WILD BLOG: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale ...
NEW May 5, 2009 /3:30 p.m.
First off, I can’t get the damned theme song from “Gillian’s Island” out of my head. Two days of the Professor and Mary Ann. Somebody hit me with a 2x4, right in the face. Very hard. Please.
Anyway ... let’s ramble around a bit.
Deadliest Dudes: Shangle and I got to meet the most popular guys in America right now, the Captains of the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. Phil and Josh Harris of the Cornelia Marie; Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand of the Time Bandit; Sig Hansen of the Northwestern and Keith Colburn of the Wizard.
These guys are just like us, they can’t believe how popular they are and they are just enjoying the ride. We have some awesome interviews coming up on NWWC in the next several weeks. Great, funny, uber-interesting stories. Stay tuned.
That started from this tropic port ...
Early summer-runs: Even though I have not even seen a spring Chinook this year, it’s time for serious thought toward your summer steelhead tackle. My partner JD Love has caught his first of the year in the Sol Duc last Monday, swinging a black bunny fly in the tailout of the Salmon Hatchery drift.
Yes, it was a true summer fish, a hatchery creature, long, gunmetal blue, silver and white, clear fins and so hot it was nearly unlandable. We also caught one on the Bogachiel, a small Calawah River hatchery brat a week ago. It’s raining hard. They are coming ...
Aboard this tiny ship ...
Of spring-run natives ...: I saw on a popular fishing board a young angler posing with a ”summer run”. This was a gorgeous little native, and ultra bright, but this steelhead was a true spring run native, late-late winter, if you will, the same fish we used to commonly catch on the Hoh and Nisqually. The angler simply had not seen any of these in his young angling career, and it made me think of how common these fish were.
Sadly, no one else posting recognized the fish as what it truly was. We frequently caught them in the Dungeness, chrome-bright hens with half developed skeins well into June. The upper Skagit, just below Marblemount, these same amazing bullets heading for the Cascade, the last few days of April always produced a few. Steelhead so aggressive and hot they took a fly or lure right of the surface the nanosecond it touched surface film.
Not summer fish, just a unique strain of true spring steelhead. The Kalama, Wind and Washougal historically hosted the largest runs of these fish. To find one today is unfortunately rare. To the untrained eye, yes, they appear to be summer runs. Just one more bit of diversity that is the native steelhead.
The mate was a mighty sailin’ man ...
Fly, fly, fly: If you’ve ever toyed with the notion of finally trying to catch a steelhead on the fly, summer is the time. Most of my riverine angling will be with the long rod this summer.
Hey, I’ll throw a spoon here and there, and maybe a jig and bobber, but for summer runs its all flies all the time. And I am not handicapping myself at all. Matter of fact, I catch as many if not more summer steelhead with a fly than I ever did (or do) with bait, jig, spinner, spoons or plugs.
Warmer water and still well tuned into opportunistic feeding - unlike winters frigid flows that handcuff fly fishermen - the 50-plus-degree water makes summer steelhead ultra aggressive and they will move 10 plus feet for a fly. Presentation is not as critical, neither is sinking the fly.
Leave the gear rod at home, find a river with decent numbers of steelies and have at it. Fly fishing can produce surprisingly satisfying numbers, the best part is it is not tough to do at all ... and lotsa fun.
The tiny ship was tossed ...
Smells like ... summer: My garage smells like a meth lab. Not that I would know, just that I’ve been spray painting like a gang member on a 700-foot blank wall: fluorescent pink paint.
You see, it’s never too early to prepare for humpy time. Quarter-ounce jig heads. Small thin-bladed spoons. Small Wiggle Warts. Know this: a forensic scientist won’t be able to find any trace of any lure with any tint of pink in any sporting goods after July 1st.
A big tip: Buy it now while Sportco, O.E., Sportsman’s Warehouse has plenty of pinkatude. Get all the jigs, pink mini squids, thin bladed spoons. Two million pinks are coming into Puget Sound. The first pink salmon season on the Skagit in six years. The Skagit salmon are the largest, hardest fighting and best eating pink salmon anywhere. Nearly a million of them starting August 16th. Get your pink salmon gear not ... if you wait until the big push in mid-August, s.o.l., dude. I? I am ready.
Yes, my fellow anglers ... the Minnow would be lost.
Springs tastes well-salted: Speaking of the salt ...
Ling season is open on the Strait of Juan DeFuca. Two lings over 24 inches, plus 10 sea bass make the drive sans-a-Hood Canal Bridge (re-opens mid-June) well worth the effort. Target the area just east of Neah Bay proper, east of Waddah Island near Snow Creek Campground. The structure rich surroundings of aptly named Sail Rock is ling central.
Watch your fish finder, look for water 80 to 120 feet deep that features rock spires, dips, basically any irregular bottom configuration. These bumps and juts mean hidey-holes for a terrific ling population.
Drop down 4- or 6-ounce jig heads with glow twin tail grub bodies, tip the hook with a chunk of herring or squid and hop it along the bottom. There are some lings you can’t land living here, but most of the bites you’ll receive using jigs will be just legals to 15 pounds.
Smaller jigs - 2-ounce jig heads with white twin tail grubs - will fill your sea bass limits in 10 drops.
If the bigger lings are your targets, you have two options for Sail Rock. First, try whole black label herring rigged on dual 6/0s, spaced eight inches apart on two feet of 50 pound test, attach that to a 6 to 10 ounce lead ball, drop ’er down and brace yourself. Second, if you happen to catch a small rockfish or greenling, rig them alive the same as the herring (one hook immediately below the dorsal, the other through the top lip) and expect something too large to land to immediately grip it and run you into the rocks. No other bait drops the guard of a wily old ling than a real fish drifted seductively in front of their lair.
Use a heavy stick, a 7 to 7-½ foot, 25-50 with a stout reel capable of holding 200 yards of 65 pound braid.
The Millionaire. And his wife ...
Kitchen bitch: Halibut season is open. Oh, yeah, I have a great halibut recipe. Put 2 lbs. of halibut in a glass serving/cooking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar, sea salt, pepper, Garlic Gormay jalapeño and crumbled bacon.
Bake for 45 minutes at 325. Take out of the oven, throw the halibut in the garbage and eat the glass dish ... wet cardboard tastes better than bland, dry halibut. Give me lingcod or black sea bass any day.
I do, really, have a bitchin’ recipe for salmon patties. Next blog, wear an apron, fellas.
The Skipper, too ...
A patriotic American: So on it goes, this thing of our ... did I mention that local American Lake is the American Lake of old? No bonanza like last year (a slug of 12-13 inch kokes), this year so far there is a smaller number of fish, but the size! Average in this early season has been 15-16 inches and the little salmon are extraordinarily far ... and not nearly as easy to catch.
We landed eight this morning, the largest a dittle-dee under 17 inches. By the end of May, the way they are eating, they will be pushing 18. Those, my fellow kokanee junkies, are some serious fish. I’ll give a full report on techniques for these great local landlocked sockeye in an upcoming blog.
Metal To The End.