Monthly Archives: June 2012

Westport Rocket Run: June 15th, 2012

Reading all the reports on the internet forums about Westport had me salivating from the mouth, enough so that I needed to take some time off and spend with my dad. What better way to do so then fishing on a glorious day. The plan was to leave Seattle by 8 pm to make the 130 mile run, set up camp in the back of the truck in the parking lot, and be ready to roll at first light.  Since this was dads’ first time to Westport and my second I needed a refresher on crossing the bar which was very easy due to the lower tidal exchange, nice weather, and calm winds, something that I guess is a rarity for Westport in early June.  My plan was to head north and fish somewhere in 50-90′ of water as that seemed to be where all the action was the week prior and many anglers getting limits just south of the bay near the green can.  We started marking fish and bait at 50′ but it wasn’t enough to slow down, drop the downrigger balls and start our troll. I wanted to motor out a little deeper, but that would be more of a dodgeball circuit with all the commercial crab floats that littered the fishing grounds. There were already two charter boats working the waters in 50′ and a host of other chaser boats following the charters’ lead. I however didn’t want to get caught up with the mass exodus, but liked the solitude of having some space to work around while we got used to the ‘new to me’ boat.

I asked dad to drive while I set up the gear, and told him to be careful and not come too close to the buoys, almost as soon as I said that it was too late as we ran across one on port side with the rope stretching to the starboard.  We had only been at it for less than 5 minutes and our first learning encounter. After untangling the mess and getting back into position I considered ourselves lucky as we didn’t lose any gear as a result and was going slow enough and cut the power.  Soon after, we started picking up shakers as I was releasing one the other rod would start dancing. I had to set one rod down in the boat while I re-clipped and sent the opposite rod down and then out of the corner of my eye the rod that WAS in the boat was lunging onto the gunnel and heading into the water! I gasped and thought we caught another crab pot ropeline, but as I lifted the rod it pulsed and it was no rope but a fish that had been teased up with the flasher and the spoon that was fluttering like a wounded baitfish.  I’d seen this behavior before with Coho, but never with a King, but nonetheless after a short battle our first legal fish came to hand!  We were excited since most of the radio chatter sounded like it was pretty much slow otherwise for the rest of the northern fleet.

I played with depth, different colors, and speeds but once we hit 80-90′ feet of water around 7 am, the magic happened.  Our rods would just explode and these Kings would unclip themselves and peel off line from the mooching single action reels as they dove down trying to escape the clutches of our spinning wrists as we tried to catch up to their attempts to flee. One by one we picked off our legal fish and released some other fine natives. It was surreal since mostly we were alone apart from two guys in a Northriver that were mooching herring, and two in a red Duckworth that were probably wondering ‘what the heck are they using’ and scratching their heads.  I think mostly it was the speed, I like to troll a little faster, even for Kings and in my experience, they like the ambush whether it be small Coho Killers or the 4″ Cookies and Creme spoon that I was using.  We wrapped up just before 9 with our last fish and decided that we’d had enough fun, and agreed that we should explore a bit of Westport because I’d never seen it in the daylight and since the weather was so nice it would be a good chance to get some photos.

I don’t know what it is with fishing with my dad, but I swear that he is the lucky charm when it comes to hooking King Salmon. Every year since I’ve owned a saltwater boat, whenever went out, we’d hook Kings!  I’d try to duplicate this with my friends, but many times we’d come up empty handed and frustrated.  Its been kind of an annual tradition that dad and I fish together around Father’s Day and or July 1st, but this trip was an exceptional one and I’d have to thank my friend Lance A. for helping me out with tips and suggestions along with Trent and Chasin’ Tail from Gamefishin.com who were generous with information to help some Westport newbies. If it wasn’t for them, we’d probably be coming home empty handed and no salmon for our Sunday family dinner.  I can’t wait to dig into this stuff, it filleted out great and can’t believe how much meat came off those chunky shouldered fish.  I’ll be daydreaming about when I can return, but thankful that I was able to spend some time with my old man.

 

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Categories: Fishing Reports | 2 Comments

Westport Prep: 6/14/2012

I’ve got the green light to head out with dad for some pre-Father’s Day funk out session to Westport. The last time I fished it was with Phil K. about a year ago and we had a blast in the Arima chasing Coho out in 250-275′ of water, which required a long drive under mostly foggy conditions without the aide of radar.  This year, with the new and bigger boat with more aggressive hull design, I hope to be able to soften the blows to my kidneys and lower back with the spring seats and the deeper V-hull.  34 degrees on the entry, 18 midship and 13 degree of deadrise at the transom.  The Marine area 2 salmon season opened up on June 9th with a 2 salmon limit, they both can be Kings as long as they are marked or hatchery clipped versions.  Last year, we never saw a King, maybe it was a bit late when we went, as run timing can be sporadic and finding them at one spot doesn’t mean automatic success at other locations.  I’ve been poking around the fishing forums and the posts, photos, videos have all caught my attention that I need to be there, right now!

Thankfully, the timing couldn’t be better since the boys are in daycare and or already scheduled to be with grandma and the weather and marine forecast along with favorable tides and bar conditions will be condusive to relative ease in getting out to the killing fields.

SYNOPSIS FOR THE NORTHERN AND CENTRAL WASHINGTON COASTAL AND INLAND WATERS…A 1030 MB HIGH WELL OFFSHORE AND LOWER PRES OVER THE GREAT BASIN WILL RESULT IN MODERATE ONSHORE FLOW THROUGH WED. A 1020 MB HIGH WILL DEVELOP OVER THE COASTAL WATERS ON THU FOR LIGHT ONSHORE FLOW THAT WILL PERSIST THROUGH FRI.

PZZ176-131230-
COASTAL WATERS FROM POINT GRENVILLE TO CAPE SHOALWATER 10 TO 60 NM-
852 PM PDT TUE JUN 12 2012

TONIGHT…NW WIND 15 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 8 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.WED…NW WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 8 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

WED NIGHT…NW WIND 10 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 8 SECONDS.

THU…NW WIND 10 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 2 FT. W SWELL 4 FT.

THU NIGHT AND FRI…N WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 4 FT.

FRI NIGHT…N WIND 10 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 2 FT. W SWELL 3 FT.

SAT…NW WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 4 FT.

SUN…NW WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL BUILDING TO 7 FT.

Tides are: 0’11” low at 03:54 am and a 6′ high at 10:17 am. The sunrise is 05:21 and we hope to be launched and on our way shortly before this hoping to maximize our time on the water.

Anglers have been indicating that fish have been taken in water as shallow as 50′ as there is abundant bait around, (herring and sand shrimp). The herring chase the sand shrimp and the King Salmon chase the herring.  Kings noticeably have a metallic smell to them, especially juvenille Blackmouth as they specifically feed voraciously on these baits.  Fishing with flashers and spoons such as the Cop Car, Irish Creme or Kitchen Sinks have reported favorable results along with use of Deep diver 6’s with 2′ to 3′ leader and big spoons. Photos of 20+ lb fish up to 27 lbs have been reported as well.

I had to go back to my notes about the bar crossing and information so that I was fully ready and aware of the possible conditions to expect. I want to come back safe with everything I left the launch, and in order to do so want to go through my checklists to ensure that this will be the case. The open ocean isn’t a place for something to go wrong, this last weeks outing for Lings proved that the boat is in good mechanical shape and up for the rigors of salt, waves, swells, winds, and the bar crossing.  Here is a note from Salmon University that I took as reference for me to remember some important points about fishing Westport:

Heading out:

Leaving the boat basin from the launch, head straight out through the slot in the breakwater piling, then hang a left & head north for the end of the short rock breakwaters at the point. DO NOT GO EAST OF PILING MARKER #7, as it designates the edge of Whitcomb Flats. As you enter the main river off the point, there are a couple of rock breakwaters. Just outside of these, there is a shallow bar of about 15-20 depth, you will encounter a turbulence here for a couple of hundred yards. Once you get beyond this bar, the main river deepens and the water flattens out. There is a small red can buoy “4 T” in the middle of the exit channel. Head toward the “4 T” buoy, then turn to the west and head out the main river.
It is suggested that after you enter the main river & can see west with the south jetty on your left in the distance, head straight out the southern middle of the river to #11, the next one will then be #9. This #9 buoy is beyond the end of the south jetty by about half a mile. If you are going to encounter any roughness it will be about this #9 buoy to beyond #8, which is about 500 yards. From #9 you want to head toward #8 but depending on the currents & roughness off the old submerged jetty, you may have to hold slightly north of it. When you get beyond the old jetty turbulence, you then can head close to either side of #8. At #8 you can immediately swing to the left & head southwest toward #6. Buoy #8 & buoy #6 are fairly close together. After you head toward #6 you will usually be beyond any bar wave conditions.
Distance from the launch to buoy #8 is about 5.5 miles. From the end of the existing South Jetty to buoy #8 is about 1.5 miles. Buoy #8 is about equal in a westerly direction as the end of the North Jetty.

Crossing the bar:

The one thing that will get you in more trouble than any other thing is SPEED. This is not a boat race, hold your speed down if it is rough, and then cut the throttle as you ride over a crest so that you do not slam the boat into a trough on the backside of a crest.
On this river, like most rivers on the coast, you will need to be observant of the tides if operating a small boat. Tidal exchange is the key to crossing any bar. Probably the ideal time to cross is on either high slack or low slack, or an hour or two each side of it. However the time of this tide many times does not allow you as a fisherman, to cross on one high tide & come back on the next high tide 6 hrs later during daylight hours.
There is a formula that is used to calculate the amount of flow of a river at a bar. It is called the “rule of 12”. This flow will be best described as: For each hour after the tide change the flow will be:

1st hour will be 1/12th 2nd hour will be 2/12ths 3rd hour will be 3/12ths
4th hour will be 3/12ths 5th hour will be 2/12ths 6th hour will be 1/12th

From this table you can see that the maximum flow will be the middle 2 hours of an exchange. This equates to the bar being roughest at that time. Wind conditions on any tide, will extend these times. All else taken into consideration, the bar usually tends to not be as rough on the incoming tide.
The tide exchange will govern how rough the bar is going to be. The low tides will have one real low tide each day & the other low tide will be somewhat higher. Look at the tide book & compare the difference between two tides closest to the time you intend to cross.
If any roughness is to be encountered, you will be able to see it better from inside looking out, as you can see the white water off the tops of the waves. Coming back in, you are looking at the backs of these waves & cannot see if there is any white water coming off the tops. Therefore the water looks calmer when you are outside looking in.

Crossing the bar coming back in:

This will be pretty much like going out, with the exception you will usually be riding in on a wave instead of heading into it. The situation can also be different if there is a tide & or wind involved where you will have to quarter the wave. You can be riding the back of a wave like a surfboarder but on the back side. It will run out from under you & the next one will have you surfboarding, many times at a angle. You will then have to straighten up the boat so that when you are being pushed into the trough of the next wave you are going straight with the wave. You do not want to be in the bottom of the trough at an angle. The most common thought seems to be “The boat will straighten up soon”. WRONG, you will need to power down somewhat. With the normal wave conditions here, you will normally be tipped to the starboard, your response should be to sharply steer to the starboard under mostly full power, so your stern is at a 90 degree angle with the oncoming wave. As soon as it passes under you, straighten out & get back on your heading again. Some boaters will get on the backside & have enough power to stay there & ride it all the way across. This can work, is a very smooth ride, but be aware that IF something goes wrong, it will happen VERY FAST, as these waves are usually doing in excess of 30mph.

Salmon locations:

The bulk of these Westport salmon will probably be Columbia River fish, so the school will tend to move in that direction (southerly) as the season progresses. The salmon will concentrate where the bait is, the best fishing will be where you find shrimp, which the herring will be feeding on. The salmon will be feeding on both.
If fishing tends to be slow, when you catch the first salmon, cut its stomach open to see what it has been feeding on and try to match your bait to these stomach contents.
Currently, for the last few years early in the season, a mix of both Coho & Chinook seem to be concentrating in 200 to 240ft of water 270° west from the harbor (46°56.55 N, 124°25.78 W). This location is about 18 miles from the boat basin. Early in the season, (first few weeks) they tend to be from there to slightly north of this location, then they start moving south as the season progresses. Then later another school will replace the earlier ones.
You will find the Coho from right on top to down 15-30ft, however we have pulled some at 130ft later in the day. The Chinook will also be in the top water column if early in the morning or it is foggy. Later if or when the sun comes out the Chinook may decide to move down to from 50ft to the 100ft level.
At times, salmon can be found around buoys #6 to #2, so dont just run offshore because your buddy said that is where he caught his last weekend. Stop in and at least take a look or make a pass along the south buoy line before you make a long run to open water. If you see groups of whale birds sitting & diving, it may prove beneficial to stop & make a pass or two near them.
If you plan on heading south, it may well also be beneficial to stop the last buoy of the south Grays Harbor line, # GH (about 4 miles SW of #8) and make a pass or two there. We have, the last of the season, pulled 30lb+ Chinook here, mooching 20 deep, targeting Coho, on a steelhead rod and spinning reel & 12lb line, late in the afternoon. These fish apparently are Willapa fish that are just waiting for the right river conditions to develop.
Another salmon location farther south, is just off the Willapa River mouth (46°44.88 N, 124°18.80 W) in about 185 of water. This however is a rather long run south, especially if you get a northwest wind.
With the fish in the top part of the water column, you will probably not be able to see them on your fishfinder.

Here are some recent reports as well for reference:

From TRENT  and from Chasin’ Tail both fellows helping me out alot with good intel on location, lures and depths.  Also props out to Lance A. for tuning me in with some good information that would have saved me time and frustration.  As I meet more and more fishermen, getting this valuable information is all part of fishing.  Not only does one have to find the bait, depth, speed, color, leader length, scent, but also location, and location? The ocean is a big place and when you’re fishing in even a charter boat seems very small compared to all the millions of places that the fish could be. I’ve learned from my few years of saltwater angling this rule: “Find the bait, and the salmon won’t be far behind”

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One last fLing: June 10th, 2012

With the local Ling cod season coming to a end on Friday, I wanted to get the new boat out for a spin on the water in search of some players. Jeff H. and Phil K. would accompany me and this time, would hit up some new water to the north as I wanted to test out the flies in MA9.  Once we were on the road, the nice weather must’ve brought all the sun seekers out from the cracks as the roads and parks were pretty crowded.  Having the west seattle bridge closure didn’t help things as the plan was to launch from Shilshoal and motor north. Once on the water we got onto plane and headed to our destination to pick up Phil K. We threw out our flies against the jetty in search of a biter. I had a few nice rockfish come up for a nibble and for a brief moment had a Ling on, but somehow came unbuttoned?!?! Ideally having three aboard the boat is nice as we rotate when someone catches a fish, then they get to drive the boat, help net, photograph and make sure that the casting anglers are well oriented for optimal success.  I wanted to try out a fishy spot and told Phil and Jeff to throw their flies to that place and retrieve. Within the second cast, Phil was hooked up, he didn’t seem that enthusiastic as the fish wasn’t spooling out line, perhaps just didn’t realize it was hooked. Once he got the fish onto the reel, it took off and we could tell it was Ring a Ling time. After a couple minutes the fish subdued and a nice 32″ Ling came to the net. We all picked up fish, but were too small, seems like as we get later into the season, all the legal sized fish are snapped up and the big females may have  swam into deeper waters having finished their spawning duties.

It was great to get fish to the new boat as it hasn’t struck out yet, hoping to get to Westport this coming week in search of King Salmon, the reports have been epic so far and seeing the photos and hearing the stories has definitely got my attention. Thank you Ling Cod! Its been a memorable and wonderful 2012 experience!

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