Low flows for some Hos and Chums: 11/20/18

Winter is near and you can just feel it in the air with sub zero overnight temps, the frost on the trees and ground and the shortened hours of daylight. I was itching to get back to the Green river, this time to give it a try with the new to me 2-man Koffler pram.  Although the flows were dropping and very clear at 403 cfs, it would be a good test of her manueverability and balance for the full day drift.

One new thing I tried was using Ride Sharing services as a shuttle. It was easy and convenient to launch the boat at the Whitney bridge park and drive back to the highway 18 takeout while my Lyft driver was waiting to pick me up to shuttle me back up to meet with Ben L. and get the float started.

Here’s the view of the river this morning, as you can see how low the river is, I was concerned about the various log jams long the river below Metzeler, but we were able to portage in those cautionary zones.

A fine fall day, perfect for fishing and catching!

I noticed some rather loud splashing upstream, which I thought was a school of chums moving, but to my surprise was a young Doe. While I was sitting in the boat, I quickly picked up my phone and was able to film this footage. Pretty interesting behaviour, especially since normally wildlife don’t want to be seen and or approach humans.

 

We lost count of the chums that were hooked, landed and released. It wasn’t about the numbers, but about getting out, getting some sunshine, eating outside, having a cold beer and enjoying time with a friend.

One section of the river we spotted so many male bald eagles, perhaps its was close to dusk and feeding time?

The Koffler did well and although it was tight to get back to the takeout as we weren’t even halfway done with the float when it was 15:30. We only had an hour or so of daylight left, so we had to boogie it down as warp row speed. I know I left a few bits of aluminum and gluvit on the rocks.

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Green River Chum: 11/16/18

I was on the east coast for the past week visiting family and needed to wet a line. Since my last Chum outing was a bust and I had a few hours to fish, I decided to head down to Auburn and give the Green River a try.

David K. had reported good numbers of fish at Metzler park and the float and jig were pretty effective. I decided to try my hand at gear fishing with a level wind baitcaster reel and my float rod. Since I’m a novice gear steelhead fisherman, I figured it’d be good practice to get more acquainted with the gear I purchased last year.

While it’s a departure from fly fishing, it is alot easier on my arms and shoulder. The gear is pretty simple and the drifts much longer with the ability to find more willing biters.

While I still enjoy fly fishing, there is merit with the baitcaster float set up in getting the longest drag free drift almost as good as using a centerpin reel, but much easier to cast and manage the line and fish with the faster retrieve and drag.

Here is a report that Jeff sent me when I was already on the water. The river was pretty low and clear and chum were visible along with a few fire truck coho.

Report: Green River. Anyone who knows me knows that I love the green river chum. We’ve been fishing it for the past week and it’s been fantastic. The drift from Whitney down has been fantastic. There are a lot of chum in the upper stretch around Metzler natural area. The park proper has been fantastic for the guys on the bank, with a few thick schools of coho up above the hatchery and chum stacked at the drift proper.

Yesterday we lost count at about 70 fish to the boat, it was every cast for a bit. Up higher, it’s been a 50-50 mix of dark coho to chum, down lower mostly chum, but the lower chum are brighter. I don’t think the run is over, a good rain will bring in a fresh push, we’ve got a week or two left of really great fishing.

Bobber and pink jig is where it’s at, we’re running 1-1/2 to 2 foot leaders on 20 lbs. to a 1/8 oz. pink or pink and white jig tipped with prawn. They are holding in the shallow froggy water, and are not line shy. Twitching jigs have been working as well in purple, pinks and blacks, but the fish are so thick the you’ll end up foul hooking more than you want, so I recommend running bobbers. Pulling in a big bruiser chum by the tail is a recipe for broken rods! Since they are so shallow, the short leaders help to run through those 2 foot deep flats.

On the bank the walk in area around the mouth of burns creek has been really good, so if you hoof it a bit you’ll find some elbow room, not a lot of bankies have been exploring outside of the Metzler drift proper.

One quick note: There is of course another log jam right below the Burns Creek eddy making the right hand side of the logs impassable, with multiple sweepers spanning the river. The slot to the right looks really skinny from up top of the drop, but you definitely need to stay right, there were a couple of guys that got into some super sticky situations going left earlier, and some guys unsure of the line to take that had to wait for those of us that knew the line to show them. in higher flows you won’t have that much time to make a decision on your line, and the left side will look passable, but it’s most certainly not. Stay right the whole way down and you’ll be fine.

If you want exact GPS coordinates and are in the Everett area come in and see me at work and I’ll get you set up.

Any color jig works well as long as it’s pink, and don’t forget your raw shrimp, that’s the secret sauce, you’ll catch five times the amount with it over a bare jig.”

As luck would have it, I had a pink jig and also some shrimp in my arsenal for the day. I started fishing a couple miles below Metzler at another King county Park but I had forgot my polarized sunglasses in the van so it was tougher to see where the fish were holding. I wasn’t able to pick up anything and noticed a few other anglers fishing below me in some froggy water that was holding coho.

I decided to move up the road to Metzler and it was a good decision. There were more fish along with fisherman. I ran into a fellow that said to hike up river as the bank fisherman tended to stick near each other. Up river there was plenty of room to spread out and get away. There were plenty of fish for everyone and I enjoyed the few hours to myself.

I ended up landing several chums and 1 coho. A nice day with a few nice fish to hand. All the fish were released and only my report and photos remain. I hope to float it soon while the fish and flows are good. Should be good for another week or two.

4 strikes and you’re out!: 10/30/2018

It had been more than 7 years since I had visited this fishery. I went back through the archives to catch up on the details of this trip. What worked, what didn’t and got a little background as Jeff H. and I planned a return trip today.

Here is a link to the old report

Johns’ creek flows into Oakland Bay near Shelton. Its about 90 miles away from my home and located off highway 3 just a few miles north of Shelton. There is a little WDFW parking spot as indicated on the link from Google Maps: The Great Washington State Birding Trail

It’s been sometime since I’d picked up a fly rod apart from my recent Beaver Lake outing. I wanted to make sure I was prepped with new tipped, checking the lines, reel, and flies that worked. I had to fix the old net that I’d bought a few years back as it needed some handle and strap work, but finding some parts off some recycled crutches worked and I wanted to be best prepared.

The tide would be a flood at 12:10 with a rather large exchange of water of over 15′. Hopefully the recent rains and this big tide swing would give reason for the big Keta salmon a strong signal to return.

Beaver Lake: 10/22/18

WDFW announced the annual brood stock planting for Beaver Lake. That means it was time to give Todd B. a call and head to his house on the lake for some fun wrangling in some big brutes on the fly rod. Timing was excellent as I rolled up to Todd’s house around 09:30 and walked down to the dock and started rowing the Clackacraft out around 9:40.

The news was out and there were about a half dozen watercraft out waiting for the arrival of the hatchery truck from the Issaquah. Their plan was to release about 800 fish in two plants through the morning.

As you can see these fish exhibit a porposing behaviour after being tossed into a new environment. Perhaps the water temp was cold or the pH was off, but they didn’t seem to be in the biting mood right off the bat. After making a dozen or so casts, I finally connected with the first fish. Nice fat, broodstock trout that put a good bend in the fly rod.

The fly of choice was a small hothead bead chartruese fly with marabou tail. This wasn’t snagged or belly hooked. The fly did slide right out of the fishes mouth when it was netted and released.

Todd enjoying a few fish while his dog Kona watches anxiously!

Hawken magnetic release

There have been products in the past that tackle manufacturers have made to help fisherman. This one is a simple but effective solution to the dreaded flasher fight. When a salmon fisherman connects with a fish, he or she has to ‘fight’ the drag and action of the flash and the fish. This sometimes results in a lost fish due to the cat and mouse between the angler and the fish.

Hawkens has come out with a product called the ‘Simon 360 Breakaway System’. It consists of a coastlock swivel attached to the 150# length of Nickel Titanium wire and then a barrel swivel, which is attached to a smaller stainless swivel and then a pair of magnetic clamps ending at the snap swivel.

The manufacturer recommends cutting the coastlock off the fat end of the flasher and replacing it with the snap ring. However, I want the option of removing this release and being able to re-use the flasher. I simply relocate the snap ring off the magnetic end and place it on the Hawkens stainless steel ball bearing swivel end and connect the factory coastlock swivel to the eye of the magnetic release.

This is what a final set up should look like. The only way for the magnets to release is when the weight of a fish pulls on the lure end, which will cause the ends to break their union. The Nickel wire limits the pull to prevent false releases. The action of the flasher seems a little different with this set up, but the crazier and more off the spin is, the better in my book.

Fighting the fish is much nicer since they is to drag or spin of that flash, the angler fights the fish and its alot smoother and the flasher usually floats to the surface. Give them a try, they retail for $9.99 and can be found at a variety of sporting good stores.

Taco Tuesday: 9/25/18

The reports of Sound Coho fishing have been steady and very good for many anglers. With the passing of the Everett Coho Derby, the crowds would subside and provide a good opportunity for David and I to get out to try our luck.

We met at the dock at 06:15 and assembled the gear and prepped the boat as we slid out of the slip towards the breakwater opening of the jetty wall. We could tell it was going to be a glorious morning with the colors of the sunrise already on the horizon and Mt. Rainier peeking through in the distance.  You can barely see it on the very left in the photo below.

I was anxious to test out a new rod, the Okuma Salish mooching rod. A 10’6″ 15-30# medium action rod. The price was certainly right at $84.99 and the rod is super light and fitted with a carbon fiber lower handle with an X-rap upper EVA foam. The reel seat is plastic, but there was an additional aluminum locking ring to help keep the main ring from loosening over time.

I can say, I LOVE THIS ROD and its a much nicer upgrade over the Shimano Convergence and lighter than the Okuma Blue Diamond series, which was a bit heavier and bulkier. The graphite on this rod is quicker and more sensitive.

As with any new equipment, there always is a ‘jinx’ associated with it, but not today. The Salish rod did a great job handling this nice female Coho that took the pink hootchie with LED lighted Green flasher.

We grinded out the morning for a few more hours and picked up our limits of cookie cutter coho. We got off the water by 10:30 and headed out for breakfast. Coho, Chicken Fried Steak, Pancakes and Coffee, doesn’t get much better than that for a beautiful Tuesday morning on our Puget Sound.

I was able to test out the new Simon breakaway flasher linkage. Its really the best thing since sliced bread for detaching the flasher from a fighting fish. I was able to clearly fight just the fish and not the pull or drag of the flasher in the water column. I will be using this product 100% from now on with all my rigs on my boat. This beats the defunct Q-Cove system and the Gibbs pin by a landslide. I’ll have to modify those flashers or get rid of them from my inventory.

The Simon uses two strong magnets that only release when a fish hits the lure. To be sure there are no false releases, there is a 150# Nickel Titanium wire that secures the end to end of the flasher and can only be tripped when the weight of a fish is on the lure and lure only. Smart! This product retails for $9.99 and you might want to consider trying it out and seeing how your landing results are with it, as we had zero lost this morning.

Over time, I’ve really loved the performance of the Abel Mooching reels, with the ultra smooth oversized cork disc drag to the big sculpted handles, this reel is perfect for fishing and fighting salmon. I also report that using the Berkeley Big Game Solar Green mono running line is excellent for visibility and strength so far. I’ve used Maxima ultra green for years, but may be switching out to the Solar green as its easier to see as it enters the water and helps others keep away from from the mainline when fighting and or landing fish.

9/11/18 Coho

I’d promised to get Dov and Ben out fishing and what a better time than now to hunt for some coho. We’d been sleep deprived and running on caffeine and adrenaline.  While I hadn’t heard of any local reports close to the mouth of hood canal, I decided to give it a try since the tide change was at 06:00 and that nearly coincides with official sunrise at 06:47 this morning.

I only got a little more than 2 hours of rest, I was running on fumes, but couldn’t coax myself back to sleep when I finally rolled out of bed by 05:40 to get the guys up as we headed down to the boat. It took a bit to get things set up, rods, gear, riggers, electronics, but we finally rolled out around 06:20 as we made our way around Foulweather bluff towards Point No Point.

It was a little eiry not seeing another fishermen trolling or working these waters, we were the only boat and crew. That didn’t seem to matter as we were in our own world. With the sun at our face and soft breeze we were at peace. The sound of the kicker motor buzzing and minutes later a screaming reel. The rod at 60′ down in 150′ of water went off and a nice buck chromer came to the net.

Ben was all smiles, his first salmon of the season and destined for the dinner table later that evening.  Once we put the gear back down, what seemed like just minutes later the rod was once again pulsing and Dov would bring in his fish to hand. We trolled around a bit longer, but the bite seemed to have died down. We marked a bunch of bait and feeding fish, but we didn’t have any salted herring strips, and was using Mike’s scent which might have some affect on our lack of more bites.

That didn’t seem to matter to us as we were all happy and satisfied.

All the fish came on the purple haze flasher with green splatterback hootchie with no insert. The really enjoy fishing the Islander MR2LA reels, especially with the freelspool clicker. The Abel reels are nice, but without the clicker one has to turn down the drag and then crank it back tight to lock it in to place. The Islander has less movements, which makes its more friendly to the flow of how I like to run the gear on the boat.

Edmonds Coho: 9/4/18

Seems like it was just yesterday that I stepped on David’s boat and we slid out under the phantom morning sky with the smell of the salt in our faces with the lights of the marina to our backs. This is the best time of the day, first light. The anticipation, the heartbeat of a fisherman.  As a full crew aboard the newly re-powered Olympic made its way beyond the Edmonds breakwater we all were happy to be alive.

How can you not, living in a the best part of the country during salmon season. With summer behind us, we looked to cooler temps, less smoke in the air and feisty silver salmon.  We pushed out to about 400 FOW and sent one downrigger down about 60′ and the other below that. I had rigged up a purple haze flasher with hootchie and salted herring strip on the newly built Skulk custom rod that my friend Dov built for trolling.

The time before the sun crests is the best time for coho, they seem to be less weary and most feisty in the sound. This coupled with fishing around the tide change is usually good indication that you might be able to put some blood on the deck.

While we only planned to fish a short time, which we did at less than 3 hours, we were able to put 4 fish into the cooler. Two fish were average cookie cutters, with the other two slightly larger than average.

The only person that didn’t get to land a fish was Ryan, but as we neared our curfew as we all had to get going to work. At 08:30 came, the breakfast bell must have rung as my rod was again bouncing and we had a fish to send everyone home with, great times on the Puget Sound!

Spot Prawns: 8/21-22/18

WDFW had a late season announcement that there would be a bonus 2-day Hood Canal spot prawn opener in August. As much work as it is I got the crew together and decided to make the run over to give it a go. It was an oddity that I had frozen some leftover bait that wasn’t used from May in the deep freeze. If I put so much work into making the prawn bait, I’m not going to toss it away so easily as there are alot of spendy ingredients that go into the goulash.

We opted to try a ‘new’ spot that my neighbors had done well with in the Spring. It isn’t as far of a run down south as Fisherman’s harbor or Brinnon/Dabob bay is, but still took about 30 minutes of water time to arrive.

While, we didn’t end up limiting on the spot prawns both days I did learn alot more about the structure and paying attention to my electronics and looking for those clouds of prawns.  While it was alot of work for the limited take, it was good spending time with friends and family.

 

 

I recently acquired a chamber vacuum sealer, the Vacmaster VP215. Try sealing up shell on spot prawns with a Foodsaver Costco model. With the amount of money and time I have invested, to have your seafood go bad as a result of poor sealing and or bags makes it worthwhile to get the better sealer.

There’s nothing like spot prawn ceviche, and or tuna poke handrolls. Good stuff!