Tips for Bagging a Late Season Turkey

Photo by Troy Rodakowski

The author took this mid May bird last season while waiting near a well traveled trail after patterning the old gobbler. (Troy Rodakowski)

by Troy Rodakowski

Adult turkeys are in many ways like a husband and wife. For example, if you are asked to do something over and over (nagged) by either your husband or wife you will shut down and do it when you feel like doing it rather than when you are asked. Likewise, gobblers will shut down after hearing those repetitious yelps and cackles that they have heard for nearly a month.

During the late season birds tend to be more receptive to light purring and soft clucking. I have always preferred a mouth diaphragm for this type of calling because I can control the amount of air forced over the reeds to produce nice authentic sounds while keeping my hands free. Of course, other calls like slate, box, and wing-bone calls can also work well if you are experienced with them.

Old wise gobblers will seek out secluded locations to strut and spend the warm late spring days. (Troy Rodakowski)

The combination of light calling and patience will pay dividends though and that’s definitely my preferred tactic for late season turkey hunting. It isn’t uncommon for these birds to come in unannounced during the late season so keep your head on a swivel. And even though I prefer softer calling I’ll sometimes throw some soft yelps out there from time to time also. Of course, every situation is different and will present different challenges.

To be successful on any turkey hunt it’s critical to choose an area that you’ve scouted or have frequently seen turkeys visit. Patterning these birds is probably the most important step to harvesting one of them. Dusting and strutting areas are good places to start and finding travel routes from a roosting area to a strut zone is a great advantage also. Just when you think you have them figured out though some birds will find different routes from day to day en route to their strutting and dusting sites.

I had a fellow turkey hunter once tell me a story about a bird that would fly to his strut area every day from his roost site. Upon arrival, he would use a different entry point every single time. Needless to say, that bird survived the spring season without any problems. Yes, turkeys learn and are very smart.

The birds you pursue late in the season are educated and very wise. They learn from experience how to survive. (Troy Rodakowski)

Creek bottoms and other drainages provide great areas for insects and fresh forage during the late season. Many times, old solitary gobblers will wander around these areas looking for a receptive hen while feeding. So, make sure to search these areas thoroughly for sign. Looking in the dirt along small game trails and old cat roads for fresh tracks and scat is a sure sign that there are birds in the area.

When I’m trying to locate birds in the evening I’ll use an owl hoot or crow call as a locator call and during the mid-morning and afternoon I’ll use a coyote call to inspire a gobble. Once you locate a bird remember that patience is very important to entice these sometimes uneasier birds to come in. I have taken several birds while only hearing a single gobble and then waiting them out for what seems like an eternity.

Under most late season scenarios waiting only 30-45 minutes at a set-up is not enough. I don’t know how many times I have been ready to call it quits when that bird finally shows up. Learning from experience, I know that I have prematurely left areas and ruined opportunities to harvest at least a few birds.

If you can somehow get onto private land later in the season you’ll usually find birds that are more settled and receptive. The best bet is to find an area with a lower concentration of people to locate settled birds that have moved away from the pressure and that often means getting access to private land.

Coming out of the woods with a May turkey is very satisfying and quite an accomplishment. (Gary Lewis)

I can’t emphasize patience enough. Remembering what these birds have been through for a month prior will keep you in the right mindset. Once eager to find love at the start of the season these turkeys have become more reclusive and are often loners during their continued searches for a hen. Nagged by multiple hunters over the previous weeks and hearing every sound imaginable has only made them more wary. Seeing decoys made of plastic and paint, hunters moving through the woods, and the occasional resonating sound of a shotgun has made them that much more shy and edgy.

Even though it’s a little more difficult to harvest a bird later in the season it’s never too late to bag your bird and I have taken turkeys throughout the season and on several occasions on the last day. Yes, it’s warm and seems as if the turkey rut has passed, but often times the final month provides some of the best hunting.

Tall grassy pastures being grown for hay and meadows or fields near adjacent wood lots will hold good numbers of turkeys. However, turkeys will avoid them in the morning hours when the dew is heavy on the grass. Gobblers will hesitate to cross grassy fields that have heavy dew and will work the perimeters of the grassy areas in search of hens especially early in the mornings.

Late in the day after the field or pasture has dried from the warm wind turkeys will be easier to coax across to your location. Frequently birds will venture into locations where tall grasses and other forages have grown during the warm spring weather. These areas will hold a variety of insects such as caterpillars, flies, beetles, slugs, snails and many other insects and invertebrates that turkeys can’t resist. Birds typically won’t venture too far from the security of the woods, the tall grass, and the lunch box.

A turkeys mind and actions tend to slowly evolve during the season. Many times just when you are about to throw in the towel and head for home I can’t tell you how important it is to stay a little longer. Take a sandwich, some water and snacks in your pack, and spend the day and perhaps all the way into the early evening. Be polite, gentle, and patient in your calling approach and you might just coax a late season bird into range. Expect to see things you’ve never seen before and definitely be willing to change some of your tactics and chances are good things will happen.

Troy Rodakowski
Outdoor Line Blogger
710 ESPN Seattle

Daddy Daycare with Can Am, Camp Chef, and Grilled Cheese!

Yesterday I picked up our oldest daughter Ava from school with the Can Am Outlander 6 x 6 in tow and fully loaded with all the fixin’s for an quick afternoon adventure into the woods of the Kitsap Peninsula.

The mission at hand was to teach her five things about the outdoors – pine cones, fir trees, ferns, salal, and some interesting rocks. The bridge between adventure and learning would be a fun ride on this beast-of-a-machine Outlander 6 x 6 along with grilled cheese sandwiches and hot cider off our new Camp Chef Rainier Campers Combo stove.

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Shortly after launching the Can Am mothership we were blasting thru huge mud puddles in search of a nice spot for a picnic. It’s essentially been pouring rain non-stop here for the last couple of weeks and there was no shortage of water on the trails and roads where we were riding.

ava_6x6_webAfter finding a spot to hunker down for a bit I had the pre-made grilled cheese sandwiches (her fave!) on the stove in short order. I bought this stove because it comes with the griddle which makes it nice for cooking grilled cheese, pancakes, bacon, etc.. It’s a great piece of equipment for making adventures afield fun for the kids!

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Ava’s no stranger to this stove. We use it quite a bit at home for “camping” on our back deck and it now resides permanently in my river sled. Packing it along in this ATV was a no-brainer!

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It took all of five to ten minutes to whip up the samiches and warm up some cider in the coffee pot. One advantage to this stove is that I don’t have to cart along an extra frying pan. The griddle can also be replaced by a grill for cooking burgers, steaks, and hot dogs and it all packs nicely in a carrying case.

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Thankfully Mother Nature gave us a rare sunny afternoon here in the Pacific Northwest to blast outside for this quick adventure. After a grilled cheese sammy and a few shots of hot cider Ava was all fired up to learn a few things about the outdoors.

I have to reset myself sometimes to look at the small things in nature instead of searching for big game, big fish, and big everything. For a four-and-a-half year old that can be kind of daunting. This was the perfect opportunity to do that!

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After jumping up and down in a few mud puddles and horsing around a bit we spent some time looking at the different plants that grow in our area. It’s winter and there’s not many bugs or frogs around, so today plants were the go-to item and of course a couple of interesting rocks.

We talked about how pine cones become fir trees, checked out some ferns and salal brush, and looked at a bunch of rocks until we found some interesting ones. One, in particular, looked like a dinosaur tooth. It took a grand total of fifteen minutes to scope out a few items in Mother Nature’s treasure chest, just the right amount of time for a four and a half year old’s attention span.

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This morning at breakfast Ava was sitting at the table telling us how the pine cones fall to the ground and become fir trees. I figure I only have around nine more years with her until I become her idiot dad that knows nothing. That may not be far from the truth, but at least for now we can have some fun together. I’d say this adventure was a successful one!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle   

5 Tips for Catching Trophy Steelhead

 By Jason Brooks

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

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

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

Go where the big fish are.

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

Rivers with wild fish are in wild places-Jason Brooks

Rivers with wild fish are in wild places-Jason Brooks

Leave the bait at home.

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

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

Using scents can entice a strike-Jason Brooks

Using scents can entice a strike-Jason Brooks

Knotless nets and fish stay in the water.

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

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

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

Bring a camera!

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

Girth Squared x Length/775

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

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

Upsize your gear.

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

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

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

Good luck and go find that steelhead of a lifetime!

Jason Brooks
Outdoor Line Blogger
Northwest Outdoor Writer

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

 

 

 

 

Daiwa Saltist Line Counter Passes Alaskan Field Test

There are few products that I’ll give my blessing to before I field test them in the fish-filled waters of Southeast Alaska. I spend my summer months running salmon and halibut charters in Craig, Alaska, a place where very few reels last more than a couple of days. Read on to see how the Daiwa Saltist 30 line counter reel fared in these harsh Alaskan waters.

Between the sheer numbers of fish, severe abuse by charter customers, and harsh Alaskan weather any reel in service on a charter boat in these waters gets the living you-know-what beat out it. I can’t think of a better place in the entire world to test a line counter reel!

I recieved my shipment of Saltist’s in early July and they promptly went into service. At first I only switched out a couple of rods to the Saltist’s just to see how they felt and it wasn’t long before all of my Lamiglas “Salmon Moochers” were sporting them.

I opted for the Saltist 30’s because I could stuff 230 yards of 25 pound test Trilene Transoptic line on them. Break offs aren’t uncommon and we at times mooch cut plug herring in water as deep as 300 feet. I wanted plenty of line capacity to get the job done.

The Saltist comes with a power handle that makes cranking in large salmon, halibut, or bottomfish quite comfortable for even the most inexperienced angler. I also like the fact that the spool, frame, and sideplates are all made of machined aluminum, which greatly reduces any corrosion that’s caused by dissimilar metals.  A carbon drag system and sealed, corrosion-resistant ball bearings come stock with the Saltist. The drags on the four reels that I put into service full-time were just as smooth at the end of the season as they were when they first started. In addition, there was no gravelly feeling in any of the reels that we used, and abused.

These reels cycled thru thousands of fish, were punished by lord-only-knows how many snags on the bottom, and survived multiple encounters with our favorite fur bag…the Stellar sea lion. A 1,500 hundred pound sea lion will smoke a lesser reel in seconds. The Saltist took everything Southeast Alaska could throw at it and was still standing strong at the end of the beatings.

Lastly, and this is a big one for me, the counters were still working at the end of the season. The line counter always seems to be the weakest link on any line counter reel. Go figure!

If you’re looking for a reel for the Columbia River, Puget Sound, or the Washington coast I’d probably opt for the Saltist 20 instead of the 30. The smaller 20 still holds 210 yards of 20 pound test and is super light and sweet on a light jigging, mooching, or trolling rod. For our charter application in Southeast Alaska, however, the Saltist 30 is the perfect reel.

As you can tell I’m happy with the performance of my Saltist’s and I’ll be ordering a few more for next season. If they hadn’t passed the ultimate test, well, I wouldn’t be talking about them here on the Outdoor Line. I really like these reels.

The Daiwa Saltist 30…worth every penny!

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

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

Any Time is a Good Time to Chase Wild Steelhead

Do you ever run into a situation where you are looking to find information on how a river is fishing? I do, and sometimes you just need to decide to make your way out to the river and get a report yourself. This is the situation that fellow Outdoor Line “Young Gun” Joseph Princen, Phantom Custom Rods owner Kris Jellesed, and I were faced with early Monday morning. Ideal conditions were all around us on many rivers but we were in search of much more than a limit of hatchery fish. It may seem a bit early for the chase of natives to begin for most but the search for a trophy with the anglers involved in this trip never stops.

After making a three hour plus drive to where I had landed a 21.5 buck last year in April, we began our journey. The area on this morning was completely void of any other anglers which makes you think “has the river changed since last year? Is it safe? I wonder if there are any obstructions I cannot navigate through safely?”

I do not recommend to anyone blindly floating a river but in the quest for being a hero risks must be taken. As we ventured out on the “steelie green” water we noticed that the water was about 500 cfs lower than our previous float, but the obstacles and sections of river where fish were caught last year were remembered.

On the right side of the river about an 1/8 of the way down the float Joseph recognized a rock shelf that had deep slow rolling water which produced a fish last year. This time was no different. With a three plug rod spread and a K-13 Kwikfish attached to all of them the slow back troll began. Right after the boat had passed a large boil and the plugs began to track straight again…..BOOM…FISH ON!!!

I took control of the oars as Joseph grabbed his rod and the fight was on. The 13-14lb chrome hen gave us a great fight that lasted about 6-8 minutes and then came to the boat as I gently netted the fish. I rowed to shore quickly to begin the revival and the snap a picture but before my camera was out of my bag the feisty native slipped out of Joe’s hands and slowly disappeared into the emerald water.

Anglers remember this! Steelhead pair up, so if a female is caught there should usually be a larger, more aggressive male nearby. Repeat the process that was used to hook fish number one and it should yield the same results.

With all of minds thinking the same thing we began to slowly back troll again with my rod on the far right closest to the rock shelf and again…..BOOM….FISH ON!!!

I had thought that the fish had come off after about thirty seconds but of course she was just running with blinding speed right at the boat. After that she took about 40 yards of line of and then I began the slow retrieve to bring her back to the net. As I lifted the head and Joe scooped her into the net the hook of course fell right out. The power of a steelhead is amazing!

Personally, I have landed many fish on plugs over the 20 pound mark and I have not until this day seen a hook bent back 30 degrees by a 14lb fish. Joe rowed to shore as before and we snapped a couple of pictures for the fish album, I revived and released the beautiful creature, then we began to move down river to another section of water that had similar features.

As we approached the long back troll slot which produced my 20 last year and gave birth to the Dubb Club it was a very slow to get a fish to take. When back trolling a section of water be sure to completely cover the water until the plugs reach the tailout and start striking bottom. Seconds away from instructing Joey and Kris to reel up, the left rod in front of Kris went off….FISH ON!

This situation was a little different due to the fact the fish came off after about 30 seconds but again in the same type of water we had already hooked fish in earlier that day. Recognizing the water you need to produce fish is very important, so when you find fish continue to work that same type of water effectively.

Knowing that time was not on our side and that a very long moped turnaround was ahead of us we decided not to run the plugs again and move down river. During our push toward the takeout Kris hooked a very nice fish on a pink worm that came off due to the speed of the boat moving down and the fish running  up.

This is a very hard situation to control but if you can gather yourself after the excitement of hooking up, dig the oars very hard and try to stop the the boat without throwing anyone off board. Going 2 for 4 is not a stellar day by any means but searching and finding wild fish on a river with no reports is a wonderful feeling. The opportunity for success is always there, all you need is the confidence in yourself and your fishing abilities to make your day memorable.

Good luck and tight lines,

Lael Paul Johnson, a.k.a. LPJ
Outdoor Line “Young Gun”
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

Squid Showing Up in the Sound Already
Tim Bush at Outdoor Emporium (206-624-6550) says the squid fishing in Puget Sound has been excellent since late August. Bush says Pier 86 is the best place to target squid because they have power plug-ins built right into the dock for lights. He also recommends Seacrest Pier, Des Moines Pier, Edmonds Pier, and the A Dock in Ballard for squid. The hot squid jig lately has been a Colman glow in the dark squid jig and they’ve got plenty of them ready to go at Outdoor Emporium down on 4th Street just south of Safeco Field.

Skagit River Levels Yo-Yo’ing
John Koenig at Johns Guide Service (360-708-3166) is reporting great numbers of silver salmon in the Skagit River. He says the only thing keeping him from getting limits every day is river flows, which have been yo-yo’ing up and down this past week with the heavy rain fall. John’s been getting all of his silvers twitching a 3/8th ounce Warnie jig in pink and purple in the back eddy areas on the upper Skagit. John has also seen quite a few chums in the Skagit already this month. Bank fisherman should take a look at the Cascade River, which Koenig says is “stuffed” with coho right now.

Skagit Good, Samish Slow on Waterfowl Opener
Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington (360-757-4361) reported good numbers of ducks on Skagit Bay for the hunt opener last weekend, but very poor shooting on Samish Bay just to the north. He said most of the action has taken place on the bay front because nearby fields have yet to accumulate any water. Kevin said the water level in the Skagit River came up enough with the rains to allow hunters to access the Skagit River delta from the Conway boat ramp. 5,000 to 6,000 snow geese were in the Skagit Valley prior to the opener and Kevin reports a lot of Canada geese are also in the valley right now. The migration will bring thousands more snow geese into the Skagit Valley in the coming months. Kevin mentioned that Holiday Sports has cases of Federal Powershok waterfowl loads on sale right for $100, which is a $30 savings over the regular box price.

Potholes Opener Solid for Local Ducks
Levi Meseberg at Mar Don Resort (509-346-2651) on Potholes Reservoir reported very good hunting on the lake on the opener last weekend. He said hunters had really good shooting last weekend for both mallards and pintails. Meseberg said he’s never seen so many local pintail this early in the season. Ducks Unlimited is reporting a 58% increase in northern pintails this year and we should see an increase in just about all the other duck species in the Pacific Flyway this year also. If Washington gets any foul weather this winter the duck hunting could be some of the best in years.

Humptulips River Slow, Slow, Slow for Salmon
Phil Stephens of Mystical Legends Guide Service says the salmon fishing on the Hump has been far from spectacular this past week. He says there are very few coho in the river and he’s been spending all of his time targeting king salmon. Stephens has been catching a few king salmon every day backbouncing eggs cured with Pro Glow and says his biggest king so far on the Hump has been 36 pounds. In regards to the slow fishing he thinks the silver fishing should improve dramatically in November when the late run of hatchery silvers hits the river.

Deer Harvest Similar to Last Year
The rains helped deer hunters sneak around the woods a lot quieter last weekend, but it didn’t exactly translate into a lot more deer tags being filled. State game check stations saw about the same number of deer being this year as they did last year. The Winthrop game station in popular Okanogan County checked 127 hunters with 17 deer. These numbers are almost the same as last year. WDFW staff noticed a drop in the numbers of hunters again this year. High fuel prices may be keeping some hunters from going to their traditional hunting areas. The Deer Park check station in Northeastern Washington checked 114 hunters with 12 deer last Sunday, which was very similar to last year’s numbers. A 4 point minimum requirement in GMU’s 117 and 121 are keeping a lot of hunters out of those areas.

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

Do you have “The NAK” for fishing

I’m often asked which scents I use. And, while there are many options available, most of the time, I use three: Pautzke Nectar, anise and krill. These scents, when combined and mixed properly, make a difference. Nectar, Anise, Krill or “NAK”, as I call it, is the additive I rely on for Northwest salmon and steelhead fishing.

Let me explain how to use these scents to your benefit. Nectar is only found in the Pautzke line up. For those who are not familiar with this product, you’re missing out. Nectar is created when the factory is cooking Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs. In essence, it’s the run-off of all that egg juice, salts, sugar and additives, which are drained into large vats and bottled.

Bottled salmon egg juice is your friend. It comes in five colors. However, for fall salmon red is my favorite. I also invest in krill, the liquid form (Liquid Krill) and powder form (Fire Power).
To create “NAK” for steelhead the first thing I do is pour a small amount of Nectar out of the bottle to make room for the krill and anise. (Only pour a little out, keeping the level to the top of the label). Then pour half a bottle of Liquid Krill and one heaping tablespoon of Fire Power.

With Nectar and krill mixed in, it’s time to add anise. I purchase 100% pure anise and add 10-15 drops. That’s it: simple and effective. With this mixture it’s best to pour some in a small container and dip your baits in it every few casts.

For salmon it’s important to add a half-teaspoon of sodium sulfite. However, when fishing an area where salmon respond better to a higher percentage of sulfites I add a full teaspoon.

Normally, I carry three bottles of NAK: one of the basic mixture (the steelhead version), one with a half teaspoon of sodium sulfite and one with a full teaspoon. It’s best to let the fish tell me what they want.

To dress up my eggs by giving them extra scent and milking ability I cut pieces of roe and place them in a separate tray adding a shot of NAK on some of them. Traditionally, I won’t do a whole skein if I think there is a chance that the fish may not respond. Once I add it, the skein has the scent/additives and if it doesn’t work I’m stuck fishing eggs that the fish don’t want.

One other tip; don’t be afraid to give your sand-shrimp a quick squirt. You’ll be surprised with the results. Give NAK a try. You’ll be glad you put in the extra effort.

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

 

Peanut Butter Brings Me Luck

Last year when my buddy Abe and I drifted into the spot known as “Pineapple” by Prince of Wales Island locals, I finished off my peanut butter M&M’s before sending the herring plug into the depths. We proceeded to reel in 30-35-pound king salmon on every pass. It was absolutely absurd. The next time we went out, more peanut butter M&M’s, more king salmon.

This June, when Abe and I went to the outside of Baker Island I had no peanut butter M&M’s, and in the mess of a sloppy, rainy, windy day we caught kings too small to keep, lost kings next to the boat and brought up no halibut worth keeping.

So what did I chew up just before catching the biggest rainbow trout of the trip on a dry fly at Eagle Creek? Peanut butter.
What about during the 30-fish afternoon at the Dolly Hole on the Thorne River? Pea-nut butter.

So it goes: peanut butter shall be had in candy form, or suffer the consequences. This is not just another superstition like avoiding the foul line, the hockey playoff beard, or special game socks. Nor does it validate the consumption of candy in the name of catching fish. This only works when it is meant to catch fish, not to sneak treats.

Anyway, before two friends visiting from California (Danny, Derrick) and I met Abe for our day on the ocean, we purchased a family-sized bag of Reese’s Pieces, and as you read a few weeks ago, slayed salmon, halibut and red snapper.

At the river a few days later, Derrick was having a slow start.

“Get more peanut butter in you.” Derrick listened to Danny’s order and hooked up.

I had already primed my digestive system with a few handfuls of the peanut butter M&M’s we bought once the Reese’s were gone and before you can say, “sugar-induced head-ache” I had my limit of silver salmon.

I urged the latest duo of fresh meat from California Eric and JJ, to keep their spinners off the rocks, work the angles and don’t forget the peanut butter!
When Eric sank hips deep into a muddy creek near Klawock Lake without warning, some might think him a fool for not being more cautious or wearing waders, but his candied peanut butter deprived body probably contributed to his soaking.

JJ, knowing full well the power of the peanut in butter form and as an ingredient in candy, chose to defy it even after being privy to its power. He bought a Butterfinger, but left it in the car alone and untouched at Neck Lake Sunday. He struggled while Eric and I dominated fish for the first hour. It was one of the more ridiculous salmon bonanza’s I’ve had snagging.

When snacks were purchased for Monday’s ocean trip with my buddy Raf of Tranquil Charters, peanut butter was obviously involved. It should then come as no surprise that JJ and his king-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups killed the cohos. I went with the Reese’s Pieces and caught my biggest halibut of the summer as well as my limit of cohos and Eric who walked a fine line by thinking that the peanuts in an extra chocolate Snickers would do the trick got his black bass, halibut and salmon but maybe suffered more than he needed to.

So when asking friends how their fishing in Alaska was, the proper question will not be “How many fish did you catch”, but rather, “How much peanut butter did you eat?”.


Jeff Lund
Teacher/Freelance Writer
Columnist – Manteca Bulletin Manteca, California
website – www.jlundoutdoors.com