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CONTENTS SALMON 8 16 20 22 26 29 33 36

Idaho Marine (Boise) 2208-342-0639 08-342-0639

38 42 45

Forks, Wash., fall coho, Chinook Sekiu, Wash., summer Chinook San Juan Islands, Wash., blackmouth Central Puget Sound, Wash., summer Chinook Baker Lake, Wash., sockeye Buoy 10, Wash.-Ore., fall Chinook, coho Columbia River @Longview, Wash./ St. Helens, Ore., fall Chinook Lower Columbia River, Wash./Ore. spring Chinook Willamette Falls, Ore., spring Chinook Coos Bay, Ore., fall Chinook, coho Lower Rogue River, Ore., spring Chinook

Volume 3 PUBLISHER

James R. Baker ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

Dick Openshaw EDITOR

Andy Walgamott MAPS CONDENSED FROM ORIGINAL STORIES BY

Ralph Bartholdt, Tim Bush, Dennis Dauble, Larry Ellis, Cody Herman, Jeff Holmes, Leroy Ledeboer, Jim McMillen, Andrew Moravec, Terry Otto, Andy Schneider, Andy Walgamott, Terry Wiest MAP ART

Richard Thompson OPERATIONS MANAGER

Katie Higgins SALES MANAGER

Paul Yarnold NATIONAL ACCOUNTS MANAGER

Mike Nelson ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES

Eric Illes, Jim Klark, Kathy Riley, Mike Smith DESIGNERS

Dawn Carlson, Jenny Carlson

STEELHEAD 50

52 54 60 62 65

Middle Rogue River, Ore., summer steelhead Umpqua River, Ore., winter steelhead Lower Columbia River, Wash./Ore., summer steelhead John Day River Arm, Ore., summer steelhead Western Blue Mountains, Wash., summer steelhead Clearwater-Snake River confluence, Lewiston, Idaho, summer steelhead

OTHER FISH 70

74 78 80 81 82

Rufus Woods Lake, Wash., triploid trout Lemolo Lake, Ore., brown trout Crescent Lake, Ore., kokanee Emigrant Lake, Ore., smallmouth bass Brownlee Reservoir, Ore., crappie Potholes Reservoir, Wash., walleye

PRODUCTION MANAGER

John Rusnak WEBMASTER

Eric Pederson OFFICE MANAGER

Audra Higgins ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Katie Sauro INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER

Lois Sanborn CIRCULATION MANAGER

Heidi Belew DISTRIBUTION

Tony Sorrentino, Gary Bickford, Barry Johnston ADVERTISING INQUIRIES

ads@nwsportsmanmag.com CORRESPONDENCE

Email letters, articles/queries, photos, etc., to andy@nwsportsmanmag.com, or snail mail them to the address below. ON THE COVER

Mercer Island, Washington-based guide Andy Shanks shows off a nice king while Jeff Main holds a Grande Ronde River steelhead and Lisa Murray displays a rotund Rufus Woods Lake triploid trout. (ANDY SHANKS; JEFF MAIN; JEFF WITKOWSKI) Get daily updates at nwsportsmanmag.com and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

HUNTING 83 85 86

Yakima, Kittitas Counties, Wash., elk Northeast Washington whitetail deer North Idaho whitetail deer

MEDIA INDEX PUBLISHING GROUP P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 1201 First Ave. S., Suite 309 • Seattle, WA 98134 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437 media@media-inc.com • www.media-inc.com

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Visit nwsportsmanmag.com NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN ATLAS is published annually by Media Index Publishing Group, 1201 1st Avenue South, Suite 309, Seattle, WA 98134. For display advertising information, call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2012 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A.

4 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]


Mon.-Sat. 9:00-7:00 • Sun. 9:00-5:00

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Ste he kin

Riv er

54 9 46 33 59 42

Riv er

25 15

Co lum bia

Kachess Lake

Cle Elum Lake

Na ch es

Wallace Riv er

31

Cispus River

Shaniko

22 North San tiam Rive r

20

Cottage Grove

Elkton

Roseburg

38

Burnt River Unity

Chalis

Cascade

15 Weiser

Brogan Seneca

75

21

55

Payette

Brothers

ur lhe Ma

395

20 Burns

Juntura

er Riv

Pay ett eR ive r

Vale

20 Caldwell

Chemult Wagontire

Harney Lake

Malheur Lake

95

Sun Valley

Owyhee Rive r

395

31

78

62 227 Wolf Creek

r e Rive Rogu

er Riv ois Illin

27

Summer Lake

Prospect

93

20

Blackfoot

199

Sprague Rive r

140

Upper Kalamath Lake

Medford

238 Cave Junction

140

Warner Lakes

Gooding

American Falls Rupert

30

Soda Springs

34

30

Burley

91

95

81

37 84

Goose Lakeview Lake

A Cozy River House, www.acozyriverhouse.com All-Ways Fishing, www.allwaysfishing.com Arlene’s Cafe (Elkton, OR) Benny’s Colville Inn, www.colvilleinn.com Beyer Barrels, www.beyerbarrells.com Big Creek Fishing Club, www.bigcreekfishing.com The Bite’s On (Coos Bay, OR) Blue Mountains KOA/Last Resort Kampstore, www.thelastresortrv.com 9. Boat Insurance Agency, www.boatinsurance.net 10. Captain’s Reel Deep Sea Fishing, www.captainsreel.com 11. John Carl’s Guide Service, www.johncarlguideservice.com 12. Chetco Outdoor Store (Brookings-Harbor, OR) 13. Chukar Hill Inn (Pomeroy, WA) 14. Colville Chamber of Commerce, www.colville.com 15. Coulee House Inn & Suites, www.couleehouse.com 16. Darver Tackle Shop, www.darvertackle.com 17. Days Inn Portland 18. Delfino Vineyards, www.delfinovineyards.com 19. Dick Nite Spoons, www.dicknite.com 20.Elkton RV PArk, www.elktonrvpark.com 21. Fish with Gary, www.fishwithgary.com 22. Forks Chamber of Commerce, www.forkswa.com 23. Forks Outfitter, www.forksoutfitters.com 24.Gold Beach Chamber of Commerce, www.goldbeach.org 25. Grand Coulee Center Lodge, www.grandcouleecenterlodge.com 26. Grant County Fairgrounds, www.gcfairgrounds.com 6 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

15

86

er Snake Riv

51 395

21 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Pocatello

24

84

Twin Falls

Kalamath Falls

Lost River

34

American Falls Reservoir

Shoshone

Snake River

Ashland

66

75

46

Jordan Valley

95

Lake Abert

Idaho Falls

26

84 Mountain Home

Paisley

Grants Pass

26 Hailey

Fairfield

r Rive neau Bru

er Riv ue Rog

Arco

Ketchum

Arrowrock Reservoir

Boise

Silver Lake

97

Sn ake Riv er

75

Meridian

78

33 Rexburg

33

Idaho City

Emmett

Boise River

31

St Anthony

Big Lost River

52

97

20

Dubois

22

93

26

Days Creek

Port Orford

Riv er

93 Lake Cascade

95 Croo ked Ri ver

LaPine

56

Le m hi

28

Council

84

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138

42

Brookings

26

John Day Ri ver

Crescent Lake Sutherlin

7

Riv er

58

Salmon

86

Baker City

Bend

Myrtle Point

Gold Beach

395

Oakridge

101

Coos Bay

Pow der Rive r

er Riv ery Silv

7 18 64 28

Cougar Reservoir

Riv er

er Riv

John Day Redmond

De sch ute s

3 20

38

New Meadows

Long Creek

Blue River

Springfield

W illa me tte

19

Sisters

126

on lm Sa Riggins

207

20

River

Grangeville

95

26

River McKenzie Eugene

Florence

LaGrande

Kimberly

Cascadia

ver ay Ri Selw

Riv er

Ukiah

97

Harrisburg

Fern Ridge Lake

Heppner Condon

Mitchell

South San tiam

Yachats

Enterprise

Madras

Green Peter Lake

34

101

66

26

Corvallis

82

207

Sa lm on

Middle Fork

Will amet te R iver

Maupin

Newport

51 24 11 12

97

Woodburn

101

19

206

y River John Da

10

e nd 3 Gra W all ow aR iv er

395

197

Salem

Weston

Pendleton

Wasco

De sc hu te sR ive r

s er iv eR re Th

McMinnville

18

Lincoln City

Hermiston

84 Arlington

84

The Dalles

Mt Hood Village

26

95

r ive eR nd Ro

Sou th F ork

17 43

Beaverton

r Nestucca Rive

41

Imn aha River

57

r Hood a Rive River mbi Colu

Portland

Tillamook

Umpqua River

er Riv sa ch Lo

12

Snak e Rive r

26

Siltcoos Lake

Orofino

We iser Riv er

Vernonia

r ive nR so Wil Trask River

126

Dworshak Reservoir

3

Clearwater River

er Riv ke Sna

m ale

r ive tR ita ck Kli

Swift Yale Reservior Lake Lewis River

er Riv

Gnat Creek er Riv

Big Creek

Cannon Neh Beach

Siuslaw River

39

Moscow

8 49 13 29

16

er e Riv Snak

r s Rive Lewi

er a Riv am Kal

bia m lu Co

30

101

101

r Rive use Palo

Riv er

Priest Rapids Lake

St. Joe Riv er

95

Lewiston

Astoria

62

3

er Riv

6

St Maries

bia lum Co

Ilwaco

Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene Lake

26

Packwood

Lake Pend Oreille

95

Potholes Reservior

Riffe Lake Green River

Sandpoint

Moses Lake

Alder Lake

Northwest Sportsman’s Guide to Best of the Northwest

36

Priest Lake

Long Lake

Banks Lake

Olympia

40

4 30

Icic le C ree k

r ive sR ptu Wa

Hu m ptu lip s

r ive tR tia En

r Rapid Rive

14

Lake Chelan

er Riv awa Chiw er Riv ite Wh

er Riv ha Elw

19

r t Rive naul Qui Quinault Lake Lake Cushman

Omak Lake

er Riv uk Sa

Lake Crescent

Hoh River

Tw isp Riv er

Riv er

Suia ttle River

Sol Duc River

er Riv

Cascade River

97 Bonners Ferry

Sna ke Riv er

63

M et ho w

er Riv

Ow yhe eR ive r

27. Grumpy’s Guide Service, www.grumpysguideservice.com 28.Helen’s Guide Service, www.helensguideservice.net 29. Hell’s Canyon Sport Fishing, www.hellscanyonsportfishing.com 30.Hewes Craft, www.hewescraft.com 31. Hookumgood, www.hookumgood.com 32. Hot Spot Fishing & Lures Ltd., www.hotspotlures.com 33. Jacobsen’s Marine, www.jacobsensmarine.com 34.Jambo’s Sportfishing, www.jambossportfishing.com 35. Kitetail, www.kitetaillures.com 36. Kootenai Valley Inflatables, www.kvirafts.com 37. Lake Pleasant Hideaway, www.lakepleasanthideaway.com 38. Lemolo Lake Resort, www.lemololakeresort.com 39. Lyons Ferry Marina, www.lyonsferrykoa.com 40.Michelle Nelson Taxidermy, www.michellenelsontaxidermy.com 41. Northwest Marine & Sport, www.nwmarineandsport.com 42.Northwest Motorsport, www.nwmsrocks.com (Puyallup, WA) 43.Ollie Damons, www.olliedamons.com (Portland, OR) 44.Olympic Anglers, www.olympicanglers.com (Forks, WA) 45.Olympic Raft & Kayak, www.raftandkayak.com (Port Angeles, WA)

93

Malad City

Bea r Riv er

Skag it Ri ver

bia lum Co

Salmon River

Baker Lake

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Sanpoil River

Ozette Lake

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35 32 34 60 53 1 5 47 2 22 37 65 48 23 44 55 50 45 58

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Bear

Preston Lake

46.Outdoor Emporium, www.outdooremporium.net (Seattle, WA) 47. Pacific Inn Motel, www.pacificinnmotel.com (Forks, WA) 48.Quillayute River Resort, www.qriverresort.com (Forks, WA) 49.The Ridge House, www.theridgehouse.com (Pomeroy, WA) 50.Riverview RV Park & Storage, www.olympicanglers.com (Forks, WA) 51. Rogue Outdoor Store (Gold Beach, OR) 52. SBlock-USA, www.sblock-usa.com 53. Salt Creek RV Park, www.olypen.com/scrv 54.Scan Marine, www.wallas.us 55. Sensei Guide Service, www.senseiguideservice.com 56. Shelter Cover Resort, www.sheltercoveresort.com 57. Smokehouse Products, www.smokehouseproducts.com 58. Springer’s Sport Fishing, www.springersportfishing.com 59. Sportco, www.sportco.com 60.Straitside Resort, www.straitsideresort.com 61. Thomas Fishing Lures, www.thomaslures.com 62. Tillamook Chamber of Commerce, www.gotillamook.com 63. Tom-n-Jerry’s Boat Center, www.tomnjerrys.net 64.Turman Tackle, www.turman-tackle.com 65. Twilight Eclipse Cabin & New Moon Breaking Dawn Cabin (Forks, WA) 66.Wild Winds Ranch, www.wildwindsranch.com


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2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 7


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SALMON

Pen In A Trip For Peninsula Coho Good runs, plenty of access for salmon from the West End to southwest corner of the Olympic Mountains.

FORKS, Wash.—The other morning as I was walking to my car to drive to work, I noticed the trees in my yard had a little more color and the air was a little crisper. Ah yes, early fall definitely has that feeling to it, and though most folks grimace at the thought of the cool weather and the return of the rains, the only thing I could think of were chrome and hook-nosed. Fall weather brings with it the return of fall coho. Puget Sound rivers get healthy returns, but when I think about the lockjaw that fish from local rivers often have, I start fantasizing about Silver Shangri-La, the Olympic Peninsula. Every salmoncrazed sportsman should at least once feel the thrill of fishing the pristine rivers of the coast, which flow through thousand-year-old rain forests. THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA’S rivers teem with runs of coho, and whether you prefer to fish big-water glacial rivers or smaller, lowland-origin streams, the variety that the OP offers is unbeatable. Each fall, thousands of anglers make the long haul past Montesano or Port Angeles to reach these waters. But beware, there are plenty of variables that can make or break a trip. For starters, the amount of rain that can fall in a few hours here is unbelievable. Torrential downpours can leave rivers high and unfishable, but the right flow and weather can make your trip a blast, 8 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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A Cozy River House

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SALMON

(ANDREW MORAVEC)

so check the forecast or call ahead. I have my favorite OP rivers, and during our trips to the coast, each detail is meticulously planned. Fresh line is spooled, leaders tied, rods rigged and lunches packed. We plan a meeting time and place, figure out where we’re going to make a pit-stop and always plan on getting our boat in the water before first 12 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

light. With the huge effort it takes to make all the plans and then drive for several hours, we want to squeeze in every minute of fishable time we can! Often our plans get shattered. While “a little rain” to an OP local might seem like a monsoon to Puget Sounders, oftentimes rivers flood and become unfishable. Glacial rivers like the Hoh and the Queets

might blow-out to unfishable flows when a pineapple-express system moves in and creates massive snowmelt, but the Sol Duc can handle record setting rainfall before it rises. And while little rivers, such as the Salmon or Humptulips, might get flooded out in a matter of hours they are the first to clear and drop into fishable shape. We’ll go system by system to give


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SALMON you a little help, but doing a little exploring on your own will often provide the best experience.

THE QUILLAYUTE RIVER is a salmon super highway, thanks to its tribs the Calawah, Bogachiel and Sol Duc which converge west of the town of Forks. Most anglers fish at Leyendeckers, which is at the confluence, or down on Richwine Bar in tidewater. “All those fish have to pass through Richwine and Leyendeckers to get to the Sol Duc,” says lifetime OP angler Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360374-6330) in Forks. “You can beat your car up pretty bad driving into Richwine – most guys hike the couple hundred yards in.” The Quilly system, which also includes the Dickey, is expected to see a return of 59,233 fall coho, and that should have state fisheries biologist Mike Gross smiling. In 2009 he termed a return of 58,000 “a strong run …Forecastwise, that’s probably as strong as we’ve ever forecast.” THE SOL DUC flows west from deep in the northern Olympics along Highway 101. It’s rain-fed and is usually clear, even after a big rain. Liberal limits, which include two adult salmon plus two additional coho, brings plenty of anglers. And after the first fall rains have pushed silvers up from the Quillayute, anglers pack into the Duc’s classic salmon holes. Fishing can be excellent right at the Sol Duc hatchery, where spinners take the majority of the fish, but anglers float fishing salmon eggs or twitching jigs can do very well. The Whitcomb Dimmel launch (several miles north of Forks), offers some good bank access, as does the Bark Hole off the La Push Highway. A word of warning. The Duc eats drift boats for breakfast, so taking a guided trip is a good idea. “Get in a boat with someone who knows what their doing,” suggest Gooding. “There are some great guides over here and a trip with a professional is well worth it.” 14 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

(ALL RIVERS AND SALTWATER CHARTERS)

THE HOH RIVER is born from the glaciers hidden deep in the Olympics. It runs a chalky gray, and usually has limited visability, but it’s fishable at anywhere from 2 to 4 feet of viz. “The Hoh has some of the best access out of all the rivers on the coast, acres and acres of access,” says Gooding. “Just drive up the Upper Hoh Road. If you get out of your car and don’t like the spot, drive up another 200 yards and check it out.” The Hoh has huge sweeping gravel bars from its mouth at the end of Oil City Road up to the Olympic National Park boundary, as well as plenty of areas where salmon congregate. The Hoh’s forecasted 2011 return, 11,625, pales in comparison to the Quillayute. While casting spinners is a mainstay for coho on the OP, a lot of anglers will add a small hot pink or chartreuse plastic squid to the end of their lure. This really adds visibility in the gray waters of the Hoh – as well as the Queets’ to the south.

SPEAKING OF THE QUEETS, it offers decent bank access at the mouth of the Salmon – park at the bridge off Lower Queets Road and hike down – but aside from that, it’s a tough one.

The river from mouth up to the Clearwater Road Bridge is on the Quinault Indian Reservation, where a tribal fishing guide is required. From a boat, the stretch from the Hartzel launch down to the Clearwater is a short float with several nice salmon holes. This river is regulated by the Olympic National Park, so check with the Park Service for seasons and rules. The forecast calls for 29,610 while and hatchery coho.

THE HUMPTULIPS River has excellent bank access at the Stevens Creek Hatchery, and at the Hanson Road boat launch, but the majority of the river runs through private property. Drift fishing Corkies and yarn is popular at the hatchery, but drifting or float fishing eggs after the October 1 bait opener can wreak havoc on hatchery silvers. The Humptulips will also be open for Chinook retention in fall 2011. –ANDREW MORAVEC Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.


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SALMON

Fireworks in the Straits HAVE A BLAST FISHING FOR CHINOOK AT SEKIU.

SEKIU, Wash.—Come July there will be fireworks shows over Washington’s inland saltwaters, but none will be better than the one in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The July 1 opener to the Chinook fishery here is, historically speaking, “prime time” for the big silvery slabs. No waiting for fishing to heat up before making your reservations at places such as Sekiu because if you do, you’re too late. The state Department of Fish & Wildlife actually timed this fishery perfect and this year’s season should make many anglers extremely happy through August 15 when it shuts down. Sekiu was once known for huge slabs that hit the deck – 40-, 50-, even 60-pound Chinook that brought people from all over the state for a shot at one of these mammoth beasts. But the show went on hold in the late 1990s. King fishing here was closed for four summers to protect low returns of wild stocks. While it reopened in the early 2000s with unmarked Chinook in the bag, since 2003, it’s only been open for hatchery fish. At first, season operated under a strict quota, but nowadays that yoke is off. ONE OF THE BEST THINGS about fishing Sekiu? Calm water! Oh, it can get ugly and safety should always be your top priority. But compared to the coast it can be like fishing on a lake. Clallam Bay protects the waters and cuts down on the amount of chop. You can get some pretty good swells, but they generally are smooth and there are longer periods of time between them. Another good thing about fishing Sekiu versus the coast is that you can see shore. But even being close to shore fog can be of concern here, so make sure you have a GPS. If you have radar, it’s a bonus. 16 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]


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SALMON

Sekiu’s among the best places to intercept Chinook headed for Puget Sound, as Robert Spani will tell you. He caught this 25-pounder there last year while fishing with his dad, Chuck.

Sun sets on Sekiu’s salmon fleet. (OLSON’S RESORT)

(LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Because of the calmer water and close proximity to shore you’ll see all sizes of boats fishing this area – 16 feet and above is the norm. Along with your GPS, a VHF and fishfinder/depthfinder go without saying – don’t leave home without them. YOU’LL WANT TO BE an early riser here and get on the water asap. The morning bite can be hotter than a Roman candle, but it can also burn out quickly. The fortunate thing is, if you’re launch18 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

ing in Clallam Bay, you only need to go around the corner and hit the most productive king haven in the Straits, the Caves. Just off the kelp beds in 80 to 225 feet of water, fish tend to congregate in the morning looking for a meal as soon as the sun starts showing itself. I’ve found the early bite to be on herring. Cut plug or whole, green or blue label, mooch or motor mooch (depending on the movement) 30 to 60 feet down. If downrigging, use a whole herring in a helmet 50 inches behind a Pro-Troll

flasher in some shade of green – green glow, green spatterback or green coyote. If you see bait, stay on top of it if possible – that’s where the salmon will be. Speaking of bait, fresh is always preferred, but fresh, frozen, whole or cut plug, the one thing is make sure it spins tight! We’ve all heard that kings prefer a “slow roll.” That may be the case, but just make sure it rolls tight. If the bait doesn’t look perfect, don’t drop down. Fix or change it. The idea here is to maximize your chances at hooking up. A not-so-perfect setup may work fine for aggressive coho, but these are kings and they can be a little more particular. AFTER THE MORNING BITE, the fish tend to spread out a little, so either relocate bait and fish it hard, or troll with the tide to find either bait or fish. Once you find the bait stay with it because the fish will be there too. I also like to change tactics after the morning bite and switch from mooching to trolling with the Scotty downriggers. The standard 4-inch Gold Star Squids – both UV and glow in green spatterback,


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army truck or purple haze – are a staple in this fishery and probably hook more Chinook than all other methods combined. An alternative to the hoochies which I actually prefer is the Ace Hi Fly, again in greens or purple haze. Whatever you prefer, it should be tied 42 inches behind, again, a green Pro-Troll flasher. Make sure and tie your leaders with 50- to 60-pound leader material to get the proper action. My friend and fishing partner Tom Nelson of Salmon University turned me onto the “White Lightning” Silver Horde Coho Killer a few years ago. The package may say “Coho,” but they are king killers! Ask anyone who used them, or better yet, ask the thousands of people who searched and came up empty-handed two years ago trying to find this particular spoon. Since the spoon has its own action you can step down to 25- or even 20-pound leader when trolling 50 inches behind a green flasher. The lighter the leader, the more action it will have, but some of these Chinook are huge and they do have some sharp teeth. Don’t go too light. Another spoon which has been on fire

during its testing phase and has just been released is the Silver Horde No. 3.5 Kingfisher Lite. Talking about matching the hatch, put one of these in Cookies ’n Cream up against a herring and you’ll see why these absolutely drive the kings nuts! But Irish crème and Irish flag, both recently introduced by Salmon University, have also been extremely effective, according to Silver Horde field tester Nelson Goodsell. Make sure and scent those hoochies and spoons up! Smelly Jelly in “Special Mix” (anise/shrimp) or Pautzke’s Krill Scent will do the trick. I also like to put some on the flasher. FROM KYDAKA POINT just south of the Sekiu River, all the way down to Ediz Hook you can fish the 120- to 225-foot lines and find numbers of Chinook down 90 to 120 feet. I would target the waters off Sekiu, Slip and Pillar Points. Any of these can be productive as fish travel this lane coming through the Straits to reach their destinations in the Sound. Just be careful of the closure areas north of Kydaka at the

SALMON UNIVERSITY BRINE RECIPE

This recipe will cure four to six dozen herring overnight. INGREDIENTS: 1 gallon of distilled water. You may use tap water, letting it sit out overnight to let chlorine evaporate first. 2 tablespoons Mrs. Stuart’s liquid bluing for brightness. Makes scales and skin brighter and more reflective. 4 cups non-iodized canning, rock, kosher or pickling salt. 1 cup powdered milk. This makes your herring firm without burning the bait. It’s especially good for herring that has been frozen too slow at the processor, or bait that is too soft. Garlic oil from a jar of minced garlic or one of the prepared garlic scents. Also try adding 2 tablespoons of pure anise oil. This solution will keep the herring firm for weeks if refrigerated. Once the herring have firmed up, plug cut them. You can also inject any number of scents to change the scent trail. –T.W. mouth of the Sekiu River, Freshwater Bay and also inward of Ediz Hook. Rather than working the whole shoreline from one area to another, I prefer to cruise to one of the points and target those areas staying within a few hundred yards on either side of the point but still maintaining the above depth guidelines. But don’t be afraid to raise or lower your presentation if you mark bait. Generally speaking, after the initial morning bite, the fish will drop into that 90- to 120-foot comfort zone. When fishing these areas, especially with bait, you have a good chance of hooking a halibut or lingcod. Nice bonus fight, but make sure and release them unharmed as they will be off limits for retention in July. –TERRY WIEST

Slabs line the deck at Sekiu. (TERRY WIEST)

Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going. 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 19


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SALMON

San Juan Islands Blackmouth ANACORTES, Wash.–If you’re a Northwest sportsman, you may have heard the name Tony Floor a time or two. He was a spokesman for the Washing-

San Juan Islands Blackmouth

ton Department of Fish and Wildlife for nearly 30 years before retiring and being immediately hired as director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade

LEGEND

Best trolling areas Boat launch

Bellingham Sucia Island

m Lu

Buckhorn

Waldron Island

mi

Beach Eastsound Haven

an

Isl

Waldron

d

Stuart Is.

Orcas

Island

Dolphin

Point Lawrence

Bellingham Bay

Doe Bay East Sound

Roche Harbor

Samish Bay

Orcas

Mosquito Pass Mapped Area

Shaw Island Friday Harbor

Guemes Is.

Port Stanley Thatcher Pas

Lopez Sound Lopez Island Pass

A

Cattle P t.

Richardson

Salmon Bank

Rosario Stra it

s

Decatur Lopez Is.

AD

CAN IA, MB OLU TON HC NG SHI WA

TIS

BRI

San Juan Island

Cypress Is.

Blakely Is.

Padilla Bay

Anacortes Cap Sante Marina Skyline Marina

Fidalgo Island

Iceberg Pt.

Deception Pass 0

2

4

8

scale in miles

Whidbey Island

La Conner

Map information courtesy National Geographic Maps

20 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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Association, which produces the Seattle Boat Show. Over the last six years, he’s quarterbacked the Northwest Salmon Derby Series, has been very involved in the North of Falcon salmon-season-setting process and is a sport fishing leader whose passions include educating and promoting selective fishing to salmon anglers. But his name is particularly associated with blackmouth, those immature Chinook which hang around Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands. Floor not only ran WDFW’s blackmouth program from 1997 until he retired in 2003, but he avidly chases the hatchery-produced salmon. And when “winter” season begins in the productive San Juans, you can bet Floor will be there. Here are some of his tips for fishing the area: “There is an old saying among fishermen: ‘Rule No. 1, fish where the fish are. Rule No. 2, reread rule No. 1.’ If you were to examine decades worth of blackmouth catch data, you will find that the blackmouth are traditionally plentiful from mid-November through March in the San Juans. With that said, the San Juans can be a difficult place to get to, during winter conditions. But my point is that anglers can count on the fishing being there. “And baby, are they ever there! They are there, for a simple reason: The food is plentiful and the pasturing is fantastic. Big fat, winter Chinook, from 8 to 14 pounds that are splendid, fresh on the barbeque. “One of the things I like about the San Juans in the winter, is that regardless of the weather, there are always places to fish. On a southerly, I like Rocky Bay, on the northeast side of San Juan Island.

mouth) are a sucker to inhale a green-label plug-cut herring, 20 feet behind a downrigger ball, managed to troll 5 to 10 feet off the deck. Take it to the bank.” “I like to fish in water from 90 to 140 feet. I concentrate on keeping my gear close to the bottom, where blackmouth are known to feed. I do not need speed to make my bait spin. “I said spin, not roll. In fact, I believe in a fast-spinning bait at a slow troll. The strategy is, the longer a fish has the opportunity to see my bait, the more time I have to make it change its mind to gobble my bait. And the beauty of blackmouth fishing, is they are known to bite, off and on, all day long. Daylight is not an ingredient to success. Fishing around current changes is important, along with recognizing the presence of baitfish (herring, sandlance). Remember, understand the difference between current change and tide change regardless of where you are fishing. Current changes are when the fish bite, moreso than tide changes. “One of the common denominators that works for me is to match the hatch. Winter herring are usually small bait, and used by the baitfish industry as the next crop of plug-cut-sized bait. (LARRY MANDELLA) “My hooks are a single 2/0 when mooching, and a 3/02/0 when trolling, again, without any hardPass, Lopez Pass or Lopez Flats, along ware. When I hook up to a blackmouth, with the southeast corner of Blakely Isthere is nothing between the salmon’s lips land can be terrific. and me except for a Mustad Ultra-Point Closer to Anacortes, if the weather hook. Make my day. If there are dogfish looks questionable, Guemes Channel on around, I’ll jump the fence to a Coyote the north side of Anacortes, between the spoon or a Coho Killer faster than you can town and Guemes Island is also a good say, ‘Oh, I hate dogfish.’” –TIM BUSH spot, if it is holding bait. “The technique is very simple. As some Editor’s note: This article is from a previous anglers know, I fish a plug-cut herring any issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to chance I get. The baitfish are small in the check current regulations before going. islands during the winter and (black-

Lopez Pass, Thatcher Pass and the Girl Scout Camp on the west side of Orcas Island provide shelter from the wind too. Humphrey Head, on the north end of Lopez, can be a sleeper. On a westerly, again, Rocky Bay is money. Obstruction Island, Peavine

2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 21


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SALMON

Central Puget Sound Chinook Port Townsend Midchannel Bank Marrowstone Point

Marysville Langley

Bush Point

Freeland

Port Ludlow

Everett

Foulweather Bluff Skunk Bay Point No Point

Mukilteo Possession Point 0

Port Gamble

Apple Cover Point

2

4

8

scale in miles

Edmonds

Kingston Mapped Area

Point Wells

Poulsbo

Area 9-10 Chinook Silverdale LEGEND

Top Chinook areas Boat launch

Jeff Head

Meadow Point

Kirkland

West Point

Seattle

Yeomalt Point Elliott Bay

Bellevue

Bremerton

EDMONDS, Wash.–Puget Sound’s Marine Areas 9 and 10 open in mid-July for kings, a “mark-selective” fishery which means we get to keep certain ones. A quota originally ruled this fishery, but management was loosened to a “soft 22 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

guideline” in 2009. While native Chinook stocks have been decimated, Washington, Oregon and Idaho fish hatcheries have been lopping adipose fins off of smolts for a number of years now. This has really started to pay off for Puget

Map information courtesy National Geographic Maps

Sound anglers. Release the native kings alongside the boat. Net and keep the hatchery fish. That removes genetically inferior fish from the rivers, keeping them from breeding with what’s left of the native fish (if Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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2625 Harbor Ave SW • Seattle, WA

www.jacobsensmarine.com w ww.jacobsensmarine.com • (2 (206) 206) 7 789-7474 89 -7474

Factory F actory T Trained rra ained T Technicians echnicians w with ith E Extensive xtensive E Experience xperience

2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 23


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SALMON there are any true ones left). One of the most experienced and savvy of all Puget Sound salmon anglers is Nelson Goodsell. He points out that anglers must “start thinking like a fish, like a big lazy king salmon” to figure out where to fish. “They are more lethargic and don’t like to run against a fast current,” Goodsell says. In past years, Bush Point and Skunk Bay have been good producers because both have big back eddies. Barring spots like those, figure out what depth the Chinook are coming in at. Sometimes it’s right on bottom, where the fish will be feeding on candlefish.

Nelson has had success with a Silver Horde Coho Killer spoon in “cotton candy.” One side is glow pink, the other side glow UV pearl. You might also try a Kingfisher Lite Spoon, also made by Silver Horde. It has a thinner blade and a super flicker flutter to its action. Another worthwhile invention is the Jelly Crush UV flasher made by Hot Spot. The flasher is a clear blade with heavy UV pigment and crackle mylar on top. I believe this flasher doesn’t spook the fish so much on clear sunny days. Start at Midchannel Bank, which is about 40 miles away from Seattle. It’s an unassuming landmass on the charts, situ24 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

ated north of Marrowstone Island and south of Point Wilson, yet it has a longstanding reputation for consistently holding bait and therefore salmon. It’s a natural bottleneck for water flowing in and out of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, creating productive areas for Chinook to linger. They feed in the back eddies on the shoals of herring and candlefish that get concentrated and swept across the bank. Most productive fishing is on the outermost ledge, where the bottom drops from 60 to 130 feet deep. You can launch at Fort Flagler State Park, Point Wilson (primitive) and Port Townsend. The Keystone launch on

Whidbey’s bottom end and sticks well out into Puget Sound. It will hold Chinook tucking back into the Snohomish River as well as the strong hatchery runs headed for Lake Washington, the Green River and streams on down through southern Puget Sound. PoBar is mainly a trolling area since the land is so massive. Go deep along the perimeters of the western and eastern shelves. Look for obvious ledges, dropoffs and fish arches on your sonar unit. Jeff Head usually has a flotilla of boats, mainly because it’s just across from Shilshole Bay Marina and launch. But look on a topographical map and you can see its huge underwater plateau extending into the middle of Puget Sound. Ya think just a few fat kings might stop and hole up there? The south side of Jeff Head has a very irregular groovelike structure. It’s where for millennia currents from the Sound and Agate Pass meet and join. Many baitfish and therefore Chinook will be found in this end of the point. Folks also do very well when trolling from Presidents Point on the north side, southeast towards the outermost eastern tip of Jeff Head. (NELSON GOODSELL) West Point, on the Seattle side, is closer to home, Whidbey Island is a great launch if you but I don’t think it’s always as good as don’t want to trailer your boat across Jeff Head simply because of the added from the mainland. Nonboaters can find noise and vibration of the city. But it salmon fishing charters in PT. sticks out like a sore thumb from MagStop at Liplip Point on the southeast nolia Bluff, and that means a lot of baitside of Marrowstone and then try Point No fish hitch a ride on either side. On an Point on the north tip of Kitsap Peninsula, incoming tide, start north of the buoy where enormous back eddies are created, and head southwest until the land drops “Skunk Bay is where the kings will rest off. End up south of the buoy and more and get away from the current and not towards the center of the Sound. Also, use a lot of energy,” Nelson Goodsell hover around the green can and just points out. south of it. There’s usually fish stacked Also try along the west side of Whidbey up in this area. –TIM BUSH at Lagoon, Bush Point and Double Bluff. Your next stop to the south should be Editor’s note: This article is from a previous Possession Bar. This enormous underwaissue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to ter shelf extends 11⁄2 miles south from check current regulations before going.


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www.leelock.com (360) 380-1864 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 25


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SALMON

Baker Rumbling Back To Life LESSONS FOR LIMITING IF ENOUGH SOCKEYE RETURN TO THE NORTH CASCADES LAKE TO HOLD A FISHERY.

0

1/ 2

2

1

scale in miles

Sh

an

no

n

C

re e

Baker River

k

Cr ee

Shannon Creek

k

Cr ee

k

Swift Creek Bou lde Cre r ek Panorama Point

ad e Ro

ve r Sil

Maple Grove

Mapped Area

Bake

r Lak

k

Bayview Group

ee Cr

Boulder Creek

isy

26 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Pa rk

No

CONCRETE, Wash.—Read through the fishing rules and you’ll come across this line for Baker Lake: “SOCKEYE To be determined pending inseason update.” Despite the regs’ ambiguousness, it’s “pretty likely” there will be a season, only the second ever on the pretty lake in Washington’s North Cascades. Several thousand were caught last summer by anglers using gear and tactics similar to those used on the state’s other two some-summers sock hops, Lakes Washington and Wenatchee, and it may go annual. “We’ve had a lot more smolts going out and that really helps the odds right there – having the juveniles in the first place,” says Brett Barkdull, the district fisheries biologist for the state Department of Fish & Wildlife. That’s a function of all the salmon enhancement work that Puget Sound Energy has done on the Skagit River tributary as part of their relicensing agreement to operate Baker and Shannon Dams. In the 1990s, the hydropower utility built a spawning beach on Baker Lake and improved it recently. Two years ago it dunked a floating fry-collection system into the lake at the dam and immediately set a new record for downstream migration (343,000, the bulk of this year’s returning adults), a mark that was overtopped last year by 150 percent. And a new fish trap on the Baker River and hatchery facility on the lake came online last summer. The hatchery and gravel beach could produce as many as 11 million fry a year, 400 percent above the previous capacity, PSE says. And while this year’s probable fishery is

Horseshoe Cove

An

Kulshan CG

de

rs

on

Cr ee

k

Baker Lake LEGEND Best sockeye fishing

Upper Baker Dam

based off a forecasted return of 23,954 sockeye, the utility boldly predicts that – with another collector placed on the reservoir below Baker in 2013 – runs of “50,000 to 75,000 are not unrealistic to expect in coming years.” If there’s a caveat anywhere, it’s that managers are not quite sure how many fish the lake can produce and how many are needed back to ensure escapement goals are met.

Boat launch Hike-in campground In the meanwhile, Barkdull places the odds of a run of 5,000 or fewer back this year at 15 percent, a return of 5,000 to 10,000 at 30 percent and a repeat of last year at 40 percent. “If they return to the lake at the survival rates we’ve seen over the past 20 years, we could have anywhere between from roughly 5,500 to 95,000,” he laughs. “Now, I doubt both those numbers – they’re both unlikely. Anywhere in the 10,000 to 30,000 range is


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Most Baker Lake sockeye will run 4 to 6 pounds, but the biggest on guide Ryan Bennet’s boat last year went 10. (REAL DEAL GUIDE SERVICE)

more likely.” Nearly four-fifths will return as twosalts while one-fifth will be threes, with the remainders one-salts, fours, fives and sixes, he says. If the run is as good as 2010, Barkdull says he’ll try and get a three-fish limit for anglers.

LAST SEASON on the 3,100-acre impoundment below iconic Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan, there was an extreme catch inequality: You were either among the few haves or the many have-nots. Call it socke-alism, but we aim to redistribute the wealth here. “It’s a technique fishery. If you get it figured out, they bite pretty good. You gotta have

the right presentation and the right speed and the right depth,” says Barkdull, who admits to being “just barely in the haves.” One private boat in particular seemed to have it dialed in perfectly. “They were a machine out there,” he says. Afterwards, he chatted up one of the crew and was told that not only did the bite 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 27


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SALMON change by the day, but by the hour. “They had varying things down, and would change during the day to find out what the fish were willing to take. They’d start out with one set of gear, and then by 8 or 9, switch,” he says. The array of tackle choices will be familiar to anyone who has fished the Seattle and Chelan County sockeye lakes, but for the record, it includes one or a pair of bare red, blue or black 2/0 to 4/0 octopus hooks, smaller FlatFish and small hoochies. “I used little bitty pink mini squids that I trimmed down even further,” Barkdull says. He ran them behind a size 0 dodger, and adds that just like with those other fisheries, leader length is key. That’s a point echoed by Kevin John of Holiday Market (360-757-4361) in Burlington, whose limits on 12 of 13 trips put him among the have-mores. “We’re using 30- to 40-pound fluorocarbon 8 to 18 inches back,” he says. Some anglers were using much, much lighter leader, but the thicker stuff not only is much tougher for, say, the edge of a metallic dodger to saw through if a sockeye rolls up in the line, but imparts more action to the lure. John used ought or 00 “big ring” dodgers from Gold Star. He says the larger O ring allowed the dodger to turn at slower speeds. RYAN BENNETT was also amongst the have-mores, perhaps because of how he focused on boat speed, bait size and how water flowing through the upper lake affected his setup. “I was throwing the wind socks out to keep my speed down,” says the owner of Reel Deal Guide Service (360-840-1155). “There’s the current in the lake. I think that threw people – dodgers spinning instead of turning.” Fishing exclusively with downriggers, he targeted water as little as 11 feet down early in the morning to as deep as 67 feet. He used an 8-inch Sling Blade from Shasta Tackle, but pulled a Gary Miralles, modifying the dodger. “I peeled the stickers off and fished it in all chrome,” he says. Bennett tried all the usual baits, but the ol’ red-hook trick that sockeye anglers learned from a commercial fisherman working the San Juans decades ago – and helped 28 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

along to widespread fame by our Dave Workman, then on the desk of Washington Fishing & Hunting News – didn’t work as well. “I caught them on all the standards, but the fish came on larger presentations,” Bennett tips. So, what, a U20 FlatFish? “A little bit, a little bit, but not a whole lot.” Bennett is loath to give all his tricks away, but says he stuffed pink Silver Horde Gold Star Mini Sardine FG 193s with dough bait. “I was just literally rolling up PowerBait into a ball, just like trout fishing, and shoving it in the squid,” he says. John used bait at times as well, a sand shrimp or cocktail shrimp on a double-barehook setup. As with other sockeye anglers, he too stresses the slow approach, from .7 to 1.2 mph speed over ground. “An electric motor is almost a must,” John says. By the end of the season he says he was adding a Mack’s Lures Smile Blade, which turns at very slow speeds, in front of his hooks. That said, sockeye are flukey fish. Kicking up his speed a half a knot one day, Barkdull suddenly found himself in fresh socks. “We sat there and limited in front of 80 other boats not catching anything. Just that little change, four in a half an hour,” he says. John adds that you can go with or without scent, but if you do use it, try shrimp or krill. IF 2011 FOLLOWS 2010, the best spot will be about halfway down the shank of Baker Lake’s dogleg right. “About 99 percent of the fish were in front of Noisy Creek,” says John. That could be a function of depth, water temps, where the fish were staging for the final leg of their spawning run or just where somebody saw or heard someone else catch a fish and pretty soon the whole fleet converged on the upper end of the lake. He started closer to shore and gradually moved out, following the fish, even dropping his gear as far down as 110 feet to nab one. But Noisy’s not the only spot. “I spent a few evenings on the water, and you could catch fish in other places,” hints Bennett. Though the lake is 9 miles long, its boat ramps are well spaced, with two near the

dam, two at midlake and one near its upper end. The best launch with the most parking – PSE’s Kulshan – is the furthest away from the hot spot. “It’s a 6- or 7-mile run, but it’s nothing in the morning,” says Barkdull. John says it’s best to make your initial run in daylight as there are islands and snags “in areas you typically wouldn’t expect them – like right in the middle of the lake.” The closest ramp to the action, Shannon Campground, only has a handful of parking spots, and – unlike last year – only those spending the night there will be able to use it. “We’re limiting it to those folks who are camping there, figuring they’re fishing anyway,” says Jon Vanderheyden, the U.S. Forest Service’s district ranger. The fishery’s popularity last year caught him by surprise, and he’s now scrambling to satisfy families out for a quiet campout in the mountains and the large numbers of anglers who want to get on the water for the first-light bite. “We had folks running around at 5:30 in the morning looking for parking spots. There were definitely some ticked-off campers,” he says. Vanderheyden says that workers have paved and striped additional parking at the Panorama Point Campground and are hoping to do similar at Horseshoe Cove. “Once one fills up, you’re going to have to go to another launch,” he says. There will likely be increased Forest Service patrols and ticketing for parking in bad spots. One other thing of note is that while USFS will not issue any new commercial guiding permits for Baker, five guides who were granted one-year permits last summer will be allowed to use theirs until they expire. “It’s going to take a little while for all of us to work the bugs out. It’s good to see a fishery, but we’ve got to respect the users and the resource,” Vanderheyden says. With the sockeye runs that PSE and Barkdull expect in the future, angler cooperation will go a long way to keeping things running smoothly for all parties. —ANDY WALGAMOTT

Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.


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SALMON

The Buoy 10 Commandments

THE GOSPEL FOR CATCHING FALL KINGS AND COHO AT THE MOUTH OF THE MIGHTY COLUMBIA RIVER. 1. THOU SHALT STUDY THINE TIDE BOOK Everything about the Buoy 10 fishery is being at the right place at the right time, and you can eliminate fishless water and plan a trip that best suits your personal

Map art: RJThompsonART.com

work schedule by following a few axioms. “The first half of the (outgoing tide) offers the very best fishing in the north and south channel above and below the AstoriaMegler Bridge alongside Desdemona Sands

for a mixed bag of Chinook and coho,” says Buzz Ramsey, brands manager for Yakima Bait Company (509-854-1311). “The downstream troll is best.”

2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 29


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SALMON 2. THOU SHALT NOT FISH NEAR BUOY 10 ON AN OUTGOING TIDE The biggest mistake people make is thinking that one must always fish near the numbered buoy in order to catch fish. In the course of a day you may never see Buoy 10, yet still catch plenty of Chinook and coho. All those classic photographs of boats fishing in what appears to be a boiling can of soup are folks fishing near the actual deadline on an outgoing tide.

“A big flooding tide, especially for coho, is when it’s the best at Buoy 10 itself,” notes Ramsey. “Don’t get here too early because the water can be very rough and unpleasant. But as soon as the tide starts to flood in, it calms the water. So the best fishing there is through the first half of the flood.” Granted that fishing near Buoy 10 itself on a flood tide generally produces the best fishing conditions for that particular float, but that does not mean it is the best place to catch fish because by that time a significant number of the fish have moved upriver. 3. CRANKETH THINE FISHFINDER’S GAIN Buoy 10 has several unique situations that need to be addressed. Right at the buoy, which is the western fishing deadline, you will find multiple current flows of varying strengths depending where incoming saltwater meets the outgoing river water. Find this current break and you will find fish. That means turning the gain up on your fishfinder till you see a distinct horizontal line separat30 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

ing two depths of water. “Right at the Buoy 10, the ocean water floods in underneath the surface water,” adds Ramsey. “You can see a line on your fish finder where that incoming ocean water, which is denser, floods in underneath the less dense surface water. If you fish too deep, especially when the tide really gets clipping, you can’t tighten your drag tight enough.” Ramsey advises turning up the sensitivity (gain) on your fishfinder to find that line,

ocean push them upriver. The natural geometry of the fish keeps their heads angled into the current and slightly upward. This provides you the perfect back-bouncing opportunity. “As the ocean water begins to flood in, you nose into the current with the bow pointing west, and you’re basically back-trolling with that flooding water waiting for the ocean to push new fish into you,” suggests Ramsey. “That’s best when you’re fishing for coho.”

5. HE WHO RUNNETH THE MOST GEAR KEEPEST THE MOST FISH “It always seems like the more gear you have on your line, the more fish you catch,” notes Ramsey. That funky rig Buzz used in the August 2009 Northwest Sportsman Rig Of The Month showing a diver equipped with all the flashy tassels, a flasher, a salmon bungee and a red-andwhite striped spinner (email andy@nwsportsmanmag.com for a PDF) is exactly what we used to limit out the boat with silvers and Chinook. Buzz’s nephew Jason (LARRY ELLIS) even caught a large summer steelhead trolling around 40 feet deep while and then placing your lures or bait just above we were fishing for salmon. That’s Buoy 10 the break. Since salmon will be coming in the for you! ocean water below that line, and because a salmon’s eyes naturally look up, they will 6. THOU’S DEPTH DICTATES HOW DEEP travel upward to chase your bait in the surTHEE FISHES face water. “If the water is 30 feet or less, the chances are you are going to do the best if your gear 4. IN THE BEGINNING OF THE FLOOD, is related to the bottom,” Ramsey says. “If THOU SHALT BACK-TROLL the water is over 30 feet, then you might find Here’s something most people don’t know your best success suspending your gear 20 about Buoy 10, and if I hadn’t been on to 30 feet down.” Buzz’s boat watching him do it, I would not have caught on either. 7. BRINGETH DIFFERENT SIZE HERRING When the ocean water is flooding in at It never ceases to amaze me how people will the jaws (the place containing the strongest spend $25,000 or more on a new sled, current), the salmon are actually underneath motor, trailer and a truck to pull it with, yet that current break being back-bounced upscrimp on the most important item – bait! river. They are actually moving backwards – But for Buoy 10, don’t just bring one size. tail-first! “Fish a mixed bag of different size plugIt’s not that hard to imagine. The fish are cut and whole herring and let the fish tell coming in fresh from the ocean, so naturally you what they like,” emphasizes Buzz. they are wanting to hug that ocean water Take green-, blue- and purple-label hernear the bottom. Since Chinook always take ring. You may find that on one particular day the path of least resistance, they let the


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Big Creek Fishing Club

503.458.0990

An 18 lb Steelhead

DESCRIPTION: Big Creek Fishing Club is located on lower Big Creek, just off Highway 30 at Knappa, OR. We offer Day Use and Yearly Fishing Rights on over a mile of private bank fishing with overnight lodge facilities. Our facilities handle large groups, so ask about discounts available. SPECIES: • Silvers (Oct-Nov) • Winter Steelhead (Dec-Apr) • Spring Chinook (Apr-June) • Sea-Run Cutthroat (May-July) • Fall Chinook (Aug) • Big Creek is closed in September

www.bigcreekfishing.com

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32 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

herring gets bit more often than lures. On other days your herring might not even get scratched yet your lucky spinner will – but if you don’t have plenty of bait with you, you’ll never find out. 8. THOU SHALT WAIT FOR THINE ROD TO BE COMPLETELY BURIED This is my pet peeve. A salmon’s mouth does not contain the most flexible set of tissues in the world, certainly not like a largemouth bass that can engulf a large plastic worm in one fell swoop. You absolutely must give a salmon time to munch on a bait. In fact, I think that a salmon is one of the only fishes in the world that can dine on a bait while it is being trolled fairly rapidly and avoid being hooked. Both Chinook and silvers have to turn that bait around in its mouth, just like they do in the wild. First they will grab a big lively sardine and kill it – bite No. 2, and maybe 2. Then it has to turn it around in its mouth – bites 3, 4, 5, ad infinitum. If you make any hay-bailing hooksets while your bait is being killed,turned and munched, you will yank it right out of its mouth. So unless you have proven to your captain or guide that you are proficient at holding your rod with 100-percent self control, stick your rod in a holder and wait until your rod has doubled over with line coming off the reel before giving it a modest to-the-shoulder hookset. Most of the time the fish will set the hook on its own. 9. THOU SHALT BRINGETH SPINNERS, AND HOW It really doesn’t matter what size, type and color spinner you bring with you as long as it’s a Toman by Yakima Bait. OK, so that might be an oversimplification, but on that day with Buzz and three other gents, every single one of our fish was caught on that very blade. 1 “You want to try different styles and colors, but a 6 ⁄2 Cascade blade in red-and-white, chartreuse and green dot are some of the most popular colors,” adds Ramsey. “And I had good luck earlier the week we fished on just a nickel red dot Flash-Glo. Having a spinner with a builtin pink or chartreuse squid on the end can also be good.” 10. THOU SHALT KEEP THINE HOOKS RAZOR SHARP Now that the most popular file on the market, the Luhr Jensen model, is getting harder to find, I have noticed a significant portion of the angling population not bothering to touch up or even test their hooks for sharpness. Do not use the words “Laser Sharpened” as a crutch. Before you put a hook in the water, grab the eye of the hook and drag the point of the hook along your thumbnail. If that hook point does not stick immediately, guess what? Your hook is dull. Just one or two quick swipes with your hook file along one side is usually all it takes to get a hook as sharp as it can be. A lot of newer stainless steel hooks are incredibly difficult to sharpen – but not impossible. It may take a lot more work to get these ultra-hard hooks needle-sharp but in the long run your hookup ratio will climb. –LARRY ELLIS Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.


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SALMON

The Tao Of The Wobbler

TWO EXPERTS’ TIPS FOR FISHING THE BIG BLADES FOR LOWER COLUMBIA FALL CHINOOK. KALAMA, Wash.–After fall Chinook make it past the Buoy 10 fisheries, they often seem to disappear until they reach the mouth of the Cowlitz River. “They won’t bite in the lower river,” says guide Lee Barkie (306-304-0771). “The water down there is too warm. Then they hit that cold water coming out of the Cowlitz and it’s fish on!” The Cowlitz and other smaller rivers that feed the big river tend to run a good 5 degrees colder, and that cold water draws the kings. They concentrate in these coldwater plumes and school up, creating a great opportunity for fishermen. It should be an especially great opportunity this year. Salmon managers have forecasted 760,000 fall Chinook back to the Columbia River mouth – one of the best forecasts in years. The fall run, which includes the upriver brights headed for the Hanford Reach, are real bruisers too. The average fish will top 25 pounds, and fish over 50 pounds show up every year. Fall Chinook are less finicky than spring Chinook and easier to pattern. If you catch them in one spot today, they will probably be there tomorrow. This is stationary fishing, with anglers anchoring over the travel lanes of the salmon and fishing wobblers or spinners. “All those Chinook headed upstream will be passing right by here,” says Barkie, who calls the Cowlitz his home river, “so why go elsewhere?” It’s hard to argue with his logic or his success rates.

“They follow each other up the river following the same line of travel,” he says. “If you are off as little as 10 feet you won’t get bit.” Barkie watches his electronics and adjusts his placement as he sees the

fish going by. And he fishes deep, in 40 to 50 feet. If you are not getting bit, but the boats next to you are, reanchor either above or below the hot boats. Just don’t anchor too close above the other hoglines or you’ll

FINDING TRAVEL LANES However, while there may be piles of kings passing by, that doesn’t mean you can just anchor anywhere and expect to get in on the action. According to Barkie, you have to fish your baits in the travel lanes of the migrating fish. Map art: RJThompsonART.com

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SALMON ter rod with 8 ounces. If you’re not getting bit, but you can see the fish passing under you on your graph, don’t move. “Just keep changing your stuff until you find what the fish want,” says Graser.

Rick Graser with a wobbler-caught Chinook. (GRASER'S GUIDE SERVICE)

TROLLING CARROLLS

drift down onto the other boats anchor lines when you drop down to fight a fish. “The surface of the river can be 70 degrees, but the deep water will be cooler,” says Barkie. “The kings will be down there in that cooler water.” That’s why he runs his stuff deep.

CALL OF KALAMA If you can’t find a spot at the mouth of the Cowlitz, don’t fret. There are lots of places to waylay the fish. Rick Graser (509-760-6743), another veteran salmon guide who fishes this reach, heads just upstream, from the mouth of the Kalama to the town of the same name. “Right out in front of Kalama on the opposite side of the channel there is some excellent water,” says Graser. “But remember, just about anywhere you can find a drop-off from 40 feet to deeper water can be a good spot. Look for that 48-foot depth – that’s a key depth. There are good spots like that all the way up to Rainier.” Graser also points to the mouth of the Kalama as being a good spot, but there is only enough room for three or four boats. The mouth of the Lewis River has some good fishing for those that don’t like to anchor. Most fishermen hover with bait or troll spinners right where the Lewis’ water mixes with the Columbia.

THE TAO OF WOBBLER FISHING The Tao of wobbler fishing says that you need the outgoing tides for enough cur34 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

rent to work the lure, and you should tune your wobbler to work right in the existing current. Both Barkie and Graser will tune theirs by bending them slightly in the middle. For less current you need more bend; in stronger currents, bend the lure less. While both guides tune their baits they are looking for different results. Barkie is a fan of the 9-to-3 swing, which means the wobbler rolls back and forth from the 9 o’clock to the 3 o’clock position. “When tuning the bait pull hard, and if the lure rolls over, it’s not working right,” says Barkie. He also says that the Brad’s Wobbler is by far the best lure out there. Graser is looking for a different motion, preferring to tune his lures so that the back end of the lure flutters down in an erratic fashion. And while he also prefers the Brad’s, he sometimes switches to the Min Extreme wobbler, a smaller version that works well in weak tides. While it’s important to tweak your baits for the best action, it’s not good to be repeatedly bending the lures, which can weaken them. Instead, carry a selection of pretuned baits so you’re ready for all current conditions. Rigging up is easy. Use a 5-foot drop line and a 5-foot leader that ends with the wobbler. Graser uses different weights of lead to spread his baits and cover more water, with two outside lines running 16 to 20 ounces, the next two inside rods are equipped with 10 to 12 ounces, and a cen-

One thing both guides agree on: You can’t troll. “There are too many boats anchored in hoglines,” says Barkie. “There’s no room.” Graser agrees. “There are lots and lots of boats from Kalama all the way to Rainier.” But if trolling is how you get your thing on, there is a place for you: Carrolls Slough. It connects with the Cowlitz and is a cold-water refuge. “It’s a very good troll fishery,” says Barkie. “Coho, kings, steelhead – they’re all in there. It’s a pretty straight forward fishery: You just get in line with the other boats and troll.” Spinners and plugs are the favorite. The water is fairly shallow, 10 to 15 feet in most places, so straight-lined plugs are the best bet. See the regs for limits. –TERRY OTTO Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.

5

TIPS

1. Use chrome-and-chartreuse wobblers in low light conditions, and switch to chrome-and-blue when the sun is high. 2. Polish your wobblers before use so they flash as much as possible. 3. Wash old scents off your baits regularly. Old scent can rot and turn nasty, keeping fish off the lure. 4. Use fresh scents at all times. Pautzke’s Krill Gel is popular, and is Barkie’s favorite. Switch scents if you aren’t getting hit. 5. A heavy leader will have more resistance to the flow, and will keep your wobbler off the bottom better than a light line. –T.O.


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SALMON

Lower Columbia Spring Chinook VANCOUVER, Wash.–The premier sport fish of the Northwest, the tasty and fabled spring Chinook, begins its run up the Columbia River in February with fishing often lasting into April. It wasn’t always like this. Since the all-time record return of 439,885 was set in 2001, anglers seem to have forgotten the limited fisheries we once had on the Columbia. “For the most part we never made it as late as we do now,” says Joe Hymer, a biologist with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission based in Vancouver.

Rice Is.

Prior to 2001, it was the rare mainstem season that lasted past March; many closed in February. Some years, the sport catch was only in the double digits; in 1995, just five springers were reported caught. The high catch between 1980 and 2000 was 3,115, in 1990. By contrast, the lowest harvest in the last nine years was 2007’s 3,918. The stock’s decline has been a long one, starting in 1866 when canning technology reached the Northwest. Despite tremendous efforts to recover the fish back to their previous millions, today a run

of 250,000 springers is considered great and a reason for serious enthusiasm. Springers, however, are an infinitely fickle fish, biting here this year, there next year. For instance, back in the early 2000s, lower river spots such as Clifton Channel were red-hot. They went ice cold in the late 2000s while the Interstate reach saw blistering bites in 2008 and the early part of 2009. Why is that? Mark Coleman (425-7368920), an accomplished Columbia River guide, says hot spots not only change from year to year, but some just go unnoticed.

Cowlitz R.

Jim Crow Sands

Cathlamet Longview County Line Park

Columbia R. Clifton Ch.

Astoria

Kelso

Willow Grove

Puget Is. Tongue Pt. Russian Is. Tenasillahe Is.

Prescott Beach Sandy Is. Goat Is. Sand Is.

Scappoose Bay Gilbert River Collins (Nude) Beach Coon Island Social Security (Walton) Beach Willow Bar Reeder Beach

Columbia River LEGEND Prescott Beach

Hot spot

Tongue Pt.

Place or river name

36 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

5

10

20

scale in miles

Kalama mouth

Rainier

Kalama R.

Kalama Lewis mouth

St. Helens Mapped Area

0

Cowlitz mouth Lord Is.

Warrior Rock Bachelor Is. Caterpillar Is. Frenchmans Bar

North Fork Lewis R. Bonneville Dam

East Fork Lewis R.

Oak Ives Is. Tree Pierce Is. Vancouver Davis Bar Beacon Hayden Is. Government Is. Rock Tanner Sauvie Is. Reed Is. The Interstate Cr. Willamette Moffett Cr. mouth Chinook Rooster Rock Multnomah Ch. Portland Landing Troutdale Corbett Flats

Willamette R.

Sandy R.

Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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“The Interstate reach may just have been an overlooked area,” he says. News spread rapidly by word of mouth once it got good. “New hot spots keep turning up,” he adds. Could you be the one who discovers this year’s hot spot? Maybe. LISTED HERE ARE some of the most popular places to intercept springers from the mouth of the Columbia to Bonneville Dam. The first is Tongue Point just east of Astoria upstream to Tenasillahe Island, below Cathlamet. With the big tidal exchanges, most anglers like to anchor and fish plugs during the ebb when the fish will be running shallow, from 6 to 25 feet of water. Springers will follow the line of least resistance, moving up behind wing dams and along current seams below the islands. On (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST) the incoming tide, trolling plugclear in comparison to the Columbia, so cut herring or plugs along the bottom in 12 forget about your flasher and run a lighter to 25 feet of water can work well. leader than usual. Fluorocarbon leaders From Longview to Kalama, Willow can really help you score. Grove is a popular fishery with lots of Opposite the Lewis and near the room to troll. northern tip of Sauvie Island is Warrior A bit further upstream is Lord Island, Rock, a popular trolling spot. Most fishnear the Oregon shore, a favorite alternaermen work along the beach below the tive spot for Don Schneider of Reel Adrock itself. ventures (503-622-5372). The channel side of the small island in “I concentrate on the back side of the front of St. Helens is a good place to anchor. island and the beach at the top of the isGuide Jim Stahl of J&J Guide Service land,” he says. “I like to troll herring down (425-347-1615) says the mouth of the through there.” Willamette is one of his favorites for The mouth of the Cowlitz is a good trolling. place to troll and anchor, but there are “The Willamette usually runs about 3 lots of very shallow sandbars. or 4 degrees warmer than the Columbia,” A short run upriver is the Kalama mouth. he says. “That warm water draws the fish Coleman calls this his home reach on the Coand makes them bite better.” lumbia and while he prefers to troll herring The Interstate, that relatively short most of the time, admits that on big exstretch between I-5 and I-205 that guide changes down here, “you’re probably going Bill Swann of Swanny’s Guided Fishing to have to anchor at some point.” (360-446-5177) lit up in 2008, is home Between St. Helens and Kelly Point, the water for Jack Glass of Team Hook Up Guide Lewis mouth is another great two-fer troll, (503-666-5370) who lives in Troutdale. He thanks to upriver springers mixing with mainly trolls herring but also a few plugs. those headed to the North Fork Lewis. While the tides are not as strong here, But the Lewis tends to be extremely

many anglers will anchor in hoglines when the tide turns to go out. The Washington side of Government Island above I-205 is one of the best places to run plugs while anchored. From Troutdale up to Bonneville, trolling is the method of choice for the wide flats in front of the Corbett Hill Road exit off I-84. Further up, back-bouncers work from the deadline at Bonneville Dam down on the Washington side, while hoglines form over the gravel bars on the channel side of Pierce and Ives Islands. Most fishermen who anchor fish with size 5 or 6 spinners. However, if flows are high here, heed what guide Brandon Glass, also of Team Hook Up Guide Service (503-260-8285), learned during spring 2009. “I noticed a lot of fish rolling along the edge of the weeds,” he says, “and I started slipping close to the bank between the hoglines and back-trolling right along the bank.” –TERRY OTTO Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going. 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

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SALMON

Four For Falls NOVEMBER IS PRIME TIME FOR CHINOOK ON A QUINTET OF NORTH OREGON COAST RIVERS.

TILLAMOOK—As the rains and winds strip the last of the colorful leaves still clinging to the trees, you’ll know that fall Chinook fishing is approaching its peak. Yes, these biggest of Oregon’s salmon have been moving into rivers since the first freshet of autumn, but with the first and second big rises of North Coast rivers, all those pretty leaves flood downriver, making fishing impossible. But as the trees become bare, the fishing becomes easier and catching becomes a matter of “when” not “if.” The region has four main rivers that peak in November: the Kilchis, Wilson, Trask and Nestucca. Between the quintet, at least one should be fishable at any one time throughout the month – as long as we avoid massive floods or major droughts. Each river has characteristics that make it unique. THE KILCHIS The northernmost of the four, the Kilchis has a reputation for dropping and clearing the fastest after heavy fall and winter rains, making it one of the first to be fishable after floods. However, since there is no flow gauge on it, you have to rely upon neighboring rivers to estimate how the river is behaving. The Wilson River, just a half mile to the south, is a good indicator of what the Kilchis is doing. When the Wilson is on the drop and around 2,000 cubic feet per second, the Kilchis should be a little on the high side, but most definitely fishable. As the Wilson drops down to 1,000 cfs, the Kilchis will get low and clear. For current conditions, Jennie Logsdon Martin, manager of a popular Oregon Web forum, maintains her own weather station here (see sidebar). The river has three boat ramps. Kilchis River County Park is the uppermost, the Logger Bridge is the next lowest and the Highway 101 boat ramp serves as the takeout. All three have access for bankees, so be 38 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

courteous launching and floating through. The Kilchis doesn’t have any major obstacles to avoid when floating down, but be aware that after heavy rains or winds, trees may have fallen and partially or fully blocked the river. Being the first down the river after a big storm could mean lots of fish – but may also present new obstacles. THE WILSON By far the most popular river on the entire North Coast, the Wilson has the reputation of dropping into shape two or three days after a heavy rain and maintaining “fishable” levels for three or four days before becoming clear and presenting tough fishing conditions. It fishes best between 1,500 and 1,000 cfs. Since the Wilson has many small tributaries, mud-

slides can present very turbid conditions downriver, making it almost “unfishable,” even at a perfect water height. Keep a backup river in mind when heading over Highway 6 from the valley so that crowds or muddy conditions don’t spoil your day on the water. The Wilson has five popular boat ramps: Vanderzanden, Siskeyville, Mills Bridge, Donaldson’s and Sollie Smith. The first two are slide ramps and require skill, rope and previous knowledge for launching here. Vanderzanden (the uppermost ramp) was under construction this summer and hopefully will be improved and ready for the fall run. Mills Bridge is the most popular put-in and offers easy navigation all the way to the takeout at Sollie Smith. Donaldson’s launch or take-out has a slippery, unmaintained road to water’s Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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SALMON condition to keep. Lorens to Highway 101 is the most popular drift, but if you plan around an outgoing tide, 101 to 5th can be very productive. Just remember to launch at high tide and take out at low or you will be rowing against the tide. Public bank access is limited to just around Lorens Drift and Highway 101, so be prepared and courteous to bank anglers as you float by.

They’re bright deep into fall – Brenda Skinner shows off a Chinook she caught on the Trask River early last December. (ANDY SCHNEIDER) edge and shouldn’t be attempted in a twowheel-drive vehicle, especially after high water has deposited silt on the road bed. Sollie Smith is the standard take-out, but doesn’t handle heavy boat traffic well, so be cautious when approaching the ramp. Also, anchor well above the ramp if there are multiple boaters waiting to take out – floating past Sollie Smith will mean a three-hour row to the Memaloose ramp through tidewater. The Wilson has a lot of private property river access in the lower sections with almost unlimited public access along Highway 6, so be courteous and aware of bank fisherman. If you find your favorite hole occupied by either bank or boat anglers, you may have to just wait your turn or push on to the next hole, since a lot of the holes are not large enough for multiple boats or anglers. When in doubt and to keep things orderly, just ask your fellow fishermen if you can anchor alongside and, if so, fish the same techniques as they are. THE TRASK This often-forgotten river peaks a little earlier than its Tillamook neighbors, but this doesn’t mean it won’t produce chromebright fish well into December. When faced with crowded conditions on the Wilson, the Trask is usually a good alternative. It doesn’t drop as fast as the Kilchis or the Wilson, but it will hold its height and color longer, allowing it to produce much better during a 40 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

dry spell after a freshet. The Trask gauge doesn’t have a forecast, but does show current conditions. Use the Nestucca gauge’s forecast to estimate how this river will fish when you arrive, since they drop at approximately the same rate. The Trask fishes best at 1,200 to 1,700 cfs, but can also be productive at times at even lower flows, especially when other rivers are gin clear and too low to float. The Trask has three popular ramps: Lorens Drift, Highway 101 and 5th Street. While there are some launches upriver, there is technical and challenging water and Chinook in this stretch are rarely in good enough This large Chinook bit on the Wilson River in October 2010 for Nick Pranzetti. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

THE NESTUCCA The secondmost popular North Coast river, the Nestucca empties into its own estuary and can be extraordinary to mediocre compared to the Tillamook Bay tributaries. Every year is different on the Nestucca, but results seem to mirror its neighbors to the north more years than not. The Nestucca has a vast watershed and can raise faster than other rivers and has a tendency to take much longer to drop into shape. But once it reaches optimal fishing shape, those conditions can last up to two weeks. Once it reaches 1,500 cfs after a rise, it’s time to hit the river. It fishes well down into the 900-cfs range and even lower on the lower drifts. The Nestucca has more boat launches and take-outs than any other river on the coast, but the most popular fall Chinook floats are from 1st Bridge to Farmer Creek; Farmer to Three Rivers; and Three Rivers to Cloverdale. The Nestucca is closed for Chinook above 1st Bridge this year. The sporadic public bank access insures


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Linda Hawkins with a Wilson River Chinook, landed in early November 2010. (ANDY SCHNEIDER) plenty of holes available for the drift boater, so best to float on by when you find bank anglers occupying a hole. TECHNIQUES The four rivers offer very similar water conditions and three popular techniques will produce excellent results on all. Bobbers: Look for holes that have a nice back eddy – fall kings love to sit in back eddies, especially in higher water. Another popular spot for bobber fishing is a run of slower water right after a fast, deep hole. Heavy angler pressure will often push salmon out of the deepest parts of the hole into this softer water. Anchor alongside the slower water and allow your bobber to drift from the top of the hole all the way to the tail-out. And don’t forget to bobber dog too! Anytime you’re drifting from one hole to the next, cast out a bobber and let it drift alongside your boat. Complimenting your eggs can’t hurt. Shrimp, sardine, herring and even albacore

belly chunks have proven worthy and will lure fall Chinook into biting. Back-bouncing: Find some fast, deep water, throw on a cannonball sinker and get your eggs down there – that’s all there is to it. For such a simple technique, back-bouncing can produce some of the best results. Four ounces seems to be a popular weight for coastal rivers, but if you encounter even deeper, swifter water, don’t hesitate to use 6, 8, even 12 ounces to get into the zone. When positioning yourself to back-bounce, make sure you start at the very top of the hole. This will mean that your boat will more than likely be sitting in riffles and very shallow water. That is OK, just as long as you work your eggs through the very head of the hole. This is where you will find the most willing and – usually – the freshest and brightest fish. Change your lead and your eggs frequently as you move down through the hole. Where you start, you may need 8 ounces, but halfway down you can probably drop down to 2 to 3 ounces of lead. If you miss a fish, pull your boat just upstream of where you had a

bite and again drop in some fresh eggs. Fall Chinook are not known for getting their fill from one bait of eggs and will often come back two or three times to offered baits. Plugs: There is just something special about watching a plug rod wiggle in a rod holder, then lurch downward as a salmon attacks the lure. No fisherman gets tired of watching this happen, and Chinook are such willing subjects it’s hard not to just use plugs exclusively. This will be the first fall for Worden’s new Hawg Nose FlatFish and expectations are very high. This lure will get down to 20 feet without a diver, making it perfect for flat-lining on North Coast rivers. It also looks to be big enough to shake off those leaves in early fall, which foul smaller plugs. But its little brother, the Mag Lip, has proven itself for the last six years, and should continue to produce in 2011. Wrap either plug with a sardine fillet and send it below your boat 50 to 60 feet, without a diver. Put your rod in the holder and slowly work your boat downriver. Keep a steady pace, and work the plugs right into the tailout. Fall presents us with lots of willing Chinook in smaller rivers, giving us anglers a much higher success ratio than, say, springer fishing on the Columbia. This time of year is great for getting your family, friends and even coworkers into a hard-fighting fall Chinook. There is nothing better than sharing your boat or a piece of bank with family and friends with a common goal of having a good time in some of the most prettiest scenery Oregon has to offer. –ANDY SCHNEIDER

Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.

BOOKMARKS FOR TILLAMOOK ANGLERS

KILCHIS: ifish.net/Weather/ Current_Monitor.htm. WILSON: nwrfc.noaa.gov/river/ station/flowplot/flowplot.cgi?TLMO TRASK: water.weather.gov/ahps2/ hydrograph.php?wfo=pqr&gage= trao3&view=1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1 NESTUCCA: nwrfc.noaa.gov/river/ station/flowplot/flowplot.cgi?BEAO3

2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

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C&C Fish Factory COOS BAY AND THE COQUILLE RIVER BOTH SHOULD SEE VERY GOOD RETURNS OF CHINOOK, COHO. COOS BAY—On the first day of class, my

Here is how they each shake down, and how to fish each system.

college statistics teacher told me this: “There are lies, there are damn lies and then there are statistics … in that order.” We can make numbers speak to whatever agenda we are trying to push. We have all seen and experienced this firsthand, especially in politics. As fisherman, we have become critics of every number presented to us regarding salmon returns. However, the run predictions for Oregon’s Coquille and Coos River systems have been accurate the past few years and are pegged to be one of the strongest in decades.

COOS BAY With an expected return of nearly 25,000 Chinook and a native coho retention quota of 1,200 fish this season, Coos Bay on upstream will be an incredible fishery in October. The influx began a few weeks ago, but the key for this month is to focus on rainfall in the drainage. As each weather system moves through, the salmon will move further upriver while fish fresh from the ocean will also continue to enter the bay.

From the bank, focus on three locations: 1) The jetties at the mouth of Coos Bay are where you should focus your attention for Chinook and especially coho at the beginning of this month. In 2009, a 1,000 native coho fishery was allowed and it lasted a mere 18 days because of the incredible catch rate at this location! All kinds of casting spinners in sizes 5, 6 and 7 work well as does herring under a slip bobber. This choke point concentrates fish and allows you to get your presentation in front of more fish, increasing the odds of a hook-up. Tide changes at high and low slack are the best times here. 2) The mouth of Daniels Creek will be one of the most popular and productive spots throughout October. Spinners are

Glasgow

Coos Bay LEGEND

Best coho fishing September 15-18

101

September 18-24 Sept. 18-Nov. 30 Great bank fishing Boat launch

Airport

Boardwalk

ou

lev ard

rag

Isthmus Slough

Marshfield Channel

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Catching Slough

Ca p

Mapped Area 0

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Charleston

42 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Coos Bay

oH igh wa y

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Barview South Jetty

nB

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North Bend

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Bunker Hill 101


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An angler fights a salmon off the Coos Bay boardwalk. (LARRY ELLIS)

used, but bait seems to be king in this area. Most anglers will be using eggs but don’t be afraid to mix it up with sand shrimp. Try using a smaller sized bait when fishing pressure is high. If your presentation is different from the same baits these fish are seeing every cast, the probability of you hooking up will increase dramatically. 3) The most convenient spot to target these fall fish is right in downtown Coos Bay, fishing from the boardwalk. A culvert from Blossom Gulch runs under the city for about a half mile and enters the bay under the boardwalk. At the mouth of this culvert is where kids from the local schools feed and acclimate salmon smolts before they are released into the ocean. When these fish return to the bay, they slow down and hold along the boardwalk, making for a great fishery. This is a perfect place to bring the family to fish and enjoy the day at the coast. The boardwalk is also a wonderful spot for those who are physically less capable of fishing many other areas. Casting spinners and bait are key here. A slip bobber with eggs and/or sand shrimp is not only the simplest technique, but often the most consistent. But don’t feel obligated to always have your bait near bottom. These fish will suspend at high

slack tide. From a boat, the two primary launches to access the river fishery are the Myrtle Tree County Park and Doris Place ramps near the confluence of the South Fork Coos and Millicoma Rivers. Both offer fantastic fishing opportunities, and since this is a fairly small system, many anglers are able to use smaller, 12- to 18-foot-long boats with ease. Trolling whole or cut-plug herring works very well in these areas, but don’t be afraid to use Cascade spinners in sizes 6 and 7. Painted blades always seem to produce better this time of year, so focus upon your rainbow and “dot” color patterns in the usual fishy colors. When trolling, look for depth breaks and ledges along the shore that the fish will follow as they move their way upriver. The majority of boat anglers will either be tied up or anchored and fishing bobber and bait around these two ramps. This is most productive an hour on either side of tide changes. Utilize your depth finder to uncover holes and slots where the fish will hold and focus your attention on these locations. The Coos system is open now through Dec. 31 for Chinook, and for native coho now through Nov. 30 or until the 1,200-fish

quota is met. You may keep one native coho per day and a maximum of five per year. The upstream limits for targeting these fish are at the confluence of the East and West Millicoma as well as at Dellwood on the South Coos at the gated private Weyerhauser property line.

COQUILLE RIVER A much smaller and narrower system 30 minutes to the south of Coos Bay is the Coquille River. This often overlooked fall fishery demands attention this year. With an expected return of 32,000 wild Chinook and an untold number of hatchery fish, this is the strongest return since the 1950s and about four times higher than normal years. The Coquille will also be open to retention of 825 native coho. Here is how to get in on the action: The Coquille has 40 miles of fishable tidewater so the options are limitless. However, earlier in the month, these fish will congregate from Bullards Beach State Park to Rocky Point 5 miles upstream from the Highway 101 bridge. As the rains begin, the fish will move upstream between the city of Coquille and Myrtle Point. Bank access is best at the parks and boat ramps with some excellent fishing to be had. Bank anglers, like those on the 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 43


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SALMON Coos, typically use bait under a bobber and cast spinners. This is a low-flow river, which makes these two presentations deadly. Bring several different flavors of eggs. These fall fish can become finicky and their tastes can alter with each change in the tide. Boat anglers will have access to much more of the Coquille, but there really is no specific area where the majority of fish are caught. Ramps include Bullards Beach, Rocky Point and the Coquille city boat ramp among others. The fish slow down around Rocky Point, but rainfall can easily spread the salmon out. If the water is high, fish high in the system. If we have a substantial amount of rainfall, you will find bright fish all the way upstream in the city of Coquille and Myrtle Point. Herring is the primary bait trolled around Rocky Point on downstream with spinners being a close second. As you move upriver, trolling or casting spinners in the same colors as used on the Coos will become more effective. For the most

44 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Angler Gary Vanderohe shows off a Chinook caught at the SOMAR Hole, near the Southern Oregon Marine factory at the confluence of Catching Slough and the Coos River. (GARY VANDEROHE)

part, the locals will be anchored or tied up along the banks casting bobber and bait. Again, focus on ledges and depth breaks to find concentrated fish whether you are trolling or casting hardware and bait. The upstream limit for salmon on the Coquille is the Highway 42 bridge. For

more, call ODFW in Charleston (541-8885515). –CODY HERMAN Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.


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SALMON

Rogue Springer Tips LOWER RIVER SPRING CHINOOK FISHERY NOT JUST ABOUT BEING AT THE HOT SLOT – YOUR BAIT, TIMING AND WATER-READING SKILLS ARE MORE IMPORTANT. GOLD BEACH, Ore.—The map below showcases the best spots on the Rogue River, but to be successful here with spring Chinook also involves care and selection of your bait, knowing when to fish and how to read the water – deal-breakers on a finesse fishery like this. These salmon are fresh from the ocean, so they still have an instinct to eat. That’s why spinnerbait rigs are so popular in this

fishery, and that’s why anchovies are usually the prime bait to have, even as far up as Quosatana Creek, 14 miles above the mouth. So why anchovies and not herring or sardines? I’ve been here 31 years and practically everyone has caught the majority of their springers on anchovies. It’s not that you can’t catch a Chinook with other kinds of baitfish. Rogue anglers have caught springers on sardines and her-

Lobster Creek

ring as well. I just think that in the ocean, these particular salmon may migrate to water that holds more anchovies than other baitfish. Another thing I know is that the guides who have more anchovies in their storage lockers do a lot better than people who don’t. Let’s just say, it is what it is and leave it at that. Any way you slice it, picking good bait and keeping it cold is critical to success.

Lobster Creek Rd.

Mapped Area

Quosatana CG

Miller Ranch Rd.

Orchard Bar 540

Ice box

545

John’s Hole

595

Huntley Park

Canfield Riffle

Lower Rogue River

Elephant Rock

Wedderburn

LEGEND

0

Gold Beach Map art: RJThompsonART.com

tana Quosa Creek

101

Claybanks Cannery Coyote Riffle Bar

1/2

1 scale in miles

2

Good anchor fishing Good bank fishing Boat launch 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 45


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SALMON KEEP IT C-C-C-COLD The biggest mistake people make is not keeping their anchovies cold enough. As I’ve often said, salmon are guided by scent till their last dying breath, so they smell in parts per billion whereas other fish might only smell in parts per million, or even less. So I suggest that you carry two ice chests on board for your anchovies. In one, carry several packages of anchovies and cover them up with a liberal amount of ice, then sprinkle salt on top of the ice. That will keep your bait frozen solid, and if you don’t use this bait up, the packages are safe to put back into the freezer so you can use them another day. In the other ice chest I suggest putting your ice in first, sprinkle some salt on the ice, and then put only one package of anchovies in a separate container on top of the ice. This will allow your ’chovies to thaw to the consistency of a Popsicle which will make it easier to put a fresh one on your rig. Don’t leave your anchovies in the open air longer than it takes for them to become semi-thawed. A warm anchovy is breeding ground for bacteria and salmon can smell it. You don’t want to offend them before they even get a chance to see your bait. Another thing you want to do when thawing your anchovies is to cut open the package to release the vacuum before it thaws. I’ve watched Bob Wilkes from Umpqua Bait (541-271-4511) and his wife Linda flash-freezing their sardines, herring and anchovies. They first kill the bait rapidly by putting a batch into a bucket of water. Then they throw a switch and run electrical current through them, which kills them instantly. This way the bait doesn’t lose any of their scales. They then flash-freeze their bait in the open before vacuum-packaging them up. If you don’t cut a hole in the bait package first, blood will be sucked out of the bait as the bait thaws. All those bait trays you see with blood seeping out of the anchovies? Those packages were prematurely thawed – do not buy them. So picking a package of bait with no blood showing anywhere is essential. When you pick your bait, also look to make sure their scales are intact, the packages haven’t lost their vacuum and there are no freezer 46 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

burns on the bait. WATER TEMPS In the ocean, a salmon is happiest when the water is 52 degrees. That’s when they eat the hardiest. If the river water is 52 degrees, your bait is begging to get bit. Water temperature that is 46 degrees garners very few bites; more often the bait gets bumped once or twice before the salmon move on. It’s almost not worth going fishing, except in hopes the afternoon sun might warm the water just another degree. When the temperature rises to 47 degrees, you can look forward to getting some take-downs. It’s almost as if an eating switch was thrown. Strikes at 47 degrees may be less aggressive, so always make sure that your rods are stationary in their holders. If your rod gets bumped, wait for it to get bumped again. Often these salmon eat the ’chovy on the second bump, and it may take a lot longer for the rod tip to slam the water. When the water reaches 48 degrees, they become even more aggressive. But at 49 they start to act like the animals that they are. At 50 to 52, if you’re not getting bit, other factors may be playing into the equation. CROSSING THE BAR AND THE TIDE While springer fishing with guide John Anderson in 2010 (541-425-1515), we noticed that springers as well as winter steelhead preferred to cross a calm bar after high slack. I’ve fished with Paul LeFebvre on numerous occasions and we were constantly looking in our tide books. If high slack was at 9 a.m., we’d either get bit or prepare to get bit between 9 and 10. That is not to say that fish don’t cross the bar at other times – they do! But the predominant bite always seemed to come as high tide approached, especially in areas from Elephant Rock on down where the Rogue is more tidally influenced. Sometimes Paul would leapfrog the fish if we got bit or saw other people catch springers and head upriver to anchor up at Kimball, Huntley or Quosatana. These fish are bookin’ like cars on the Autobahn and it doesn’t take them long to get from one place to another. If the bar was rough and nasty, with waves breaking across it, our catch ratio

went down. True, we still caught fish during rough bar events, just not as many as we’d hook on a calm bar. KNOW YOUR TRAVEL LANES Springer fishing on the lower Rogue is considered a slot fishery. If you’re not in the path of that incoming missile, there’s not going to be any fireworks. You have to be in their travel lane and know how to read these lanes, or you’re not fishing – you’re just putting your line in the water. You really need a sled to effectively fish this system, preferably something with a top on it. When Anderson takes people fishing, as many other Rogue guides do, he fixes them breakfast and a top comes in mighty handy for that. Plus, sometimes it’s a long time between bites – hours or, yes, even days. So this fishery is not for people wanting to play the numbers game. In addition, a top on a boat combined with a heater makes for a luxurious experience. Most of the time these fish are going to be hugging the shoreline in water 4 to 6 feet deep. Since Chinook like things presented to them between 1.6 and 2.2 miles an hour, look for water on your depthfinder that is flowing at this speed as well. Make sure that you adjust your anchor rope to have enough scope so your baits will be fishing in the water where you marked your ideal speed. The more people you have onboard, the more water depths you will be able to fish. With three people on board, your inside rod will be fishing 3.5 to 4 feet of water, your center rod might be covering the 5-foot depth and your outside rod has the 6-foot mark covered. Look for points that lead to an inside bend in the aforementioned water speeds and depths. These are places where the current gradually slows and deposits gravel. Springers love this kind of water. Throw in a current seam and you’ve found yourself a slot. PLAN AHEAD These places might change as the tide floods and ebbs, so keep in mind what the water might look like when these conditions change and plan to anchor up in spots where you think a springer might be travelling an hour or more down the road. Get your tidebook out the night before


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2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 47


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SALMON

Guide Andy Martin enjoys a day off aboard Paul LeFebvre’s boat on the lower Rogue. (LARRY ELLIS)

you plan to fish so you will know when to expect various tides to occur. Prescouting an area is very important because you will want to make sure that you get to your spot early enough in order to insure that you’ll have a place to fish at all. In addition, prescouting can help you determine where current seams might be at various parts of the tide. You could be fishing in hawg water one minute, frog water the next. SPINNER BLADES IMPORTANT Normally you will be running Rogue Bait Rigs or hand-tied spinnerbait outfits that have quick-change plastic clevises so you 48 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

can easily switch your spinner blades. Usually No. 4 G-spot or Cascade blades work OK, but some of my faves are gold or copper Hildebrandt blades in sizes 3, 3.5 and 4. The tried-and-true colors on the Rogue are green-on-green and the Oregon Duck. ROD RULES, HOOKS, LEADERS The biggest mistake anglers make is jumping the gun and taking their rod out of the holder on the first nibble. Make sure that your rod tip is meeting the water with line coming off your reel before taking it out of its holder. Also keep your hooks needle sharp. You

may only get one chance – make sure to make it counts. Five-foot leaders made of 30-pound monofilament are usually the norm. Two feet down the leader tie on a bead chain. Keep your anchovies spinning rapidly and tightly – just like a drill bit. Indeed, the upcoming season on the Rogue is looking very promising for drilling a springer. –LARRY ELLIS Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.


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Northwest Sportsman 49


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STEELHEAD

Go Rogue

THE BRIGHT AND LIVELY FALL STEELHEAD RUN IS THE MIDDLE ROGUE RIVER’S CROWN JEWEL. GRANTS PASS– One of the great advantages of chasing 6- to 9-pound summer steelhead on the middle Rogue River – the 50 miles from Gold Hill to Graves Creek Bridge – is that all you have to do is find a riffle. There you will find scads of native fall Chinook spawning. The steelhead will be interspersed between them, gobbling their eggs. Have plenty of pretied leaders as it is difficult to keep your presentation away from the salmon. When you hook a 20- to 30-pounder on 8-pound-test line, your only option will be to break it off immediately and let the salmon continue its spawning. To avoid hooking Chinook, drift your presentation at the end of the riffle, an area which will produce fewer snags though still holds ample numbers of steelhead. Chinook fishing season ends on Sept. 30 as these fish start to move into their spawning beds and usually by the first week of October there are good numbers of chrome-bright steelhead. Fishing usually lasts the whole month, barring early rainstorms.

Just know that the Middle Rogue has some tricky braids and boulder gardens, so make sure that you are proficient on the oars or consider hiring a guide. It’s also not a jet boat river, although the skilled Hellgate Excursion boats navigate it daily through the end of September. Leave your sled at home. You can either anchor your drift boat and drift fish, or park it, get out and thoroughly cast and cover the entire riffle that shows spawning Chinook. Side-drifting slots, chutes and tailouts between the spawning riffles also produces more steelhead. Just remember wherever you

see redds or spawning Chinook, there also will be the steelhead. I prefer to start at the bottom of riffles and work upstream, keeping alert and not walking on the redds. You will get a lengthy dissertation (at best) or a citation by a game warden if he sees you walking aimlessly among the salmon nests. Time of day is also a factor to consider. Fishing at first light is always your best strategy, but in the evening from 4 or so until dark is also good. When the October sun is high in the sky, the fish tend to retreat to their hideouts because of their vulnerability in staging in less than 3 feet of water.

YARNIES OR GLO BUGS in orange or champagne pink, which resemble loose

THE MOST POPULAR spots to bank fish also have easy access. They include: the gravel bar below Caveman Bridge in Grants Pass; under the footbridge at Reinhardt Park; the riffle above Schroeder Park; the Whitehorse Park boat ramp; the riffles above and below Griffin Park off of Riverbanks Road; the gravel bar and riffle below Robertson Bridge; the mouth of Galice Creek; the Almeda boat ramp; and the riffle below Graves Creek. Popular drifts are Baker Park in Grants Pass to Whitehorse Park; Schroeder Park or Whitehorse Park to Robertson Bridge; and Griffin Park to Hog Creek Landing boat launch. 50 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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eggs, are the go-to setups. Attach a No. 5 or 7 snap swivel to your mainline and tie about 3 feet of 8-pound fluorocarbon leader with a Glo Bug or yarnball about the size of a dime. Place a slinkie in the snap swivel. It is important to have just enough weight to slightly tap bottom about every 2 seconds – a natural drift almost the speed of the current. I prefer slinkies on the Rogue because of the snaggy basalt bottom. Another trick is to tie a 12-inch leader to the shank of the lure’s hook and add a Prince Nymph or Hare’s Ear nymph. I guarantee that the steelhead will see the egg pattern but hit the fly 90 percent of the time. It will test your landing skills to land one on a size 10 fly hook, as many will throw it upon first ascent into the air. There is a healthy mix, approximately 50/50, between native and fin-clipped hatchery fish. As is the case in most Northwest rivers, wild steelhead must be released unharmed. The daily limit for hatchery steelhead is two. Make sure that you are well versed on the regulations. The prognosis for Rogue salmon and steelhead is very hopeful since the removal of Savage Rapids dam in 2009 and Gold Ray Dam in August 2010. Between the two, which are about 20 miles apart, there has been significant juvenile mortality for both species over the course of 70 years. –JIM McMILLEN Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.

2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

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STEELHEAD

Umpqua River Steelhead ELKTON, Ore.–The Umpqua is legendary for trophy steelhead. It would be impossible to count how many in the mid-20-pound range have been caught on the Western Oregon river – and that goes for hatchery and wild fish. But it only took the release of one strapping specimen pushing the 29-pound mark in 2005 to spark the question, “What if?” As in, What if these super salmonids disappeared from the river forever? Three local area guides were determined the fate would never befall the Umpqua. Robert Montgomery, Casey Malepsy and LEGEND James Dunlevy got together and decided a proactive stance was BEST DRIFT TIMING the best precaution. The numThanksgiving – December 15 bers of wild fish was never in December 15 – January 10 question. The main concern was January 10 – February intense fishing pressure and adFebruary – March vanced steelheading techniques. Armed with pens and petiMap information courtesy Mapped National Geographic Maps Area tions, the trio got enough signatures to convince the Fish and Wildlife Commission to require 0 2 4 8 releasing all wild steelhead in the scale in miles mainstem and the North Umpqua in 2008. It didn’t take much arm-twisting to re-up the rule the next year, and the benefits are being seen. “Higher on the main Umpqua, when we would take the hooks out of (steelis just under 6½ feet. head’s) mouths, they would already have The Slide Hole down to Elkton RV ($5 four or five hook marks where people had cable take-out; 541-584-2832) drift is released them,” notes Montgomery. most popular. “Those fish wouldn’t have been there if There is also great bank fishing at the you would have killed them.” Sheep Shed and Beckley holes. Winter-runs trickle into the Umpqua Further up, the ramp at Kellogg Bridge, around Thanksgiving, and as fall deepens, also known as Lefflers, is a must-takethe fish push further and further up. out situation. Martin Thurber (541-741-7927) says The final float, from the town of ideal river height for the early-season Umpqua down to James Wood, fishes float from Scott Creek to Scottsburg Park best when the river is 4.2 feet.

Umpqua River

52 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Pull Mud Bugs and sand shrimp or Hot Shots, or side-drift Puff Balls and roe. For more info, as well as shuttles, check in with Arlene’s (541-584-2555) and Sawyer’s Rapids RV (888-478-4426; sawyersrapidsrv.com). –LARRY ELLIS Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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www.delfinovineyards.com 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 53


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STEELHEAD

Sand, Summer And Steelies

THE BIGGEST RUN AND THE EASIEST FISHERY FOR METALHEADS CAN BE FOUND ON THE SHORES OF THE LOWER COLUMBIA.

(KIRBY CANNON)

54 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]


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Large steelhead, like this one caught off Prescott Beach in early April during the spring Chinook fishery, will be available through the season for plunkers. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

PRESCOTT BEACH, Ore.—You are just dozing off into a daydream when you hear the little bell go off. Fish on! Grabbing the rod from the holder you tighten up the line and put the rod to the fish. Bursting from the water right in front of you a big, rosy-sided steelhead somersaults through the air, trying to throw the nasty Spin-N-Glo imbedded in its jaw. While fighting the fish you say the fisherman’s prayer, “Please don’t let him come off!” Eventually the prize is yours, and a chrome-bright summer steelhead comes to the bank. Break out the T-shirts, barbecue grills and the coolers, May is finally here. It’s time to get the whole family out of the house and head to the banks of the river to suck up some sunshine, broil a few hot dogs, drink a soda or too and enjoy the fine weather. And don’t forget the fishing gear, because the metalheads of summer are here. As if the season wasn’t fun enough already, here comes another great run of steelhead making their way up the Columbia. This year’s projection is for over 390,000 adult fish and follows last year’s run of 410,000. These are some of the easiest of the many salmon and steelhead runs to catch, and the schools of eager-biting silvery fish make it even easier by running right along the shallow edges of the river. All you need is a poleholder, a rod and reel, a little bait, a tide book and a bell. Then, find yourself a beach and join the sun-worshippers. “Plunking,” as the sport is called, is very much an event where people gather to picnic and socialize as much as to catch fish.

And what a fish to catch! Summer steelhead are famous for their acrobatics, jumping high and making serious lineburning runs when hooked. Also, they are some of the best table fare the Columbia offers. Like the larger spring Chinook, these oil-rich fish will stay in the river for many months before spawning, so they come in fresh from packing on the fat of fertile ocean waters. THREE DIFFERENT STOCKS The Columbia’s summer steelhead run is actually comprised of three stocks. The first to arrive are the Skamanias, a hatchery run that is headed to the lower river tributaries such as the Cowlitz, Lewis and Willamette. They run about 7 to 10 pounds on average and show up early, peaking about the Fourth of July. The next segment is the “A” run, steelhead that average about 4 to 6 pounds and are headed to the Deschutes, mid- and upper Columbia and Snake tribs. They arrive in force about mid-July as the Skamania run peters out. Finally the big “B” run fish arrive in August, and they’ve got shoulders, running from 12 to 16 pounds. They are headed to Idaho rivers. In the lower river the bite is spotty in May, but gets solid in June. It stays good along the beaches through July, but in August the bite switches to the cold-water fisheries such as the mouth of the Cowlitz, and the fish start running deeper. We’ll talk about those in a coming issue. Summer steelhead may be one of the most overlooked fish that returns to the big river. The pressure for them is nothing like springer madness. While some 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

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STEELHEAD spots get busy, there is plenty of room for more fishermen on the beaches. Just where should you go? Where can you catch fish? That’s easy. “Anyplace you can get access to the river,” says Cody Clark of Bob’s Sporting Goods (360-425-3870) in Longview. “If you can get to the bank you can catch fish.” Beaches, riprap banks, rocky shorelines and bluffs are all good because the fish are swimming right past your feet. RIGGING RIGHT Cody’s shop is plunk central for the Lower Columbia, and novice fishermen can get the straight scoop on what to use if they stop there. “We sell tons of steelhead gear,” says Clark. “We can help you get what you need to get going.” Gearing up is easy, and inexpensive. Start with a medium-length rod (8½ feet is good) that can handle throwing up to 4 ounces of lead. You need a reel spooled

Rosburg Ilwaco

with 20-pound or stronger mainline, and some 15-pound mono for leader. A 6- to 18-inch lead line with a 3- to 6-ounce pyramid or sand claw weight is attached to the line above a barrel swivel with a slider or a spreader bar. From the barrel swivel tie on an 18- to 36-inch leader with a No. 4 Spin-N-Glo and a 1/0 hook tipped with a cured prawn tail. The most popular color prawn is pink, although red and purple can have their days. Favorite Spin-N-Glo colors include watermelon, rainbow, rocket red and fire-tiger red. Some anglers fish with multiple baits, running two or three leaders off one rig. Additional lines are often fished with steelhead plugs, such as an X-5 FlatFish or a Brad’s Wiggler in fluorescent red. However, throwing a multiple-hook rig correctly can take some practice. These rigs are easier to cast if you use spreader bars instead of sliders. If the area you’re fishing is too snaggy and you keep losing your lead, you can try

Brookfield

PLUNKING TIPS The first mistake novice anglers make is to fish too deep. Steelhead follow the bank closely – very closely. In fact, when Clark fishes the riprap he often uses a 10foot rod and simply holds the rod out and drops his line straight down. This puts the bait in the depth he likes, about 6 feet. “The steelhead are usually running about 6 to 12 feet deep,” says Clark. “When fishing the beaches you need to cast a little further out to reach that depth. About 15 to 20 feet from the bank is about right.” Watch the other fishermen, note just where they are fishing, and then fish that depth yourself. Always make sure you have gear and weight that matches what the others are using. One errant angler with too little lead can cause havoc with the fishermen below

County Line Park

4

Skamokawa Cathlamet

Willow Grove

5

Mapped Area

Longview Kelso

30

Astoria Westport

Kalama Beach

Quincy Rainier

Jones Beach Dibblee Beach 30 Rainier Riverfront Park Prescott Beach Sand Island Marine Park Cannon Beach

Seaside

Kalama

0

5

Woodland

Walton Beach Willow Bar

Nehalem

Dike Road 10 scale in miles

Frenchman’s Bar Park

Vancouver Lewis & Clark SRA Camas 503

6

84

Lower Columbia Tillamook River Steelhead

Portland Meldrum Bar

LEGEND

Summer steelhead spots 56 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

20

St. Helens Warren

26

101

“Flintstone fishing,” as Clark calls it. Simply tape a rock to your line instead of lead, and just rip the line loose when you get snagged.

5

205

Bonneville

Troutdale Chinook Landing

Rooster Rock State Park Government Island SRA M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Launch


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STEELHEAD him when his line doesn’t stick to the bottom and drifts down, fouling everyone else. It’s very important to fish correctly when you are in such close quarters, or you won’t make many friends, and plunking is a social fishery. Once you get the bait where you want it, put the rod in the holder, and hook the bell on the rod. Now all you have to do is sit back, relax and wait for the bell to go off. Well, almost. It’s a good idea to check the bait at least once an hour and clear any debris off your line. In the meanwhile, read your tide book. The Columbia is tidally influenced all the way to Bonneville Dam, but the tides are bigger in the lower river and affect the currents more. “You need to get a tide book,” says Clark. The outgoing tide is best because it creates stronger currents that will work your baits better, and force the steelhead close to the bank. On the flood tides the fish often ride the currents upriver away from the shore. Clark reports the fishing is best from the slack tide an hour ahead of the ebb, through the hour of slack at the end of the ebb. “The steelhead bite well during those tide changes,” he adds. Unfortunately, tide charts for the Columbia are often not completely reliable because they can’t take into account changes in flows from hydro releases or rains. It’s good idea to arrive early in case the tide turns ahead of the chart. WASHINGTON BANK SPOTS Cathlamet: This small Washington town marks the point where the fishing starts to get good. There are riprap banks all along the Columbia and rocky bluffs that make good spots all the way to County Line Park. There are pull-outs and parking spots along Highway 4 that local anglers target, but, again, there are miles of riprap banks that never get fished. County Line Park: This family-friendly park on, yep, the line between Wahkiakum and Cowlitz Counties offers a great place to take the family and picnic while waiting for the bells to go off. The beach is easy for seniors and youngsters to get 58 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

around on and the fishing can be excellent. Clark likes to fish here and reports that during the peak of the run – late June and July – the beach can get crowded. “Once the fish are in good, you need to get there early to get a spot,” he says. Lower Columbia tribs: A few miles above the park, steelheaders take quite a few fish near the mouths of Abernathy, Mill and Germany Creeks. These are also favored shad spots. Willow Grove: Just below Longview this beach offers fairly easy access off a paved road, and there is a long stretch to fish. There are restrooms nearby. Kalama beaches: Good places for beginners, since there is a lot of room to spread out. Lewis River mouth: Not a big area, but the point at the end of Dike Access Road on the north side of the Lewis River mouth has enough space for a few anglers to plunk. Washougal River: The mouth of this river is a good place to find steelhead, both those running up the smaller stream, and those following the Columbia. Oak Tree Hole: This well-known spot on the Washington side of Bonneville Dam below the boat launch is a perennial favorite for plunkers. The shore is riprap, and there are bathrooms nearby. OREGON BEACHES Beaver State-side beaches can be the best bet early, but by July the best bite switches to the Washington side. Jones Beach: The first good beach on the Oregon side, this spacious stretch between Westport and Clatskanie offers plenty of room to fish, but no other amenities. Dibblee Beach: Another beach with room to roam, but no amenities, this beach just below the Lewis & Clark Bridge has good fishing, but the access road is rough, and a four-wheel drive is recommended. Prescott Beach: A $2 day fee gets you in to this park and beach. This is a good choice for families with restrooms, a play area for the kids, and restrooms. Willow Bar, Walton Beach: A $7 day fee gets you access to these good fishing beaches, but there are no amenities or

restrooms. Sauvie Island beaches: The north beaches along Reeder Road provide some of the best action and are easy to get to, but there are other good beaches as well. Willamette River/Meldrum Bar: This is the most popular bank spot for summers on the Willamette, and for good reason. Right in the heart of Portland, the bar produces a lot of steelhead and through early June spring Chinook are often caught too. Expect some company here, but the locals are pretty tolerant of newcomers. Government Island: The state recreation area here is accessible only by boat, but the park offers restrooms, picnic areas and a dock. There are also good beaches on other parts of the island as well. Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area: There is good access here along the lower Sandy River. Hit these reaches early; by July the run is over in the lower Sandy. Rooster Rock State Park: This a great park for families with full amenities and plenty of shore access. Tanner Creek: The mouth of this creek is one of the best spots to catch summers on the Oregon side below the dam. Bonneville Dam: Bradford Island on the Oregon side below Bonneville is another good spot to plunk for steelhead and summer Chinook, and a few are taken from Robins Island. While steelhead run so shallow a boat is not needed, one can be helpful for getting to uncrowded areas. “A lot of fishermen use their boats to get to island beaches,” says Clark. “Those spots can be pretty good, and you can get off to yourself.” Some fishermen make a multi-day trip of it and spend a few days camped on the beach with family, enjoying the scenery and solitude while tangling with a few steelhead. There are dozens of good islands that rarely get fished. Sand Island near the town of St. Helens has some amenities, such as picnic areas and pit toilets. –TERRY OTTO Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.


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STEELHEAD

The waters of the John Day Arm are swarming with nice steelhead while the hills behind Jon Haase offer upland birds such as quail and chukar for those who use oregonhuntingmap.com to figure out public land boundaries. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

John Day Cast & Blast RUFUS, Ore.—The John Day empties into the Columbia just a couple miles above the dam, but the last 9 miles of the tributary are flooded and resemble more of a lake than a river. This gives some great access to willow and scrub draws, sage hills and rimrock that hold quail, chukar and 60 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 1]

Huns. There is a 500-foot safety zone from the water’s edge uphill, but above the zone, plenty of upland bird opportunities await. When picking a draw to hunt, make sure you find one that has good beaching access for your boat. There is a lot of shal-

low water with a soft muddy bottom close to shore along the John Day, so be careful when attempting to land. Lock all your fishing tackle away and hunt areas where you can keep an eye on your boat. When scouting a draw or rimrock to hunt, look for good access up and good ac-


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cess down. Preferably find a pair of draws within walking distance of each other with some good rimrock in between, hopefully giving you a good opportunity at finding some upland birds. Working with a buddy and dog helps when walking uphill in an attempt to flush birds. Position one person on each side of the draw, with the dog working back and forth between you. This will insure you flush any birds hiding in the scrub. SUMMER-RUN STEELHEAD are known for taking their time getting to their spawning grounds, often wandering miles up one tributary before turning around and heading up another, often times hundreds of miles away from their destination. The John Day Arm is one of those places that the fish pull into on their journey, more than likely to the Clearwater River in Idaho. Steelhead are in the lower John Day from late October well into January. The most common method to catch

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them here is to troll standard sized Wiggle Warts 100 feet behind the boat. Target

ODFW has produced a 20-page upland bird and waterfowl hunting guide to the Columbia Basin. It’s available at dfw.state.or.us/RR/index.asp.

anywhere from the mouth of the river to Philippi Park a couple of miles upriver from the boat launch. Flame orange and fire tiger are two of the most common color of plugs anglers use to catch these steelhead, but when fishing more than two rods it sometimes pays to try different colors of plugs. Above the park, drifting a bobber and shrimp is a preferred technique and works best sometimes in the afternoon after the wind picks up creating a little bit of current. Cast your bobber and shrimp behind the boat and simply let the wind and slight current “troll” your bait. Position your shrimp just slightly off the bottom and keep it moving. If there is no wind or current, use your trolling motor to keep everything moving. Coon shrimp, sand shrimp or prawn tails all work. –ANDY SCHNEIDER Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going. 2012 ATLAS [vol. 1]

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STEELHEAD

Blue Steel

KEYS FOR CATCHING METALHEADS IN THE WESTERN BLUE MOUNTAINS OF WASHINGTON. WALLA WALLA—Every person has a dark side. My situation involves fishing for steelhead with bait when I didn’t know the difference and continuing to do so where it’s effective. Like I once told a fellow fly fisher, “I would rather catch a steelhead on bait than get skunked.” One reason for using bait in small streams is steelhead don’t play fair. They bury their nose in root wads, hunker down behind washtub-sized boulders and spook at the slightest movement. It’s also difficult to present a fly in their strike zone, particularly in 39-degree water when they prefer not to move.

Blue Mountains rivers

KNOW THY HYDROGRAPH Summer steelhead stage in the mainstem Columbia and Snake Rivers until

127

Snake River

Starbuck

261

Lower Hartsock

Tucannon River

LEGEND

12

Access sites

Mapped Area

Eureka

Prescott Waitsburg

Touchet River

Pomeroy 12

Turner

Dayton

124

Burbank

Another signal might be a “tap-tap-tap” that occurs at a slightly different rhythm than that of pencil lead dragging over smooth rock. A hungry steelhead might also pick up bait and move sideways. Good steelhead fishermen must remain alert to these differences at all times. There are other methods to small river madness. In this article I emphasize a trio of Eastern Washington streams with sizable runs of steelhead.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Drift fishing is about reading the water and delivering the goods to a migration lane, a resting spot or a snag-filled hideout. It’s about shifting position and adding or subtracting weight to allow the current to carry your bait to a location where a steelhead might rest. Then there is the take. In many ways figuring out that a steelhead is messing with you is not so much noting something specific as figuring out something different. For instance, one signal of a steelhead mouthing bait might be when your line stops stone cold in the middle of a drift.

Lewis & Clark Trail SP

Tucannon Fish Hatchery

12

12

Wallula

Walla Walla River Touchet 12 Walla Walla

9 Mile Rd.

Madame 730 Dorian 62 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

McDonald Bridge Stovall, Stegle roads

WA S H I N G TO N OREGON

0

3

6

12

scale in miles Map art by RJThompsonART.com Map information courtesy National Geographic Maps

Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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STEELHEAD conditions are suitable for entering the Walla Walla, Touchet and Tucannon Rivers. These tributary streams are relatively small in size with average winter flows ranging from about 150 to 600 cubic feet per second. Water temperature is one factor for steelhead entry but stream flow is most important. The first surge of upstream movement occurs after flows ramp up in early fall. It’s rarely the first rainfall, more likely the second, third – or even the first snowmelt – that encourages steelhead to enter their natal trib. Each successive high flow event or “freshet” encourages further upstream movement of steelhead from low-gradient holding areas. Finally, as spawning time nears they make a final push to headwaters. Wild fish tend to enter later in the year, extending the season well into March. Keying into these behaviors increases the odds of being in the right location in the watershed at the right time.

SMALL STREAM HABITS Steelhead are basically rainbow trout that got the urge to migrate to the Pacific Ocean and back. Although larger in size, they retain trout tendencies in terms of where they reside. Note the following stream features when scouting out places to fish: current edges, deep runs, boulder patches, deep pools, “pocket water” and outside corners of bends. That’s where you cast. Cover, in the form of turbulence, depth, bottom relief, boulders, submerged logs, and overhanging brush is essential habitat for steelhead holding in small water.

TRIBUTARY TACTICS Although camo clothing is not a requirement, successful steelhead anglers are unobtrusive. Don’t wade down the middle of a stream and always work shallow holding areas from a distance before going for the heart of a honey hole. Casting from the knees or from behind streamside cover is also encouraged. Being first on the water is a huge advantage on small streams although early morning is not always a requirement. Midday action, particularly on overcast 64 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

days, can be red hot. It’s also not unusual for steelhead to come out from cover at dusk. I’ve landed more than one by the light of the moon. I revisit stretches where I have caught steelhead before, even if stream features have changed. Particular areas attract fish hydraulically in ways that we don’t always understand. Another rule is to be thorough with presentation, i.e., cover every drift line, but don’t stay in the same place all day. Small stream steelhead fishing is much like bird hunting. If nothing shows, move on. Also remember that even though steelhead are territorial, males and females pair up early in the season. So, where there is one steelhead, there is often another.

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT I have found that an 8½-foot medium action rod and spinning reel loaded with 10to 12-pound mono to be best for casting between and under overhanging branches, brush piles, car bodies and log jams. Accuracy is more important than long casts. Basic drift gear includes an assortment of split shot, slinkies and pencil lead with a Gamakatsu or Brad’s ultra sharp hook in sizes 1 to 4. Leader lengths vary from 18 to 30 inches depending on water clarity. For extra flotation and attractive color, secure a small Corky (vary sizes to achieve a desired drift speed) directly above the hook. Remember that regular contact with the bottom is an objective. Standard bait includes cured roe, shrimp and nightcrawlers. A drift bobber can also be effective, particularly in snagfilled water. Tipping a bright red jig with shrimp often produces good results. I wear insulated booted chest waders because they allow for crossing to the other side of a stream, chasing steelhead around brush piles and retrieving gear

from snags. Neoprene waders or $400 fly rods aren’t recommended when tromping past barbed wire and dead falls hidden in the grass.

SOME LOGISTICS Most land adjacent to these three Blue Mountain streams is private property. However, in some cases, landowners will grant permission to fish for those who ask. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife provides sportsman access in select areas between Touchet and the Whitman Mission on the Walla Walla River. The lower Tucannon River has both public and “sign in” access for part of the lower 8 miles and upstream near Marengo Grade. Public access to the Touchet River is mainly limited to near Prescott and adjacent to Lewis and Clark State Park. Not to be ignored in small waters is whether to go solo or fish with a companion. It depends on one’s tolerance for personal distance, but three can be a crowd. I usually fish alone or split up from my buddy since my idea of a good time is not watching someone else land a steelie from my favorite hole. Fishing Blue Mountain tributary streams is about observing how high water rearranges graveled flood plains to wipe out and create new honey holes, the winter senescence of streamside vegetation, and being surprised by a river otter or kingfisher. The best reward, however, is encountering a fresh run of steelhead on a cold winter morning. Now, that’s something worth getting up in the dark and driving on icy county roads for. –DENNIS DAUBLE Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.

Best time and conditions for fishing selected mid-Columbia tributary streams. Tributary Walla Walla River Touchet River Tucannon River

Optimum discharge 400-700 cfs 300-500 cfs 120-200 cfs

Peak Dec- Feb Feb Nov-Dec


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STEELHEAD

Confluency A LESSON IN HOW TO CATCH SUMMER STEELHEAD WHERE THE SNAKE AND CLEARWATER RIVERS MEET. LEWISTON—When the early steelhead retention season on Idaho’s Clearwater opens Aug. 1, scores of trollers and bobber fishermen will gather in the lower 11⁄2 miles of river to catch and bonk early-arriving A-runs and visiting stocks. The lower Clearwater’s perfect 54-degree water – influenced by temperature flow adjustments from Dworshak Dam – draws thousands of steelhead bound for the Salmon, Imnaha and Grande Ronde. These fish hold in the lower river in great numbers until the flow adjustments stop and until water temperatures in the Snake drop. What this channelized, rip-rap-levied fishery in downtown Lewiston lacks in aesthetic appeal, it makes up for in fat chromers that bite eagerly in the supercooled water, especially at night. For obsessive steelhead anglers watching fish counts, the best reason to visit the LC Valley in summer is measured in steelhead over Lower Granite Dam. Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, says, “Once you see several hundred fish a day coming over Lower Granite, the fishing can be really good. If you see 1,000 or more, the fishing is likely to be excellent.” Lewiston and Clarkston, Wash., offer other advantages as summertime destinations, including great weather, cheap lodging, easy camping, local tackle shops with know how, a unique Taco Time with beer and wine and belt-driven fans, and a strange regional culinary fascination with “bite-sized” steak.

Nice early fish taken on a lighted plug, one of eight Erika Holmes caught in a 2009 dusk-to-mid-day steelhead marathon. (JEFF HOLMES)

LEWISTON FISH MARKET: U-CATCH During the heat of the LC Valley summer, the lower Clearwater is packed with 22- to 28-inch one-salt steelhead and a handful of slightly larger two-salt fish. While not the later arriving “B-run” steelhead for which the Clearwater is famous, earlyseason fish are numerous, fight hard and taste great. They are perhaps the finest, freshest steelhead that anglers are able to keep in the Snake River system. For example, even as massive waves of fresh steelhead flood into the lower Snake after Washington’s Sept. 1 opener, the vast majority of anglers leave the river sunburned and fishless due to high water temps and typically hot, sunny weather

during the peak of the migration. But in the lower Clearwater, beginning for catch-and-release in July and for retention in August, anglers and fish enjoy water temperatures in summer that the Snake doesn’t achieve until late October. “They average two to three hours a fish when it’s good … 10 to 12 when it’s slow,” said DuPont. “If the (spring) salmon season is any indication, and it often is, we should enjoy good to excellent steelheading this year.” The preseason forecast calls for 390,000 to pass upstream of Bonneville Dam in 2011 and DuPont estimates at least 50,000 fish will return to the Clearwater. He says 75 percent will be greater 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

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STEELHEAD WASHINGTON

0

1/ 8

1/ 2

1/ 4

128

scale in miles

128

12

Snake River

CLARKSTON Dik 12

LEGEND

5th Street

Clearwater River

‘TEMPERATURE FLOW AUGMENTATION’ The presence of so many steelhead from other rivers results from flow adjustments to mitigate impacts of the lower four Snake River dams and the 140 miles of reservoir between Lewiston and Lake Wallula, one of four more reservoirs on the Columbia through which Inland fish must pass in their epic migration to the ocean. To aid juvenile escapement and improve flows and cool temperatures for returning adults, 47-degree water is released 66 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

yp

Clearwater River ass 12

LEWISTON

Boat ramp Bank access August fishing Bobber fishing from bank or boat Trolling with plugs Anchor fishing around pilings August retention fishery boundaries September fishing in Washington Good in coolwater tongue

than 28 inches, and will arrive in mid-September or later. DuPont emphasizes the early presence of small Clearwater fish and stocks from other rivers: “When fish bound for river systems in Hells Canyon arrive at the confluence during the summer, they have a choice. Do they swim into the 70-degree water of the Snake, or do they detour into cold flows of the Clearwater?”

eB

12

IDAHO

Mapped Area

from the depths of Dworshak Reservoir throughout the heat of the summer. Forty miles downstream, the Clearwater’s 54-degree water at Lewiston cools the Snake dramatically. Temperatures 30 miles down the reservoir from Lewiston at Lower Granite Dam average 65 degrees during flow adjustments, as opposed to 72 degrees and stagnant. The Army Corps of Engineers ultimately controls flows from Dworshak. However, Russ Kiefer, IDFG staff biologist who specializes in mainstem fish migration, explains that the Corps relies heavily on the opinions of two committees of which he is a part, both comprised of state, federal, and tribal scientists. Kiefer stresses that flow augmentation is not just for juvenile fish. “When water temperatures get too high in Snake and Columbia River reservoirs, returning fish will just stop migrating by seeking colder tributaries … some fish never leave these tribs, some con-

tinue their migration, and some don’t survive the stresses.” Given 50 percent snowpack remaining in the Clearwater River Basin as of early July, Kiefer remarked that everything is late this year and that flow augmentation probably won’t need to start until sometime in August. BACKING UP THE LOWER CLEARWATER? One of the Valley’s best anglers and guides, Jason Schultz of Hells Canyon Sportfishing (208-305-4549), says river current orients lower Clearwater fish to the bottom, making them easier to target and catch via back-trolling plugs and sidedrifting, one reason he likes to fish in the reliable current upstream of the Memorial Bridge at the pulp mill, a catchand-release fishery. “When flows slow and the river goes slack, the fish suspend and become a little more difficult to locate, and more tend


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# 1 15$1 5$1 5 3 "*+$2'./ " +$2'./ "*

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STEELHEAD to move upstream of the (Highway 12 Memorial Bridge) and into the catch-andrelease section,” said Schultz. When asked about the Corps’ plan to further raise the reservoir level behind Lower Granite Dam for barge traffic in Lewiston, Kiefer said he was not sure what would happen or how it would affect summer flows or the lower Clearwater fishery. Raising the reservoir level again would be another attempt to combat massive siltation resulting from the damming of the lower Snake River and the subsequent need to dredge the Port of Lewiston. Dredging for barge travel is a contentious political issue in the LC Valley and beyond. Defenders of the practice cite the need for Lewiston to remain a viable inland seaport to support industry in the region. Proponents of removing the lower four Snake River dams argue barges are envi-

ronmentally and economically impractical, proposing transportation alternatives and citing scientific support for removal. Existing barges are nonetheless scraping their hulls at the port, and local businesses still depend on barge travel at this point. Whatever happens, Kiefer thinks reservoir levels will be kept as low as possible to increase temperature flow augmentation. “If we have more water in the reservoir, it will be more difficult to cool it, just like cooling a bathtub.” With the Obama Administration’s Salmon Recovery Plan about to be ruled on and predictions Judge James Redden will declare it illegal, it’s unclear how the lower Clearwater fishery and the region might be affected, but night fishing will reign supreme regardless.

Jeff Main of Spokane battles a summer-run near the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

68 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

LIGHTS IN THE DARKNESS Bob Beatty of Camp, Cabin and Home (208-750-1075), a full-service fishing shop in North Lewiston, utilizes the summer fishery on the lower river often, customizing his boat with blacklights and other useful gadgetry to aid in pulling plugs with downriggers and multiple rods in the dark on a river with lots of boat traffic, including barges and idiots. “The blacklights let us see what we’re doing without losing our night vision by shining headlamps in each other’s eyes,” said Beatty. “We can usually see well enough even for knot tying, but I like those new LED finger lamps when we need extra light; we sell them at the shop … I also recommend putting a glow tip on rods to see which one is getting hit.” Beatty is right. Headlamps are not ideal and can annoy and temporarily blind companions when not properly adjusted. They can work, too, used sparingly or fitted with a red or green lens. Illuminating rod tips also helps monitor the action of the plug in the dark. “Along with being able to see to fish, it’s critical to stay legal with your boat lights and especially to be seen by other boats,” said Beatty. “A blacklight system helps my boat to be seen. Wearing white T-shirts also helps. Getting on the water before it’s too dark to orient yourself to your surroundings is a good idea too.” Barges, bridges, fishing boats of all sizes, and riprap present potential points of collision, and some boats foolishly fish without any light. Beatty’s safety advice is the responsible step-one before worrying about fishing. Once one can see and be seen, the next step is locating fish and deploying baits. Most anglers troll or back-troll lighted plugs or fish lighted bobbers, while some plunk or side-drift, depending on current. Lighted plugs, whether at night or during low-light conditions, are highly effective. Today’s most popular baits are the Brad’s Lighted Wigglers in 3⁄8 and ¾ ounce, which come in a variety of finishes with either red or chartreuse strobes. For Schultz, Beatty, and the author, the 3⁄8ounce size is the go-to plug.


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trolling pattern has to remain flexible for safety’s sake. There’s no need to be “one of those guys.” It’s true the retention fishery spans only 1.5 miles of river that can be crowded, but this isn’t Drano Lake. The lower Clearwater offers plenty of room and fish for anglers to spend happy summer evenings whacking fish, enjoying the nightly cool down, and eating bitesized steak. –JEFF HOLMES Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going. Steelhead caught at night on a Brad’s Lighted Plug. (HELLS CANYON SPORTFISHING)

The 013 Lighted Kwikfish will draw lots of strikes too, including from fall salmon, which must be released, but 21- to 24inch steelhead, especially hens, have small mouths and will often miss larger profile baits. The same goes for another lighted plug, the Laser Lure. The ¾-ounce Brad’s Magnum Wiggler body is only slightly less desirable in profile than the 3 ⁄8 ounce and achieves a trolled diving depth of 24 feet. Beatty fishes a downrigger and must constantly watch the bottom. Still, he likes easily being able to target fish throughout the water column with his lighted or black plugs a few feet above and 30 feet behind his downrigger ball, which he keeps 2 or 3 feet from the bottom unless the fish suspend in one of several 25- to 50-foot holes. For less-attentive anglers, like most of us, flatlining plugs can be lethal at times, especially if one acquires lighted plugs that achieve a range of depths. Guide Toby Wyatt of Clarkston’s Reel Time Fishing (208-790-2128), who, like Schultz, still has a stockpile of classic Vortex lighted lures, flatlines plugs but uses a banana weight when he marks fish in the deeper holes. Schultz uses a three-way setup with a 2-ounce dropper all the time to reduce the amount of line behind the boat: “With only 20 feet of line from the rod tip, the strikes are explosive!” said Schultz. He

thinks the post-midnight bite is overrated, but he will gladly customize anything from an all-night fishing trip to his recommended early afternoon to 11 p.m. trip. Wyatt prefers to fish during the early morning and the evening. “The fish might bite a little better at midnight, but I’d prefer not to be out there,” said Wyatt. “There are plenty of fish to be caught during the trips I run from 6 to 12 a.m. and from 3 to 9 p.m. You don’t have to fish in the dark.” He fishes lighted plugs too, but says, “One of my best lures during August is the old Hot Lips in ¼- and ½-ounce sizes.” LEARNING THE FISHERY If hiring a guide isn’t in the cards, reduce the learning curve by watching others. Ask questions at Water’s Edge Bait & Tackle (509-758-2474) in Clarkston, Camp Cabin and Home, and on the water. Read the bottom carefully, mark waypoints, and repeat past successes. Without invading others’ space too much, look for concentrations of anglers in places like the railroad bridge, the confluence’s north shore and the Memorial Bridge. The fish tend to seek structurelike bridge pillars at night and current whenever they can get it. As is typical, trolling in circles, zigzags and serpentine patterns will usually draw more strikes than a straight troll, but it’s important to remember that one’s

BOBBERS AND THE BAIT KING OF THE L.C. VALLEY

Stu Waters of Water’s Edge Bait and Tackle (509-758-2474), a throwback fishing and rod-and-reel repair shop on the water in Clarkston, cured 2 tons of shrimp last year for local anglers and guides. His selection of colors is impressive and informed by the most local and tested knowledge. Other shop specialties include the most tried and tested local steelhead jigs in the valley. Waters is a bobber fishing guru whose advice and custom steelhead jigs helped fuel the author’s passion for steelhead when Water’s Edge opened in 1998. “Some guys just don’t like to be focused on that damned bobber all the time, but that and lots of fishing is how to catch 200 or 300 fish in a season,” said Waters. Whether on hook or jig, thousands of steelhead are landed every year by anglers dangling Waters’ shrimp below slip bobbers. Schultz and Wyatt confirm Water’s claims about bobbers; both begin their guided trips with slip-bobbers before resorting to trolling, using shrimp, jigs, and sometimes eggs. Waters says his Red-Hots are the bait of choice for the lower Clearwater, and that Stu’s Purples are also becoming popular. He also sells his Oranges, Pinks, and Nuclear Power (chartreuse), and his latest creation, Stu’s Hookey Shrimp, which is left undyed so as not to stain one’s hands – a dead giveaway at work for playing steelhead hookey. —JH

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TROUT

‘Footballs That Fight Back’ WINTER PLUS ANOTHER NET PEN RELEASE SHOULD EQUAL A GOOD SEASON FOR TRIPLOIDS ON RUFUS.

BRIDGEPORT,

Wash.—December in North-central Washington is about football. No, not laced-grip pigskins tossed in backyards or Friday nights spent at high school fields. The footballs I am talking about are aggressive and feisty rainbows whose girth measurements often rival their length, and fight can be compared to that of a linebacker on a 3rd-and-1 with nobody between him and the quarterback. Rufus Woods is home to these footballs, and with winter action kicking off in December, fishing only gets better as Super Bowl weekend nears. That said, the 51-mile stretch of the Columbia above Chief Joseph Dam sustained an injury in spring 2011 when runoff coldcocked the system. Ed Shallenberger, the longtime tribal fisheries biologist for the Colville Confederated Tribes who also used to operate commercial netpens here, explained to me that two important things

occurred with the high flows. First, the turbulence created high gas concentrations in the water which killed lots of fish. Pacific Aquaculture, at one point last summer, stated they were losing 100,000 fish a week due to upstream water dumping. Shallenberger adds that fish died in the river too, but to what extent is unknown. The second effect of the high water was a combination of the first and the flows. With a high mortality in the net pens themselves the dead fish created both extra drag and heavy weight for the net pens, causing them to tear open. Pacific Aquaculture stated around 100,000 fish escaped when a net pen broke. This turned into a bonus fishery last summer in Rufus Woods as well as below Chief Joe. Shallenberger says fishing was great. He also did a little fish release of his own. The Colvilles raise redband rainbows collected from streams and lakes on the

reservation and rear these indigenous trout in net pens. Most of the 40,000 redbands are released back into their natal waterways, but some were let go in Rufus Woods. Shallenberger says that he could see the high water coming, and since they are not a commercial operation, did an early release of the fish so the fish could escape the gasses. The tribes also support the fishery by buying triploid rainbows from the fish farmers for release. These are the trophy trout that people head up here for. But due to economic times the tribe doesn’t have the money to buy a lot of fish this year. And since there was such a high escapement this summer, they plan on buying and planting Rufus Woods in late February. Shallenberger says this was mostly because they wanted to release the fish after the coldest water flowed. That said, he says this about the fish-

Nespelem COLVILLE INDIAN RESERVATION

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Timm Ranch Boat Launch (rough) Upper Net Pens

Rufus Woods LEGEND Best fishing Boat launch Lower Net Pens 155

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TROUT

Rufus Woods winter angler Bailey Fletcher shows off a 7-pound triploid she caught off the banks of the North-central Washihngton reservoir in late December 2009. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

ing: “I think it will be good this winter.” And referring to the net-pen escapees, he stresses, “100,000 fish, that’s a lot of fish in the river.”

FISHING ON RUFUS WOODS begins right above Chief Joseph at the can line, and is also concentrated around the upstream pens off Columbia River Road between Nespelem and Omak. Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad’s Family Guide Service (509-687-0709) likes to use artificial gear so he doesn’t have to worry if someone wants to release a fish and keep trying for their two-fish limit. “Our No. 1 presentation is a black or olive size 1 to size 4 Woolly Bugger with either a Mack’s Lures smile blade or an Action Disk by Wigglefin.com in front of 72 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol.1]

it. In front of the blade or disk, we place a bead with a 1⁄8- to ¼-ounce bullet weight in the lead.” He will also troll broken-back Rapalas and spinners 125 to 175 feet behind the boat. Jones says that some people like to use Wedding Ring spinners tipped with bait, like nightcrawler chunks. While bait is allowed, even if you do release a fish caught with worms (or eggs or dough), you must count it as part of your daily limit. With most fish in fairly shallow water or high in the water column, not more than 20 or 30 feet, casting spinners such as black ¼-ounce Rooster Tails or Mack’s Promise Keepers can pay off too. Jones fishes the reservoir from his heated boat.

“On our 21-foot North River, when we have a guide and four anglers on board, we can fish 10 rods if they all have a two-rod endorsement. In this application, we typically fish eight rods. We troll two long rods out the sides, two rods off the downriggers, one ‘cheater’ rod out of a holder down the center. We will try to have one caster in the front and one in the back throwing towards shore. Then, if the guys have the energy, we have one throwing out the back of the boat into deeper water too. “This combination of casting with trolling has a couple of benefits. First, casting catches additional fish that you wouldn’t get just trolling. Second, the excitement can be similar to the rush muskie guys get when they see a big fish follow but not bite. When you see a big


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Guide Anton Jones’ “No. 1 presentation” on Rufus Woods is a size 1 to 4 black or olive Woolly Bugger behind an Action Disk (above) or Mack’s Lures smile blade (below). (ANTON JONES)

rainbow following your spinner right to the boat, it really adds to the excitement even if you don’t get it to bite. I’ve seen 20-plus-pound rainbows right there! “Lastly, the casting and trolling work together to increase your trolling bag. You will drag a certain number of fish that follow your casting presentation right out into your trolling spread and get some of them to bite,” Jones says. If you can’t get the fish to bite or are bank bound, then your best bet is to soak

some bait near the net pens. Use a slip sinker and a long leader; the fish in the net pens release a large amount of “fertilizer,” so weeds can be a problem. This is also part of the Columbia and if the gate operators decide it’s time to release water at the dam, then currents can get pretty swift, so take a variety of sliding weights along. Jones runs 4- to 6-foot-long leaders with 3⁄8 to 4 ounces of lead and a size 4 hook baited with a big glob of Fire Bait. So from now until Super Bowl Sunday,

hit Rufus Woods for footballs that fight back. Heck, right around the time of the big game’s halftime show there should be some fresh plants of the big triploids to go after. – JASON BROOKS Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.

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TROUT

Brown Town Again TUI CHUB ERADICATION, ELBOW GREASE BRINGING BACK FAMED TROUT FISHERY AT OREGON’S LEMOLO LAKE. CHEMULT, Ore.—Ever since it was created in 1954, Lemolo Lake has been a brown bagger’s paradise of renown. Back in days of yore, fat 12- to 14-inch German browns commonly filled many fishermen’s stringers. But in 2008 it became apparent that the trout population at the lake high in the North Umpqua was rapidly dwindling. Even the most experienced anglers started noticing that scratching one brown during the magic hour that occurs near sunrise and sunset was an exercise in futility. The decay of this once-magnificent fishery started with the lake’s sudden inundation of non-native tui chub back in 2006. A lake’s overall health depends on zooplankton, a microorganism that gorges on blue-green algae. Both tui chub and fingerling trout thrive on zooplankton, but since tuis are prolific breeders, they can deplete an entire reservoir of zooplankton in less than five years. In a famous journal article written by Paul Kucera, it was determined that one female tui chub could contain anywhere from 6,100 to 68,933 eggs. The older a tui is, the more eggs it produces, so a lake’s water quality as well as the life of its trout population can be rapidly choked out in only a few short years. Over the years it became more obvious to scientists that once the chub are introduced in any salmonid-containing waterbody, a trout fishery is doomed for eternity, or until rotenoning. However, there now appears to be an alternative to chemically treating a lake, and an Oregon resort owner has proven it. In 2008 Scott Lamb told me that he was bound and determined to save Lemolo using nets and a 74 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

(LARRY ELLIS)

harmless substance called elbow grease. “We’ve pulled a hundred ton of tui chub out of Lemolo in the last three years,” said Lamb, owner of Lemolo Lake Resort (541-643-0750). “And we’re getting ready to start our fourth year in 2011.”

THE BROWNS ARE BACK! Last year Lamb started seeing fewer chub in his nets and more browns (the latter released un-

harmed) and began to develop a more positive outlook for the outcome of the fishery. Then, in late spring, all hell broke loose. I received a phone call from a very exuberant resort owner who was so excited he could hardly speak. “You’ve got to get out here,” exclaimed Lamb. “The fishing here has just gone kooky. I’ve got people who have fished here for 30 years with smiles on their faces


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TROUT NF

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Fish deep for big browns Rainbows, kokes Rainbows, browns, kokes Fly fish for browns, rainbows Bounce lures off bottom for big browns Brown trout Pitch and retrieve Viscious Voodoos Coves with submerged structure – hot spot when shaded Great spot for pitching and retrieving

from Diamond Lake

pulling me over to the side and asking me, ‘What in the heck is going on with your fishery?’” When I asked him what the veterans meant, he told me: “Folks that have fished this lake for over 30 years have never seen the fishing this good – ever! People are limiting out on the bank in 20 minutes and then calling their friends and family to come over and join them. There’s even one guy who’s camping out who has been catching 50 fish in two hours from his float tube – and they’re all browns!” The burnout marks are still on my driveway. As I was walked into the resort, a girl and her family were sauntering by with a 76 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Slow troll flies and Bingo Bugs or rip-troll for browns Boat launch Camping

huge stringer full of browns and rainbows. Some of the metal clips had two fish on them. I took five fish off their stringer and put them on my fish stick for a quick Kodak moment. Then I asked Lamb when the best time would be to hit the lake in the morning. What I heard next knocked me clear to Christmas. “Larry, the magic hour for browns at Lemolo’s been changed,” he said. “You don’t even have to get up early. The magic hour is any time you feel like fishing.” For a brief moment, I thought Scott was surely in danger of overplaying his hand, because as all serious brown-baggers know, the best time to fish is during the first and last hour of legal light. But I became a believer the next morning when I hopped in a

boat with Scott’s son Quinton at the crack of 9 and began plucking brownies out of the water as fast as we could cast. At the end of the day’s session, we had caught conservatively over 60 ranging between 11 to 15 inches. I likened the experience to catching rainbows next to a hatchery truck, only these were browns and they were all wild. The ones I kept were the best-tasting trout I had ever eaten. During our expedition there were always signs of even larger browns lurking nearby. As I looked toward one side of the bank, a salmon-sized brownie porpoised out of the water – easily 10 pounds or greater. Two fellows in another boat were also wielding stringers full of browns, and later at the resort they talked about the big


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breeders they had released. At the resort I also got a chance to speak to two gents who had fished Lemolo for over three decades. They told me the fishing was even better than they could ever remember.

WHAT TO USE Folks around the lake were catching browns on Rooster Tails, Vibrax spinners, Tasmanian Devils and a lure that Lamb makes himself called a Viscious Voodoo. I caught all my browns on the Voodoo. When you’re fishing jigs such as those and Kastmasters, the first thing to remember is that these fish are going to pick up your jig on the fall, so make sure that you’re feeling for a strike as the lure is sinking toward the bottom. The other thing is to twitch your lure on the retrieve. What I do is make my cast and then let my line go completely slack. If a brown hasn’t picked up your lure on the sink, then follow these hints: Use your rod to put all of the action on your jig. As soon as your jig hits the bottom, reel up your slack and point your rod tip toward the water, almost laying the tip on the surface. While lifting your jig, make six quick twitches in an upward manner at the rate of about five or six twitches a second. Your twitches should be short enough to allow you to make about 12 of these movements in about two seconds. On each twitch of the jig, allow a tiny bit of slack to occur before making your next twitch. These twitch/fall mini-movements happen so fast they are barely perceptible. After your cadence of 12 twitches, your rod tip should be approximately 2 to 3 feet above the water. You probably won’t catch any browns on the upswing, but these mini-twitches will catch the eye of a brown from 10 feet away in gin-clear water and it absolutely drives them berserk. The next step is to let your jig fall back to the bottom on a slightly loose line. This is when the wound-up brownies dart out from behind cover to nail your jig. While letting your jig fall, sometimes make one or two quick twitches spaced about one second from each other. Keep repeating this procedure until you either hook up with a fish or retrieve your lure back to the boat.

My line preference is 6-pound-test Ande clear mono because I firmly believe it is the clearest line known to man besides fluorocarbon and works the best in gin-clear environments. For a change of pace, Quinton decided to throw some Tasmanian Devils. It didn’t even matter what color he used; the browns bit them all. Just remember to give it those magic twitches.

RAINBOWS Since Lemolo has been rescued from the tuis, rainbow trout action has also picked up. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks two varieties of rainbows here: the regular Rock Creek strain and another strain called a Fishwich, which is a predacious ’bow put in the lake to eat tuis. The rainbows overwinter quite well and that means that by the time you catch them, their meat will have firmed up since the holdovers are eating what trout should eat in the wild and they should taste excellent in the frying pan. Some of these fish may be between 2 and 4 pounds. Anglers often line the banks in front of the resort tossing out chartreuse-colored PowerBait on a sliding sinker rig, but these fish will also readily smack a Rooster Tail. The browns respond to the flutter-down effect of a spinner as well.

SUMMER, FALL FISHING I was there in midspring, and judging by the number of fish I and other anglers caught before and afterwards, summer and fall seasons should also produce some lights-out fishing for ’bows and brownies. All of the arms and the main body of the lake will produce in summer. Both browns and rainbows will respond to trolling methods as well as casting and pitching lures. Fly-lining a nightcrawler without any weight is also a good method that works for both species. Trolling black ants and Woolly Buggers with a 2-pound-test mainline with a small split shot 24 inches ahead of it is a killer way of getting the bigger Fishwich ’bows to bite. Long-line your flies at least 150 feet behind the boat. Trolling Rooster Tails and Panther Martins work well, but long line them because the water, again, is gin-clear.

This is a great lake to fish with two rods if you’ve got a two-rod endorsement. But trust me on this one, you’ll probably have one rod too many. With the fast action I encountered, one rod was more than sufficient. However, it never hurts to have another outfit rigged and ready to go in case you break off or feel like throwing these fish a changeup. In July and August troll in both the Umpqua and Lake Creek Arms. If no fish are biting at all during the middle of the day, wait for the original magic hour that occurs at first legal light to begin trolling and/or casting spinners, jigs and spoons. If the wind has kicked up a little, shut off your motor and let the wind drift you up or down the arms. Never pass up trolling or wind-drifting in the deep channels as they transition into shallow water. This is how I caught all of my browns, by letting the wind push the boat up the North Umpqua Arm. In these cases I was making very long casts and using the above jigging technique. But when your boat is being pushed by the wind, allow your lure to sink a little longer. This same technique works well in fall as well, but during this time, especially October, you’ll find more rainbows from the beginnings of the arms to their middle parts. For big browns rip-troll Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows 200 feet behind the boat, or target them in fall, especially October. Mature browns will migrate up the arms to spawn in the North Umpqua and Lake Creek. Trolling toward the inlets can be very rewarding, but watch for stumps in the north arm. If you’ve never caught a Teutonic trout, you’ll never find a better time than the present to initiate yourself into the brownbaggers’ society. With Lamb’s continued trap-netting keeping the tuis in check, the browns are back at the top of the food chain. Look for Lemolo to be the preeminent brown trout fishery of the Northwest for years to come. –LARRY ELLIS Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going. 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

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KOKANEE

Crescent Lake Kokanee nt

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LaPINE, Ore.–Tucked on the eastern slopes of the Oregon Cascades is a 4,000-acre natural lake LEGEND with a forage base so Best July kokanee fishing prolific that it produces Good July-September kokanee fishing the most dependable lunker-kokanee fishery Campground Crescent Lake Resort: http://www.crescentlakeresort.com/ in the entire state. Depths are shown in feet And in July, Crescent Lake is hands-down the go-to reservoir for kokanee hunters. Mapped -60 “We get big kokanee NF Area in here,” confirms Tom Forestelle, owner of Crescent Lake Lodge and Resort (541-433-2505; crescentlakeresort.com). “They average from 15 to 17 inches.” Crescent is mainly a Tranquil 200 trolling show, so break Cove 160 out your dodgers and 120 hoochies. 80 “The best fishing for Contorta Pt. kokes in July would be Rainbow Pt. Tandy from Rainbow Point to 20 Bay 40 Boy Scout Camp,” aka Camp Makualla, says Gary Miralles, owner of Shasta Tackle (530-275NF-60 2278). “The good fish Map information courtesy National Geographic Maps will be near shore in the morning and will move out into deeper water after the sun gets up. The fish might be in combination imparts an irregular action to 30 feet of water early and 60 feet late in your lure that kokanee find hard to resist. the day. Just fish parallel to the shore 10 Another tip is to always put a kernel of to 20 feet off the bottom. And for bigger corn on the hook point. Miralles brings a fish, hunt for isolated fish off some type variety of small containers of corn to the of structure or bottom usually in deeper table which include natural corn, colored water. After locating them, work them corn and corn soaked in garlic. He even until they bite.” puts a kernel of corn on the end of a redMiralles favors using two Sling Blade head-colored Cripplure. dodgers in tandem with each other. By Don’t pass up the flats on the westhooking up a No. 4 to a No. 3 dodger, the ern side of the lake as well as the stretch

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from the resort down to the camp along Simax Beach. There are two boat launches on either side of Crescent Lake Resort, which also features a restaurant, sells groceries and has a full line of fishing tackle. – LARRY ELLIS Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going. Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

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BASS

Emigrant Lake Smallmouth the cove back near the inlet,” Tony says. ASHLAND, Ore.–Situated in a remote porwalls and letting them fall vertically. “I‘ve always fished around that big tion of southern Oregon in the Siskiyou Tony Budesilich, the other half of bay. What a lot of people don’t realize is Mountains is a lake that looks like a horseBacklash Tackle who also likes fishing for that there are a lot of underwater brush shoe – a shape that brings good luck to bass at Emigrant, offers another tactic for piles right in the middle of the bay that fishermen in the summertime. first-timers. produce a lot of fish.” –LARRY ELLIS There are a lot of reasons why you After launching your boat, head for the should take your family fishing at Emisouth end of the west arm, where an inlet Editor’s note: This article is from a previous grant Lake this summer – eight of them surrounded by exposed willows forms a issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to to be exact. This Jackson County impoundlarge bay. The exposed willows are perfect check current regulations before going. ment has plenty of largemouth and smallplaces to start throwing a variety of topmouth bass, crappie and bluegill, brown water lures early in the morning in late bullhead and stocked rainbow trout. It June and early July, when the lake is in its also has yellow perch and channel catfish, full summer cycle. both of which were illegally introduced. “Later on when they start dropping that LEGEND June and July are prime months to inlake, the bass will be in the willow bushes Throw Senkos at underwater troduce your kids to catching smallmouth on the extreme righthand side near I-5 in brush piles for smallmouth because the bronzebacks are and largemouth bass E m plentiful, they’re easy to ig Throw crappie jigs in the ra catch and you can catch nt brush for crappie and bluegill Cr them on a variety of lures Emigrant . Rock walls and baits. Channel During these months the Willows majority of bass will have alNorth boat ramp Boat launch ready gone through the spawning and postspawn West boat ramp Helms Cove phases, so they are going to be Emigrant hungry and eager biters, Lake Rd. healed up from the wounds of Mapped their laborious spawning cycle. Area “I would go ahead and

Emigrant Lake

Recreation Area Cemetary Gr ee

nS

Spr

pri

s ing ay

hw

Hig

80 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Emigrant Lake

66

en Gre

concentrate against the rock walls where any kind of heat is going to be generated into the water,” says Patty Budesilich, tournament bass professional and owner of Backlash Tackle (541-9550312) in Grants Pass. If you’re launching at the North Boat Ramp, travel to the left and go pass the dam. You will immediately start seeing rocky shoreline containing rock walls just before you get to Helms Cove. Budesilich advises anglers to start throwing tube jigs such as Gitzits against the rock

Hill Creek Arm

ng

sS

66

pu

r

Emigrant Singer Wayside Emigrant Creek Creek Arm 0

1/ 8 1/ 4

1/ 2

scale in miles

Old Highway 99 273

Map information courtesy National Geographic Maps

Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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CRAPPIE

Brownlee Reservoir Crappie

ne

La

Moody Road

ds oo W

accommodations at a reasonable price. slip-bobber. An ordinary clip-on will do, RICHLAND, Ore.–A poor bite at BrownThorny Hampton, who owns the store leaving about 4 feet of line. lee Reservoir is better than the best fish(open 8-7 seven days a week) and motel, Don’t pass up any bushes in the flats. ing at any other Oregon lake. is also an invaluable source of informaYou will want to throw your bobbers close That’s a pretty bold statement, but tion and has the means to certify a fish to the brush, especially if it’s submerged. Brownlee isn’t any old impoundment. It’s a as a state record, should you get lucky. Over on the Snake River side of the resermagnificent super-reservoir that, year after This is the only motel in town, and bevoir, look for coves containing bushes. year, continues to defy the laws of nature. cause of the popularity of this fishery, you Catfish are Gorbet’s secondmost popIn May, anybody can catch crappie by the will need to book in advance. ular guided trip, with crappie being numero ice chest full at the Snake River impoundment, when the mottled slabs are in prespawn, grouped up near shore and gulping down jigs as Brownlee fast as you toss them out. I did this very Reservoir Richland thing in 2009 with guide Gary Gorbet’s 1 0 1/ 4 1/ 2 Sullivan Lane of Brownlee Charters Hewitt, Holcomb scale in miles Parks (541-893-6863). Map information courtesy National Geographic Maps In June, the crappie move offshore Powder and are in scattered LEGEND River Arm schools. But in July, Fish points for bass black crappie should Work backs of coves for bluegill, crappie and be voracious feeders. catfish The white crappie Zigzag off points, coves looking for dense Snake River Road are the last to spawn plankton blooms which attract crappie schools Daly Creek and will most likely Boat launch Road be in the first stages of postspawn. To find crappie, watch for rock slides uno. Most in the lake will be channel cats, THERE ARE BOAT ramps at both Holthat look unusual compared to their surwith a portion of them being blues and an comb and Hewitt Parks, in Brownlee’s roundings. Also look for points of land. even smaller population being flatheads. Powder River Arm. Camping at either Zigzag your boat around either until you For smallmouth, also popular, don’t pass costs $11 a night or there is a $4 day-use locate a school on your meter. If it’s a very up any point, nor former Highway 86, which fee that includes a launch fee. There are large school, you can anchor up on the runs through the center of the reservoir. fish-cleaning facilities at both parks. school itself. To get here, follow I-84 east and then take Highway 86 toward Richland for 39 BEFORE ARRIVING AT BROWNLEE, miles. JULY IS ALSO THE MONTH water-walkmake sure to have all your provisions on Brownlee Reservoir is also one of ing catfish, so to speak, start making their hand before you get to your motel or many waters in Oregon where you can appearance. Actually they’re doing headcampground because the closest store fish with a second-rod endorsement. stands on their whiskers, often on the open at night is in Baker City, about 39 –LARRY ELLIS flats with their tails in the air, feeding vermiles from Richland. tically on plankton on rocks. Look upriver The Hitching Post Grocery (541-893Editor’s note: This article is from a previous from the Hewitt and Holcomb Parks 6175) in Richland sells fishing licenses and issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to where flats are prevalent. has a very good selection of groceries as check current regulations before going. Using a bobber is the technique of well as fishing tackle. And the Hitching choice in the flats, though not a fancy Post Motel, next to the store, has excellent tte ne bi Ro

ad

Ro

Powder River Arm

Map art: RJThompsonART.com

2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 81


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WALLEYE

Potholes Reservoir Walleye MOSES LAKE, Wash.–If you enjoy solitude, have warm thermals and can handle a rod and reel with neoprene gloves, consider a winter outing to the Columbia Basin for walleye. Well, maybe a late-winter outing, when the days will be slightly longer, the temperatures slightly warmer, the ice melted off the reservoirs, and marbleyes becoming more active. Where should you go? At the Potholes Reservoir, assuming the ice is gone, look for hungry walleye anywhere from around those trout netpens by Mar Don Resort (509-346-2651) at the west end of the dam, to all the midlake humps and island breaks in this reservoir. “Actually, just about anywhere you find 22- to 25-foot water breaking off to

Potholes Reservoir Walleye

35- to 45-foot water, you’re going to find walleyes,” says guide Levi Meseberg at the resort. “The real trick is to find active fish, those that are ready to feed. I’ve always done best this time of year with either jigs or blades, but I know guys who do really well dragging spinner-baited rigs.” In late winter with cold water, he advises trolling super-slow with Smile Blades. “A good rule of thumb is to confine your trolling to the bigger flats – the humps that have some real breadth. If you get walleyes up on top of those, spinnerrigs will work real well. But on the smaller humps, I’d stick to the blade baits or jigs.” When we’ve had warm winters followed by warm springs, I’ve had good March days fishing east of the bridge that crosses Lind Coulee, but Meseberg assures

C

ra

e re

nn el

2

scale in miles

82 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

262

5 S.E.

6 S.E.

Lind Coulee East Bridge Lind Coulee West Bridge

Goose Island

ay

Potholes State Park 1

K S.E.

ha

1/2

H il l s

n

L S.E.

C

0

hma

M S.E.

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Sand Dunes

nc F re

Mapped Area

C Medicare Beach

ew

Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.

Sand Dunes

b

LEGEND Troll, jig humps, dropoffs to deeper water March prespawn staging areas Boat launch

st Wa

me this only happened when water temperatures have been 10 degrees or more above normal. On cold years, that bite hasn’t happened until “well into April.” The narrow coulee channel is definitely trolling water, with super-light bottom walkers, or maybe some straight bait fishing. Head up past the chalk cliffs or beyond, anywhere you still can navigate the water, and you might find walleyes, if not in late March, definitely sometime in April. At times you’ll catch them along the edges of 4-foot channels, and often they’re in no more than 6 feet of water. – LEROY LEDEBOER

Blythe

an lliv u S O’

m Da

Glen Williams

Lind Coulee Island Good in spring above bridge

Mar Don Resort

Map art: RJThompsonART.com


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ELK

Tire-torture Spikes

GIVE YOUR TRUCK A LITTLE TLC BEFORE HEADING OUT FOR YAKIMA, KITTITAS COUNTY BULL ELK. ELLENSBURG,

Wash.—

Preparing for hunting season involves more than just hiking around, sighting in your rifle, getting your camping gear together and putting an edge on your knife. I’ve always taken very good care of my truck, and nowadays, driving a 2009 Toyota Tacoma 4X4 with about 44,000 miles (purchased new the last day of July 2008), almost religiously the oil gets changed every 2,500 miles and the Ujoints get a shot of grease every 4,500 miles. Recently, this rig got a brand new set of allweather mud-and-snow tires, it got a wax job not long ago and will get another on a nice weekend afternoon prior to the general buck opener. I may also replace the shock absorbers. All of this maintenance is in anticipation of another rugged fall on the beat-up roads inside the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area for deer and spike elk. That may find me back up on the L.T. Murray, west of Ellensburg at the east end of Taneum Ridge and south to the Manastash country, where the roads are bad when dry, and murder on a vehicle’s suspension in mud and snow.

THE UPPER L.T. MURRAY,

0

5

10

scale in miles

which butts up against the Map art: RJThompsonART.com

2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 83


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ELK Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, seems to hold a fair number of elk. The Murray is a big place, covering more than 54,000 acres. From the west end, take the USFS Road 3330 off the Taneum Creek road and follow the signs that take one to Tamarack Springs. Head east from there down into the L.T. Murray, go slow and hang on, because that road is awful! Many people also head up the Watt Canyon road from the gate just off of Thorp Cemetery Road. Watt Canyon is rugged terrain, but that’s why elk seem to like it – people don’t! Get up on top, where the terrain “kind of” improves (the roads don’t) and stay on the Green Dot system. Find a good campsite and start hiking. One may hunt a bit farther east and south on the Manastash side. The country is a bit more open here, the roads just as rough. It may be imperative to have a map of this area even if it is just the national forest map, because none of the roads are

84 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

identified by name, though you can follow Green Dot posts. You will occasionally pass a range/township marker, and that’s where the map comes in handy, because you can then pinpoint your exact location. A good GPS unit will help out as well. One might also take a good look at the Robinson Canyon stretch, as there is both water and cover down through here, yet places where a hunter can sit down with a good pair of binoculars and glass the terrain. Let someone else move those elk around while you stay put.

WEATHER CAN BE a godsend or a bugaboo. In fall 2009, on the second and final weekend of the season, my brother and I hunted first up on the national forest in a couple of feet of snow, but headed down onto the L.T. Murray and found a campsite southeast of Tamarack Springs. The next morning, some kid spooked a band of elk right through our camp. There was no spike in the bunch, but a monster 5-point came crashing out of the timber

behind several cows and a calf. (Damn those spike-only regulations!) Canyons big and small are where you will find elk holed up, so be willing to get in there after them. This takes a pair of strong legs and lungs, and if you get one down, it will take help getting it out. It is likely that I’ll be scouting this area out the second weekend of the mule deer season, and moving in somewhere on Friday morning, the day before the traditional last-Saturday-in-October opener. Anybody planning to be my neighbor up there better get his rig tuned up and make sure your tires are up to the challenge. Look for tire sales, check the plugs, battery and fuel filter. If you don’t get new tires, check the air pressure on your current set and make sure it is up to snuff. –DAVE WORKMAN Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going.


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DEER

Northeast Washington and Idaho Panhandle Whitetails 105

NOVEMBER’S PRIME TIME FOR TAKING A BIG BUCK IN THE NORTHWEST’S BEST FLAGTAIL COUNTRY – BUT BEWARE NEW 4-POINT-OR-BETTER RESTRICTIONS IN TWO WASHINGTON UNITS.

95

Metaline 31 Falls

111

25 395

1

Northport Leadpoint

113

108

Tiger

Kettle Falls Colville 31

1 Bonners Ferry

Nordman

2

20

Ruby

Naples

57

25

2

Addy

Cusick Chewelah

Gifford

121

117

Sandpoint 200

Newport

Clark Fork

211

Springdale 395 2 Diamond Fruitland Lake Deer Park Tumtum 231

124

Long Lake

Lakeview

95

206

291

4A

2

41 Athol 54

Hayden Coeur d’Alene

90

Spokane

Best whitetail areas Unit boudary State boundary

3 Harrison

3

90

Pinehurst

Wallace 5

Calder 50

95

5

6

Avery

6

Santa

8 5

10

7

Fernwood 3

0

COLVILLE, Wash.–October’s the best month? Not so fast. November is where the action is. That’s the month when sexaddled whitetail bucks can make Joe Average hunters look like antler-rattlin’ all-stars. In Northeast Washington and Idaho’s Panhandle, November’s late hunts are a time when your odds are bet-

Murray

I D A H O

LEGEND

W A S H I N G T O N

Inland Empire Whitetails

Map art: RJThompsonART.com

4

53

Mapped Mapped Area Area

9 Elk River

20

10A

scale in miles

Pierce

Orofino 11

Greer

Kamiah Kooskia 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Northwest Sportsman 85


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DEER ter, and more big bucks are taken. With at least the possibility of fresh snow on the ground and the beginning of the rut, this hunt is the best chance for most riflemen, particular those just learning this area, to drop a real trophy. “If we get an early heavy snowfall, that will definitely increase this year’s harvest,” notes Dana Base, a Washington wildlife biologist based in Colville. The region, however, suffered from killer winters in the late 2000s, a longterm decline number of farms and conversion of cereal crops to either weeds or ranchettes, and predation, all of which are affecting whitetail numbers. That said, compare the Northeast with the rest of the state, and it’s still deerrich. A 25-percent success rate might be a drop-off here, but would be a fantastic

leap forward elsewhere. “If your goal is to shoot a really big buck, those last five days of the late (rifle) hunt are by far the best,” says Dale Denney at Bearpaw Outfitters (509-6846294) in Colville. “That’s when they really move into the rut. “We hunt primarily private lands, because that’s where we find the greatest concentration of deer and consequently are going to have our highest success rates. But for a freelancer who’s really out after a trophy, he might consider hunting that high, remote public ground, where there are fewer deer, but some of the biggest bucks. “Chewelah Creek, in Unit 117, the Little Pend Oreille Lakes that border 111 and 117, the Meadow Lakes area in 111, and the Springdale Summit over in 121 – those

would be just a few good spots where every year a few really nice bucks get taken. In those last five days of the late season, you can sit just off a good game trail, watching for a big buck sniffing out doe scent. “But, of course, to really up your odds, particularly if you just want to fill your tag, you need to knock on doors and try to get on private farm land. That’s where the most deer are, not only because of last winter’s survival rates. That’s where the most deer are season after season.” –LEROY LEDEBOER

IDAHO PANHANDLE Pat Flach at Eidnes Furs (208-245-4753 ) in St. Maries, Idaho, has killed his share of 150-class bucks in Northern Idaho, preferring to hunt from stands or trees that he has used for decades in the farm-field country of Benewah County’s Unit 5. Rattling from stands is a way to manage risk. The higher you are, the farther you can see and it lessens the chance of an incoming buck to catch your scent. The method works in the Palouse farmlands of the western Panhandle’s border country that Idaho shares with Washington. From the state’s Clearwater Region north to Canada, hunters can find uniform habitat to chase their quarry depending how far east they travel. The western border country is comprised of agricultural land of fields broken by wood lots of pine. The farther east one goes, the more the country tends toward an angular array of lumpy ground that is heavily timbered. These are the foothills

of the Bitterroot Mountains. The best whitetail hunting is arguably somewhere from the middle part of the Panhandle, west. That’s where Flach concentrates his efforts. Although North Idaho has produced its share of big whitetail bucks, the lower ratio of bucks to does makes it harder to rattle in big deer. Jeff Wolter, a state forester who spent years rattling whitetails in the Clearwater Region, says hunters should use weather and micro-regions to their advantage. “When you get into pockets of high concentrations, that creates more competition, and it makes rattling more successful,” he says. One thing that concentrates where he hunts along the southern edge of Dworshak Reservoir, in Unit 10A, is an early snow. Whitetails move down the mountains to the reservoir, and densities in the rural woodlands jump. “But, it’s got to be an early snow,” be-

cause the best time to rattle North Idaho whiteys is the first two weeks of November before the rut is in full swing, he says. “It’s a pretty hard to beat the area from the reservoir down to Orofino,” he says. Mark Moeller hunts lake edges too, though his favorite hunting spot for Panhandle whitetails, around Priest Lake in Unit 1, has seen hard winters and increasing numbers of wolves. Instead, he will focus his rattling efforts in Unit 3, the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River drainage. “I hunt all over, but mostly I love hunting the Coeur d’Alene River drainage,” he says. He sticks to the small feeder streams, hiking them from the river inland until finds a spot that offers a field of view. “When the conditions are good, when it’s a calm morning, when the sound really carries, and when you find where the deer are running, that’s the best time and place to rattle,” Moeller says. –RALPH BARTHOLDT

86 Northwest Sportsman 2012 ATLAS [vol. 3]

Editor’s note: This article is from a previous issue of Northwest Sportsman. Be sure to check current regulations before going as there is a new 4-point minimum in GMUs 117 and 121.


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Northwest Sportsman 87


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atlas_2012  

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