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.

Advertisements

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!

 

Tuna Time: 8/19/18

I had the rare opportunity to fish for Albacore aka Longfin Tuna on the Tuna masters boat owned by Tommy Donlin. Tommy is a hard core hunter, fisher and all around outdoorsman known for his passion for these pelagic species.

Considered the best fish that swims these PNW waters, I know now why and the stimulus of why more and more anglers are chasing them. They are strong, powerful, and elusive. Some days it can be painfully tough to find them, other days, it will be acres and acres of jumping and finning fish off the top water.

I am sleep deprived as is with long hours in the office and or with clients this time of year. This doesn’t help when the salmon are in and especially when you get your name called out for a seat on Tommy’s boat. After a 2 hour ‘nap’ I was rudely awakened by the alarm clock at 01:00. I’d have to drive down to Jason’s house in Edgewood to load up his truck and then push off towards Westport.

Tommy wanted us there at 04:30, he isn’t kidding. Gear loaded, ice stuffed into the holds, and after a safety meeting we pushed off the dock heading towards the live bait dock where Jose loaded us up with two scoops of anchovies.

Jason, Phil and I settled into the bean bags for the bar crossing and the 2 hour commute west. Our target was SW coordinate about 48 nm from the edge of the Grays harbor mouth. While I took some Meclazine, it still didn’t help the feeling I had of some mild sea-sickness. Tommy likes to run hard and even a 6′-7′ swell made me want to toss the cookies.

We eventually arrived at our drop zone, looking for 62 degree or color change water. Birds, jumping fish, or other signs of tuna. Suddenly one of the troll rods goes off and we quickly convert to a bait stop. Tommy tosses live anchovie over and we all put a live chovie on and send them down. Jerry and Phil connect up pretty quickly. As the bite starts up, it shuts down and we’re only able to bring a few tuna to the deck.

They beat feverously on the deck and blood is splattered in 360 degrees with the tuna drum sound thumpity thump live a heavy metal band. This is pure adrenaline rush, the sight, smell of blood, and tuna zipping around with lines crossing, guys weaving over and under, its all too chaotic.

I finally connect on the live bait and had to use a small split shot to help get my baits to the zone where the tuna were feeding. I’ll never forget the one fish that just crushed the surface anchovie on the topwater. As the bait was swimming just centimeters under the surface, a streak of blue lightening came out from under the boat and the Avet spool was peeling out line. I counted one… two… three… engaged the lever drag to strike and boom game on! What a rush!!!

After these bait stops were done, we’d have to convert back to a troll and search for birds and jumpers again. We had a few good stops and eventually wrapped up with 35 tuna landed ranging from 18# all the way up to 40+#. Just amazing, powerful and about the most tastiest of fish in my book.

You can’t beat fresh Poke or spicy handrolls! I got to try out the new VacMaster VP215 chamber vacuum sealer and boy, what an awesome tool.

Last day in Area 10: 8/16/18

Frank, remember to be sure to have at least two downrigger balls on your boat? Well, this was the reminder I had to keep telling him as we scrambled to fish with one and make do with a Deep 6 diver rod.  One hatchery coho later, this ended my quest to finish out strong for the Kings in area 10. Thanks, it was an awesome season, look forward to the ocean coho now!

Marine area 11: 8/7/18

Steve Y. has been wanting me to come down to fish with him in area 11. All of his Facebook posts have had me salivating for the chance to catch a salmon on the jig. I’ve never targeting salmon using the jig aka ‘iron’ or ‘dart’, but I know friends like Thao T. swear by it and when you don’t have downriggers, or a right sized boat, going to simpler methods also work when the fish are in and the catch rates are so good.

I took the hour long drive to meet Steve at the Pt. Defiance marina to be greeted by an amazing morning sunrise. All the colors of the orange sky against the silloette of the mountains and Vashon island made for a spectacular morning.

The boathouse is really a neat place, with each craft up to 17′ that is stored in these lockers. Each boat is wheeled on dollys and all the gear is kept in the locker.

There is an elevator shaft that raises and lowers the boats and passengers to the water line, just roll it out and your on the water in seconds.

We were underway heading towards the clay banks in 120-170′ of water. The old Point No Point hull that was used for decades at the Norwegian Pt has a long standing history with the Yuasa family. This hull was the same that Steve’s father fished with his uncle and young Steve when he was growing up. Steve has restored it and kept up the tradition of mooching, jigging and when he wants to troll uses his ‘meat line’ rods.

GLoomis Salmon Mooching rods in the 8’2″ one piece length, rated at 12-25# and 0.5 – 5 oz lure rating were light fast action and perfectly balanced with the old school Shimano Bantam Line counter reels. Spooled with hi-vis yellow power pro and short 40# leaders to Pt. Wilson darts in the white and white/chartruese colors were the ticket. Lures were 4.75 oz in wt and Steve likes to use a small buzz bomb rubber stop to keep the lines from chaffing. He ties the double mooching hooks close together to keep the fish hooked when they decide to take a snap at the erratic darts.

Heres a photo of Doug Yuasa, Steves’ nephew. He was meat lining and picked up a nice 13# fish after a few passes.

Jigging is definitely alot of fun, but also you have to have a touch. Steve ended up hooking both our keeper fish. The first was a nice 18# that spat the hook just as I slide the net under the fish, lucky that it was a hatchery marked fish! Second keeper was a 8# that was bonked and tucked into the box. While I didn’t land a keep, I had good action, hooking 5 fish, landed two sublegal sized kings and getting two dog fish. Definitely a good work out and learned a new fishery and technique that works and is alot of fun.

Grand Finale! 7/29/18

We had guests visiting us for the day at the cabin and I’d promised to show them some crabbing. While the crabbing was poor due to the big tide swings, the fishing captured my interest after Pilot point was fishing so well for me in the last week.

Chris and I agreed to meet up a little earlier, 04:15 and pushed off the dock 5 minutes later. It was still pretty dark and we had to use the LED light bar, and radar to help us navigate the run. Once we got to around Foulweather bluff the sky improved a little, but I was still weary of running into a deadhead on step.

We ran back to Pilot point and was the first boat to the drop zone. I wasn’t marking bait, but did see a few fish arches. Not a good sign, but certainly the kings were looking for something. We did find a nice bait ball and tried to stay on that 100′ contour.

As I veered in the corner of my eye, the rod popped off and was peeling line. Not much later I’d landed a cookie cutter king of about 8#. It was promptly subdued and bled. We made a turn back south and tried to find the bait again without avail. I had noticed there were fish marks higher in the water column above the bait balls, around 60′. Since that first fish came at the suspended water, Chris moved his ball up 10′ off the bottom to 90′ and his rod popped off and a much nicer fish would be at the end.

You can hear my commentary, about wondering if it was a fish or if it was snagged. I didn’t realize he had turned down the drag as the fish was peeling line. All I hoped was it wasn’t a seal clutching his fish in its chops as we’d seen a juvenile seal port side of us a few minutes earlier.

A beautiful 15# hen, that took the herring aid coho killer!

All done, we packed up and heading back to pull pots that I’d left soaking from the night before.

Here’s where we marked a bunch of bait, you can see the fish marks just above the 60′ line on the graph. Once the sun came out we had a short time frame to keep the fish interested. Dropping one rigger down to 90′ was the trick and paid off nicely with a beautiful hen that Chris landed.

The crabbing wasn’t very good, but felt we were blessed with the king bite. We limited out in less than 1 hour while we never saw another net flying around us. My next door neighbor was just getting out as we passed him near Norwegian point. He would later call me to ask if we’d limited out, the reason we were leaving so early. They wouldn’t find any takers and or bait balls.

What a great wrap up to the short but sweet king season. I am looking forward to getting some rest and catching up on my sleep!

7/28/18 Pilot Point

Two more days of fishing left in Area 9 and it had already been a stellar week with very good King salmon fishing. Some experts and long time fisherman have agreed that this season was the best they’d seen in many years.  My friend Steve Yuasa has been doing excellent down in Area 11 and 13 jigging 4.75 oz white Pt. Wilson darts.

He said the bait is thick like carpet and those hungry kings are gobbling up any thing that looks like a 5″ herring.

I picked up Chris M. at 4:45 and we made our way to the boat having to spend about 20 minutes setting up the gear and prepped the rods and tackle. Needless to say, I would have loved to be on the water a little quicker, but the run to Pilot point was good with very good seas and little winds. The flood tide was at 05:04 and I wish we were on the water by 04:00, while it’d be dark, I think using good UV/Glow flashers and spoons or herring would have been the hot ticket.

Glorious morning sunrise, once we got to the drop zone it didn’t take long. We passed Big Kahuna (Kirk S.) on the way out and Joe H. was already on the grounds doing his thing.

My rod with the Glow green flasher and Herring Aid coho killer spoon got hit immediately and the result was a above average sized fish of about 11-12# that was bled and iced down.  Chris connected, but couldn’t keep his fish pinned.

I called Phil K. over as they were at the SE corner of Possession bar but not much happening. He was fishing with his father and David K. but couldn’t connect at Pilot. Once the sun was up, the bait disappeared and so did the bite. I have a feeling the blood full moon had something to do with the fickle bite.  We moved around to Skunk bay, Norweigian point, PNP with little action.

My nice hen above, and Phil’s father with a good looking fish as well.

Pegasus at work, thanks to Phil K. for the photo!

Picture of “Tommy Boy” aka Joe H. in the 255 Tomcat.