Break out the crab pots: Some marine areas reopen Saturday for winter Dungeness crab fishing

Nice Dungeness crab like this will become fair game when the winter fisheries reopen in some marine waterways on Saturday (Oct. 7) daily through Dec. 31.

Great news for those who like to pursue Dungeness crabs!

The winter Dungeness crab fisheries are set to open this Saturday (Oct. 7) after summer catch assessments taken by state Fish and Wildlife showed enough remained in the catch quota.

“It was definitely not a good summer,” said Don Velasquez, the state Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound shellfish manager. “As everything progressed (during preseason test fisheries) we knew it was going to be especially bad from Seattle southward, and that became more than true once the summer fishery opened except for red rock crab populations.”

That downtrend in crab abundance has lead to the decision to keep Hood Canal, and central, south-central and southern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Areas 10, 11, 12 and 13) closed during the upcoming winter fishery.

Elsewhere marine catch areas that will be open daily from 7 a.m. on Oct. 7 through Dec. 31 are Neah Bay east of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line (Area 4); Sekiu (5); eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca in Port Angeles area (6); San Juan Islands (7) Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay (8-1); Port Susan and Port Gardner (8-2); and northern Puget Sound including Admiralty Inlet (9) except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Anglers can also keep six red rock crab of either sex daily, and must measure at least 5 inches across.

All Dungeness crab caught must be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid through Dec. 31.

Winter catch reports are due to by Feb. 1, 2018. Details: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html.

 

Three Top Gear Combo’s for Puget Sound Winter Blackmouth

By Rob Endsley

Winter blackmouth season is upon us here in Puget Sound and it’s time to talk about a few lethal rigs to catch these immature king salmon. In the winter months the bait size in Puget Sound is generally a lot smaller than during the summer months and “matching the hatch” can be critical to getting them to snap. Small herring, sand lance, and hooligans make up the bulk of the baitfish in the sound during the winter blackmouth season.

Green Crush/Ace Hi Needlefish Combo

This is a go-to rig anytime there’s candlefish around. I’m a big fan of Luhr Jensen’s “Green Crush” and “Blue Crush” flashers because they have UV on one side and full glow on the other. No matter what the lighting conditions these flashers will give you some “pop” down below in the blackmouth zone. The “Blue Crush” works just as well as the “Green Crush” for me. Pick a winner!

Any time I’m fishing Ace Hi’s or hoochie’s I run a minimum of 50 pound fluorocarbon leader. Flourocarbon is a lot stiffer than monofilament and the combination of that stiffness and the heavier line transmits a lot of action from the flasher back to the Ace Hi. The short 30 inch leader helps with that also. These lures don’t impart their own action so you’ve got to get them shake’n and bake’n with the flasher. Don’t worry about spooking fish with the heavier leader. If the flasher doesn’t spook ’em, the leader sure as heck isn’t going to.Luhr Jensen Coyote "Green Crush" Flasher - Ace Hi Fly Combo

I tie two 3/0 Mustad Ultrapoint hooks back-to-back and very close together for this rig. Next I’ll run four Silver Horde glow beads as spacers to push the hooks toward the back of the Ace Hi “Needlefish”. I like these particular beads because they’re football shaped and it’s takes fewer of them to get the job done. Plus they glow for days.

Ace Hi "Needlefish" Rigged with 3/0 Mustad Ultrapoint Hooks - Photo by Rob Endsley

The best needlefish colors I’ve found so far have been green splatterback and blue splatterback. The chartreuse, purple, black, and white Ace Hi “Needlefish” patterns work great also though. And if you ever get into a situation where there’s squid around run the orange splatterback pattern. I’ve terrorized the kings on that pattern when they’re gorging on squid!

San Juan Islands Blackmouth with a "Blue Crush" flasher - Photo by Rob Endsley

Blue Crush/Coho Killer Combo

Tom Nelson and I refer to the Coho Killer spoon as the “fish detector”. Like the needlefish pattern mentioned above the Coho Killer is also an excellent candlefish imitation and it imitates small winter herring too. Don’t let the name fool you though. This spoon will flat-out murder the blackmouth in the winter months and summer Chinook will hammer this spoon also.

I run a longer 42 inch, 30 pound monofilament leader for this rig because the spoon has it’s own action and doesn’t need any help from the flasher. The flasher brings ’em in for a look and the action of the spoon seals the deal. Monofilament is much more limber than fluorocarbon and lets the spoon dance around freely behind the flasher.

Coyote Flasher and Coho Killer Combo - Figure by Rob Endsley

Like most lures the Coho Killer works pretty good right out of the package. A few minor tweaks to this nasty little lure will turn it into a freak show down on the bottom though. The first thing you want to do is accentuate the bends in the lure. By increasing the lures two bends the Coho Killer turns into a blur at trolling speeds and this tweak also makes it switch direction every so often.

Adding Custom Bends to a Coho Killer - photo by Rob Endsley

Next you’ll want to remove the hook from the tail of the Coho Killer and add a split ring to the rear hook ring. Then add a swivel and a 2/0 Mustad Open Eye Siwash hook to the split ring. This setup allows a hooked salmon to twist and turn when it’s hooked without applying a bunch of torque to the back of the spoon. These spoons are exceptionally lightweight and the addition of the swivel reduces the chance of seriously damaging the spoon every time a fish is hooked.

Coho Killer Spoon - photo by Rob Endsley

The top Coho Killer colors for winter blackmouth are Irish Cream, Cookies and Cream, White Lightning, Mexican Flag, and the green, blue, and purple splatter back patterns. The glow and UV patterns work best in the winter months when blackmouth are hugging the bottom in deep water and the chrome plated patterns seem to work better in the summer when salmon are suspended.

Coho Killer spoon with small herring - photo by Rob Endsley

Coyote Flasher/Kingfisher Lite Spoon

This is the same rig as above but with a Kingfisher Lite spoon. As I mentioned earlier both the “Green Crush” and “Blue Crush” flashers work excellent as attractors. Run blue on one downrigger and green on the other and see which one is performing better. I started running blue quite a few years ago after noticing that everyone else was running traditional green. Guess what? It worked!

The smaller 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 Kingfisher Lite spoons do a great job of matching the size of small herring and hooligans in the winter months in Puget Sound. Small herring abound in the sound itself and hooligans can be plentiful in the San Juan Islands in the winter time. Hooligans are small smelt that are between 2 and 4 inches long in the winter and blackmouth love them.

Coyote Flasher/Kingfisher spoon combo - photo by Rob Endsley

The Kingfisher Lite spoons that seem to get bit the most are Cookies and Cream, Irish Cream, Mexican Flag, Kitchen Sink, Herring Aid, Resurrection, and Yellowtail. Yellowtail doesn’t look remotely like anything you’d find in Puget Sound but the blackmouth don’t seem to care. That’s definitely one of our top spoons for blackmouth year-in, year out. Nelly’s got a couple of these spoons on his boat that have little to no paint left on them.

The Kingfisher Lite spoon also swims a little better by accentuating the bends. Here’s a video from Tom Nelson that shows how to give a little bend to these great spoons to make them fish better.

The Attraction of Scent

John Martinis with a 16 pound blackmouth caught opening day 2016 on Possession Bar - Photo by Les Jacober

John Martinis caught this 16 pound blackmouth on Possession Bar on November 1st, 2016. A 3 inch “Herring Aid” spoon did the trick!

I like to add Pro Cure gel scents to all these lures to help seal the deal. The new Outdoor Line Downrigger Dynamite gel scent is a proven winner for saltwater salmon and includes UV attractant, herring, anchovy, sardine, and bite stimulants in the form of amino acids.

If I’m putting scent on a flasher I will always apply it to the bottom end of the flasher on the glow side. There’s no sense in dulling down the shiny side of the flasher with a bunch of gel. Herring scent is the name-of-the-game in most situations unless I’m trolling around rocky structure that might hold shrimp. In that case I’ll go with a shrimp-based scent like Pro Cure Shrimp/Krill or Shrimp/Anise. Another scent that works great is Pro Cure’s Bloody Tuna Anise. On occasion I’ll cut a small herring strip and add it to the top hook of my hoochie or Ace Hi Fly to make it a little more enticing.

A Note on Shakers

These three rigs will catch blackmouth throughout the Puget Sound and that can include undersize blackmouth, as well. If you continue encountering these small blackmouth either leave the area or switch to bigger gear. 4 inch spoons, whole herring, and even 4 and 5 inch plugs will greatly reduce the number of shaker encounters. Not only are we responsible for taking care of the resource but you’re not fishing effectively if you’re towing around a small shaker on your gear all day.

Fish any of these rigs near the bottom where there’s bait and blackmouth around and you’ll catch fish. These are time-tested rigs that have filled plenty of punch cards for both myself and Tom “Nelly” Nelson.

Good luck to you this winter blackmouth season and don’t be afraid to share your fish pics and stories with us over on the Outdoor Line forums. And if you’ve got any other blackmouth fishing tips I’m all ears!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

The 2015 Salmon Forecasts!

A sure sign of spring after a long winter is the annual arrival of our salmon forecasts and the “North of Falcon” meetings. I await the salmon forecast numbers like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Hello, my name is Tom and I am a “salmon sicko”.

After watching the numbers for a number of years (never mind how many…) I’ve found that you can “call some shots” by digging into the forecast numbers. The WDFW, DFO Canada and The PFMC (Pacific Fisheries Management Council) work very hard to get their chinook and coho abundance estimates out in a timely manner. These figures take some pouring through to find the real “meat” but don’t worry, I’ve done all the leg work for you right here!

2015 Selected Preseason adult Chinook Forecasts (in thousands)

Stock                     2009       2010     2011       2012       2013       2014       2015 
Willapa fall               34.8      31.1       36.8        45.2         27.1        32.4        35.1
Hoh fall                     2.6         3.3        2.9           2.7           3.1          2.5         2.5
Nooksack/Sam        23.0      30.3      37.5         44.0        46.5        43.9       38.5

Skagit summer        23.4      13.0      15.9          9.6         13.2        18.3        12.3

Stillaguamish wild    1.0        1.4         1.9          0.9           1.3          1.6          0.5

Snohomish Wild        8.4        9.9         7.4          2.8          3.6          5.2          4.1
Snohomish Hatch     4.9         5.6         5.1         3.9           6.8          5.4         3.2
Tulalip Bay                4.0         3.4         3.5        5.9          10.9          4.7         1.3

S Puget Wild            17.2      12.7        8.9          8.9           5.2          4.8         6.5
S Puget Hatch          93.0      97.4      118.6       95.8       101.9       101.4     91.1

Hood Canal Wild        2.5      2.4           2.1         2.9            3.3          3.5        3.1

Hood Canal Hatch     40.1     42.6         38.3       43.9         65.7        80.6     58.9

Stock total:       255.6k    253.1k    278.9k   266.5k      288.6k      304.3k   257.1k   

This is a mixed selected stock chinook forecast to say the least. Generally these stocks are slightly down with respect to 2014 partially due to changes in the run modeling but also due to unfavorable oceanic conditions. The most concerning stocks are the Stilliaguamish,Cedar and Sammamish wild chinook which will probably be deemed “driver stocks” with regard to crafting our summer chinook opportunities. However, the Skagit & Nooksack/Samish checks in with a solid forecast as well which should drive a very strong Marine Area 7 summer chinook season and an uptick in wild chinook south Sound stocks is certainly cause for optimism.

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The Silver Story! 2015 Preseason Adult Coho Forecasts (in thousands of fish)

Stock                   2009         2010            2011          2012        2013        2014       2015
Straits Wild           20.5          8.5              12.3           12.3       14.8          14.5         13.4
Straits Hatch         7.0            7.8              12.7           18.6       15.4         15.3           8.8
Nook/Sam W        7.0            9.6               29.5           25.2      45.4          20.8         28.1
Nook/Sam H       25.5          36.0               45.7           62.8      49.2          61.7         50.8

Skagit Wild          33.4          95.9             138.1          48.3     137.2        112.4       121.4

Skagit Hatch       11.7            9.5               16.2           14.9       16.3         15.8        19.5

Stilly Wild            13.4           25.9              66.5           45.5        33.1        32.4         31.2

Stilly hatch            0.0              5.4                0.6             4.1          3.1          3.1            0

Snohomish W       67.0           99.4            180.0         109.0     163.8         150        151.5

Snohomish H        53.6           24.5              80.4           80.5      111.6        78.1         53.8

S Sound Wild        53.6          25.3              98.9           43.1       36.0         62.8          63.0

S Sound Hatch   188.8       186.4            173.3         162.9     150.9       172.7         180.2

Hood Wild            48.6          33.2              77.5           73.4       36.8         47.6           61.4

Hood Hatch        52.0          51.2              72.1           62.6       68.6         82.7          108.4

Key stocks tot  338.6k    320.8k        916.0k       628.6k     783.2k    869.2k       891.5k

 

Is this the “new normal”? Ever since the 2011 coho run we’ve been experiencing some absolutely solid coho fishing. The increase in Hood Canal and South Puget Sound stocks alone have me thinking that 2015 will not see many anglers stray far from Puget Sound come September! In fact, the overall feeling among fisheries managers is that barring a repeat of the warm water “blob” of 2014 off the west coast of Vancouver Island, that we should see much improved coho action with some larger “hooknose” entering the catch!

If all this is not enough to get -and keep you- fired up, how about a Frasier River sockeye forecast that’s estimated at 6.8 MILLION with another 345,000 headed for the Columbia! Lake Washington sockeye anglers may have another year to wait with only 164,595 headed for the Ship Canal but a look north to the Baker River gives to 46,200  bright, red reasons to be encouraged compared to the 2014 forecast of only 35,377 Baker River reds.

Let’s not forget our odd, little odd year visitors the pink salmon! How about 6.7 MILLION pinks headed for Puget Sound. Add another 14,500,000 -that’s 14.5 MILLION headed to the Fraser and the humpy “horde” will number about 21 million in the Straits of Juan de Fuca!

Keep in mind that these numbers are but the “raw material” that the co-managers will use to craft our local seasons and only by attending the North of Falcon meetings can you have an impact on the process. We will keep you posted here but I sincerely look forward to meeting some of you….at the meetings!!!

For a schedule of the North of Falcon meetings near you hit WDFW’s North of Falcon page.

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

The 2014 Bayside Marine Salmon Derby!

The 23rd edition of the Bayside Derby coincided with the Saturday, November one Marine Area 8 & 9 opener which meant that I had to figure out a way to slide out of the final hour of The Outdoor Line Radio Show in order to hit the water by daylight! Fortunately, Daylight Savings Time ran late this year and Robbo agreed to do a remote broadcast from the Port Of Everett so I was only steps away from the boat as Endsley and John Martinis finished the broadcast.

The word “November” conjures up all types of mental images to northwest boaters and fishermen. None of these visions involve flat calm waters and full fish boxes. So when Saturday morning dawned flat and clam, the 200 derby participants had  a very pleasant surprise.

The ESPN “flagship” Great White on Marine Area 9’s Possession Bar Saturday morning. When it comes to winter chinook or “blackmouth” fishing, this is as flat calm as it gets!!

aWHite

 

Daiwa’s Josh Leach fights a frisky blackmouth as Brandon Robichaux looks on.

aTOL (2)

 

 

Our Saturday morning action was steady and we managed to get a few fat blackmouth into the fishbox!

abox

 

 

With bait balls like this attracting birds from above and blackmouth from below, the solid chinook action should continue in Marine Area 9 throughout the month of November!

aBall

 

 

Josh Leach and Brandon Robichaux hoist our Saturday catch and Team Outdoor Line is on the board in the Bayside Marine Salmon Derby!

aTOL (1)

 

 

Saturday’s leaderboard had a 14 on top of the heap with over 70 fish weighed in which is pretty solid winter chinook action!

aBoard

 

 

After the scale closed at noon on Sunday, the Bayside Marine “buffet” was open and chinook donated by derby anglers is on the menu!

aBuffet

 

The overall boat weight award (12 blackmouth weighing nearly 100lbs!) went to Team “Dr. Evil” consisting of the “wrecking crew”. Left to right Scott Bumstad, Lance Husby, Derek Floyd and Troy Moe. 

aDrEvil

 

The largest chinook went to Joe Stephensen (left) pictured here with his father Ray. Joe’s winter chinook weighed just over 14 pounds and brought the happy crew $2000.00!

aWinner 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The winter chinook fishery is now in full swing and it’s shaping up to be a very solid season. Bayside Marine’s Salmon Derby officially kicks off the 2015 Northwest Salmon Derby Series and we’ll see you the next stop which is next month’s Resurrection Derby in Friday Harbor! See you on the water this winter!

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

The Four Cornerstones of Winter Chinook Success!

It’s 0640 Saturday morning, we’re between segments on the Radio Show and Rob Endsley’s pen is just flying across his show sheet.

“Well, if you don’t write it, I will…now what is the fourth blackmouth point?” Rob says.

Some of the best “stuff” happens in between segments while the microphones are off and Robbo and I are rippin’ each other but good. However, often the “fertilizer” that flies both ways feeds an idea or concept that leads to an important or instructive point that is “blog-worthy” or, in this case, four points that boil down a whole bunch of winter chinook wisdom into an easy to remember approach.

Cornerstone One: Fish Deep

Sucia0002

After a late summer and fall of easy coho fishing, it’s very tempting to take a laid back approach to winter chinook or “blackmouth” fishing and that is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Coho or silvers are most often found suspended over deep water while Puget Sound winter chinook are almost always found near structure in a depth band of approximately 80-250 feet of water but generally within 10 feet of the bottom.

While you can enjoy success on silvers without paying strict attention to your boats course or depth, to consistently hook chinook, you have to keep a close eye on both! Despite the fact that I use Cannon’s Bottom Digi-Troll 10’s in Bottom Track mode, to keep your gear within 10 feet of the bottom you must follow the bottom contour –or areas of near equal depth- while at the same time constantly adjusting the depth of the downrigger ball to remain in the strike zone.

Cornerstone Two: Fish Small

HiFly7In the winter we typically find less bait and baitfish individual sizes are at their smallest. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “match the hatch” and that is definitely the best game plan here. Fortunately there are a lot of tackle options that fill the bill. Silver Horde has the Coho Killer, Needlefish Ace-Hi fly and Kingfisher Lite spoons from size 2.0-3.5. With those three items alone you have the ability to mimic bait sizes from 1.5 to nearly four inches! The word “opportunistic” has been used to describe the dietary habits of immature chinook and while they will feed on a wide variety of species, often the best approach is to start small and gather all available information to get dialed in from there.

Cornerstone Three: Fish Fast

evinrudeThe fact of the matter is that in wintertime, there are less baitfish available and fewer fish chasing them than in the summer months and that puts you into a “search mode”. The most effective way to search is to cover water quickly and there is no better way than downrigger trolling to do just that.

However, there is more to fishing fast than just leaning on the throttle. Keeping an eye on current direction and velocity is a great approach to speed up and enhance your fishing efficiency. Chinook tend to face into the current so that feed can be washed into their view and you’ll cover more territory by “riding the tide” as well. Even though your Lowrance or Simrad GPS chartplotter displays a digital speed over ground, the best way to keep track of your speed through the water is to continually monitor the downrigger wire angle and relate that angle to the speed you observe on the GPS display. You’ll find that wire angle increasing when “bucking” or trolling into a tide and that may be an indication that it’s time to change trolling direction!

Cornerstone Four: Fish Near Feed

BairSchoolWinter chinook or “blackmouth” are also refered to as feeder chinook and brother, you had better believe that “findin’ and grindin’” is what they’re all about. When you’re a little fish in a big body of water, one of your best defenses against becoming someone else’s snack is getting bigger so that you fit in less predators mouths. Therefore, fast growth becomes a reproductive and survival advantage to a young chinook and the only way to achieve that growth is to find groceries. So, in turn the smart winter chinook angler needs to find the feed to find the fish and this is where your fishfinder is your very best friend! Learning to correctly operate your sounder, fine tune it’s adjustments and interpret the display will result in a full fishbox. At times, you’ll see larger arcs surrounding a bait ball and that my friend is where you want to stay for a while.

When you consider that there is someplace in Puget Sound to fish for and catch quality chinook all winter long you’ve got to admit that we’re very fortunate indeed to live here! Compared to the Great Lakes that freeze solid and coastal waters that are continually lashed by winter gales, the blackmouth fishery in Puget Sound begins to look very inviting and I hope to see you on the water this winter!

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

The 2014 Salmon Forecasts!!!

A sure sign of spring after a long winter is the annual arrival of our salmon forecasts and the “North of Falcon” meetings. I await the salmon forecast numbers like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Hello, my name is Tom and I am a “salmon sicko”.

After watching the numbers for a number of years (never mind how many…) I’ve found that you can “call some shots” by digging into the forecast numbers. The WDFW, DFO Canada and The PFMC (Pacific Fisheries Management Council) work very hard to get their chinook and coho abundance estimates out in a timely manner. These figures take some pouring through to find the real “meat” but don’t worry, I’ve done all the leg work for you right here!

2014 Preseason adult Chinook Forecasts (in thousands)

Stock                    2009       2010     2011       2012       2013       2014 
Willapa fall             34.8      31.1       36.8        45.2         27.1        32.4
Hoh fall                   2.6         3.3        2.9           2.7           3.1          2.5
Nooksack/Sam       23.0      30.3      37.5         44.0        46.5        43.9

Skagit summer       23.4      13.0      15.9          9.6         13.2        18.3

Stillaguamish          1.0        1.4         1.9          0.9           1.3          1.6

Snohomish Wild      8.4        9.9         7.4          2.8          3.6          5.2
Snohomish Hatch   4.9         5.6         5.1         3.9           6.8          5.4
Tulalip Bay              4.0         3.4         3.5        5.9          10.9          4.7

S Puget Wild          17.2      12.7        8.9          8.9           5.2          4.8
S Puget Hatch        93.0      97.4      118.6       95.8       101.9       101.4

Hood Canal Wild     2.5      2.4           2.1         2.9            3.3          3.5

Hood Canal Hatch  40.1     42.6         38.3       43.9         65.7        80.6

Key Stock totals 255,600  253,100  278,900  266,500  288,600  304,300!!!

This is a very significant selected stock chinook forecast to say the least! Easily the highest number we’ve seen for over a decade.  We can be fairly safe in the assumption that chinook seasons may be similar to last year. Generally these particular stocks stable with respect to 2013, while the Skagit,is up sharply and the Nooksack/Samish checks in with a solid forecast as well which should drive a very strong Marine Area 7 summer chinook season. The number that really stands out to me is that 22% increase in Hood Canal hatchery chinook… North area 9 should be smokin’ again come July!
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The Silver Story! 2014 Preseason Adult Coho Forecasts (in thousands of fish)

Stock                     2009         2010            2011          2012        2013        2014
Straits Wild              20.5          8.5              12.3           12.3       14.8         14.5
Straits Hatch            7.0            7.8              12.7           18.6       15.4         15.3
Nook/Sam W           7.0            9.6               29.5           25.2      45.4          20.8
Nook/Sam H          25.5          36.0               45.7           62.8      49.2          61.7

Skagit Wild             33.4          95.9             138.1          48.3     137.2        112.4

Skagit Hatch          11.7            9.5               16.2           14.9       16.3         15.8

Stilly Wild               13.4           25.9              66.5           45.5        33.1        32.4

Stilly hatch              0.0              5.4                0.6             4.1          3.1          3.1

Snohomish W         67.0           99.4            180.0         109.0     163.8        150

Snohomish H          53.6           24.5              80.4           80.5      111.6        78.1

S Sound Wild          53.6          25.3              98.9           43.1       36.0         62.8

S Sound Hatch        188.8       186.4            173.3         162.9     150.9        172.7

Hood Wild                48.6          33.2              77.5           73.4       36.8         47.6

Hood Hatch              52.0          51.2              72.1           62.6       68.6         82.7

Key stocks Total   338,600   320,800      916,000   628,600     783,200   869,800

 

Is this the “new normal”? Ever since the 2011 coho run we’ve been experiencing some absolutely world class coho fishing. The increase in south Puget Sound stocks alone have me thinking that 2014 will not see many anglers stray far from Puget Sound come September! In fact, the overall feeling among fisheries managers is one of optimism bone of increasing oceanic salmonid survival.

If all this is not enough to get -and keep you- fired up, how about a Frasier River sockeye forecast that’s conservatively estimated at 24.3 MILLION with another 345,000 headed for the Columbia! Lake Washington sockeye anglers may have another year to wait with only 166,000 headed for the Ship Canal but a look north to the Baker River gives to 35,377 bright, red reasons to be encouraged!

Keep in mind that these numbers are but the “raw material” that the co-managers will use to craft our local seasons and only by attending the North of Falcon meetings can you have an impact on the process. We will keep you posted here but I sincerely look forward to meeting some of you….at the meetings!!!

For a schedule of the North of Falcon meetings near you hit WDFW’s North of Falcon page.

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

The 20th Annual Everett Coho Derby!

Two decades is a long time.

To create and host a fishing event that lasts for two decades and seems to grow every year is a huge accomplishment.

To build the largest salmon derby on the west coast, raise money for local fisheries enhancement and enjoy unquestioned public support is a wonderful accomplishment!

In the twenty-year history of the Everett Coho Derby, the Everett Steelhead & Salmon Club and the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club have formed a partnership to run the derby and also to divide the proceeds. The funds raised by this popular stop on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series support many community events and conservation projects including two major coho enhancement operations (a net pen on the Everett waterfront and an active hatchery), which places over 80,000 fish each year into local waters. The two clubs also stock local lakes with triploid trout, plant high lakes in the Cascades with trout and place salmon carcasses into streams to bolster stream productivity and ultimately salmon nutrition & survival.

Now the Everett Coho Derby has become the final stop on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series which means that each and every year, someone walks away with a $60,000 boat, motor, trailer and electronics package!

The 2013 installment of the Everett Coho Derby was a bit hampered by an unsettled weather system that forced the prize ceremony inside the Bayside Marine drystack!

Nearly 1800 tickets were sold for this event and it looks like nearly everyone who bought a ticket showed up on Sunday afternoon!

 

Tony Floor of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series has the crowds attention as he announces the Grand Prize winner of the $60,000 Derby Series boat while Master of Ceremonies Mark Spada (right) looks on.

Tony Floor congratulates Jason Edwards, Arlington, for winning the 2013 NW Salmon Derby Series grand prize boat. Jason competed in the Harbor Marine Salmon Tournament in Everett, last July.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In total there were 1854 adult tickets sold and 216 child tickets given away for a total of 2070 anglers signed up for this event, making it the biggest salmon derby on the West Coast.  Not bad when you consider the humble beginnings in 1993.

In the youth division, the first place prize of $100 went to Dean Fagan who caught an 11.13 pound Coho on eggs at Haller Park on the Stillaguamish River.

The top prize fish weighed 15.50 pounds and was caught at the “Horse Shoe” on the East side of the Possession Bar.  This fish gave Don Pittman the $10,000 first prize donated by Everett Bayside Marine, Harbor Marine, John’s Sporting Goods and Performance Marine.

The second place money of $5,000 donated by the Everett Salmon Association went to Hut Phanhthavilay who caught a 14.20 pound fish on a Dick Nite spoon near the 522 bridge on the Snohomish River.

Third place and $2,500 donated by Dick Nite Spoons, Silver Horde, Ted’s Sports Center and Greg’s Custom Rods went to Dylan Alexander for his 14.19 pound fish also on a Dick Nite spoon on the lower Skykomish River.

The last cash prize of $1,000 Donated by Roy Robinson Chevrolet/ Subaru went to Gary Tisdale Sr. who fished Possession Bar with Silver Horde gear.  The top merchandise prize, a Cannon Downrigger, went to Curt Wikel at 13.91 on the Snohomish River with a Wiggle Wart.

See you on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series trail and good luck out there!

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

The Inaugural Harbor Marine Salmon Tournament!

It’s not often you get to participate in an event “first” in the fishing world…

Add the fact that the “first” in question is the newest stop on the prestigious Northwest Salmon Derby Series with a new tournament format and it’s no wonder why over 100 anglers and ten teams stepped up to compete in the 2013 Harbor Marine Salmon Tournament!

All the other Northwest Salmon Derby Series (NWSDS) events have a “derby” format in which the largest fish wins the grand prize. Tournaments, on the other hand combine the anglers daily bag for two days and an angler must produce consistent catches to win the event. Some anglers argue that a “derby” is more a matter of luck while a tournament allows skill and strategy to figure more prominently in the winning equation. Either way,The Harbor Marine Salmon Tournament brought out the best anglers in the area and demanded the best from these seasoned salmon fishing veterans.

At the end of Day one, Team Outdoor Line had some ground to make up. Our top angler weighed in a two fish limit of 23.4 pounds and was in the hunt but had some serious ground to make up!

Fortunately, Brock Huard of 710 ESPN  stepped in for day two of the tournament and holds 15.6 pounds of Team Outdoor Line’s effort and we’re on the board early on the final day!

 

 

Brandon Robichaux does a great job with our second fish of the day and that ground we had to make up looks a lot more manageable! 

 

 

Team Outdoorline’s three fish bag of 41.7 pounds was a day-two Harbor Marine Salmon Tournament best and it would be a very tight…and very interesting weigh in!

 

The other teams look on as Brandon Robichaux brings his limit to the scale and there’s no doubt that this tournament is going to come down to ounces!

 

Lauren Bivins of Harbor Marine (left) and Brock Huard share a laugh after the scale closes at noon on Sunday.

 

The hay is in the barn and Lauren Bivins steps to the microphone to announce the winners and the suspense is palatable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In third place with a two day, four fish bag of 54.5 pounds is Corey Thrasher. The Outdoor Line sponsored the $500 3rd place prize and I get to hand Corey the big, fake check!

 

 

Second place and $1000 sponsored by Bayside Marine goes to Rob Byrd for his two-day total of 56.6 pounds. Here, Jeff and Annie LaLone of Bayside Marine present Rob his prize.

 

Nick Kester’s Team All Star posted the best boat team weigh at 75.1 lbs and took home $1000 cash! Rob Hyatt flashes the cash and Team All Star is proud of their efforts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Outdoor Line, left to right Walt Hylback, Brandon Robichaux and yours truly hoist the grand prize $5000 check and more importantly, the title of 2013 Harbor Marine Salmon Tournament Champs! Brandon’s two-day, four fish bag came in at 57.4 pounds.

The Marine Area 9 & 10 selective chinook season in July  is something I look forward to all year long. You can add the Harbor Marine Salmon Tournament to one of the reasons that I love this time of year and the beautiful, wonderful Puget Sound that we all call home. See you here next year!

Tom Nelson                                                                                                                       710 ESPN Seattle                                                                                                             www.theoutdoorline.com                                                                                                 

 

 

De-mystifying Cannon Downrigger’s Bottom Track Feature

Somehow, the three words “looking forward to” this summer’s salmon season just doesn’t cut it…

Obviously this feeling is shared among a few members of our Forums as I’ve been getting a bit of verbal “heat” over the lack of a new downrigger tech blog. So, as a clear indication that I’m responsive to abuse (just ask Robbo), here is the requested –and promised- ‘rigger tech blog.

One of the recurring questions that we see on our Forums concerns the bottom tracking function of the Cannon Digi-Troll 10. Basically the DT 10 has a digital Depthsounder built right in to the downrigger and all you have to do is add a Cannon transom-mount transducer to unlock this powerful feature.

Now you must set three parameters: Maximum depth you wish to track, “Blowback” or the extra amount of cable you wish to pay out in addition to the digital depth and “Sensitivity” which is the amount that you allow depth to change before the downrigger will react. I usually set “Max Depth” to 225 ft. and “Sensitivity” to 3ft. Your “Blowback” setting will change with your fishing depth, speed and current conditions.

Rob Endsley and I have a video on the use of the Bottom Track feature and it should clear up any questions you may have.

A commonly asked bottom track question –and one that has likely occurred to you- is “what happens to my line tension when the downrigger automatically changes depth? Great question! Well, through my years of using bottom track, I’ve learned a few tricks to the trade.

One of the best tricks is the use of heavy-tension Offshore Red Releases when bottom tracking.

The Offshore Reds are a double spring pinch style release that will pull line off your reel as the downrigger automatically drops the ball in all but the highest drag settings.

On the other side of the equation when you troll into shallower water the ‘rigger will automatically raise the ball and so you’ll have a larger belly in your line which you should “tend” or crank up. If you don’t remove the slack, you’ll still hook fish but probably not with the high landing percentages you are used to.

When you consider how much effort you put in to fishing close to the bottom with a standard electric downrigger, constantly lowering and raising the weight while managing the line on your reel, it’s easy to see that Cannon’s bottom tracking feature is a huge labor-saving, fish catching advantage!

Tom Nelson
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

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