Newport Beach: 4/10/13

Spring break 2013 marked my fathers 70th birthday celebration. We needed some sunshine and warm weather as spring teased us in western WA. I’d be missing out on fishing Dry Falls one of my favorite stillwater lakes in WA but I tried to make the most of the family trip and decided to pack light by brining a reel with spare line, box of salt water flies, some tippet, and my 5 wt 6 piece travel rod. I didn’t know what to expect by bringing such a light trout rod but figured I’d be making a lot of casts searching so didn’t want to wear out my arm in doing so.

Sunrise was 6:26 and I couldn’t sleep as the boys were all settling down and irritable. Jonah had a fever and cried most of the night as we all tossed and turned. I had mapped out the rock jetty and figured that there might be something to nab if it was swimming.

I started on the North facing side of the Jetty with a deep 7 but quickly found it to be too aggressive and fast sinking. Luckly I brought the outbound short with 30′ integrated clear tip which I swapped out and re-tied my fly, a pink chenille marabou tail that I made for pink salmon fishing.

After about 20 casts and nothing to show for I switched directions and fished the south facing and more sun lit portion of the jetty. The high tide wasn’t until 10 am with a 4.7′ high but the crashing waves and surf spray gave caution to not get too close to the barnicle and mussel covered rocks below.

After my third cast and strip, the line went tight and a medium sized surf perch of 6-7″ came wobbling up. Just as I brought it up it wiggled free and dropped back into the surf. This was a good sign indeed! My first surf perch on the fly. I made another dozen casts and was able to coax another smaller fish up and this time snapped a quick pic and gave it back to the sea.

Even though I fished for an hour the sights, smells and experiences from the trip was good enough. The day prior we enjoyed some of the best Korean barbeque that I can recall. Kang Hodong Baekjong is the rave of the town and had a nice write up in the LA Times. The various cuts of plain and seasoned meat grilled up was magnificent and fit for royalty. Even though this is a family trip I was glad to connect with a few willing players. I’ll give it another try tomorrow morning with a chartreuse over white clouser.

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Grayland beach: March 31st, 2013

We just returned from the best weather of any Easter weekend that I can recall. Saturday’s temps were in the mid 60s, sunny and clear. Sunday was also in the 60s but there was a marine layer of fog and it was hazy as a result but still nice pleasant weather with that coastal breeze.

The previous night it was tough on everyone getting accommodated to the new surroundings and sleeping so we were all pretty tired and managed to sleep better on the second night. We did have a snafu on Saturday afternoon while trying to leave the beach. I had driven north to explore the beach but with the incoming tide the area of sand and ‘road’ was running out so I decided to turn around and exit out the road we came in. I took a wrong line in the sand and as a result the van barreled down in the sand and we were stuck. I knew the instant I entered the soft sun warmed sand that I made the mistake. Fortunately, not long after a guy in his F250 power stroke drove by and I asked him for help. Luckily he had a tow rope and we managed to pull out with little effort. He was USCG and had Alaska Plates, prob was stationed out of Westport. I thanked him but he didn’t want any money to help with the tow. Glad to know there are nice people that are willing to help. Next time is feel now comfortable with taking my 4×4 Tacoma when venturing back to the beach.

We stayed at Twin Harbors state park on the west side of 105 in the tent campground. The shower rooms were nicely sized bit we didn’t use them since the token machine was broken. There was only 1 restroom there and was relatively clean. The little trailer did well camping without any hookups and having a generator provided us with enough electricity to use the toaster oven to make heat up pizza and breakfast sandwiches, even bake cookies.

Since the fog layer was thick it was tough to see the location of the marker I used to park the day prior, but found a spot a bit further down that was closer to the wind generators that looked clammy. We got there around 7:30 after leaving the park to make a dump station stop and filling up with a little
more water to provide us with enough to shower the kids and clean off the gear.

After a big breakfast we pushed off around 8:45, plenty of time as the low tide was 10:15 am. However the clam ‘shows’ weren’t as visible from the day prior. There definitely were more folks on the beach as Sundays dig was only limited to Twin Harbors beach. Many of the early diggers got their limits quickly but we struggled a bit more having to pound the ground to look for the shows. We did get some larger clams and closer to the surf line.

The boys were getting cold and irritable so we called it a day and headed back to clean up and get on the road. Time does fly when you’re having fun! Was nice to test out the outdoor shower with Luca and I know he enjoyed being clean for the ride home where both boys slept nearly the whole drive back which took closer to 3 hours due to traffic in Tacoma and also through the 405 into Bellevue.

We wrapped up the weekend with a nice family dinner at my sisters house and watched the glorious sunset as we smiled and look forward to our next adventure with our Casita.

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Razor Clam Diggin’ It! March 30th, 2013

My wife and kids enjoyed the dig in Grayland a few weeks ago, so we planned to try again as another dig was approved by the WDFW. Getting out of town proved to be a challenge with Jonah’s 15 month Dr’s. Appt, good weather, and traffic didn’t have us out the door until 7:30 pm.

The drive down was smooth apart from a snag in fife but took 2.5 hours. The Casita pulled wonderfully and at times I could barely notice it behind the van. We pulled into Twin Harbors State Park around 10 pm to fill up with water and then we camped in the west tent campground. Jonah was a bit in pain from his series of immunizations so we had a rough night sleeping as both boys were a little restless from the change up their daily routine.

We woke at 6 am and decided to make our way to the beach and found a spot just south of Grayland beach road. The clam shows were plentiful and the average size clams were even larger than the weeks prior. This time we brought the Kelty toddler carrier so Jonah wouldn’t cry as much. We were able to limit out pretty quick but noted that the clams were a lot deeper than weeks prior. Back in the comfort of the trailer we made a hot breakfast, cleaned up and later flew kites with Luca.

I brought along some terminal gear to try my hand at surf perch fishing but after talking to a guy who was heading out, he said its slow and a little early before the perch show up in good numbers. I’ll retreat to me folding chair, blanket, beverage, and binoculars while I get my full of glorious Vitamin D.

Even with all the trouble setting up and prepping to get out of town it was all worth it as i sit here with the breeze to my back as I watch the incoming tide and waves find their way in to cover the dug holes.

We’ll be back tomorrow to wrap up. Hopefully we all get some better sleep tonite…

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I’ll wont pass up on Pass! 3/27/13

On the second day of Spring it snowed in many parts of western Washington. The outlook for Spring time was looking poor last week but the return of sunshine and warmer weather had me thinking of Pass lake after my poor outing a couple of weeks ago. Pass can be a finicky lake to fish but once you’re dialed it can also be very rewarding.

I invited Rob D. to join me as I needed to get my Almarco pram out from storage and had picked up my double pram trailer and wanted to test it out. Since this was Robs first time fishing Pass lake he didn’t know what to expect but after a little coaching and having him fish anchored up to me he was soon in the Chromie Zone! Our first stop was on the launch cove where Jeff H. And Jim T. were catching up. As we got there it seemed like there was no more action as we couldn’t coax a take down. Next stop would be the point in 15-17′ of watering a nice muddy shoal. We both made our first casts and next thing you know Rob has a fish on! Beginners luck, I suppose?!?!

He essentially didn’t fish with a sonar, didn’t have hemostats to measure depth and was using a commercially tied fly, the black red ribbed snow cone. I had to catch up and that I did as we cat and moused it with the fish along with each other. We also tried the rock wall and in front of huge rangers home without finding the elusive brown trout that Rob has caught, yet.

The 12-14′ of water would only yield the smaller fish. Strong and feisty but not what we were looking for and often times pecking at the flies leading to many false positive takes. We wrapped up back at the point, at the first bay next to the launch, and the tree line area near the launch on the north side in 16-17′ of water.

We capped the day with a nice meal at Bobs burgers and Brew located near Tulalip. I highly recommend the Ranch Burger with a grilled egg, and bacon. Perfect to recharge the stomach as we warmed our chilled core next to their gas fireplace.

It was also nice to run into Chuck Gold and Jim Tetrick. Both are seasoned Chironomid fishermen and Stillwater experts. Rob ended up with a fish count in the high teens and I landed 23 fish. There were many missed hits and both short and long distance releases but it was a great day with some sun, wind, cool breeze at times but no rain.

Looking forward to the bomber hatch which hasnt been seen with the throat sampling. I saw many size 18 olive bugs some size 16 red ribbed chromers, olive worms, and grey tumblers as Chuck Gold like to call them. Water temp was between 51-52 degrees.

Rob in action

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Lenice: 3/15/13

I’ve fished this lake last year on the opener and wanted to go give it try hoping the crowds would calm down and the fish plentiful. Today must’ve been polar opposites as I only could wrangle up a few fish but the crowds were out in force. Not sure what to attribute the poor fishing other than I didn’t spot many fish on the sonar in the bottom. I wasnt fishing deep water so the lake don’t typically turn over. It could be that the populations of the trout didn’t winter over very well and or the WDFW hasn’t stocked it as well as in the last years? Or it just wasn’t fishing well as I believe to be a somewhat competent chironomid fisherman. Judging by the lack of activity I saw with the other fishermen anchored around me, I know it wasn’t me. In only saw five guys: 3 chironomid fishing and 2 pulling leeches pick up fish all day from my observations.

I am usually pretty tolerant of other fishermen but I had to explore the lake as the usual hangouts were occupied with pontoons, float tubes, plastic boats and prams. I counted 9 water craft all anchored by the islands but I have it a go as my first spot to try. I was rewarded with a feisty jumping bow that was very silvery and broad. I thought things were looking positive for the remainder of the day. It would be tough thereafter as the next bite didn’t come until 12:40 as I could see adult chironomids whizzing by in the wind gusts.

I moved around half a dozen times trying to locate these fish but they didn’t seem to be locked up at the bottom but a few were spotted on the side finder. I tried several different flies, different depths, different retrieves but couldn’t coax anything. Later the afternoon I spoke with a guy whom
I fished next to in the am , he said it was slow and he didn’t hook anything and didn’t see anyone get anything near him.

He pulled anchor and I took his spot in 8′ of water. It must’ve been feeding time as I landed two rainbows within minutes of him leaving. But then it was lights off. Everyone I talked to voiced the same results. I saw a few fish taken by the trollers but it wasn’t a double digit day. I ended up with 8 take downs but 6 landed with the largest pushing 20″ and football like. Fish were gorging on size 16 chromers, black red ribbed, 20 green bloodworms and even smaller red bloodworms. Water temp was 51 degrees as measured by my Fishin buddy 120.

The drive was smooth and I made record time both to and back only taking 2 hours door to parking lot. Pass temp was 37 at 7:30 am. Somehow the weather forecast called for 5-10 mph winds but it was more like 10-15 gusts which made for some tougher conditions. I was a bit turned off with the number of guys on the lake and even back at the parking lot a guy left his pontoon boat in front of the gate. I can roll my pram under the gate and he got irate when I moved his stuff since it was blocking the way.

This will be my last time fishing this lake. There are other lakes to explore and fish and I shouldn’t be fishing the one with the masses. While I didn’t catch the numbers I had hope for they made up in quality versus quantity with their multiple jumps, strength and size.

Rod: Winston LT 9′ 6 wt
Reel: Feathercraft SCLA3
Line: Orvis Wonderline

Music: Jason Aldean/Kelly Clarkson, Lady Antebellum. Something about country music and road trips, really puts the mood right when driving through the eastern WA landscapes.

Flies: size 18 snow cone bloodworm, amber ribbed chromer. I tried a few other proven flies but the fish seemed especially finicky.

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Razor clam digging: March 9th, 2013

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Pass Lake: 3/7/13

After fishing last weeks eastern WA season opener I needed a Stillwater fix. If I had time I would’ve like to explore a new lake but it’s still a 2+ hour drive each way past Vantage. The next best thing on our side is either Pass, Lone or Rattlesnake lakes. I typically don’t fish pass until closer to April, but heard of good reports and decent chironomid hatches that the fish are keyed on and feeding heavily.

I had to see for myself and only had today to fish, so I packed up and head out at 7:30 for the hour and half drive north. The weather forecast called for partly sunny with 50% chance of rain. Rain it did, mostly the whole drive up with brief intermissions in Stanwood and approaching Pass Lake, but it would lightly sprinkle and then around noon it cleared.

Jeff Hil. had a meeting on oak harbor and needed an excuse to hitch up his pram and decided to meet me for some stillwater action. It’s too bad he had to leave early as the action picked up from 12:30 to 2 with a good size 18 hatch of black, olive, and chromed chironomids. I fished 25′ of water towards the eastern border of the lake. Water temp was 48 degrees while the outside temp when I rolled I to the parking lot was 53. There is a new concrete pad restroom at pass, a nice improvement over the outhouse in the woods.

Water clarity was pretty good and had the classic greenish color to the water. We fished at the point to start in 14-15′ of water. Jeff pulled a fish ther and then I did but it wasn’t hot and heavy action so it sent me searching for the fish. I tried the north rock wall, in front of the ranger residence, north bay without much success. I wasn’t marking any fish down but the sidewinder was picking up fish fairly regularly.

A couple of guys in Spring creek prams were doing ok so I opted to investigate. One guy in a white Hopper was doing fairly well in the 25′ of water. He knew the drill as he rowed to that spot at the beginning of the day and was still there when I pulled off at 3 pm. He had it dialed with numerous hook ups. I had to observe closely and after some adjustments I switched up to have my bugs 2′ off the bottom and then I was into the fish. Not a spectacular day but I landed 9 fish. Ranging in size from 15-18″.

Even though my time was limited I enjoyed getting out, better something versus nothing! Pass lake should be getting hotter as the water temp warms and the hatches intensify. I hope to fish it again soon as I’ve concluded it takes too much to fish eastern WA for just a day trip. I’ll have to save up my fishing days to do a multiple day trip.

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Eastern WA opener: March 1st, 2013

It’s an annual traditional as hundreds of folks through out shake off the cob webs and the cabin fever of winter blues and converge on anything that floats, to become like a Cheerio flotilla in Eastern WA.

Jeff H. and I had a plan to fish Quincy Lake but it would be no easy feat as I have two boys to square away in the mornings and evening. I’d been busy with home, work, and family that I couldn’t recall the last time I soaked some chironomids under a bobber. The weather forecast was looking to be excellent with highs into the low 60’s with the wind out of the ESE at 5-7 mph. The pass was uneventful as the warmer temps brought wet roads and melting snow pack. Lake Kachess was showing clearing in parts but still had dustings of snow atop and on the mountainside. Pass temp was 37 degrees around 9 am. Upon our arrival into George the trees and sage brush were swaying in the breeze and the sun never did poke out but it was warmer around 53 degrees.

Be prepared for anything and everything: one thing I wish I had was my muck boots. When we arrived at the lot people were launching and campers had set up their spots all along the south shoreline. With a line up to launch we opted to launch nearby but was a little muddy and rocky. Would have benefited with the extra coverage to keep warmer as well since the wind blew through my running shoes. I was glad I brought my rain coat and my overalls as they gave me additional coverage from the cooler temps and wind. I’m pretty sure that most or all of the flotilla at the Basin lakes got blown off when the gusts reached upwards of 20 mph as the frothing of the waves caused bubble suds on the banks indicating that the lake is slightly alkaline in nature.

Note to self: bring a bigger anchor. My 10 pyramid wasnt holding position in the wind and I needed the cannon ball doubled up on the cleat to hold her steady. I’ll be sure to be prepped with a 15-20 lb’er for eastern WA as the winds can easily frustrate a chironomid fisherman. Being on the right spot and staying there is crucial to success. I don’t mind the wind for fishing but casting a little more challenging with backcasts dangerously coming close to the back of your head and anything a hook is willing to grab in the pram. A benefit of the wind is giving action to the bugs. Sometimes the strikes are more difficult to detect as the bobber is in constant motion but most strikes were clearly evident with disappearing indicators. I briefly fished two rods as I have the second rod endorsement but I quickly became too hard to manage dealing with the wind and keeping an eye two constantly bouncing bobbers. I probably missed several fish so went back to fishing one rod to better focus on tuning into their palates.

Upon taking some random throat samples no pupae chironomids were seen but plenty of bloodworms in olive and red sized 10-14. Water temp was between 46-47 degrees and we mostly fished in 10-15′ of water. The lake appeared mostly clear with good weed growth and nice green color and clarity. The sun did make its way out in the late afternoon as did the wind slow down and we did catch a lot of fish ranging in size from 9″-19″. Most of the fish were in that 10-12″ category, with some in the 13-15″ and rarely larger with only one 18″ and the largest being 19″. All fish were silvery and appeared very healthy and well fed. While I was keeping an accurate count today would estimate somewhere in the 50-60 range of fish landed as there were times of a fish a cast or every other cast. We fished for 7 hours straight so would average 7 or 8 fish per hour was probably right.

I fished near the north bay just east of the skinny arm backwater and stayed there most of the time but did explore the arm in hopes of getting out of the wind but found smaller fish and shallower water depths. One productive spot was the shoal point in about 10′ of water from the entrance to the arm and to the bay. It produced fish and kept my attention for the remainder of the day. No complaints on this trip apart from the winds but it’s all a part of fishing in eastern WA. Wished we could have spent the night as Phil K and Rob D were rolling in as we were driving back. Hopefully they won’t encounter the winds today and the fishing will still be good.

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Last hurrah: 2/13/13

Since the steelhead closure is two more days away on most sound rivers I wanted to give it another go with the centerpin rod and reel. Trying to go fishing with two kids in diapers is no easy feat as I had to prep the boys and drop them off at daycare while I assembled my gear and made my way towards the hills. Even a bad day of fishing can be ok as its about the journey and the joy of getting out for some fresh air and scenery.

The temps were warm in the low 50’s as I made my way towards highway 2 and the drive was non eventful. I rigged up the pin rod with float and proceeded towards the river which was slightly up and had a little color which is a good thing. I was hopeful that the rains had pushed some fish into the runs and holes. After pounding a couple of well known spots I concluded that there were no fresh winter runs and after talking to a couple of locals even Reiter had been slow. I did feel more comfortable with casting and managing the reel buy also found myself tangled up a few times and trying to manage the line.

I didnt get skunked as two smaller male
Coho gobbled up the cured steelhead fire cure roe. It’s always exciting to connect when the bobber goes down and there is a tug and pulse at the end of the rod. Too bad it wasn’t what I was looking for but not a bad way to end the season.

I’ll be focusing on Stillwater for eastern WA basin trout next month so will be re-gearing up in preparation for chironomids and strike indicators.

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Lake Washington: part 2, 2/10/2013

After last weeks outing with Rob D. on lake WA I needed to figure out my failing kicker motor stat! When things aren’t working as they should be when it comes to my fishing gear especially my boat I am right on it. It took me a couple days to figure out the kicker motor issues but in the end it works and hopefully it won’t be of issue anymore.

The problem was a nasty clog in the water pipe uptake line just below the power head where it should enter the engine block. There must’ve been some residue from the salt water season. Nothing like a good catheterization to clean out the lines follow by a heavy steam of air water mix to unclog and unroot the deposits which prevented water from entering into the block to keep it running cool.

I had rebuilt the water pump last season but initially thought it was the upper water pump housing that went bad as the interface between the driveshaft was eroding due to the heat from last seasons episode of running it dry for 10 minutes causing the impeller to explode. After a new housing replacement it was still not peeing correctly?!?!

A thorough check for leaks or blockages throughout the engine block revealed a little residue blockage at the pee hole which was removed but still didn’t resolve the issue of lack of flow. I removed the thermostat, cleaned and tested it for normal operation. It all checked out fine, so the last area which I couldn’t see was the uptake pipe and interface below the power head. Since I couldnt get into the space I used some surgical tubing and a double action air pump that is typically used to inflate pontoon boats or float tubes. Filling the hose with water and steady but consistent pressure finally knocked free the clog and soon vaporized air/water steamed from the exit port tubing. What a relief as I saved a few hundred bucks from having to send it to the marine mechanic.

Now the fishing report which I’ve pre-drafted since I wasnt able to sleep very well the night prior as I was making a mental checklist for this mornings outing. I had lined up two spinning reels with new 10 lb Power Pro spectra and also filled up an old Penn level wind reel with 15 lb Maxima. I found a couple of good spinning rods which will work for cutt trolling along with a Shimano TDR 8′ medium duty rod that is perfect for the antique Penn reel.

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