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08.04.2014
Every year I have a helluva time keeping all my special hunt applications for Washington sorted out.
Luckily, Steve Turner from Snake River Hunting Club just zapped me the worksheet that he made up for their yearly submissions for special hunts here in Washington State.
An interesting question came up on my Facebook page the other day that’s often talked about amongst us steelhead fanatics. 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. Now that you’ve got the presentation down the next step in the process of hammering winter steelhead is sight. 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. Once they get a mouthful of any one of these baits we all know what usually happens next…they eat them.
Thanks again for stopping by and don’t be afraid to share your steelheading stories over on the Outdoor Line forums.
There are few products that I’ll give my blessing to before I field test them in the fish-filled waters of Southeast Alaska. 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 recieved my shipment of Saltist’s in early July and they promptly went into service. I opted for the Saltist 30′s because I could stuff 230 yards of 25 pound test Trilene Transoptic line on them.
The Saltist comes with a power handle that makes cranking in large salmon, halibut, or bottomfish quite comfortable for even the most inexperienced angler.
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. Lastly, and this is a big one for me, the counters were still working at the end of the season.
Despite cool and windy weather in many parts of the state, anglers had a lot of success reeling in large trout on the trout opener last weekend. Bob Kratzer from Anglers Guide Service is reporting decent fishing for spring Chinook on the Cowlitz River the last few days. Bob Aunspach at Swains General Store in Port Angeles said great weather lead to some pretty good halibut fishing on the opener on Thursday. Nick Kester from All Star Charters in Everett limited his boat out quickly on ling cod the first two days of the season in Puget Sound. Mike Meseberg from Mar Don Resort on Potholes Reservoir said he’s looking forward to the upcoming week of warm, sunny weather.
Gainesville Sun – (Darwin Award nominee emerges in Gainesville, Florida) A man who tried to shoot a squirrel for dinner by taping a .40-caliber cartridge to a BB gun was hospitalized with shrapnel wounds after the cartridge exploded.
It would be easy if not tempting, to reduce these fishing stories to, “how many, how big” but that would simply never reveal the whole experience.
A wading angler was left with no choice at the deep water but to leave the river and hike around to the downstream side of an ancient maple tree before he could wade back into the stream to fish the lower run. Mick and Frank would often engage in drinking games at the end of a long day of fly fishing steelhead.
Drunker than drunk, Frank starts rocking Pluto’s truck back and forth, while growling the most unearthly guttural bear sounds.
Somewhere in all of this, Frank came up with the idea that the whole thing must have been Pluto’s fault.
Now we all knew that in the daily report of who caught what, Plutonius would always innocuously ask, “So, did anybody see any bears?”  Today we thought we would be ready.
Although we just went on in the conversation as if nothing had happened, Pluto’s mind was smoking. I interrupted, “Did you find it?”  Okay, even I was getting into the fabrication by this time, but it was a great story! Now Pluto was never known as an early riser, partly because he knew that nobody was going to fish Maple Tree before he got there. Anyway, so next morning Frank heads his little pontoon raft off down the river like it is just another Bulkley River fishing day.
Knowing he is at least ten minutes ahead of Pluto, Frank rows his little boat into the shore at the lower end of the pool, pulls in, and stows his little boat and gear in the brush. The wading here could get a little deep, especially as one neared the water adjacent to the maple tree, so this was the one and only pool Pluto would unbuckle his gun and holster and leave them on the seat of his raft.
As the events unfolded, Plutonius began reeling in, and walking back up along the shoreline as he finished the pool. When he realized he was nothing more than the butt of a most sadistically practical joke, Pluto became incensed. One of the relatively recent additions to the downrigger fisherman’s attraction repertoire is the Silver Horde Rudder Flasher!
By far the biggest advantage of the Silver Horde Rudder Flasher is it’s fish attraction characteristics. Anacortes Derby chairman Jay Field says the banks in the Strait of Juan de Fuca have been putting out good numbers of fish lately. Thru last Sunday anglers have taken just 7 percent of the anticipated spring Chinook quota on the lower Columbia River. In wolf management related testimony in Olympia this past week WDFW wildlife manager Dave Ware told legislators that the cost of managing wolves in the state of Washington will rise to approximately $2.3 million dollars in 2013 and 2014.
Ben Rogers at Defiance Marine in Bremerton says razor clam diggers should bring their surf perch gear along with them when they head to the coast next weekend. Don’t miss the halibut and lingcod seminar on April 6th at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville featuring John Beath. Muzzleloading rifle innovator Tony Knight of Knight Rifles passed away last Monday at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. This is sage advice, for the angler that comes to me is looking to catch a steelhead, which means he is looking for a fly that will be successful and assumes that some flies, like lures, are more effective than others. For each river I fish, in a particular water condition, I will fish maybe two or three different fly patterns. The steelhead that swim our northwest waters in late winter are the large, wild, sexually maturing steelhead (even though he may be rock hard and nickel bright).
I tend to fish subtle colors like purple, cherise, and blue when the water is clear and bright and black colors when the water is off color.
I pay particular attention to fly construction and I will admit, some of my ties are a little unorthodox.
The number one knock in materials like spey feathers and marabou is it fouls easily around the hook in the water. When you take a lot of buddies fishing your float’s get abused because, well, that’s what your buddies do to your gear. Another key point that I like about Beau Mac floats is the color or the color contrast that they have. With so many styles of floats and weight ratings on floats how do I decide which float to use and when? Let’s take a look at some of the floats Beau Mac now offers and I’ll identify some practical applications for each type or style of float.
One of the more popular styles of float and one of my favorites for my go-to technique of float-doggin with a stick lead is an in-line sliding float.
As with all floats match your float, jig and in-line weight so that the float rides correctly in the water. The new Beau Mac clear floats are a very good choice for multiple steelhead fishing applications.
These clear floats are a great choice for low clear conditions or even moderately clear conditions anytime.
When I rig up my rods with a top shot of mono for float doggin, I will always run my bobber stops on the monofilament.
Beau Mac is a great local tackle company that’s been around for decades and best of all they make gear specific to our fishing needs here in the Pacific Northwest. With the deadline coming up here on May 22nd the time to work on your special hunt units was actually a couple of months ago. What’s the most important factor in getting a winter steelhead to strike…sight or smell?
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. Winter runs are attracted to brighter colors like pink, orange, peach, cerise, and red to name a few.
Steelhead are attracted to baits like sandshrimp, eggs, and coon shrimp at first because of their color. 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. 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.
Spoons, like plugs, work because of the flash they create and they have a very large zone of attraction.
Find the right water type and bring either one of these offerings in low-and-slow and you’ll catch steelhead. 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.
Break offs aren’t uncommon and we at times mooch cut plug herring in water as deep as 300 feet.
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. From creel checks conducted at 98 lakes around the state WDFW estimates that anglers caught an average of 4.6 trout apiece on opening day.
Kratzer said he’s been hooking three or four fish a day fishing below the I-5 bridge and that the fishing seems to be improving each and every day. He said fish were caught at the Rockpile, 31-36, Green Point, Freshwater Bay, Whiskey Creek, and the Garbage Dump. They’ve been dealing with strong winds off and on for the past month that’s kept both the fish and the fisherman guessing. William Daniel Lloyd, age 31, taped the cartridge to the end of the barrel to apparently shoot a squirrel for dinner.
In the many years of being out in a marvelous land, would you like to know what I most often reflect back on? His  name was actually Pluto, but Frank dubbed him Plutonius, and somehow the name had stuck. His life was reduced to generating just enough money painting to spend the remainder of the year fly fishing for steelhead. Mick could cast farther, and Frank consistently brought more steelhead to hand, but Pluto loved his sport and loved the one Bulkley River pool he was successful in. The rest of us fly fishers might jockey with each other to get first water on pools like “Blow Down,” or “Easy Money”, but nobody fished through “Maple Tree.” That was Pluto’s. These guys could get pretty soused on occasion before stumbling off to bed, of which I didn’t particularly mind. Awakened by the noise, Pluto launches out of his bed, still in his skivvies, (not a pretty sight) and onto the cold hard ground. I had no idea the human metabolic processes could move so quickly, but one look at that long barrel .45, and Frank fairly dove out into the pitch black Canadian wilderness, with un-clad, gun-waving Pluto in hot pursuit. I think Mick swam the most steelhead (which was very common), Frank caught the largest, and I had a good time with my friends. Next thing I know, all my fly line, all my backing, is gone….!” Mick leaned back, sucking on his teeth. I really don’t think Pluto’s  gun slinging had anything to do with it, but I may be wrong.
What Plutonius doesn’t realize is that Frank is headed straight for the Maple Tree pool. Pluto’s ritual was to park his craft at the head of the pool, wade and fish his way downstream, wade out and around the maple tree, then wade back into the river and fish through to the lower end of the pool. To be honest, his first thought was his good friend Frank had somehow magically appeared, scaring away the monster bear in the process.
As we neared the group we could hear him say, “Yup, it was all I could do to make it back to my raft and gun, before that bear was all over me!” Frank and I decided, all is well.
The Rudder Flasher affords your downrigger presentation a consistent horizontal profile which allows salmon to find your gear more easily. Anglers have been scoring blackmouth on the banks the last couple of weeks on whole and cut plug herring. Despite favorable conditions fishing has been quite slow on the Columbia River for spring Chinook so far this season.
He said the cost for last year’s work alone was $750,000, but with an increase in the states wolf population those costs are expected to rise significantly.
Twin Harbors will be open Thursday, March 28th and Sunday March 31st, and Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, and Mocrocks beaches will all be open on March 29th and 30th.


He and a buddy have done really well on surf perch at Ocean Shores on the last couple of razor dig weekends. John will be discussing the benefits of using UV lures and techniques for catching trophy halibut and lingcod. Knight modernized the muzzleloader rifle when he introduced the in-line muzzleloader in 1985. Apparently the man known only as Roy contacted WDFW officials in Spokane recently to ask how much the fine would be for illegally killing three deer. His noble cousin Salmo Salar, the Atlantic Salmon has a rich and traditional past, fished by kings and nobleman. He may even be hopefully assuming that the reason for his lack success to this point was, he is simply fishing with the wrong fly. I was standing up on a high bank watching a pair of anglers fishing their way down through a popular run at Boulder Creek. Seasons, water temperature, sexual maturity, (the fish silly, not me), lighting, water clarity, fishing pressure and presentation are but a few parameters that may dictate the fly I choose. Stiff patterns like the General Practitioner, Poacher, Skunks, and other hair wings are good in the streamy currents that provide lots of action and a good silhouette of the bug.
There was at that time, a goodly number of gear fisherman throwing the tradition bright colors of orange and florescent green in those days. Occasionally, but even for all these trick fly patterns you are generally better off to simply look for a fly that swims well for the waters you are fishing. The vibrant colors at the top end of their floats not only make it possible for you to see your float, but it’s also an indicator as to how deep your float should be floating on top of the water. The wood float works very well for jigs, but it also is well suited for fishing bait suspended. I have had great success using the 25 gram float for float doggin and the 20 gram is great for fishing jigs.
They are extremely tough and I haven’t had any issues with the floats separating and filling with water. This is where the rubber stoppers come in and work very well. You only need to remember a couple things when choosing which stopper to use. 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. If you only had a few colors in your vest I’d start with a combination of these colors and go from there.
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. Read on to see how the Daiwa Saltist 30 line counter reel fared in these harsh Alaskan waters.
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. The Saltist took everything Southeast Alaska could throw at it and was still standing strong at the end of the beatings. For our charter application in Southeast Alaska, however, the Saltist 30 is the perfect reel.
He’s been backtrolling anchovies, plugs, and divers with eggs and shrimp and said on any given day the fish will prefer one over the other. Bob said most of the fish he saw were in the 20 to 40 pound range and there was an 86 pounder weighed in by Port Angeles angler Mark Reynolds. Kester said live sand dabs were the ticket and he fished them on a 3 ounce sliding cannon ball sinker.
Meseberg said one of their guides caught limits of walleye in Linn Coulee earlier this week and a few walleye have also been coming out of Crab Creek and the mouth of Frenchman’s Slough.
When he fired the BB gun it hit the primer on the cartridge and the round went off alright. Somehow, these memories all jumble up in a warm and fuzzy place, and I can enjoy them time and time again. We dubbed this drift the Maple Tree pool and it consistently held steelhead for Pluto each fall. Upper Maple had a good head, where the water would enter the pool strong enough that migrating steelhead would often hold before negotiating up through the rapids. These both were expert anglers in my opinion, and a hard night of drinking meant a late morning to the water. It’s me!” Somewhere before dawn, Frank wandered back into camp, and, Pluto went back to bed.
Unbeknownst to him, he had walked within ten feet of the hiding Frank, lurking in the bushes.
Simply stated, a rotating flasher makes noise and vibration in the water column but it’s continually moving, rolling aspect can often be a challenge for a salmon on the far reaches of the attraction threshhold to locate. He also recommended hitting the north end of Orcas and the west side of Orcas for a chance at a bigger blackmouth. The quota is set at 6,100 fish and the season is set to close on April 5 with closures on March 27th and April 2nd to allow for gillnetting.
Rogers likes to use a two hook rig and run a clam neck on one hook and a sandshrimp on the other hook. Three Rivers Marine will be raffling off fishing gear at the event and smoking deals on halibut and lingcod gear. This endeavor would eventually earn him the distinction as the “father of in-line muzzleloading.” Knight is survived by his wife, two children, and four grand children.
Officers told him the fine had gone up from around $200 in the late 60’s to approximately $2,000 per violation now. Steelhead was almost found by accident and early flyfishers knew very little of this great fish’s behavior and life history.
The dozen or so steelhead holding here, looked absolutely mesmerized, literally frozen in place. Now, before you become overwhelmed trying to compute all these variables into a logical decision let me simplify.
Any time you have a feather that extends beyond the bend of the hook, you risk fouling your material. I don’t like fishing floats that can’t take a little abuse and stay intact over the course of a tough day of fishing. It’s the amount of time my floats spend in trees, banged against rocks and the shoreline that tends to beat’em up a bit. The torpedo design makes for a float that goes down on a fish take with little to no resistance and the weight of the float aids in cast-ability when fishing small jigs.
However, the difference in buoyancy is just enough that the wood float will not stay up where I like them to be in the water column while dragging weight. The dacron thread stoppers work great on braid and they also work well as a line marker on your plug rods for knowing the distance of line you have out.
The dacron stops don’t work well on mono, so use the rubber stops if your using monofilament or flourocarbon. In certain water conditions purples and blacks have their place too, especially for the fly guys. Pro Cure has a great line of water-soluble scents that work great on jigs and they don’t matte down the jigs feathers. Good trout fishing should continue on most of the planted lakes for at least another month or more. Aunspach said horse herring has been the best bait year in, year out for catching halibut in the Port Angeles area. He says sand dabs that about the size of your palm are best for catching lings in the Puget Sound and be sure to keep them alive. Mike says the best way to catch them right now is with a spinner and a nightcrawler on the bottom. As I get older, I find myself pulling out these drawers of memories, for a taste of the good old days. It simply wouldn’t have been the intriguing experience without the people, and for that, I am forever grateful. The river currents spread beautifully, then scurried into a deep hole that was tucked in delicately close to the river bank. He has his gun out and, though still half asleep, waving it around, ready to kill anything that moved! As all the other anglers from camp were already fishing downstream, there was simply no one left to rescue him in his predicament. The combination of a rotating flasher and a Rudder Flasher is a one, two salmon attracting “punch” that will result in more fish in your box! Field reported that Rosario Strait has slowed down from what it was a month ago, but there are still a few to be in there too. There are 51 confirmed wolves in Washington and the total population is likely just over 100. A week, or so, later WDFW recieved a check for $6,000 from the man who apparently was trying to clear his conscious after years of guilt. These poor anglers apparently had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at these fish to no avail. I was fishing a couple gentlemen along this popular gravel bar pool when I happened to look down and find a fly that had fallen off someone’s vest. Some of the most artsy twenty-hour flies are poor fish producers because they foul when fishing. Epoxy bait fish flies carry a good silhouette but are anti fouling because of the material – it’s hard to the bend of the hook. I find the in-line slider to be a much more durable float for float doggin and really like the torpedo design for jigs or fishing bait suspended.
Simply measure an equal distance of line on your reels for your plug rods and slide on and secure a bobber stop. He says with the Toutle River flowing gin clear the river has been fishing really well all the way down to the confluence with the Columbia. Halibut is open in Port Angeles May 2nd thru the 4th and the next opener is May 16th thru the 18th.
The Rod Meseberg Walleye Classic is being held at Mar Don Resort this weekend and people from all over the northwest will be hitting the lake. He says most of the tackle shops on the coast have perch spreader rigs which are really easy to use and keep the gear from getting tangled up in the surf. WDFW officials say they’ve never seen anything like and that it’s never too late to do the right thing.
Different tying materials will react differently in the river currents and it’s good to know, what does what. You should realize that any free flowing material ahead of the hook bend can and will foul if it extends past the rear of the hook. The narrow taper allows for even the lightest biters to take your offering without feeling the resistance of the float.
You can even use multiple colors perhaps marking with a bright green stopper at 30 feet and a bright pink at 40 feet.
With 80 degree weather forecast for the region this weekend Meseberg thinks the fishing should really pick up for the tournament.
He apparently found the cartridge while looking thru a scrap metal pile and thought it might work for getting some dinner in the form of a squirrel. Next weekend’s clam tides are in the morning giving surf fishers plenty of time to catch perch in the afternoon. A very nice hen just lifted to the surface, ate the leaf and coasted back down into her holding position. For example, marabou plays seductively in mild currents but tends to collapse to strong flows. I have swam many a fly (to my patient wife’s chagrin), in the bath tub while the water is turned on. Now I am not advocating fishing with Alder leaves, but rather to make the point, its not the fly. I tell my anglers that if they ever loose confidence in the fly just bring in next to them and watch it play in the currents. Hair wing patterns show very little action in soft water, but maintain a great profile and a lively action in streamy flows. The shorter  and more round taper style is also a good choice on lakes for trout or spiny-ray fisheries. I noticed it was tied fairly sparsely and instead of the long webby marabou that is so popular, but fouls in the hook so easily, he used the shorter chickabou. The greatest knock that I see with the guys that meet me on the river is the flies they have bought or tied are so overdressed the thing looks more like a lure than a fly.
Shows the steelhead something a bit different from all that color everybody else is chucking.



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