Central Oregon High Lakes Trout and Kokanee Outlook

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

By Troy Rodakowski 

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

The Lake Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The River Review:

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

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

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

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

One of my favorite Kokanee Recipes (See Below)

Uncle Bob’s Grilled Kokanee

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

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

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

Troy Rodakowski
Outdoor Line Blogger
710 ESPN Seattle

Tributary Springer’s

April and May means it's time to fish the tributaries for Spring Chinook-Jason Brooks

April and May means it’s time to fish the tributaries for Spring Chinook-Jason Brooks

By Jason Brooks

Spring Chinook are undoubtedly one of the most sought after fish for the barbecue. Here is a quick rundown of some of the best Washington river’s for April and May Chinook.

#1. The Mighty Cowlitz

With 25,100 Spring Chinook expected to return to the Cowlitz River as well as a chance to double up with some late winter or early summer steelhead, this is easily number one. Back troll wrapped plugs below the I-5 launch down to the confluence of the Toutle, boondog eggs and sand shrimp anywhere from Blue Creek to Toledo. And for the bank anglers, the combat zone at Barrier Dam floating Wizard Cured eggs.

Columbia River Gorge Tributaries are always productive-Jason Brooks

Columbia River Gorge Tributaries are always productive-Jason Brooks

#2. Drano Lake

This impoundment of the Columbia in the windy gorge along highway 14 is expected back 9,800 fish. Though that’s roughly half of last year’s run this is still a yearly top producer. Boat anglers who dare the combat conditions at the highway 14 bridge will hover cured prawns until pushed aside by other boats. The trollers in the lake pull wrapped Mag Lip 4.5 plugs and the “old school” bright orange Mag Wart still produced for the bank anglers that cast and retrieve from the shoreline.

Ted Schuman with a Springer! -Jason Brooks

Ted Schuman with a Springer! -Jason Brooks

#3. Wind River

A few miles from the Bridge of God’s the Wind River dumps into the Columbia. This deadline fishery targets both the 6,500 fish cruising towards the Wind itself as well as other fish heading up the Columbia and stop to rest in the calm waters. Just like the name suggest, this fishery can become Windy and watch the water conditions. Here pulling Mag Lip 4.5’s or Mag Warts on a dropper to keep them close to the boat is the most popular technique. There is some bank access for anglers who like to pitch spoons, spinners and Mag Warts.

Fresh Spring Chinook-Jason Brooks

Fresh Spring Chinook-Jason Brooks

#4. The Quaint Kalama

A smaller river in Southwest Washington that is hoping to get back the predicted 4,900 fish, which is an improvement over the 3,100 predicted last year. This river is for the drift boat and pontoon angler and offers solitude compared to the previous three mentioned fisheries. Blue Fox Vibrax spinners in sizes 4 and 5 as well as float fishing big gobs of eggs are popular.

Wrapped Plugs are a top producer for tributary Springer's -Jason Brooks

Wrapped Plugs are a top producer for tributary Springer’s -Jason Brooks

#5. Icicle River at Leavenworth

This river is not open yet, and we really won’t know much about the season, if or when it will open until WDFW makes its decision later this month or even early May. This is typically a May fishery and with the snow runoff the river isn’t usually in shape until then anyway. But when this river opens this is a “must do” trip just for the scenery and for the warm eastern Washington sunshine while fighting a Springer. Back bouncing eggs or wrapped K-14 plugs in the few deep holes of this very short float is what catches fish.

Runnin’ Skinny with the Evinrude 105 Jet

Kitsap Marina in Port Orchard, Washington recently installed a new Evinrude 105 Jet on my 18 foot custom Waldon river sled and I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve enjoyed the hole shot and hook-up of a two stroke jet pump. I’m definitely diggin’ it!

I bought this sled for running the smaller rivers in Washington and for fishing some of the local lakes and perhaps even the Puget Sound once in a while. I’ve been running jet sleds and outboard tillers for over twenty years and this little sled is the best performing sled I’ve ever owned. It’s by no means a big river boat, but on any medium to small sized river it flat out shreds.

Here’s some photos and intel on the new pump as well as my boat specs in case you’re interested in going with a two-stroke Evinrude on your river rig.

My sled is 18 feet long with a 72 inch, 6 degree bottom and 25 inch sides. The Evinrude 105 weighs in at 428 pounds and it’s weight matches up perfectly with my particular sled configuration. River sleds in the 18 to 20 foot range with 74, 78, and 82 inch bottoms would work great with this motor.

If you’re stepping down to a smaller sled or have a 17 or 18 foot sled with a 68 inch bottom I’d take a look at the 90/65 Evinrude Jet. For even smaller sleds they make a sweet little 40 horse factory tiller jet.

sled_evinrude2

This right here is what makes my sled perform like a Lamborghini. This sled is freaky fast with the Evinrude and it corners like it’s on rails because of the tunnel that Johnny Waldon builds into his sleds. Wooldridge does the same thing and I’m here to tell ya…if you want to run extremely skinny water and corner at planing speeds this is the way to go. This boat rocks the corners, braids, all of it. Waldon is a long time friend of mine from Skagit County and he builds one boat at a time in his shop in Conway. My next and last sled will be a 20 foot Waldon with an 82 inch bottom. If you ask him really nice he might even build a sled for you.

tunnel

Every tiller jockey is most interested in the tiller. Evinrude has placed all the essentials like the shifter, kill switch, and trim/tilt right next to the throttle. Twist that throttle and you can get 5,300 to 6,000 rpm’s out this bad boy at full throttle. This isn’t the two stroke you ran twenty years ago!

tiller3

And the tiller handle stays up like it’s supposed to when you want to stop and fish. If you’ve ran tillers for very long then you know how much of a pain in the arse it is when your tiller is constantly falling down and in the way.

tiller2

I really like this little button that Evinrude added at the base of the tiller. Simply twist this threaded button in or out to adjust the height of the tiller. When I’m standing up most of the day I screw it out to move the tiller handle up and when I’m sitting down mostly I screw it all the way in to drop the handle down.

tiller

Kitsap Marina mounted the oil reservoir in one of my side compartments and as you can see it takes up very little space.

oil_tank2

During the first 5 to 8 hours of run time above 2,500 rpm’s the motor uses twice the oil to break in the cylinders. This is how much oil the engine used in two whole days of river fishing during this period.

oil_tank

When I’m running this boat it’s hard not to smile just a little. It performs like the sleds used to back in the 80’s and early 90’s when two strokes were the name of the game. Except, those motors were prone to breaking down. If this motor runs anything like guide Phil Stephens 200 Evinrude E-Tec that’s performed flawlessly for several years on his 20 foot North River Scout I’ll be smiling for quite a while. Brad Wagner, Bonner Daniels, and quite a few other top Washington guides are also running E-Tecs now and love them.

The last and best thing about these motors is that there’s no scheduled service for 3 years or 300 hours. If you’ve been missing the torque of a two stroke I highly encourage you to take a look at one of these engines. Check out the rest of the specs on the Evinrude 105 Jet online or call Kitsap Marina and talk to the folks there about them. Kitsap is the largest Evinrude dealer and service center in the entire Pacific Northwest!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

 

River Cooking with a Camp Chef Stryker Series Stove

Today I had the pleasure of taking northwest outdoor writer Jason Brooks and his son Ryan steelhead fishing on a local river. It’s February here in Washington and we are in the middle of the wettest winter in history. Today it would clear up just long enough for us to think it was a good idea to stay out longer before another deluge would settle in.

After hooking a couple steelhead we decided to pull over for lunch during a very brief clearing and Jason pulls out this completely awesome little Camp Chef Stryker series stove. While I ate my uneventful peanut butter sandwich and venison pepperoni sticks Jason quickly boiled up some water and added it to a Mountain House freeze dried meal. It took exactly TWO MINUTES for the water to boil with this stove!

Oila! Ryan and he dove into their warm lunch on this cold and wet Pacific Northwest day. I wasn’t envious one bit.

Camp Chef Stryker Stove

The entire stove including the fuel canister fit right back into the small pot and it tucks away nicely in a dry bag or storage compartment in the boat. It even has it’s own ignitor so you don’t have to worry about packing a lighter or matches.

Camp Chef also makes a propane model but like me Jason is a hardcore hunter and wanted the compact butane model for his high country hunting trips.

The exact model of this one is the Camp Chef Mountain Series Stryker 100 Isobutane Stove.

 

Camp Chef Stryker Series Stoves

 

They retail for around $65 to $70 and you can bet I’ll be ordering one soon. This is just the ticket for tricking our two kiddos into fishing with me again, and again, and again!

Rob Endsley
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

Northwest Outdoor Report

Sol Duc Picking Up for Springers
Bill Myer from Anglers Guide Service in Forks says he’s been hooking a few nice spring Chinook on the Sol Duc river every day and the fishing appears to be picking up. Myer said most of his springers have been in the 8 to 14 pound range, but he’s heard of quite a few spring Chinook over 20 pounds already. He’s been backtrolling cured eggs and cut plug herring to get his bites on the Sol Duc. The Sol Duc springer fishery will continue to produce fish well into the month of June.

Trout Fishing Still Great Despite High Flows on Upper Columbia
Jack Mitchell from the Evening Hatch Guide Service checked in from Black Bear Lodge on the upper Columbia River to say that the trout fishing has remained great despite really high flows the past couple of weeks. The upper Columbia has swelled from 85,000 cfs to over 175,000 cfs recently from snow melt in the upper part of the basin. Mitchell says the fishing has remained great right thru the uptick in flows. He said they’re catching trout over 20 inches on a daily basis on anything from carpenter ant patterns to caddis, baetis, mayflies, and pmd’s. Mitchell says the great fishing will continue thru the month of June when the Green Drake hatch takes off.

Hein Bank Comes to Life on Second Halibut Opener
Kevin John from Holiday Sports in Burlington reported excellent halibut fishing on Hein Bank on the second halibut opener on Thursday of this past week. Kevin and the gang from Holiday Sports had their limit of halibut between 25 and 45 pounds before noon on Thursday. They caught their fish on the south end of Hein Bank in 120 to 180 feet of water. He said the hot baits were squid with a big glow in the dark hoochie and a large squid with a whole herring stuffed inside of it. Anglers should have decent weather on the Strait of Juan de Fuca for today’s halibut opener until the wind kicks up later this afternoon.

Last Razor Dig of the Season
Clam diggers will get one more chance to dig razor clams at Twin Harbors beach near Westport next Friday thru Sunday. Twin Harbors will be the only beach open for digging. WDFW coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres says this has been the most productive clam digging season in over 20 years on the Washington Coast. Since last October diggers have harvested more than 5 million razor clams. The coast will close after this last clam dig to allow the razor clams to spawn and provide another crop of clams for digging next fall.

Kids Fishing Event on Heart Lake
One of the hottest trout fishing lakes in the region, Heart Lake near Anacortes, will close over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend for a kids fishing event. The event takes place on June 1st and the lake is closed two days prior to allow freshly stocked trout to acclimate. Kids that otherwise might not get a chance to catch a trout get the entire lake to themselves on June 1st. The Kids Fishing event has been held for 20 years on Heart Lake and is sponsored by the City of Anacortes and the Fidalgo/San Juan chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers.

First Copper River Salmon Arrives in Seattle
Alaska Airlines pilots carried a 40 pound Copper River king salmon to waiting chefs at Sea-Tac Airport yesterday. It was the first Copper River king to arrive in Seattle and marks the beginning of the yearly craze for this great eating strain of king salmon. Copper River king salmon are prized for their high fat content and restaurants pay as much as $50 a pound to purchase them for their patrons. The Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 contained an additional 24,600 pounds of Copper River king salmon and Alaska Airlines said it would run three more Copper River salmon flights like it on Friday.

Minnesota Lakes Test Positive for Cocaine
Associated Press – Scientists just studied 50 lakes in Minnesota for water quality and found a myriad of manmade chemicals in the lakes – including cocaine, DEET, synthetic estrogen, antibiotics, and antidepressants. The bug repellent DEET was found in 76 percent of the lakes and researchers were shocked to find that 32 percent of the lakes tested positive for cocaine. Cocaine was the third most common chemical found in the lakes and scientists were surprised to find it in some very remote lakes that weren’t close to population centers. Before you head to Minnesota and start snorting lake water understand that you’ll probably drown before you catch a buzz. Scientists say the levels of cocaine in the lakes that tested positive is around several parts per trillion…hardly enough to catch a buzz.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Summer Steelhead – North Fork Strategies

By Dennis Dickson

As the oldest flyfishing stream in the country, The North Fork of the Stilly is steeped in tradition, known for its wild summer steelhead of Deer Creek. This is a passionate subject for me. Not only was I fortunate enough to fish this river as a youth, my first job out of college was that of a fisheries biologist working back on my home river. I have certainly seen my share of this little wild steelhead, and I am thankful for every one. There is also the hatchery fish that swim these waters.

I am not about to climb on my soapbox and expound the hype-surrounding wild versus hatchery steelhead. Instead, I am going address my remarks to poor Joe who simply doesn’t have the means to spend his time in Russia or British Columbia. He does enjoy a pretty stream with a decent chance at swimming a steelhead. Simply put, if we didn’t have a hatchery program on the Stilly, we wouldn’t have a summer fishery. Period. But I am not here to talk about that. I am going to explain where, when, and how to catch them.

Where: Just for landmarks, I will break up the river into four sections.

Confluence upstream to Deer Creek. This is actually  a two-day float. Deer Creek down to Cisero and Cisero down to Arlington. Migrational Timing: I will catch new 3 salt summer runs as early as April but June is the migrational timing these fish are primarily passing through the lower river. With many of the pools filled in from sediment produced from Deer Creek, these fish do not linger but swim directly for their natal stream, Fortson Creek. Though not quite as aggressive to the fly as a wild fish, they have a tremendous amount of stored energy to last for their year’s stay in fresh water. They are as “hot” as any fish that swims in the Stilly. Rocks are a real premium in the lower river. Pools with any boulders and logs in this section will pull steelhead in like a magnet. Fish the same flies and lines you do for the winter steelhead.

Deer Creek to Cisero has some of the best water. I like to fish this river section anytime Deer Creek allows 2 feet of visibility in the North Fork. The bulk of the Stilly steelhead run 7-12 pound 2 salt summer steelhead. July 4th is the traditional time to start looking for fish in good numbers, but the fishing can be great one day and zero the next. Summer water temperatures are coming up and fish will move to both sinking and floating line techniques. By the way, I have maintained for years that the Deer Creek fish actually prefer surface flies to wets. These lower river fish are not fussy, find the fish and get it in front of him. Bright, dark, big, small, just fish your fly right in the surface or right near the bottom. Mid water presentations are worthless.

Hazel to Deer Creek: I do not believe I have ever caught a wild summer run above Hazel. The first pulse of hatchery fish head directly for Fortson, the mid July two salt fish will start to slow up as they reach the mid river.  By August 1, the hatchery fish are settling into imprinting locations. The first arrivals are very susceptible to the usual techniques. As they start getting fished on heavily, they become more reluctant to come to the surface, then to sinktips.

Hazel to Fortson: Same thing applies here, but the upper river gets pretty skinny and fish work their way up to the few deep prominent pools. Fortson has its own fishery. The angler who would not dream of walking in downstream of another angler in the lower river doesn’t hesitate to do so at Fortson. By the same token, nobody bothers to keep stepping down through the pool either. Advantages of Fortson Hole? Fish. I swear I don’t think there is a week in the year there isn’t a fish or two in Fortson. I won’t mention how many there can be. These poor fish are chased around by legitimate flyfishers all-day and snagged by poachers at night. The Deer Creek flyboys have such a disdain for this fishery, they have a point system set up. For example, A Deer Creek and anywhere downstream fish is worth 5 points, a Fortson fish, only one. You get the idea.

Fishing Strategy: I like to get out and poke around to find few fish here, a pod of fish there. I would rather fish over three rested steelhead then fifty hard hat fish, but I will do that too, if I think its the only game in town.

“Show them something different” The one vulnerability of a summer steelhead is he can be a sucker for a change-up. A story will illustrate the point. One day I was fishing a couple good ole boys from the mid-west. The summer water at French Creek was very low and clear and the steelhead had seen about everything. We were fishing small brown nymphs on floating lines and long leaders. We were having little success. Don decides he has had enough of that, so he says he is headed downstream around the corner. I said we would be down in a few minutes. We finally decided the steelhead in front of us were not going to bite and were just coming around the corner, and here comes Don carrying a grin the size of the steelhead in his hand. He proceeded to tell me the first thing he did was lose his fly and a good portion of his leader to a sunken log. He said he was tired of fishing that little sh##t anyway. I tried not to flinch. He went on to explain he pulls out HIS box of bass flies and ties on a 1/0 black zonker. It was heavily weighted and when it splashed down, this big steelhead was all over it! Needless to say, Don wasn’t fishing any small flies for the rest of that day!

Summer time is a great time to use your trout techniques. The same steelhead that refuses to come to the surface, and is bored to tears dodging another greenbutt skunk on a sinktip, can be a real sucker for a dead drifted dark nymph. (until they have seen all those too.) Do not be afraid to experiment. Sometimes dead drifting a woolly bugger right in front of a steelhead’s nose and strip it away, like you do at Rocky Ford, can be killer!

Fall becomes a transitional time, and many of the Stilly’s hatchery steelhead holding in the lower river, start migrating for home. This October fishery is a great time to fish. If I wasn’t chasing the best rising steelhead in the pacific Northwest on the Grande Ronde River, I would be there, myself.

“Moving fish are taking fish”. Stories are told and retold about hitting the right pool when the fall migration is moving through. My biggest day anytime anywhere (Alaska doesn’t count) was hooking an even 20 steelhead and landing thirteen, on this fall migration.

Summer time is a lovely time to fish and remember not all the fish are at Fortson. Not until the late fall, anyway.

North Fork Stilly School – July 12 or 13, 2013

Dennis Dickson
Dickson’s Flyfishing
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

I-5 Stretch Producing Springers on the Columbia
Eric Linde from Linde’s Sportfishing in Vancouver, Washington says that about a third of the boats are catching springers on any given day on the Columbia and traffic has been light so far. Linde says he’s been getting a few bites a day fishing just above Interstate 5 near Portland International Airport. His go to setup so far this season has been a green label herring behind a chartruese Fish Flash. Linde expects the fishing to continue to get better in the coming weeks.

Chelan Cranking out Phat Kokes
Don Talbot at Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee says the Kokanee fishing on Lake Chelan is starting to heat up. He said the Kokanee are running in the 16 to 17 inch range and most of the action has been taking place around Wapato Point and Rocky Point. Talbot also likes to troll the area between Wapato Point and First Creek in about 300 of feet of water, targeting the water column between 50 and 100 feet to find kokes. He said to use a pink and white mini-Ace Hi Fly tipped with white shoe peg corn behind a Luhr Jensen 50/50 dodger. He also like to run a couple of larger size 1 hooks with his hoochie rig, as it helps to keep these soft-mouthed fish on the line. Don said to be sure to swing into Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee to get help rigging up any of the troll gear necessary to catch Kokanee on Lake Chelan.
Use Swim Baits to Target Sea Bass off Ocean Shores Jetty
John Martinis at John’s Sporting Goods in Everett has gotten some great reports from the jetty at Ocean Shores last weekend. Martinis has a tackle shop customer that’s been catching his limit of nice sea bass casting swim jigs off the jetty. John says the go-to lure is a 4 inch red-flake motor oil twin tail grub rigged with a 2 ounce jighead. The successful angler has been walking to the end of the jetty on days when the weather is nice and working the jig over the submerged rocks.  Martinis says to wear foul weather gear and to watch the weather carefully though, as the surf often pounds across the jetty at Ocean Shores. Martinis notes that ling cod season opens today in Marine Area 2 and the jetty’s are a great place to find them also.

Catch and Release Only for Sturgeon Starting in 2014
Starting May 1st recreational fisherman will be limited to one white sturgeon per year in Washington. By 2014 new regulations require the release of all white sturgeon in Puget Sound, its tributaries, the Washington coast and the Lower Columbia River below Bonneville Dam. The new rules were adopted to address drastic declines in the population of white sturgeon in Washington state the last five years. Catch and release fishing will still be allowed for white sturgeon in all the effected areas.

Spot Shrimp Seasons Announced
Recreational shrimp fishers will get more days to fish and a larger share of the catch in areas of Puget Sound under fishing seasons announced by WDFW. The spot shrimp season is set to begin May 4th and will run from one day to several days longer in areas of the Sound due to policy changes recently adopted by WDFW to give recreational shrimpers a larger percentage of the overall quota. In the San Juan Islands the shrimp fishery could be open for more than a month in Marine Area 7-West and the shrimp season is expected to run for 13 days in Marine Areas 7-East and 7-South, up from just 6 days last year. Hood Canal and Discovery Bay shrimp seasons will be open a total of 5 days this year and Marine Areas Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10 and 11 will be open two days this year. Please log onto the WDFW website for a complete listing of the new shrimp seasons.

47 Lakes Stocked with Trout
With Spring Break fast approaching WDFW is stocking dozens of lakes in Washington with more than 250,000 rainbow trout. The 10 to 12 inch trout will be stocked into year-round lakes in Grays Harbor, Thurston, Pierce, Mason, Kitsap, Island, King and Snohomish Counties. The State is planting the lakes to give families a chance to get out fishing over spring break and to give them a chance to tune up their gear before main trout opener on April 27th. A complete list of the lakes being stocked can be found on the WDFW website.

Blackman’s Lake Planted with Triploids
The Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club just planted Blackman’s Lake in Snohomish County with about 200 triploid trout ranging in size from one and a half to as large as six pounds. Blackman’s lake is on the north edge of Snohomish County and has a large fishing pier and an improved boat launch.

Little League Raffles off an AR-15 in Illinois
Associated Press – A youth baseball league in the eastern Illinois town of Atwood wasn’t happy with the previous fundraiser’s it’s held to raise money for the league, so they’ve decided to raffle off an AR-15 assault rifle. A local gun shop owner provided the Rock River Arms AR-15 for the league, which is in bad need of baseball equipment that it can’t afford. Charidy Butcher of Atwood Armory is the shop that donated the gun and they said the raffle is going gangbusters. They’re phone has been ringing non-stop since 4:30 in the morning the day after the AR-15 raffle item was announced. Butcher says the lucky winner of the AR-15 will need to have a background check and will need an Illinois Firearm’s Owner I.D. card to get the gun.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
TheOutdoorLine.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

Cowlitz Slow for Steelhead, Columbia Picking Up for Springers
Justin Leach at Bob’s Sporting Goods in Longview says the fishing has been really slow on the Cowlitz for steelhead. Leach says the guys that are catching fish on the Cowlitz right now are working extremely hard for them. He says most of the guides are catching just a couple of steelhead a day for four or five rods. The springer bite in the Portland area, however, has picked up quite a bit this past week. Leach said he’s heard reports of springers in the Lower Cowlitz around the Camelot area, as well.

The Year of Big Fish Continues in Forks
Bill Meyer of Anglers Guide Service in Forks said he taped three steelhead in the mid-20’s last week and he heard of several more trophy class steelhead being caught by other local guides. Meyer’s customers caught two of the big steelhead on the Sol Duc and the third one came out of the Calawah River. He said to time your fishing with the rains on the coast for the best chance at good fishing.

Blackmouther’s Still Catching Fish in the San Juans
Kevin John from Holiday Sports in Burlington is reporting decent blackmouth fishing on the banks and on the northern side of the islands around Parker Reef and Pt. Thompson. He says the fishing seems to have slowed down quite a bit in the Rosario Strait, which has been producing fish all winter. Kevin’s top choices in the Strait of Juan de Fuca would be Coyote, Hein, Eastern, and Salmon banks. He said most of the blackmouth have been falling to either cut plug or whole herring or small spoons and hoochies.

Kokanee on the Surface at Lake Stevens
Marcy Rockenbach at Gregs Custom Tackle in Lake Stevens says the kokanee fishing is starting to pick up on Lake Stevens. She says the fish have been really shallow and anglers are catching them flatlining Dick Nite spoons, Apex lures, or wedding rings tipped with shoe peg corn or Berkley artificial maggots. Marcy says the fish are averaging around 10 to 12 inches and that the numbers of fish being caught has really picked up this past week.

Trout Still Biting on American Lake
Mike Barr at Bills Boathouse on American Lake said that anglers are still catching nice rainbow trout off the boathouse dock. He said there’s been some nice trout in the 16 to 17 inch range and they’re mostly hitting Berkley Power Egg’s in yellow or lemon lime. Mike hit the lake for Kokanee yesterday and didn’t come up with anything. Barr says the kokanee bite usually starts to pick up around early April.

Yet Another Razor Dig this Weekend
State fishery managers have approved another razor clam on the Washington coast this weekend. Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, and Mocrocks beaches will be open today and tomorrow and Twin Harbors beach will remain open thru Monday. Todays low tide is at 4:50 p.m., tomorrows tide is 6:33 p.m., and Mondays tide at Twin Harbors is at 7:12 p.m..

Poachers Busted in Okanogan
Wenatchee World – State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers seized 9 trophy deer heads from a poacher in Okanogan last Friday. A 10th deer head was recovered last month. Officers say the killing was the work of a poaching ring made up of several individuals working together to poach trophy bucks. Both mule deer and whitetail deer were taken and all of them were 4 point or better. One impressive buck was a 5 by 6 with an impressive 29 inch spread. Those arrested in the case face a fine of up to $6,000 per animal.

New Product Allows Mushers to Go…on the Go
With the 2013 Iditarod dog sled race underway in Alaska this past week some of the female mushers are testing out a new product called Pee Pants. Pee Pants are described as a combination of bicycle shorts, a funnel, and a tube that pokes out next to the mushers boot. The women mushers testing the product are hoping the invention will allow them fewer pit stops along the 1,000 mile long Iditarod trail. Pee Pants were developed by a North Carolina doctor seeking to provide a more pleasurable outdoor experience for women. You can find Pee Pants online at MyPeePants.com!

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

Northwest Outdoor Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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