Monthly Archives: July 2011

King for a day: July 29th, 2011

My quest for a Chinook this season was relentless since there were so many missed chances. I crackered one off in Neah bay, we missed our chance in Westport, could only catch wild kings, which had to be released in MA10 and 11. So, today had to be the day. I think it all stacks up to fishing with dad. Whenever we fish together, we catch fish and or at least hook a King.

We left home right at 4 am and hit Shilshoal around 4:40 to motor out with dimly lit skies and a marine layer of clouds. The tide exchange wasn’t looking favorable for biting kings, but that didn’t deter me as my honey hole usually holds bait and lots of it would be stirred up when the tide goes out.

When I fished that spot with Jon and Phil we hooked and landed several Kings with a big native that had to be released. It was also on a big tide swing and the bait was also stirred up. Find the bait and you’ll find the fish!

6:00 hit with no love, 7:00 came by with no action and then right around 7:30 with a great rip occurring in the honeyhole the starboard side rod starts pulsing wildly. I pick up the rod, slow the kicker and the fish unclips itself. After I put some pressure on the fish she sensed something was wrong and then headed to Tacoma taking 4 deep runs into the 30lb Maxima running line.

I prayed that this would be my holy grail and hoped she had the missing fin. As I reeled in for a closer look she showed her tail and holy moly, what a brute of a King. I hit the jackpot, clipped fin!!! My heart raced and I gave instructions to dad to bring up the other rod and take the kicker out of gear and get the net ready. She took two more runs when she saw the boat but inwas able to get her to succumb and with one big scoop she was ours!

Success was based on knowing the tide, time, and location. We could see the kings And Cohos near the bait balls and this was crucial to figuring out what depth to place the lures. I was running a Q-cove quick release flasher in green dragon color with 48″ of leader to a white lightening Coho Killer.

We picked another 5-6 lb Jack king but it became unbuttoned right at the kicker motor. Ah well… A hatchery resident coho came to hand along with a flounder. We also took a few red rock crab but no Dungees for some odd reason.

Dad and I took the opportunity to do some ink prints to best capture this beautiful fish. I think they turned out quite well and hope to have them framed so we can remember this epic beauty.

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Jeff Head: July 24th, 2011

Although we had a busy weekend, we decided to bust out for a day on the water since the weather forecast was looking good, there was also not too big of a tide change and the moon and barometric pressure were all positive for salmon fishing. I woke up at 4 am to meet Phil K. and we busted out to Armeni to launch under a beautiful Sunday morning sky. The 20 minute run northwest to Jefferson Head would be smooth under clear skies and cool morning temps. We got to 120′ of water and dropped the downriggers: 40 and 100′ and began the troll with Q-Cove Cop car, and Green Dragon flashers and Ace Hi-fli and White lightning Coho Killer lures.

We weren’t alone with 30-40 boats in the vicinity all hoping for a chance at an early morning King or Coho at best. We trolled along the south tip of Jeff Head in range of water from 120′ to 260′. High tide was 6:40 am and thats when we got our hit with 125′ of cable out, the deep pulsing of the rod at first alerted me to a possible hookup with a King, but upon my revelation, was a decent sized resident Coho of 8-9 lbs.

The stomach contents revealed a steelhead that was un-lucky with the voracious silver that fell under its ultimate demise with the Kingfisher spoon. Around noon we pulled up to Kingston for a quick refuel of the kicker tank, but decided to quit on the trolling since it was pretty slow all morning.

We pulled our traps and had a few red rocks, but no keeper Dungees, so headed back with a couple of nice flounder as well. Great day to be on the water and even a dismal day fishing is far better then a stellar day at work!

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Westport Rocket Run: July 18th, 2011

Having spent the weekend with my in-laws had me thinking of how opening day was for my Puget sound friends. The reports were pretty dismal for factory Kings, this coupled with the poor weather and full moon would probably be a recipe for weak fishing. Sometimes, that doesn’t matter when so many positive reports were coming from Westport. On the drive back up to Seattle I told Phil, ‘were a go,’ so it would be a couple more hours back at home, packed and trailered up and out the door at 10:30 pm, destination Grayland, WA. Phil’s friend has a cabin there and it would be our oasis to park, rest, refuel and prep for the next day.

We arrived close to 1 am and quickly hit the pillows for a little shut eye before the 5:30 wakeup call. The cabin is just 6 miles from the launch and there was no wait under partly cloudy marine layered skies. We motored out at 6:30 and met ‘the bar’ at 7 am, according to NOAA the max ebb would be at 7′ swells at the bar but it was a snap. We expected rougher seas, but it was pretty smooth sailing. We decided to motor north once we hit the open water and drop some crab pots and troll for a close in King. My buddy Lance A. reported good fishing in 50′ of water with 20-30′ of cable for 20# kings a week ago, so we followed suit for 30-40 min. Without any takers. We made the decision to bust out west in search of 230′ of water under foggy marine layer that wasn’t burning off as quickly as we’ d hoped for. The 40 min run would bring us to 200′ of water and upon our arrival we were greeted by a party fishing boat much to our amazement.

We dropped our downriggers, one at 40′ and the other at 150′ and started the troll at 3 mph due west. Within 5 minutes we were greeted with a dancing rod and fish on! A nice 10# wild Coho was released and down the Q Cove green dragon flasher and purple haze coho killer went down. As we made more passes we began to see more and more private vessels and bait on our screen. The next two hours would bring a total of 18 Coho from 6-10# to hand with only 6 of them being wild and the rest factory fish. We had a couple of double hookups and only lost two fish, so it was a very successful trip especially since this was our first trip to Westport and exploring new waters is always fun to do. Although we wished we could’ve had another day but we had to be back as the hall pass was expiring soon.

The bar crossing eastbound was pretty rough with top speeds of 15 mph it took us 2 hours to return to Westhaven and we were pretty beaten up with the bashing our bodies took but our spirits were good since we got into some really nice fish. From the radio chatter on 68 sounded like finding a King was pretty slim with most of that rush of good fishing the week before having moved southward.

Some things to remember next time out is to have the fly rods rigged and ready with clousers to throw at hooked fish. We witnessed some pretty aggressive behavior with usually a second fish trying to smash the lures from the hooked fishes mouth. A nicely presented fly would have resulted in another hookup, for sure. We did have two instances of a double hookup and that was pretty exciting to experience and successfully land and release those fish.

From here on I’ll likely focus my attention to our local marine areas for a chance at a King and the next species, pinks. We still haven’t been to grill up a King yet, but hoping that will happen in the next couple of weeks.

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Ballard Lock Experience

My wife and I wanted to do the lock tour from a boaters perspective since the weather was nice and it would make a good excuse to pick up my crab pots that I left out near shilshole. We started from the Newport launch in Bellevue and made our way towards Lake Union and Ballard. The whole tour took awhile since the speed limit after the 520 bridge is 7 knots and the rime it takes to wait in the locks. It wasn’t as painful as long as you pay attention to the attendants and have a bit of common sense.

Once we reached the sound my traps were in place and upon the first pull it was a little concerning since nothing came up. The second and third pulls would yield enough legals for two easy limits.

We took 5 of those tasty Dungees to Kings restaurant in Bellevue and they prepared crab three ways for us: Salt and Pepper, Ginger and Garlic, and Black bean sauce. At $10 a crab it’s a great way to enjoy the fruits of the sea.

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Marine Area 10 Fun: July 8th-9th

The weather looked perfect for some sun and fun with Jon and Phil. Alot if willing resident Coho from 3-7 lbs to be had, great for the barbecue. The Dungees are nice this year with some big males measuring 7-8″ across the shells. The highlight of yesterday was my 34 lb wild King @ 50′ of cable with quick release fire tiger flasher and cookies and creme Coho killer. We found a massive bait ball on the outgoing tide and kept hooking fish after fish with each pass through. I knew it was a king when it took the first deep run into the single action reel. Amazing fight and a beautiful fish that hopefully will spawn and it’s progeny will live to provide us with a fight another day.

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Neah Bay: June 30-July 3rd, 2011

We just rolled back into town from 4 days in Neah Bay and all I can say is WOW! What an amazing place! Dad and I had a blast two years ago, but this experience definitely tops the charts for the scenery, experience, and the fun we had as a family.  For many of you that follow my blogroll, you may have seen my Neah Bay post from two years ago in July of 2009. Dad and I had so much fun that we wanted to invite our family to join us in 2010, but there was so much going on with our lives and poor weather and bleak salmon returns and the birth of my son held us up for a couple of years. We decided that 2011 was going to be the year that we made it back out to Neah. Instead of camping on Hobuck beach, we opted to stay in the RV park cabins which have wonderful views and smells of Hobuck Bay.

Since this was going to be a family holiday with my parents, sisters family and my nieces going we couldn’t fully devote 100% of our efforts to fishing, but when we did, we were mostly rewarded for the time that we did get to spend on the water. Our trip started with a hearty traditional Korean breakfast of Sulung Tang, which is beef broth soup and noodles. There is a wonderful place in Federal Way that mixes up the special soup that sets the mood just right for a day on the road.

We stopped off at Sol Duc Resort and hot springs, for a soak in the mineral baths, something that I’ve never done, but it was pleasantly surprising and a nice way to relax.  Sol Duc is within the Olympic National Park and is a little jaunt past the 101, but was well worth the trek. As the afternoon came around, I was itching to get on the road to check in and get the boat out to drop crab pots and maybe wet a line or two for some black bass.

The crab report: sucked rotten eggs, over the few days of baiting and dropping the pots I concluded that we were feeding more starfish and our lines were attractors for the kelp that found its way and managed to wrap everything up into a frothy mess. We could’ve done better, but will definitely need some help and GPS coordinates next time. I was certain that it would be somewhat productive inside the jetty, but might be all fished out as those waters get pounded pretty hard with the locals.

We only had a few minutes left of daylight, so we motored around Waddah island to try our luck at the bottom fishing, but there was so much salad around, it made it very tough to locate the bass. Dad did manage to pick one up, but our sights were on salmon, so we pulled out and headed back to camp to get some rest for the early morning wake up call. I was a zombie that night, tossing and turning, just filled with ideas on what I’d do the day on the water. Most of the fishing for us turned out to be gear based, with downriggers, flashers and other hardware. We pushed out at 4:30 to get out before the sunrise and have our shot at a potential King. It was cool and cloudy, but the weather would improve over the next couple of hours and with that the bite did as well. It was my sisters first time salmon fishing and she would witness the fast and furious action that would come with the many take downs from the trolled gear. I would have stayed a bit longer on the water as it was calming down, but our plan was to pick up my niece so that we could pull those pots up and take her bottom fishing. However that plan never worked out and we decided to head back, so that we could do some other family activities. The final count for the 3.5 hours of fishing was 15 fish to the net, with limits of keeper Coho and Pinks. We did have a very nice King that will haunt me as we had it right next to the boat and ready to land when it decided that it didn’t want anything to do with us and with that did a tail slap and snapped the 30 lb Maxima running line of the downrigger rod like a toothpick.  I estimated that the King was pushing 17-18 lbs, not a huge fish, but it was a King and it would’ve been a keeper.  As Homer Simpson puts it, DOH!!!

The day would bring a hike out to the Cape Flattery trail with impressive views of the coastline, Tatoosh Island, and the old growth forest. I had to remind myself that its not all about me and to get out and explore some of this beautiful wilderness. I had a wonderful time on this trail with my family and its definitely a ‘must-do’ if you make it out to Neah Bay and find yourself with non-fishermen.

After a big dinner of PBR battered Tempura battered Panko bottom fish we passed out for day 3. 4 am would come very quickly and I rolled out of bed with a little more spring in my step. The weather would be even better then the previous day and I wanted to round Tatoosh and fish the west side of the penisula as the reports were positive for more black bass and Kings. Having never made that run before I was a little concerned, but the security of a good GPS/Sounder with 3D charts is crucial when making that trip. Just two days before leaving for Neah, the Eagle 1000 pooped out on me, so I went back and forth with upgrading it, but was REALLY glad that I did because it made the difference in our success.  Dad and I fished around the west side and down towards Makah Bay with steady action of Pink Salmon and 7-8 lb Coho, but after so many Pinks and all wild Coho (no-keeper) we decided that something needed to change.  I looked at the charts and wanted to make the run to Swiftsure Bank, and knew the weather would be getting better along with the marine forecast.  I shared with dad my plan, but he was a bit hesitant, but I assured him that it would be ok. We had 3/4 of a tank of fuel and if it got bad, we could retreat back. The 30 minute run out was a little concerning since we saw no other fishing boats and come to think of it, not other vessels (Cruise, container, commercial) traffic. I was going out there based on GPS coordinates and the nautical charts. I’d always heard of Swiftsure, but was told told make sure you have the boat that can handle it and enough range on your tanks as it is a pretty far run. I know my boat was up for the challenge and I keep my motors tuned and maintained so that there isn’t a concern with reliability.

We made it to the southern most point of Swiftsure in about 330′ of water, and I told dad that this must be the place, so we started our troll with gear down and with optimistic minds. Within minutes the rods were dancing and Coho after Coho would be on the end, twisting, jumping, and brawling like a UFC fight. Even though we didn’t see any other fishermen or boats it didn’t matter because we were clobbering the fish. All of our fish were wild, so they were promptly released. With each beautiful Coho release I was wondering if we’d ever catch a marked fish, but there was still time and we pressed on.  Upon our 5th or 6th release we had an amazing experience with a group of Dall Porpoise that about scared the living you know what out of me when there surfaced spraying us with the deep breath and the black and white coloration. As they sped by as lightning speed I thought it was an Orca, but the size was much smaller. I had read reports of some fishermen seeing them out at Neah, but never that close.

They were tracking us and gobbling up the released Coho that were easy pickings for these acrobatic porpoise. I wasn’t able to capture any photos as these dolphins were so quick, but I did get a clip of video you’ll see herein. We finally picked up a marked Coho of 11-12 lbs which dad and I celebrated with a blessed morning of spectacular fishing. The Coho were so aggressive and even taking topwater gear that we also had trolling accidentally. While dad was driving he lost his direction and made too sharp a turn which resulted in 70′ of cable, a 12# ball, snubber and hardware that ended up at the bottom of Swiftsure Bank. While I was rigging up a new section of cable, I put one rod into the holder with the flasher swimming just 30 yards behind the boat, within a few minutes the rod at 40′ went off and then the surface rod exploded with an airborne Coho that crushed the Coho killer on the surface.

Even though we would’ve like to boat a King the Coho action kept us there for a couple hours. After so many wild fish we decided to abandon our quest for that one that could be clipped. We pulled our lines and decided it was time to motor back. Total count for day 3 was 37 landed, but only 3 salmon (2 Pink, 1 Coho and two nice bass) kept for the grill.

I tried a little bucktailing, but it never yielded any success for me, but maybe next time if I have more time and accompanied with one of my fly fishing friends.  This trip was even better than two years ago and I hope that it won’t be another two years before I make it back to Neah Bay.

 

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