Neah Bay offshore halibut: 6/9/18


Turn and burn, Neah Bay 5/25/18

I had barely recovered from the Spot Prawn day a couple of days prior, but the call was too much as Jason T. had two open seats for Neah Bay Halibut and deep water Lingcod. I called my good buddy Chris M. and invited him to join me for a ‘turn and burn’ 24 hours of madness that would ensue.

I left my house at 7 pm hoping to catch the 8:30 ferry out of Edmonds, which was delayed due to an inoperable train gate courtesy of the BNSF railroad. As a result the traffic back up wound its way up the hill to the turn off towards the waterfront. Bummer.

I still had to get in, gather the tackle, make lunch and try to take a quick snooze for a few hours having to wake up at 01:00 for a 01:30 push off west towards Neah Bay. Both Chris and I were full of adrenaline and our thoughts were going back and forth thinking of how the day and water would unfold.

We arrived at 04:45 and rolled the ice into Jason’s boat, un-packed the gear and settled in loading the rocket launchers with the electric reels and prepping for our skippers arrival. Just at 05:15 Hung N. and Jason T. appear as we gathered the rest of the gear and pushed off the dock by 05:30 heading even further west as Chris and I settled into the E-Sea rider bean bags for the 2 hour run towards the South West corner.

The ride was pretty smooth and no surprises, thank God. Joe H. and crew weren’t far behind as they settled into fishing a spot south of us and quickly started getting into the halibut and ling cod. We however would have a tougher time coaxing the halibut to bite. Ling cod weren’t an issue, but with time ticking away and the Northwesterly picking up we were anxious.

I’ve never jigged so much and hard, we tried various baits, plastics, rigging, etc.. but finally at 16:00 I got my first Halibut. I think the moon phase or tide bite was a factor and while we were fishing in known halibut locations, getting them to feed was tough.

We had herring, squid, and tuna belly aboard, but believe the addition of the tuna belly could have helped saved the day. I ended up hooking 3 of the 4 halibut for the boat limit, so was elated we all got a fish to take home, but tired from the long day on the water.

Take a look at Jason’s monster Ling Cod, probably pushed over 40# easily!

Back at the cleaning station, we quickly un-loaded, and wrapped up with rinsing down the hatches and loaded up the van for the 3+ hour drive back to Hansville.

Well deserved beer and campfire for the Capt. back at the Cape where we met up with Joe H. and crew for a quick greeting and then good bye for Chris and myself.

Back at the ranch I made work of the fillet and had friends and family over for a nice bbq of spot prawns and freshly grilled halibut.

Hood canal Spot Prawn: 5/23/18

The last published Spot Prawn day for Area 12 (Hood Canal) was scheduled for a Wednesday from 09:00 to 13:00. These sought after shellfish are one of our family favorites, so I decided to pull the boys out from school and head up to assemble the gear, load up the boat and make the bait for the 4 hour ‘fishing’ in the mid canal.

As the Captain, its my job to make sure we have everything we need along with the safety gear, food and essentials to make sure the event goes off without a hitch.

This guy missed the note about removing his robe…

The run down to Big Beef was pretty nice, calm, flat seas with the outboards running nicely right at 4000 rpm burning about 17 gph. The trip would take about 40 minutes to run south to our drop zone.

The bean bags come in handy for tired ones, young and older. As you can see the deck is fully loaded up with pots, buoys, bait, line, buckets.

What a picture perfect day filled with awesome views of Olympic National Park to the west. Here is the view from our drop area with the Toanados peninsula to the right and beyond is Dabob Bay towards the north.

My mom doesn’t enjoy being on a boat, but considering how the water was so nice and weather cooperative, she also agreed to give it a try.

I dropped two pots at 300′ and a little deeper, but I should have paid better attention to the sounder as I was seeing clouds of shrimp between 204′ and 215′. Those depths would be the better choice and could have saved us some time and energy. Sometimes, following the masses will yield better results. Our first pot/pull only gave us 4 or 5 prawns, super dis-appointing, but by the 3rd pot around 210′ we had more than 2 limits to the boat.

A quick snack of Amaebi with some soy/wasabi and pickled sushi ginger. We also poached a few on board as we processed the rest.

We did have a casualty when an errant floating line to one pot got sucked up into the prop, as result the line hit the trimming anode and it sheared the threads and broke off, nicking the hardened stainless steel Yamaha 2 SW prop. I’ve never had or seen this, but I guess it could have been worse. Even though the line was cut, both piece were wound the prop. and I was able to blood knot it back together after having to use the gaff and trim up the motors to dislodge the line.

Back at home, a delicious skewered spot prawns on the Barbee. Finished with Angel Hair pasta, homemade Bruschetta and a fantastic sunset capped off a wonderful day.

Neah Bay: 5/14/18

Thao and I were considering pushing off to try for some rockfish and then putting the boat on the trailer to push back to the cabin. We had a long day of cleaning, de-packing unloading and driving back to our homes.  However, the call to the water and the fish seems louder than common sense, so we decided to fish a little more.

This photo below is the general location of where that boat was capsized from Friday the 11th. You can see how rugged the coastline is and one wrong wave could mean disaster for the un-suspecting fisherman.

We were blessed by a pod of Killer Whales as we approached Tatoosh Island. Thao called out, “Orcas!” and sure enough, at the right place at the right time…


Back at Linda’s Ching made new friends

We did it! A successful trip for all. We mostly came back with everything we left with, apart from some lures, jigs, and gear. Boat ran great, weather was mostly in our favor, and we have plenty of laughs, memories, and stories to share.

Here’s a summary of our individual costs or a grand total trip cost of $ $4211.12 for 4 anglers
Boat Fuel + Food + Fillet + Bait        $547.78
Moorage                                               $75
Linda’s + Tow Rig Fuel                      $330
TOTAL                                                  $952.78, you’ll want to add the $100 deposits that we paid Joe in January for booking the moorage.
Figure we each got about 60# of net fillets so it equals $17.55/pound of combined fish (Halibut, Ling, Rockfish)
When you break it down per day, we fished 3 days @ $350.93/day all inclusive. I believe the going rate for a daily halibut with a guide was between $300-350 + tip + food, transportation, and lodging. This of course doesn’t include the boat maintenance, parts, labor, time, etc… but just thought it’s good to know.
In the future if we decide to do this trip again, we’ll want to get better intel for the Canadian locations, maybe just book 1 room at Lindas, however, it might best sleep with a max of 3 guys. One guy can sleep in the shared communal area to help shave costs.

Neah Bay Halibut: 5/13/18

Today was ‘go time’ for 99% of the marina guests as it was a picture perfect morning and nice calm conditions. We however, wouldn’t be able to push out of the slip to a the fuel dock running out the night before. Big Salmon said they were expecting a fuel truck to arrive by 06:00, but I was skeptical.

We hadn’t gotten to bed until midnight and Thao and Joe were cleaning rockfish in the dark. We didn’t get up until 06:30 and I poked my head outside the window and did indeed see the CFN truck filling the fuel at Big Salmon. I yelled out to the guys, its game time!

We quickly got dressed and made our way down to the ramp and onto Pegasus.

Rounding the corner from Waadah, the rip was rough as well as the rip at Tatoosh, but once we got a few hundred yards beyond that final bit of rough water, the conditions flattened and I opened up the throttles and pushed South West.

We were making excellent time with an average of 27 mph and fuel burn of 20 or so gallons per hour.

Joe wanted to run the boat, so I tried to take a nap on the bean bag, but couldn’t fully relax when its someone else running your boat. At least I took a load off for 15-20 minutes and then got back on the wheel.

We arrived at the drop zone on the Prarie in just over an hour and half and saw that there were already a fleet of sport fishing boats working the contour. I told the guys we need to rig up the pipe jigs and send em down.  Joe and Thao must’ve been stuck in the bait theme as they were rigging squid onto the pipes and were coming up with all sorts of yellow eye, Canary, and rockfish of pretty sizeable portions.

I yelled out again, ‘go naked!’, sans the squid or herring. As soon as I sent one down, boom, fish on! My theory is that the bait isn’t needed for the pipe jigs as it only attracts the rockfish and the halibut are scared off when you have a fleet of rockfish heading towards a nice piece of squid.  The copper and lead attractive emits a sonic and ionic pulse that mimics a fleeing or dying baitfish and it drives the halibut and ling cod crazy.

Proof was in the theory and after the guys followed my instructions, they all started connecting. Including Thao, who landed his first of 5 halibut on the old Penn 113/H Senator.

All smiles here except for that butt! Nice dinner table ‘chicken’.

We’d find Lingcod as well, but a little deeper in, at 544-565′ of water.

Some very beautiful specimens indeed!

One of several Yellow Eye rockfish, not legal to keep which have to be sent back down using a descending device, which is required when fishing greater than 20 fathoms (120’+). I had to use an extra 2# cod weight to get this guy to go down due to his size.

The tug is the drug, no matter what the species! Bloody Decks!!!

We had our halibut limits on board and only 3 lingcod, so I opted to push further west to a Lingcod spot about 4.5 miles away. Once we got there we found a few other boats working that location and we got set up on that drift. Joe hooked up, Thao hooked up, Ching hooked up, and I hooked up. We made quick work of it and got our 5 lings to plug the boat.

We had release a good number of halibut as well, hoping to find a larger one, but with these targeted guys in the fish box we decided to push back inshore for our rockfish.

The run back was even better, with the flattest ocean conditions I’ve seen, making it back to the Red can at Tatoosh at 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Once back to our rockfish drift, Joe and Thao made quick work with the Pline flutter jigs. Casting with their baitcasting reels and steelhead rods.

Back at the cleaning dock, the crew all smiles for this parting photo of the bounty. I didn’t have a scale aboard, but I think our largest 2 fish weighed in around 45# and the smallest around 25-27#. Not bad eating, alot of fun catching, especially after the bad weather Friday.

Ida and Thao were at work back in the kitchen, with Panko fried halibut and homemade Tartar sauce, oh yea!

And don’t forget to add a slice of Linda’s raspberry pie, yum!

Good night Neah Bay, it was fun and exciting! Thank you Lord for bring us all back safely and nobody was injured and we didn’t loose that much gear.

Canadian Halibut: 5/12/18

I’ve see the Canadian guides picking up halibut off Swiftsure bank and wanted to have some flexibility to be able to target halibut in the summer. We purchased the tags once again, 3rd year in a row now, and finally put blood on the deck!

Saturdays weather wasn’t so great, but we decided to push out towards Swiftsure bank under a medium marine layer with 0.2-0.4 miles of visibility. I was glad the Raymarine Quantum Chirp dome was spinning right and providing my eyes through the trip that took about 45 minutes to do. I slowed the boat as we neared the destination and could hear the gong of the yellow buoy. If you look closely you can see a few Sea Lions waiting for us.

Since we didn’t have reliable GPS coordinates for butt spots, I started working a contour that looked fishy. The wind was calm but pushing slightly East to West about 5 knots and the drift was perfect to keep the lines down. We fished spreader bars with plastic squid and purple label herring. Joe picked up the first fish a 15# chicken, nice to put blood on the boat.

We fished a bit more, exploring some other locales, but decided to try and push offshore 40 miles. That however ended up being a time waster. The marine forecast was calling for an SCA (Small Craft Advisory) starting at noon, and we were once in another fog  bank and heading into some big water and rollers. About halfway there, I wanted to stop and try and couple of other spots, but we didn’t find any players. So decided to cut our losses and no risk another 1.5 hour of running in those conditions to come back to the Yellow can.

The seals were relentless since we re-appeared and they were looking for an easy snack. See how the fog lifted here? Well, not all the time NOAA is right, and turns out that IF we’d have proceeded, it probably would have played out ok for us anyhow. No regrets, and safety and that gut instinct is usually if not all the time right.

We decided to push inshore for rockfish and lingcod. We found limits of rocks and also found 3 ling cod to the fish box at a new spot pictured with the photo of Ching and Thao.

We worked the foam line and hooked alot of bass as well.

Pretty Neah Bay coastline with wave sculpted rock walls and coves.

Heading back to base camp, the seas were nice and run was easy.

Homemade Coconut Creme Pie, courtesy of Linda’s hotel, restaurant and bakery. A little gem of Neah Bay.

Neah Bay Opener: 5/11/18

Here’s an anxious crew waiting to depart for the annual Halibut opener in Neah Bay. I’ve been prepping all year, studying charts and fine tuning the boat and gear for this weekend. It only happens one time, so we have one shot at making it come together. Hopefully the weather lays down as its expected to be rough for the opener.

Coastal Waters From Cape Flattery To James Island 10 To 60 Nm-
233 AM PDT Thu May 10 2018

TODAY…W wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. SW swell 7 ft at 9 seconds. A chance of showers.

TONIGHT…NW wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 10 ft at 13 seconds. A slight chance of showers in the evening.

FRI…NW wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 9 ft at 14 seconds.

FRI NIGHT…NW wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 9 ft at 13 seconds.

SAT…NW wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 10 ft at 13 seconds.

SAT NIGHT…NW wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 9 ft at 13 seconds.

SUN…NW wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 9 ft subsiding to 6 ft.

MON…W wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 6 ft.

I made the choice to leave a day later to forgo the rough seas and not fight the mad rush out of the marina despite the warnings. That ended up being a great decision as I learned that a skipper capsized his boat from a rogue wave that broadsided him and he perished which his two buddies survived.

We arrived in Neah around 2 pm on 5/11 and after dropping our gear off at Linda’s we made our way to get the boat into the water and off to fish for Bass and Ling cod. Limits of big bass came easy and we came back, had a nice burger dinner courtesy of Ching W. aka Chuck Wagon. We did try drifting hootchie bait rigs off spreaders at the Garbage dump with no success, no surprise…

Back at the slip, D8 you can see my buddies World Cat in D12. Most others were still fishing, but we wanted to prep for the next day for trip in the Canadian side.

Picture of Joe H. at the cleaning dock with 4 limits of nice sized Sea Bass. The local deckhands do a great job for $0.50/ rockfish and make quick work of cleaning, skinning these guys.

Friday, May 11, 2018. Sun 5:43am-8:46pm. low tide5:04am (2.28ft), high tide 10:39am (5.77ft), low tide4:43pm (1.48ft), high tide 11:10pm (7.23ft)

Joe and Ching, getting a nap while we drifted the Dump with not a single bump.

Frankie goes to Hollywood: 5/3/18

Frank R. was a bit late to the gate, he didn’t even know the Ling Cod season had kicked off and was biting at his nails to give it a try. While he’s not landed a Puget Sound ling cod, he wanted to give it a try.  I met him at his boat which is moored at Elliot Bay marina in Magnolia and we proceeded to head out under a beautiful sunrise over the Seattle skyline.

We saw numerous seals and Blue Herons like this one working the shoreline hoping for an easy breakfast. At one point the seals were following us, they were too keen on us shooing them away, but seems like more and more of these guys around the rocks and hanging around anglers.

Selfie of Frank R. and myself, couldn’t have asked for better weather or conditions. Flat calm with little to no wind.

A photo of Frank’s only Ling of the day. Unfortunately 4″ shy of the minimum slot limit so off it went back to grow some more for another year. I ended up hooking 3 more in this size class, 20-22″ and numerous rockfish in the 6-9″ range.

Franks outboard wasn’t running very well however, topping off at 4400 rpm and barely hitting 23 mph on the flat calm. My suspect is some water intrusion in the filters, hopefully he can get it resolved and is back on his feet again.

While we didn’t have any keepers today, we’ll look to regroup and give it another go next week when the tide swings aren’t so big. We did try Alki Rockpile without any luck, but did see one older Hewescraft that hand a 35″ on board, nice fish.  They were hovering over a rockpile offering live sand dabs and sculpins.

May Day: 5/1/18

It’s been an annual tradition of mine to fish the local ling cod opener which happens on May 1st and lasts for approximately a month and a half. Jeff H. was able to meet me join in the opening day. The forecast was calling for 5 to 15knot winds out of the north in the afternoon with two foot wind waves but pretty calm in the early morning, when we launched it was pretty calm and we proceeded to motor to favorite spot.

Our first trip about halfway along the reef I hooked up our first ling cod a 32-inch fish. Nothing to write home about, but into the box he went! Jeff was having a little bit of a harder time connecting but he managed to land a couple rockfish. We decided to push off to the Alki Rockpile where we found several other boats working the drift and one bayliner anchored up with live bait rigs.

We worked the rockpile thoroughly but only were able to land a few more rockfish. I picked up another ling cod and ended the day with a keeper 34 inch fish. Not a bad opening day as we only heard or saw two other fish being taken.

Dinner the following night was my favorite preparation: Steamed Ling Cod with fresh grated ginger and green onion in a soy based seasoning. Over hot rice, this stuff will knock you socks off. My boys enjoyed it as much as I liked catching it!