A Boat Launching Nightmare!

I just ran across this photo from a flyfishing trip I took years ago to the Green River in Utah. While the Utah Parks Gastapo was busy searching our boat for beer, order cigarettes, and porn this rig pulls up with two driftboats in tow.

“Where the hell are we…Mars?”, I jabbed towards the uptight Parks cop. We must’ve looked like we were sinners because she gave me the bitter-beer-face look and kept scrounging thru our gear.

Regardless, how would you like to back not one, but two boats down the ramp at the same time. Good luck!!!

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

 

 

Winter Steelhead: Sight vs. Smell

Steve with a winter steelhead caught on a yarnie. Photo by Rob EndsleyAn interesting question came up on my Facebook page the other day that’s often talked about amongst us steelhead fanatics. What’s the most important factor in getting a winter steelhead to strike…sight or smell?

I would say without a doubt that sight, and more importantly presentation, is the biggest factor in getting a winter steelhead to take a swipe at a lure.

Lets talk about presentation first. Whether your chucking spoons, pitching drift gear, floatfishing jigs, flyfishing, backtrolling plugs, hucking pink worms, or slinging bait most winter steelhead are going to want your offering brought in low-and-slow. Flyfishing guide Dennis Dickson has been preaching about this for years and after catching a couple of thousand steelhead myself I fully agree with him.

Now that you’ve got the presentation down the next step in the process of hammering winter steelhead is sight. Winter runs are attracted to brighter colors like pink, orange, peach, cerise, and red to name a few. If you only had a few colors in your vest I’d start with a combination of these colors and go from there. In certain water conditions purples and blacks have their place too, especially for the fly guys.

I guided the spring catch and release fishery for steelhead on the Skagit River system for around 18 years and I can tell you first hand that you don’t need bait or scent to catch steelhead. Don’t get me wrong…bait works great but it isn’t always necessary.That was an incredible fishery in it’s day and it forced me to be adept at catching steelhead using only artificials. If Washington ever went artificials-only for steelhead I wouldn’t miss a beat.

Having said that I will tell you that bait and scents are a great closer though. Steelhead are attracted to baits like sandshrimp, eggs, and coon shrimp at first because of their color. They have a color in their natural or cured state that sucks’em right in.

Once they get a mouthful of any one of these baits we all know what usually happens next…they eat them. It’s the sight of the bait that attracts them at first though and adding a little yarn or a colorful Corkie or Cheater makes this offering even more attractive to a steelhead. Bring’em in with the color and then close the deal with the bait.

Adding scents like sandshrimp, shrimp/anise, or krill to jigs, drift gear, and even plugs can have the same effect. The scent closes the deal once a winter steelhead swings by for a closer look. If I’m adding a gel type scent to a jig I’ll add it to the head only so as not to hamper the jigs movement in the water. Pro Cure has a great line of water-soluble scents that work great on jigs and they don’t matte down the jigs feathers.

If I’m adding scent to a plug, which is rare, I’ll add it to the bill only and not the body of the plug. Part of the plugs attractiveness to a steelhead is it’s metallic shine and scent can definitely diminish that and make the plug less effective. A perfectly clean plug backtrolled at just the right speed, in the right location, will draw just as many strikes as one with scent, however.

Skagit River wild steelhead caught on a swung fly. Photo by Rob EndsleyIf you’re swinging spoons or flyfishing stay away from the scents altogether. Spoons, like plugs, work because of the flash they create and they have a very large zone of attraction.

And, of course, adding scents to a fly isn’t cool at all…leave that one alone and pay your dues. Find the right water type and bring either one of these offerings in low-and-slow and you’ll catch steelhead.

There’s your order of importance for catching winter steelhead. Sight, presentation, and then scent, if need be, to close the dealio. At least that’s how I see it.

Thanks again for stopping by and don’t be afraid to share your steelheading stories over on the Outdoor Line forums. I fish for winter steelhead as much as I can over the course of the season, but on days I can’t fish I’m happy to live vicariously thru others. Good luck to you out there and I hope this was helpful!

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

 

 

 

 

Fly Fishing Bears

By Dennis Dickson

Fly fishing BC steelhead rivers is so magical. Sure, we have had our rain outs, wash-outs, busted boats, and broken vehicles. Somehow, these memories all jumble up in a warm and fuzzy place, and I can enjoy them time and time again. As I get older, I find myself pulling out these drawers of memories, for a taste of the good old days.

It would be easy if not tempting, to reduce these fishing stories to, “how many, how big” but that would simply never reveal the whole experience. In the many years of being out in a marvelous land, would you like to know what I most often reflect back on? The people. It simply wouldn’t have been the intriguing experience without the people, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I remember an invitation I accepted to fly fish the fabled waters of the North. Mick was heading North every year now. Frank was going up, too. I became  fishing buddies with both and subsequently jumped at the invitation.

It was there I met Plutonius. His  name was actually Pluto, but Frank dubbed him Plutonius, and somehow the name had stuck.
Plutonius was an artist by trade, and a full blown philanthropist at heart. His life was reduced to generating just enough money painting to spend the remainder of the year fly fishing for steelhead. A true fly fishing bum. A badge which he wore proudly.

Pluto wasn’t what you might call a great fisherman. Mick could cast farther, and Frank consistently brought more steelhead to hand, but Pluto loved his sport and loved the one Bulkley River pool he was successful in. We dubbed this drift the Maple Tree pool and it consistently held steelhead for Pluto each fall.

Instinctively, the other boys in camp seemed to know this. The rest of us fly fishers might jockey with each other to get first water on pools like “Blow Down,” or “Easy Money”, but nobody fished through “Maple Tree.” That was Pluto’s.

Maple Tree was an interesting piece of water. It was actually made up of two pools. Upper Maple had a good head, where the water would enter the pool strong enough that migrating steelhead would often hold before negotiating up through the rapids. The river currents spread beautifully, then scurried into a deep hole that was tucked in delicately close to the river bank.

A wading angler was left with no choice at the deep water but to leave the river and hike around to the downstream side of an ancient maple tree before he could wade back into the stream to fish the lower run. Hence, the Maple Tree pool. On a good day, Pluto could catch steelhead in both the upper and lower pools.

For all his many days in the wilderness, Pluto had his phobia: bears. For some reason, Pluto was deathly afraid of bears.
He bought and carried a magnum .45 pistol. Every day that he was out on the water, this gun came with him. I shudder to think what would have happened if he had ever had to use it. I almost witnessed it once.

Mick and Frank would often engage in drinking games at the end of a long day of fly fishing steelhead. These guys could get pretty soused on occasion before stumbling off to bed, of which I didn’t particularly mind. These both were expert anglers in my opinion, and a hard night of drinking meant a late morning to the water. I never drink so if I happened to fish down the river first, I naturally swam more fish. Pragmatic really. I liked it when they drank.

So this one night Mick and Frank got to drinking and playing. They came up with an idea! They should pretend they have a bear in camp! Now Frank was a big guy and stronger than a bull. Pluto was camped out in the back of his little Ford Courier pickup. Drunken Frank staggered over to Pluto’s truck and leaned his shoulder into it’s canopy.

Drunker than drunk, Frank starts rocking Pluto’s truck back and forth, while growling the most unearthly guttural bear sounds. Awakened by the noise, Pluto launches out of his bed, still in his skivvies, (not a pretty sight) and onto the cold hard ground. It took tipsy Frank all of a New York second to realize ……Pluto is not alone! He has his gun out and, though still half asleep, waving it around, ready to kill anything that moved! Right now that anything was Frank.

Do you know how long it takes to go from sloppy drunk to stone cold sober? I had no idea the human metabolic processes could move so quickly, but one look at that long barrel .45, and Frank fairly dove out into the pitch black Canadian wilderness, with un-clad, gun-waving Pluto in hot pursuit.

All we could hear was, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot! It’s me, Plutonius! It’s me!” Somewhere before dawn, Frank wandered back into camp, and, Pluto went back to bed. Eventually Mick and I stopped laughing, but that might have taken a couple days.

Somewhere in all of this, Frank came up with the idea that the whole thing must have been Pluto’s fault. He must be taught a lesson.
A couple of days later, Mick, Frank, and I spent the day fishing together. I so much enjoyed our time. Somewhere in the course of the day, the subject of Pluto and bears came up.

Now we all knew that in the daily report of who caught what, Plutonius would always innocuously ask, “So, did anybody see any bears?”  Today we thought we would be ready.

The day on the river finished up in fine fashion. I think Mick swam the most steelhead (which was very common), Frank caught the largest, and I had a good time with my friends.

Plutonius always joined in the fishing report ritual, and sure enough he piped in, “So’d, anybody see a bear today?”
Frank in his most straight-faced way answered, ”Yeah, actually Mick ran into one.”

Mick just nodded.

Although we just went on in the conversation as if nothing had happened, Pluto’s mind was smoking.

“So tell me about the bear,” he asked simply.

Mick turned to him and said, “Wow, I am not sure if you are going to believe this but you know how we saw those bear prints down at Home Run Pool the other day?”

Everyone in camp knew Pluto wouldn’t fish any pool that had had any bear activity. It’s just the way it was.

“Yeah…” Pluto hesitates.

“Well this time I stopped in to fish it, and there on the shore was a great big pile of bear pucky and it was like this!” (He is holding his hands out the size of an elephant swat). Frank and I almost lose it right there.

Pluto eyes get big and he says, “NO WAY!”
Heck, he is hooked into this story, already.

“Yup,” Mick continues, “ and guess what? It was still steaming!”

“NO WAY!” Pluto exclaims.

Now Mick is really getting into this. He leans forward as he lies.
He says emphatically, “TOTALLY WAY.”

Plutonius urges, “So what did you do?”

“I did what I came to do,” Mick answered, “I got out and fished.”

“So then what happened?” begged Plutonius.

“At first, I am thinking nothing, and then I hear something in the brush behind me!” Mick says.

“NO WAY!” Pluto yelled. You didn’t stay!”

I swear I thought this poor man was going to have a heart attack right there in camp!

Mick continues, “Absolutely. I see this really big steelhead just roll, right out in front of me. I mean, how could I pass that up? Right?”

“So what did you do?” Pluto kind of whimpered.

“I did what I always do,” Mick stated matter-of-factly, “I went back to fishing, until…..”

“I thought I hung up my fly on the brush in my backcast.” He continued.  “I turn to look, and I hear a huge ‘Woof!’” “Suddenly my fly line is peeling off my reel! Next thing I know, all my fly line, all my backing, is gone….!” Mick leaned back, sucking on his teeth.

“So did you get back in your boat?” Plutonius asks weakly. He is about spent just listening to this tale.

“Heck no. That’s an expensive fly line!” Mick proclaims.  “I went back into that brush to find my fly line, by darn!”

I interrupted, “Did you find it?”  Okay, even I was getting into the fabrication by this time, but it was a great story!

Mick turns from Pluto to me, and says “Yes. I did!  But guess what?”

Everyone in the group says, “What!?”

Mark leans closer to his audience and says really quietly, “When I bent over to pick up the line… it moved.”

Pluto all but screams, “NO WAY!”

Mick can’t hold it anymore, he busts up laughing! Pretty soon everyone is howling with laughter…..everyone but Plutonius. He is still wondering how much of the story is true. We all head off to bed.

Now Pluto was never known as an early riser, partly because he knew that nobody was going to fish Maple Tree before he got there. I really don’t think Pluto’s  gun slinging had anything to do with it, but I may be wrong.

Anyway, so next morning Frank heads his little pontoon raft off down the river like it is just another Bulkley River fishing day. What Plutonius doesn’t realize is that Frank is headed straight for the Maple Tree pool.

Knowing he is at least ten minutes ahead of Pluto, Frank rows his little boat into the shore at the lower end of the pool, pulls in, and stows his little boat and gear in the brush. He hides behind the Maple Tree. It isn’t long before he can see Pluto rowing his own little craft downstream. Pluto is headed directly for Maple Tree.

When you fish a piece of water, day after day, you kind of get it down to a routine. Pluto’s ritual was to park his craft at the head of the pool, wade and fish his way downstream, wade out and around the maple tree, then wade back into the river and fish through to the lower end of the pool. He wouldn’t hike back up to his boat until he finished. He went through this same drill, day after day.

The wading here could get a little deep, especially as one neared the water adjacent to the maple tree, so this was the one and only pool Pluto would unbuckle his gun and holster and leave them on the seat of his raft.

After fishing his way down through the upper run, Pluto did what he always did. He hiked out around the big tree and back into the water. Unbeknownst to him, he had walked within ten feet of the hiding Frank, lurking in the bushes.

Plutonius was still cursing his fishing luck. Although he had had a good grab in the upper pool, the steelhead hadn’t stuck. He recalled that he was contemplating fishing through the pool again.

As the events unfolded, Plutonius began reeling in, and walking back up along the shoreline as he finished the pool. He was about to enter back into the woods near the tree on his way to his raft.

Within his hiding place, Frank held a tree branch in his hands. He waited until Pluto got close. Frank broke it with a loud “snap!” Plutonius, not 20 feet away, froze in his tracks. He looked around. Instinctively, he reached for his gun. It was not there! He realized it was still lying on the seat of his raft…

Plutonius took a tentative step forward. Frank let out a low growl. Pluto had to get to his gun! Safety was only and all about getting back to the raft and his gun! He stepped forward again.

The woods rang louder, “Grrrowl”. Pluto simply could not go back through the woods, and the water here was too deep to wade. Poor Plutonius had another secret that only he and he alone knew…. he couldn’t swim.

Plutonius never made a big deal of this. Ever since Cabela’sTM came out with their water activated SOS CO2 Inflatable Life Jacket, he felt he could take on his worse-than-bear fear – – water!  As rivers may be the epitome of water, with his Cabela vest on, he felt he had conquered life in it’s most rudimentary form; rivers actually made him feel alive.

So how did life take such a cruel twist of fate? Bears and water at the same time?!  Plutonius looked around checking his options. He began cursing his late start. As all the other anglers from camp were already fishing downstream, there was simply no one left to rescue him in his predicament. Plutonius took a small feeble step towards the sound in the woods. Frank immediately let out his loudest growl, and rattled the brush, to boot.

Pluto later confessed he was ready to wet himself. Was he to die from drowning, or simply become B.C. bear fodder?  Which would be the least painful? With the despair of complete hopelessness, he waded back into the river.

Frank later confessed he didn’t actually make Plutonius swim. Starting with a snicker, he exploded into laughter so hard he couldn’t stand it.

It took Pluto a moment to realize what had just happened. To be honest, his first thought was his good friend Frank had somehow magically appeared, scaring away the monster bear in the process. He was saved!

When he realized he was nothing more than the butt of a most sadistically practical joke, Pluto became incensed.

“You are really sick,” he muttered.  Casting his eyes in the distance, he headed towards his boat.

Frank caught up with me while I was fishing the home run pool later that afternoon. He told me everything. We ran into some fish that kept us busy until evening. Neither noticed that Pluto had floated on down to the take-out. As we arrived at the boat launch, Pluto’s little truck was gone. He had left.

“Jeez,” Frank said, What happens if Pluto takes the prank poorly?” “A guys B.C. experience is kind of a sacred thing.

We shouldn’t have worried.

As we rolled into camp there was quite a gathering of anglers huddled around Plutonius. As we neared the group we could hear him say, “Yup, it was all I could do to make it back to my raft and gun, before that bear was all over me!” Frank and I decided, all is well. Pluto is just fine.

Such is life in the Canadian wilderness.

Dennis Dickson
Dickson’s Flyfishing
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

Dickson to Offer Float Trip for Wounded Vets

Wounded Warriors Grande Ronde River 4 day Wilderness Float Trip
Grand Ronde River, Washington
July 29-August 3 2013

The purpose of this special adventure is to raise awareness for the  Wounded Warriors program.

As a full time river outfitter I have spent the last 23 years rafting guests down many western rivers. My all-time favorite is the wilderness section of the Grande Ronde River in southeast Washington.

I am so thrilled to bring some brave young soldiers to my chosen waters.

I am asked almost daily. “Why are you doing this?”

My response: “These young men and women make the ultimate sacrifice for me, my family and our country. I could not be prouder to live in a country where brave young men and women risk their lives so we can all be a free nation. This small gesture is my way of saying THANK YOU!”

Check out our Grand Ronde Wilderness Float Trips when you get a chance and feel free to drop us a line if you’re interested in helping out with this awesome trip. These young men and women certainly deserve a great experience in the outdoors after all they’ve been thru!

Best of rafting,
Dennis Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com
E-mail Dennis at DDDicksons@aol.com or phone at (425) 238-3537

 

Flyfishing Leaders – The Steelhead Connection

By Dennis Dickson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now here is the rub:

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

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

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

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

Knots

Nail Knot:  

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

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

Leader/leader connection: Double Surgeon Knot

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

Leader/fly connections:

Duncan Loop [Uni-Knot]:

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

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

Non Slip Loop Knot:

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

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

Best of fishing,
Dennis Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

“B” Run Steelhead Trickling into the Cowlitz
Phil Stephens from Mystical Legends Guide Service says there’s some really big three-salt hatchery steelhead cruising up the Cowlitz River right now. The “B” run on the Cowlitz just got started and while most of the guides are only picking up a few fish a day it won’t be long before the run gets into full swing. Stephens says these late steelhead hit a yarnie really well and he fishes them almost exclusively when he’s sidedrifting. He suggests using a 4 to 5 foot leader and using a little shrimp scent on the yarn sometimes helps to draw strikes. The Cowlitz “B” run starts to hit the river in earnest in early March and runs strong thru the end of April.

Lake Washington Still Productive for Cutties
Todd Daniels from Tall Tails Guide Service says he’s still catching around a half a dozen nice cutthroat a day on Lake Washington. Daniels says the fish have moved a little deeper and he’s been getting most of his bites trolling 20 to 35 feet deep. His best lures have been orange label cut plug herring and fire tiger needlefish spoons trolled at least 100 feet behind the boat. Daniels said the area between the Cedar River, Mercer Island, and the Boeing plant is where most of the action is occurring.

Skwala Hatch Nearing on the Yakima
Josh Holt from Red’s Fly Shop on the Yakima River says there’s been a few Skwala’s around, but overall the fish are still in their winter feeding mode. He says most of the trout are being caught nymphing with size 16 to 20 red or black brassy’s. The guides working out of Red’s have been getting a couple of trout a day on dries and he suspects that the Skwala hatch should get into full swing in the next couple of weeks when the weather starts to warm up. The forecast is for 60 degrees in the Yakima Canyon tomorrow and if that weather pattern continues the hatches should start to come off soon.

Puget Sound Salmon Forecasts Released
The salmon forecasts for the Puget Sound and the Washington coast were just released and numbers for Puget Sound look very good for the summer of 2013. Salmon runs of note are the Nooksack with a forecast of 46,500 Chinook. The Nooksack run has increased steadily from 23,000 king salmon in 2009 to this year’s forecast of over 46,000 fish. Hood Canal will also see an increase of Chinook with a combination of wild and hatchery Chinook making up the 69,000 Chinook projected to head back to the Canal. On the coho front the Skagit is forecast for 137,200 wild coho this fall, up from just 48,300 last year and the ever-solid Snohomish system is forecast to get just over 163,000 silvers. And the pink salmon forecast for the Puget Sound is for an astonishing 6 million pink salmon to stream into Puget Sound. While it’s too early to tell what the seasons will look like many think that with the rock-solid forecasts for both Chinook and coho they should be much the same as last year on Puget Sound. A more detailed look at the salmon run forecasts is posted in the Outdoor Line forums.

Spring Chinook Seminar at Outdoor Emporium Today
Don’t miss the yearly spring Chinook seminar today from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Outdoor Emporium in downtown Seattle. The seminar features longtime Columbia River guides Eric Linde and Steve Leonard along with Outdoor Line host Tom Nelson. They’ll be covering everything from run timing, where to fish, and how to rig up for spring Chinook. Outdoor Emporium provides a free lunch and there will be a ton of tackle giveaways, as well.

Duck Dynasty Crew Runs off Singer Morissey
Grammy award winning singer Morrissey cancelled a performance on the Jimmy Kimmel show this past week after finding out that the cast of A&E’s hit show “Duck Dynasty” was also booked as a guest on the show. The former front man for the Smiths is an ardent animal rights activist and said he couldn’t take the risk of being on a show alongside people who amount to animal serial killers. The publicity didn’t hurt Duck Dynasty one bit either, as it posted the largest viewing audience in A&E’s history the night after the Morissey/Kimmel catfight with 9 million viewers.

Squirrel Cookoff World Championships Announced
Joe Wilson of Squirrel’s Unlimited just announced the 2013 World Champion Squirrel Cook Off to be held on September 7th. The event will be held in Bentonville, Arkansas and will feature hundreds of contestants from across the country that are the best of the best at whoopin’ up a mean batch of squirrel. Squirrel’s Unlimited president Joe Wilson says the event will draw an estimated 10,000 people to the area. Last years squirrel cook off will be televised on Bizarre Foods on the Cooking channel on April 1st. Interested parties should log onto squirrelcookoff.com for more information.

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

River Etiquette 101

By Dennis Dickson

I was floating a popular run on the Sauk River one spring day. The April morning found the river in prime shape and I knew the flyboys were going to be out in numbers. As we rounded the corner of a long bar, there near the bottom of the half mile run, was another fly guide boat I hadn’t seen for a while. There is a nice slot in the tailout, so I figured they probably had already fished the upper drift, and were about to fish the lower. The day was still young and there could be new fish moving in so why not give this upper pool a go anyway? The guide and his client were just chatting in their boat. Couldn’t really tell if they were climbing in or getting out, and as they were not within shouting distance, I thought I would drop down and talk, after I got the boys fishing.

My guys had been fishing for a few minutes, and the guide heads up the gravel bar towards me so I waded out of the river to talk.

“How come you stole my water!” He demanded.

Gee, I am sorry,” I apologized. ” I saw you parked down in the lower run so I assumed you had either passed on this water to fish the lower pool, or had already fished it.”

“Everybody knows I always park my boat at the bottom of this run” He said. ” You should have asked.”

“No,” I said, “Obviously I didn’t know, (I had been on the water every day for the last month) and its not river etiquette to have ask permission, to fish the water behind someone, particularly, when they are not even in the river. Now, if it’s a really big deal, you take the pool, and we will slip on down the next pool.”

He declined.

Contrast this episode with an experience a few weeks before.

I was fishing some new water in early season, and we passed another guide with a couple clients. They were pulling plugs so I gave them a wide berth so not to disturb their water.

“Good morning Dennis!” Rod yelled. ” Swam anything this morning?”

Not yet,” I answered. “You?”

“Lost one in the upper run” He said. “Say, have you fished that new fly water down in the tailout?” “We hit two in here yesterday.”

I had to admit, it looked fishy. I shook my head, No.

“Tell you what,” He continued, ” Why don’t you fish it today, and tell me how you do?”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

I wanted it bad but it was his water.

“Yeah, What the hell.” He answered.

We hooked three steelhead that morning……all from that pool. I made it a point to thank Rod the next morning. As more and more anglers hit the rivers, it seems this fishing pressure brings out the aggressiveness in some anglers. It’s a little like driving in freeway traffic. We are all trying to get somewhere, but we sometimes forget we are All trying to get somewhere. The rules of the road get forgotten.

Here is a rundown on some of fishing rules on our local rivers.

Rule # One: First Comes First:
Anglers know that a steelhead undisturbed is probably going to hit the first thing that is presented reasonably. The Dawn Patrol is the angler that gets on the water in the wee hours of the morning to take advantage of “new fish”. The rule is ” If you are first on the water, you get to fish down through first, provided, you are on the pool ready to fish, and you are stepping downstream in a reasonable manner, so the next angler also has a chance to fish.” Standing at the head of a run and fiddling with your gear, in hopes that the angler who showed up, a few minutes after you, will finally get frustrated and go away, is not good etiquette. Neither is any reason that hinders or prevents an upstream angler from fishing down through the run.

My assistant Jackson said he was following a fellow down through the Buck Island Pool, on the Skykomish, when this downstream angler sees another fly boy walk up. By the number of patches on each of their vests, you would think they were in the armed services. This fishing angler wades out of the pool and begins a conversation with the new arrival.

Jackson continues to step down. The boys keep talking and Jackson keeps
stepping down.  When Jack gets even with these boys, the guy that was fishing, yells out, ” Don’t you be fishing down through my water, buddy!”

Fortunately for him, he caught Jackson in a good mood. He breaks people. The rule implies that, if he begins fishing upstream of you, he has every right to be there. If you get out of the water long enough to slow the progress of the upstream angler, let him fish through. The key, be reasonable.

Rule # Two: Don’t Crowd;
Just as you do not appreciate it when you have someone come up and tailgate you, when your driving, try to maintain a reasonable distance between you and your downstream buddy. Downstream buddy – read rule # one.

Rule # Three: Be reasonable about your concept of the pool. Little rivers tend to have little pools. Sometimes when I am fishing even two anglers, I will space them, allowing each to fish his own pool, if the waters are strategically close.

By contrast, a river the size of the Skagit may have pools a half-mile long, if you were to fish the whole thing. The Mixer on the Skagit comes to mind….but the taking water may be only about one hundred yards in length. If you know you won’t be fishing the lower waters for a least a half hour, and a guy walks up to ask if he can fish, let him. If you are looking forward to fishing that water yourself, and you know you are fishing iffy water, you should reel up and go down and fish the prime stuff yourself, but do not hoard the whole pool, simply because you happen to get there first. IT’S NOT YOUR POOL! You just have the right to fish it first.

Don’t pull this crap about ” We consider this to be two pools”, which is your excuse to step down in front of someone into prime water. If there is a question about what the fishing anglers intentions are, ASK, but permission is only necessary, if they are downstream of where you want to fish.

Rule # Four: Hooked fish goes to the back of the line.
You really see this get abused on the popular waters. The idea here is, If you are lucky enough to play a fish and you are in front of somebody fishing through, give him a chance at the next fish. I once saw an angler get on a Grande Ronde pool and proceed to play and release five steelhead, always going back to the front of a long line of anglers after each fish! What was he thinking?

Rule # five When in Rome…..
Different rules apply to different waters. All these rules don’t mean jack to a combat fishery like Hoodsport ,or around a bunch of gear guys, or even a crowded morning at Fortson Hole. If you go waltzing in and start in on the locals as to where and how they can fish…You Are Out Of Line. Not only that, but you are probably going to get thumped.

Rule # Six No Sponging or Bragging
I was just pulling into the Ben Howard boat launch. It was the same two guys I had seen the day before, and the day before that. The conversation would start off innocuous enough with a “So how was fishing today?” and then they would launch into the twenty questions, about where, when, how many, which fly and yada yada…….. As soon as they would sponge as much information from one boat, they wouldn’t even say thank you, they were off to the next boat. I actually witnessed one guy sponge the new arrivals and walk back up and get on his cell phone to pass on the information, like he was doing the flyfishing kingdom this great service! I finally got so irritated by the third day, (didn’t these guys have a life?) that as sponge # one came up while I am pulling my raft up, before he could even open his mouth, I said, “look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I will make you a deal. If you don’t ask me the questions, I won’t lie about them.”

At first he was shocked, then he just laughed, and ambled over to the next boat. Some fellows want desperately for everyone to know, just what a wonderful fisherman they are, they can’t wait to tell everybody about it. Young guide want-a-be’s are bad for this. They will start by asking how the day is going, and before you can hardly answer the question, they will start in about all the amazing fishing they have had that day. If they are really feeling their oats, they will hang around the takeout and drill the guide boats as they come in. Kind of their way of saying ” Boy, now if you were in my boat today, you could have had thissss much fun. You could term this as “Reverse Sponging”. Very annoying.

You see, the problem with all the rule breakers are, they simply don’t care about anyone but themselves. The problem is, even if they read this, they won’t get it. Nothing tries my patience more than some flyboy that will scream bloody murder when they think someone else steps out of line, but will do the same thing, given the opportunity, and never even think twice.

The Golden Rule is still the best rule:
Simply treat others the way you would want to be treated, and we can all get along.

Best of fishing
Dennis Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

“There are only two types of anglers in this part of the world, those that catch steelhead on a fly and those that want to.”

Dickson’s Flyfishing Report

By Dennis Dickson

And so it goes.

Well, I am back to writing weekly fishing reports again. I hope you find them informative if not entertaining.

The Puget Sound river season is coming to a close early, again. The bright news is, The Queets on the Olympic Peninsula is posed to have another stellar year. If you have a large steelhead in your horizon, you might want to hook up with Mike ASAP. His dates are booking fast. 425 330 9506

Me? I get to guard the home front conducting the Casting classes & Lakes Schools for the next few months. You can read all about it in the Flyfishing Made Easy program. Teaching 300-500 fly anglers a year. Guiding isn’t All we do!

So the river reports:   The Skagit in the Rockport area is fishing the best. (5000-6000 cfs. @ Marblemount). Hatchery winter steelhead was short lived at best but the Dolly fishing has held up. Its hard to beat Cop Car for taking these fish, but anything big and wiggly will get a bite.

So many fly anglers have gone to swing fishing with tips but I maintain it is still the most misunderstood technique for taking winter fish. Here is an updated article I originally wrote some 10 years ago called Flylines are what catch fish.

Next reports will be relayed from Mike out on the coast.

Speaking of which:

Dickson Flyfishing will host a second seminar at Cabelas Topic: Swing Fishing for winter Steelhead, Olympic Peninsula and beyond.

We have decided to make this one into a workshop with 10 different displays covering everything from fly-tying to spey rods & equipment. We will have plenty of experts there to answer your questions, plus lots of hands on do-dads. Mike will be on hand to show his Queets River video, while I will host the show. Here’s the Scoop.

Where: Cabelas @ Tulalip

When: February 23 Time: 5-7 PM

Come as you are. It’s free!

Best of fishing,
Dennis & Mike Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

Man Loses Eye Shooting at Salmon
A 51 year old man is recovering from injuries he received while shooting at salmon with a .22 caliber rifle on the Deschutes River near Olympia last Sunday. The man took a shot at what he thought was going to be dinner, only the bullet hit a rock and ricocheted back hitting him in the head. KIRO News talked to the man’s mother in law, who said she thought he was going to lose his sight in one eye from the accident. The maximum fine for shooting a salmon with a gun is up to one year in jail.

Mean Mountain Goats Paintballed in Olympic Park
The Mount Ellinor trail in the Olympic National Park just reopened after being closed since July 3rd due to a rash of mountain goat sightings. One wouldn’t think that mountain goats would pose a problem, but in 2010 a mountain goat killed a hiker in the park and the Forest Service isn’t taking any chances. Since the closure Forest Service employee Kurt Aluzas has been using paintballs, repellent and yelling and screaming to clear goats from the trail. The goats have become aggressive from years of feeding by hikers on the trail, a practice the Forest Service says need to stop. The trail is now open again and hikers are advised to stand their ground and yell at the goats if they are confronted.

Sekiu Awash with Silver Salmon
Jackie Tonzales at Olson’s Resort (360-963-2311) in Sekiu says the silver salmon fishing is nothing short of amazing there right now. She weighed in a 24 pound hatchery coho at the resort last night and a 35 pound king salmon was also weighed in yesterday. She says people are catching limits of coho all day long in front of Sekiu and even the beach fishing has been outstanding. Jackie says anglers fishing off the jetty in front of the resort and off the beach in Clallam Bay are finding limits of silvers in the 10 to 12 pound range. Olson’s is having a king and silver derby at the resort next weekend with $4500 in cash and prizes. Tickets can be purchased at the resort for $15. With such great fishing they expect a big crowd at the event.

October Caddis Hatch Underway on the Yakima
Mike Canady at Reds Fly Shop (509-933-2300) on the Yakima River says the October Caddis hatch is just getting started in the upper reaches of the Yakima River. He says the best hatches have been around the farmlands above the canyon, but he expects the hatch to spread up and down the river as water temperatures continue to cool down. Canady’s heard of rainbows up to 19 inches on the river this past week. October is typically one of the best months to dry fly fish on the Yakima River because of the huge caddis hatch that happens there every fall.

Wenatchee Fire Update
Mick Mueller from Incident Command on the Wenatchee Fire Complex says that crew have made significant progress this past week on the fires surrounding Wenatchee. He reports that  most of the Chiwawa River road is now open and the Entiat River road is also open 25 miles up from the mouth of the river.  The south side of Lake Chelan is also now open. Mueller says the area east of Highway 97 on Blewett Pass, however, is still closed from Liberty over to Ruby Creek and that the Table Mountain fire has been acting up again with the recent winds. He urges anyone planning to hunt in a burned area to be very away of fire spotting. Hunters travelling to the area for opening day of deer season should visit www.inciweb.org for updates on fire status and road and area closures.

River Days at Defiance Marine
Don’t forget to stop by Defiance Marine next to the Bremerton Airport today for River Days. The event is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features river fishing seminars, screaming deals on tackle, and a tackle swap meet to unload some of your old gear. The event will feature special guests Bob Kratzer from Anglers Guide Service, a representative from custom rod builder Batson Enterprises, James Beasley from Wicked Lures, and Rob Endsley and Duane Inglin from the Outdoor Line will be at the store to do seminars and answer questions. Attendance is free for this fun event!

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

Northwest Outdoor Report

Westport Wide Open for Silvers
Darin Koob from Outer Escape called in yesterday with a hot coho report from Westport. He was fishing with Bret Ferris of Ferris’s Guide Service and said they couldn’t keep the silvers off in 175 feet of water in front of the Quinault Casino. Darin said most of the fish were hitting a Wicked spinner and they were also getting quite a few silvers to hit cut plug herring. Captain Ferris said the bite has also picked up around Buoy 6 and 8 along the south jetty.  It looks like the huge silver salmon forecast for the Chehalis River system just may come to fruition.

Sekiu Cranking out Silvers
The fishing report on the front page of Olson’s Resort website says the fishing there is “hot, hot, hot!” Last weekend. Tara Hergert at Olson’s says anglers are catching a lot of silvers right now on spoons, bait, hoochies, flies, and just about anything that might catch a salmon. She also said the beach fishing has been outstanding right off the jetty in front of Olson’s and off the mouth of the Clallam River. Anglers are casting Buzz Bombs off the beach and having plenty of success.

Silver Action Hot on Puget Sound
Anglers are flat our hammering the silvers on Puget Sound right now. Most of the action is occurring between Mukilteo and Edmonds, but there’s also been plenty of fish down at Redondo and Point Robinson. Tom Nelson from the Outdoor Line has been getting his limit every day trolling a Black Ace Hi Needlefish behind a “O” or “OO” Luhr Jensen dodger and in the early morning hours a cut plug herring behind a 4 ounce sinker has also been working great. At Everett on Thursday of this past week WDFW staff checked 51 boats with 188 coho. That’s good fishing folks!
 
Silvers Cruising Shoreline in Hood Canal
Ben Rogers from Defiance Marine (360-813-3600) in Bremerton is reporting good silver fishing at Salisbury Point on the Hood Canal. He says the guys from the shop have been getting limits of coho at Salisbury fishing herring under a float or casting pink and silver Flying C spinners off the beach. He says the fish are right up on the beach  right now and very accessible to bank fisherman. Don’t forget to hit Defiance Marine on October 6th for their fall river kick off day. They’ll have seminars all day long, tackle reps on hand, lots of good food, and a tackle swap meet. Duane Inglin and Rob Endsley from the Outdoor Line will also be at the event.

Sea Run Cutty’s Patrolling Beaches in South Sound
Anil Sravastava from Puget Sound Fly Company says the sea run cutthroat fishing in the south sound is the best he’s ever seen it. He’s had great reports in the fly shop from beaches in Olympia, Shelton, and around both Harsteen and Anderson Islands. He recommends using small baitfish patterns 1 to 3 inches long and don’t be surprised if you hook into a coho. Anil says there’s quite a few of them around also.

Buy a Ring, Get a Rifle
A jeweler in Atlanta, Georgia just found an interesting way to get hunters to propose to their girlfriends. D. Geller and Son Jeweler’s is giving away a Thompson Center rifle with the purchase of an engagement ring worth $2499 or more. That’s right…now you don’t have to choose between buying a new rifle or getting married. Owner Mike Geller says business has been slow lately and well, what better way to get hunters into the store to buy their sweetie that diamond ring. The promotion runs from September 20th thru the 22nd. For more information about this promotion log onto www.dgeller.com.

The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com