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FISHING • HUNTING • NEWS NWSPORTSMANMAG.COM

7 REASONS TO

ROAMFROM CHROME! Basin, East Gorge WALLEYE Portland, Tri-Cities BASS Brownlee CRAPPIE & More!

Columbia PIKE Problems

LATESEASON GOBBLERS 7 Deadly Tricks To Tag A Tom ALSO INSIDE:

Oregon Coast HALIBUT

Umpqua, Cowlitz Roosevelt, Chelan SPRINGERS KOKANEE

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Sportsman Northwest

Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 11 • Issue 8 PUBLISHER James R. Baker

Your Complete Hunting, Boating, Fishing and Since 1948. Fi hi d Repair R i Destination D i i Si

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Dick Openshaw EDITOR Andy Walgamott LEAD CONTRIBUT0R Andy Schneider THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS Jason Black, Jason Brooks, Dave Graybill, Scott Haugen, Wayne Heinz, Sara Ichtertz, Keith Jensen, MD Johnson, Randy King, Todd Martin, Buzz Ramsey, Mark Veary, Terry Wiest, Dave Workman EDITORIAL FIELD SUPPORT Jason Brooks GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Garn Kennedy, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold

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ON THE COVER Mike Fung holds a Columbia River walleye, caught last May while fishing with Andy Schneider. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

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CONTENTS

VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 8

FEATURES 38

BANKING ON PORTLAND Underneath its bountiful bridges and along its esplanades runs a river teeming with fish, and Portlander Jason Black’s been after them for a decade. He details what can be caught as the Willamette courses through Rip City in a great pictorial.

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EAST GORGE WALLEYE Giving up is not an option! In years of low salmonid returns, Northwest anglers would be wise to branch out and try other fisheries, and as our AndyCoho has discovered, walleye are a pretty good plan B. He shares how to fish for them in The Dalles and John Day Pools in May.

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BASIN WALLEYE Most of the year you’ll get by with ol’ tried-and-trues –slow-trolling a spinner rig and worm behind a bottom bouncer or dragging a crankbait – for walleye at Moses and Banks Lakes, but local guide Keith Jensen says certain patterns arise this time of year that call for a switch to “situational” tactics.

61

COLUMBIA BASS, BAROMETERS AND THE MOON In part III of his three-part series mining more than two decades of bass fishing records, Tri-Cities’ Wayne Heinz tries to answer the question of whether the pea-sized brains of the smallies in his nearby rivers are affected by atmospheric conditions and moon phases.

101 NORTH UMPQUA SPRINGERS Precariously balanced on its slick rocks, Sara Ichtertz has learned there’s more to her beloved North Umpqua than just steelhead. She shares how her love for its “finicky yet amazing” spring Chinook has grown over the years.

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ESPERANZA INLET SALMON, BOTTOMFISH

(TODD MARTIN)

Located in this inlet just off the fabled “salmon highway” along the west side of Vancouver Island is a new floating resort that offers quick access to Chinook-, coho- and bottomfish-filled waters, and offers luxurious lodging for anglers looking to get away from it all. Our Todd Martin checked out Newton Cove Resort and reports back on what he found. 133 OREGON COAST HALIBUT Oregon’s halibut quota saw a nice bump this season, and with all-depths weekends firing up this month, our angler of all trades Andy Schneider preps you for flattie fishing off the North and Central Coasts!

143 LATE-SEASON GOBBLERS Time’s beginning to run out for tagging your spring turkey, but our expert gobbler gunner MD Johnson has seven deadly tricks up his camouflagued sleeve that just could turn the tide on a tom before season wraps up later this month.

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Go to nwsportsmanmag.com for details. NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Periodical Postage Paid at Seattle, WA and at additional mail offices. (USPS 025-251) POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Northwest Sportsman, 14240 Interurban Ave South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Annual subscriptions are $29.95 (12 issues), 2-year subscription are $39.95 (24 issues). Send check or money order to Media Index Publishing Group, or call (206) 382-9220 with VISA or M/C. Back issues may be ordered at Media Index Publishing Group offices at the cost of $5 plus shipping. Display Advertising. 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 © 2017 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.

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COLUMNS (WILDSTEELHEADERS.ORG)

109 WESTSIDER You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! Terry interviews “The General,” Bill Herzog, in part I of a two-part series that looks at the life, times and thoughts of one of our region’s most famous steelheaders. 67

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THE KAYAK GUYS Brownlee Reservoir is a trek to reach for Northwest anglers, but its devotees – including our Mark Veary – know it is a great place to fish this time of year for its plentiful crappie. Hop aboard the Veary family wagon for a trek to panfish paradise! CHEF IN THE WILD May we suggest pairing Mark’s tips for catching Brownlee specks with Chef Randy’s Hawaiian-inspired recipe for panfish fillets, and a Raindog? CENTRAL WASHINGTON With so many fisheries in the Columbia Basin and around its edges hitting their strides this month, Dave sets us up for success on Banks, Potholes and Moses walleye, and Roosevelt and Chelan kokanee! SOUTH SOUND Jason delivers a May grab bag

of opportunities for Tacoma, JBLM and Olympia sportsmen, with tips for getting after lingcod, spot shrimp, kokes and more! 95

BUZZ RAMSEY With its increased smolt releases, the Cowlitz River will be among the best bets for spring Chinook this year, and expert salmon angler Buzz Ramsey shares tips on how to catch your share.

155 GUN DOGGIN’ 101 Pups don’t come with training manuals, but we’ve got Scott instead – he’s got the scoop on teaching three building-block commands to your new gun dog. 161 ON TARGET The calendar shows us that fall big game seasons are pages and pages away, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start getting ready, Dave advises. He shares six things to be doing now, plus details on the Remington’s trigger settlement.


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(FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

22

DERBY WATCH

Details on this year’s huge jackpot at the Westport Chinook derby; Recent results; Upcoming events

DEPARTMENTS

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THE EDITOR’S NOTE Contrasting steelhead videos out

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CORRESPONDENCE Reader reactions to recent news

22

THE BIG PIC Number of “nightmare fish” – pike – in Lake Roosevelt growing, as state-tribal removal efforts increase

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PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD Youth gobblers, walleye, steelhead, salmon and more!

31

PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS Browning, Fishing monthly prizes

33

THE DISHONOR ROLL Duck hunter harasser pleads guilty; Columbia Basin trout poachers; Guide fined; Jackass of the Month

37

OUTDOOR CALENDAR Upcoming openers, closures, events

37

BIG FISH Record Northwest game fish caught this month

93

RIG OF THE MONTH Brad’s Kokanee Cut Plug rigging


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We Have What You Need For Your Next Hunting, Fishing Or Camping Adventure!

ARCHERY: Mathews, Bowtech, Hoyt Bows GUNS: Sig, Kimber, Ruger, Remington, Smith & Wesson, Weatherby, Glock, Fierce Firearms FISHING: Lamiglas, Daiwa, Okuma, Shimano, Berkley, Yakima Bait GEAR: Vortex Optics, Swarovski Optics, Stika clothing 1825 N. 1st St. - Hwy 395 • Hermiston, OR 97838 • 541-289-6817 Northwest Sportsman 17 nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017


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THEEDITOR’SNOTE

S

teelhead videos out early last month both bemoan the same thing – a lack of fish returning to Western Washington – but from disparate perspectives. A slick series produced by the Wild Steelhead Coalition contrasts sharply with a 13-minute preview piece cobbled together by Restore the Cowlitz, but they both recall a great past, focus on the poor present, and call for a better future, but through, literally, different lenses. I appreciate them both, as they show a fire in the belly that is lacking when it comes to most Northwest fish stocks, a deep concern for the resource and the real impacts policy decisions have on fish populations and people’s livelihoods.

THE FORMER, DUBBED “Steelhead Country,” leads off with the downfall of Puget Sound steelheading, listing a number of rivers no longer open for all or part of the seasons, and focuses on the experiences of the iconic Bill Herzog. He loads some of the decline on his own back: “My little squad, we killed 200 out of the Nisqually alone (each April), just us, just us, 10 guys, killed 200. Easy. Let’s see, if we did that, wouldn’t take much, would it?” The third video in the six-part series (the back half hadn’t been released at press time) looks at “The Hatchery Fix,” the striking success that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s predecessor’s increased smolt releases had on the fishery, producing a “ten-fold” leap in catch between 1947 and 1963, but also how that likely clubbed the strong early part of the wild run.

FIXING HATCHERY PRODUCTION is what “Project Cowlitz” aims for, pointing out the deep economic impacts that the end of releases of early-timed winter steelhead into the river has caused. According to another Washington steelhead icon, guide Clancy Holt, where in the past he typically ran four guides and pulled in $300,000 from mid-November to mid-February, during the same period this past winter, his operation ran two trips for $2,000. He’s echoed by guides Dave Mallahan, Mark Youngblood and others, while Derek Breitenbach of Ethel Market & Sports details the dropoff in winter business at his Lewis County shop. “This isn’t working,” Holt says, adding, “There has got to be a way to generate another run of fish in the winter from November to the middle of February – steelhead in the Cowlitz River.” There may be through the new Mitchell Act biop – stay tuned. IS ONE VIDEO righter than the other? I just know I need fish for all of us to fish for, and while I do see positive signs on the wild front, I also know today’s rivers have carrying capacities nowhere close to late 1800s abundances. I do look forward to seeing what sort of solutions Steelhead Country proposes in its upcoming releases, but as pared back as hatchery releases have become, they’re essential bridges as habitat work continues and we work to figure out other problems affecting the survival of all of our favorite fish. Still, hat tip to all, you rock for Doing Something. –Andy Walgamott nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

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CORRESPONDENCE WICKIUP DUST-UP It was one of those beer-thirty press releases that our Departments of Fish and Wildlife so love to put out late on Friday afternoons, but alert Wickiup Reservoir kokanee anglers took note of its reposting on our Facebook. Starting on last month’s April 22 opener, the bonus bag in the Deschutes Arm was eliminated, with any kept now part of the five-trout limit, and season is one month shorter. ODFW said it was done because no fish are stocked here, and Johnathan Long liked the logic, saying “Needed to happen a long time ago. I remember going up there as a kid and the river was solid with kokanee spawning. Now, it’s hardly anything and fished out.” But Seth Nickell saw it otherwise: “Closing the Deschutes Arm a month early isn’t protecting kokanee; it’s eliminating great trout fishing.”

READY, SET, SMOLT! Early this month, an online challenge featuring 48 steelhead smolts trying to get out of Puget Sound will highlight the perils that Nisqually and Skokomish Rivers winter-runs face, including the Hood Canal bridge, marine mammals, piscivorous birds and more. When we wrote about Survive The Sound in late March, Brian Johnston lamented, “For some reason this state isn’t trying to stop the very thing that is destroying Puget Sound. They just seem content on destroying habitat by building homes on every empty spot in the region that will only create more stormwater runoff pollution, and more polluted treatment plant discharge.”

APRIL FOOLISHNESS Al Floorips struck again very early last month, in a blog headlined “Relief On Way From High Columbia Flows?” With spring Chinook slow to show, anglers champing at the bit and record volume out of the dam, our April Fools day post posited that hydropower system operators at the “Bonneville Power Association” and “Army Engineers Corps” were going to hold back water at seven big reservoirs to make the Lower Columbia fishable. While shared by dozens, Jeremy Brock, Anthony Cavinaw, Jason Bauer, Jason Tompkins and Mark Reynolds all recognized it as an April Fools (that included a sideswipe at ourselves for jinxing the run with a sunny-day Chinook on our March cover), while Bill Tierney got a good, long laugh: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Fake news!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

MOST LIKED READER PIC WE HUNG UP ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE DURING THIS ISSUE’S PRODUCTION CYCLE Joel Nymeyer’s big king got big likes on social media. He caught the Chinook on a herring behind a flasher off Point Roberts, that little nub of Washington surrounded by the Strait of Georgia, Boundary Bay and British Columbia. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

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‘Nightmare’ Grows With northern pike numbers up at Lake Roosevelt, state and tribal managers step up removal efforts.

Emblematic of the growing threat to the Columbia system, this 20-pound female northern pike, held by Robert Thomas of the Colville Tribes, was heavy with eggs when gillnetted near the mouth of an upper Lake Roosevelt trib in March. (BRYAN JONES, COLVILLE TRIBES)

By Andy Walgamott

T

en times more “nightmare fish” – northern pike – than last year were caught on Lake Roosevelt during netting earlier this year, including a 20-pound hen carrying eggs that made up roughly a tenth of its body weight. The unwanted invasive species is the

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target of stepped-up gillnetting by the Colville and Spokane Tribes, and removal by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. State staffers say that through March 28, 338 had been taken out of the large reservoir at the head of the Columbia River in Washington. The worry is that, just as pike got loose out of the Pend Oreille River system into

Roosevelt, they’ll get out of FDR and into the salmonid-rich Columbia below Lake Rufus Woods. “No native fishery is safe from the pike,” Holly McLellan, principal biologist for the Colville Tribes, warned Rich Landers of the Spokane SpokesmanReview. “They can eat fish up to threefourths their length. They can disturb


PICTURE

This image shows bad news and good – multiple year-classes of northern pike gillnetted out of the Colville River, “evidence the population is growing,” according to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. But at the same time, these fish will no longer contribute to the spread of the unwanted invaders. (COLVILLE TRIBES)

the whole ecosystem.”

MANAGERS ARE INCREASING their efforts to head off pike as they inexorably move downstream. “To date, northern pike appear to be distributed primarily in the Kettle Falls area – near the mouths of the Colville and Kettle Rivers, Singers Bay, Evans –

but juveniles were caught further south, near Bradbury launch, for the first time recently,” says Bill Baker, a WDFW fisheries biologist based in Colville. He says that 2016 saw recruitment of a “measurable year-class,” along with “confirmed successful spawning” in the Kettle and probably Lake Roosevelt too. “Many of the northern pike caught thus far this year are from that yearclass, around 16 to 17 inches on average. However, there are some large adults present, as well,” Baker says. According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s John Harrison, who wrote about the problem under a blog headline that simply read “Nightmare Fish,” the gonads on that hefty hen weighed 2.2 pounds and were “stuffed” with eggs. WDFW began looking for northern pike concentrations in February for the tribes to net ahead of the spring spawn. Baker says that this year’s effort is larger than 2016’s, so it’s hard to compare overall removal numbers from year to year. But he feels the catch rate is up, probably because of more pike in the lake but also a better understanding of where

they like to hang out. “Last year’s efforts informed where and when to net this year,” he says. Bycatch of redband rainbows and walleye has been low, Baker reports. Funding for the Colville Tribes’ efforts this year was helped by a $200,000 grant from the Bonneville Power Administration.

IF THERE’S GOOD NEWS, it’s that removal efforts in the Pend Oreille River reservoirs by the Kalispel Tribe appear to have pinched off those waters as a source of pike for FDR through entrainment during high-runoff years, such as 2011, when they first came to widespread attention after angler Davey McKern caught one near Kettle Falls. But unfortunately, the Canadian Columbia now has established pike schools, and “in-reservoir recruitment appears to now be the major driver for population expansion within Lake Roosevelt,” says Baker. Northerns likely originally came down the Pend Oreille from the Clark Fork and Northwest Montana, where they were illegally introduced over the continental nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

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MIXED BAG divide by bucket biologists. State, tribal and Columbia system overseers are all on board with getting rid of as many pike as possible. “We need to stop pike from moving downstream now,” McLellan told Harrison. He also quoted Guy Norman, a former WDFW regional director and now member of the power council, as saying, “This is something that could have significant ecological effects on the lake, and on fisheries both in the lake and downriver. We need to get on top of it.” Not only will halting northern’s southerly advance down the Columbia help prevent damage to Roosevelt’s stellar trout, kokanee, walleye and bass fisheries and Endangered Species Actlisted salmon and steelhead populations below Rufus (the tribes also want to reintroduce stocks above Grand Coulee), but also provide fewer pike for jackasses to illegally move around, like the one that turned up in Lake Washington earlier this winter.

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NORTHERNS FOUND ON WESTSIDE Tribal biologists surveying for walleye and bass on Lake Washington this past winter caught a whole ’nother, unexpected predator species. Northern pike. A single young adult was captured near Newport Shores by Muckleshoot Fisheries staffers who were netting in an area where at least a dozen walleye were captured in 2015, also unexpectedly. “Probably if there’s one, there are others,” said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Aaron Bosworth of the pike. They could be expected to eat the lake’s plentiful perch, juvenile bass, peamouth, suckers – and also its sockeye,

Baker says that gillnetting and monitoring will continue through spring, and Harrison reports that crews will target the shallows this fall to remove and assess juvenile populations. A novel new technique will also be

Chinook, coho and steelhead smolts. Hard to say how long the pike would have been in the lake but it could have only been brought there illegally by bucket biologists, just as the walleye had. It’s at least the second time northerns have been found on the Westside. In 1998, Crocker Lake on the northeast side of the Olympic Peninsula was rotenoned to get rid of several year-classes that threatened anadromous species. If there’s any good news on the Lake Washington front, Bosworth hadn’t heard of anymore catches of pike or walleye as the Muckleshoots continued netting bass in the nationally ranked smallmouth and largemouth water. –AW

used to sniff out northerns. Harrison says eDNA testing stations downstream will tell tribal and state monitors if pike are closing in on Grand Coulee Dam or getting into the Columbia Basin Reclamation Project. NS


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READER PHOTOS The kids had a good fall in western Yakima County, if photos we’ve seen since then are any indication, including this one of Micaiah Schalk. The 13-year-old bagged this cow, his first, on the last day of his youth permit in the Bethel Unit, with a 340-yard shot. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

This past winter gave Rick Itami “the worst case of cabin fever” he can remember, so when Idaho’s South Fork Clearwater dropped into shape, the Spokane steelheader headed for the river. It took awhile, but eventually Itami got a bite, then on the next cast hooked this hatchery B-run. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) Shari New shows off a nice fin-clipped coho from Nehalem Bay, caught last fall while trolling a flasher and Mulkey spinner. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Colten Lusk’s smile is almost as big as his Columbia River walleye. He was fishing around Tri-Cities with his dad, Andy, in late February and released the 26-incher. (FISHING

^

PHOTO CONTEST)

You just might catch Eric Spiegel on the rivers in the future. The saltwater angler came ashore and landed this nice wild steelhead on the Humptulips River while fishing with guide Isaac Prince in late February. “I had such a great time that I’m starting to look for a drift boat of my own!” he noted.

^

(FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

For your shot at winning great fishing and hunting products from Northwest Sportsman and Browning, send your full-resolution, original images with all the pertinent details – who’s in the pic and their hometown; when and where they were; what they caught their fish on/weapon they used to bag the game; and any other details you’d like to reveal (the more, the merrier!) – to awalgamott@media-inc.com or Northwest Sportsman, PO Box 24365, Seattle, WA, 98124-0365. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for use in our print and Internet publications. nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

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READER PHOTOS

It took less than a day for Talan Lovelady to get on the board with his first-ever turkey. The lad was hunting Washington’s early April youth weekend in Okanogan County when this gobbler showed up.

^

(BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Anglers come from far and near to fish Rufus Woods Lake for rainbows in winter. Monroe’s Matt Dillon holds up he and friend Dave Herrin’s limits, caught trolling Shad Raps. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Johnny Hone has turkeys dialed in! Here’s the 10-year-old’s seventh, taken at 25 yards with a 20-gauge shotgun during the early youth season after his dad, John, called in the tom. (BROWNING PHOTO

^

CONTEST)

Standing tall with a fine Puget Sound Chinook is Ysa (pronounced “e-saw”) Sittster. Her mom reports she’s been fishing since she was small, and likes to make her own lures, with her “signature” set-up being a blue flasher or dodger and a green hoochie. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Meet a rock star – Pepe the kokanee killer. Lake Chelan guide Jeff Witkowski says that on every winter fishing trip he runs, his clients ask him whether Pepe Hernandez of Blueberry Hills will be along for the ride. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) 28 Northwest Sportsman

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PHOTO CONTEST

WINNERS!

David King is this issue’s monthly Fishing Photo Contest winner, thanks to this pic of Parker King and his upper Wilson River winter-run, caught last January. It wins King loot from the overstuffed office of our editor!

There are fistfuls of dollars and pickup loads of bucks, and Chad Smith’s happy snap of the latter is this issue’s Browning Photo Contest winner. He wins a Browning hat.

Sportsman Northwest

Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

For your shot at winning Browning and fishing products, send your photos and pertinent (who, what, when, where) details to awalgamott@ media-inc.com or Northwest Sportsman, PO Box 24365, Seattle, WA 98124-0365. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for our print or Internet publications. nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 31


MIXED BAG

Oregon Woman Who Hassled Waterfowlers Pleads Guilty

A

Willamette Valley woman pled guilty early last month to obstructing two waterfowlers as well as criminal impersonation. According to reports, in mid-January Mary Elizabeth Haynsworth, 51, “confronted” two young hunters at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area right after one shot a coot. Wearing a jacket with a state agency patch, she was also taking photos of the scene as she approached, according to the Eugene Register-Guard. The paper reports Haynsworth allegedly claimed the spot, near the dam on the north end of the reservoir, was not

open for hunting, and requested the two men show their licenses. When asked how he planned to retrieve the coot, the hunter replied he would swim, if need be, to which Haynsworth allegedly stated she’d like to see that and that “he would have to retrieve the bird or he could get a ticket,” the paper says an affidavit states. The hunter stripped down, and though worried about his knees, both of which had had surgeries, swam out and got the coot, and made it back to shore. Questioned by officers, Haynsworth allegedly said that she was weary of

Poachers Clean Out Lake F ive men who got a jump on the March 1 trout opener at a Columbia Basin lake ended up hooking themselves as well. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that on Feb. 26 an officer became suspicious about men loading fishing gear into two vehicles at Upper Caliche Lake, alongside I-90 near George. “They initially claimed not to have been fishing, but the officer found several large plastic bags full of fish in both cars,” WDFW reported. Inside those sacks? A whopping 143

rainbow trout, the agency stated. That equates to 2 percent of all the trout stocked in the lake last year for the March 1 opener, though there could be carryovers from previous seasons swimming around in Caliche too, depending on catch rates and fry survival. “Even if the season had been open they would have been 118 trout over their daily limit,” the agency reported. That’s a potential gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and fine of $5,000, but charges will be up to

JACKASS OF THE MONTH

T

wo Kentucky men who thought they might get away with killing a pair of large bull elk in a part of Wyoming they didn’t have a tag for apparently didn’t count on an alert viewer noticing the difference when their hunt aired on TV. In March, Ricky J. Mills, 37, and Jimmy G. Duncan, 25, were fined more than $30,000 after pleading no contest to violating several of the Cowboy State’s wildlife laws. Both men are part of Hunting In The Sticks, which has since pulled pulled its videos from YouTube and posted a note on its website saying it “regrets the activities” of Mills and Duncan and that the show was on pause to determine how it would move forward. The duo were filming an episode dubbed “Western Redemption” in 2014 and were hunting deer in east-central Wyoming when they killed the bulls. They had elk tags, but for the Yellowstone area, not for the other, highly coveted hunting zone, according to a Wyoming Game and Fish Department press release, which added Mills and Duncan had tried to do the same thing in 2013, when Duncan also killed a pronghorn sans license. “I believe the two defendants were driven to get kill-shot footage for the television show and that resulted in their making bad decisions,” WGFD’s supervising investigator said.

By Andy Walgamott hunting near her home; she appears to own a bed and breakfast very close to the lake. Fern Ridge has been a wildlife area since the mid-1950s, and features a mix of reserved blinds and open hunting areas. Waterfowlers killed over 4,100 ducks this past season. Wearing a patched jacket, Haynsworth went out to “play the part” and didn’t bother to clarify that she did not represent the state, according to the paper. In a diversion agreement reached with prosecutors, Haynsworth was delivering meals to people stuck at home. A WDFW image shows many of the 143 rainbow trout poached out of Upper Caliche Lake before the March 1 opener. (WDFW)

county prosecutors, according to WDFW. As it stands, the quintet were cited for exceeding the daily limit in the first degree, as well as fishing during a closed season. One was also cited for no license. A sixth men with them was not fishing. The trout were donated to a food bank.

FINED

T

he federal case against a Southwest Washington fishing guide wrapped up in March with a $7,500 fine for the killing of two Cowlitz River wild coho in 2014. Billy J. Swann, operator of Swanny’s Guided Fishing out of Rainier, Wash., must also publish a statement in Outdoor Life about why it’s so important to follow the regulations. The coho were caught by Swann’s clients in October of that year, and after online feedback, Swann subsequently cut their adipose fins off, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. Cowlitz wild and hatchery coho are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 33


By Andy Walgamott

King-sized Prize At Westport Derby

T

he top prize at the annual Westport salmon derby has quadrupled for 2017, from $2,500 to a whopping $10,000, thanks to a generous donation from a small Southwest Washington grocery chain. An effort to draw more anglers to this coastal town as well as support its charter association, the money is being put up by Shop’n Kart, and to claim that prize, you’ll need to first purchase a derby ticket, fish aboard one of the participating boats and catch the biggest Chinook of the season. Easy sneezy! At press time, this year’s ocean salmon fisheries hadn’t quite been set, but your first crack at doing just that could occur later next month, during the proposed late June hatchery king opener. However, a glance at the Westport Charterboat Association’s winner logs since 2000 shows the largest kings being caught between July 27 and Aug. 27, including a 50-3-pounder (“in the round” weight, meaning gutted and gilled) landed Aug. 19, 2004, during a return of exceptionally large kings that year. That fish was caught by Ann Diehm aboard the Fury, but the honor of putting anglers onto the season’s biggest has been shared amongst the fleet. Last year’s biggest was landed by the Freedom, 2015’s on the Fury, with the Stardust, Spindrift, Playboy Too, Hula Girl, Pescatore, Gold Rush and Ms. Magoo all claiming at least one. This year will also see a return of a prize for biggest coho, after silver fishing was closed off Westport last year. A cool $2,500 will go to whomever catches that fish. For more information, see westportgrayland-chamber.org and charterwestport.com, and for in-season updates, scope out Westport Weighmaster on Facebook.

2017 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES            

July 14-16: Bellingham Salmon Derby July 26-30: The Big One Salmon Derby Aug. 5: South King County PSA Salmon Derby Aug. 12: Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby Aug. 26: Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby Aug. 26-27: Vancouver Chinook Classic Sept. 2: Willapa Bay Salmon Derby Sept. 9: Edmonds Coho Derby Sept. 23-24: Everett Coho Derby Nov. 4-5: Bayside Marine Salmon Derby: Nov. 30-Dec. 2: Friday Harbor Salmon Classic Jan. 5-7, 2018: Resurrection Salmon Derby For more information, see nwsalmonderbyseries.com.

Make sure to buy a derby ticket when you fish out of Westport – there’s a supersized prize of $10,000 for this year’s biggest Chinook landed aboard a charter boat. This 30-pounder was caught in June 2014 off the Tequila Too on a trip Kelly Corcoran took. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

RECENT RESULTS

 Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, President’s Day Weekend: First place: Tony Beam, 15.25 pounds ($10,000); second: Ben Power, 15.10 pounds ($2,000); third: Derek Madison, 14.85 pounds ($1,000)  Everett Blackmouth Derby, Areas 8, March 18: First place, Josh Hopp, 12.66 pounds ($3,000)

MORE UPCOMING AND ONGOING EVENTS  Now through the end of season: Westport Charterboat Association Weekly Lingcod Derby – info: charterwestport.com  April 29-May: Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club Annual Spring Derby – info: lpoic.org  May 6-7: MarDon Bass Tournament, Potholes Reservoir – info: mardonresort.com  May 19-21: The Detroit Lake Fishing Derby, Detroit Lake – info: detroitlakeoregon.org  June 24-25 2017: Salmon Enhancement Derby, Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island – info: nootkamarineadventures.com  July 1-2: Bonnie & Clyde salmon derby, Moutcha Bay Resort, Vancouver Island – info: nootkamarineadventures.com More events: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/contests/index.html. To have your derby or results listed here, email awalgamott@media-inc.com.

nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 35


36 Northwest Sportsman

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OUTDOOR

Brought to you by:

CALENDAR MAY 1

Northern pikeminnow sport reward fishery begins at all stations on Columbia and Snake Rivers – pikeminnow.org; Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca lingcod opener 3 Sandy River Chapter of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders 19th Annual Banquet & Auction, Glenn Otto Park – info: sandysteelheaders.org 4 Tentative start of Oregon-Washington Columbia River subarea Thursday-Sunday halibut openers 4 Tentative Washington Marine Areas 2-10 halibut opener 5 Family Fishing Event, Vernonia Pond in Vernonia – info: odfwcalendar.com 6 Tentative Washington Marine Areas 2-10 halibut opener; Family Fishing Events, Bikini Pond and Commonwealth Lake in Mosier, Cottage Grove – info: odfwcalendar.com; Clear Lake Annual Kid’s Fishing Event at Fairchild AFB Recreation Area – info: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/kids/events.html 7 Family Fishing Event, Alton Baker Canoe Canal in Eugene – info: odfwcalendar.com 11 Tentative Washington Marine Areas 2-10 halibut opener 11-13 Proposed Oregon Central Coast all-depth halibut weekend 13 Family Fishing Event, Camp Baldwin in Dufur – info: odfwcalendar.com 15 Oregon fall controlled big game hunt permit purchase application deadline 18-20 Proposed Oregon Central Coast all-depth halibut weekend 20 Washington special hunt permit application deadline; Family Fishing Events, Middle Fork Irrigation Pond, Eckman Lake and McNary Channel Ponds in Parkdale, Waldport and Hermiston – info: odfwcalendar.com 22 Fishing opener on numerous Oregon waters 25 Last day to hunt turkeys in Idaho 27 Family Fishing Event (youth only), Mt. Hood Pond in Gresham – info: odfwcalendar.com 31 Last day to hunt turkeys in Washington, Oregon

JUNE 3-4 Free Fishing Weekend in Oregon, with Family Fishing Events planned at numerous locations – info: odfwcalendar.com, dfw.state.or.us 10 Free Fishing Day in Idaho – info: idfg.idaho.gov 10-11 Free Fishing Weekend in Washington – wdfw.wa.gov

(WDFW)

RECORD NORTHWEST GAME FISH CAUGHT THIS MONTH Date 5-1-43 5-1-78 5-6-15 5-10-05 5-11-16 5-12-81 5-12-06 5-15-16 5-22-67

Species Sea-run cutthroat Black crappie Tiger trout Smallmouth bass Tiger trout Bluegill Splake Black rockfish (image) White crappie

Pds. (-Oz.) 6.00 4.0 18.49 8-1.76 1.86 2-5.5 10.78 10.72 4-12

Water Carr In. (WA) Lost R. (OR) Bonaparte L. (WA) Henry Hagg L. (OR) Jim Moore Pd. (ID) Crook Co. pd. (OR) Ririe Res. (ID) Ilwaco (WA) Gerber Res. (OR)

Angler Bud Johnson Billy Biggs Kelly Flaherty Nick Rubeo Meleah Phillips Wayne Elmore Brian Allison Steven C. Orr Jim Duckett

nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 37


BANKING ON PDX

An angler explores the rocks and docks of Rip City for wallleye, bass, more.

Photos and text by Jason Black

F

or 10 years I have been fishing Portland’s shoreline. Some days the Willamette River can be so exciting, and others you won’t catch a thing. But catch and release fishing two blocks from my house is something I could never pass up. I’m out there four days a week.

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FISHING

I started out with smaller rigs, then needed stronger reels and heavier line to pull the fish I wanted in and get my gear back. I lost dozens of lures due to weak line, so I switched to 50-pound braided TUF Line and started rarely losing a fish, at points pulling them straight out with the line over a rail or into some rocks to avoid high sticking.

Portland’s shoreline is littered with rock snags and old dock pilings everywhere, so expect to lose gear or be rigged up to pull your hooks out. nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 39


Without a doubt, the best crankbait for smallmouth on the Willamette here is a Norman Deep Baby N in bumble bee perch pattern. Any Norman with glitter will work, or you can apply Elmer’s Glitter Glue to your cranks. Either way, I have noticed the ďŹ sh prefer glitter in this murkier water.

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Smallmouth can also be caught all day long with soft baits like grubs and tubes. You need to flirt with the bottom, and occasionally you will get snagged up and get a fish on getting your snag out. The bass hold to the shoreline more when the tide is coming in or out and the water is moving.

Around an hour before sunset till dark is the best time to use crankbaits, as that is when the bigger bass start to eat. Fly fishermen also will have very good luck fishing topwater patterns early in the morning by the marina, where I have also caught walleye right under the dock ramp.


Last year the walleye really moved in. Late in the day, they would come into bass holding areas and hit very close to shore. The closest was 2 feet from shore, where the fish was sitting in a drain run-off. The eight walleye I caught from shore in 2016 all came late in the day and on a Norman crank in Tennessee shad.

Freshwater runoffs into the Willamette are above ground, and attract abundant fish, including large carp. The big carp I caught last year was on a grub off the esplanade, in the same spot I caught my largest walleye. NS Editor’s note: Jason Black is a former pro BMX rider and sports photographer. Among his many tattoos is one of a memorable and productive size 3 Blue Fox.

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nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 43


LEADING NW BOAT SHOWCASE

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ith the Northwest,s many varied fisheries, you see a lot of different boat styles and brands on our waters. In the next few issues, Northwest Sportsman will be showcasing the top manufacturers and

W

their many different styles of boats built specifically for the lakes, rivers, bays and ocean of the Pacific Northwest. Check out boat builders, websites for more information and to see their many options.

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FISHING In years of low salmon and steelhead returns, Northwest anglers would be wise to branch out and try other fisheries, as AndyCoho has done in recent springs. Here, he and his fish hound Ollie celebrate a Columbia walleye. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Roam From Chrome Between seasons or during low salmonid returns, walleye provide a good, easy and tasty fishery for Columbia anglers. By Andy Schneider

N

o matter how good fishing is here in the Northwest, it always comes to an end. Seasons wrap up, fish move closer to the spawning grounds, ocean temperatures cool and fish move south, and weather sometimes just won’t let us safely play on the water. Maybe that’s the bittersweet part of fishing that keeps us heading back to the water again and again, knowing that next month there will be something else to fish for and there will always be a change of scenery. A Northwest angler rarely has an opportunity to grow bored of a fishery here. Just as there are organic-coffee and craft-beer connoisseurs, we have anglers who believe that salmon and steelhead are the only fish worth pursuing. But they are sadly missing out. Trout, kokanee, shad, sturgeon, tuna, halibut, bottomfish, catfish, crappie, bass and walleye are just some of the available fish that we can pursue here in our Northwest waters. Having such a variety to chase year-round makes the Northwest a wonderful place to be an angler. One of the easiest species to make a transition from salmon or steelhead to another is walleye. While walleye

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Northwest Sportsman 47


FISHING

After the spawn, walleye work up an appetite, and you will too after frying up their flaky white meat. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

are only present in one Oregon lake (Phillips Reservoir in Baker County), they are actually in very good supply in the Columbia. And since most salmon and steelhead anglers in the Portland-Vancouver area are pretty familiar with the big river, this should be a very easy transition. Walleye are found in the Willamette, Multnomah Channel and throughout the Columbia from Troutdale upriver, with very healthy populations of these delicious fish in The Dalles and John Day Pools.

GETTING STARTED IS as easy as repurposing your steelhead plug rods for walleye trolling rods (don’t worry, you can switch them back at anytime without anyone being the wiser). One of the simplest ways to target walleye is by trolling downriver, very similar to salmon. Start by running your mainline to a 3- to 4-ounce bottom walker. Twelve- to 20-pound monofilament or 30- to 50-pound braid works well for trolling. Behind the bottom walker, add one of the many pretied Yakima Bait walleye rigs, such as the Hammer Time Walleye Spinner, Walleye Delight, Walleye Elite, Rufus Special or Walleye Magic. Add 48 Northwest Sportsman

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a large nightcrawler to any of these spinner rigs and slowly troll them downriver, keeping in close contact with the bottom. Walleye have great vision, due to a special pigment layer in their eyes that reflects light very effectively. If you have your flash on when taking a picture with one of these toothy critters, it is easy to see, as the eyes seem to glow like bicycle reflectors. Due to their good eyesight, they tend to be finicky about color at times. With our Columbia usually running with a very distinct green tint, purple and copper finishes tend to be best during low-light conditions, while lighter colors tend to be more effective during full light. But walleye can also be fickle, just like salmon and steelhead, so trying a variety of colors until a clear winner emerges is the best way to dial in the bite. The fish tend to hang in 10 to 30 feet of water, and like many other species, they will move in shallower or deeper to feed as needed. Walleye can be found along sandy and weedy flats, and along structure. The most common place on the Columbia is within 60 yards of the river’s banks. Very rarely will walleye be found

in the main channel, where there is a lot of current. If you’re still thinking like a salmon or steelhead angler, you are probably picturing some pretty promising water at the mouths of tributaries where you find Chinook, coho and summer-runs staging before leaving the Columbia. Tributary mouths are an excellent place to target walleye in May as the fish start to recover from their spawn. Just as with salmon fishing, by trolling downriver you can cover a lot of water, and that is what is needed at times to locate these fish. Once you hook one, mark that spot on your GPS so you can make another pass, as walleye tend to hunt in the same area. The fish do like a slow presentation, so utilizing sea socks or an electric motor will ensure that you bring your troll to a crawl.

HARDCORE SALMONID ANGLERS may consider walleye to be on the wettowel end of the spectrum when it comes to the fight. But a 2-pounder in the warming waters of the Columbia will put quite a bend in a steelhead rod and not come all that easy to hand. Having a net ready when the fish gets close to the surface will ensure that you will be hearing the


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Northwest Sportsman 49


FISHING sizzle of flaky white fish that evening. Some of the most popular walleye locations are directly below the John Day Dam to the mouth of the Deschutes. But there are plenty of unexplored and tightlipped locations that hold just as many of these oversized perch. Putting your salmon and steelhead skills to work and exploring waters away from the crowds is one of the best techniques you can utilize to be successful. Many anglers find enough reward in fishing for walleye that they, heaven forbid, don’t even fish for kings, silver and metalheads. So while you may prefer to hunt fish that gleam of chrome, coming over to the yellow side of life – even if it’s just for a little while – can fulfill those lulls between our fishing seasons. Heck, who knows, once you find a fondness for these fun and tasty walleye, you might just try perch too. NS

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Mike Fung shows off a perfect eatersized ’eye, caught on the big river while fishing with author Andy Schneider, who says it’s not all that big of a jump in terms of gear and tactics to go from fishing for kings, coho and summerruns to walleye. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)


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FISHING According to author and guide Keith Jensen, specific spring situations call for the use of alternative walleye fishing tactics. On Moses Lake, where this batch was put together, it’s trolling shallow with a crankbait that provides the option of adding a worm. (BIGWALLYSGUIDESERVICE.COM)

Situational Walleye Fishing May’s a good time to break out of usual tactics for Banks, Moses Lakes marble-eyes. By Keith Jensen

W

alleye. Marble-eye. Gravel lizard. Razorback. Demon of the deep. The walleye, like most species, has its fair share of nicknames. Known for its big eyes, sharp teeth, and sweet, tasty fillets, the popularity of Sander vitreus has grown exponentially in the Northwest in recent years. Here in the Columbia Basin, the tactic for catching marble-eyes remains fairly one dimensional – slow-trolling spinner rigs tipped

with a nightcrawler behind a bottom bouncer, with trolling Rapala Shad Rap and the Berkley Flicker Shad gaining momentum as a deadly tactic the past couple of years. But as a walleye guide in the Basin, I am constantly looking for new ways to target the fish. The bottom line is that there are many ways to catch these razorbacks. Fishing for walleye doesn’t have to strictly be trolling spinner rigs or crankbaits. There are times when casting cranks or jigs and soft plastics can be extremely effective. And there are

a handful of “situations” during the course of the walleye season that I like to employ techniques outside the normal tactics. These techniques are situational, meaning I don’t find them effective year-round, but they are at certain times in the season.

ONE SITUATION OCCURS every May on Moses Lake. A couple of years back, I came across a bait made by Lindy Fishing Tackle known as the Lil’ Guy. It’s essentially a cross between a crankbait and a spinner rig. It’s a crankbait-like lure with the added

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FISHING ability to add a nightcrawler to the presentation. It really performs well through May on the reservoir, a very shallow-water fishery that sets up perfectly to troll the lure under select parameters. When everyone else is pulling spinner rigs here this month, switching it up to the Lil’ Guy often produces quick limits on my boat. The Lil’ Guy comes with a 36inch, 14-pound fluorocarbon leader with two No. 2 octopus hooks. I like to make a modification to the rig, however. Prior to fishing, I separate the body and beads from the two hooks. I then take some 12- or 14-pound fluorocarbon leader, tie on a Super Slow Death Hook, then thread the beads and head back on. The wobbling action of the Lil’ Guy coupled with the action of a nightcrawler on the Super Slow Death Hook is simply a combination the walleye can’t resist. Being a cross between a crankbait and a spinner rig, I fish the Lil’ Guy at an intermediate speed of 1.5 to 1.8 miles per hour. When bottom bouncing with a spinner rig, my speeds are .6 to 1.0 mph. When trolling crankbaits for walleye, my speed ranges from 2.0 to 3.0 mph. Trolling the Lil’ Guy at 1.5 to 1.8 mph offers the walleye a presentation at a speed they aren’t conditioned to seeing. I fish the Lil’ Guy behind a 2- or 3-ounce bottom bouncer in water depths of 8 to 15 feet. It is important I use a heavy bottom bouncer due to the speed I’m fishing it. I’m still targeting walleye at or near the bottom, so I use one that will ensure I maintain bottom contact while trolling at a faster rate than your standard bottom-bouncing speed.

ANOTHER SITUATIONAL TECHNIQUE that works exceptionally for walleye is casting soft plastic paddletail swimbaits. Late in the spring and early summer, Banks Lake walleye will typically school up in shallow bays that contain weedbeds. Bays like Poplar and Kruks and the 54 Northwest Sportsman

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Jensen takes a stock Lil’ Guy (bottom) and removes the pair of hooks in favor of a Super Slow Death Hook, which he then baits with a nightcrawler, making for “a combination the walleye can’t resist.” (BIGWALLYSGUIDESERVICE.COM)

Devils Punchbowl all have areas of extensive shallow weedy flats that contain perch fry in late spring. Walleye are there feeding heavily on them, as well as larger, 4- to 7-inch yellowbellies. Slow-trolling bottom bouncers and spinner rigs in these shallow weedy bays is very effective, but the small perch can be a problem. They are experts at stealing the nightcrawler off your spinner rig. To combat these little bait stealers, I switch to casting paddletail swimbaits over the tops of the weeds. Known best for targeting bass, paddletail swimbaits excel for other gamefish too, including walleye. Strike King, Keitech, Berkley and Storm are just a few of the bait companies that offer a great selection of these soft plastics in various sizes and colors. The swimbaits will arrive at your door in two ways: prerigged with a swimbait jig head or without a jig head. When purchasing swimbaits, it is important to also purchase swimbait jig heads that will perform well together. A fantastic swimbait that has just

hit the market is the new 360GT Searchbait by Storm. I had the good fortune of giving these swimbaits some trial runs last year before they came out. They’re available in 3.5-, 4.5- and 5.5-inch sizes, in some great color patterns. And what I really like is that they come in a pack of three baits, with one jig head already rigged on one of the bodies. The Keitech Fat Swing Impact – quite the name, I know – is another excellent paddletail swimbait that excels for walleye relating to shallow weedy flats and bays. It comes in similar sizes to the 360GT, but not with a prerigged jig head. The Revenge Head, VMC Swimbait Jig, and Kalin’s Swimbait Jig Head in ¼- or ½-ounce sizes are all excellent choices to pair up with a Keitech or any other paddletail swimbait. Fishing this type of plastic is quite simple. Once I’ve identified that Banks walleye are holding in weedy bays, I position my boat right in the middle, where we can make fan casts in any direction. In Poplar Bay in June, the walleye will often be keying on water depths of 10 to 15


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nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 55


FISHING feet, where the weeds will come up 4 to 5 feet off the bottom. When fast-casting swimbaits over the weeds, you want a retrieve that will keep your bait just over the top of the beds. This will take a few practice casts to fine-tune your speed so the lure doesn’t constantly get fouled up. This technique allows you to cover a large area and seek out those aggressive walleye that are actively feeding. Plus, the bait isn’t subject to all the little bait stealers that are also in the vicinity. I typically will throw the smaller 3.5-inch paddletails on a 7-foot spinning rod with Berkley Nanofil, to really increase the sensitivity of the presentation. When casting the larger 4.5- or 5.5-inchers, I use a casting rod due to the heavier jig head used with these larger baits.

THERE ARE MANY names for walleye, and many ways to catch them as

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When walleye gather in bays to feed on young perch, the yellowbellies themselves as well as weeds can make for tough fishing. So the author switches to fan-casting paddle-tailed swimbaits to avoid the bait stealers and keep his offerings above the weeds. (BIGWALLYSGUIDESERVICE.COM)

well. Yes, trolling bottom bouncers and spinner rigs or crankbaits will always be the two go-to techniques for ol’ marble-eyes in the Columbia Basin. But when the “situation” presents itself, don’t be afraid to mix

it up a little with an outside-the-box technique. NS Editor’s note: Author Keith Jensen operates Big Wally’s Guide Service (bigwallysguideservice.com).


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58 Northwest Sportsman

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FISHING

Author Wayne Heinz looked at more than two decades worth of records to see if atmospheric conditions, moon phases and solunar tables had strong correlations to how good the bass fishing was in the flowing waters around his Tri-Cities home. (JASON LEE, FLICKR)

Columbia Bass, Barometers & Moons Part III of III: A smallmouth has a pea-sized brain – does that pea pay attention to atmospheric pressure, moon state and the solunar tables? By Wayne Heinz

D

o you target smallmouth bass? Events beyond your control may influence your success. Maybe you’ve wondered, “Does the barometer matter? Moon phases? Solunar tables?” Daily fishing logs provide answers. For 24 years, I’ve logged smallmouth bass that partners and I caught on the Columbia River and its South-central Washington tribs. The logs include daily barometer readings, moon phases, time of best bites. If you chase bass, you might find three studies interesting.

A barometer indicates weather changes. Despite Heinz’s large data set, no clear pattern emerges – except to use trends from the device which measures atmospheric pressure as a suggestion for what kind of clothes to wear when you hit the water! (CABELA’S) Barometer state:

Rising

Steady

Falling

BASS AND BAROMETERS

Bass caught:

2,801

4,404

3,004

Do bass bite better when barometric pressure changes? To see, I extracted data from 1,284 trip logs, recorded over 22 years, from March 1995 to December 2016. Total smallmouth bass in sample: 10,209, all caught on the Columbia, Yakima and Snake Rivers.

% of total catch:

28%

43%

29%

Trips:

325

555

404

% of total trips:

25%

43%

31%

Bass/rod/trip:

8.6

7.9

7.4

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FISHING The barometer needle was steady on 43 percent of our trips. We caught 43 percent of our bass on those trips. Coincidence? Nope. Steady often means good weather. So that’s when we fish the most. Is bassin’ better then? No. Our average catch/trip on a steady needle was about the same as on moving needles. A falling needle usually foretells bad weather. A rising needle, improving weather. Do bass bite better ahead of a storm than after a storm? No. The data show less than 13 percent difference. Variables: 1) We did not record how rapidly the pressure changed. Bass may respond differently to different rates of change. 2) A big barometric drop often brings clouds and wind chop. This lessens light penetration in water. Maybe bass respond to this change of light. We do catch a lot of bass on a storm front, so often that we have a name for it – the wind bite. But our catch per trip doesn’t rise. 3) We tap the glass before we hook the boat up. By the time the bass bite, maybe late afternoon, the pressure may have changed. 4) Most skunks happen on storms – blown off the river. Compiling the stats, we ignored skunks. These trips (on a falling needle) would skew catches in favor of a steady or rising needle. Despite the variables, the numbers should remain valid. Our records arise from three seasons, all kinds of weather, all times of day, and varying trip lengths. The large data base probably cancels most sources of error. Summing up: If the bass you fish for behave like Columbia River smallmouth bass, you might eye our data and conclude: * Bass bite no matter what the barometer is doing. * Fishing success is about the same, whether air pressure rises, steadies, or falls. So we have here a study that gives us no edge to outwit bass. But before you go fishing, tap the glass anyway. It will tell you what clothes to wear.

BASS AND THE MOON Some anglers feel that fishing improves on certain moon phases. Fact? Or folklore? For years, we’ve thought the former. To shed light on possible moon influences, I mined data from 1,171 trips over 21 years, March 1996 through last December. Moon phase: Bass caught: % of catch: Trips: % of trips: Bass/rod/trip:

1st ¼ waxing 1,528 15% 167 14% 9.2

62 Northwest Sportsman

½ waxing 1,535 15% 170 15% 9

¾ waxing 1,032 10% 115 10% 9

full moon 1,368 13% 158 13% 8.7

¾ waning 346 1% 43 4% 8.1

MAY 2017 | nwsportsmanmag.com

½ waning 978 9% 118 10% 8.3

last ¼ waning 1,456 14% 172 15% 8.5

dark moon 2,299 22% 228 20% 10.1

Moon phases may influence bass behavior in some way, but it doesn’t look like it affects catch rates. Heinz found generally uniform bass-per-trip tallies, whether the orb was new, waxing, full or waning. (WIKIPEDIA)

Again, we caught these fish in the Columbia, Yakima and Snake Rivers. There are a total of 10,542 bass in the sample, and the data excludes skunk trips. Daily moon phases from solunarforecast.com/solunarcalendar.aspx. Look at how uniform the bass/rod bags are. Ho-hum. Another futile study, leading to a useless conclusion: Our idea that moon phases influence bass feeding behavior turns out to be folklore.

WAX AND WANE, BRIGHTEN AND DIM We’ve always felt bass bite better after a dark moon. True? Or old husband’s tale? To aid data analysis, we estimate the moon waxes roughly 42% of the time; wanes around 42% of the time; is full 8%; and dark 8%. The daily logs show: * We landed 2,746 bass on a bright moon (¾ waxing, full, ¾ waning) during 316 trips (26% of total bass were caught on 27% of total trips). Average bass/rod/trip = 8.7. * We landed 5,283 bass on a dim moon (¼ waning, dark, ¼ waxing) during 567 trips (50% of total bass were caught on 48% of total trips). Average bass/rod/trip = 9.3. * We caught 9 bass/rod/trip on a waxing moon (39% of total bass landed, on 39% of total trips). * We caught 8 bass/rod/trip on a waning moon: (25% of total bass landed, on 28% of total trips). We do land 16% more smallies/rod on a dark moon than on a full moon. Is this statistically meaningful? Probably not. Variables: 1) If light to feed by is the moon’s primary influence, the prior night’s moon may affect an angler’s morning success more than their afternoon success. The logs show no such effect. 2) Clouds at night or muddy water during spring flood would negate the light effect. The large data base probably discounts these variables. Looking at the results, you might conclude, as we have, that our prior thoughts about dark moons and biting bass appear to be mere, well, lunacy. The unforgiving nature of large numbers reveals the truth.


FISHING The moon’s brightness has little effect on daytime smallmouth catches.

DO SOLUNAR TABLES WORK? Maybe you’ve fished when solunar tables predict the fish will bite. We have. High hopes, right? Solunar tables depend on the timing of sunrise/ sunset, moonrise/moonset, moon directly overhead/ moon directly underfoot. If the bite fails to develop, you might wonder, “Does this aquatic astrology really work?” Since we record the time of day for each bass we catch, it’s easy to compare our best bite periods with a solunar table’s major bite periods. For 58 trips in 2016, we consulted solunarforecast. com/solunarcalendar.aspx to examine tables adjusted for our time zone. Then we would study prior years. Results: * Actual best bite agrees with major bite predicted by solunar table: 13 days (22% of the time). * Actual best bite disagrees with major bite predicted by solunar table: 45 days (78% of the time). Variables: 1) Some solunar major bites were predicted for times when we were not on the water. 2) Many solunar major bites were predicted at night. We did not fish at night. 3) Our best bites often occurred at sunrise/sunset. Bass eat then, no matter what else might influence them. 4) Solunar minor periods compared poorly with our best bites. So we ignored minor periods. These variables may have skewed the study results. Maybe not. Truth is, these results stink. The phrase “mumbo jumbo” comes to mind. After seeing such negative correlations, I abandoned the study. Our

A solunar calendar tries to forecast best-bite periods. Do they really work? The jury is out, says the author, who also suggests “rolling chicken bones.” (WAYNE HEINZ)

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conclusion: To predict a good bite, we could do better rolling chicken bones. Is this study definitive? Doubtful. Some angler needs to further examine solunar tables and fish. Someone who fishes all hours of day and night – and who keeps a fishing log. NS Editor’s note: Improve your fish-finding skills. Read Wayne Heinz’s latest book, Depthfinders – A Guide To Finding And Catching More Fish, Amato Publications, Portland, OR, 800541-9498. Also available at Amazon.com.

Though the final part of this three-part series proved less conclusive, parts one and two showed clear linkages between the time of year big bass like this 6¼-pound Columbia smallie are caught and what they bite best on. Taken as a whole, Heinz’s meticulous notes shed a remarkable light on the big river’s bass around Tri-Cities and how and when to catch them. (WAYNE HEINZ)


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COLUMN

Brownlee Reservoir is a trek to reach for many Northwest residents, but its devotees and local anglers know it is a great place to fish in spring for a wide range of game fish, including plentiful crappie, one of which Jason McCormick hoists aboard his kayak. (JASON MCCORMICK)

3DQÀVK3DUDGLVH “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn ...” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I

t’s 5 a.m. on the rustic and winding Snake River Road. No guardrails or concrete barriers block your view. A .D\DN*X\V sweep of lights across By Mark Veary distant mountain folds is all there is to alert you of oncoming traffic. On this single-track highway, punctuated by acute corners, deep draws and limited pullouts, darkness is a welcome travelling companion. Predawn glimpses of coves and points along the Oregon shore of Brownlee Reservoir prove to be an effective stimulant, more so than the hastily brewed coffee for which you were so grateful for at camp. In reality, even the Spring Recreation Site near Huntington would have offered a good chance to fill your cooler with hand-sized crappie, but you’re on a mission. You didn’t drive all this way only to fish the shoreline of the campground. Rather, you traveled to immerse yourself in the experience of fishing Hells Canyon.

THE KAYAK GUYS

BROWNLEE RESERVOIR, AT

the far northeastern border of Oregon is a 58-mile-long, 15,000-acre body of prime fishing water on the Snake River. This impoundment harbors a wide variety of gamefish, including largemouth bass, rainbow and brown trout, several different types of panfish, sturgeon and multiple species of catfish. Though best known for its consistent catch rates, Brownlee has also produced a past record smallmouth bass and the current record Oregon flathead catfish. When you live in a region of seemingly limitless fishing opportunities, such as the Willamette Valley, it’s easy to forget the potential that lies outside your normal travel radius. We too often invoke the old “Don’t leave fish to find fish” adage without considering the breadth of reasons we’re drawn to the water. In places like Brownlee, Walden’s “infinite expectations of the dawn” are regularly exceeded. It’s now spring in the mountains that surround Brownlee Reservoir. Mule deer are active well into the day and can be seen hopping fences or sauntering

between the low cover of saltbush and greasewood. Crappie are spawning in the coves and shallows that edge the reservoir, and from the steep washes can be heard the urgent clucking and calling of chukars. Throughout the day you’ll likely pause from your fishing more than once to take in the chukars’ crazy displays of highspeed sprints, ground-level flights and clumsy acrobatics. Most nights you’re serenaded to sleep by the haunting calls of coyotes accompanied by the low rumbling of thunder in distant valleys.

THERE ARE TWO primary points of entry for fishing Brownlee Reservoir from Oregon: the Powder River Arm, 42 miles east of Baker City, near Richland in the north, and through the town of Huntington, 44 miles below Baker off I-84 in the south. Northern access: The Hewitt Holcomb Park campground and launch on the Power River Arm benefits from daily irrigation by the local farming community. The immediate area of the park and campground is an oasis in comparison to the looming high-desert hills that surround Brownlee and the 6-mile stretch of the Powder River that connects to the main reservoir. Crappie, trout and bass fishing can be phenomenal around the park and throughout the Powder River Arm. Early in the season, this stretch is a better bet than the main reservoir for

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Northwest Sportsman 67


COLUMN larger crappie and consistent bass fishing. Your first stop on the way to Hewitt Holcomb Park is the Hitching Post in Richland. This small-town grocery and sporting goods store will have all the latest intel on where the best fish are being caught. It’s also a great place to learn about and stock up on the tackle that is currently producing the best results. If you prefer to fish the main reservoir, you can either paddle the arm to Brownlee proper or take 1st Street in Richland a half hour southeast, across the barren mountains to Swedes Landing. While Swedes is a popular launch, your kayak affords you the option of finding your own slice of heaven at one of the many pullouts to the south, along Snake River Road. Southern access: The historic railway town of Huntington is your jump-off point for access to either the Farewell Bend or the Spring Recreation Sites and their launches and campgrounds. On your way through town, be sure to stop by Huntington Bait

From its Powder River Arm, just south of Richland, through the upper end of Hells Canyon to Huntington, Brownlee’s 58 miles and 17,000 acres offer numerous access points for kayak anglers, as well as several boat launches for powerboaters, including the Spring Recreation Site. (JASON MCCORMICK II) and Tackle for any last-minute fishing gear and an old-fashioned, face-to-face fishing report. Afterward, fuel up for the coming adventures at Howell’s Café, with a huge burger or a basket of pork nuggets and tots. This old-fashioned small-town diner will set the tone for your transition to the wild and rustic Snake River Canyon. Fishing can be productive just about anywhere along Snake River Road, between Farewell Bend and Swedes Landing. Nearly any of the shallow coves or points will produce monotonous quantities of crappie. The

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For anglers looking to fill a stringer, the reservoir offers a good shot at doing so. Madison Case shows off one she and her family put together on Brownlee. (SHERMAN CASE) challenge comes in finding the jig and presentation that’ll turn good fishing into great fishing. For volume, start with a couple of 1⁄32- to 1⁄16-ounce skirted crappie jigs tied about 14 inches apart. Cast and free drift this near shore or along steep rock faces, paying attention to the depths at which you get bit. When you find an area and depth that provides consistent hits, add a bobber to keep your jigs in the strike zone. Over a series of casts, experiment with different skirt colors and actions until you find the magic combination. Once you’ve filled your catch bag, turn your attention to hunting up a monster. During the breeding season, crappie will be extremely aggressive and bigger fish will explode on any invaders of their turf. Take advantage of this by casting microplugs and small swimbaits along rock faces as you explore the jagged shoreline.

BROWNLEE’S GREAT FOR family kayak fishing fun. There are few dangers for the properly prepared, and the fishing is consistent enough to engage even the most easily distracted youngster. NS


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COLUMN

Dad’s Tackle A

s a child I marveled at the serious collection CHEF IN THE WILD of fishing tackle that my father had By Randy King accumulated. It was a wide variety of items – everything from 3-inch diving crawfish simulators to the smallest black-headed and yellowbodied jig. All the equipment was in a big grey box in the garage next to the bikes. No matter what I needed, he seemed to have it. It was like having an outdoor retailer in my garage. Well, almost; he never seemed to have enough Mepps spinners, probably because I had lost them all under rocks in the streams of Central Idaho. Anyhoo, this was a fine arrangement until I reached the age that I could drive, and therefore fish, without my dad. Then the tackle box became less available to me. It started “disappearing” in the middle of the summer and claims of “theft” and “absconding” started flying around the house. Often these claims came during the middle of a fish fry I was hosting for my family. It always seemed ungrateful that I would be asked to return lost tackle while feeding the family fish the same tackle had caught. Eventually, my trusty source of free tackle became as dried up as a sagebrush in August. The last time I looked at it, it must have been my junior year of high school. The box was a shell of its former self. Floating around the bottom were a few empty Eagle Claw hook packages, a couple egg-shaped weights and some dehydrated red salmon eggs. I had run the well dry. It was time for my own collection to begin.

FIRST THINGS FIRST, I started with soft

A father’s fishing tackle box is eminently more interesting – and better stocked – than one’s own when growing up. (WDNR) plastics for panfish. These were a cheap source of entertainment. I would run to the dredge ponds in Caldwell, Idaho, and catch as many little bluegill as my heart desired. Next came a collection of clam weights in the little rotating shell. They have a specific name that I cannot recall but were invaluable for the mountain

adventures. One of the “thingamajiggers” of weights, a package of Eagle Claw hooks, a dozen worms and a seven-dollar yard-sale pole was all I needed to make the fish in a mountain stream quiver with fear. I packed light and ate a boatload of trout cooked over a campfire. Eventually I started a collection of

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COLUMN

Panfish coated with michiko flour and deepfried, and served with sriracha mayo dip. (RANDY KING)

Twist On Deep-fried 3DQÀVK

M

ochiko flour is a great substitute for regular flour in most fried dishes. In Hawaii, mochiko chicken is a staple, as traditional as “Southern fried” chicken is in the South. My good friend and fellow chef Mike Mochica fed me this for the first time out of his Hawaiian-themed food truck. It was an epiphany. Gluten-free and fried, I found it crunchy, sweet and savory at the same time. He then added a little sriracha mayo and made my day. With that inspiration, here’s how to use mochiko, a type of rice flour, with crappie, bluegill and other panfish. Batter ¼ cup mochiko flour ¼ cup cornstarch

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1 tablespoon sugar ¼ cup shoyu (Hawaiian soy sauce; regular “light” soy will work too) 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon ginger, grated 1 tablespoon sesame seeds ¼ cup green onions, sliced super thin ½ teaspoon salt 2 eggs, beaten 1 pound boneless panfish meat Oil for frying Cut the fish into bite-size sections. Try and find as many pin bones as possible, but don’t stress on it. The frying will dissolve most of them in the meat. In a bowl mix all the ingredients together except the fish and oil. This will be the batter and marinade for the fish. Add the fish to the batter and let

marinate in the fridge for anywhere from one to 24 hours. Preheat a heavy-bottomed pan to medium (350 degreesish) with about an inch of oil in the bottom. Fry fish in hot oil until thoroughly cooked and golden brown on both sides. Sriracha mayo 1 cup mayo 2 tablespoon sriracha 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon lemon zest Salt and pepper Mix ingredients all together in a small bowl (will keep for over a week). Serve with hot fish. For more wild game recipes, see chefrandyking.com. –RK


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Northwest Sportsman 77


tackle for salmon, then steelhead, then bream, then catfish and, finally, for trolling kokanee in my own boat. My youthful tackle boxes gave way to crates and gallon ziplocks full of equipment. Then came refined boxes that could be easily packed into high mountain lakes. Then sun-bleached packages that spent entirely too much time in my boat. Then it was sabiki rigs and flashers for trolling. I was becoming overstocked with fishing gear. In a recent garage audit I found myself wondering just how much money I had actually spent on tackle. Then I thought better of the idea; some questions are better left unasked. When my father pulled into the driveway I began showing off my collection to him. He smiled the smile of a person admiring what he had created. “Not a bad set-up,” he said. I nodded in agreement. I was proud of what I had created. “Personally,” I said, “I think it is better than your collection, especially when I lived with you!” Then I laid out the case for my disappointment with the empty grey box of “tackle” I remembered from high school. “Oh, I always had tackle,” my dad said with a wry smile. “I just kept the best stuff under lock and key. You would have ruined a lifelong investment otherwise.” “Besides,” he added, “you would have never started your own collection if I just kept giving you all of mine!” I was stunned. Shocked. My adolescence had been a lie.

A FEW WEEKS later my oldest son showed up with a letter from his school saying he was now “eligible” to take drivers education. Now, most people’s reaction would have been to scream in fear at the thought of their own child, the one who can’t accurately distinguish between dirty and clean socks, being in charge of a car. So when I stopped shrieking, I quickly ran into the garage. About half an hour later my wife came and found me in a stupor. “What are you doing?” she asked. “Isn’t it clear?” I said, grabbing a fist full of Mepps spinners and moving them into a lock box. “I am hiding my good fishing tackle. Soon he will be driving, and I have an investment to protect!” NS 78 Northwest Sportsman

MAY 2017 | nwsportsmanmag.com


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COLUMN

Many Eastside Fisheries Hit Stride In May

A good year-class of walleye should be available to anglers this year, including at Banks Lake, where author Dave Graybill caught this 22-incher. His favorite blade for getting after them is a Dutch Fork Custom Lures Turtle Shell in blue tiger (inset), ďŹ shed on a Slow Death Hook. (DAVE GRAYBILL, BOTH)

S

o many fisheries in Eastern Washington hit their stride in the month of May that it is hard to decide CENTRAL WASHINGTON where to go or what By Dave Graybill species to target. The walleye fishing on the reservoirs is in full swing. Kokanee fishing on Lake Roosevelt and Lake Chelan is often at its peak. Fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass is excellent. Typically, the spring salmon season opens on the Wenatchee and Icicle Rivers.

WALLEYE FISHING ON Potholes Reservoir,

Banks Lake and Moses Lake attracts hundreds of anglers each year, and by May the fish are willing to take their baits. Walleye fishing is forecast to be especially good on Banks and Moses this year, with many fish anticipated to be in the 18- to 20-inch class. But I advise anglers to bring their bass gear along. Walleye can be finicky, and if the bite slows or just isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t happening on a particular day, you can switch to smallmouth fishing and save the day. Sometime in May is often when the bass will be on their beds, and the action can be spectacular. As for walleye techniques, the use of Slow Death Hooks has become extremely popular. Anglers will put a Smile Blade on

a bead ahead of the hook, and add either a whole nightcrawler or just enough to clear the end of the hook after it is threaded on up to the eye. I had tremendous luck last year with the Turtle Shell blades introduced by Dutch Fork Custom Lures. These are trolled at very slow speed, usually less than 1 mph. I fished these on a Slow Death Hook or ahead of a worm harness with equal success. Trolling crankbaits is also an excellent

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COLUMN way to take walleye on these reservoirs. I personally employ this technique later in the season. You will want to turn up your speed when pulling cranks. Trolling up to 2.4 miles per hour can be effective.

ANGLERS WILL BE chasing kokanee on Lake Roosevelt with even more fervor than earlier in the season. Some of this has to do with better weather conditions for being out on the water on this big reservoir. Last year, the kokanee fishing in May was excellent. It is easier to cover more water in search of these fish, and the run from Spring Canyon to Swawilla Basin or even further uplake to Keller or the mouth of the Sanpoil River is much easier with the warm, calm weather that is more predominant in May. I fished for kokanee with success below the Spring Canyon launch and at Swawilla Basin last season. The fishing was also good at Keller and later in the month off the mouth of the Sanpoil River. As I recall, we were catching as many rainbows in May as we did earlier in the season. While the kokanee can still be caught shallow, the rainbows seem to be lower in the water column than in winter and very early spring. This is an advantage if you are targeting the kokanee. They will gradually move deeper as we approach summer, but in May we were still getting them on downriggers set only as deep as 20 feet and on side planers, with added weight. Anglers can expect to take kokanee over 20 inches on Lake Roosevelt. I have seen fish to 24 inches earlier this winter and have been on boats that have landed several over 22 inches. Those who enjoy walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt can also expect much better action than earlier in the season, and smallmouth bass are easy to catch at this time. You can get them along most shorelines casting plugs or plastics.

KOKANEE FISHING ON Lake Chelan will be at its peak. The large schools of fish that anglers have been finding earlier this winter and spring will have moved into the lower basin. Most of the boats will be found below Wapato Point at spots like Mill Bay, Rocky Point, the “Blue Roofs,” and 82 Northwest Sportsman

MAY 2017 | nwsportsmanmag.com

Big kokanee bite well on Lake Roosevelt in May, plus the weather’s a lot better. Everyone is hoping for a new state record koke, and this month could deliver. (DAVE GRAYBILL) even off Lakeside Park. Most of the fish will still be caught deep. It is not unusual to find large schools of fish as deep as 130 feet, so downriggers are a must for this fishery. I will often put my baits, usually Kokabow blades and spinners or the newer squid style, 75 feet or more behind the ball. This allows me time to drop my ’riggers or raise them to the depth of a school that I spot on my depth sounder. That said, when the schools are off Lakeside Park, they can often be caught much more shallow. It is not unusual to catch fish at 30 to 50 feet. I should warn anglers that using light leaders is not recommended on Lake Chelan when fishing for kokanee. Large lake trout and even Chinook will take kokanee baits. I have been broken off several times while kokanee fishing. Earlier this year the kokanee were in two distinct sizes on Chelan. One group averaged 11 inches, the other mostly 12 to 14 inches. Another fishery that is popular on Lake Chelan in May is fishing for smallmouth. Their numbers have increased over the years, and there has been a tournament every year for several. It is not unusual to see bass exceeding 6 pounds at the weigh station at the tournament. The fish can be

found on the beds some time in May, and then later on over structure and under the many docks along the lower lake.

A MUCH-ANTICIPATED SEASON every year is the spring salmon fishery on the Icicle River at Leavenworth. This is primarily a drift boat show, but there is some shore access. In recent years the Wenatchee River has also opened. The seasons are announced through emergency regulations after it becomes clear enough Chinook are on the way back to the national fish hatchery, so anglers need to watch for news releases around midmonth for opening dates and details. These are just a few of the many fishing opportunities that occur in May in Central Washington. There are also many lakes that offer excellent fishing, and the walleye, kokanee and bass fisheries are certainly not limited to the ones I have mentioned. I suggest that you sign up for my free e-letter that describes many opportunities, and check out the “Fishing TV” videos on my web site, fishingmagician.com, to learn how to fish many waters in May. NS Editor’s note: Dave Graybill is a longtime North-central Washington angler and fishing writer, and he is also a member of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.


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COLUMN

Make Hay With May’s Ops You can bet Ryan Brooks will talk his dad, author Jason Brooks, into heading out for spot shrimp with this month’s opener on the South Sound. (JASON BROOKS)

M

ay offers a host of different opportunities to get outside and enjoy the Northwest. For anglers near Puget Sound, there are lingcod and spot SOUTH SOUND prawns lurking in the deep By Jason Brooks waters, while the kokanee bite is turning on for freshwater boaters. Turkey hunting is still strutting along, and while afield keep an eye out for morel mushrooms and wild asparagus near fields and orchards in Eastern Washington.

LINGCOD OFFER A fun fishery that is not very technical but can be frustrating while jigging along the rocks and jetties. A basic sonar unit will help locate structure such as the sunken Tacoma Narrows bridge near Titlow Park. And if you choose to fish the jetties in Edmonds, Everett, Seattle and elsewhere around Puget Sound, heading to the far ends might yield a ling that someone else hasn’t picked over or a diver hasn’t found yet. Start the day off by locating some sand flats in a cove or bay and drop a small ¼-ounce jig tipped with a piece of worm or shrimp to catch some bait. Small flounder, greenlings, sculpins and other bottomfish make for great lingcod bait. If you don’t have time to catch your own, you can find live herring at some bait shops. Frozen herring rigged whole or plug cut is a last resort but does catch lingcod. Other options are to use small pipe jigs, as well as a 2-ounce jig head with a PowerBait grub. Dab Pro-Cure’s Super Gels in Herring, Butt Juice, Flounder Pounder or Sardine on the jig to attract lings out of their crevices and hiding holes. Head over to Toliva Shoal near Fox Island to fish the rocky bottom that juts out from the deep water of Puget Sound. This area is closed the rest of the year but open for the lingcod season. Other options include near Point Evans and the rocky shoreline south of Gig Harbor. nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

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COLUMN

The South Sound isn’t as well known as the Straits or San Juans for lingcod, but there are reefs and other structures they can be targeted. (JASON BROOKS)

SPOT PRAWNS, OR shrimp, are a Puget Sound delicacy found very deep, all the way down to 400 feet or more. Openers occur on certain days and usually for the morning hours. Daily limits are per person and each must be kept separate. Take some ziplock bags along with a marker and put the angler’s name on each before stuffing the bags into the ice chest. Shrimp traps must be a 1-inch-square mesh while spot shrimp are open. Baits include canned cat food, tuna fish and pellets soaked in various scents and oils. One great way to keep the lines from tangling on the deck of the boat is to use a garden hose reel, and while one person pulls up the pots (or uses a pot puller), the other helpers on the boat wind the rope onto the hose reel. Keep shrimp cold until you get home, as they can spoil very quickly. Places to go shrimping are fairly easy to find; just look for the armada of boats tending to their pots marked by yellow buoys.

KOKANEE ANGLERS WILL find their quarry start to dive a little deeper as the month goes on and the sun lights up the sky a bit brighter. In early May you don’t need downriggers, but as the water temperatures also heat up, break them 88 Northwest Sportsman

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out to fish the thermocline. I like to pair my light-action North Fork Customs rods with a small levelwind reel that is spooled with 10-pound Izorline XXX. This line is limp and stretches, allowing the fish to stay hooked while on the downrigger clip, but strong enough to allow you to use some force to pull the line free from the clip. A Mack’s Lure 4-inch Double D dodger to a Cha Cha Derby Winner Squid tipped with white shoe peg corn catches fish. New this year is the Brad’s Kokanee Cut Plug. The 2½-inch-long baby brother to the famed Cut Plug for salmon is just hitting store shelves and you will notice all of them are in kokanee-catching colors. Stuff the plug with a minced-up nightcrawler or canned tuna fish doused with “Sweet Corn” bait oil and sprinkle on some powdered krill. Yakima Bait Company has also entered the kokanee market with the Fast Limit Dodger and Tight Line Kokanee Rig, which features an Indiana-style blade and hoochie skirt. These lures are fished best at faster speeds. South Sound lakes stocked with kokanee include Alder, American, Angle, Clear (Pierce and Thurston Counties), Cushman, Deep, Devereaux, Kokanee, Lost, Mason, Meridian, Summitt and Ward.

HUNTER-GATHERERS WILL HAVE to head outside the South Sound if they want to fill their turkey tag or collect mushrooms. Gobbler season runs through the end of the month, and it will be harder to coax the birds in with calls but it can be done. Being chased around, the flocks are a bit scattered and on the move with green-up. Switch up from oak and pine groves to forested hillsides a bit higher upslope. Most activity will be at sunrise, when the turkeys leave the roost and start to feed. By midday the birds will have settled down. This is a good time to scout around, looking for activity such as recent droppings and tracks. Then for the evening hunt, set up near roosting sites. If you spot birds way off and can’t get to them before dark, then you will know where to be first thing the next morning. May’s warmer but still moist days will grow mushrooms well. Shaded areas are perfect for morels. With the fires of the past three summers, there should be plenty of places to find the tasty treats. The Methow Valley and South Shore areas of Lake Chelan will still be prime for mushroom hunters. The upper stretches of the Entiat Valley, where the Duncan Mountain Fire occurred, might be a bit harder to access due to the ranger district


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Northwest Sportsman 89


COLUMN policies. The Buck Creek fire near Lake Wenatchee will also provide a place to pick for several weeks, probably even into late June with this year’s snowpack. Morels are often found where the ground has been turned up, such as along Forest Service roads, near trails, and springs or other moist areas, especially if a wildfire has gone through the area. Like all other mushroom picking, make sure you know what you’re harvesting and use a valid guidebook or other resource. Check with local ranger districts, but most Forest Service lands allow personal-use mushroom picking without a permit. Some people use rakes to stir up the duff and locate the mushrooms but I have found that this really isn’t needed for morels. After picking a mushroom, I put it in a paper bag, and then once back at the truck I empty the bags into a cardboard box, the idea being to keep them dry and allow air to flow around them. After I get home I keep them in the

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garage, which is cool and, thanks to Western Washington’s frequent rains, has perfect humidity to keep the morels fresh for several days, even a few weeks. I wash them just before I cook them and always split them in half, as the hollow head of the mushroom is home to bugs; even the small mushrooms can house an insect. Dredge in the same salt and pepper flour mixture that you use for trout, and then fry them in coconut oil until golden brown.

MAY OFFERS A variety of outdoor activities and gets us ready for summer. Those who like to fish the salt can get out and run the boat before our summer salmon arrive, picking up a lingcod for a fish fry. Kokanee anglers can get in some great fishing before the jet skiers, wake-boarders, and other watercraft enthusiasts churn up the lakes. If you prefer to hit the woods, then grab the shotgun for turkey season and keep an eye out for some of the best-tasting wild mushrooms the Northwest offers. NS

As turkey season continues through May, harvesting morels can prove even more productive. Target “disturbed” areas of the forest – those that have seen fires, firebreak building or other activities that may have churned the soil and allowed mushroom spores to gain a foothold. (JASON BROOKS)


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92 Northwest Sportsman

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Northwest Sportsman 93


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COLUMN With its increased smolt releases, the Cowlitz River will be among the best bets for spring Chinook. Seattle’s Matt Mahaffey, Eric Anderson and Kennan Mahaffey got in on the action during a guided trip with Jake Wentz. (JAKESFISHING.COM)

Cowlitz Springer Fishery Lasts E

ven though s p r i n g Chinook don’t spawn for several more months, now is when the BUZZ RAMSEY majority have returned to their parent stream, they remain aggressive biters, are still of excellent eating quality, and you should consider chasing them on Southwest Washington’s Cowlitz River. It’s no secret: the Cowlitz has experienced an uptick in the number of spring Chinook arriving back to its waters over the last three years. For example, two years ago (the most recent data available) shows 2,390 spring Chinook were

harvested here by sport anglers during the month of May. And while this year’s run might be down slightly from the recent high of 24,000, this season’s prediction of 17,000 salmon makes the Cowlitz a destination for those craving springer dinners, with fishing extending into June. According to Sam Gibbons, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hatchery operations manager (360-864-5424) for the system, increasing returns are likely due to a combination of factors, which might include improved ocean survival, changes in hatchery strategies, and an as yet experimental hatchery program that releases 500,000 additional young salmon in the fall. And while smolts are released from the salmon hatchery, located near

the Barrier Dam, the returning adults spread throughout the river upon their return and don’t really zero in on their destination until late summer. In an effort to raise additional fish, the Friends of the Cowlitz club acclimates and releases approximately 55,000 juvenile salmon from sand and gravel net pens into the river near Toledo each year. Cowlitz springers average 10 to 15 pounds, with 30-pounders possible. And while some of these salmon have lighter colored flesh than others, which might be due to an inherent pigment gene or a changing ocean diet, no one I interviewed for this article suggested it diminishes their eating quality.

THE COWLITZ IS a large river, compared to nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 95


COLUMN many others, and as such draws a lot of boat traffic. Other than the Columbia, it’s one of a handful of rivers large enough to navigate with a motor, but if you own a drift boat, it is ideal for you too, as there is a boat ramp located every 5 or 6 miles. For example, you can float from the Barrier Dam to the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery/Blue Creek; Trout Hatchery/Blue Creek to Mission Bar; Mission Bar to the new boat ramp at Toledo; Toledo to the I-5 ramp; I-5 to Olequa Creek/Mieker Road; or Olequa Creek/Mieker Road to Castle Rock/Al Helenberg Memorial Boat Ramp. When searching for salmon, realize that they normally hold in deeper water than do steelhead. For example, while steelhead will often hold in water less than 10 feet deep, salmon will seek out water 10 feet deep and deeper. It’s in the deep-water holes, slots, and eddies where you will find the most spring Chinook. And while you will likely find many holding in a deep-water eddy, don’t overlook the many deep-water

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slots scattered throughout the river, especially those located next to a cut bank shaded from the afternoon sun. For boat anglers, spring Chinook will respond to all popular fishing methods, including back-bouncing, float fishing, diver and bait, back-trolling plugs, and side-drifting. The trick is to develop an understanding of the types of water each method produces best in. For example, back-bouncing an egg cluster combined with a sand shrimp behind a big sinker might be the only method that works in a deep, roily, fast-water salmon hole where the water is flowing in circles. In a similar looking spot, but where the water is slow moving, it might be worthwhile to suspend your bait under a float rather than backbounce it down the middle of the pool. You can use a buoyant diver or plug (like a salmon-size Mag Lip) rather than a sinker to hold your egg cluster near bottom. Rigging involves attaching a 4- to 5-foot leader to the belly eyelet of your plug and back-trolling it just like you would a plug without a leader and

bait extending from it. A diver-and-bait set-up works best when applied in areas having straight-running current that will keep your diver/plug near bottom. To keep the trailing bait from hanging bottom, many anglers place a Spin-N-Glo just above their bait. When employing this method, it’s important to hold your boat steady in the current when getting a bite, and wait until your rod tip is down and throbbing before setting the hook. In early morning and late evening or when it’s overcast, you may find salmon holding or moving through the same water steelhead frequent. This is when side-drifting might outproduce other methods. Of course, switching to 12or 15-pound-test mono or 30-pound braided super line might up your chances of actually landing a Chinook, especially a big one, while side-drifting.

BACK-TROLLING SALMON-SIZE PLUGS is a proven method and one you should not overlook. Depth and water flow are the main factors that determine whether you fish one in combination with a sinker or just on a flat line (with no additional weight added). Plugs like Kwikfish and FlatFish don’t dive very deep but do exhibit an enticing, wide wiggle and are often fished in combination with a sinker and 60-inch leader. This set-up works exceedingly well in deep, slow-moving holes where there isn’t enough straight-running current to push a plug near bottom. The method here is to bounce your weight and trailing plug out downcurrent from your boat until your line is at a 45-degree angle and then hold your rod steady, with your sinker positioned a foot or so off the bottom, as you back your boat and trailing lure(s) through the slot. The amount of weight needed depends on water depth and flow, but a selection of 2- to 10-ounce sinkers is what most serious anglers take along. Plugs built to dive deep, like Mag Lips, have eliminated the need for using a sinker when back-trolling areas where the water runs straight and offers enough current to take your extra-deepdiving plug near bottom. It’s easy: just tie such a plug on the end of your line and let it out below your boat from 40 to


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With plentiful boat ramps, fishy holes and variety of water for numerous techniques, the Cowlitz draws anglers from around the region, including James Hibbs of Portland who came up and successfully fished it last season. (FACEBOOK.COM/ BILLMONROEOUTDOORS)

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70 feet and slowly back-troll it through likely looking slots. Adding a fillet of sardine to your salmon-size plug can increase the number of strikes and up your hookto-land ratio. When fishing a plug with a fillet of sardine or other bait strapped to its belly, it’s important to wait until a biting fish has bent your rod over at least three times before setting the hook. Keep in mind that barbless hooks are required when fishing the Cowlitz, and only Chinook having a missing adipose fin can be harvested.

UPDATED RIVER CONDITIONS and other information can be obtained from several sources. Barrier Dam Campground (360985-2495) is near the dam and offers a good assortment of fishing tackle. Ethel Market and Sports (360-978-6070) is located on Highway 12 near Tucker Road before you make the right turn toward the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery. Bob’s Sporting Goods (360-425-3870), on Hudson Road in Longview, features a complete line of fishing tackle. And Tacoma Power (mytpu. org) updates its Cowlitz River report every Monday morning. NS Editor’s note: The author is a brand manager and part of the management team at Yakima Bait. Like Buzz on Facebook. 98 Northwest Sportsman

MAY 2017 | nwsportsmanmag.com


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FISHING

The Lure Of

Springers From the rocks and rocky bluffs of the North Umpqua, Sara’s appreciation and love of fishing for these salmon grows. By Sara Ichtertz An angler brings a spring Chinook towards the net of a precariously balanced fellow fisherman on the North Fork Umpqua River. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

A

s the dogwoods begin to bloom in the forest, a very special creature is making her way upriver. Absolutely driven to make her way home, she swims nearly 200 miles upstream, which is where she and her school come into my life. On these high bluffs I pursue the spring salmon and they test me like no other. They have chewed me up and spit me out, and yet I still crave more. They bring out the deepest and most challenging competition within myself I have ever felt. Of course, the first salmon I ever hooked in my entire life would be the biggest, brightest upriver springer I had ever seen! (At this point I had a handful of winter steelhead under my belt.) Without a doubt I lost the battle, but in that first fight I fell in love with the fish as well. Giving it my best, she showed me through her massive pull and incredible strength that she was unlike any fish I had ever hooked. The moment my line fell lifeless, my heart sank, but I also accepted the challenge. I will never give up pursuing them. That first pull of the salmon diving deep, peeling line as she screamed across the massive river, was unreal and left me wanting more. I had met a creature that was nothing like the steelhead, and yet I desired to give my all to them as well. The spring salmon that make their way up to my fishing grounds and beyond are not only a great challenge to catch, but the entire experience as a whole is truly one of a kind.

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FISHING THE FISH THEMSELVES are even more

Spring salmon are more than just OK for author Sara Ichtertz, who has come to enjoy the challenge of fishing for them almost as much as she does for upriver steelhead. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

temperamental than the fishermen, which is saying a lot. As the fish swim up from the ocean, their demeanor changes as they make their way home. The amazing part, though, is that they do still want a piece of what we huck off the bluffs each spring. I arrive to the river in the middle of the night to secure the spot I want to fish. The men who also come to fish mean business; they reach the bank at 2:15 in the morning, rain or shine, and so do I. The stars beam bright and each time I step foot on that river for these fish, the anticipation of it all is, in one word, intense. Never have I gotten to where I could say I’m comfortable or relaxed. No, I can say I fish confidently for them, but there is a great amount of pressure and intensity, both from the fish and the men I fish with. Their campfires crackle and somedays I might join them all for a laugh and some fish talk, but typically

I do not want to smell like fire. Nor do I want to become cozy in its heat. When it’s time to fish until just after sunrise is one of the coldest times of year I know, so it’s best I become comfortably numb. I listen to the river and watch those brightest stars, waiting to hear the most magical sound on the river each spring, when the Chinook let you know that they are in fact right there with you. Like cannonballs exploding out of the river, their splash and commotion is one of a kind. It truly is a great phenomenon of nature to hear such sounds, and I am thankful to know it like I do.

POSITIONED IN MY spot I wait. It’s funny how we find comfort in certain rocks on our banks. The more I fish, I realize that I’m not after that one spot most of them are after. I am after a good spot, but not the spot! My spot just needs to have me in the zone and provide great footing for a killer hookset. I find it interesting how this sport is such a personal game, and yet at the same time it is very competitive with those you fish with. Even when you do not intend for it to be this way, it is. We truly do love seeing our fellow fishers succeed. While I like to take the pictures, they lend a helping hand netting these fish from the bluffs. But at the same time we are here to fish. It’s not a team sport; it is a personal one. The testosterone can run thick, and somedays I’m thankful to be the left-handed lady who I am when men are screaming, spit flying, veins bulging, just waiting to see one of them get thrown into the river! But amongst all the chaos that can come with springer season each year, we are in an incredibly beautiful place, the fish that lie beneath these waters are one of kind, and therefore there is no place I would rather be.

THE FINICKY, PICKY ways of these fish truly baffles me. One day they want to play, lighting up our life on both bait and jigs, while other days we leave scratching our heads wondering what it was about today that was different from the one before. On the mornings 102 Northwest Sportsman

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FISHING that they do in fact want to play it is one of the most incredible fishing displays I have ever seen. That window of bobbers going under is brief. But, wow, what a beautiful window it is. There is no lucking out when it comes to these upriver springers. Each of the men I see who have this river dialed in are some of the greatest fishermen I know. I feel thankful that I have been welcomed by most. Those who haven’t welcomed my presence as much realize that I am not going anywhere. With each passing run my landing ratio is getting better and better, and I believe they now see me as a fisher more so than that one girl on the river. Discovering a fish like this – one that challenges you and gives you the opportunity to always learn more – is crucial in becoming a great angler. We all need a fish like this in our life, one that instills a deep, deep lovehate passion. Even on the hardest of days I remember the part I love about

Their “finicky, picky ways” can be maddening for fishermen, but perhaps that’s why so many are so passionate about fishing for springers. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

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them, keeping my heart firmly on the river and in pursuit. If the joy of hooking, fighting, and landing these creatures wasn’t absolutely one-of-akind amazing, I am sure I would walk away without a problem, to pour all of my passion into steelhead, for they are the keeper of my heart. But no, these spring salmon are beyond worthy of my time, love, and devotion. I remember when springers were just a dream for me. I would go down to the river just to listen and watch those incredibly massive fish, thinking one day I would fish for them. I remember being told, “Sara, you will never land one of those fish up there!” Well, I find it pretty incredible that through true desire and drive, and the perfect amount of guidance, I do hook and land these fish each spring. The more time I am able to put in on this river, the better fisherlady I become. I’m better prepared for my float to go under and to execute my hookset with conviction, like my children’s lives depend on it! Totally out of this world! The instant headshake that follows leads to the most intense tugging of my life, leaving me trembling, focusing on fighting the fish, making my way down the bluffs, and trying not to fall in the drink! Crazy! Intense! Fun! When the fish is in the net I absolutely cannot help but to cheer in sheer delight! I suppose even when they come undone, I find myself shouting to the mountaintops as well, for these fish are intense.

SPRINGERS BRING OUT the best and worst in all of us. You could ask just about anyone what their very best and very worst day on the river was, and if they fish upriver for spring salmon, I have a feeling both have something to do with these fish. But the overall experience that comes with them is unlike any other. Fishers of all types flood the river each spring, no matter the chaos, simply because the fish are worth it! These finicky yet amazing fish keep my heart on the river each spring, and I couldn’t change it, even if I tried. NS 106 Northwest Sportsman

MAY 2017 | nwsportsmanmag.com


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COLUMN Bill Herzog began his steelheading career during the golden age of the fishery in Western Washington, and was able to hit rivers that are now closed to angling for winter- and summer-runs. As he tells tales of a life spent on the water, he’s also working towards a sustainable future for the fish and fishery. (WILDSTEELHEADERS.ORG)

The General Speaks Part I of II

I

’ve been friends with Bill Herzog for a while now. The dude just flat out cracks me up. One thing I don’t WIESTSIDER think anyone denies is that he is a true By Terry Wiest master of the art of fishing. He loves being in the spotlight while teaching his craft, but isn’t one for bragging – he doesn’t have too. If you’re fortunate enough to fish with him, you’ll notice he’s super intense, yet calm, witty, hilarious, and always making the best of any situation. Most often, not only will you leave with fish, but also a side ache from laughing so damn much. Smart as hell, Herzog gladly shares his knowledge when asked (he’s authored hundreds of fishing articles, including several in Northwest

Sportsman). Even with his rock-star status in the fishing world, he remains very approachable, and is more than willing to share his stories of a life spent angling. In part one of this twopart series, I talked lighter subjects with my friend, “The General,” and next issue we’ll tackle some of his current projects, including his part in the “Four is Enough” campaign and a recent video series entitled “Steelhead Country.”

liked my advice and looked forward to each issue. He said the only thing missing was a good tag line, so he asked what we could call him. Being the smartass that I am, I just said, “Oh, call me General Zog, man of steel, caffeine monster,” and a few other adjectives that just ran off my tongue. It was in reference to General Zod from Superman. For some reason listeners were paying attention and the name stuck.

Terry Wiest: OK, why do they call you The General? Bill Herzog: Oh my, it really happened by accident about 15 years ago or so. I was writing a section in Salmon Trout Steelheader called “How To,” where each issue I would explain, well, just like the title said, how to do something fishing related. I was also on the radio at that time, so a listener called in and said he

TW What is your first recollection of wanting to fish? BH I can’t remember when I didn’t want to fish. Growing up I had two uncles who lived for fishing. I can remember going to my Uncle Bob’s house and seeing a photo of him holding two steelhead from the Lyre River, rubber hip boots and all. I always thought to myself, “Man, I want to do that.” nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 109


COLUMN TW Tell me about your first steelhead. BH I’ll never forget. It was 1971, fishing

Herzog considers himself lucky to have fished British Columbia’s Babine and Kispiox Rivers before their “discovery,” staying for a week and catching many over 20 pounds. (BILL HERZOG)

on the Puyallup River with Uncle Bob. He handed me some big black plastic rod with an Ambassadeur levelwind reel. I’d never cast a levelwind before, but Uncle Bob insisted only girls, beginners and Dallas Cowboy fans used spinning reels. I hooked an 11-pound chrome-bright hen and landed it using a red-and-white Dardevle spoon. That set my future of fishing in motion. My only regret was I never got a photo of that fish. Uncle Bob wasn’t into bragging and he thought photos of dead fish was nothing but that, bragging.

TW We all did things as kids we’d never think of doing now – care to share any moments? BH I had a very fun childhood. I remember growing up we lived on the top of a huge hill in Tacoma. My cousins and I would take this huge mirror on a sunny day and then reflect it on the windshield of a car coming up the hill. You could see the cars swerving and tires were screeching, then we’d run and hide in the garage. I’m not sure how many wrecks we caused.

TW What about some fishing-related stories? BH Never really did anything bad. I don’t think I ever broke any fishing laws intentionally. Probably the worst thing I did was skip school to go fishing. I went to Bellarmine Prep. I used to skip out and run to the Nisqually River to fish. But then it was only math class, so it was worth it. TW You used to guide – how was that? BH You know, I enjoyed it for a while. I got into guiding because of an experience I had on the Cowlitz River with a guide I’ll not name. The guide basically set everything up, handed us our rods, we caught some fish, he collected his money and left. To me, I was expecting to learn something. He not only failed at this, but he barely spoke the whole time on the river. It was then I told myself, “You know, I can do this and I can do it a lot better.” In my opinion, I did. I think a good guide 110 Northwest Sportsman

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needs to interact with their clients, needs to be a psychiatrist, a teacher, needs to teach technique, talk about history of the fish, the river, and, of course, make the clients comfortable and make them laugh. At the end of the day hopefully they caught fish, hopefully they learned something and, above all, hopefully they had a great time and want to continue fishing, whether with a guide or on their own.

TW Did you ever want to throw a client

overboard? BH Plenty! Yeah, it was those clients who, when they called back to book again, I’d say I was full but then give them a name and number of a guide I couldn’t stand. There was my UPS driver. He’d deliver all my fishing gear and want to talk fishing. He’d never steelhead fished before but would always say he wanted to go. Finally he booked a trip on April 1, 1997, just him for the boat. The Skagit had been blown out for four days straight and it was just


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COLUMN coming into shape, but probably a day early (I thought). I told him we’d at least look at the river, and if it wasn’t fishable, we’d reschedule. So I took the sled and we headed downriver. Things weren’t looking good. But as we approached the Sauk, the river was this gorgeous steelhead green. There was a no-fishing-under-power rule, but I was a wee bit younger then, so I could actually row the boat so we could fish plugs. I put the dude’s plug back, set the rod in the holder and almost instantly it doubled over. He sat there and reeled it in like he was in his office. No expression, just kinda ho-hum. I almost sh*t; it was a chrome-bright 18-pound hen. We did this eight straight times, hooking up within minutes of setting the plug back out. All the fish were between 16 and 19 pounds and they were all hens. Another guide was coming downriver, so I motioned, let him know the hole was full of fish and let him have it. We’d already done our damage there and I wanted the other dude’s clients to experience it as well. We headed down to the “Leaning Cedar” hole. It was by far the best day in my entire fishing life. We hooked another 25 fish! Total for the day was over 40 by 1:00. I decided we’d had enough and went in. While I was ecstatic, the dude was pissed! Yes, pissed! He was even throwing expletives around because I didn’t give him a full day of fishing. He gave me my money, no tip mind you, and walked off. I was dumfounded. This was my best day by far, ever, including Canada, and the dude was not happy. Wow. About a month later there was a knock on my door. The dude showed up with a case of Henry Weinhards and a hundreddollar bill. All he could say was, “Man, I’m so sorry, please, please take me again, I’m so sorry.” Turned out, the day after fishing when the guy went to work he told his coworkers about our day. They said he was full of sh*t! It was only then that he realized this was not normal and he’d never experience a day like that again, ever. He thought my whooping and 112 Northwest Sportsman

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hollering the whole day was just an act and a way to get a tip. OK, OK, I got another one. I had an Asian father and son fish with me one day. It was really tough fishing but I worked my a** off. The whole day the son was nothing but smiles, the dad had on his angry face and didn’t speak hardly a word. We were fishing plugs, so them being inexperienced I gave them both a demo on how to lift the rod from the rod holder. Sure enough, the old man’s rod doubles over. He reaches for the rod, grabs it by the label and pulls straight back. All I heard was, “Crack, crack, snap” as the rod broke in two places, and then the line. The old man looked at me and said, “Rod not strong.” The kid was mortified. At the end of the day we managed to catch a single fish. Like I said, it was tough fishing. The old man gave me $100 and walked away. This didn’t even cover my daily rates. The son followed him up and wrote a check for the difference, plus the cost of the rod and a nice tip. As they drove by, the old man rolled down his window and yelled, “You not good guide, you only catch one fish.”

TW Every think about guiding again? BH OK, here’s the deal. There are already too many guides on the river for the limited amount of fish we have in the rivers these days. I have too much respect for them, and they work their a**es off to get clients fish. Why would I join that pool and increase the number of guides?

TW Have you ever taken a dump in the river? Er, let me rephrase that – have you ever fallen in the river? BH Haven’t we all! Yes, a lot. My most recent was last year while fishing the Queets with Ashley (Nichole Lewis) and Richie (Underwood). I was in the middle of the river and hooked a chrome-bright summer-run. As I was backing up, a boulder let loose and I found myself sputtering and spitting water as I continued to hold my rod up. My immediate thought was, “Is this it? Should I let my rod go

Herzog provides instruction on a “steelhead river” at a sportsmen’s show. By one recent count, he’s authored over 500 articles, as well as a handful of books, and was a longtime cohost of Northwest Wild Country. “When I go out I know I’m going to catch fish; it’s getting others fish that satisfies me,” he says. (DR. BACKLASH) because I’m going to die?” Just then, as I was tumbling down the river, I felt something grab my neck. Luckily, Richie is a strong dude. He plucked me out. And, yes, I landed the fish. I did an incredible Wile E. Coyote imitation once while fishing with Nick Amato. We were hiking through some thick brush up above the river. Then it happened – I took a step and there was nothing there. I plummeted about 20 feet straight down, Wile E. Coyote style, right into the roaring rapids. The only thing that saved me was a single rock that was above the water line that I was able to grab hold of. If not for the exact position of the rock, I don’t think I’d be here any more. I will offer this advice: Always wear a wading belt and use a staff. Always!

TW How many 20-pound steelhead have you caught? What’s your largest ever? BH Two hundred and thirty-one, including many over 30 pounds. I was very lucky and used to fish the Babine and the Kispiox before they were discovered. I’d stay for a week and it was nothing to catch 20 over 20 pounds in a week. In 1986 I caught 27 steelhead over 23 pounds in


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Northwest Sportsman 113


COLUMN my weeklong stay. Now if you want to go and stay a week it will cost you $10,000. Ridiculous, and not in my budget. My largest ever was 44x24 inches, which computes to 35 pounds. It was a monstrous buck on the Babine River. Funny thing is, it took all of five minutes to land. One screaming run and that was it.

TW Favorite place to fish? BH The rivers! That’s it. I love them all. TW Now, I have some inside scoop. I met your ex. She said I could always believe how many you said you caught and what you caught them on, but never believe where you said you fished. Is that true? BH OMG, yes, back then that was true. I’d fish the Dosewallips, Duckabush and the Skokomish – yes, the Skok. We’d absolutely annihilate the fish. It was so good and we’d never see another soul on the river. People would see photos and I’d

say, “Oh yeah, the ’Nooch was good to us.” They’d study the picture, trying to figure out exactly where on the Wynoochee it was. LOL, they never could figure it out. Now, heck, who cares. There’s no reason to try and keep secrets. No one is going to steal my fish. If they use my techniques, well, good for them.

TW Now, we’ve all been skunked; I’m assuming that’s true with you? BH Umm, a lot. Hell, even Buzz Ramsey gets skunked – ask him. Especially these days, if anyone tells you they don’t get skunked, they’re full of chocolate hotdogs.

TW Funny, I already knew that because I’ve asked you before how you did and you’ve told me when you’ve gotten the goose egg. Admirable. BH Yep, I’ve already been skunked twice this season. Not proud of it, but it is what it is.

Other than that, what’s your favorite technique. BH Plugs! There’s nothing like a plug strike. They are so dang effective too. If you know how to pull plugs correctly, it’s what you need to do. Bobber and jigs are also a favorite – even if I have to use a spinning reel, LOL. In fact, I think more people should use bobber and jigs. Not only are they incredibly effective, but they are also the most delicate on the fish. When was the last time you saw a fish bleed out after being hooked by a jig? Never.

TW Besides steelhead, what’s your favorite species to fish for? BH Wild, nasty, midteener, ballistic coho. I love them and they love spoons and spinners. Man, when they hit, they’ll practically rip the rod from your hands. Whew, what a rush. I also love fishing for cutthroat – any kind of cutthroat. One of the most gorgeous fish, and just a blast to catch.

TW We all know you love to chuck metal. TW Most of us have heard you on the radio and you seem a natural in front on the mic. I’ve been on air with you and you’re a machine, even while cracking everyone up. Were you the class clown? BH Absolutely, you know it! I was a little dude in high school. I didn’t grow until a few years later. So here I am, this little dude with a mullet, you know, looking like Bud Bundy. I was either going to be the funniest kid in school or get my ass kicked. It was an easy choice. TW I hear you do a pretty mean standup. Where can we catch you, if not on the river? BH Oh, sh*t yeah. I’ve done several open mic nights in Seattle. I love being in the spotlight and making people laugh. It’s how I approach my seminars. Even while providing good information I get a high from hearing people laugh at what I’m saying. I’ve worked hard to come up with a great routine. It’s funnier than hell. If I could do it all again, I would have gotten more into comedy in the 1970s and ’80s and concentrated on a career other than fishing. I could see myself

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Best of British Columbia

Herzog at home with wife Brenda. These days the couple lives in the Wenatchee area. (BILL HERZOG)

doing a show like Seinfeld; we have similar styles of humor. I would have been killer. But it didn’t happen.

TW You’ve caught a few fish so far in life. What’s the single most important thing you would tell someone just getting into fishing? BH Don’t get caught up in all this social media crap. OMG, it’s rampant and it doesn’t accomplish getting you on more fish. Ha-ha, this is from a guy who’s on the radio, TV and in magazines. You know, if you’re good, help others. Teach others how to fish; that’s what it’s all about. Have a great time, have fun, laugh. To me it’s more important to watch others fish and get them fish. Yes, I’ve caught a few. When I go out I know I’m going to catch fish; it’s getting others fish that satisfies me. Fishing is very therapeutic. I spend a lot of time fishing by myself. It’s helped me out in life. It keeps me sane. It keeps me from shooting more people. Joke – that was a joke there, kiddies. NS Editor’s note: In part two of this series, Bill Herzog gets more serious, talking about the state of steelhead in Washington, the stock’s future and projects he’s working on to help out the resource. 116 Northwest Sportsman

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FISHING

Inlet An Outlet For Fishing Fantasy Tucked inside a cove of Vancouver Island’s Esperanza Inlet is a new floating resort close to fishy waters.

The sun rises over Catalla Island, at the mouth of Esperanza Inlet where it meets the wide open Pacific and the fabled “salmon highway” that streaks down the west side of Vancouver Island, delivering Chinook like these to guests of Newton Cove Resort. (TODD MARTIN, BOTH)

By Todd Martin

Y

ou close your eyes and visualize fishing for wild Pacific salmon in a remote and pristine part of the world. You are soaking up the quiet, far from your stressful daily grind, when your guide hollers, “Incoming, port side!” You whirl around to see two enormous humpback whales breaching no more than 20 feet nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 121


FISHING

The waters teem with Chinook and coho throughout the season, along with bottomfish, and as the Northwest albacore fishery has grown in popularity in recent years, anglers have discovered they’re reachable from resorts on the west coast of Vancouver Island. These boats are working for salmon off the “Log Dump” in Esperanza Inlet (TODD MARTIN)

from your boat. You shudder with nervous excitement, fumbling for your camera, thinking, “Wow, was that ever cool!” Wake up, my friends, it’s not a dream. You’re enjoying the fishing experience of a lifetime in Nootka Sound, one of the fishiest of fishy locations on the northern end of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island.

LAST SUMMER, I was privileged to visit the brand-new Newton Cove Resort, the latest in the stable of three luxury fishing lodges run by Nootka Marine Adventures. What was supposed to be an offshore tuna tournament was quickly switched to an inshore salmon derby, due to nasty ocean conditions. I didn’t bat an eye, as this provided an opportunity to explore Esperanza and Espinosa Inlets, the most northern and distant portions 122 Northwest Sportsman

MAY 2017 | nwsportsmanmag.com

of Nookta Sound. When you contemplate an off-the-beaten-path fishing destination, with that edge of the world feeling, you are envisioning Esperanza Inlet. The only way to get here is by floatplane or boat. There are no roads, no hassles to lessen the serenity you will find here. Nootka Sound and, specifically, Esperanza Inlet were inhabited by local First Nations for thousands of years, before the Spanish arrived in 1774. They were followed by Capt. James Cook in 1778, launching the discovery of this part of the BC coast. The nearest town to this secluded playground is the village of Tahsis, which is a 30-minute boat trip from Newton Cove Resort. Tahsis, interpreted from local First Nations language, means “passageway,” and it’s aptly named. No longer is it a hotbed for logging camps and

canneries; tourism and fishing rule the roost now. However, there is no threat of crowds. Tahsis has a winter population of 500 permanent residents that expands to 1,500 in the summer. Nootka Marine Adventures has made a big time commitment to the latest fishing craze to hit our region, angling for albacore tuna. Ownership was looking to expand, and improve access to this fishery. So a few years ago they decided to open a third resort in Nootka Sound, one that was only 15 minutes from the open ocean, and ideally situated to access the tuna fishing grounds. In 2016, Newton Cove Resort opened for its first full year of operation, and I have to say the folks from Nookta Marine Adventures have outdone themselves. They’ve built a luxurious floating fishing resort,


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Newton Cove Resort is one of several floating facilities positioned at key locations on Vancouver Island for fast access to nearshore and offshore fishing grounds. (TODD MARTIN)

in calm protected waters, on top of some of the best salmon, bottomfish and tuna fishing available on the Pacific coast. I’d never stayed at a remote floating resort before, but it sure is a treat. It’s nice to get up in the morning, grab a thermos of hot coffee and saunter over to your guide boat for the day, all within a one-minute walk. It’s quite the experience, and you feel like a spoiled kid at Christmas. With the unique placement of Newton Cove Resort so close to the open ocean, yet so secluded in its protected Espinosa Inlet hideaway, you are positioned to quickly access your chosen fishery. Though I live near Vancouver, BC, and have fished around Vancouver Island for years, I had also never experienced humpback whales clearing their exhaust pipe 15 feet away from the boat before, but it’s a daily occurrence here. Let’s just say I gripped the boat handrail a little tighter as those beasts cruised by as we trolled for salmon in Garden Bay, one of the favored salmon tacks in Esperanza Inlet. We encountered the whales a couple times each day as they gleefully gobbled up the massive balls of bait that are also the primary attractant for the migratory salmon.

WHILE ENJOYING THREE days of trolling for salmon, I saw that anything blue and white was the hot ticket. We trolled a mixture of Luhr-Jensen Coyote spoons in those shades, as well as similarly colored Gibbs-Delta hoochies, or squid imitations. The morning bite was best, as it usually is everywhere, and of course on the major tide changes. The best hot spots in Esperanza are near the numerous small islands that dot the shoreline along the southern side of the inlet. Familiarize yourself with names such as Garden Point, Rosa Bluffs, the Log Dump, Flower Island, Saltery Bay and Catella Island – they’re locations you’ll want to seek out. The normally 124 Northwest Sportsman

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FISHING standard offering of an anchovy in a teaser head was not used as much here during my trip. The primary reason was that the inlet had seen a large influx of jellyfish and weeds, which tend to foul trolled bait more often. Trolling hardware allows you to keep your lines clean and in the effective zone longer. Even with an impromptu fishing derby going on, and the boats from locals and other nearby lodges, there were no crowds. You have room to stretch out, and enjoy the surroundings without feeling like you parachuted into a combat fishery. During my trip, I needed to watch for cruising whales more than other boats. Ask Gibran White, marine operations manager of Nookta Marine Adventures, about this. The whales seem to prefer his boat, the Fish Hawg, more than any other. If you’re lucky enough to spend a day on the water with the G-Man, be prepared for some close encounters of the cetacean variety. It’s hard to beat great fishing, stunning coastal scenery and whale watching in the same day. Newton Cove Resort enjoys easy access to the prolific salmon runs that pass by on their migration to their home rivers. Massive numbers of Chinook, or springers, show up in May and June and run hard in these waters right through to early September. Thundering schools of coho arrive in late July and don’t drop off until late September. And don’t forget the easy offshore access to abundant bottomfishing and the tuna grounds. It’s why this place was built. While we were salmon fishing here in August, our longest run from the dock to a fishing spot was 20 minutes.

During author Todd Martin’s stay last year, a tuna tournament had to be cancelled because of rough weather, but a band playing oldies helped make up for it at the luxurious resort tucked into a remote cove. (TODD MARTIN)

After your daily fishing exploits, you arrive back at Newton Cove Resort to relax, tell stories and enjoy a few adult beverages. The creature comforts here are fairly decent, if you get my drift. You hop off the boat, and in 30 seconds, stroll into the lounge to grab a refreshment. Saunter outside and pull up a chair at one of the three outdoor gas fire pits on the dock to share your day’s adventures with other guests. The rugged west coast of Vancouver Island is your view, and the eagles provide the ambiance. Meanwhile, the staff will be jiffy on the spot with the appetizers. That’s west coast luxury fishing at its finest. As part of the festivities for the derby, Nootka Marine Adventures even brought in a local band to play classic rock one evening.

THE COMPANY RUNS three luxury fishing resorts in Nootka Sound. Their flagship and main operating base is Moutcha Bay Resort, which

GETTING HERE Getting to the mouth of Esperanza Inlet is an epic coastal adventure on its own. Once you arrive on Vancouver Island, either aboard the ferries to Nanaimo or Victoria, BC, head north on Highway 19 to Campbell River. Then travel west on Highway 28 for 91 kilometers (57 miles). Upon arrival in Gold River, keep heading straight, following the signs towards Tahsis. You will arrive at Moutcha Bay Resort, 43 kilometers (26 miles) north of Gold River. If visiting the floating resorts, you will take a boat from there. –TM 126 Northwest Sportsman

MAY 2017 | nwsportsmanmag.com

can be easily reached by car. Along with Newton Cove Resort, they also have the expanded and updated Nootka Sound Resort, which is located in Galiano Bay, in the southern arm of Nootka Sound. You can access either floating resort by boat from Moutcha Bay, or from the nearby town of Gold River. Another option to reach Newton Cove Resort is to continue along the road to Tahsis and get picked up by boat from there. Numerous guests also arrive at either of the floating resorts by float plane. Northwest Seaplanes, Kenmore Air, Seair Seaplanes, and Air Nootka are some of the companies providing local air services. Newton Cove Resort was built primarily to cater to private groups, corporate retreats, fishing derbies and other special events for group sizes ranging from 10 to 44 guests. And yes, you can book it for your own exclusive use, if that is what you desire. It offers first-class meals, splendid accommodations and full fish processing in its long list of amenities. Along with being one of the largest recreational fishing operations in coastal BC and with three resorts they can offer customized fishing packages to suit any budget, Nootka Marine


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FISHING Adventures is also hosting five fishing derbies this year. All generate funds for habitat restoration and salmon enhancement programs to ensure great fishing stays that way. Notable derbies for the 2017 season include the Bonnie & Clyde (male and female team) salmon derby July 1-2 at Moutcha Bay Resort, and the first annual Coho Enhancement Derby at Newton Cove Resort Sept. 9-10. If all this doesn’t whet your whistle for a Canadian fishing adventure, an added benefit for visiting American anglers is the Canadian dollar hovering around $0.75 compared to the greenback. So your Canadian fishing adventure just got 25 percent more affordable. For more information on fishing adventures in BC, visit fishingbc .com, and of course for more info on Newton Cove Resort go to nootkamarineadventures.com. NS

A whale waves its tail goodbye inside Esperanza Inlet. (TODD MARTIN)

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FISHING Author Andy Schneider gaffs an Oregon Coast halibut aboard. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Hali Help By Andy Schneider

A

fter a long, stormy, windy, wet – very wet – winter, we can only hope May brings favorable offshore conditions so that we can partake in the 16.7 percent

With an increased quota for the fishery opening this month, here’s how to get after Oregon flatsiders.

increase in our halibut quota over 2016, as well as make up for a lessthan-stellar spring Chinook fishery. Depending on your port of choice, your season can start as early as May 1 (the Southern Oregon Subarea). For most of us trailer-

boat sailors who live in the Portland Metro area, our fishery starts May 11 with the Central Oregon Subarea opener, while those hardy enough to venture across the Columbia River Bar can get after halibut starting May 4.

nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 133


FISHING But while our quota is larger this year, we may have to work that much harder to find fish. Many of our popular offshore fishing grounds haven’t been producing results like they once did. Some may blame commercial fishing practices, but the reality is that more nontarget species are feeding where our beloved halibut do too. Sablefish, skates and arrowtooth flounder are robbing our baits before our target species can find them. While a package or two of bait once may have ensured our boat limit of tasty flatfish, now it often takes multiple packages per angler just so one halibut finds our hook.

TIME TO GAMBLE? Most Northwest offshore anglers are well aware of the average size of our halibut, 25 to 40 pounds. While this is a perfect eating-size

fish, many would prefer one in the 50-inch range, a 50-plus-pounder. Location can have something to do with where you find larger and smaller fish, but it’s mostly a matter of having the tackle, bait, good ocean conditions and time to look for larger fish. Being willing to take the gamble and release a smaller fish in hopes of a bigger one also plays a role. Bigger baits will also keep smaller fish from being able to latch onto your hooks, but big baits also require heavier leads and more work to ensure they are fishing properly. Most of us Northwest halibut anglers are out there to fill our freezers, not jockey for bragging rights, so keeping an average-sized fish is always the wisest choice – just be ready with gaff and harpoon if a larger fish is hooked.

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mean you have to” is a saying that applies well for halibut fishing off the Oregon coast. While the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife gives us the green light to head offshore for all-depths halibut on May 11, it doesn’t mean you have to. May 11 is also opening day for nearshore halibut fishing too. Yes, heading far over the horizon is almost always going to be more productive. But if you don’t feel like battling marginal ocean conditions for over an hour, fishing closer to the beach may be a better answer. Nearshore waters won’t fill the fish box nearly as fast as some of the popular offshore locations. Halibut here tend to be more scattered and always on the move. While there usually is more structure in shallower water, it’s very uncommon to consistently find halibut around it. Instead, nearshore halibut can be found moving along a certain depth, where the bottom composition transitions and where there are current seams. But one of the most important things to remember when fishing nearshore halibut is that there are no consistencies on a consistent basis. Best bet is to keep moving and experimenting with different depths, speeds and baits. Wherever you start your drifts, work deeper or shallower in 50-foot increments until you find fish. Once you hook a fish, or miss one, make a mark on your GPS and make another pass to see if there are more there.

RIGGING FOR SHALLOW OPS Setting up for shallow halibut is as easy as using your same deepwater gear, just with lighter leads, or utilizing lighter bottomfishing or salmon tackle. Start with a heavy-action salmon rod combined with a reel that holds at least 100 yards of 65-pound braided line. Slide a plastic weight slider on your mainline to a large ball-bearing swivel. For leader use 4 feet of 40- to 50-pound


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FISHING monofilament with two 5/0 to 7/0 hooks. Blue-, purple- or black-label herring fished whole or cut-plugged works well, as does belly strips or fillets of shad. Twelve to 20 ounces of lead should allow you to keep contact with the bottom in less than 200 feet of water. While halibut can be had close to just about every Oregon port, the two most popular for shallow flatties are Garibaldi and Newport. Out of former, most anglers run north to the mouth of the Nehalem River. When fishing out of the latter, the waters just south of Yaquina Head and the lighthouse produce some of the most consistent results.

GO DEEP! When fishing deeper water, there are three very well-known locations: Halibut Hill, The Chicken Ranch and The Rock Pile. But halibut can also be found on the edges of the

Many anglers dream of catching huge halibut, and while the average size of those caught off Oregon and Washington is more modest, some larger fish do come up from the deep. Sharon Herborn caught this one out of Newport last May. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

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Columbia Canyon, 15 to 20 miles due west of Buoy 10, and also at The Banana out of Depoe Bay. None of these locations are a secret and when there is a calm ocean on a Friday or Saturday, the crowds can be as thick as trendy beards and fashion flannel at a Portland farmer’s market. Halibut Hill out of Tillamook Bay is challenging simply due to the depth of the water, 760 to 840 feet deep. But it does offer a grade of fish slightly larger than the rest of the coast, with 40- to 50-inch fish not uncommon. The Chicken Ranch off Yaquina Bay is appropriately named for its 30- to 36-inch-average fish. The average depth of The Ranch is around 600 feet, which isn’t bad for being 36 miles offshore. The Rock Pile, also out of Yaquina, is a 13-mile-long reef approximately 13 miles west by southwest off the jetties. It offers some of the best opportunities for large halibut off the Oregon coast. Most are caught on the east side of The Rock Pile. The easiest way to fish this spot is to enter ODFW’s groundfish closure coordinates into your chart-plotter and start on the north end of The Rock Pile and fish with the drift to the south, making sure to stay outside the closure area. Whether you fish deep or shallow, take note of a new rule that requires boats fishing for halibut to have a functional rockfish descender and to use it to release any rockfish caught outside the 30-fathom demarcation.

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Hopefully, 2017’s larger halibut quota will help make up for missed opportunities from this year’s spring Chinook season. But while halibut angling is often referred to more as harvest than fishing, time spent floating on the swells of the Pacific looking east at our beautiful rugged coast is still some of the best fishing opportunity any angler could ever ask for. NS


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HUNTING

7 Deadly Tricks For Late-season Gobs Time’s running out to tag your Northwest spring turkey, but these expert tips could prove successful.

By M.D. Johnson

I

’d roosted the bird the night before down to the very branch he was on; however, what I didn’t know is that for whatever reason, he’d move two trees over during the night. Raccoon? Owl? Uncomfortable sleeping position? I don’t know; all I knew, there in the predawn blackness, was that he was close. Too close. Close enough to see. And if I could see him, he damn well could see me. I froze, mind racing. The bird gobbled. And gobbled again. I thought maybe I still had a chance, hadn’t screwed up the sure thing entirely. But cover, an old fenceline, was 50 yards behind me. Between me and the roosted longbeard, only air. Then it came to me. Bending at the waist, I shuffled backwards

The sun begins to set on spring turkey season this month, but not before a full 31 days dawn for you to get out there and tag an Oregon or Washington gobbler. (JULIA JOHNSON) nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

Northwest Sportsman 143


HUNTING like a bipedal crayfish and mooed my very best heifer-in-the-dark moo. The bird gobbled in response. Again with the cow sounds, and another gobble. Finally, I reached the relative safety of the fence, shed my vest, crawled out and stuck a single decoy in the ground. Gun up and ready, I waited. With morning a glow on the horizon and some two dozen gobbles under his belt, the old bird pitched down. Success? Sadly, the three hens that came running over the hill, attracted, I’m sure, by all the commotion, proved much more comely than did I, and with a final gobble, the old boy strutted out of sight. Failure? Not hardly. I’ve since used the Old Cow Moo tactic many times, having birds gobble more often than not and eventually even killing some of those that did announce themselves. Do I feel funny, swelling up and bellowing like a Holstein? Absolutely not, for I am a turkey hunter. What’s there to feel odd about – especially this late in the season. The spring hunt’s wrapping up this month in the Northwest, and you still have an unused tag riding your back pocket. You call, they gobble, and wander in the opposite direction. You call, and are met with only silence. Or, the worst, you call, and he runs away, like you’re the ugliest Mama Turkey on the planet. Maybe you can’t find them at all. Now’s the time to toss the textbook, forget what you’ve been told – save for the safe gun handling and overall ethical behavior, of course – and give ’er the old college try. I mean, really, what do you have to lose? Here’s some of the perhaps off-thewall things I’ve done over the past 27 years that have met with some rather – well – interesting results.

HUNT ALL DAY If you’re legally allowed to hunt all day, what’s stopping you from doing so? Sure, I love being out there when 144 Northwest Sportsman

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Many tom turkeys are bagged during April’s youth hunts and on the general opener and following weekends across the Northwest, but last year saw a number of hunters score in May, including Larry Wolf on the final day on either side of the Columbia Gorge, Kevin Kenyon in Western Oregon and Jeremy Race and his boys in Northeast Washington. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Mother Nature comes alive, but if it’s not happening at the crack of dawn – or midmorning or noon or midafternoon – then I’ll stay in the field until the last possible minute. I’ll pack a lunch, plenty of water, a seat cushion, and maybe even a Zane Grey novel. Come two o’clock, I’ll find a place with good sign, stake out a couple contented hen decoys, and settle down behind

a lightweight portable blind. I’ll make a cluck, purr or short-run yelp every now and again. And I’ll be watching for a bird to come in silent. Or, at best, I’ll hear him, albeit faintly, spit ’n drum as he struts into my area of operations. The gun has to be ready, or at least to a large extent ready. Oh, and take a nap. Naps always seem to attract gobblers.


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HUNTING RUN MULTIPLE DECOYS If memory serves me right, the most decoys I’ve ever packed into the field and set as a group was 12. Yes, I said 12. No, I was not actually hunting ducks or geese. It was an open-field scenario, with a lot of turkey activity, meaning for every gobbler, there were six to 10 hens. Or more. So I set a popup blind, and surrounded two sides with feeding hens, head-up hens, jakes, half-strut jakes, and a fullstrut gobbler with a real fan. The first longbeard on the scene could not resist, and Shaun, my archer/ hunter for the morning, shot him with a homemade recurve and cedar arrows at five paces. I was impressed. Shaun was impressed. The tom got a free ride home in the back of my Grandpa’s old Chevy pickup. I don’t know if he was impressed or not. I understand it’s tough – nay, impossible – to hunt on your feet

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and lug around a bag of 12 assorted turkey decoys, not to mention having a bird gobble and getting the Dirty Dozen set out before he sees you ginwhacking around. A couple thoughts here. One, this rig is best used in a semipermanent situation; that is, a high-traffic area where you either have a blind set, or can pop up a blind, say, the night before, leave the decoys inside, and put them out before dawn the next morning. Or, you hunt with a buddy, and each of you pack three or four of the best-looking collapsible, e.g. Greenhead Gear, Flambeau, or Zink/Avian-X, easy-to-carry decoys you can, and mix them together once the action starts. Sometimes, a half dozen hens is too much for even the most jaded gobbler to resist.

around, then it becomes clear why he stood at 100 yards, gobbled 1.43 million times, and then (1) got bored and walked off, or (2) attracted the attention of a real live hen, which dragged him away. Still gobbling. The trick with a turkey like this, then, is to make him hunt you. Force him to search out the sounds you’re making, not give him something to look at that piques his already elevated interest. So leave the decoy at home, or at the very least in your vest. Call quietly. Subtly. Seductively. Let him gobble two or three or four times between your calls. Again, I know it’s tough, but when he comes sneaking in, the challenge will have been worth it.

USE SOME ODD SOUNDS OR, LEAVE DEKES HOME I know. I like to use turkey decoys, too. However, when you understand that a gobbler gobbles and the hen goes to him instead of the other way

For the game to start, he needs to gobble, and last-minute toms are often notoriously tight-lipped. When the traditional crow calls, owl hooters, and coyote howls no


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HUNTING longer solicit a response, I’ll switch to something out of the ordinary. Elk bugles, goose honks, duck quacks, and raccoon squallers – google that one; they’re real! – all have worked in the past for me. In southern Cowlitz County years ago, it was a loon call that squeezed a gobble, actually several, out of a reluctant longbeard for my wife and me. High-pitched calls seem to work best, and we’ve had good luck with sounds like specklebellies, or white-fronted geese, and snows. Anything natural is worth a listen; however, we’ve gotten more than one gobble back with one of those wooden train whistles we used to play with as kids. And there’s always “Mooooooooo,” if you’re not too selfconscious or worried about looking and sounding silly.

out in the middle of 20 acres of pasture ground, and gobble … and gobble … and gobble. But will they come even one step closer to where you’re lurking at the foot of that oak? Nope. With these birds, you have to take the game to them. Under cover of darkness, and in some instances I’m talking long before legal shooting time, you scuttle out to his favorite strutting area in the middle of said field. On your back is a full-frame layout blind, and inside that, two or three decoys. Stake your decoys, set up the blind, quietly load your shotgun, lay back, and get comfortable. Perhaps a nap is in order. Let him make the first move; perhaps you won’t have to call a lick. Unfair? Unsporting? Not the way it should be done? Uh … huh. Who started this game?

GO LOW PROFILE

GET IN NICE ’N TIGHT

Open-field gobblers are the absolute worst kind of avian lifeform. Stand

Roost a bird, and then get close – silly close. Not the typical 100 yards

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that we writers are prone to suggest, but 40. Or better yet, 30 steps. Your goal here is to be within shotgun range of that old boy when he hits the ground. Skip the decoy, and if you insist on calling, make sure it’s nothing more than near-silent tree yelps or soft throaty clucks. He gobbles, and you put the call down, the gun up, and get ready. But aren’t you risking pushing him off the roost at 90 feet? Absolutely, but time’s running out. What do you have to lose? If you bump him, sit back, drink a coffee, give him an hour, and then head in the direction he flew. He may just find your siren song impossible to resist the second time.

TURKEY ‘REAPING’ Putting a spread gobbler fan in front of your face and crawling up on a big ol’ longbeard, aka turkey reaping, has, thanks in large part to YouTube and countless individuals across the country with a death wish, taken off


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HUNTING like gangbusters. Can it be effective given the right gobbler? Without a doubt. Have I done it? Nope. Will I do it? Again, nope. Turkey reaping goes against every cardinal rule of turkey hunting safety I, along with writers, seminar speakers, and outdoor educators nationwide, have been preaching since the dawn of turkey hunting time. Is it unethical? No; however, it’s not the way I’d choose to hunt. That said, pasting a turkey fan on your face and sneaking through the puckerbrush, even in a wide-open field, just isn’t very smart. What’s next? Draping a deer hide over your body, wearing a 4x5 blacktail antler hat, and slipping around on all fours through the Oregon grape trying to intimidate a buck ’round Halloween time? Illegal? No. Unethical? No. Dumb? Yep. But it’s your call. And be safe out there. NS

Yeah, it seems like it would be pretty hard to mistake a person waddling around with a turkey fan in front of their face for an actual gobbler, but people have done dumber things. Author MD Johnson’s not a big fan of “turkey reaping,” and recognizing it’s the hot new thing for hunters to aggressively move in on toms, advises that safety is paramount. (JULIA JOHNSON)

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Walla Walla Valley | Umatilla County, Oregon | Hunting and Timber Ranch

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COLUMN

Teaching The Basics: Sit, Stay, Come T

eaching a puppy restraint is considered by many canine owners and trainers to be the most important element of raising a GUN DOGGIN’ 101 gun dog. But when By Scott Haugen should you start? As I’ve stated earlier in this sequential series, I like bringing a puppy home at seven weeks of age. For the first week the focus is on getting the pup used to its new home. Let it explore inside and out, using its nose and eyes to take it all in. Potty and crate training begin immediately, and play time is very important in order to develop a strong bond. At eight weeks of age I like teaching a dog restraint. Introducing the sit, stay and come commands can start at this time. Some dogs may vary in terms of how they respond, but most pups are ready for structure, and using bits of food to help direct them can expedite the learning process.

PUPS ARE MOST TEACHABLE right after a nap, and before going down for one. As soon as the pup wakes up in the morning, put a leash on it and carry it outside to potty. When opening the kennel door, do it calmly and slowly, as you don’t want them busting out of a crate, ever. Have some of the pup’s food in one hand, as you’ll start teaching it to sit as soon as it potties.

Among the basic beginner commands to teach a gun dog, the hand signal for sit and stay are the same, each reinforced with different verbal cues. Next comes the transition to the come command, which stems from the same hand signal. (SCOTT HAUGEN) nwsportsmanmag.com | MAY 2017

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The come command is made by simply dropping an open hand that initiated the sit and stay commands. Squatting down to a pup’s level when doing this will get them excited to come to you – in this case, author Scott Haugen’s wife and chef, Tiffany Haugen. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

With a little of the pup’s food in hand, take the leash in the same hand and lift it, saying “Sit” in a calm voice while showing a flat, open palm with the other hand. Do this with the hand about a foot from the pup’s nose. If you have to gently push on the pup’s hind end to get it to sit, that’s fine. If the pup is resistant to sitting, forget about the hand signal for the moment. Instead, put the foot in one hand, holding the leash in the other. Lift the leash to pull up on the dog’s head and simultaneously push the food, in a closed hand, into the pup’s nose. The pup will want to smell and eat the food. With the pup’s focus being on the food, it now sits quickly and naturally as the food is forced closely to it. Calmly repeat the sit command when doing this. When the pup sits, praise it and say its name, repeatedly, like “Good boy, Kona, good boy ... good boy.” At the same time, give it a few kibbles. Next, walk a few steps and repeat the process, ending with praise, petting the pup and giving it a few more pieces of food. Repeat until the kibble is gone, keeping the session short, no longer than two minutes. Repeat the process every time the pup wakes up from a nap, about seven or eight times on this day. Consistency is the key here, so don’t start it in the morning, go to work and expect the pup to respond the same way nine hours later. Begin this training on the weekend, when you have a full day or two to consistently teach the pup. At the end of the day, you’ll have about 15 minutes of teaching time in, and you’ll be amazed how quickly the pup will learn. By the end of day one, the last pup I trained was sitting 80 percent of the time just on the sit command alone, with no food prompt or lifting of the leash.

THE NEXT MORNING, PROGRESS from sit to stay. Once the pup is sitting (food is in your hand), calmly repeat “Stay.” Holding the same open hand that was used as a visual cue to get the dog to sit will make it stay. Visual and auditory commands are important to teach at this time, as the pup will soon be responding to each, 156 Northwest Sportsman

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individually, something that will be a big benefit when hunting. Sit and stay are almost one command, but will become differentiated as more advanced training takes place, like when teaching a dog to retrieve a bird it failed to mark, or when getting it to move in a desired direction for one reason or another. To teach the pup to stay, hold the flat hand a foot from its nose and say stay. Hold the pup there for only one to three seconds. Before the pup breaks, take your open hand and quickly drop it to your side, saying the word “Come.” So, the sequence sounds like this: “Sit ... sit ... stay ... stay ... stay ... stay ... come!” Saying the pup’s name before the sit command and before the come command will help develop name recognition. When the pup comes to you, praise it, rub its ears and give it some kibble. I like teaching the come command after we’ve played for a while, as the pup is tired, will naturally sit and stay easier, but is still eager to play. It associates coming to you as an opportunity to play. Eventually you won’t even need kibble to entice it to come, as the pup’s reward is playing with you and pleasing you.

BY DAY THREE, YOUR pup will likely be sitting, staying and coming to you on command. This is the day I introduce a whistle. With the pup staying, I give the come command while dropping my open hand to my side and blowing twice on a whistle. By the end of the day the pup will likely be coming to the whistle prompt, alone. Puppies’ brains are like sponges at two months of age. Keep it fun, praise the dog and do not reprimand it. If the pup isn’t progressing like you want, take more time. Evaluate what you’re doing to make sure your teaching is consistent and positive. Do things right, and it’s impressive how quickly a puppy can learn to sit, stay and come on command, building blocks for training them to become a great gun dog. NS Editor’s note: To watch some basic dog training video tips by Scott Haugen, check out his Facebook Page, or visit the blog at talltimberpudelpointers.com. 158 Northwest Sportsman

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Brought To You By:

®

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6M Pla usts n Hu nin For nts g F Rig all ht No w Now is the time to be updating and studying maps in preparation for your fall hunting season. October may seem months away, but it’s just over the horizon! (DAVE WORKMAN)

S

pring has arrived, fishing rods are getting a workout, people have fired up their barbecues and smokers again, ON TARGET By Dave Workman and October and November seem like an eternity away as those lazy, warm afternoons lull us into procrastination. If you’re planning to hunt out of state, the time for applying for nonresident licenses and tags is already underway and in some cases has passed. There may be opportunities to buy licenses and tags over the counter, and those should be logged for a fallback strategy. If you will be hunting in your home state, start gathering intelligence. This isn’t a game among people serious about notching a tag. You can plan now for just about everything but the weather. Say a sudden storm moves in a week before your season is set to open in Unit XYZ, and just as suddenly you’ve been snowed out of the

place you planned to hunt. You’ve got to have an alternative with reasonable odds of providing success or you’re going to be camping with a gun, or not going at all.

1)

Check your wildlife agency harvest reports as soon as they are available on line. For example, in Washington one can find the numbers broken down by district and game management unit.

2)

Find out about winter mortality in the areas you plan to hunt as soon as it is available. We’ve just been through a pretty nasty winter in many areas of the Northwest. The snows that hammered the Portland and Vancouver areas, and dropped a lot of fluffy stuff east of the Cascade summit and all over Idaho were just as unpleasant for game herds. You spend winter nights in a nice warm bed. Deer and elk have no such luxury.

3)

Mark your calendars now for scouting trips. Set aside a weekend or two later in the summer, time that

you can block out now for a trek to your intended hunting grounds. These little exercises can double as testing periods to check your gear, including stoves, air mattresses, coolers, tents, cots, binoculars, spotting scopes and even chairs to relax in around the campfire. If you’ve got a camper, tent trailer or something more elaborate, a road trip now can save you a lot of grief later if repairs must be made.

4)

Take your rifle along. Spending time at the range is always a good idea, but getting reacquainted with your gun in the hunting environment is never a bad idea. You might be able to plug a coyote or two, which just might benefit the local deer or elk herd, small game and upland bird populations. Dead ’yotes don’t take down fawns and calves, or eat any more grouse or rabbits. Whenever I make trips to my intended hunting grounds, a rifle rides behind the seat with a box of shells. Ditto your compound bow or muzzleloader.

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COLUMN

Brought To You By:

®

KICK-EEZ

By taking your rifle afield or to the range, you refresh instincts to use natural rests to acquire a steady sight picture on a distant target, not to mention help zero back in so that by the season opener, you can count on groups like this, or better. (DAVE WORKMAN, BOTH)

Nothing hones your skills like actual shooting. Practice now can make for a precise shot later. Remember, have a

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good backstop. If you’re adding a new scope, make sure it’s mounted properly and sighted

in. Do it now! Trying to zero a scope in the fading light of fall evenings is a combination of hastiness and frustration.


Tannerite® brand binary targets are the FIRST, BEST, SAFEST, and only made with the highest quality materials. Binary rifle targets have become popular in the recent years. Remember to use the targets in a safe and fun manner. Please be sure to continue using these targest as a shot indicator only and away from populated areas. The future of these targets is in your hands, so please use them properly.

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5)

Make sure your maps are up to date, and check out your hunting area on Google Earth. If you’re planning to hunt in a national forest, get online and monitor the conditions throughout the summer by watching for bulletins or updates from the local ranger district. This is especially important during late summer fire season.

6)

Start getting in shape now. I tell readers this every year, and it’s not for laughs. If you’re not taking walks in the neighborhood on these lovely evenings over the next few months, you’re wasting valuable opportunity. Hiking is even better. You’re a year older, and your body needs to be in condition.

SWITCHING GEARS SHARPLY, a federal judge in Missouri approved the settlement of a long-running class action against Remington that will allow the owners of many Remington rifles to

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®

KICK-EEZ

get free retrofitted triggers. The lawsuit alleged that there was a design defect that CNBC investigated back in 2010. Remington has denied they covered up the alleged problem, but, according to CNBC, decided to settle to “avoid protracted litigation.” An 18-month claim period will allow people who own one or more of the affected rifles to submit a claim. This action covers some 7.5 million Remington bolt-action firearms. Remington issued this statement: “A proposed nationwide Settlement has been preliminarily approved in a class action lawsuit involving certain Remington firearms. The class action lawsuit claims that trigger mechanisms with a component part known as a trigger connector are defectively designed and can result in accidental discharges without the trigger being pulled. The lawsuit further claims that from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014, the

X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism assembly process created the potential for the application of an excess amount of bonding agent, which could cause Model 700 or Seven bolt-action rifles containing such trigger mechanisms to discharge without a trigger pull under certain limited conditions. The lawsuit contends that the value and utility of these firearms have been diminished as a result of these alleged defects. Defendants deny any wrongdoing. “The Settlement provides benefits to: Current owners of Remington Model 700, Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, XP-100, 721, 722, and 725 firearms containing a Remington trigger mechanism that utilizes a trigger connector; Current owners of Remington Model 700 and Model Seven rifles containing an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism manufactured from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014 who did not participate in the


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MEANWHILE,

FEDERAL

CARTRIDGE

reduced its workforce in March. It reflects a “market downturn” in the ammunition business that seems to be a consequence of last November’s election. While Donald Trump won, thus removing immediate threats to gun rights and protecting the Supreme Court, it also resulted in a reduction in gun and ammunition buying. Remington also reportedly laid off more than 120 people at its plant in Ilion, N.Y. While the downturn in firearms and ammunition sales certainly are a major factor, one state assemblyman also blamed the economic policies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democrat lawmakers in Albany. The Rome, N.Y. Sentinel reported that Republican Congresswoman Claudia L. Tenney also blamed “anti-Second Amendment policies in New York.” She served in the State Assembly prior to her election to Congress last fall. The upside of this could be better ammunition availability because panic buyers won’t be hoarding the stuff. Still, watch for ammunition sales and stock up, and that includes buying .22-caliber rimfires and shotgun shells. NS 166 Northwest Sportsman

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