Early Winter Steelhead Have Arrived!

Brenda Schuman and Katie Hovland with an early winter steelhead-Ted Schuman

Brenda Schuman and Katie Hovland with an early winter steelhead-Ted Schuman

Early Winter Steelhead – They’re Here!

by Jason Brooks

Reports of early winter run steelhead have been blowing up my phone lately. Most notably my buddy Ted Schuman of Winter Run Guide Service and has been teasing me with photos from a few recent trips. Ted has been concentrating on far away Olympic Peninsula rivers and prides himself on catching steelhead before most other anglers put away the Coho twitching rods. Not far behind Ted is Mike Ainsworth of First Light Guide Service who likes to double dip on steelhead and Coho this time of year. His son Hunter Ainsworth is often bobber dogging baits with his pops, a technique that works great for both coho and early winter runs in December.

Mike Ainsworth of First Light Guide Service and his son Hunter with a winter steelhead caught bobber dogging-Mike Ainsworth

Mike Ainsworth of First Light Guide Service and his son Hunter with a winter steelhead caught bobber dogging a few winters ago-Mike Ainsworth

This year is no exception. With the cold weather this past week it seems to have slowed the Coho bite just a bit and a perfect time to switch over to steelhead fishing. Snow in the mountains means clear water which is perfect for pulling plugs and bait divers. Ted’s hottest setup for early December winter steelhead has been backtrolling Yakima Bait’s Mag Lip 3.5’s or Luhr Jensen Jet Divers with coon shrimp. With colder water temps it’s a technique that keeps the presentation in front of steelhead longer and gets them to bite. It’s hard to argue with it’s effectiveness!

Yakima Bait's "Dr. Death" mag lip 3.5 is a top producing steelhead plug-Jason Brooks

Yakima Bait’s “Dr. Death” mag lip 3.5 is a top producing steelhead plug-Jason Brooks

A healthy dose of Pro-Cure bait oils or super sauces, especially Bloody Tuna Anise, Sandshrimp, or Anise/Krill applied to plugs and even on the bait diver helps draw steelhead in for the take down.

The author's top winter steelhead scent additives-Jason Brooks

The author’s top winter steelhead scent additives-Jason Brooks

December is just the beginning of the winter steelhead season but don’t forget that several runs of late Coho are still coming into some of the Southwest Washington rivers. It is a great time to get out and double-up, especially since several of the rivers are restricted to just one hatchery Coho a day but two hatchery steelhead.

Katie Hovland with her very first ever steelhead, an early winter run-Ted Schuman

Katie Hovland with her first steelhead, an early winter run-Ted Schuman

In the last few day’s Ted has hooked ten “metalhead’s” in just three trips down the river, including a very bright first steelhead for Katie Hovland who was fishing with Ted and his wife Brenda this weekend. Don’t wait around until the new year before breaking out the bobber-dogging or plug rods. Steelhead are showing up and it’s time to hit the water!

Jason Brooks
Outdoor Line Blogger
Northwest Outdoor Writer

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.

5 Tips for Catching Trophy Steelhead

 By Jason Brooks

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With longer days and warmer weather the winter steelheader knows this is the time of year for big fish to arrive in our rivers. Those that might have not caught a truly large steelhead will learn a few lessons as soon as they hook the fish. Unfortunately this is not the time to learn those lessons. And if you have caught that magical fish of a lifetime then you might want to remember these lessons as well before you head back to the river.

The author about to release a wild steelhead, keeping it in the water at all times-Jason Brooks

The author about to release a wild steelhead, keeping it in the water at all times-Jason Brooks

Go where the big fish are.

By doing a little research or hiring a reputable guide you can find a handful of rivers that produce big steelhead. Don’t think you can just head to any old steelhead stream and catch a giant fish, even if rumors abound that a twenty pound fish came out of “hatchery brat creek”. Wild fish need wild places so head to a remote section of the Olympic Peninsula with a handful of river maps in your tackle box.

Rivers with wild fish are in wild places-Jason Brooks

Rivers with wild fish are in wild places-Jason Brooks

Leave the bait at home.

This time of year and the rivers you will target should have a run of big wild fish which means we need to protect them. By using techniques that don’t require bait you are more likely to not mortally hook one of these majestic fish. But by all means use scents when it’s legal to do so!

It might seem strange to not use bait but use scents, however it’s how you use the scent that makes the difference. I rub Pro-Cure Super Gel’s on my leaders as well as smear it on my plugs and spoons and soak my slinkies in Pro-Cure bait oils. The idea of using scents is to have it disperse downstream of your presentation so the fish is anticipating something coming and also entice the strike.

Using scents can entice a strike-Jason Brooks

Using scents can entice a strike-Jason Brooks

Knotless nets and fish stay in the water.

This is almost a no brainer with Washington’s regulations though I still see the green or blue nylon knotted nets in drift boats. Those nets literally rip the slime off of the fish which compromises the fish’s ability to fight off bacteria and infections. Along with using a soft knotless net you should keep the fish in the water at all times. Sure I see the photos of one fin in the water to “keep legal” but really the head of the fish or at least the gills plate should remain in the water. And be careful of hand placement as putting pressure under the pectoral fins can compress the steelheads heart.

Use a knotless net when practicing catch and release-Jason Brooks

Use a knotless net when practicing catch and release-Jason Brooks

Bring a camera!

A real camera, not your cell phone. You finally land a fish of a lifetime and it’s now time to preserve that memory or even use the photos to make a replica mount of the fish. Take a lot of photos from all sorts of perspectives, including close up shots and use a “fill flash” to lighten shadows of ball caps. Along with the camera make sure to take measurements of your fish so you can do the math calculations on just how big your fish really was. Here’s a formula that’s been developed by biologists to determine the weight of a wild steelhead:

Girth Squared x Length/775

Use a camera to capture the fish and angler to share the memories-Jason Brooks

Use a camera to capture the fish and angler to share the memories-Jason Brooks

Upsize your gear.

If you are still using 8 or 10 pound test leaders and 12 pound mainline you will really wish you weren’t the second you realize you have a monster steelhead up and running. Truly big fish are not as leader shy as some hatchery brats. And big fish means big gear. As soon as we get a warm spring day I switch all of my mainline to either 15 pound monofilament or 20 to 30 pound braid. My leaders are at least 12 pound test and a buddy of mine uses 20 pound test when we fish a certain river on the coast known for log jams and huge fish. I also trade my lightweight side drifting rod for my fall salmon rod. I keep a finger on my line to help feel the bite but I want the backbone of the medium to medium heavy action rod to turn that big fish away from the logs and rocks and hopefully force it in to the bank. Plus the sooner you can land a big fish the sooner you can let it rest and get it back into the stream. Fighting a steelhead to near exhaustion is no different than bonking it on the head with a stick.

Use the right gear and bring in the fish before it reaches exhaustion-Jason Brooks

Use the right gear and bring in the fish before it reaches exhaustion-Jason Brooks

Good luck and go find that steelhead of a lifetime!

Jason Brooks
Outdoor Line Blogger
Northwest Outdoor Writer

Boat Review: Weldcraft 280 Cuddy King

I sincerely look forward to “show season”.  I get to meet a whole bunch of new people and talk fishing and boating. The boating conversations often lead to answering questions regarding design and layout of various fishing hulls.

During these discussions, one of my recurring challenges is trying to effectively explain the importance -and effect- of reverse chine aluminum hulls to boaters who have never experienced their soft ride and easy handling. For decades, advanced hull designs have been the exclusive province of the fiberglass boat builder…but no more.

Introducing the Weldcraft 280 Cuddy King available at Master Marine     

aWhite

 

What is reverse chine? Great question! Below you’ll see a shot of this vitally important design characteristic. 

aWeldcraft Chine

As you can see, the “V” entry of the hull is surrounded by a flat “step” also known as a “reverse” chine. The structure of the reverse chine lends strength and rigidity to the Weldcraft but it also provides lift. Not unlike the wing of an airplane, the reverse chine’s lift slows the hulls descent into a wave, significantly softening the ride, reducing and in many cases eliminating pounding. In addition, as the Weldcraft enters a turn, the combination of lift and the chine outside the turn’s suction, prevent an uncomfortable roll and allow a very controlled tight turn. Bottom line: If you’ve never experienced the ride of a reverse chine aluminum hull and you believe that fiberglass hulls “just ride softer” than aluminum hulls, you owe it to yourself to experience the ride and ease of control of a Weldcraft.

Sight lines through the boat are excellent. No blind spots here!

aWhitefront

 

The bow is a very serious -and safe- work area. Non skid footing surface, welded heavy-duty cleats, rails and a raised coaming for the hatch just says it all.

awhitebow

 

Here’s your fishing station: A rear helm with steering, gauges, twin main engine control, kicker control and a Simrad fishfinder GPS which also offers autopilot control.

aRear

 

The spacious, heated cabin offers ample leg room, head room, hand holds, soft-rider seats, VHF radio in the brow and the Simrad NSS12 Touchscreen which gives you a complete, integrated electronics system in one compact package.

aCabin

 

The rear deck? It’s all about fishing room! We’re talking ten feet from the back of the cabin to the front of the transom!

aRoom

 

I almost feel sorry for that Cannon Downrigger…it looks lonely there on the gunnel all by itself…

aRigger

Weldcraft 280 Cuddy Cabin Specifications

Length:                 28 feet

Beam:                  102″

Sides:                    40″ x .160″

Bottom:                 96″ x .250″

Deadrise:              60 degrees at bow to 20 degrees at transom

Dry Weight:           5756 pounds

Fuel Capacity:      160 Gallons

Max HP Rating:    500 hp

Power installed:  Twin Evinrude 250 E-TEC Counter rotating

Come see this Weldcraft in the Master Marine booth at the Seattle Boat Show January 24 through February 2. We’ll be taking names for test drives! Who’s up for a spin???

Tom Nelson

The Outdoor Line  

710 ESPN Seattle

www.theoutdoorline.com

 

New Driftboat – Tricked to the Hilt

By Josiah Darr. When it comes to drift boats there are a fairly endless number of options and accessories available if you have the money and are willing to spend it.

Do you want a metal boat? Fiberglass? Maybe a classic wooden boat? Willie and Koffler make great aluminum boats and Ray’s River Dories makes a wooden boat like none other, but with friends already working for ClackaCraft Drift Boats, knowing how easy they were to row and maneuver, my decision to guide out of a Clack was a no-brainer.

Deciding the model was also a piece of cake. A ClackMax 18’ Sidedrifter with the flat floors and box seating is easily the most versatile and fishermen friendly boat I’ve ever been aboard.

Bill battles another while Ryan, his little brother Owen and their dad Brett look on.

Once the stickers were stuck and the rods were loaded I took to the water. Luckily the fall Chinook fishing here in the Tillamook area has been better than most people ever remember so it didn’t take long to get the boat bloody. And like my warm up trips with friends were supposed to do, they pointed out a few minor oversights in my options and design that I wanted corrected ASAP to dial the boat in even further and essentially create the ultimate river and tidewater killing machine.

Julieanne with her first ever chinook on her first ever trip into the Oregon Coast tidewater.

The first little add-on that was obviously was an oversight when ordering was the fact that there were going to be a lot of times when I needed a kicker besides just the sticks. With a little help from Rodger in shop at Clackacraft and a few minutes the drifter was ready for power.

The small plate Rodger installed not only gave me a place to put my kicker, but it did it in such a way that that I was able to leave the anchor centered. The plate kept the motor just high enough that is cleared the anchor are giving me full mobility. It also kept the motor tipped slightly more upright so the nose of the boat stayed down when I was cruising.

The motor mount easily supports a gas or electric motor.

With the elevated motor mount, the motor can turn freely.

The last little touch I needed just to make the motor mission complete was my prop guard, but not just any prop guard. We’re talking the mother of all prop guards made right here at Clackacraft. Not only is the guard made out of heavy duty galvanized steel right there in the shop, but it’s attached with a compression fitting so no holes need to be drilled in your new kicker. The guard with it’s oversized fin also helped keep the boat plained out when cruising along while deflecting any gravel bars or logs I might hit…..Okay, will hit.

The cage is ready for fish seeking navigation.

The compression fitting only take a few second to install. So easy even I can do it.

Another feature that I quickly realized I couldn’t live without with the bow drop front anchor. It’s so easy to use and when bobber fishing and especially backbouncing. I found out quickly precise boat placement is the difference between one fish and quick limits.

A simple tug on the front anchor rope and the boat settles right into position.

After a trip I realized when I’m running my motor I don’t need the anchor hanging in the way so one more call to the shop and 3-5 business days later the anchor holder was installed and the problem was solved. The anchor is in the water when needed, out of the water and securely stored when it’s not.

The anchor next keep the anchor when fishing or trailering.

Most the extra boat features like a walk-around rowers bench, upgraded Lamiglas oars and the holes drilled for the ability to place and secure the seat boxes depending on the type of fishing and type of fishermen were all already taken care of, but a few more little tweaks to the boat once it was out and fishing took the brand new Clackacraft from a really nice boat to one of the most functional boats on any river, anywhere.

The counterbalanced Lamiglas oars were an easy decision.

When it all comes together, it’s a beautiful thing!

Nate with his first ever backbounced chinook.

It doesn’t get much better than big chinook on the coast in the sun!

World Class boats for world class rivers….

If you’re interested in fishing the Tillamook area rivers for either salmon or steelhead out of my new Clackacraft give me a shout at (206) 660-1490. Fish On!

Josiah Darr – Outdoor Line “Young Gun”
JDarr’s Guided Fishing
Tillamook, Oregon
(206) 660-1490

Blacktail Scouting With Our 2 Year Old

It kind of sounds like an oxymoron when you first read it. Scouting with a 2 year old…really???

She isn’t actually two yet, but at 20 months she’s close enough. This is our third trip into the woods now and I’ll admit the first two were a little rough.

On our first voyage we walked around two miles behind a locked gate with Ava riding in our Bob jogging stroller. I picked some chantrelle mushrooms along the way and I scoped out the edge of a clear cut before we had to go…like right now. If you’ve got little ones at home you can probably guess what happened. It was bad, really bad. Thankfully I brought a change of clothes for Ava. I wasn’t so lucky though and ended up shirtless all the way back to the truck. Wow!

Our second adventure went much more smoothly and we were able to ride in on the mountain bike this time with Ava riding shotgun in the kiddo trailer. It was her first time in the trailer and she enjoyed the ride as long as she had her favorite sippy cup, a snack cup full of Goldfish, and her favorite stuffed monkey.

We rode approximately 3 miles behind a gate to an old clear cut that’s grown up a lot the last couple of years. It holds a lot of blacktails, however, so I tossed her up onto my shoulders and we did a rather quick half hour lap around the entire clear cut looking for sign. Nada…nothing…not a damn thing!

She was getting a little fussy so we piled back onto the bike and cruised back to the truck to head home and have some Spaghetti’O’s!

Since then she’s been climbing in the kiddo bike trailer on a near-daily basis and yelling “Go!” along with some other jibberish that I can’t quite make out. She’s already turning into a little outdoor girl, so I hope.

With that encouragement from Ava I loaded up the truck this morning with the bike, trailer, kiddo snacks, stuffed animals, and a diaper bag full of necessities and we once again headed for the hills.

Upon arriving at the gate I got Ava all geared up with animal cookies, Goldfish, her sippy cup, and her monkey and off we went on another scouting mission cloaked as a bike ride. She was quite content in the trailer today so I rode as quickly as I could, getting us in about four miles behind the locked gate. It’s a fairly easy ride behind this gate and it didn’t take us long to cover the distance.

Ava ended up on my shoulders again and off we went for a lap around yet another clear cut in search of the elusive blacktail deer. We didn’t walk 25 feet before we ran into our first blacktail rub…

We poked around the area a little bit and found more rubs like this one on the backside of this small alder tree.

Here’s where the buck stopped to tickle this alder with his antlers before heading on down the trail. It’s not a huge rub, but it’s blacktail sign that you definitely can’t ignore.

The weather was absolutely perfect today and Ava sang the whole time as we walked around this big clear cut looking for sign. There were doe tracks all over the place and also a few more rubs on small saplings in the clear cut. I think we found what we were looking for!

Towards the end of our walkabout I noticed a subtle disturbance in the pine needles and dirt that turned out to be a really good blacktail buck track. It’s kind of hard to tell from the photo, but you can definitely make out the dew claws and the hooves in the pine needles. This is a dandy!

Even though Ava was happy as a lark I figured we had better get going so as not to push it too far with her today.

I’m constantly scanning for sign on these forays into the forest and on the way out I spotted this rub on a small tree. I took the picture from the road to show you how well these rubs can blend in. If you don’t know what you’re looking for it’s easy to walk right on by. It’s on the bottom of the largest branch in the photo. After checking it out I used my binoc’s to scan the tree line along the edge of the clear cut and sure ‘nuf…there were more rubs on quite a few of the alders. When the rut starts this place will be crawling with blacktails.

It takes some extra effort and obviously a lot of precautions, but it’s definitely possible to get out with your kids and get some exercise all the while scouting for deer. I chose the right weather days and always made the trip mid-morning so that we wouldn’t blow any deer out of the area. And of course I didn’t expect to stay out all day…just a few hours at best.

I’ll do my usual trip to eastern Washington for opening weekend in search of mule deer and won’t worry too much about these blacktails until they really start to rut in a couple of weeks. You simply won’t see many mature blacktails until then anyway. Towards the end of the regular season, however, I’ll be out just about every day in search of these elusive deer. After today’s clues they’ll be a lot easier to find when that time comes.

If you’re still looking for you’re first blacktail here’s a few tips that might help…6 Tips for Taking a Late Season Blacktail.

With hunting season starting this weekend I won’t make any more trips into the woods with Ava this fall. Our adventures thus far have been wonderful though and I’m looking forward to our next one…whatever it may be.

Best of luck to everyone this hunting season. This is by far my favorite time of year!

Rob Endsley
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

Dickson’s Flyfishing Report

Skagit Steelhead

By Dennis Dickson

The Bitter Sweet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best of fishing,

Dennis & Mike Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHOW BIZ 2013!

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Nelson – Seminar Schedule at the Seattle Boat Show:

Triple Threat Salmon Angling:

February 1st – 2:00 PM

February 2nd – 3:00 PM

Dirty Downrigger Tricks:

January 31st – 7:00 PM

February 1st – 4:00 PM

February 2nd – 1:00 PM

SEE YOU AT THE SEATTLE BOAT SHOW!!!