5 Quick Tips for Trophy Steelhead

Rob Endsley with a Trophy Steelhead

by Jason Brooks

Big wild steelhead are starting to show in our Northwest rivers. This means it’s time to go fishing folks. Here are five quick tips to make your trip better.

Use bigger gear to fight bigger fish-Jason Brooks

  1. Upsize your gear – Once you set the hook and realize you have a big steelhead it’s nice to know you can handle that fish and fight it to the bank. Use heavier mainlines and leaders as well as a stout rod. This helps you land the fish as well as release a fish that isn’t exhausted.

Pink worms are very effective for big fish-Jason Brooks

  1. Forget the Bait –  Instead of using bait which tends to cause higher mortality, switch to other tactics such as spoons, plugs, spinners, rubber worms and beads.

Scents attract fish as well as cover unwanted smells-Jason Brooks

  1. Use Scent – Bait gets swallowed but scent attracts fish to your gear and helps cover any unwanted smells. Apply Pro-Cure Super Gel to leaders, weights, and swivels and soak yarnies in Pro-Cure bait oils. Yarnies can be just as effective as bait and wild steelhead won’t swallow them.

Bobber dogging is an great way to increase your catch rate-Jason Brooks

  1. Learn to Bobberdog – This technique allows you to fish all different kinds of water without making adjustments. It is simple, you’ll lose less gear, and it’s highly effective. Hawken Fishing makes an entire line of Aero Floats designed specifically for bobber-dogging. Spend some time learning this technique and you’ll be able to easily target trophy steelhead holding water. 

Ted Schuman admires a trophy steelhead about to be released-Jason Brooks

  1. Take a Camera – Big fish are in our rivers and if you land that “fish of a lifetime” then take the time to snap a few photographs to preserve the memories. Remember to keep the fish in the water until the camera is ready.

Jason Brooks – Outdoor Line Blogger
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

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

The Worlds Best Smoked Duck

The reality is, there is more than one way to cook a duck. The first time I brought my limit of seven ducks home I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to cook’em or what I wanted to try.

The one thing I knew for certain, is that after I breasted-out my ducks I needed to get the blood out of the meat. Robbo gave me a great tip. An over night soak in a mixture of kosher salt and water did the trick. By the next morning pretty much all the blood was out.

While my duck breasts were soaking I had time to get on the internet and research some recipes. I found a few that looked interesting and I settled on one that gave me an idea.

I was going to smoke my duck breast and I was also going to change a recipe that I found for a brine…just a bit.

Here’s the ingredients that I settled on:

2 quarts apple cider
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
2 crushed bay leafs
1 tea sp. cracked peppercorn
1 tea sp. minced garlic
1 tea sp. garlic pepper

Mix your ingredients thoroughly with a wisp until the salts and sugars are dissolved.

This time I am actually going to smoke duck breasts and goose thighs. For the breast prior to brining I cut them in half length wise. For larger breasts such as big mallards I will even cut those into three pieces.

I will let this meat soak for a good twenty four hours. It’s all about adding flavor and ensuring that your meat will be nice and tender when the smoking is complete.

When you remove your breast and thighs form the brine you’ll notice a slight color change. No worries, this is the result of the salts and sugars absorbing into the meat.

Now here is the game changer. Knowing that duck and goose are extremely lean and free of fat also means that it is very easy to over-cook and have it end up chewy and tough. That is exactly what we don’t want.

I knew I needed to add some fat to the meat prior to smoking. In my mind I thought, “why not wrap each piece in bacon”. Everyone knows that anything cooked in bacon is a sure hit. Make sure you get the “Thick Cut Bacon”. It will cost a little more, but the amount of fat in each piece protecting your prized duck or goose is well worth it.

Wrapping each piece of duck and goose is pretty simple. For the duck strips I just take a single piece of bacon and go around it length wise and pin it in place with a tooth-pick. I make sure the tooth-pick is pushed all the way in on the bottom so it’s not in the way when setting your wrapped meat on your smoking rack. It’s OK if it sticks out of the top a bit. For the goose thighs I basically spiral wrap the bacon around the thigh from top to bottom.

Because duck and goose meat is so dense, it’s not like smoking fish. I find that you really do need to smoke at higher temperatures. I use a Little Chief and put it in an insulated box that I built. This works great in getting my smoker up to the temps that I need. Something else I do to get my smoker up in temperature is a combination of chips and pucks.

I like to use the Peterson Smoke Pucks, as they really aid in getting the smoker to the higher temps that I need. I also use smoking chips for flavor. When smoking fish or fowl fruit chips are always a great choice. For this recipe I use apple chips as it complements the apple cider brine very nicely.

The overall smoking time will vary. I usually keep the smoker between 140 and 160 for six to seven hours. As the meat in the smoker warms up I eventually get it up to about 180 for at least the last hour to hour and a half.

Overall smoking time tends to be about eight hours depending on your temps. I want the bacon on the outside of the duck done but not burned.
Because of the bones in the goose thigh meat it actually takes a bit longer to smoke. Once I removed the duck from the smoker the goose thighs were left in the smoker for another hour and a half. Total smoke time for the goose was about nine and a half to ten hours. Again, total time will depend on your smoker temperature control.

Goose thighs on the top rack and the duck strips on the other three racks.

A good look at what the bacon wrapped pieces look like right out of the smoker. Again, the bacon is done but not burned.

Finally I simply unwrap the bacon and prepare the meat for serving. With the duck, I like to cut it into strips. You can see how the meat ends up medium rare and moist. You will not believe the amount of smoke flavor on this fowl, it’s amazing. For the goose thighs, I strip as much meat off the bone as I can. You will find that the goose tends to be just a bit tougher then the duck, however it’s still very flavorful.

Give this smoke duck or goose recipe a try, I think you’ll find a new favorite to serve to your friends and family around the holidays.

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

 

Stuff Your Stocking with Salmon Sauce

By my count there’s only five days until Christmas and some of you may be looking for an easy gift for the angler in your life that just loves to eat salmon.

That’s me…I love to eat salmon and everything else for that matter.

A friend introduced me to Johnny’s Salmon Finishing Sauce a couple years ago and I’m hooked on this stuff. It’s almost like tartar sauce only much, much better.

They sell it at Outdoor Emporium, Sportco, and many of the larger grocery chains in Washington and you can also find it on the Johnny’s website.

Whenever I find Johnny’s Finishing Sauce on the shelf at Sportco I clean them out. It’s that good!

If your lookin’ for a last minute gift idea or perhaps a new sauce for your summer salmon barbecues I highly recommend you give this stuff a try. It’s good, good stuff!

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

 

Sunglasses You Can Hide Behind

If you’re looking for a Chistmas gift for the sportsman in your life or just want some super cool shades look no further than Costa’s new lineup of polarized sunglasses in AP Realtree camo.

Costa’s camo series is available in their popular Fantail, Blackfin, Double Haul, and Zane frames and of course you can also get them with uber-schwanky 580P glass lenses for the ultimate in color enhancement and glare reduction.

Costa’s 580P glass allows maximum depth perception and light transmission in the early morning and late afternoon when animals and fish are most active and these lenses provide maximum glare reduction.

I know this firsthand because I wear them nearly every day on the ocean in Alaska and when I’m river fishing in Washington where it seems like we have “low light” conditions more often than not. Even on those rainy, drizzly days we’re famous for here in the Pacific Northwest it’s surprising how much glare is cast off the water.

Now I’m all fired up to try the new Costa Realtree camo shades in the duck blind and in the fern-choked blacktail woods of Washington. If they can give me even the slightest edge detecting an elusive blacktail buck in the early morning darkness I’m all over it.

If you haven’t done it already click on over to Costa AP Realtree Camo and snoop around. You can bet these sweet shades will be on my Christmas list!

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

Of Phones and Facebook

BY JEFF LUND.

To understand fully the quandary I faced Saturday, I’ll have to volunteer that the first time I remember my cell phone ringing while fishing was in 2007. I was trout fishing on the Klawock River back home, where reception is spotty at best. But the call made it through and lit up my pocket. Though I was fishing and I risked setting a precedent, I answered. After all, it was my mom and it was about dinner.

From this has stemmed a habit I am not particularly proud of, but not especially worried about. I send river-side text messages of fish to friends that aren’t fishing. It’s cruel, yes, but it’s reciprocated and accepted among my angling friends.

Saturday afternoon the phone wasn’t already out to take a picture of a trout and the ring wasn’t from mom, but I answered anyway. The business was a solid seven out of 10 on the urgency scale. It could have waited I guess, but the fish weren’t biting.

I kept fishing.

With one hand I drifted my nymph in the current then tossed it back up river with sedate enthusiasm now that I was distracted by speaking into my hand.

A fish took.

I had too much slack in my line, so I lifted the rod and arched backward nearly dropping my phone. The fish jumped and I stumbled, nearly dropping my rod. “Man I have to go. It’s a huge fish.”

I was pressing the fly-line to the rod with my finger to keep tension, but with an active fish early in the fight unforgiving tension is an ultimatum. I ended the call, knelt down and put my phone on the rock behind me, then reeled up the slack, backed off the fish a bit and started playing.

The trout wasn’t as big as I initially thought. I released it then went to work on the vicious knot created by the slack between the first nymph and the trailing midge.

Once all that was done, I finished the conversation.

To assume that all lovers of wild things are immune to the temptations of the sometimes sickening availability of technological advancement is absurd.

Though the cry of solitude is what is most commonly cited as the reason for getting out, technology has infiltrated the experience but hasn’t ruined it. Guide buddies of mine send updates from the water. Location is always a secret, but for potential clients watching from home, it whets the appetite and greases the credit card. Others utilize mobile social media just because it’s there.

Since I had no real reason to answer civilization and I did, I wondered, what had I become?

I decided to enlist professional, fail-proof help — Facebook.

Facebook is great because it reduces everything; faith, politics, philosophy and culture into manageable cartoons so you don’t have to actually read or understand anything anymore. You can make voting, spiritual and relational decisions based on how many other people “shared” and “liked” things and keep the brain free of pesky things like critical thinking.

So I decided to post the abstract of my phone answering/fishing ordeal and let others tell me what I should think.

Some were almost offended, as if I was the type of guy that would eat a tuna fish sandwich, drink a pot of coffee then take a nap before going to the dentist. Others friendly chided.

I’m still not clear on the issue, and I will probably still bury my phone and wallet in my gear rather than lock it in my truck, but one thing is certain, it would take a lot more than a phone to ruin a day on the water.


Jeff Lund
Teacher/Freelance Writer
Manteca, CA

"Its the coming back, the return which gives meaning to the going forth. We really don't know where we've been until we've come back to where we were. Only, where we were may not be as it was, because of whom we've become. Which, after all, is why we left." – Bernard Stevens  Northern Exposure

Forecasting the salmon forecasts!

Football nuts have their NFL Combine and Draft, while us “salmon sickos” have the salmon run projections and the season setting process.

If you’re a football fan fisherman…you’ve got a whole lot of “pre-seasoning” to do.

So, in an effort to apply some “salmonid salve” to your off-season itch lets take a peek at the process of forecasting the runs and setting the salmon seasons that we all look forward to. 
C’mon in, take a seat and welcome to Aquatic Resource Management 101! 

Robbie Tobeck with a great reason to pay close attention to the salmon season setting process!

 

Before salmon seasons can be set, we must know approximately how many salmon are returning to each management area.

This is where the inexact science of run modeling comes into play. Each stock and species of salmon requires its own unique algebraic equation or “run model”. The variables that are plugged in to the run model include but are not limited to: parent stock abundance, numbers of fish in catches, natural spawner escapement, hatchery production, coded wire tag recovery data and carcass recovery numbers counted by biologists who walk or fly over spawning areas.

For additional insight, check out the Pacific Marine Fisheries Council website. or, my Alma Mater, the University of Washington’s School of Fisheries.
Feeding conditions on the vast oceanic pastures have a direct bearing on the numbers and health of the highly migratory salmon. Recently, these conditions are beginning to creep in to the salmon run assessment process. NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center  (this past season's La Nina notwithstanding) has the handle on the tremendously positive changes in the north Pacific.

Nelly and longtime fishin' buddy Clay Griffith with a fine example of a "north Pacific" chinook

In Washington State there are two managers or “Co-managers”: the State and the Treaty Tribes of Washington. The State and tribes both have biologists that must agree on the forecast numbers before negotiations can begin on how to slice the “salmon pie”. In other words, once the forecast is accepted by both parties, allocating the amount of salmon available to each of the user groups is the next step. By name the three user groups are: Sport Fishermen, Tribal commercial and non-Tribal commercial fishermen, and the process is called the North of Falcon (NOF) season setting process.

The term “North of Falcon” is a reference to Cape Falcon on the Oregon coast. Cape Falcon roughly bisects the state of Oregon and salmon management south of this landmark is yes, you guessed it, known as South of Falcon.

This year NOF begins February 28 with a presentation of 2012 Salmon Forecasts and Fishing Opportunities from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in the General Administration Building Auditorium, 11th Ave. & Columbia Street on the Capitol Campus in Olympia, Washington. Those attending the meeting will have an opportunity to talk to fishery managers about the pre-season forecasts and participate in work sessions focusing on key salmon-management issues in the region.

Final adoption of the 2012 salmon fisheries is scheduled for April 1-6 at the PFMC meeting in Seattle. Here's the complete WDFW news release 

My favorite NOF line: "If you’re not at the table, you’re on the table!" While it’s been said that the truest words are uttered in jest, nothing could be closer to the truth. Only by attending these meetings can you have an influence on the process.

NOF can be frustrating but it’s a great education in fisheries management and a wonderful way to get involved. And who knows: possibly, just possibly you could end up with a few more days to fish in your neck of the woods!

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

Words You Never Want to Hear in a Duck Blind

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog of any significance. I write the Northwest Outdoor Report every week, but other than that my blog writing time has been limited for a month plus. By what? You axe. The usual culprits. Fishing, hunting, preparing for our busy summer charter season in Alaska, and the arrival of our new bundle of joy literally any day now, to name a few.

What on earth prompted me to write a truly worthy blog then. Well, I was sitting in a duck blind with some chums last weekend and a word was spoken that made me cringe. It wasn’t a four-letter word, nor was it a curse word of any kind. It was just one of those words that just doesn’t belong in a duck blind, or a boat, or spoken amongst outdoorsman in any setting for that matter.

That word was “probe” and it got’s me thinkin’ about a few other words that hit me in the funny bone. When a fellow outdoorsman speaks these words in any context I always think…well, lets forget what I think.

Heres a few words that don’t belong in the duck blind:

Ointment
Moist
Alimony
Fester
PETA
Probe
Rad
Panties
Stoked
Sick (Not ill…Sick!)
Cope
Job
Phat
Home
Now

There you have it. A truly meaningful blog packed with invaluable information. I bet you have some words. I know you do. Lets hear’em!

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

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Area Nine: Two Schools of Thought.

The first local salmon "opener" of 2012 is slated for January 16 in north Puget Sound's Marine Area 9. This huge piece of water encompassing Admiralty Inlet features some of Washington State's premier salt water salmon locations, namely Possession Bar, Point No Point and Midchannel Bank. On a chart or on the water, "A9" can be a vast, intimidating area. Add some wind or fog to the mix and there is something here to challenge even the saltiest of salmon anglers. So for the novice or the old salt, here's one plan of attack to put you on the track for some early season success on one of my favorite areas.

Here's whats on tap starting January 16 on good 'ol A9. Winter chinook or "blackmouth" up to and well beyond the 30" mark

 

Two schools of thought are held here in A9 so for simplicity let's call them the "Upstream" Theory and the "Downstream" Theory. Puget Sound's tides are termed "diurnal" describing the characteristic of having two high tides and two low tides in a 24 hour period. That's a lot of water moving and playing the currents is your direct path to consistent success.

Very simply, upstream anglers will be found on the side of structure that the current is flowing into and downstreamers will fish the side of structure that current is flowing away from. I find myself dipping a toe into both schools of thought.

For example, Possession Bar extends from Whidbey Island into Admiralty Inlet and right into Possession Sound's tidal current cauldron. An ebb tide flows east to west and you'll find me on either the east bar or the middle bar or "Tin Shed" area adhering to the upstream school of thought.
On the other hand, when I'm out on Area 9's northwestern edge at Midchannel Bank, I go with the flow, starting my troll at Marrowstone Point on the ebb and ride the tide towards Point Wilson. It's common practice to fish with the current at Midchannel bank but since you start the troll at Marrowstone as the tide is running from it you're taking a page from the downstreamer's book.

Learn to turn the tide to your advantage and you'll have to make room in your fishbox! It's gonna get crowded in there!

 

What depths do we wish to target? Look to fish flats around 100 to 150 feet of depth keeping your gear right on the bottom at all times. One of the ways we accomplish this is to keep an eye on our Lowrance chartplotter/sonar and the Cannon STX Digitroll 10 does the rest! Here's a video of the Cannon Downrigger in Bottom Track mode.

Terminal Gear choices are as close as a trip to SilverHorde.com and include some old, productive standards such as the Coho Killer White Lightning

The Kingfisher Lite 3.5 "Yellow Tail"

 

Don't forget to pack along the "usual suspects" assortment of hoochies as well.

 

Area 9 is nothing short of a local gem that provides a solid, local opportunity right through April 30! We'll be keeping you up to date on this fishery and keep an eye on our Fishing Reports page as well! Good luck and we'll you on the water!

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