a downturn. Sand lance do not roam far from their home sand, so are very dependent upon local conditions and poor food availability can quickly lead to a sand lance population crash.

Herring on the other hand are more mobile and opportunistic feeders and therefore have a better ability to adapt to a changing or re-located food base. The preceding paragraph was the longest possible way of stating that herring was the one and only food item found in the chinook we encountered and since the chinook were not all “ganged up” on a sandlance patch, mooching chinook was not the most effective technique.

What was the most effective technique for us?

Why trolling with downriggers of course!

Greg Copeland of KING 5 and my old buddy Phil Michelsen do the downrigger “Dance” with a fiesty, early morning chinook and Sitka 2015 is well underway!

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Phil Michelsen does battle with a big chinook on a misty morning and little would we know….

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 …that this would be the biggest chinook not only of this trip but of the last several years! A beautiful specimen of over 41 pounds! Phil’s grin just says it all!

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Phil and Greg’s last day was a productive, calm and memorable outing and there was alot of work to do after the “photo shoot”!

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Lauren Bivins of Harbor Marine in Everett and my summer “Robbo replacement” co-host John Martinis jumped in for some very solid Sitka success!

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 Lifelong friend Larry Stauffer and I doubled up on a couple chunky chinook that both fell to trolled whole herring. Overall, the average size of the chinook we encountered was larger which was a reverse of a trend of smaller fish over the past several years.

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My biggest halibut of the season was this 70 pounder that we hooked in over 400 feet of water. My Diawa Tanacom 750 electric reel made short work of this flattie!

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 One of Sitka’s signature landmarks, St. Lazarius Island also know as “Bird” Island looks different with every hour of the day. In this afternoon sun it looks spooky…

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…and in the morning sun as the charter fleet runs by it’s merely a milestone along the way. One of the most wonderful things about fish are the places we must go to find them.

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 Brock Huard is in the third season of his Sitka experience and he seems to enjoy it more each and every year. I feel very fortunate to be able to share some of his precious free time in this wonderful place.

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Sitka remains the angling experience of my life and there is something each and every season that stays with me throughout the year. This year it was the ability to make adjustments that stood out. As anglers, we are very good at going to the same places at the same times to use the same gear to catch our fish. However, change one leg of that triangle and we seem to struggle. The ability to observe changing conditions and make adjustments to our game plan is one of the most valuable traits that an angler can possess.

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

 

Sitka 2014 Great White: NORTH!

This year’s edition of The Outdoor Line’s annual Sitka trip was a very special one. We had some Alaska “first-timers”, (I was going to say “Greenhorns” but…) some of our wives made the trip for the first time in several years and 2014 marked the Alaskan arrival of the 710 ESPN flagship, the Weldcraft 280 Cuddy King.

The trip began back in late May with the barge trip from Seattle to Sitka. It’s a bit freaky seeing your boat and truck sail away but it’s a gas to fly into Sitka and find your ride safe and sound thanks to Alaska Marine Lines!aBarge

 

 

We were very fortunate to arrive in time for some flat, sunny weather and a solid chinook bite. Jack Reyes mugs for the camera on the first fish of the trip. Little did we know that the bite would remain…but the nice weather would not.aJack#1

 

Team Outdoor Line’s Brandon Robichaux can’t help but grin on his first day in Alaska..and his first Alaskan chinook!aBrando

 

Phil Michelsen handles a hot king and finds that the Daiwa DXS Series Rods and Saltist reels are more than a match for a big Alaskan chinook!aPhil

 

I even get into the act and all my work getting Great White ready for this trip comes to fruition!aDayone Nelly

 

710 ESPN’s Michael Grey of the “Wyman, Mike & Moore” show experienced Alaska for the first time and his very first Alaskan chinook turns out to be a very memorable experience!aMGglass

 

My summer on air partner John Martinis joined us in Sitka for the first time and I believe that it won ‘t be his last appearance on this trip!AJohnM

 

In between weather systems we managed to refine our halibut anchoring techniques. Here, Phil Michelsen, Michael Grey and John Martinis admire out day’s catch with chinook to 26 and halibut to 100lbs!aPMJbut

Speaking of refining techniques, Pro Cure’s Brine & Bite has  forever changed the way I handle my herring. With one jar of Brine & Bite powder, you can cure up to 8 trays of bait that stand up to some trolling, mooching and shine like nothing I’ve ever fished before!ABrine&b

 

My dear friend Larry Stauffer and his wife Dana enjoyed a consistent chinook bite and we enjoyed having our wives join us for a few days of Alaskan angling!aL&D

 

My wonderful wife Kathy handles this hot king and I can’t begin to describe how special it was to have her join me on this trip!AK

 

Kathy and Dana share a laugh and a special moment after this double on mid-20 lb chinook!

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Larry, Dana, Kathy & I with our days catch. We’ll be remembering this trip in pictures -and barbeques- for months to come!aLDK

ESPN’s Brock Huard joined us for his second season in Sitka and his passion for fishing and ability to learn is amazing to watch! I’m pretty sure he is as hard-bitten as I am with southeast Alaska!ABrockNelly

While it’s nothing short of wonderful to share this time in Alaska with family and friends, we’re working on a bit of a promotion that may allow us to host a listener on this trip next year so stay tuned for that!

Meanwhile, we’re working on sharing what we’ve learned in Alaska about chinook salmon fishing right here. Want technique tips? Stand by! We’re going to deliver some tips that will deliver more fish in your box this season!

Tom Nelson

The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Anchor System Academics

The ability to quickly, effectively and safely anchor your boat is a fundamental aspect of seamanship that will help you catch more fish, enjoy a restful time on your vessel and most importantly, keep all aboard safe and sound in the event of a grounding or complete power failure.

My main focus for this project was to lay out and mount an anchor roller mount and deck pipe (deck top access to the rope storage locker) that would be easy, convenient and safe for everyone on board. Fortunately, the gang at Harbor Marine in Everett had everything I needed!

Our project boat is the Weldcraft 280 with nothing short of a bulletproof “pulpit”!

aPulpit

 

Our “raw materials” for this project are, top to bottom: Lewmar anchor roller mount, Rocna Fisherman 6kg modified plow anchor and a Perko hinged chain pipe.aRawmaterial

 

The anchor roller mount installation is straightforward, just line it up straight and make sure the anchor’s point, in this case the Rocna chisel tip clears the pulpit support under the roller.aDrill

 

Now it’s time to lay out the chain pipe hole and since this is a fairly significant jig-saw job, it’s definitely a case of “measure twice, cut once”!

aTrace

 

Rest assured, I double-checked the area under the cut to make darn sure that there was no electrical or other “trouble” hiding under the deck!

aHole

 

Marine silicone around the pipe flange guarantees that the only water getting into that anchor locker is coming through the pipe… not around it!

aSilicone

 

Nice, clean, sturdy installation so far, now for some chain on that Rocna Fisherman!

aMount

 

A boat length of 3/8″ Galvanized Proof Coil chain shackled to the Rocna finishes the package…almost… 

aChain

 

While the installation looks bad to the bone, the anchor is a bit tilted and will rock back and forth a bit on the road and the last thing we want is to weigh the anchor on Interstate 5!…So…

aBad

 

Drill baby drill! The Lewmar anchor roller mount has three holes pre-drilled to fit a 5/16″ lock pin. Drill the anchor stock to fit one of the roller mount holes and add a piece of 150lb test mono with crimped loops for a pin keeper…and buy an extra pin just in case!

aPin

Now I’m ready to anchor fish for halibut in the Straits, springers in the Columbia or maybe even to take a little break in the action! These days, we all need a little break…Right?

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

Sitka 2013: Huskies vs. Cougars!

Our annual Sitka “sojourn” took on a decidedly competitive theme this year.

Why?…Well, when you have a Husky and a Cougar on the boat, despite the fact they were Seattle Seahawk teammates… you’re going to have issues but, ..we’ll get back to that later.

Fortunately, catching fish would not be an issue this time. After over 20 years of experiencing the southeast Alaskan salmon stronghold that is Sitka, I am more than familiar with the annual variation in run timing and strength. So,I started to scratch my head a little bit when the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) issued their Chinook Abundance Index (CAI) for 2013 and it was a slightly low number (1.20). The cautious, conservative abundance estimate indicated some concern with northern British Columbia chinook survival but given strong forecasts to Washington and the Columbia river, I was betting on good action and, for once, I bet correctly!

The “competitors” on this trip would be my friend, former co-host of The Outdoor Line Washington State University and Seattle Seahawk center Robbie Tobeck and none other than ESPN’s  Brock Huard, University of Washington & Seattle Seahawk QB and now host of the Brock and Danny show on 710 ESPN Seattle. Brock’s busy career has kept him in the lower 48 and this would be his first trip to Alaska. He would not be disappointed.

First up on the rod was the “cantankerous Cougar” Robbie Tobeck. He is all smiles with this jumbo yelloweye rockfish.

Tobeck’s  career best 90 pound halibut didn’t hurt his feelings and took a little bit of the sting out of our annual Puget Sound halibut skunkings…

Robbie had to conduct some business in town after our morning bottomfish outing so after we got the fish cleaned and processed, we barely had time to pick up Brock and his friend Jamie Waltier from the airport for the afternoon salmon trip.

Brock had spent his morning broadcasting the “Brock and Danny Show” from the Seahawks minicamp where he interviewed Assistant Head Coach Tom Cable. When Brock mentioned to Cable that he was leaving directly for an Alaskan fishing trip,,,well,.. let’s just say that rabid fisherman and Snohomish, Washington native Tom Cable shifted the focus of the interview from free agents to fishing!

Brock Huard wasted no time getting his first Alaskan chinook on board! Despite a gusty first afternoon, he toughed it out and boated this chrome king.

Brock’s busy schedule allowed him only one salmon trip last year and it was a tough outing. So, when his first king hit, he was something way “north” of excited. In fact, this professional speaker, broadcaster and college football color commentator/analyst completely lost the ability to speak and spun the handle on my Daiwa Saltist faster than I thought humanly possible! Let’s just say that I’m glad we didn’t start him out on a single-action mooching reel…

With day one in the books, my good friend Derek Floyd of Reel Class Charters agreed to take us fishing on his day off. Here, Derek tells Brock’s friend Jamie Waltier what to expect aboard his 30 foot charter boat, the  “Angler”.

Holy smokes! Is that Brock playing a chinook with a single action reel? Absolutely! He is coachable after all!

Tobeck quickly got into the act as well. This 25 pounder got him all fired up and he started to realize that salmon are as least as feisty as his beloved tuna.

Brock Huard’s development as a salmon angler advanced from downrigger trolling with a levelwind to mooching with a single action reel and quickly progressed to successfully netting fish! Here Brock’s buddy Jamie is relieved to hoist the results of Brock’s first Alaska net job!

The biggest fish of the day aboard Derek Floyd’s boat was this fine 27 pounder. Counting coho, a couple chums and chinook, Derek got us into 40 salmon, displaying nothing short of a mastery of this fishery.

On our final day in Sitka, we wanted to get out after halibut just once more. Fresh from his successful netting experience, Brock wanted to give harpooning halibut a try. Here, “coach” Tobeck offers some advice.

Unfortunately, Huard could not overcome his coaching and failed to drive the harpoon through the halibut. Instead, this fish looked like he had just emerged from a tattoo and body piercing studio…

Fortunately, Brock’s prowess with a rod exceeds his, well, lack thereof with the harpoon. Here, Tom Nelson and Brock are all smiles with this 135 pound halibut.

Two long-time Puyallup friends with personal bests: Brock Huard (left) with his first-ever tyee (31 pounds) and Jamie Waltier with a fine mid-20’s chinook. Sitka’s scenic landmark volcano Mt. Edgecumbe looms in the background.

Our last day in Sitka was marked by unbelievable weather, Brock’s largest halibut, chinook and a salmon bite that had to be experienced to be believed. Here, the happy crew gets a chance to grin for the camera with the day’s catch.

Great trip, great weather, great friends and the fish cooperated every day. What more can a guy ask for? Summer fishing is off to a big, red hot start!

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Northwest Outdoor Report

Sol Duc Picking Up for Springers
Bill Myer from Anglers Guide Service in Forks says he’s been hooking a few nice spring Chinook on the Sol Duc river every day and the fishing appears to be picking up. Myer said most of his springers have been in the 8 to 14 pound range, but he’s heard of quite a few spring Chinook over 20 pounds already. He’s been backtrolling cured eggs and cut plug herring to get his bites on the Sol Duc. The Sol Duc springer fishery will continue to produce fish well into the month of June.

Trout Fishing Still Great Despite High Flows on Upper Columbia
Jack Mitchell from the Evening Hatch Guide Service checked in from Black Bear Lodge on the upper Columbia River to say that the trout fishing has remained great despite really high flows the past couple of weeks. The upper Columbia has swelled from 85,000 cfs to over 175,000 cfs recently from snow melt in the upper part of the basin. Mitchell says the fishing has remained great right thru the uptick in flows. He said they’re catching trout over 20 inches on a daily basis on anything from carpenter ant patterns to caddis, baetis, mayflies, and pmd’s. Mitchell says the great fishing will continue thru the month of June when the Green Drake hatch takes off.

Hein Bank Comes to Life on Second Halibut Opener
Kevin John from Holiday Sports in Burlington reported excellent halibut fishing on Hein Bank on the second halibut opener on Thursday of this past week. Kevin and the gang from Holiday Sports had their limit of halibut between 25 and 45 pounds before noon on Thursday. They caught their fish on the south end of Hein Bank in 120 to 180 feet of water. He said the hot baits were squid with a big glow in the dark hoochie and a large squid with a whole herring stuffed inside of it. Anglers should have decent weather on the Strait of Juan de Fuca for today’s halibut opener until the wind kicks up later this afternoon.

Last Razor Dig of the Season
Clam diggers will get one more chance to dig razor clams at Twin Harbors beach near Westport next Friday thru Sunday. Twin Harbors will be the only beach open for digging. WDFW coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres says this has been the most productive clam digging season in over 20 years on the Washington Coast. Since last October diggers have harvested more than 5 million razor clams. The coast will close after this last clam dig to allow the razor clams to spawn and provide another crop of clams for digging next fall.

Kids Fishing Event on Heart Lake
One of the hottest trout fishing lakes in the region, Heart Lake near Anacortes, will close over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend for a kids fishing event. The event takes place on June 1st and the lake is closed two days prior to allow freshly stocked trout to acclimate. Kids that otherwise might not get a chance to catch a trout get the entire lake to themselves on June 1st. The Kids Fishing event has been held for 20 years on Heart Lake and is sponsored by the City of Anacortes and the Fidalgo/San Juan chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers.

First Copper River Salmon Arrives in Seattle
Alaska Airlines pilots carried a 40 pound Copper River king salmon to waiting chefs at Sea-Tac Airport yesterday. It was the first Copper River king to arrive in Seattle and marks the beginning of the yearly craze for this great eating strain of king salmon. Copper River king salmon are prized for their high fat content and restaurants pay as much as $50 a pound to purchase them for their patrons. The Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 contained an additional 24,600 pounds of Copper River king salmon and Alaska Airlines said it would run three more Copper River salmon flights like it on Friday.

Minnesota Lakes Test Positive for Cocaine
Associated Press – Scientists just studied 50 lakes in Minnesota for water quality and found a myriad of manmade chemicals in the lakes – including cocaine, DEET, synthetic estrogen, antibiotics, and antidepressants. The bug repellent DEET was found in 76 percent of the lakes and researchers were shocked to find that 32 percent of the lakes tested positive for cocaine. Cocaine was the third most common chemical found in the lakes and scientists were surprised to find it in some very remote lakes that weren’t close to population centers. Before you head to Minnesota and start snorting lake water understand that you’ll probably drown before you catch a buzz. Scientists say the levels of cocaine in the lakes that tested positive is around several parts per trillion…hardly enough to catch a buzz.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle