Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ketch-I-can’t: July 26th, 2012

We’ve docked in Ketchikan and I’ve decided to wake up early to grab breakfast and disembark the Rotterdam to try my luck with the salmon. I had some good tips from folks that visited Ketchikan and was hoping to find some biters close to the cruise ship since I was limited on time and had to be back before the kids and my wife woke up.

Just south east of the cruise terminal is a public marina and along the jetty entrance and from the bridge that crosses the river would be my likely location to find some fresh fish. Only armed with my 5 wt. pack rod and a box of saltwater flies for Coho and Chum I set out using my iPhone GPS to locate the marina and the inlet. There I would find a couple of locals who would be trying for the same thing. One guy was equipped with fly rod as he bumped the pink over white streamer pattern in the river current. There would be a few schools of weary chum that would come to take a peek at our flies but they were spooked by a seal who was chasing them around the marina. I don’t think the seal was hungry but playing a game with the salmon.

I’d also walk out to the jetty and swing a few casts in the currents but there weren’t enough schools around to keep my interest there so I explored some other locations in the marina for the sparse schools but wasn’t able to find any players.

For being the salmon capital of the world I wish there were a few of them that would connect with my offerings.

Since this was a family vacation we went back to the creek street bridge in the afternoon with the low tide and there were several schools of fish that made their way up and was surprising to see salmonids mixed together: mostly chum, some coho, and also some pinks. I had my rod with me but my licensed had already expired by that time and even so had thirty minutes before out final departure.









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Sitka Pinks: July 25th, 2012

Our next port was Sitka, and I’ve been told that if there was a town to fall in love with in SE Alaska it would be Sitka. Steve Y. travels up there regularly to Sitka to help his friend run the fishing lodge and has been doing so for years. He would send some amazing photos of Kings, Halibut, Black Cod, and Bottomfish that would come from its rich waters. I would salivate over the photos but you never can quite picture a place until you can see for yourself the beauty, landscape and charm of the surroundings.

Today wasn’t a fishing day for me but wished I’d brought a fly rod along as I found an inlet stream to a Salmon hatchery Science center that appeared to be privately run. Near that inlet were pink said that we’re leaping and prepping for the incoming tide. There were two fisherman, rather one fisher woman and one guy that had a snagging treble. He said that it was legal in the salt to take up to 6 fish with this harsh method. I thought to myself how amazing it would be to be able to throw a fly just minutes from the cruise ship in downtown Sitka for these guys. They aren’t respected amongst the locals and frowned upon, but we fly fishermen love them regardless.

We did have a great time exploring the downtown area, some notable sights: Russian Orthodox Church (St. Michaels Cathedral), Bishops house, Sitka Totem pole park with visitors center, SSC (salmon science center), my son enjoyed the playground and the grassy lawns near the marinas as he was able to stretch his legs out and run to his hearts content. I snapped off a few shots to remember the time and location and if I ever plan a revisit will bring along my rod next time.














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Sheep Creek: Juneau, AK 7/23/2012

My wife was understanding enough to allow me to fish during our family vacation cruise to Alaska. So far were having a blast and the food, entertainment, and the scenery are outstanding.

I did some research before arriving in Juneau, our first port of call. My afternoon outing would take me to Sheep Creek, which is about 5 miles south of town along the Gastineau channel. During this time of year the chum salmon are thick in the creek and the Dolly Varden pursue the dogs in search of their tasty roe. I started out with my Redington Classic trout 5 wt, which I rigged up a pegged trout bead in molteled or orange. After a few drifts it wasn’t picking up fish, so I sized down and changed colors into the Pautzke red egg color. While the Chum are easily seen in gin color water the Dollies aren’t with their silvery and green backs. You have to look for their swimming otherwise you’ll miss their appearance.

My goal was to target the Dollies since I can always catch Chum in Washington. The tide would move in fairly quickly so the river would eventually come to a slower pace and wasn’t as ideal to free drift the egg imitation. The first fish was a dandy, a nice chrome fish of about 17″. As the tide crept up with the Glacial green color of the salt into the clear creek the chums would pile up into the skinny channel and the Dollies would follow suit. I made successive drifts and picked up several fish on three occasions. All greedily gobbling up the red and then orange colored egg. I lost several rigs on the Chum that would also grab the egg and the 6 lb tippet would snap off in the grizzly like teeth of the Chum.

As the tide crept in and the Chum stacked like firewood it was tougher to get a drift without connecting with a toothy chum that gobbled the egg pattern. It was a good time to take a break and wait out the tide change. A few other fishermen came and tried for dollies but everyone kept snagging the chum including me as they looked like terra cotta warriors positioned for battle.

A few of those fishermen would crowd me as they saw my success with the dollies until I gave up my slot and decided to head back down towards the salt flats where the tide was already receding. I decided to switch tactics and use my 8 wt RPL with Airflo multi-tip line with intermediate tip and bead chain clouser is green over black. I thought the chum would smash this fly like they normally do in Washington but they didn’t seem to care too much for the fly. After fouling many fish, I decide to switch up colors and it was like night and day. A light pink micro calf tail fly with copper bead head was the ticket. The Chum and Dollies would grab this fly with vigor to the point that the Sage would finally explode after a hard run from a big male. Just at the bottom section just below the female ferrule it decided to give way.

I didn’t know if it was the fly color and or pattern change or the change of tide but I couldn’t stop fishing, so used the 5 wt with egg pattern to pick up a few more Chum before I called it quits and called the taxi to pick me up so I could meet my family back in the ship for dinner.

What an amazing place and experience to see just a few miles south of downtown Juneau. I saw bald eagles hanging out near the mouth and some beautiful waterfalls and porpoising salmon as we entered into the Gastineau channel. My wife and family did the Mendenhall glacier tour and saw several pods of Orca whales. Everyone had a great time and we topped it off with another fantastic dinner from Rudi Saliman at the Vista Terrace dining room. I doubt I’ll be able to fish on the next couple of ports due to the broken 8 wt and shorter timing but I’m glad that I was at least able to connect with a few nice Dolly Varden on Sheep Creek.











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Obsession with Possession: 7/19/2012

After the dismal opening day outing my hunger for area 10 salmon turned into a pursuit for area 9 kings after reading the reports from John Martinis and crew. I also had good reports from fellow members who fished it with All Star Charters with good success on the 17th.

Today, not a single charter boat would be seen and there was a strange feeling that it was going to be a tough day to scratch out the salmon. It would prove to be costly as well…

Ching W. and I met up at my house and left at 3:30 am to make the easy 30 minute drive to Mukilteo to ready the boat and launch under the dark and cloudy skies. I’d never fished possession bar before, so thoroughly read up on articles that would brings up to speed so that I could fish it like a pro. I know I was fishing it well but it was devoid of the big bait that guys were claiming and we had an unfortunate incident with a couple of guys who came too close behind us and as a result lost some gear. They had no clue! I was at least able to recover my flasher and spoon but also ended up losing a downrigger ball, my attaching hardware, snubber and 60″ clip, grrrrr!

After a few hours it was evident that the place was devoid of salmon. I know we were fishing it on the bottom as recommended but the only taker was a Ling Cod that wanted the blueberries and creme spatter back UV tail wagger spoon, go figure!?!?

I decide to pull the gear up and head to Point No Point to see if any signs of bait and salmon might be found. When we pulled up to the lighthouse it looked like a floating armada of moochers armed with 4 oz banana lead and cut plug herring. We trolled through without any luck but immediately noticed that there was a ton of bait and the graph was going bezel with Coho slashing at the 4″ herring with reckless abandon. The bait would run 20-30′ deep and at times ran solid from just under the surface to a few feet off the bottom. With our enthusiasm crushed I remembered that I built a make shift Sabiki rod after hearing about this from Nelson Goodall. The Sabiki rod is a hollow rod that has no guides but serves to hold the 5 or 6 hook jigs which are used to catch smelt or herring. I thought I’d give it a try to see if it worked and low and behold Ching was catching herring left and right. If never fished with bait since I was a kid so it’s a bit foreign to me and Ching. I thought it’d be worth a try since I had a few 4 oz. banana weights and some pre-tied double hook leaders. I even had a Folbe herring miter so that the appropriate angle for the bait

I made a cut plug, secured it into the hooks and sent it down to the bottom and jigged it hard. We’d see some of the largest flounder or perhaps the smallest Halibut :), and the dogfish of PNP ( point no point) as we drifted the tide rips we noted two guys in a Alumaweld free drifter with Yamaha VMAX motors just ripping the Coho one after another until they had their limit. They weren’t going to the bottom bit suspending their herring about 50 short pulls down. We noticed they were using long leaders about 8-9′ this might have helped give the right action and keep the dog fish off the bait. Watching this gave me some ideas about mooch fishing and believe it or not I would like to explore this a bit more since you’re using what’s available in nature to intercept the fish. I never thought I’d turn into a bait fisherman but when it means the difference between success or failure it should be an option in the toolbox.

Final tally for yesterday’s outing: Paul and Ching 0, salmon 2.

The casualties from yesterday:

1. 12 lb finned downrigger ball, $25
2. New Scotty braid $30
3. Snubber $10
4. 60″ release clip $10
5. Q-cove quick release assembly $5
6. Sampo ball bearing swivels and downrigger hardware $5
7. Rod swivels and hardware $5
8. 1/4 tank of fuel to and from Mukilteo $20
9. $10 launch fee.
10. $20 in fuel for the boat.

So it was an $130 day with no salmon to show for the efforts. However we had a blast discovering how to jig for herring using the Sabiki rod and then cut plugging the live Herring in hopes of catching those Point No Point salmon. We definitely got schooled by these guys in the Free Drifter. It was worth the lesson in fishing technique and hope when the opportunity presents itself again we’ll be better equipped for success.











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Rough opener: July 16th, 2012

The adrenaline was pumping as we geared up to make the O’dark thirty run in marine layer fog from Shilshoal to hit my beloved fishing grounds at Jeff Head. I was optimistic that we’d find feeding fish as there was bait around but scattered. At times the dig was so heavy we couldn’t see 30 yards in 360 degrees making for some eery conditions around.

Ching W. and Brian S. would join me for the darkness launch and motor out with the windshield open as we planed out spotting for freight ships and debris that would do a number on Hewey. We picked up shakers and even a couple of flounder. The heartbreaker of the morning was a marked king of about 10 lbs which krackered off as it neared the boat. It took one more run before the net was opened up and the barbless hook in seated itself from its mouth.

That fish will haunt me this week as I replay that over and over in my head on what I could’ve done to have kept it on the end of the line. I played it right, the Cookies and creme Q Point flasher with 3.5″ yellowtail spoon was the ticket to nab that fish but it didn’t want anything to do with a boat or net that morning.

I got other reports from John Martines of Johns Sporting Goods, they whacked the Kings at Possession and I suspect my next outing will be hunting them down with a heat seeking missile when I venture out next.

From John M. “July 16, opening day for Chinook, I am fishing with Wayne Kruse, Trey Jacober, Captain Gary Krein and Deckhand Jim Windham. We boated six Chinook by 8:08AM on Possession Bar. The next series of pictures below are all from today while fishing with my good freinds. Awesome day! The pictures say it all.”

John’s Sporting Goods Tackle we were using: Hot Spot Flasher Red Racer, Hot Spot Flasher Purple Haze, Kingfisher Spoon Cookies n Cream 3.5, Kingfisher Spoon Red Racer 3.5 and Tomic 602/603 5” Plug.”

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Crab Nirvana: July 14th, 2012

Since both myself and my sister Janes’ spouses were out of town we took the opportunity to spend the day on the boat and take the kids out to Blake Island for a day on the water and at the beach.

First we had some business to tend to I the form of pulling the crab pots. I’ve never had an issue with anyone molesting and or stealing my crab pots in this spot but as we rounded the point and motored on step plane I could make out a craft with three guys aboard in the distance near my pots! As I sped directly towards them they stopped what they were doing and started to veer in the opposite direction. As I changed course keeping my bow pointed right at them I could tell they were thinking of or probably pulled my pots. A 18-19′ Alumaweld, blue over silver with Scotty down riggers, no crab davit or puller and no other buoys around within 200+ yards., hmmmmm???

I have them the dirty eye as they waited and motored away sheepishly. The first pot we pulled was disgusting, nothing! ‘Ah! These guys plucked all our crab’, I was thinking. I think we must’ve caught them just as they were lifting a pot and or thinking about it because the next 4 pulls would result in crab that would provide 5 limits of nice Dungeness crabs. The kids enjoyed themselves at the playground, beach and watching the deer. It was a nice day to spend with my sister and the kids and we had a few crab crab to share with our friends and family.

Our annual tradition is to take some Dungess to a local Chinese restaurant where they clean, prepare and cook to perfection the fresh crab 4 different ways: Ginger green onion, Black bean, Salt and pepper, and steamed with garlic and egg white. We tried it the first 3 ways and left being very happy campers.

I left the pots out to soak for one more pull and will retrieve them later today. Tomorrow is the king salmon opener for our local waters and I have to switch gears and prepare the boat and ready the gear for an early morning outing to fish my beloved Puget Sound.














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Not too shabby on the crabby: July 12th, 13th

July 1st is marked by the season opener for the Summer crab in Puget sound. We enjoy the sweet meat and delicate texture of our local crab. I like to soak my pots over night and prefer salmon scraps over poultry as the intense flavor of the salmon and scent of fresh salmon carcass really draws in the crab.

Prior to crabbing season I systematically go through my pots checking for missing parts, weights, and lines to ensure a trouble free and easy operation for the season. As I look forward to Monday July 16th and the opener for clipped King Salmon retention I think about how blessed I am to be living in a place where I can enjoy the fruitti de mari, Italian for seafood or essentially the fruits of the sea! We enjoy salmon, crab, halibut, clams, and it’s especially a treat when we’ve caught it ourselves.

Yesterday Ching W. and I dropped the pots and baited them well with sockeye scraps. Just after a 1 hour soak we limited easily with some nice Dungeness that measured up to 7 1/2″ on the top shell. I enjoy eating crab, but not every day, so it’s nice to share with my neighbors, friends and family.

After the 24 hour soak my dad and my sister joined me for the pull which also yielded 1 short of 3 limits, but a couple of nice males that will be tasty prepared at Kings restaurant this evening for family dinner.



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July 1st/2nd Local salmon opener

July 1st has been the mark of our local Puget Sound waters opening for salmon fishing, its been disappointing since they closed the inner Elliot fishery for a myriad of reasons, but that didn’t stop us from getting out to drop some crab pots in search of some Summer Dungeness for the 4th of July barbeque.  Thao T. and Chett P. joined me for the 4 am launch from Alki to drop the pots and downriggers in search of crab and salmon.  We achieved both, but not so good for the expected salmon take since all our fish were the wrong species.

Last year, Phil K. shared with me a good spot that he and his buddy Rob D. found crab and alot of them. So naturally, it was my first point to hit since I had alot of bait stored up all year long in the deep freeze and also some nice fresh King salmon carcass and heads that I saved from our Westport trip a few weeks ago. I find that there is nothing better than fresh salmon head, and filleted carcass that works better for Dungess crab. I’ve tried Turkey, chicken, other fish such as Sole, Flounder, Cod, shrimp, and even trout, but if you can access fresh salmon carcass it seems to draw in the crab.  It was a big tide swing, so I didn’t expect for the salmon fishing to be lights out since there was alot of water moving and the bait would be flushed out and or holding tight to the sheltered locations.

It was a 11’7″ high at 2:08 am, and a -2’6″ at 9:27 am which might have been ok for the crab, but wasn’t holding my breath for salmon. I wanted to fish Manchester as I’ve read about this place for winter blackmouth and its been known as a proven fishing grounds due to the abundant bait that lives here. Its sheltered well from the wind, has a nice level bottom with few obstructions other than the multitude of crab pots that we had to weave and dodge on our trolling path.  Here is some more information from Salmon University about Manchester:

manchester chart shows salmon fishing in puget sound for chinook and coho, at manchester, blake island, orchard point, allen bank, vashon near seattle
Chart courtesy of Captn. Jack’s
Click on chart for bigger view

Troll area
Jig & Mootch area

Manchester blackmouth

Over the past few years,
 Manchester pops up more and more frequently among top winter spots for Central Puget Sound salmon fishing.
This Kitsap Peninsula workhorse sometimes takes a back seat to its well-known cousins Jeff Head just to the north, and Pt. Defiance to the south, but prudent anglers know Manchester provides consistent winter blackmouth action right up to the April 10th closer.

Manchester inlet is one of the most reliable, wind sheltered and close by fisheries for winter blackmouth and is a quick boat ride from Elliott Bay, Tacoma or Bremerton.
This area is good fishing for one simple reason, it holds lots of bait and all good anglers know if you find the bait you will find blackmouth. It’s a really short run from Elliott Bay and about 11 miles from Gig Harbor by water.
This area was a real salvation last year when Pt. Defiance died off and before Mid Channel Bank heated up.
One of the great things about fishing Manchester is you’re not restricted to one area, if the bite is off that day you have several other close by options.

WHERE TO FISH: The majority of the fish will be taken between the fuel dock, and the turquoise boathouse located a mile just to the south. This troll or drift for moochers puts out the majority of the fish. The bottom is gently sloping in this area with a relatively smooth bottom, no big ledge or points. This makes mooching a good bet in the 90-100 ft water. Trollers will catch fish out in the deeper water here targeting suspended bait schools that attract the local blackmouth in to feed.

TIDE CHANGE: Like most locations in this area the ebb tide seems to be the most favorable. You can catch fish on either tide, and normally the bite will happen 2 hours on either side of a tide change.
Its almost like fishing a bank, the bottom is nice with few obstructions to hang up on so you can really get the downrigger balls right down there where Mr. Blackmouth lives.
I have seen days here where all the boats were limited in a couple of hours, last year I had a day where we caught & released over 15 legal size fish in 5 hours of fishing.
Seals can be a problem here, so be aware when lots of boats start to show up, so do the salmon belly eaters.
This time of the year blackmouth normally run from the just legal fish up to 10 pounds and of course there are always a few in the teens taken every year.

TROLLERS: Work the long trolling path from Orchard Point towards the Navy Fuel dock then in toward Manchester boat ramp and on down south about a mile. This area stays relatively flat with only a couple of humps. The majority of the bait holds in the 90-120 ft water here.
When the bottom starts to come up turn east towards Blake Island and follow this ledge out until the bottom starts to drop off, then it’s a simple turn back North to complete the circle back to Orchard Point and do it again. Pay close attention to the fishfinder when you make the turn north, the bait tends to move up to the mid water depths here and the fish will follow, target just under the bait ball with the rigger, this is where the fish will be feeding.
I had my best luck last year on a green glow HotSpot flasher with 35-40 inches of Ande leader to a green Grand Slam Bucktail fly. Use 30-50 pound test Ande leader to give that fly lots of action, blackmouth like a quicker bait then summer chinook.
If the fly isn’t getting the job done try a small fire cracker size herring in a anchovy helmet with 42 inches of Ande leader behind a hotspot flasher. You can get by with 20-pound test on this setup as the helmet has its on action in the water.

MOOCHING: The best mooching happens between the Fuel Dock and the Manchester ramp, there is also a great mooching on the North end of Blake Island the shallow bank here can really producer for moochers. The top mooching water is in 80-120 ft. Fish just off the bottom, with 10-12 pound Ande leaders and a tight spinning cutplug herring. Use only the amount of lead you need to stay in contact with the bottom.

BOAT LAUNCH: There is a new ramp at Manchester, it has a dock and it is only 5 minutes from the best fishing. The parking lot however, is small and won’t hold many rigs.
For the Seattle crowd the Don Armeni boat ramp in Elliot Bay is a straight shot across the Sound from Manchester. There is also a small ramp in the city center of Port Orchard and at Evergreen City Park in Bremerton.

IF THE BITE IS OFF: Head south to Southworth and then run over to Allen Bank. At Southworth there’s a great hole just north of the ferry terminal. Troll the ledge here or move in close and pitch a herring in toward the beach and drift down the ledge.
The better producing tackle here is the Grand Slam bucktail or a white Coho Killer for trollers.

ALLEN BANK: Is a great piece of salmon holding water that runs south off the southwest corner of Blake Island north of Vashon outward to perfect blackmouth holding water.
This is a big drift, and almost always there are some fish around waiting to hammer tight spinning bait, even when the Manchester fishing turns off. The blackmouth can be caught here on either tide but the best action is on the ebb. Start on the south end of the bar in the 130 ft water and drift with the current north up across the bank.
Top action will be in the 90-120 ft water, with almost all the fish being taken just off bottom.
Manchester and the Central Puget Sound stays open until April 10th, after that the season will depend on North of Falcon season setting process in early April.

TACKLE: Trollers will want a supple of Glow HotSpot flashers, Grand Slam Bucktails and Coho Killer spoons.
Moochers will want to run 10-15 pound test Ande main lines, with long 10-12 pound test, 8-9 foot Ande leaders, with a selection of 2-6 oz mooching sinkers. Size your hooks to the bait. Insure the herring has a drill bit like spin in the water.

Even though the Blackmouth hang around here, we were hoping to find some resident Coho as well, but that would not be as successful as the Blackmouth bite.  I rigged up three rods with different colored flasher and spoon combinations: Cookies and Creme Q-Point UV flasher with White Lightening Coho Killer, Green Dragon with Kitchen Sink, and Purple Haze with Cookies and Creme Coho Killer. We covered all the depths from 140′, 100′ and 80′ of cable while moving between 3-4 mph to keep the cable angle at 45 degrees to give the lures plenty of movement and action.  First fish came within 30 minutes, a wild Blackmouth that I released. Second fish Thao pulled up, and hatchery Blackmouth that we posed for a quick photo and then released. Chett was salivating for the opportunity and then it happened, pulse pulse the rod tip bounced and the drag was peeling out as the big King gave head shakes. I gave Chett instruction on how to fight the fish, but in the scramble for the rod he felt the fish for a few moments and then it popped off! Either it was operator error or a bad hookset, or both, but we never saw that fish, which was likely a very nice one due to the fact that it self released from the clip and was giving some nice runs.  Chett would be in disbelief but it was probably warranted as this was his first time in a boat in the Puget Sound, so perhaps beginners luck avoided our boat this time.

We decided that we would check the pots after this and was disappointed with our pulls, out of 5 pots that we left out only had 4 crab to show for the morning efforts. Back they went down and hopefully the incoming tide would mark a change with the activity. We decided to check out Allen Bank but it was so windy and choppy, and the fact that we didn’t mark any bait told us that we needed to head back to Manchester for some more passes.  We did pick up two more resident Blackmouth, all in all fun, but not what we were looking for in our search, but the guys left with smiles on their faces since it was their first time seeing how salmon could be caught from gear.

We decided to wrap up and check out pots and re-bait them, it was a good thing since we took 2 limits of Dungeness and a few nice Red Rock crabs. They fellas were happy at least we got something for the dinner table.  It was my nieces birthday party that evening so I steamed up 4 of the crab and it was a nice way to celebrate with family and friends the season opener and her birthday.


July 2nd, 2012

Dad and I would return the next day since crabbing is open from Thursday to Mondays and I was hoping a good overnight soak would allow for better results. In the past I’ve had crab pots stolen and or violated from people that wanted crab in non-conventional methods, but this spot I haven’t worried about the pots or the crab as there is little competition and its a bit out of reach from most theives.  We launched the boat around 9:30 after a 30 minute run we found the pots exactly where they were positioned from the day prior without having any one disturbed.  Upon the first pull I noticed that the pot was heavier than normal, and to our surprise found it full of legal sized males, not one had to be thrown back nor were there any females in the bunch.  We were optimistic that we’d get our limits, as we pulled the other pots, it was the case. The largest crab measured 7 3/4″ across the shell and very nice crab for the sound, and hopefully very tasty. In the past, we’ve always boiled the crab whole since some of my family members enjoy the crab butter but I saw this interesting video of how to kill and clean live crab, I might give it a try as it might speed up the cook time and be easier and cleaner to eat and enjoy.

This guy reminded me alot of the Kodiak locals, brash, and rough with the cigarette in his mouth, haha! I need to plan a trip back there in the future.

I might clean half the crab this way and boil up the other half, it’ll be nice to enjoy some Baby back ribs, freshly steamed Dungeness, Westport King Salmon Gravlax, and I have one pack of smoked Alder Pink Salmon from last year that I’ll make a nice dip.  The weather is looking to be promising, so we’re excited to share and enjoy with our family and friends. Happy 4th of July everyone!















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Jeff H’s BC report

I asked Jeff Hil. to put together a little synopsis of his recent fishing trip to the Kamloops area. Thanks Jeff! If i cant e there I enjoyed reading your report as it takes me back to those special places. I know many good memories were shared between him an his dad. Here is his report:

First trip in my new (to me 🙂 ) 10’ Koffler pram. This boat used to be owned by my friend, Paul K; a boat guru. He saw it pop up on Craigslist, and told me to jump on it (which I did).

I left Kirkland at 5:30 AM with my dad, who came up from Portland the day before. A local Kamloops guide (Mike Porco) had advised me to stop at a small local lake SW of BC, where the fishing had been pretty good, and there shouldn’t be much pressure. This was our destination for Friday, day one.

The drive was uneventful, and it was (shockingly) sunny and beautiful. No problem at the border (after picking up our beer in Sumas, to avoid paying $17 for a sixer(!) in BC). Up the Coquihalla we went; spectacular scenery, and no problems pulling the Koffler at all. The stars were aligning, for a great trip.

We were at the turn-off to the lake by 11:00; looks like we’re in great shape, right? Well, if you’ve been to the Kamloops area before, you probably know that once you get off the main roads, there is pretty poor signage to all but the largest and most popular lakes. After bushwhacking for an hour, we stumbled on a local (he actually stumbled on us), and he gave us the directions we needed. Thank god, as I was worried that we might be spending the night out there. 20 more minutes, and we were there (so we thought). The lake looked great; about 50 acres, and loaded with scuds, leeches, etc. Well, we trolled, fished under indicators, fished intermediate lines, tried leeches, chironomids, etc., etc., to no avail. The lake was about 12 feet deep, and I was picking up the occasional “beep” on my fish finder. Just wasn’t meant to be, and we got out of there after 4 fishless hours, when thunderclouds and lightning rolled in.

After a good rest that night in Kamloops, we were at Edith Lake the next AM. Edith is a beautiful lake, about 20 minutes out of Kamloops; easy access and known to put out BIG fish. A local fisherman at the launch told us that he had caught a 12 pound rainbow there, 2 weeks prior. Of course, this got us all fired up (heck; we would be happy with a few 5 pounders! 🙂 ). Got the boat launched, and I started my dad doing a slow troll with an intermediate line and a micro leech, as we looked for fish activity. Well dad is a little out of practice, and after quickly hooking a nice fish, he promptly lost it as he struggled to keep the slack out of his line. This happened several more times before he finally landed a beautiful brook trout; ~17”, and comically fat. It’s body was totally out of proportion to its head….I’m kicking myself for not getting a pic of this fish. We continued the super-slow troll with the leech, and picked up more (smaller) fish, and had 2 break off. We hooked 15 fish total, and from what I could tell, this was the best action on the lake. It had been cloudy all day, and ultimately we got stuck in a monsoon-like downpour. It’s volume was incredible, and this storm did a lot of damage in interior BC, as the rain was unusually heavy. Despite having a good jacket on, I got soaked down to my socks and underwear (even the money in my wallet was wet!). It was a pretty miserable way to end the day.

The next AM, we met up with Mike Porco (Kamloops fly-fishing guide). Now, I’ve been fly-fishing for over 20 years, and I used to work in the business. I would consider myself a very experienced and knowledgable fly-fisherman…but I can tell you that no level of experience can give you the needed insights, that fishing with an experienced local guide can. I don’t do this a lot (maybe once a year), but I like to hire a guide when I’m in an area I’m not that familiar with. I would advise any fisherman that has an interest in a specific area or fishery to do this. You can save yourself a ton of frustration and wasted time, and if you pay attention, you will learn more about an area in one day than you would in weeks on your own. This information/experience will serve you very well, in future trips.

Mike took us to Campbell Lake. We fished out of his beautiful 17’ boat; it was the perfect BC lake-fishing boat. Stable, wide, and very comfortable. There were a couple of tactics Mike used that were new to me, and the day was very, very productive. We ended up hooking 48 fish, with the largest landed being 18”. We had several doubles, and just had a blast. Mike is one of the best, most conscientious guides I’ve ever fished with; constantly working, knowledgable, and just a lot of fun to hang out with. We fished exclusively under indicators, in water that was less than 12 feet deep. One very noticeable difference vs. the other lakes we fished; there was a lot of fish activity, with fish rolling pretty regularly. Without Mike’s local knowledge, we would’ve never known that Campbell was “on”, and fishing well. We finished the day as ominous rain clouds moved in. A couple interesting items: Mike let me know that the bush-whacking lake we fished at on Friday (day one), was the wrong lake(!). The lake had no fish in it, and the lake I should’ve been fishing was another half mile down the road. Ugh; but that’s what happens when there are no signs, and you aren’t familiar with the area. Also interesting; Campbell Lake is pretty big, and relatively well known…but I didn’t see a single sign on the dirt road that we took to it. You would have to know the turn off, and then try to stick to the “most travelled” looking forks, to get to it. I would be hard pressed to drive straight to it, again.

Monday arrived; sunny and relatively warm. Jacko Lake is on the way out of town (sort of), and we put the boat in there for a few hours, on our way home. Jacko is also known to put out some big fish, and it is very easy to get to (for Kamloops 🙂 ). We hooked a few fish (leeches under an indicator), and dad ended up landing a beautiful 20” rainbow, before we trailered the boat for the trip back to Kirkland.

Kamloops is a beautiful area, and I learn a little more about it, every year. My day with Mike accelerated my knowledge, exponentially. I’m very much looking forward to a return trip, this Fall. This has been a tricky year up there, with so much unsettled, cool weather. My preference would’ve been to fish it in mid-June, after a couple of weeks of warm weather. This is my fourth trip there, and all of these trips have been during unusually cool, wet times; wish I could time it better, but I have a wife, 2 little kids, and a job 🙂 ). The good news is that my kids are just about to the point where I can take them with me…this will hopefully mean some return trips in the near future, to this great fishery.







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