Columbia River Catch and Release Sturgeon

by Jason Brooks

The lower Columbia river that separates Oregon and Washington is a super-highway for salmon and steelhead. As fall runs approach most anglers set up and wait to intercept fish. A single take-down makes everyone on board excited but what if there was another fishery where you can catch over a dozen or two fish that are measured in feet instead of inches using simple techniques on the same waters; there is and its sturgeon fishing!

Bruce Warren and Ryan Brooks with a Columbia River sturgeon-Jason Brooks

The lower Columbia is full of sturgeon and thanks to a well-regulated fishery with a long catch and release season you can go out with minimal gear and catch fish all day long. This past week my son Ryan and I joined Chris Kelly and his son Nathan and fished with Bruce Warren of Fishing for Fun Guide Service (253) 208-7433.

The morning’s Sun rising over the Columbia-Jason Brooks

Using two large sand shrimp wrapped onto a Gamakatsu 6/0 Big River barbless hook tied to a 40-pound lead of Izorline’s clear XXX we made sure to soak the baits with Pro-Cure bait oil. The mainline was 65-pound braid spooled onto a level wind reel and a stout 7’8” rod rated for 12-40 pounds. A 16-ounce pyramid weight on a slider kept our bait right on the bottom.

Sand shrimp soaked in Pro-Cure on a 6/0 Gamakatsu Big River barbless hook-Jason Brooks

The bites were surprisingly light. A tap of the rod tip and a few pulls, then you set the hook by swinging the rod upriver and reeling down at the same time. It took about a dozen bites for us to get the technique down and then the catching began.

Chris Kelly and his son Nathan with Guide Bruce Warren-Jason Brooks

As the sun rose we moved to a few other spots. Bruce doesn’t like over fishing any one place, even though all of the fish were safely released. Most of the sturgeon were between 35 and 45 inches with the largest fish of the day measuring 46 ½ inches at the fork landed by Chris Kelly and his son Nathan doing a team effort.

The biggest fish of the trip measured just shy of 5 feet-Jason Brooks

At the end of the day we pulled back into the marina and briefly talked to the fish checker. Out of a half a dozen boats only one summer Chinook was reported as being caught. He asked if we caught anything and when I replied we landed 18 fish in less than four hours he looked at me and knew that we were sturgeon fishing. Adding that this was about normal for a few hours. We didn’t see any other boats on the water during our entire trip while sitting on anchor for sturgeon.

Chris Kelly fighting one of the eighteen fish we caught in just a few hours with Guide Bruce Warren-Jason Brooks

Bruce Warren is one of the best lower Columbia guides I fish with. Not only does he provide a safe and successful trip but he is willing to share his techniques and make sure you know how to catch fish. He mentioned that this fishery will be great for several more weeks as long as the water temperatures are warm and there is a good current.

Guide Bruce Warren of Fishing for Fun Guide Service casting out the heavy set-up -Jason Brooks

We fished through a tide change but as long as the water was flowing downstream we were catching fish. So while you await the fall salmon and steelhead runs head to the Columbia and sit on anchor and do some sturgeon catching or give Bruce a call and he’ll be happy to take you out and show you how it’s done.

Jason Brooks

The Outdoor Line Blogger

Jason Brooks Photography

Central Oregon High Lakes Trout and Kokanee Outlook

The sun shines on Diamond Peak that sits above Crescent Lake and the large expanse of the Diamond Peak Wilderness. (Troy Rodakowski)

By Troy Rodakowski 

Lake fishing season is upon us once again. Oh yeah baby…….crisp morning air, warm sun, great camping, barbequing and lots of fish for the cooler. That’s what many of us anglers look forward to come June. A few of us enjoy this time of year when we can get out of town, forget the daily stresses of work, and wet a line in the Cascade Lakes of Central Oregon. The 2017 season looks to be quite good with action peaking possibly a few weeks later than normal. Snowpack was above normal this season with many storms showing up well into the month of May. This year, anglers will need to keep a close eye on snow melt as well as boat launch and campground openings.

The Lake Review:

Crescent Lake is predicted to be slow early this year with some of the best catches of kokanee in June. Kokanee here will have better size than most other lakes around with most averaging in the 10 to 14 inch range. Of course, there is also some good lake trout fishing to be had here if an angler is patient and fishes some of the drop-offs near the bottom.

According to district fish biologist Eric Moberly of Bend, Oregon (541-388-6145) “Kokanee and trout fishing should be good during the 2017 season at Odell Lake.” The best time to fish here for kokes is at dawn and dusk. Most fish will range from 11-13 inches in size. Lake trout fishing should also be good here although Moberly is quick to point out, “Be careful when identifying the difference between lake trout and bull trout. Lake trout have a deeper forked tail with spots on their dorsal fins with white and cream colored spots on their bodies.” He advises to play it safe and release all fish without spots on their dorsal fin.All bull trout are federally listed as threatened since their numbers are extremely low. Any bull trout that are caught must be released unharmed. Also, be advised that fishing has been closed within 200 feet of the mouth of Odell Creek to protect these fish.

Lake trout are a popular species found in several of the high Cascade Lakes. (Troy Rodakowski)

When fishing at Wickiup Reservoir it would be smart to go after brown trout here. Kwik fish, Krock lures, Rapala’s, Wedding Rings, and flashers all work well at Wickiup. I prefer the willowleaf blade style in these locations. The lake is at 100 percent of capacity right now with most of the large browns are caught fairly early in the season. There are also some very nice sized rainbow trout available in Wickiup. “Target shallow water flats early in the season and river channels once the water begins to warm,” says Moberly. Kokanee numbers should be fair this year with many fish scattered early in the season. They will begin to school up near the creek channels once the weather warms in early June.

Even though brown bullhead have taken over many sections of the southeastern part of the reservoir largemouth bass can still be found amidst the many willow flats. Bass fishing should improve once the weather warms. There is no size or bag limit on warm water game fish here. Wickiup is located off of the Cascade Lakes Highway (NFR 46).

The author shows off a few kokanee and a brown from Paulina Lake. (Troy Rodakowski)

Paulina Lake is located in the Newberry Crater off of Highway 97 near LaPine. This lake provides a great opportunity for brown trout of all sizes. The best fishing for them is late in the day around the edges in more shallow water. Paulina is also a great lake for Kokanee with the early mornings usually providing the best action. These fish range in size from 9-12 inches. There is a five trout daily limit which includes kokanee of which one trout may exceed 20 inches.

East Lake, also located near Highway 97 and the Newberry Crater provides some very interesting opportunities for anglers. The lake is kokanee, rainbows, and brown to keep anglers busy. Fair to good catches of rainbows usually occur early in the season because of planting efforts by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Rainbows are stocked intermittently throughout the year, as well.

Rainbow trout are targeted by anglers throughout the Cascade zone using many methods. Fly fishing is one of the most effective. (Troy Rodakowski)

Finally, Crane Prairie Reservoir will offer great fishing for rainbow trout, brook trout, and largemouth bass. It is advised to limit your harvest of wild trout in this fishery. Hatchery fish are clearly marked with either a clipped adipose fin or left or right ventral clips. Fish will be scattered early with the best brook trout fishing available both early and late in the season. Moberly is also quick to point out that there are some very large kokanee here if an angler puts in some time with the right gear. Of course, dawn and dusk are the best times to fish for kokanee in Crane. Using small spoons and spinners work quite well here. Also, wet and dry flies have produced some good results for rainbows as has fishing night crawlers on the bottom. Anglers looking for bigger brookies should concentrate on working structure. There are also a few largemouth found here in the willow areas especially early in the season when the water first warms up.

The River Review:

Deschutes River, from Behman Falls upstream to Wickiup Reservoir should be fair for brown trout. Moberly points out, “that there will be good opportunity for hatchery stocked bows in the upper stretches.” From Billy Chinook Lake upstream to Behman Falls anglers should see fair fishing. Browns and red band trout are the fish found in this stretch of water. Look to fish in locations where springs enter the river. Anglers should have some of their best results from Steelhead Falls downriver.

The Crooked River below Bowman Dam has had some excellent fishing for red band trout the past couple of years. Numerous overnight and day use areas are available on BLM lands. The Chimney Rock segment of the Wild and Scenic Crooked River  is located about 15 minutes south of Prineville off of Hwy 27. With recent high water levels I expect the Crooked to fish better during the months of June and July after the flows drop down.

Most of these lakes and reservoirs have resorts available with several amenities including campgrounds, boat rentals, restaurants, and lodging. I highly recommend checking with the local resorts prior to heading to your final destination.

If you’re lucky enough to get into the Kokanee here’s one of my favorite all time recipes for cooking them up:

One of my favorite Kokanee Recipes (See Below)

Uncle Bob’s Grilled Kokanee

-Start grill on medium low to medium heat.
-Use cookie sheet lined with a layer of foil.
-Place Kokanee on foil.
-Set cookie sheet on grill. (The foil is to insulate the bottom of the fish from too much heat.)

Mix together the following……
20 % olive oil
40 % Teriyaki sauce
40% honey bbq sauce.
Stir.

-When Kokanee have cooked a few minutes, slip fork under skin, and remove top layer only. Do not disturb the bottom.
-Drizzle sauce mixure liberally on exposed fish.
-Shake on a little Johnnys seasoning and lightly pepper.
-Continue to grill at low-medium temp until fish is done.
-Serve promptly while warm.

Troy Rodakowski
Outdoor Line Blogger
710 ESPN Seattle

Catch More Kokanee with these Useful Tips

Kokanee are one of the best eating fish to catch-Jason Brooks

by Jason Brooks

With temperatures finally starting to warm up it’s time to pull the boat out of winter storage and rig the rods for kokanee!

These tasty landlocked Sockeye are already starting to fill stringers on many Eastern Washington lakes and Southwest Washington reservoirs. Here are a few tips that have put a lot of Kokanee in my boat over the years.

Specialty rods that are limber will increase landed fish-Jason Brooks

Fishing rods need to be specific to this fishery. A 7 ½ foot rod with an ultra-light action is needed to help keep the fish hooked. Kokanee have exceptionally soft mouths and a fast-action rod will usually pull the hook free. Not only should you use lightweight rods, but also spool the reel with 8 or 10-pound test monofilament which will stretch and helps land more fish. The 8 foot Daiwa DXSK802L Kokanee trolling rod is an excellent choice for a this and so is it’s little brother the 7’6″ DXSK762L.

Dodgers and mini-squids are a top producing combo-Jason Brooks

Dodgers and lures need to be “teamed up” for the day’s fishing. The Double D dodger by Mack’s lure along with a Cha Cha mini-squid is a top Kokanee set-up. When using the 9 inch dodger shorten the leader to 8-12 inches to impart some whipping action on the fly or squid behind it. For the smaller 4 inch dodgers I like to pair them up with a Double Whammy wedding ring spinner and a longer leader of 24 inches. Both of these set-ups are designed to be used at slow speed, around 1 mph, which is about perfect for early season Kokanee fishing. Later in the year kick up your speeds to 1.5 mph and switch to a Sling Blade style dodger.

Shoepeg Corn  with added scents tipped on any lure increases bites-Jason Brooks

Corn is a must! White Shoepeg corn for some reason is an absolute must for Kokanee fishing. Corn naturally has a lot of oil in it and attracts Kokanee. To increase your bites substantially though soak your corn overnight in Pro-Cure bait oils along with some Wizard Kokanee Killer Korn Magic which toughens the corn and adds bite stimulates.

Kokanee are sensitive to sunlight, fish deep on bright days-Jason Brooks

Kokanee are very light sensitive. On bright sunny days you will find the fish at deeper depths and it is easier to locate fish during the early morning hours before the direct sunlight hits the water. On cloudy days the fish will be closer to the surface. Downriggers help keep your gear at the right depth once you find the fish.

New from Brad’s is the Kokanee Cut Plug-Jason Brooks

Try something new! Brad’s Killer Fishing Gear have come out with a smaller “Kokanee” cut plug. Just like the bigger versions, they are a hinged plug that allows you to fill the cavity with scents and come rigged with tandem red hooks. You can also get a two pack of un-rigged plugs. The one thing that these baits allow you to do is fish different speeds as they work well from the slower early-season fishing to the faster speeds that work better when the water warms up. These plugs can be fished bare or trailing 36 inches behind a dodger or in-line flasher.

Lake Chelan and Lake Roosevelt are already on fire for Kokanee and it won’t be long before the some of the top lakes in Western Washington start heating up for Kokes. It’s been a long winter and I’m pretty excited to get out there and test out some new Kokanee gear that’s been piling up on my fishing work bench!

Jason Brooks
The Outdoor Line – Blogger
710 ESPN Seattle

www.jasonbrooksphotography.com

Let’s Go Ice Fishing!

Grandpa Al Brooks with Adam and Ryan enjoying a day ice fishing on Roses Lake-Jason Brooks

Let’s Go Ice Fishing!

by Jason Brooks

The recent cold temperatures have thickened the ice and a winter pastime is creating memories once again. Ice fishing is going strong in Eastern Washington with the trout bite being consistent on Roses Lake near the tiny town of Manson. Those that prefer to catch a mess of perch are doing really well on Moses Lake and don’t forget Fish Lake near Leavenworth.

Ryan Brooks waits for a bite through the ice-Jason Brooks

The fishing is fairly simple, just chop or auger a hole in the ice and drop your baits down towards the bottom where the water temperatures are a little warmer. Look for areas where other anglers have found previous success, as shown on the ice with places where fish have flopped around and froze, or by watching anglers on the ice.

A rainbow trout coming through the ice-Jason Brooks

Ice fishing is one of those activities that is more of a novelty than a “must catch a limit” fishery. Have fun out on the ice but realize that it is cold, windy, and if you take the kids along they might not want to sit out there for very long. To make it more comfortable I like to take a lawn chair and a piece of carpet. The carpet makes it so you won’t be sliding around all the time and it really helps keep your feet warm.

Just enough freshly frozen trout for dinner-Jason Brooks

For gear, a standard, light action Daiwa trout rod works well, but so do those tiny “ice fishing” rods you find in the mid-west. They are very sensitive as the bite is light with the cold waters. Spool the small reel with 6 pound Platinum Izorline monofilament. When trout fishing it is best to use a leader with the weight tied at the bottom and the hook tied off of the leader between the weight and the swivel. I prefer to use a 1/4 ounce bell weight and size 10 bait holder hooks. Common baits are powerbait, single salmon eggs, or my favorite-salad shrimp cured overnight in Pro-Cure’s “Shrimp and Prawn” cure. For perch, jigging is the way to go, and it also works great for trout fishing too. Use a small jig, like a 1/8 ounce or smaller Mack’s Lure Glo-Getter that is UV enhanced. Tip the jig with a piece of worm, shrimp, or maggots. I also use a lot of scent when ice fishing no matter the type of fish as this attracts the lethargic fish and turns on a bite. Try Anise and Garlic scents as they seem to work really well ice fishing.

Adam Brooks and our Vizsla Lucy use carpet to keep their feet warm on the ice-Jason Brooks

Jason Brooks – Outdoor Line Blogger

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!

IMG_0339 (Medium)

 

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

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

KIRO’s Upshaw to Join the Outdoor Line on Saturday

We’ll have Ron Upshaw from KIRO’s popular “Ron and Don” show on the Outdoor Line tomorrow morning to chat with us about his recent fishing trip to Louisiana. Ron fished the flats for redfish, black drum, and seatrout by day and then bow-fished for redfish by night. That’s a FULL day of fishing right there!

Ron says, “It was super fun but I started running out of gas at around 1:30 in the morning.”

Bow fishing for redfish sounds like blast!

Here’s a few of the photos from Ron’s trip and he’ll be giving us the fully skinny on his fishing trip on the radio with us in the morning.

A Louisiana fishing trip has always been on my bucket list, so I’m anxious to hear what he has to say about he recent adventure on the show tomorrow. Plus, Nelly will get to learn about something other than his beloved salmon. Blackened redfish…it’s what’s for dinner Nelly!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

Kokanee Bite Taking off on Lake Samish
Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington says the kokanee bite on Lake Samish has been heating up the last few days. He’s talked to several anglers who have been limits of kokanee up to 17 inches on the lake. The hot rig has been a Sling Blade dodger with a Wedding Ring spinner behind it tipped with shoepeg corn and a pink Berkley maggot. Kevin says the larger fish are being caught 20 to 30 feet deep on the downrigger and the best fishing has been occurring in the middle of the lake directly in front of the boat ramp.

Bass Tourney on Lake Washington This Weekend
The American Bass Association is hosting two tournaments on Lake Washington this weekend with separate tourneys running on both Saturday and Sunday. Larry Williams from ABA expects between 20 and 30 boats to turn out for the event. With the smallmouth bass recently moving up onto their beds he expects fishing to be quite good and thinks it will take a 22 plus pound limit to take top honors in both events. Williams says the best technique for catching smallmouth bass on Lake Washington this time of year is a drop shot rigged with either a Snyper or a Yamamoto bait.

Halibut Opener Most Productive Around Port Angeles
Anglers couldn’t have asked for better weather on the halibut opener last week. Anglers got flat seas, sun burns, and there was some good fishing at least for those in the Port Angeles area. WDFW fish checkers in Port Angeles checked 141 boats with 146 halibut on the opener last Thursday. That’s an average of more than one halibut per boat. Last year the average out of Port Angeles was around .3 halibut per boat. Port Townsend and Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island kicked out a few halibut, as well, while the fishing elsewhere in the eastern Strait and the northern Puget Sound was pretty spotty for halibut. Halibut opens in Neah Bay and LaPush this weekend and anglers are once again getting excellent water to fish for halibut offshore.

Neah Bay Halibut Opener Slower Than Expected
Mike Jamboretz from Jambo’s Sportfishing said they had to fish longer than usual to get their limits of halibut on the Neah Bay opener on Thursday. Jamboretz said the ling cod were so thick on most of 72 Square that it was hard to get to the halibut. He had to move quite a bit to find areas with good halibut numbers and finally found some better fishing on Blue Dot. Most of the fish averaged around 30 pounds and their biggest fish was 45 pounds on the opener. Neah Bay and LaPush are open again today for halibut and Jambo says they’ll have “canoe weather” offshore for fishing again.

Special Hunt Permit Deadline Drawing Near
Hunters should be aware that the deadline for special hunt applications is May 22nd this year. Hunters can apply for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey in Washington thru the special hunt process. The drawing for special hunts takes place in late June.

Two Beaches Open for Clamming
Razor clam digging will be open Friday and Saturday on the Long Beach Peninsula and Twin Harbors beach will be open through Tuesday. Copalis and Mocrocks beaches are closed for the season because harvest guidelines have been met on those beaches. Low tide is at 8:12 a.m. today and digging usually starts a couple of hours before the low tide.

Florida Cops Enlist Alligator to Capture Fleeing Criminal
St Petersburg, Florida – A suspect who fled from Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies after a routine traffic stop was attacked by an alligator and later found at a local hospital being treated for puncture wounds to his face, arm, and armpit area. According to the police report the suspect, Bryan Zuniga, ran into the alligator at a nearby water treatment plant where it attacked him. He had no choice but to check himself into the hospital and of course…that’s where the police caught up to Mr. Zuniga and arrested him. If you run from the cops in Florida…you probably don’t want to wander too far off the beaten path.

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

Northwest Outdoor Report

300,000 Anglers Expected for Trout Opener
If you’ve noticed a few more boats scurrying around Western Washington early this morning it’s because today is the lowland lake opener in Washington. With over 300,000 anglers hitting the water today it’s the single largest opener in Washington. WDFW responded to requests to plant bigger fish this year by increasing the size of the stocked trout from around 8 to 9 inches to 11 to 12 inches. They planted approximately 2.4 million of these bigger, thicker, and chunkier trout for the opener. In addition, they also planted 110,000 jumbo rainbows averaging between 13 and 16 inches and another 52,000 triploid trout averaging around one and a half pounds. Temperatures are expected to reach around 60 degrees over the weekend and outside of a few afternoon showers the forecast is excellent for the biggest fishing opener of the year.

Martinis’s Top Lake Picks on the North End
John Martinis at John’s Sporting Goods in Everett likes Lake Kye in Snohomish County, Martha Lake near Alderwood, and both Heart and Erie Lakes near Anacortes for the trout opener. Martinis says the state plants a lot of fish in all of those lakes and they produce excellent fishing every year. His go-to setup for catching a limit of stocker trout is orange Berkley Power Eggs fished on a long 3 to 6 feet leader of 4 pound test monofilament. He says the extra long leader allows the bait to float up off the bottom above the weeds where the trout are cruising.

Pollock’s Top Lake Picks on the South End
Tom Pollock at Sportco in Fife says his top pick in the Tacoma area would be Lake Spanaway which recently received a plant of over 18,000 trout. He also likes Mineral Lake, Wilderness Lake, and Bay Lake on the Key Peninsula for great opening weekend fishing. Bay Lake recently received a plant of over 7,500 rainbows in preparation for the opener.  Pollock says the fish are usually in the top three to five feet of the water column and he’ll target those shallow fish by trolling Wedding Ring spinners, Dick Nite spoons, or small Flatfish. Pollock says another fun way to catch opening day trout is to fish a small piece of cocktail shrimp on a #6 hook below a bobber. He calls it a “delicacy” for these stocked trout and says the holdover trout will also hit this bait, as well.

Dam Counts Reach 1,000 Springers  on the Columbia This Week
1,000 springers passed over Bonneville Dam on Tuesday of this past week. It’s the first time over 1,000 spring Chinook have passed over the dam all season and it seemed to encourage more springers to charge upriver. 2227 passed over the dam on Wednesday and 2541 went over Bonneville on Thursday. Reports from Drano Lake and the Wind River upstream of Bonneville are that a few springers are being caught already. These areas typically fish best for spring Chinook during the month of May. We’ll have more reports from both of these areas in the coming weeks.

Saltwater Openers up Next
Saltwater anglers are eagerly awaiting the May 1st ling cod opener in the Puget Sound. The ling opener is followed by the spot prawn opener on May 4th and a slew of areas open up for halibut the first week of May also. Recreational shrimpers will see a 70% increase in shrimp quota this year which means anywhere from an extra day or two of shrimping in some areas to an extra month of shrimping in the San Juan Islands. Anglers are urged to visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website for a full run down of the upcoming ling cod, shrimp, and halibut seasons.

Fly Fishing Fair in Ellensburg
Don’t miss the 7th Annual Fly Fishing Fair at the Ellensburg Fairgrounds on May 3rd and 4th. Over 100 fly tiers will be on hand to share their fly tying skills and there will be numerous fly casting instructors at the fair all weekend to teach both beginning and expert fly casting techniques. The Fair boasts 18 flyfishing workshops over two days featuring names like Jack Mitchell from the Evening Hatch Guide Service, Steve Worley from Worley Bugger Flies, and Jim Teeny of Teeny Fly Lines.  For more information about the Fly Fishing Fair log onto Washingtoncouncilfff.org.

Yosemite Ranks Highest for Drug Busts
Associated Press – California’s Yosemite National Park lead the way in drug busts amongst all the national parks for the last three years. Park Rangers at Yosemite arrested 2,393 people for illegal drugs over the last three years compared to just 500 at Yellowstone and 365 at Grand Canyon National Park. One park visitor said they see a lot more happy faces at Yosemite than they do at Disneyland. The drug problem has been a boone to local mini-marts, however, who can’t seem to keep Dorito’s and frozen pizza’s in stock.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
Washington Fishing Forums and Reports

Northwest Outdoor Report

Washington Sets Salmon Seasons
Fishery managers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildife just released the 2013 salmon season package this past week. The Columbia River, coastal waters, and the Puget Sound will all see similar seasons to last year. Bouy 10 will open up for salmon fishing on August 1st with a one king limit thru September 1st. The coastal Chinook quota is down to 48,000 fish from a quota of 51,500 king salmon last year and the coastal silver salmon quota is up slightly this year to 74,760 fish. The coastal salmon seasons are somewhat complicated and anglers are urged to visit the WDFW website for the full details on coastal openings and closures this summer. The popular hatchery chinook fishery in northern and central Puget Sound from July 16th through August 31st will happen again this summer. That area could close sooner if the chinook catch guideline is achieved. After that those areas of Puget Sound revert to coho and pinks only from September 1st through October 31st. With over 6 million pink salmon returning to the Puget Sound this year the state is planning to have “bonus limits” for pinks in several areas of the sound excluding the Hood Canal. A comprehensive list of the salmon seasons throughout Washington is posted on the WDFW website.

Queets Should be Strong this Weekend
Flyfishing guide Mike Dickson from Dickson’s Flyfishing said they’ve been catching a few nice steelhead a day on the upper Queets when it’s been in shape. He says there a little rain rain in the forecast for this weekend but the flows should hold up until it closes. Mike says to fish anything big and bright and he’s been having quite a bit of success using a marabou tied fly in a light peach color lately. He says that fly seems to stand out really well in the glacial waters of the Queets. The Queets closes to steelhead fishing on April 16th and then Mike will finish out his season fishing the Bogachiel and Sol Duc rivers near Forks which close the end of April.

Lake Roesiger Kicking Out Koke’s
John Martinis from John’s Sporting Goods in Everett says the kokanee bite on the southern end of Lake Roesiger in Snohomish County has been heating up this past week. He’s heard of anglers pulling limits of kokanee out of the lake trolling dodgers and small pink hoochies tipped with either shoe peg corn or Pautzke Firecorn. Martinis says Roesiger is usually the first lake to heat up for Kokanee because of its smaller size. On nearby Lake Stevens the kokanee bite has still been quite slow.

Kokanee are on the Surface at Lake Merwin
Cameron Black from Gone Catchin’ Guide Service says the kokanee fishing is starting to heat up down on Lake Merwin near Woodland. Black had ten fish to the boat on Friday and said they’ve been really nice so far this season averaging around 13 to 14 inches long. He’s been running a silver Sling Blade on the surface with either an orange or chartreuse hoochie behind it tipped with shoe peg corn. Black has been running the gear 140 to 150 feet behind the boat to get bites and he said the bite has been better on stormy days than calm days because the fish tend to be a bit spooky. Black says the water temperature is 48.5 degrees right now and the bite should get better as the lake continues to warm up.
 
Hit the Yakima Canyon for Redsides
The report from Mike Canady at Red’s Fly Shop in the Yakima River canyon is that the river has dropped back into shape after last week’s high water and fishing should be good the next few days. Canady says there’s been a few March browns and blue winged olive hatches coming off recently and the yearly Mother’s Day caddis hatch should start happening soon also. Red’s will be conducting the 4th annual Red’s Rendezvous event on April 20th with free casting classes, on the water tutorials, beer and wine tasting, and a ton of giveaways. Reds is also hosting the popular IF4 flyfishing film tour the same day. The event is free and tickets for the film tour are $15.

If a Tree Falls in the Woods, Sue the USFS
Associated Press – An Idaho family is suing the U.S. Forest Service for over $1 million after a dead tree fell and injured their son in Boise National Forest back in 2010. Richard and Melinda Armstrong claimed their family was camping at a remote, unimproved camping site in September of 2010 when a gust of wind blew a dead tree onto their son. The 6 year old boy sustained a large laceration, a compound fracture, and a puncture wound on his back that made it difficult to breathe. Even though the campsite was unimproved and in a remote location the family’s attorney is stating that the USFS should have known about the dead tree and had it removed. The Forest Service has not commented on the recent lawsuit.

WDFW Officers Nab Poachers with 242 Trout
Lake Lenore will have quite a few less Lahontan cutthroat trout in it this spring. WDFW game wardens Will Smith and Chris Buschings busted four men last week with 242 of the big cutthroat trout. The men apparently netted the trout out of a fish trap in the dark and were loading them in a plastic fish tote when the wardens rolled up. One of the men jumped in the Toyota Tundra they were driving but was blocked by the warden’s rig and ordered to surrender at gun point. Another one of them gave up quickly and the two other men jumped in the lake and swam for it. One of them was caught holding onto a log to blend in with the surroundings and the fourth individual swam across the lake and disappeared. The water temperature in Lake Lenore this time of year is  40 degrees and the wardens first thought he might have drowned. Several hours later, however, a Soap Lake police officer spotted him walking thru a park 10 miles away with no shoes on and he had his socks full of newspaper to keep his feet warm. The four men have received multiple citations and the trout, weighing over 600 pounds, were donated to the Moses Lake Food Bank.

The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com