Posts Tagged With: King

One last hurrah? 8/27/12

With the recent emergency closure of Marine areas 9 and 10 and report of good King salmon still around I needed to give it one more shot before it closed down. Dad and I took the Hewes out and had our sights on Dolphin Point which is the top of marine area 11. My neighbor Jim G. Had reported good success at Dolphin, seeing his boat hitched up to his truck was too much for me and I made the last minute call to dad, hitched up and loaded up the boat and readied for the am departure.

We didn’t get in the water until a little after 7 and made our approach out to the point. We wouldn’t be alone with a dozen or so boats also doing laps in search of the clipped kings. We only saw one net fly in the couple hours we dragged our flashers and spoons. It appeared to be a small coho but was enough for that boat to keep it. Also heard some chatter that another larger fish was almost boated but lost. Jim said that it’d been slow for them and I know he was probably out since daylight so I didn’t feel so bad for not being able to make it out with lines in the water by 7:30.

We trolled the point, the bay and did a few laps working the tide change without any success. When Jim asked how we were doing, I said ‘excellent! If you can count all the shakers…’ dad and I decided to poke around Three Tree in Burien, so we punched out around 9:30 in hopes to catch a little not of the flood tide. I ran into Ed W. who was out with his Woolridge boat and his dog, that guy loves to fish and does it all by himself. He said it was slow all morning at Three Tree and threw everything he had at em without any success. He said it had been good with multiple hookups days prior, story of my Puget Sound King fishing in 2012! Either I’m too early or too late. We couldnt keep the shakers off the Coho killers and one of those shakers coughed up a small anchovie the exact size of the coho killer. I guess after the stellar 2011 fishing this is payback for putting the hurt to those Tyee’s.

I’ll take the boat out over the Labor day weekend to throw some crab pots and maybe spend a day with my family on Blake island. Not sure if I’ll have her out again for winter Blackmouth or fall Coho but will look towards filling up my freezer this coming week as we head out to the Olympic Pennisula for a few days off with fishing for dad and I.



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Smoked salmon recipe

Many of my friends and family have asked me to share my recipe for smoked salmon. I’ve tried different variations of brine but found that the dry brine from to be among the easiest to prep and best in taste.

Now that you’ve caught your fish, what to do with all this meat? Well if you can’t eat it all at once or don’t give it away smoked salmon can be a wonderful treat months down the road and reminder of your fishing successes when the salmon were running.

I like to enjoy my smoked salmon as a dip, on top of a cream cheese bagel or toast, scrambled in eggs, added to clam or fishermans chowder or just enjoyed with a cold beer. Here is a repeat of the recipe with a modification of using the Costco minced garlic and freshed cracked pepper as well.

I bought a couple of clear plastic Sterilite containers with snapping lids so they can be stacked in the fridge and I can view the brining process as know when it’s done, usually overnight in the fridge. Also I’ve upgraded my smoker from the Big Chief which I didn’t care for the small heating element, thin gauge aluminum walls, and lack of temperature control. I replaced it with a Steel lined and insulated Masterbuilt smoker with chip box, larger element and thermostat which I can add a timer. Usually set at 200 degrees I can smoke a fish in 3 hours with no oil or fat ooze or loss from the fish and done is less time with excellent taste and quality. Enjoy!

How to Smoke Salmon – Recipe #1

This brine recipe is one of the simplest you will find. People tend to get crazy with all sorts of ingredients in their brines… white wine, tabasco sauce, paprika, apple juice… try them if you’d like, but I prefer a simple brine that I can memorize.

Here are the basics:
4 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup non-iodized salt (canning & pickling or kosher salt)
10-15 cloves of garlic

I prefer dark brown sugar over light brown sugar because I like the color that the dark brown sugar imparts on the fish (a nice dark red), and I think it might taste a little different, too.

For the salt, I use non-iodized canning salt. In the past I had used rock salt, and I would use 2 cups of rock salt to every 4 cups of sugar… but every once in a while, I would get a batch of smoked salmon that had a metallic taste. One day I mentioned this to a friend, and he asked me if I was using rock salt… he reminded me that rock salt has impurities in it, and that’s probably what was giving me the metallic taste. As a result, I have now switched to canning salt, and the metallic tastes are gone. But, the canning salt is ground much finer than rock salt, so I’ve cut back to 1 cup of salt for every 4 cups of sugar.

For the garlic, try to use fresh garlic, and run it through a garlic press… if you’re like me, you hate to peel garlic… especially 10 or 15 cloves of it… that’s OK, let your wife do it, just promise her you’ll do something else. If you can’t negotiate that, I have substituted dry garlic flakes (like the Frontier Herbs ones sold in bulk at QFC). In this case, I use about 1 teaspoon for every clove, or about 10 teaspoons total. You could also try using the chopped garlic sold in a jar, or dry garlic powder, but I haven’t had much luck with these… they have a different, more bitter taste, and aren’t as potent.

Put it all in a big bowl, and mix it all together. OK… so you’re asking, “How much fish will this recipe handle?” Well, that depends on how heavily you cover your fish… to tell you the truth, I usually just keep a bunch of ingredients on hand… I mix up a batch of brine using the measurements above, then I start covering my fish, and if I need more dry brine, I just quickly mix up another partial batch.

Now it’s time to brine the fish. Cover the fillets liberally with the dry brine mixture. Once the fillets are coated, stack them in the bottom of a non-metallic pan… in this case, I’m using an enameled pot. You can cover the bottom of the pot with brine, but it really doesn’t matter… once the brine starts to work and some of the water from the fish is extracted, the whole thing turns into a gooey mess.

I usually place the first fillets in the pot skin side down, and then alternate them as I continue… so all the fish lays flesh to flesh and skin to skin.

Once all my fish is in the brine, I cover the container and put it in the fridge for about six hours. The amount of time you keep the fish in the brine and the amount of salt you use in your brine mixture will determine how firm the flesh of the fish becomes, and how salty the taste of the end product will be.

After the fish has sat in the brine in the fridge for six hours, take the pieces out one by one and rinse them gently in cold water. You don’t want to scrub them or disturb the flesh, you just want to get the heavy deposits of brine off. Once the fish is rinsed off, drain it the best you can and set it out on a rack to dry at room temperature. I use the rack from my smoker because it’s convenient, but you can use cookie cooling racks as well… just realize you’ll have some explaining to do when the next batch of chocolate chip cookies tastes & smells like coho.

You need to let the fish dry at least a couple of hours. I usually dry them for four to six hours, depending upon the thickness of the fillets. You don’t want the room temperature to be too hot or too cold, what you’re trying to do here is dry the fish out and form the pellicle on the surface of the flesh. Good airflow around the fish is helpful, you can even use a small fan to help the process if you’d like. If you’re using the racks from your smoker, set it up so the thicker fillets are on the lower shelves, and the thinner fillets are on the upper shelves… this will even out how they dry once they’re in the smoker.

The next step is to smoke the fish. There are lots of different smokers out there, and lots of them do a good job of smoking fish. I prefer the electric smokers because they are much more hassle-free than the charcoal or wood-fired smokers. With an electric smoker, some people even get as fancy as to run the smoker on a timer… so in case you didn’t plan ahead, you don’t have to wake up at 3am to shut the smoker off.

A couple of words about small, uninsulated smokers… first of all, they are weather-dependant. In other words, if you’re smoking fish on a warm August day with no wind, it will take less time to finish than it will if you’re smoking on a cold, windy October night. On a warm day it might take six hours to achieve your desired result, and on a cold night it might take ten or twelve hours.

You should also be aware that some electric smokers have bigger elements (higher wattages) than their smaller counterparts… and therefore the bigger ones have more consistent results.
When using an electric smoker, you should always try to avoid using an extension cord if at all possible. But, if you must use an extension cord, make sure it’s a heavy duty grounded cord (14 gauge or bigger) and use the shortest one possible, to avoid any voltage drop.

As always, USE COMMON SENSE. Don’t set up your smoker indoors. Don’t set it up on your deck. Set it up on a firm, level, non-flammable surface, out of the wind, and clear of any houses, garages, wood piles or other flammable objects.

Preheat your smoker for 15 minutes to get it up to temperature. Put your rack of fish into it, and add your wood chips to get it smoking. The amount of wood chips and what type you use are completely up to your tastes. For this recipe in a Big Chief Smoker, I use one pan of alder chips at the start, and one pan of apple chips after one hour… then I let the fish sit in there and dry out for another four hours or so, for a complete smoking/drying time of about six hours. Again, this is done to taste, and due to wind and temperature fluctuations, I check on the appearance of the fish after about five hours, and make a judgement from there.

Be prepared to have plenty of oohs an aaahs as freshly smoked King salmon doesn’t last very long in our household. My son was already tearing into it before I could lay my chops into the Alder infused goodness.



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Skokomish Kings: 8/15/2012

Having just returned from a family vacation and catching up with work and unpacking it was time to hit the Skokomish river to fuel up on some Hood Canal King salmon. When this river comes up thoughts of anglers lined up shoulder to shoulder come to mind with chuck, duck, and ripping corkies and yarn with copious amounts of pencil lead conjure disgust, head shaken no-no’s and frustration. I fish this river because I like the tidal flats, plenty of back casting room, fantastic scenery with the Olympic range to the west and of course Chinook salmon on the fly.

I invited Ching W. to join me as our last 4 outings had proved to be a bust and I had to redeem myself for the sake of showing him that King salmon can be caught on the fly. We arrived at the Skok a little after 9 am with heavy parked cars along both the Purdy cutoff road and lined along the 106 near most of the gear and traditional access points. Upon our access to the river saw a school of 4-6 fish that were making their way up but was greeted with gear guys tossing every sort of lead and yarn in front of the Chinook faces. I found a spot that looked like it might hold fish and within my third cast connected with a nice hen which for me was relief, having broken the skunk of not being able to bonk a legal fish with Ching. I was telling him on the drive down that perhaps he was the reason why we didn’t get any fish, joking of course.

I hit another smaller fish of about 6-7 pounds, decided to release her in favor of the cookie cutter teens fish that were swimming around. There was a nice pod of 5 fish that ran up but for some reason I couldn’t get any to coax until I checked my hook, or rather lack of hook! I was using a purple peril I tied specifically for steelhead and replaced the smaller hooks with 3/0 sickle hooks. Somehow the junction of the eyelet between my last fish I release came apart with the hook eye and I had been ghost casting for those fish.

I was able to punch out another legal fish and ended the morning with a pair of nice Kings for the barbeque. Ching wasn’t so successful on his first Skok outing but he definitely got the hang of this fishery and will hope to get another stab at getting a fish on his own another day.





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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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