Monthly Archives: August 2011

Big Pink years = Big Coho run

While most folks have their sights on the pinks I wanted to step outside the box for some Coho on the fly on the OP. From what the biologists indicated and from what I’ve seen from Neah Bay and Westport, it should be stacked up to be an epic run. There would be a favorable low tide of 10:45 am and it would definitely put the fish on the run. We found the best activity on the hour leading up to the low and then briefly on the incoming tide.

I find it best to fish this river when it’s a very low or even best negative tide. The weather was perfect and the fishing was excellent with some nice fiery red Coho fillets that we were rewarded with. I did end up losing a lug sole on my wading boot and taco’d my Winston B2X as it shattered in several places, all the sections above the butt were destroyed with the pull of the lively Silver. I wasn’t that impressed with the overall size of the fish, around 8-10 lbs. Perhaps the quantity of Coho reduced the overall size, not sure but I’m happy to see this fishery come back since I zero’d out several times last season with no fish to show for the effort.

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Duwhammy! August 26th, 2011

It was time for me to get my dad into some more consistent action, so we geared up the Arima and headed for the rich waters of the east channel below Spokane street in search of a few willing biters. Low tide was at 9:40 am but it wouldn’t matter as we started catching fish right off the bat. When the bite slowed around noon, I tried some different patterns without success, my waiting period flies. Also a green and glow squid pattern, but my tried and true pink squid worked like a charm and was responsible for many numerous hook ups. We also hand some epic crabbing with two easy limits. It was tough throwing back so many legal males.

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Complaining gets you nowhere: August 24th, 2011

Jeff H. Invited me to join him on a private beach on the south sound to scout some water. There have been many reports of poor fishing and guys wondering if the run was over.

I am reluctant to believe in all this jabber, I just want to fish and catch fish. We found fish on the incoming tide being best from 1-4 pm with hookups and close running pinks.

To the doubters, stay home or on your internet, keeps the beaches free and clear for the us.

Persistence pays off again…

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Colorado boys get into some fish: August 19th-20th

Had family in from CO and pounded the water hard all day Friday with no pinks in MA11. Saturday, we moved to the east channel and fish hard until noon with only 1 fish to hand. Wind was kicking up and the schools were sporadic and sparse. Had lunch at Alki crab shack and decided to wait it out for the afternoon low. It was worth it… From 2-4 it was a fiesta, with a couple doubles and EZ limits for my guests. I was so busy keeping the boat in position (anchor wouldn’t hold in the wind) and netting duty that wasn’t able to fish much but got a kick from seeing their expressions as they caught their very first salmon. I think by next week the water will be boiling hot. I’ve smoked over 70 lbs of fillets and have another 30 lbs brining up for tomorrow’s smoke. Even though it’s alot of work it sure is fun.

I’ve been trying to get my cousin Andrew out to fish with me here in WA for as long as I’ve lived here for the past ten years.

Since the pink run was so epic in 2009 I gave Drew the ultimatum that he absolutely had to make a run out to fish with me this year.

I had done some scouting the days before their arrival and thought I had a good course of attack as the two previous days of fishing proved to yield some positive numbers. However, mother nature isn’t always on our side and sometimes the fish aren’t always a player.

We pounded the south sound from 9:30 Til 5 pm hitting Redondo, Poverty, Dumas, Dash, Browns, Puyallup, Quartermaster, Maury with no luck. We saw 2 fish jump, 1 fish landed from another boater in that time. My cousin didn’t go fishless as he did catch a sandlance  and a small Dungee crab. You can imagine the argument that he and his brother in law Donald had over that one…

I was getting a little nervous that the day would be a complete bust, but they wanted to keep pressure and perhaps wait for the tide change. We topped off the fuel and got some more supplies at Des Moines and decided to make the most of the day since it’s been so nice. We had a great wind drift and on a pass Donalds rod goes tight and a flash of silver comes to view. We all got excited but the only fish to hand would be a dogfish.

Soon after Drew would pick up a rockfish and then Don would hit another rockfish. We found a big school and typically when you find one you’ll find many more. We couldn’t keep them off the line as it alternated dogfish with rocks and flounder. It was a fun distraction for a couple of hours but not what we were targeting. The next day we would set our sights on hitting the east channel of the Duwamish. We pushed off at 7:00 am and hit the water 30 minutes later and quickly motored over to the waterway. Things were looking bleak from the bridge as there were no fish breaking the surface and no visible boats in the channel.

When we arrived we were greeted with all our 56 best friends on Spokane street. We weren’t the only boat on the water as there was a group of guys fishing from a Maxum ski boat. My initial thoughts led to this weekend being a total bust for us. We did spot a rather large school of 20-30 fish near us but we couldn’t get a cast in by the time it was too far away.

The wind started blowing and I couldn’t keep the boat in position so we decided to tie up on the pilings and cast away. I was ready to call it but the guys seemed eager and wanted to keep pressing on after lunch. We spotted some activity and Drew hooked up with his first salmon, woo hoo!  While it was eventful for Andres, it was especially frustrating for Donald as he had lost two fish in the mid morning due to weak hook sets or soft mouths.

After an hour of being confined to the pilings, the wind died down a bit and the tide was on its way down, so we decided to motor north. Around 2pm Drew hooked up again, and again, and again. This drove Donald crazy since he was on fire with these fish that were eluding us for the past day and a half. After a little coaching we adjusted Don’s retrieve to mimic Drew’s and within minutes he was into his first landed salmon. It was a pleasure seeing the satisfaction and the joy of fishing for these two Colorado guys. Andrew commented that they were the biggest fish he’s ever caught. While there are anglers that turn up a nose to pinks, they’ve provided lots of great memories, laughter, enjoyment and time well spent together with my family. That is priceless and I am blessed to have been able to share these times with them.

The guys landed 8 fish and lost that many or more. If it wasn’t for them making the trip out, I probably would’ve left much earlier, but the lesson that I learned was to be patient and sometimes good things come to those that wait.

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Couldn’t keep a good thing to myself: August 18th, 2011

After my great outing yesterday I had to give it another try to make sure that I was understanding the tides. This morning I invited Jeff H. to join me and I said it might be worth his while.

It wasn’t lights out fishing, but I ended up with 23 fish landed. Jeff did well but I don’t know what his final tally was.

Tomorrow my cousin from CO is visiting and hoping to get into a few fish. I wanted to scout out these fish so that he has a high degree of success and hopefully we’ll be able to pick off a few fish on the fly.

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Patience pays off: August 17th, 2011

I had the opportunity to visit a new to me beach in the south sound which seemed to be fishy, so on the news loaded up the pram and headed down with the hope of some luck. What I found was the largest pod of free swimming and staging fish that I’ve seen in the sound that were not on the move to head to the Puyallup. This school or rather schools of fish numbered probably close to 150-200 as I saw several schools of 30-40 fish just feet away from where I was anchored up. The beauty of this beach was its access or rather lack of to the gear group and to the bank fisherman, and the fact that it wasn’t crowded unlike many of the well known beaches in the south sound.

I arrived a little after 8:30 which was an hour after the high tide and immediately found fish breaking the surface so spent little time gearing up and heading out. What was frustrating was the fact that these pinks weren’t interested in my fly that I’d been having some degree of success with at Dash and Browns’ Pt. I don’t think it was due to the pattern but likely based on the fact that they were in the staging pattern.

Around 10 am, the tide started to ebb and really get going, and the light switch turned on and the it was game time. One by one I started picking up fish as a variety of stripping methods got them into a biting frenzy. My favorite of all methods was to swing in the current for them. I would cast out in a 45 degree angle to my ‘downstream’ as if I was steelheading and keep the line tight but adding a few twitches, which would result in tightened lines and fish bolting in every which way trying to spit the hook.

Another favorite way was to throw the fly line directly downstream and let the line tighten up in the current, once the schools approached the fluttering fly, the line would go tight and fish would be on. It was a very unique experience and the hits were not subtle.

You may not believe my final tally, but I landed 38 fish and lost many others due to soft mouths and or broken tippet. I took 7 consecutive fish, which in my book was a pretty good day. I hope to hit it again tomorrow with this bit of information and some waiting period flies which definitely helped.

Rod: GLX 10′ 6 wt 2-piece Classic

Reel: Feather Craft SLAC3 cartridge

Line: Rio Outbound Intermediate short

Flies: Pink Hoochies, Comets, and Clousers

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Phil K’s. Pink Report: 8/7/2011

My buddy Phil has been eager to catch his first salmon on the fly, here is his report and thoughts on flyfishing versus gear:

“My dad had been wanting to get out fishing with me for some time so I decided to take him Pink Salmon fishing. Now he is not a stranger to fishing off the beach for Pinks…I remember when I was younger and he would teach me the ways and the art of catching Pinks. I learned from him and have transitioned into fly fishing. We hit some local waters around the high tide at noon and fished the outgoing tide a little as well. 

I actually started off throwing pink lead better known as buzz bombs along with my dad. It wasn’t long before he hooked into his first fish but after a brief fight the fish released itself back to the shallows. Not long after, I hooked up with my first fish and smirked at my dad telling him to watch how a pro does it. My fish came unbuttoned and as soon as those words left my mouth, my dad had hooked up again! This time he landed the first fish of the day for us. I was not deterred and kept persisting…people were hooking Pinks left and right as the schools would zoom in and out. I watched the water boil and threw my buzz bomb into the vicinity and hooked up and landed my first Pink of the day!
As I scouted the beach, I saw only 2 other fly fisherman. I had brought my Loomis GLX 8wt along with my Galvan T8 spooled with RIO Versatip. I know it is a bit overkill but I had no idea of what to expect fighting my first potential salmon on the fly…that and my only other rod was a 4wt. I tied one of the pinks flys I had made with some instruction from Paul. As I did not bring my waders I waded into the water in my board shorts. Surprisingly the water was not as cold as I expected it and felt good to the touch as temperatures reached the low 80s. I was nervous because I thought I did not have enough back casting room but it proved to be more then enough. My second cast out to the water and I started to strip the line in and all of a sudden, that familiar tug on the other end. I quickly set the hook…the fish thrashed left and right, jumping out of the water a couple of times…as the fish came closer and saw the shore, it found the strength to peel more line out. Soon after I landed my first Salmon species on the fly!
My dad seemed curious about this whole fly fishing set up. I could tell in his eyes that he wanted to try it out. I hooked my next fish soon after and handed the rod off to my dad, giving him some instruction on what to do and how land the fish. Even he was dumbfounded at the feeling of the fight and how in tune you are with the fish. I think it was a bit much for him as he is getting a little older and nursing a weak shoulder. He said the fight was great but the fish was too strong for him and he would stick to gear fishing. At least I was able to give him a taste of how I feel every single time I hooked a Pink!
At the end of the day, I had went 6 for 8 Pinks on the fly! The difference in difficulty and feeling in tune with the fish and the fight in indescribable. I will never…ever fish for any salmon species on a gear rod again…I will however wear some nitrile gloves next time as the line, mixed with the salt water really tore up my beautiful soft supple hands. Thank you Pink Salmon, I don’t care what people say about you…you provided me with an unforgettable experience both in fight and quality time with my  father. “
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Happy Anniversary! August 5th, 2011

It was exactly two years ago that I was almost in the same body of water fishing for the same type of fish, using the same methods. As nature would prove herself in reproducing the run timing it was like clockwork. I had some meetings to address in the morning so wasn’t able to make it out for the outgoing tide with the first light bite, but I knew that after the mid morning high at 10:30am would be a couple hours of good fishing if the fish agreed.

I met up with Jeff H. who was hard at work and managed to make it out to wet a line at O’Dark thirty before the masses conveyed upon the Pier. He hooked a nice bright fish around 5 am and then it sorta went quiet according to him. I sent him a message that I’d be at the park by 10:30 and if he wanted to meet me to try the outgoing tide we might have a whirl.

I rigged up and proceeded to heads towards Dumas on a wind and tide pull as I was searching the water with casts when I saw a fish porpoise.  I quickly anchored down and then through a cast in the general direction and the line went tight.  A eager bullhead was hungry for my pink creation, off he went and then blasted another cast out as quickly as possible and the line went magically tight. At first I thought it to be a SRC since the fight wasn’t all that spectacular, but alas the first pink of the season on the fly of about 4 lbs.

Bonk, bleed, and into the ice box. By now, a little after 11 am, a few more fish started showing themselves about 200 yards from the shoreline. I of course blasted out my casts in the general vicinity and again after again the line went tight and the water exploded with Pink salmon. This went on for about 30 minutes until it started dying down and then there were no fish porpoising or showing themselves.

Finally tally for the hour and half that I fished was 8 hooked, 2 lost, and 3 for the ice-box. Not a bad tally for the first of Im sure many outings.  Some folks are saying that this years runs seem bigger then two years ago, but Im not sure if I agree at this point. Out of the three fish I did land the largest was about 5-6 lbs, pretty average in my book for the pinks in this run. They fought rather well with my 10 lb tippet mated to the Cortland Clear Camo slime line on the Feathercraft SLA C3 reel on the 10′ GLX 6 wt. 2 piece.

I wrapped up back at the truck by a little after 1 and then scoped out the Pier, where it was pandemonium of buzz bombs and also to Browns Pt. where it was a little quieter.  I was happy to get out for a couple hours and nail a few Pink salmon.

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When Black is better than Pink: August 3rd, 2011

I’ve been kind of getting tired of Pink fishing or rather pink trolling… I haven’t even been out specifically to target for them yet, but watching and reading the forums and reports has already worn me out. Not that I am complaining but folks need to be patient and let the fish do their thing. There seems to be crowds already forming on the local beaches and fishermen scouring the boards for shreds of information on who, what, when, why…

I would normally be hippity hoppity to join the masses, but there is something that has caught my attention of recent and that is the beloved Chinook or King salmon. Since getting my boat dialed in, I am learning the characteristics of what they seem to like and trying to mimic my offerings in the hopes of wrangling up a few fish. I wanted to test out some of those theories and decided to head out again with my dad at o’dark thirty for another shot after landing that big Tyee last Friday.

When we arrived at Shilshoal there were already 4 boats launching and a host of vehicles with empty trailers in the parking lot. The skies were just starting to lightening but still dark enough that we had to use headlamps and interior lights in the boat. The cruise out was the smoothest I’ve encountered on the sound with glass like surfaces and being able to hit 30 mph easily and rocket across to the west.

We would hit Jeff Head, beloved salmon feeding grounds and the closest good fishing to downtown Seattle. We wasted no time and had our gear in the water by 5 am trolling steadily with our offerings: Q Cove Green Dragon break away flasher with White Lightening Coho Killer at 44″ of Maxima leader. Clipped at 15′ she went down to 60′ in 90′ of water. Second rod was Green Ice with a Yellowtail Kingfisher spoon, just to mix it up a little, clipped and down she went to 80′.

Within a few passes, the White Lightening rod went bouncing and the fight was on with a small blackmouth of 2-3 lbs. Released and re-clipped we quickly put it back down for another swipe, and again within minutes the rod starts bouncing and this time I could tell the fish was heavier by the initial run that only a King salmon can make. After the few minutes of fight she gave in and the 24 lb hatchery hen was in our boat. I was wondering about the yellowtail, so I quickly switched that out for another White Lightening and sent her down. A few minutes passed and the rod went dancing again with the third King. The bite then shut off around 6:30-7 am and all we could pick up were a bunch of Coho shakers.

We ran up to Edmonds and trolled those beaches to no avail, so we decided to pack it up at 10:30 and head back to clean up the boat and fillet the fish.  Several things I’ve learned that I believe are important when fishing for Kings.

  • Be prepared, have all your gear organized and ready to go with backup lures, flashers, rods and rigs ready as you never know when something gets lost, broken or ???  The bite sometimes doesn’t last very long and with an ascending sun the Kings grow weary and move to deeper water.
  • Make sure you don’t troll a shaker and or weed, presentation is everything. I like to use a longer 60″ Scotty release clip to detect small movements in the setup, so if anything looks peculiar, I am checking it.
  • Thanks to Brian Kim at Outdoor Emporium for helping me set up the anti weed guard which helped keep the salad to a minimum on my flashers and the lures. I used the Golf tees from Silver Horde coupled with bead chain, BIC pen sleeve, Sampo swivels and scissor snaps to keep everything rotating and clean.
  • Make sure your engines, mechanics and systems are all in excellent shape. You will depend on your sounder to provide vital information on bait location, depth, speed, and sometimes temperature. This is crucial in searching for Kings
  • The internet is a valuable tool to figure out tides, currents, marine charts and weather reports including NOAA forecasts. I always go out knowing exactly the tide changes and what that will do to the baitfish.
  • Find the bait and you’ll likely find the salmon, so true and I didn’t know the power of having a good sounder and it was worth every penny. Thanks to Paul at Outdoor Emporium for hooking me up with the Lowrance HDS-5. I would have never been able to make it out to places like Swiftsure bank and Westport without this important tool.

In the meantime, I’ll let my friends go crazy for the Pinks, but I’ll be trying to go for a few more Blacks until that winds down and transitions to Silver!  I know summertime in Seattle won’t last long and I am definitely enjoying the frutti di mare’, which is the Italian for Fruits of the Sea. Im slowly filling up that deep freezer with some nice King steaks which I hope to enjoy in January or February when its soggy and miserable outside. I’ll look back at the photos and read my fishing journal of a great King season 2011.

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