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Salmon, Trout, Crabs, Fun, More! OR, WA Coasts & Cascades, Umpqua Basin, San Juans

Puget Sound Resident Coho Mojo North Sound Springers, Reds, & Kokes ALSO INSIDE

Columbia C&R Sturgeon

Westside Panfish, Bass

Moyie River Trout


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Sportsman Northwest

Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 10 • Issue 9

Your Complete Hunting, Boating, Fishing and Repair Destination Since 1948.




PUBLISHER James R. Baker EDITOR Andy Walgamott LEAD CONTRIBUT0R Andy Schneider THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS Scott Brenneman, Jason Brooks, Scott Haugen, Wayne Heinz, Doug Huddle, Sara Ichtertz, MD Johnson, Randy King, Buzz Ramsey, Troy Rodakowski, Terry Wiest, Dave Workman, Mike Wright, Mark Yuasa EDITORIAL FIELD SUPPORT Jason Brooks GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Rick D’Alessandro, Mamie Griffin, Mike Smith, Paul Yarnold PRODUCTION MANAGER Sonjia Kells DESIGNERS Kayla Mehring, Sam Rockwell, Jake Weipert


PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker OFFICE MANAGER Katie Aumann INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGER Lois Sanborn WEBMASTER/DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines DISTRIBUTION Tony Sorrentino, Gary Bickford ADVERTISING INQUIRIES CORRESPONDENCE Email letters, articles/queries, photos, etc., to, or to the address below. ON THE COVER Sturgeon provide great catch-and-release fishing in the Columbia River estuary each spring and summer, as Jarod Higginbotham and son Hunter found early in 2016’s Buoy 10 salmon season. “This is a great fishery for kids just to have fun and catch some fish!” the Yakima Bait staffer reported. For purposes of this cover, the two were moved closer together than in the original image. “He caught an 8-footer, 7-footer and a few others in the 5-foot range,” proud pa added. (JAROD HIGGINBOTHAM)


DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS Austin Bowen’s name was misspelled in The Kayak Guys column byline (page 53) last issue. Our apologies. DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and get daily updates at


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MEDIA INDEX PUBLISHING GROUP WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S., Suite 190 Tukwila, WA 98168 OREGON OFFICE 8116 SW Durham Rd • Tigard, OR 97224 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437; | JUNE 2018

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SAN JUANS CRABBING It’s the most productive swath of saltwater in all of Puget Sound for Dungeness, and likely to be even more popular this year with South Sound closed to crabbing. Expert Wayne Heinz sets you up to haul some super suppers when the San Juan Islands open this summer!


OREGON COAST SMORGASBORD The fishing opportunities between Astoria and Newport are just about endless, but we tasked our Andy Schneider with highlighting the best of the best as summer vacation season arrives. Throw in your fishing gear and hit the highways west!


NEW BLOOD At a time of faltering Puget Sound salmon runs and captains selling their guiding licenses and boats, Justin Wong’s taking a big risk by starting up a charter operation on the inland sea. Mark Yuasa tells this young man’s story.

107 SOUTH CASCADES GETAWAYS Last issue, Troy Rodakowski previewed the fishing season at lakes and reservoirs in Oregon’s Central Cascades, and for part two in his series, he headed south down U.S. 97 with his right-turn signal on as he sniffed out six more hot spots, from Diamond Lake and beyond! 123 MOYIE RIVER TROUT Like to do your trout fishing on pristine, scenic waters way, waaaay the heck away from everybody else in the region? The Moyie River, tucked up in the Idaho Panhandle’s northeasternmost corner, and its mix of rainbows cuttbow hybrids and brookies just might be for you! Mike Wright reports.



Even before the final school bell of the year rings, Sara Ichtertz has plans to keep her family afield all summer long. The bounty of her watershed includes steelhead-rich rivers, wondrous forests and trout-filled waters below Mt. Thielsen. Jump into the Ichtertz campingmobile for a tour of the fun to be had! 133 WESTSIDE WARMWATER ACTION There’s more to Western Washington fishing than salmon, and there’s more to Westside warmwater fishing than largemouth bass and yellow perch. MD Johnson makes a plug for the panfish action to be had at four top lakes, and details where to catch the next worldrecord rock bass. See, told you there was more to spinyray action here!

143 DEFENDING PUBLIC LANDS With beaver meatballs and grilled lynx on the menu, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers delivered a strong message to protect public lands at their annual rendezvous recently. Randy King reports back from the festivities in Boise and the value of our federal forests, grasslands, Bureau of Land Management parcels and more.

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Go to 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 © 2018 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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With crabbing a no-go and ocean-returning salmon still way out, what’s there to do? Not twiddle your thumbs! There are resident coho to cast for and coonstripes to pull, Jason tips.





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WESTSIDER Get your calendars, summer salmon hounds! Terry breaks down some of the top ops on the Washington Coast, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and inside Puget Sound from here all the way through August! THE KAYAK GUYS Scott calls ’em “armadillos,” and on the Columbia estuary this time of year, sturgeon are fat and sassy with all the forage, making for great catch-andrelease fishing. Scott shares his battle plan! NORTH SOUND Salmon, from big to medium to small, are here for the chasing in Whatcom and Skagit Counties – spring Chinook, sockeye and kokanee. Doug details the wheres and hows for catching sea-run and stay-at-home salmon! BUZZ RAMSEY With trout fishing at lowland lakes slowing down, it’s time to

make a beeline to the alpine! Buzz leads the way to mountain lakes scattered along scenic byways, logging roads and forest trails throughout the Northwest. 153 CHEF IN THE WILD It’s more than pollen that’s in the air this time of year. Whether it’s ground venison or patties from Costco, kick up your grilled-burger game with Chef Randy’s tips! 161 GUN DOG You would think that as pups Labs and other water dogs would take to their future jobsite without hesitation, but not all do. If yours is hesitant, Scott Haugen has tricks for easing that future duck hunting partner into the wet stuff. 165 ON TARGET That shotgun need a new recoil pad? Maybe your rifle’s scope isn’t cutting it anymore? Now’s the time to make those repairs and upgrades, argues Dave, who also spotlights new guns and ammo. | JUNE 2018

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With a lack of instream rearing habitat constraining Green River salmon and steelhead returns, four Seattle-area soccer fields have a higher, better use as side channels.


THE EDITOR’S NOTE Voluntary San Juan Island no-go zone the wrong approach for orcas


SOCIAL SCENE Burgeoning bank angler


READER PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD Walleye, spring Chinook, rainbows, Mackinaw and more!


PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS Browning, Yo-Zuri monthly prizes


THE DISHONOR ROLL Southwest Washington poaching ring suspects charged by two Northwest Oregon counties; Kudos; Jackass of the Month


DERBY WATCH Westport $10,000 Chinook derby; Lake Pend Oreille Spring Derby results; Upcoming, ongoing events


OUTDOOR CALENDAR Upcoming openers, events, deadlines


BIG FISH Record Northwest game fish caught this month

141 RIG OF THE MONTH Bass double soft jerkbait set-up

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evin Klein has done his part to feed starving southern resident killer whales in Puget Sound. As he fought a very big Chinook in the San Juans a few summers ago, a bull from J-pod swam over from a quarter mile away and chomped off the meatiest bits of the salmon. The encounter left Klein temporarily deflated and holding a 5-pound fish San Juan Islands angler Klein holds all that was head, but it also gave him a new Kevin left after a southern resident appreciation for the “giant marine killer whale snatched a large Chinook off his hook in July super predator.” 2013. (KEVIN KLEIN) That might help explain why he was not too crazy about the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s request last month for boaters to voluntarily avoid a quarter- to halfmile-wide strip along much of the west side of San Juan Island, prime feeding and fishing grounds for orcas and anglers alike. The goal is to reduce human activity there and follows federal overseers’ call to do more to protect the endangered killer whales in Washington waters. But Klein says it won’t do a bit of good and instead is just a “feel-good ‘win’“ for the species’ enthusiasts. “They did something. Picked some low-hanging fruit so now the grant money can keep coming in. If there is no Pressed by federal overseers, the problem with the killer whales, Washington Department of Fish then professional orca advocates and Wildlife is asking boaters to voluntarily avoid a quarter-mile strip don’t have funding or jobs,” says of shoreline from Mitchell Bay to the Anacortes-based angler Cattle Point, with a half-mile bubble and yacht brokerage employee. around Lime Kiln Lighthouse, all prime foraging and fishing grounds “So it’s in their best interests to on San Juan Island’s west side. (WDFW) perpetuate a problem rather that actually addressing the tougher issues that would help the whales.”

LINED UP AGAINST fixes such as increasing hatchery salmon production and reducing pinniped and fish-eating bird predation are groups like the overly litigious Wild Fish Conservancy and PETA, which Klein claims are ready to sue the state as well as “take on even the Puget Sound tribes and boycott casinos if you start culling cuddly seals and sea lions.” Other challenges include northern fleets’ interception of salmon bound for Northwest rivers, which in some cases have significant habitat issues that will take a long time to fix (see The Big Pic, page 20, for one idea). “I think all of us want the best for the orcas. That’s number one,” says Klein, who adds that he doesn’t want people chasing whales either and notes that there are laws against bothering them. The state legislature passed a measure in 2008, and a 2011 rule from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration bars “vessels from approaching any killer whale closer than 200 yards and | JUNE 2018

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High numbers of harbor seals and other pinnipeds appear to be not only stealing anglers’ salmon but taking food out of the mouths of local orca pods, the populations of which have shrunk from 98 to 76 over the past 20 years. (HUGH ALLEN) forbid vessels from intercepting a whale or positioning the vessel in its path” in Washington’s inside waters. But NOAA has been pushing for more and more action, and earlier this year Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order directing WDFW and other state agencies to do all they can to help out the killer whales. That included bumping hatchery production, though it will take several years for those salmon to become available, and pruning fishing seasons in some areas in the meanwhile. When we posted WDFW’s press release on its “difficult request” to San Juan Islands fishermen, anglers generally reacted against it. “They’ve already kicked us in the teeth taking September Chinook away. So ... no,” wrote Bellingham angler Rory O’Connor, referring to the closure of the popular Chinook fishery that time of year in the islands. According to WDFW, the voluntary no-go zone is the “most frequently” used feeding and lounging area for southern residents. “This step will help support killer whale recovery and prevents a potential delay in federal approval for our salmon fisheries throughout the entire Sound,” Fish Program chief Ron Warren said in a press release. He takes the long view, adding that recovering orcas “will mean more salmon returning to Puget Sound each year, which will benefit anglers” too.

ULTIMATELY, IT’S JUST another straw on the usual camel’s back, sportfishermen, who are already bearing the burden of Washington’s failure as a whole to stem the loss of salmon. Is it one straw too many this time, or the wrong straw? “Really, we all know that the orcas aren’t bothered one bit by our 20- to 30-foot rec boats trolling at 2 mph,” says Klein. “The best thing a small rec boat can do is just keep trolling and let the whales react to you on a predictable path. If anything, they are attracted to us and curious. I think they know exactly what we are doing and might even think it’s funny.” “They are highly advanced super predators. Top of the food chain, with sonar and perceptions of their world that we can’t begin to fathom,” he says. “Give them some credit. They’ll thrive with more fish in the water.” – Andy Walgamott

MOST LIKED READER PIC WE HUNG UP ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE DURING THIS ISSUE’S PRODUCTION CYCLE Burgeoning bank angler Remington Wiebe’s shorescored Rufus Woods Lake rainbow drew lots of love last month. She’s also done well plunking off Lake Roosevelt’s beaches while fishing fish her grandpa Hank. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST) | JUNE 2018

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My Pitch For The Fish With instream rearing habitat a constraining factor in salmon and steelhead returns, four Seattle-area soccer fields have a better use as side channels. By Andy Walgamott


ith the men’s World Cup set to kick off this month, it may not be the best time for me to tell the Northwest’s aspiring Mo Salahs, Kevin De Bruynes and Neymars this: I want to rip out four of your soccer fields and put in a big huge giant side channel for imperiled salmon and steelhead instead. Look, kids, I love the beautiful game and really want you to be

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on our, ahem, 2022 team. USA! USA! USA! But those 6, 7, 8, 9 acres right alongside the Seattle-area’s lower Green River have a higher and better purpose than closecropped grass, limed lines and practicing Olivier Giroud-style scorpion goals. They should instead be a network of winding, tidally influenced, thickly wooded refugial waterways for Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook and winter- and summer-run steelhead, as well as coho, to rear in, boosting fish capacity in the highly

developed King County river system. Other smaller salmon projects have gone in downstream at Codiga Park, Cecil Moses Memorial Park, the Turning Basin, Highway 509 Wetlands and Kellogg Island, as well as upstream. One, a 700-foot-long constructed reach known as Riverview between Kent and Auburn, held more than three times as many young kings and across all stream flows than four other surveyed restoration sites. So why not return a portion of Tukwila’s (and formerly the county’s) Fort Dent Park to its original purpose lo these many decades ago? “The area historically had a bunch of side-channel habitats and wetland sloughtype areas that were great for rearing, but

PICTURE sculpting subtidal flats, fingered drainages, berms and islands, and setting big logs and rootwads into connecting channels. From the Starfire Way bridge, I mulled where I’d put in a diversion from the Green to flood the former fields and then down by the historic Fort Dent landing monument, I considered where I’d put outlets. With the scent of cottonwood sap in my nostrils, I envisioned fishermen joining soccer squads and other volunteers to participate in annual mass plantings of native plants, shrubs and trees, and removals of invasive ones. Stepping back, I saw a forest growing up and shading the new riparian areas, and boardwalk pathways and informational displays on how the project was helping young kings, silvers and steelhead. And then I actually did see Sounders and Team USA star Clint Dempsey in the Starfire parking lot and I was like, OK, just be cool, Walgamott, try not to run over and hassle Deuce with your crazy idea.

I’LL ADMIT THAT my project would be, shall Soccer goals and fields sit next to a levee that protects the Seattle Sounders’ Starfire practice facility and the rest of Tukwila’s Fort Dent Park from flooding, but prevents the Green River from returning to an area that before development likely was threaded with rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead. (ANDY WALGAMOTT) most of that habitat has been filled in and developed and the river has largely been diked throughout that area,” noted state fisheries biologist Aaron Bosworth. That was great for farming, realestate sales and developing the GreenDuwamish Valley, but worked out poorly for the salmon and steelhead we love. Even as the Powers That Be continue with their offsides thinking that they can somehow recover ESA stocks by restricting fisheries into oblivion while we anglers raise yellow and red cards on gillnetting and pinnipeds, the best way to help the fish is by increasing habitat available to them. That was the point of a stellar educational simulation posted on this spring (see

sidebar), and it’s what I hear over and over and over from biologists: Quit festering so much about fishery impacts on adult fish and focus instead on adding quality rearing space for the young’ns.

WITH THAT IN mind, one April afternoon I made the rounds of the fußball fields by the Sounders’ Starfire practice facility. Walking along the paved Green River Trail as warm spring sunlight poured over me, I imagined an army’s worth of dump trucks hauling off millions of tons of dirt. Pausing by a bench, I saw clanking bulldozers shoving the levee from beside the river to over where soccer moms park. Down where two dogs were playing fetch with their owners, backhoes were

we say, challenging. • It pits little kickers against little finners. Sadly, I don’t know that Pugetropolites really have the stomach for helping the latter group out like we should. • There’s convincing the local parks and recreation department to get on board and mitigate the four lost playfields. • Questions would arise whether effort would be better spent elsewhere. Frankly, we’ve made hash of the lower Green and Duwamish, leaving its rearing habitat in “pretty terrible” shape, according to Bosworth, and never mind the Superfund site and its longterm issues as well as stormwater runoff, which is toxic to coho. • I’d need buy-in and permitting from city, county, flood control district, state, Corps of Engineers and other agencies. • God knows what’s buried at the site. • And the price tag. The morning of my walk I’d picked up a MegaMillions ticket for a half-billion-dollar drawing, but since I only got one number, the project would need to compete well against others to | JUNE 2018

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PICTURE score money from heavy-lift sources like National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Section 6 and state Salmon Recovery Funding Board grants. So, yeah, my idea is probably a long shot for salmon and steelhead, but sometimes you gotta think big and take it – like English Premier League star Wayne Rooney did from behind the halfway line last fall to complete an unlikely hat trick.

ACTUALLY, IT MAY not be all that absurd. When I posted an initial version of this story, Chris Gregersen, a King County biologist whose stories have occasionally appeared in these pages, commented that in fact it’s a shared vision.

Pinned between Tukwila’s Interurban Avenue and the levee, the Green flows past a screen of invasive blackberries. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

CONFESSIONS OF AN ARMCHAIR FISHERIES BIOLOGIST I earned my nickname The Butcher of Astoria and a thousand other haulouts while ridding them of sea lions and harbor seals. But none of it recovered the salmon run. So I got in my submarine, the U-206, and torpedoed the entire North Pacific commercial salmon fleet (and rammed Deadliest Catch’s F/V Northwestern for good measure), came ashore and stole the tribes’ gillnets – take that, Judge Boldt, you old fart! – then confiscated every last stinking hoochie, Kingfisher spoon, and downrigger from the sporties (rubbed all that gear down in day-old banana peels, I did, to ensure they never caught another fish). But none of it recovered the run. Imagine my rage: Here I’d eliminated predation on and harvest of Chinook headed back to my beloved “Mulgy,” and yet the Simulguamish River’s salmon failed to respond. The numbers were flatlined, year after decade after century after millennium after glacial epoch. “Well, at least you tried,” a friend texted me as I rode the bus to work that morning. Yes, indeed, I had.

I WAS PLAYING an intriguing interactive 22 Northwest Sportsman

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game on, a sportfishing advocacy blog, and my third and final option was to increase carrying capacity, how many young Chinook the river could rear. So I grated my teeth – damn you all to hell, “Habitat is the key” bumper sticker! – and went to work. I ripped out dikes, flooded the estuary, put in culverts a killer whale could squeeze through, parachuted in beavers, installed rain gardens and special parking lot asphalt to collect vehicle drippings, dropped trees into the river – and made sure fewer of ’em were tipped over on the hillsides – and otherwise let the Mulgy be the Mulgy. I started seeing more salmon, and pretty soon I’d exceeded a recovery target. As carrying capacity increased more, I decided to fish a little and, yes, take my foot off the throats of marine mammals – just a hair anyway. There were stomachturning year-to-year lurches in Chinook numbers, but I kept ’em above goal. Looking back, I admit I caused some rather astonishing collateral damage, destroying entire fishing industries and tribal cultures, bankrupting DFW. I also face a prison term of 100,000 years and

An educational game on allows anyone to play armchair fisheries biologist, varying fishing pressure, marine predation and habitat capacity rates to try and recover Simulguamish River Chinook, a metaphor for real-world problems with the salmon stock on Washington’s habitat-constrained Stillaguamish River. (TIDALEXCHANGE.COM) fines in the billions of dollars for various ESA, MMPA and federal treaty infractions. And needless to say this magazine lost a few advertisers, plus Lorraine Loomis doesn’t send me Christmas cards anymore. So I hit reset on the simulation, left the fishing rate at the default 25 percent, the marine predation rate at the default 24 percent, and focused on improving the Mulgy’s habitat. Worked pretty good. –AW

PICTURE He pointed me towards a project known as LG-17, which calls for setting the levee back along one-third of a mile of the Green between it and the soccer fields to create a bench that would provide current breaks and shallow habitat for fish. That’s just a sliver of my idea’s scope, but it’s also one of 19 similar proposed projects in the lower third of the river. There are many more in its middle and upper ends, as well as along the Duwamish too. In fact, there are reams of plans and studies and maps and committees and volunteer opportunities going on (, all of which aim to make the entire GreenDuwamish watershed “fit for a king” – not to mention coho, steelhead, chums and other stocks. Some of it is conceptual, some actively being worked. In soccer, the goals make the highlight videos, but they can’t happen without all

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A King County poster spotlights what can be done to make the Green-Duwamish River system “fit for a king” again, a huge challenge but one that many government agencies and others are working towards. (KING COUNTY) of Toni Kroos’s, Mesut Ozil’s and Lionel Messi’s clever passes pushing the ball forward. I’m not saying kids’ games aren’t

important, but to slide-tackle a line away from another sport, restore the habitat and the fish will come. NS

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About the time the rest of us remember oh, yeah, our lakes also have bass in them, Dustin Sharpe’s out catching ’em. He got this nice largemouth in mid-April at a Willamette Valley water. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Quite a haul for the Wooldridge girls! Anna, Lily, Avey and Kirsten show off 20 they kept during the annual Angle Lake Shore Club derby in late April. Their pa Grant also made a notable catch – Lily, after she fell into the lake while he and wife Angie were trying to bring a double into the boat after losing the net. Avey, Anna and Kirsten also placed 1-2-3 in the under-8 girls division of the Seattle-area event. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Frequent photo contributors Bill and Ashley Stanley show off two big Macks they caught early last month on North Idaho’s Priest Lake on hoochies and sucker meat. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Almost all Northwest walleye are caught from a boat, but anyone who knows about the spring run on Ohio’s Maumee River knows they can be caught from the bank as well. Anthony Clements shows off a nice pair of shore-hooked Columbia Gorge ’eyes from earlier this year. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

For your shot at winning great fishing and hunting products from Yo-Zuri 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 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. | JUNE 2018

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READER PHOTOS We’ve been running pics of this fishy little fella, Gunner, since his mom carried him around in a sling while chasing pink salmon. “As he got older, his love for fishing became an obsession,” Joshlynn Boneham reports. In midspring Gunner took first place among 1,500 other kiddos at his first derby, on Monroe, Washington’s Tye Lake, with a 4-pound, 7-ounce rainbow. “Proud mama!” (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

It wasn’t too long after the spring Chinook count finally got going at Bonneville Dam that Drano Lake caught fire, and Yakima Bait’s Jarod Higginbotham reported six were landed while fishing with his son Hunter, guide Bill Harris and three other anglers. This one bit a Fish Flash and prawn spinner with a Hildebrandt blade. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

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Sea lions didn’t get ’em all! Kevin Gray shows off a nice spring Chinook from the Willamette River. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST) | JUNE 2018

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Bryan Galea is the winner of our monthly Yo-Zuri Photo Contest! His pic of a Chetco River hatchery steelhead he caught in January scores him gear from the company that makes some of the world’s best fishing lures and lines!

Luke Del Nagro is our monthly Browning Photo Contest winner, thanks to this shot of his son Diego and his Northwest Washington blacktail, taken in the same hills that Luke hunted with his father. It wins him a Browning hat!

Sportsman Northwest

Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

For your shot at winning Browning and Yo-Zuri products, send your photos and pertinent (who, what, when, where) details to awalgamott@ 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.




Best of British Columbia

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Best of British Columbia

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Round-trip airfare from Vancouver, BC Unlimited use of 17-foot Boston Whalers and unlimited fishing time Delicious home cooked meals Box lunches, beverages and bait A beautiful lounge and sun deck Heavy-duty Wetskin raingear and boots

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Complete fish care: filleted, vacuum sealed, flash frozen and boxed to be flown back with you Rods and reels all in A-1 condition Complete boat care: boats are cleaned and fueled every time you come in Bait and tackle for both salmon and bottom fishing

2018 SEASON: June 21 – September 5 5 DAY TRIP SPECIAL! June 21–25th & Sept 1–5th Regular price: $3,100 | Sale price: $2,000 U.S. th




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g 49 pound sprin



Poaching Ring Charges Spread To Oregon


he first sets of Oregon charges against a large ring of suspected Southwest Washington poachers were filed earlier this spring. Aaron B. Hendricks, 35, and David. R McKleskey, 59, of Woodland were charged in Clackamas County with illegally hunting with dogs in 2016, while McKleskey as well as William J. Haynes, 24, and Joseph A. Dills, 31, of Longview face charges of using dogs to chase down, kill and waste a bear in June 2017. Of note, the latter case occurred well after Haynes and Dills would have come under suspicion for other alleged illegal hunting activities. They were each initially charged with 64 counts each in Skamania County last fall. All four men also reportedly pleaded not guilty to more charges filed in Clatsop County, while McKleskey and Dills were expected to be charged in Lincoln County last month as well, according to a news report. Also charged in Clatsop County was

Dills’ dad, Eddy Dills, 58. He pleaded not guilty there to poaching, it was reported. Dills recently appeared on Seattle news station KING-5 to take aim at Washington’s timber damage prevention bear hunts to excuse his alleged actions. “They’re accusing us of these horrifying inhumane crimes, yet the game department is allowing the timber companies to do exactly the same thing. There’s no way that’s right,” Dills told reporter Alison Morrow. “Why am I being accused of this and they’re doing it and getting away with it?” The poaching charges in both states all stem from a single traffic stop during the harsh winter of 2016-17. Oregon State Police wildlife troopers investigating a string of headless buck carcasses shot and left on winter range near Mt. Hood matched a trail cam photo of a truck with one spotted in The Dalles and pulled it over. A mountain of evidence was ultimately found on the phones of Haynes and Kelso’s Erik C. Martin, 24.



southern Puget Sound beach was hit hard in early spring by clam poachers, including a “Mrs. Coat Pockets” who allegedly stuffed three times the legal limit into her jacket. Game wardens detailed three different instances of greedy shellfishers hitting Penrose Point State Park, on the south side of the Kitsap Peninsula, in a Facebook post. It started when Fish and Wildlife Officer Jeff Summit and a student officer observed a woman placing a “large bucket” worth of clams in the trunk, then heading back to the beach apparently for more. They contacted her and found she’d allegedly collected “four extra limits” above the daily limit of 40 clams. She was also cited for avoiding field inspection. A few days afterwards, a woman and another individual were spotted putting clams into small bags then jamming them into pockets. When a warden went to check on them, the woman “was very surprised to encounter an officer, and tried to do anything

By Andy Walgamott


Jon Horn, a South-central Washington fish and wildlife officer, was named the state’s 2017 game warden of the year earlier this spring. He was described with words such as “professional, dedicated, experienced, leader, and reliable” by fellow officers in a post announcing the award. Horn, who patrols the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla areas, is also a senior field trainer and was lauded for his work that “puts his student officers in the best position to learn and succeed.” He was recognized for good working relationships with federal, Oregon and county partners too. Great job, Officer Horn!

she could to get rid of her coat.” That might have been easier if Mrs. Coat Pockets hadn’t so loaded it down with bivalves – she allegedly was concealing 125 clams in its pockets. All totaled, 170 clams had been taken the duo, according to WDFW. Meanwhile, as officers were dealing with her, two more “Mrs. Coat Pockets” and friends allegedly harvested overlimits of clams at Penrose parties on the beach saw Point State Park. (WDFW) the officers and began “scattering like quail.” As you can imagine, they also had a few more clams than legal as well. “A dumped bucket of nearly 300 hard-shells was recovered high up on the beach, with more over-limits discovered hidden in coat pockets,” WDFW reported. | JUNE 2018

Northwest Sportsman 35



King Of The Pool

Sockeye Derby


(WDFW Permitting)




9-14 1st PRIZE


13 3 th Annual ual

KING ING SALMON DERBY August 3rd, 4th, 5th, 2018

Presented By USI Insurance Services / VIP Insurance Agency North 40 Outfitters

Skipper Meeting Youth 9-14 / $20 Adults 15&up / $50 8&under / Free

/ August 2nd

Daily Side Pots and Raffles All Weekend Long

Tickets are limited, so register early at 36 Northwest Sportsman

JUNE 2018 |

Registration Closes July 30th For more information and official rules please visit our website

Visit us on Facebook!

By Andy Walgamott

$10K Again Up For Grabs At Westport King Derby


estport charterboat anglers will again hope to fish a $10,000 Chinook out of the sea when salmon season on this part of Washington’s Coast kicks off July 1. The grand prize goes to whomever catches the largest one this summer. Lakeside, California’s Mike Vaughn walked off with it in 2017, thanks to his 24.15-pound (gilled and gutted weight) Chinook caught Aug. 7. It was nearly 2 pounds heavier than the next closest, though also the smallest derby winner since at least 2000 and half 2004’s.

Vaughn’s already vowed to come back north to hold onto his title, which has been landed by an angler fishing off of the Hula Girl five of the past 14 seasons. Of note, three of the past five winners have all hailed from out of state. Before last year, the top Chinook prize paid out $2,500, but thanks to a generous donation, it was quadrupled. Between daily, weekly and grand prizes for kings and four other species, organizers say $60,000 will be awarded this season. Entering is as easy as booking a trip with a Westport Charterboat Association boat

Mike Vaughn of California and his 2017 $10,000 Westport Charterboat Association grandprize-winning Chinook. (WESTPORT WEIGHMASTER)

and buying a $5 derby ticket. For more, see, and find Westport Weighmaster on Facebook.

Dan Harder took first place at the Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club’s annual Spring K&K Fishing Derby with his 18.54-pound rainbow, which was more than 2 pounds heavier than the runner-up fish, Kevin Elmore’s 16.38. They won $4,000 and $2,500, respectively, for their fish. Big Mack and $1,200 went to Nathan Hansen for his 25.54-pound laker. A new category was also added to the April 28-May 6 event on the sprawling inland sea, walleye, a relatively new species that is beginning to alarm biologists and some fishermen. Greg Hoskins scored $500 for his 8.8-pound walleye while Mark Bove’s 8.36 yielded $200. The derby’s other notable catch was a 19.5-pound German brown, caught by Bert Dennett and a possible lake record. (LPOIC)

Kids Vs. Fish June Derbies Four free youth/trout tussles are scheduled for early to midJune in Whatcom and Skagit County angling venues.  Heart Lake, June 2: Puget Sound Anglers Fidalgo Chapter and Anacortes Parks Department. Heart Lake Road south of the City of Anacortes. Trout contest runs from 7-11 a.m. for youth age 14 and under.  Howard Bowen Memorial Park Pond, June 2: American Legion Post 212 of Sumas. In City of Sumas. Trout contest for youth ages 4-13 in two divisions.  Fishtrap Creek, June 9: Loyal Order of Camels. In Lynden City Park on Depot Road. Trout contest, four age groups starting at 9:15 a.m.  Fazon Lake, June 16: Borderline Bassin’ Contenders Club. On Hemmi Road east of Everson-Goshen Road. Bluegill tourney for kids age 14 and under.  A fifth regional youth angling contest accompanies the annual Bellingham Puget Sound Anglers Salmon Derby set for July 13-15. For more kids’ events, go to events.html. –Doug Huddle

2018 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES  July 13-15: Bellingham Salmon Derby  July 25-29: The Big One (Lake Couer d’Alene) Salmon Derby  Aug. 3-5: Brewster Salmon Derby  Aug. 4: South King County PSA Salmon Derby  Aug. 11: Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby  Aug. 18-19: Vancouver (BC) Chinook Classic  Sept. 8: Edmonds Coho Derby  Sept. 8: Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby  Sept. 22-23: Everett Coho Derby  Nov. 3-4: Everett No-Coho Blackmouth Salmon Derby

For more info on this year’s events, see

ONGOING, UPCOMING EVENTS  Through the end of seasons: Westport Charterboat

Association Weekly Derbies;  June 23-24: Salmon Enhancement Derby, Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island – | JUNE 2018

Northwest Sportsman 37

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JUN JU JUNE NE 2018 201 20 01 0 18 | nw nwsp w por port portsma nmag .com om


Brought to you by:


and Follow the Law It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3...


Central Oregon Coast nearshore halibut opener; Fishing opens on select Washington freshwaters; Coho opener on Washington’s Marine Areas 10, 11 2 Fishing opens on numerous Washington streams 2-3 Oregon Free Fishing Weekend 7-9 Oregon Central Coast all-depth halibut weekend 9 Idaho Free Fishing Day; Family Fishing Events at Prineville Reservoir and Cleawox Lake in Prineville and Florence (free) and Youth Outdoor Day at EE Wilson Wildlife Area ($5) – 9-10 Washington Free Fishing Weekend 15 Final day for spring bear permit season in numerous Washington units 16 Columbia salmon, steelhead opener from Bonneville Dam to Highway 395 bridge; WDFW family and youth fishing events at Island Lake and Wapato Park in Poulsbo and Tacoma – info: 20 Date Oregon controlled hunt application results available no later than – info: 21-23 Oregon Central Coast all-depth halibut weekend 22 Columbia salmon, steelhead opener from Astoria-Megler Bridge to Bonneville 23 Oregon Coast north of Cape Falcon and Washington Areas 1, 3 and 4 open for salmon fishing; The Fallen Outdoors 2nd Annual Banquet, Warehouse 23, Vancouver – info: 26 Family Fishing Event at Shevlin Pond in Bend (free) –

1. The ONE place not to be is in the path of whales. Don’t position your vessel in the path of oncoming whales within 400 yards of a whale.

2. Stay at least TWO hundred yards away from any killer whale (200 yards = the distance of two football fields or about 200 meters).

3. Remember these THREE ways to Be Whale Wise: follow the guidelines for viewing all wildlife, check for local protected areas and restrictions, and always be safe.


Leftover big game tags go on sale in Oregon and start of youth “first time” hunt application period; New Washington fishing pamphlet regulations take effect; Areas 2, 5, 6, 7 and 12 (south of Ayock Point) open for salmon fishing; Catch-and-release steelhead opener on much of Idaho’s Clearwater River 5-7 Oregon Central Coast backup all-depth halibut weekend 7 Youth Clay Target Clinic at Mid Valley Clays in Gervais (free) and Family Fishing Event at Jubilee Lake near Elgin (free) – 8 Family Fishing Event at Lhuuke Illahee Fish Hatchery near Logsden – info: 10 Family Fishing Event at Shevlin Pond in Bend (free) – 14 CAST For Kids event at Foss Waterway in Tacoma – info: kids/events.html 15 Deadline to purchase Washington raffle hunt tickets



6-2-80 6-5-71 6-9-75 6-10-17 6-14-10 6-21-92 6-21-05 6-26-03 6-27-94

Striped surfperch Yellow perch Kokanee Tiger trout (image) Kokanee Grayling Shad Kokanee Flathead catfish

Lbs. (-Oz.)

2.07 2-2 6.59 2.65 9.67 2-7 3.85 6.25 42-0



Quartermaster Hbr. (WA) Columbia R. (OR) Priest L. (ID) Deer Cr. Res. (ID) Wallowa L. (OR) Nez Perce L. (ID) Columbia R. (WA) L. Roosevelt (WA) Snake R. (OR)


Chris Urban Ernie Affolter III Jerry Verge Richard Miller Ron Campbell Velma Mahaffey Tom Magnuson Clarence Rief Joshua Kralicek

Visit to learn more, download the laws, regulations, and guidelines, and to report violations. Report Violations: Enforcement 1-800-853-1964 or online at | JUNE 2018

Northwest Sportsman 39


Summer Salmon Planner I

don’t know about everyone else, but for me, the need to catch some chrome is long overdue. I’m ready for salmon season! For those of you WIESTSIDER By Terry Wiest who have looked at the forecasts and are all bummed out, don’t be: There are amble opportunities, you just have to capitalize on them when the timing is right and not wait until you hear it’s hot! That’s always one of the biggest mistakes I see – anglers waiting for a report instead of following past years’ data and going for it. Is that a gamble? Well, it is called fishing, but it’s better than waiting for a hot report only to get to the water and have everyone tell you “You should have been here last week!” So, heading into 2018’s summer salmon seasons, here are some ideas for getting ahead of the hot bite!

JUNE: OCEAN SALMON OPS Fishing on much of Washington’s Coast opens June 23, followed by July 1 off Westport. Yes, this year’s Chinook guideline is down compared to last year, but 27,500 kings are still available. And the coho quota is the same as 2017 – 42,000 – which itself was a huge improvement over 2016, when only Ilwaco-based boats were able to keep silvers. The coastwide daily limit is again two salmon. Off Ilwaco, Westport and Neah Bay, one of those can be either a wild or hatchery Chinook, while out of La Push, both can be. As usual, release wild coho. Best salmon fishing varies year to year, but if this summer follows 2017, the meatiest bites of the king quota could be caught in late June and mid-August in Area 1; mid- to late July in Area 2; mid-July and early August in Area 3; and early to mid-July in Area 4. Coho fishing will build to a mid-August peak in Ilwaco, crescendo around Seafair

Washington’s summer salmon season kicks off in late June with opportunities to chase coho and Chinook off most coastal waters. While the king guideline is lower than in recent years, the coho quota is as strong as last year’s. Dave Anderson and crew picked up this chrome trio in July 2014. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Week in Westport, maintain through August in La Push and see mid- to late July and Labor Day spikes in Neah Bay. Coho fishing can be as simple as running a cut-plug herring or spoon and a 2- to 6-ounce banana sinker behind the boat to target silvers up high, where they like to feed. For Chinook you’ll generally need to fish downriggers set 100 or so feet down over 280 to 300 feet of water and use

larger plugs and spoons – my secret is Silver Horde’s KF5H in color 918, Jambo style – or a herring, anchovy or hoochie behind a flasher. One caveat to the deep game would be working the shallower waters near the beaches, as has become more popular in recent years. To track the bite, bookmark wdfw, which is updated weekly by marine area. Westport has the largest for-hire fishing fleet | JUNE 2018

Northwest Sportsman 41


Baitfish-imitating chrome Buzz Bombs work well for hungry resident coho cruising Puget Sound beaches. Areas 10, 11 and 13 open for them in June. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

(, including expressstyle boats run by All Rivers and Saltwater Charters (, while All-Ways Fishing ( fishes off of La Push. Options are also available in Ilwaco and Neah Bay.

JUNE: SOUND RESSIE COHO With Puget Sound’s ocean-going kings and silvers still out at sea, salmon opportunities are light in June – light outside of the sometimes lights-out resident coho bite, that is. True, these aren’t big fish – I’d bet they average only a couple of pounds – but they are salmon and they will give you a good fight on light gear in Areas 10, 11 and 13, Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia. There are two primary ways to target them, from the bank and from a boat. Fly fishermen kill it on the banks using herring patterns. These fish are generally well within casting distance with a two-handed rod. The key here is to vary the speed you strip in with to see what draws a strike. Buzz Bombs also work from the bank, quite effectively too. Those in white, white and blue, and all-chrome earn attention 42 Northwest Sportsman

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from coho, which are not slow about hitting them. These fish are higher in the water column, so let the lure settle into the salt only a few seconds before starting your retrieve. The retrieve is not a steady one, but rather a jerk, reel in the slack, jerk, reel in the slack, etc., back to the beach. From a boat, red-label herring is my favorite, run either with a Silver Horde original Kokanee Hammered dodger or just naked (I prefer the dodger myself ). Plugcut the herring, but if you’re good at rigging them, a whole herring can be even better. The key is a super-tight, super-fast drill-bit-type spin. Another effective way to attract these fish is with a herring spinner, basically a fillet of herring with the same angle as a cut-plug herring at the top so it spins tight. Use super-sticky-sharp hooks, which you should anyway, but with the spinner, there won’t be much to retain the herring once a fish hits. It’s either all or nothing as far as hooking up. I generally use 2 ounces of lead with 50 feet of line out, as I don’t want my presentation too far below the surface. I run 8- to 12-pound leader with 15-pound

mainline between the sinker and the dodger if using one. I like Gamakatsu barbless hooks in red, size 2/0 on the front hook, 1/0 on the trailing hook. In Area 10, the areas I’d concentrate on include Jefferson Head, Golden Gardens and Duwamish Head. The last is a favorite spot of mine and is basically two minutes from the Don Armeni ramp. Troll in an oval pattern about a quarter of a mile down the Alki side, then come back and go another quarter of a mile towards downtown Seattle. This half-mile stretch almost never lets me down. I’d stick to the north end of Area 11. Des Moines, Dash Point and Browns Point produce good numbers. Concentrate on water no deeper than 120 feet and, again, stick to the top 20 feet with your gear. The shoreline is your friend. Des Moines and Dash Point are favorites for Buzz Bombers. On the west side of Puget Sound, Olalla is a fantastic spot for these residential beauties, especially for those tossing a fly or a Buzz Bomb from shore. That’s not to say boaters can’t target this hotspot either, but personally I’d try the aforementioned spots.

COLUMN JULY: STRAITS, JUANS CHINOOK With a combined quota of more than 10,000 hatchery summer Chinook, Areas 9 and 10 should be on fire from mid-July’s get-go, at least the northern of the two areas anyway. But if you can’t wait that long to catch a king, head to Sekiu. Some fantastic Chinook fishing can be had in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca in July and will be the first opportunity of the year to put some slabs onboard. A very popular place here is the Caves. This is a super-cool area to fish, where you can use your best method to optimize the chances of catching your share of kings before they migrate down through Puget Sound. If you’re a moocher, this place is for you. Mooch just off the kelp beds, or in them if you dare. Like many places, two hours before and two hours after tide change is the time to hit it. Right alongside the moochers are the jiggers. Hold tight to the kelp line and you should have a great chance of hooking up. If you prefer to troll, be respectful of the moochers and jiggers and hang a little further off the kelp line. I like fishing with the downrigger down 90 to 120 feet while running a green spatterback flasher and either a whole herring, cut-plug herring or a Silver Horde Kingfisher Lite in cookies and cream. Whichever method you use, put a little anise scent on your lure or bait, as I’ve found these Chinook are definitely attracted to black licorice-smelling mojo. For trips, try Sekiu Charters ( A bit further east in the Straits, Area 6 also tends to see some good salmon action in July. Both Hein Bank and Ediz Hook will have Chinook migrating through and they’ll be more than willing to bite if your presentation looks good. Because of the currents in these waters I lean towards trolling the way I do in Area 5, with a flasher/ spoon combo rather than bait. Of course bait will work, but between the current and debris in the water, check it more often to make sure it still has the perfect spin. Don’t troll too far from shore; look for where the bottom drops off and hit that line! The only thing that should pull you off that line is the presence of bait in the water. 44 Northwest Sportsman

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August brings derby season to the South Sound, and Point Defiance, where this king was caught, is among the best spots to land a winning fish. (TERRY WIEST)

Though I don’t have much experience fishing for salmon in the San Juan Islands, I have friends who just kill it in July. I’ve been told the aforementioned trolling techniques work here as well.

AUGUST: SOUTHERN SALMON, DERBIES By this month, not only will Chinook and coho be here but August also provides the chance to earn some cool, hard cash for your efforts. As a double bonus, all the events in the Northwest Salmon Derby Series benefit some downright outstanding charities and fisheries enhancements that I wish more

anglers would either participate in or just purchase a ticket to help benefit the efforts. First up on Aug. 6 is the South King County Puget Sound Anglers Derby, which is open in Areas 10, 11 and 13. This is the largest derby in the South Sound in terms of anglers, number of fish caught, and amount of prize money distributed. Last year, all 66 anglers who weighed fish and attended the awards ceremony received a prize valued at a minimum of $50. So where are those fish caught? In order of the number of fish weighed in: Point Defiance, the Girl Scout Camp, Three

COLUMN Tree Point, Gig Harbor, Dolphin Point and the Slag Pile. Almost all were landed by anglers trolling with either a green/white or green spatterback flasher with a green/ white hoochie (with herring teaser) or a Kingfisher Lite in color 390 (Bob Marley) or 910 (super trooper). The Slag Pile generally has outstanding action right at daylight for those trolling between 30 and 65 feet down. For some reason the action usually dies after the first hour of daylight, but fishing one hour before through one hour after tide change will also yield some fish. Other than those times, you may want to move to other areas that produce more steadily throughout the day. To catch the derby winner, I’d suggest Commencement Bay down by the mouth of the Puyallup River. I like fishing right in front of the buoy in the southeast corner before the entrance to the waterway. There won’t be many fish here, but the odds of finding one of the pigs that hang out there before venturing upriver

46 Northwest Sportsman

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to spawn are greater. To me, this is best fished with a cut-plug herring down right off the bottom. The Girl Scout Camp and Gig Harbor are very much like a light switch – when they’re on, they’re on! You never know when the bite will hit, so check your bait regularly, have fresh set-ups available and make sure you have your gear in the water because when it turns on, it won’t be for long and you don’t want to miss it. Both of these popular spots consistently make the leader board at all the derbies and will be good throughout August. Up north around Dolphin and Three Tree Points, look for the major drop in depth that goes over 115 feet. Hit it at 90 feet down trolling with the tide. Don’t troll against it – which should be pounded into your brain by now – but rather pick up and move to the top of the area and troll through with the current again. It’s likely that nine out of every 10 Chinook are caught this way, so play the odds, don’t try and beat them. Picking up for another pass will

also give you a chance to check your presentation and put some scent on. If trolling a hoochie, put a fresh herring teaser on. If trolling a spoon, get the anise scent on there. Moochers and jiggers do well right off Point Defiance if there aren’t dogfish around. If they are, I’d suggest joining the majority of anglers and troll. There are other derbies following the South King County one, but it will be an indicator as to how successful anglers will be, where the majority of the fish are running, and also what the popular spoon or hoochie will be for this year’s run. Although preseason predictions don’t necessarily point to a hot year for salmon fishing on the Washington Coast, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, good luck and have a great summer season. NS Editor’s note: Terry J. Wiest is the author of Steelhead University: Your Guide to Salmon & Steelhead Success and Float-Fishing for Salmon & Steelhead, and is the owner of Steelhead University,

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Haul Supper In The San Juans Get ready for the 2018 crabbing season in the islands, some of the best inland waters for Dungeness. By Wayne Heinz


ach year, over 210,000 Puget Sound sport crabbers harvest nearly 2,500,000 pounds of Dungeness. At just under 2 pounds per crab, and two crabs per plate, that’s well over half a million suppers! About 625,000 pounds of those crabs came from the San Juan Islands. With South Sound crabbing worsening by the year, consider a trip to the North Sound this summer.

TIME THE TIDE San Juan Islands, opening day of crab season. The dawn armada in Padilla Bay resembles World War II’s evacuation of Dunkirk. Tides run strong in the San Juans. Crabs seek shelter. Then they feed around tide changes. At slack, they can roam the bottom without being swept to sea. Make opening day less war-like. Sleep in. Leave the dock an hour or two before tide change. Find free tide graphs at, and free tide tables at


Looks like a keeper! Author Wayne Heinz holds a male Dungeness crab while the editor’s son River Walgamott checks that it measures at least 6¼ inches across its shell. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Dungies like sand bottoms. Likely spots: water off clam beaches and pea gravel shores along the flatter islands. Look for modest flow. For another crab haunt, study | JUNE 2018

Northwest Sportsman 51

FISHING your depthsounder. Look for an underwater saddle bordered by deep water, with mild current. Plenty of these between the smaller islands. Your first set: Lay pots in a line perpendicular to the current, shallow to deep, at 20-foot-depth intervals. This creates a wide scent trail. Your next set: Where did your first set produce best? At what depth? Drop pots there, in a line parallel to the current. This creates a strong scent trail. To find crabby bottoms, study bathymetric maps from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; you can find them at Watch your depthsounder to avoid sharp slopes, where a pot door might hang open, or current might drag your pots to a watery grave. Why do most folks crab in less than 50 feet of water? Because that’s the length of their storebought pot cord. Catch crabs where there’s less competition. Splice on another 50 feet cord. Commercials catch crabs 600 feet deep.

NAP NOT Tempted to nap while your pots

Dungies can be caught in waters shallow to deep, but the key is to give yourself more than enough rope to account for tide swings. Heinz labels his ropes by length to match the best one to the depth he’s crabbing. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

IMPROVE YOUR CRAB POTS  Hose pots with fresh water after each trip. Rusty traps stain boat gel coats.  Door hinges beyond repair? Cut the hinges off. Replace with plastic, electrical wire ties.  Spray rusty frames with Permafix Plasti Dip or Starco’s Pro-Tect. Or touch up with Blue Magic Brush-On Electrical Tape.  Strong currents swing trap doors open. Crimp fishing sinkers to door bottoms.  Mark pot drops with GPS waypoints in your notebook: “WP 07 = float with yellow flag, 60 feet deep at ½ tide, 4 p.m.”  Clip a 2-ounce sinker to leadcore pot line, 10 feet below your float. Keeps line safe from propellers.  Protect your own prop from pot lines. Approach crab buoys against current, or into wind.  Line tangled in prop? Boat-hook the line. Tie a second line onto the fouled line, below the prop. Tape a knife to your boat hook. Cut the tangle away.  Write the length of the pot line on a tag attached to your line. Many “stolen traps” are actually carried away by a flood tide.  Lose a pot in Washington? Report it online, Or call the no-fault derelict crab pot hotline, (855) 542-3935.  Pots must have escape hatches tied by cotton cord. Unsure of the cord? Apply the match test: Cotton burns. Synthetic cord melts. –WH 52 Northwest Sportsman

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According to state shellfish managers, as many as 30 percent of recreational crabbers fail to properly mark their buoys, which must have a first and last name and home address. Phone numbers are optional, but including it could help return the pot to you if lost and subsequently found. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Skykomish Summer Kings and Steel The long wait is over and the Sky opens up in June! The Skykomish River season is a favorite among Puget Sound anglers for two obvious reasons: it consistently pumps out dime-bright summer steelhead and hard-fighting kings! Combine warmer weather with big aggressive fish and you get an outdoor experience that’s hard to compare!

“Danny Cook of Wooldridge Boats with a nice limit of Sky kings!”

Danny Cook of Capt. Cook’s Guide Service considers the Skykomish his backyard and knows the many runs and gravel bars intimately. Side-drifting cluster eggs from his Wooldridge Alaskan XL is his go-to most days for both steelhead and kings, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to switch to sand shrimp, especially if targeting steelhead above where the Wallace River comes in. Orange is typically the top producing color for Corkies and Cheaters when the water carries some color, but flourescent or rocket red is highly productive as well. Just make sure you concentrate on the slow edges when the water’s high and the deeper fast runs when the water is running low. Side-drifting with the aid of a float is effective and fast becoming popular too! Covering water is always important in finding fish and Sultan all the way to the down to the mouth can produce fish on any given day in June. Steelhead will range from 6 to 12 pounds and kings 8 to 17 pounds. Be sure to come prepared, as more of these fish are hooked than landed. Possession limits are two adult Chinook and two steelhead per person, per day. All fish must be adipose fin clipped. Handle wild fish with care and always check current WDFW regulations before heading out. Have fun! | JUNE 2018

Northwest Sportsman 53


With all their nooks and crannies, the San Juans present a plethora of places to pull pots, as Kiran Walgamott (inset) prepares to do. The bulk of the islands typically open in mid-July, the northern fringe in mid-August. To the south, Areas 8-1 and 8-2, where commercial crabbing is restricted, are also superb and they along with other Central Sound waters usually open July 1. Crabbing is open Thursdays through Mondays. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

soak? Lazy crabbers munch hot dogs for supper. In July, an hourlong soak is fine. Drop anchor and picnic near your pots. By August, with thousands of crabs already in anglers’ freezers, soak two hours. Soak time also depends on current. Brisk flow = long scent trail = short soak. The more often you pull your pots, the sooner you can toss freeloaders – flounder, sea stars – overboard and renew your bait. Thinking about an overnight soak? Yes, crabs feed at night. No, don’t crab at night. Ten-dollar crabs tempt twobit thieves. In the San Juans, prudent crabbers pull their pots at sunset.

TEST FOR SOFT-SHELLS In the North Sound, female Dungeness crabs molt from late winter to late spring. Males molt in 54 Northwest Sportsman

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early summer, as water warms. A big crab can grow 1 to 2 inches across per molt. It takes a month or two for shells to fully reharden and fill with meat. Soft-shell crabs contain about 12 percent meat by weight. Hard-shell crabs, about 25 percent meat. Squeeze a crab’s walking legs. Flex its undershell with your forefinger. Spongy? That crab recently molted. The meat’s mushy. We’re each only allowed five keeper dungies. Why cheat yourself out of meat? Toss softshells. New to crabbing? The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online video Crabbing Basics can be found at

KEEP SUPPER FRESH Have you kept crabs in a tub of | JUNE 2018

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BEST BAITS FOR CRABS And the award for best bait for crabs goes to … practically any food, fresh from the sea, that leaves a strong scent trail, and doesn’t prey on crabs. We freeze the carcasses of the salmon and small bottomfish we catch. This becomes our most common crab bait. Salmon oils lay down a good scent trail. When we shop at Safeway prior to the crab opener, we ask the butcher to save fish carcasses for us. We freeze them. If you wait until crabbing opens, many stores charge for the fish. Other choices: a punctured can of tuna lays down a scent trail. Cans of cat food have not worked well for us. Nor have chicken livers or beef livers in an old sock. They bleed out too fast. A skein of frozen salmon eggs in a stocking works far better. Frozen bait lasts longer in your pot and milks out a steady scent. Chicken thighs and turkey backs are cheap and draw beaucoup crabs. Slash the fowl with a filet knife – it greatly improves the scent trail. Inject Smelly Jelly crab attractant into the meat.

Each June we catch a mess of shad in the Columbia. We freeze the fish for the July crab opener. Crabs really scoot to sliced shad! Barnacles and horse clams are easy to gather and stay fresh. Right before we bait the traps, we put the clams in an onion sack and whop them with a wooden mallet. More baits: albacore tuna bellies, sardines, diced herring or anchovies, sliced frozen squid. As for the worst bait, that would be whatever eats crabs – octopus, cabezon, lingcod, giant sculpins. These do attract some crabs, if you skin the carcasses. Even the remains of halibut, crabs’ mortal enemy, work sometimes – skinless. What happens if we bait our traps without skinning these fish? We still catch a few crabs, but not many. We’ve tried hot dogs, hamburger, bologna, mink carcasses. A few crabs investigate, but very few. The worst crab bait? Rotten stuff. We’ve learned that crabs strongly favor fresh food. –WH

seawater? You know what happens. Water warms. Oxygen depletes. Crabs die. Water contains only onethirtieth the oxygen of air. A better idea: Store your crabs on ice. Cover them with a gunnysack. Sprinkle salt water on the sack. As long as the crabs’ gills remain cool and moist, they’ll live.

average Dungie weighs 1.8 pounds. To save as much meat as possible, boil crabs in salt water. Prevents water outflow from the flesh – osmosis. Saltwater contains about 3 percent salt. Add one quarter cup of rock salt to one gallon (3.8 liters) of fresh water. Cooking crabs whole? Drop in boiling saltwater. When water resumes boiling, cook seven more minutes. For interest, add beer to


surveys, the

A FULL BAIT CAGE IS A HAPPY BAIT CAGE Why crab on the cheap? July crabs at Safeway sell for $12 each. Captain plus four crew members pulling pots? That’s 25 Dungies a day – maybe $300 worth of suppers. How smart is it to bait lightly to save $10 on chicken thighs? Put plenty of bait in your pots. Replenish often. The more bait, the more scent. The more scent, the more suppers. Tie the bait cage to the bottom of your trap. We’ve switched to new crab traps with built-in, toploading bait cages. Make crabs enter to eat. We occasionally soak our baits overnight in Pautzke’s Crab & Shrimp fuel. Beware! This stuff is potent. Soap and water and plenty of hand towels, needed. –WH 56 Northwest Sportsman

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Fresh seafood – especially salmon heads – makes the best crab bait, but chicken and turkey are productive too. Whatever you use, pack those bait bags full to maximize the scent trail to draw in more Dungies. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

the brew. Cleaned your crabs first? Boil 10 minutes. Prefer to steam your crabs? About 18 minutes will do. When the shells turn bright orange, your crabs are done. Dunk them in cold water. This stops the cooking. Prefer to eat your catch later? Immerse cooked crabs in water in gallon milk jugs. Freeze. Crabs in these blocks of ice will stay tasty for months.

KEEP YOUR CREW SMILING Fresh white crabmeat on melted cheddar cheese on a warm English muffin … Salivating yet? Dungeness crab is seafood at its sweetest! Crabmeat is high protein, low fat; many minerals, little cholesterol. Plus low calories! Poseidon was smiling when he created crabs. The folks who pull your lines – the grunters – deserve good rations. Few | JUNE 2018

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FISHING The Brothers Walgamott compare Dungeness and red rock crabs following a September 2017 trip out of Anacortes. Sunny summer days spent on Puget Sound catching your own dinner are superb, especially in the San Juan Islands. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

captains earn more loyalty than those who serve crab to their crew. Dungies and red rockies – both produce smiles at the ship’s table.

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May your seas be calm, and the crabs be hungry. NS Editor’s note: You can purchase Wayne

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Northwest Sportsman 59

FISHING Piper and Oliver, author Andy Schneider’s golden retrievers, take a close look at the bounty of the sea, lingcod caught off the Oregon Coast. Bottomfishing and salmon opportunities look good heading into summer. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Make The Most Of The Coast

From fun to fillets, plenty of fishing action to be had along Oregon’s Pacific shores.

By Andy Schneider


he Oregon Coast is a wonderland for anglers, crabbers, clammers and anyone who can appreciate the beauty and bounty of our rugged shores. Just as soon as school is out, the population on the western edge of our state soars as lots of folks look for things to do. It doesn’t matter whether you just graduated from grade school or are celebrating retirement, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun and at the same time provide some tasty groceries for the family.

June almost always marks the start of coho fishing, but lots of other seasons run concurrently. Chinook, halibut, bottomfish and sturgeon fisheries occur this month. Depending on whether you plan on camping, renting or are just visiting the beach for the day, you should find plenty of fish in the sea.

ESTUARY STURGEON AT the mouth of the Columbia River was an amazing fishery that had a loyal following. Fresh, aggressive fish straight from the ocean combined with shallow water and light tackle make for great action. After a few years of closure,

the retention fishery here reopened with limited days and hours, and while most of this year’s season took place in May with just two June dates (2, 4), catch-and-release fishing remains open. As Columbia flows slow as spring runoff subsides through the month and the estuary fills with anchovies, the more sturgeon that will move in to feed on the ample forage. To have a productive day on the estuary, you need to be prepared to move around. If you are not getting bit, pull up and move every 20 minutes. While it won’t seem like you’re fishing for very long, these fish | JUNE 2018

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The sun rises over the Oregon Coast’s most northerly boat ramp, Hammond, a great jump-off spot for Columbia River estuary sturgeon, bottomfishing the South Jetty and trolling for salmon off Long Beach. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

are aggressive and are constantly on the move. If you’re not getting bit, it’s because there are no fish around and you need to move to find them. There are the occasional times when you may drop right in on a school of aggressive fish, but more than likely you will have to hunt to find them. On an incoming tide, look for fish to be moving from channels and deeper water to the shallow flats. On the outgoing, hunt for fish moving off those flats into the edges of channels to feed on the groceries being pulled off the shallows as the water recedes. Heavy salmon tackle works very well for estuary sturgeon, as it will allow you to detect light bites and get a fun fight out of these aggressive fish. Smaller barbless hooks are needed when rigging fresh anchovies or sand shrimp; 1/0s and 2/0s work best when baits are small. A 24-inch leader of 50-pound Dacron to a sixbead chain swivel and a simple plastic weight slider on your mainline is all that’s needed for tackle. You may need 2 to 12 ounces of lead, depending on current and tidal exchanges.

CHINOOK AND COHO open north of Cape Falcon on June 23 and should be productive right from the start. Most early-season salmon success happens north of the Columbia, off of 62 Northwest Sportsman

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Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula. Fishing in 40 to 100 feet of water produces good results for both species here. Standard triangle flashers and a plug-cut herring or a helmeted anchovy work best when fish are suspended. While it may be tempting to fish close to the bottom in shallower water, most fish are feeding on schools of baitfish moving through. Find what depth the bait is running and set your gear at that level for best success. If you’d rather stay in more protected waters, spring Chinook returning to Tillamook tribs can be caught throughout the bay. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

BETWEEN CAPE FALCON and Humbug Mountain, there’s a ton of angling opportunities. Regardless of what port you trailer your boat to, with nearshore and all-depths halibut, along with crab, coho, Chinook and bottomfish galore, the only problem you will have is trying to figure out what species to pursue. Starting to the north in Tillamook Bay, you should still be able to find ample numbers of spring Chinook



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FISHING OREGON COAST CONTACTS Garibaldi:;; Depoe Bay: Newport:; entering the bay through the first half of June. And with nearshore halibut opening June 1, a combo salmonflattie trip is a pretty good option. For springers, concentrate your efforts at the lower bay and jaws during small tidal exchanges, and in the upper bay when you have large tide swings or low tides that dip into the negative territory. Plug-cut herring works in both areas, and as long as you’re fishing within 16 inches of bottom, your bait should be in the zone.





1955 AF










waters can be very rewarding, but also very frustrating. The fish don’t



stack up like they do in deeper water. Covering lots of water is the best technique to find success. Black- and purple-label herring are top baits, but fresh shad and squid are a close second and third. Utilizing spreaders may feel like a little overkill for fishing depths less than 200 feet, but they do keep the tangles down and seem to add a bit of attraction to your bait. Most anglers fishing out of Tillamook for nearshore halibut run up to Manzanita to start their drift, resetting once they pass Nehalem. Move shallower or deeper in 25-foot increments to find fish. If you catch a halibut, mark the location on your depth finder and set up to make a









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Along with the season’s final all-depths openers, nearshore halibut fishing is another option. Rockfish are always available as well. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

drift through there again.

DEPOE AND YAQUINA Bays should be ideal in June for coho. The salmon start to gather into schools, making for good fishing once they are found. Look for 54-degree water out of either port to start prospecting. Out of Depoe, coho can almost always be found around the 200-foot depth, about 6 miles due west from port. Good coho fishing out of Yaquina usually starts to the north of the harbor entrance, due west of the lighthouse. Look for rip lines, but floating debris and feeding birds are also dead giveaways that there are coho nearby. The fish almost always feed shallow at first light and move deeper and scatter as the day progresses. Running your bait in the top 20 feet of water is most productive at first light, but once the bite slows, start staggering your depths. You may need to drop your gear as deep as 100 feet if you are marking fish that far down. A Delta Diver is one of the easiest ways to get your bait down and in front of a feeding ocean salmon. Behind your diver, run 36 inches of 40-pound leader to a size 0 dodger. From your dodger run 24 to 30 inches of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader to two 5/0 barbless hooks. Slide a

Best of Garibaldi hoochie down your leader and run either a piece of “chunk” herring or a plug-cut for bait. If you’re not into running dodgers, you can rig up similar to how you would for Buoy 10 Chinook: diver, flasher and leader. Simply clip your flasher onto the back of your diver and run a 60-inch leader of 30-pound leader to 5/0 hooks baited with a whole or cut-plug herring. Chinook aren’t easy to target out of either port and almost always require downriggers. The inside of the Rock Pile (Stonewall Banks) is the most productive location, while the waters off of Seal Rock are also a favorite. If halibut is your target species, then Yaquina Bay will be your preferred port. Besides the famous Chicken Ranch, a deepwater location that almost always produces fish, the waters around the Rock Pile yield an excellent grade. The latter’s also fairly close to port and is easy to fish, with waters that average 250 feet deep. Most anglers concentrate their effort on the Rock Pile’s eastern side. While most have a preferred starting point on this 13-mile-long reef, if you are new to it, starting on the north end and drifting south with the current is the fastest way to locate fish.

BOTTOMFISHING IS AS consistent a fishery as salmon and halibut are fleeting ones here in the Northwest. No matter what time of year, as long as the ocean cooperates, we can get out and successfully pursue these tasty critters. And every port along the Oregon Coast has accessible reefs within just a short run. The Columbia has the sunken south jetty. Tillamook has Three Arches. Depoe has Government Point and many others north and south of the bay. And Yaquina has a plethora of reefs stretching from the south jetty to Seal Rock. While there is a lot of different tackle to use, one of the simplest and most productive ways to target bottomfish is with a 4- to 5-ounce pyramid jig with two shrimp flies

FISHING tied above it. This set-up will allow you to target lingcod and black and blue bass. Keeping things simple with bottomfishing not only is the fastest way to limit the boat but also keeps tackle purchases to a minimum and retying quick and easy.

Your Buoy 10 set-up – diver, flasher, whole or cutplug – is also good for catching feeding coho and kings on the ocean. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

NO MATTER WHAT your coastal plans are for this summer, you can’t go wrong spending it on the Oregon Coast. Not only are there countless recreational opportunities, there is no better location to invite friends and family to reconnect and appreciate what a beautiful state we have. With our long summer days, there is plenty of time for fishing in the morning, good meals in the afternoon and beautiful sunsets in the evening. Booking a campground or Airbnb now will be appreciated by the whole family when you turn the corner and are greeted by the wonder of our rugged coastline. NS

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2018 Custom Weld 22’ Offshore This thing takes big and stable to the next level. 1/4” bottom on this monster. 8’ BOTTOM. Yes, this thing has an 8’ bottom. That makes it so stable it is incredible. Powered by a fly-by-wire 250hp Honda. This massive offshore can do anything you want. It is a Tuna killer. Karavan tandem aluminum trailer with electric over hydraulic brakes. Air ride seats. Washdown. Wipers. Drop curtain. Ready to go. TRADES WELCOME.


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SOLD 2018 24’ Offshore Hardtop monster This boat is the largest interior space 24’ you will find. It has a 9’ beam and a 7’ bottom. The sides on this beast are 32” Inside height of the hardtop is 6’4” HUGE. Powered by a 250hp Honda with the IST fly-by-wire controls. It will get with the picture. Canvas drop curtain. Trim tabs. Rear steering station. Stern jump seat that is removable. Massive transom fish box. Compressor filled and adjustable air ride seats. Stereo with four speakers. Honda digital gauge with NMEA network to give all engine management info including fuel burn. Karavan aluminum I-beam with electric over hydraulic disc brakes. You have to see this boat to believe it. Tuna Killer.

2017 21’ Custom Weld Bush Powered by a 150hp Honda. This one is big as well. It has a 8.5’ beam with a 7’ bottom. Huge interior space with 33” side height on the inside. Fixed frame hardtop with the canvas all the way around. Galvanized Karavan all welded trailer with disc brakes. Dual batteries with switch. Hydraulic steering. This one can go anywhere.


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2018 18’ Custom Weld Bush with offshore bracket. Powered by a 115hp Honda. This one is like it’s big brothers with the full offshore bracket and fish box at transom. You will not find an 18’ boat like this. 8.5’ beam with a 6.5’ bottom. Nothing like it on the market. Add to that a 29” side height and you have a boat that has more fishing room than most 20’ boats on the market. Full canvas enclosure. Galvanized single axle Karavan trailer. Monster 18’ boat.

2018 Custom Weld 18’ Bush Powered with a 90hp Honda. This boat has the power to do it all. Fish. Ski. You name it. Full canvas with sides and drop curtain. Galvanized single axle Karavan all welded trailer. 8.5’ beam with the 6.5’ bottom. Tons of space and massively stable. It can do it all.


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Estuary Armadillos The vastness of the Columbia River estuary allows sturgeon anglers to spread out, and after retention season ends, the crowds thin out even more. (SCOTT BRENNEMAN)


he first thing I noticed is that they fight harder down here. That’s what keeps bringing me back year THE KAYAK GUYS after year. When you By Scott By Sco cott tt Brenneman Bre renn nnem eman hook a sturgeon at the mouth of the Columbia, many times it is hard to tell the difference between a shaker and a keeper until you actually see the fish. Indeed, the saltwater really affects the quality of these fish compared to sturgeon further upriver. Their bellies gleam a brighter shade of white and these fish are much thicker, thanks to the abundant feed in the estuary. The result is a much more energized opponent. This year’s retention season was limited to June 2 and 4. While it is nice to be able to take home a keeper sturgeon, I really look forward to the catch-and-release fishery the rest of the month. I couldn’t think of a finer way to spend a day in June than to hook and let go these armadillos of the sea. The fishing usually improves as the month progresses.

IF I KNOW that I can jig up fresh anchovies in the river, I take extra time to gather bait with a sabiki rig. If not, I will drive to Ilwaco and buy fresh from Columbia River Bait Company before fishing. There’s a night and day difference between frozen and fresh bait. You will catch some fish using the former, but nothing close to the numbers that you will with fresh anchovies. It is also a good idea to bring a variety of bait. Squid and sand shrimp are favorites for enticing sturgeon to bite and will work well in the lower river, but I would never paddle out without some fresh anchovies in my cooler. IT’S NOT NECESSARY to anchor up in deeper water to catch sturgeon. Thirty feet is my max target depth. To stay put, use a 10-pound pyramid | JUNE 2018

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COLUMN anchor. Adding some galvanized chain will aid in keeping your kayak from drifting with the current. Leave the small folding grapnel anchors at home; they will not work in the estuary. One must exercise caution when anchoring a kayak at the mouth of the Columbia. In addition to floating debris in the river, the strong currents and wind add to the risk. Having a fuse between the kayak and anchor line significantly reduces the risk of capsizing. I use the ProMotion anchor release. Installed between the anchor buoy and the kayak, it will break at a given setting, safely releasing your kayak from the anchor line. A simpler set-up is to secure the tag end of the anchor line in a tarp clip so that it will self-release if enough force is applied.

THE COLUMBIA ESTUARY is so big that no matter how many boats there are out on the water you can easily find a place to fish all by yourself. What I really enjoy about fishing here is that you

The Desdemona Sands are a no-go zone for boats, but highly fishable in shallow-draft craft like a kayak. The image also shows the troughs on the bottom of the river where you’re trying to place your bait – and the fresher, the better. (SCOTT BRENNEMAN)

can explore new areas every time you go. Launching on the Oregon side at Hammond, you can cross the channel and fish Desdemona Sands. If there is going to

be a strong incoming tide, paddle east of the Skipanon River and anchor up in the vicinity of the pilings. The tide will funnel bait and sturgeon towards you. I spend most of my time focusing on the Washington side. The Knappton boat launch, about 3 miles upstream from the Astoria-Megler Bridge, is my favorite place to put in when fishing for sturgeon. Areas close to the launch are good, so you don’t have to go far. Most times, I like to play this game differently by covering as much water as possible. Launching at the beginning of the incoming tide, I paddle west to the Shipwreck to work the Hungry Harbor area. If I connect with a fish, I will stay put unless the action slows. All areas below Tongue Point have the risk of leaving you exposed to afternoon wind and waves far from shore. The John Day boat ramp, just east of Astoria, offers a protected area to fish that will give refuge from potentially rapid deteriorating conditions on the Columbia.

I WON’T STAY anchored too long – 20 minutes without a bite and I will move. My next likely stop will be the south side of the Blind Channel in 30 feet of water. When the current starts to move during the flood, this spot is a sure bet for hooking into a sturgeon. 70 Northwest Sportsman

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Author Scott Brenneman says he’s had days when he’s battled more than 20 of these “armadillos,” his nickname for this species featuring large, interlocking diamond-shaped scales. Fishing so close to the ocean and in such a rich feeding area, “many times it is hard to tell the difference between a shaker and a keeper until you actually see the fish,” he writes. (RICK SWART, ODFW VIA FLICKR, CC 2.0)

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Boat traffic is higher here, though, so to get away from it I will move to the shallows in the middle of the river. In a kayak, you will have this area all to yourself. I will spend the bulk of my time exploring the shallows for sturgeon. There are many deeper depressions that are surrounded by water 5 feet deep or less. The uncertainty of how shallow it is will keep powerboaters from fishing here. Side imaging really helps when searching for the next spot to drop anchor. I keep fishing, letting the current push me upriver. Typically the tide is about to turn when I approach Taylor Sands. To complete the third leg of my triangle, I fish my way back to the Knappton ramp. Catch rates on my triangular expedition over the years have ranged from a low of four fish to 20-plus in a day. NS | JUNE 2018

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Resident Coho, Coonstripe Ops Shine

Resident coho are providing good fisheries throughout South and Central Puget Sound. Though they don’t grow as big as ocean-going silvers, they’re still fun to catch on light tackle, whether trolling nearshore waters or casting from the beaches. (JASON BROOKS)


outh Puget Sound anglers should have a good summer of opportunities and options. Earlier this SOUTH SOUND year the Washington Department of By Jason Brooks Fish and Wildlife announced salmon seasons, including for Marine Areas 11 and 13, and with runs to the north not as robust as those returning to the Tacoma and Olympia area, the waterways, fishing piers and beaches might have a few extra anglers in the most popular spots.

Resident coho are found here throughout the year, which is one reason why Area 13 has a year-round season for clipped silvers. Strong returns of Chinook are expected back to the Puyallup and by late June the fish will be showing up at the usual terminal fisheries near Browns Point, Dash Point and along the rips around Point Defiance. Shrimp is another option, as is catch-and-release sea-run cutthroat.

COHO AND EVEN resident Chinook can be found at various current breaks, beaches and kelp beds throughout the South Sound. Anglers with boats can launch at the many public and private launches,

but Point Defiance and Gig Harbor in Area 11 seem to be most popular. The Point Defiance Boat House also rents small boats with a kicker motor that are perfect for hitting the famed nearby fishing grounds of the Clay Banks and Owen Beach, on the north side of the Tacoma peninsula. Point Dalco is across the waterway, located on the southwestern corner of Vashon Island, and is best fished on the incoming tide. As the tide shifts back to outgoing, cross back over and fish the rip just off the end of Point Defiance, where baitfish get tossed and churned. Look for birds working the top of the water or other boats. | JUNE 2018

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COLUMN Point Evans is a good fishery for the incoming tide, when the bait gets pushed down from the shores near Gig Harbor. Starting at the powerlines that cross the Tacoma Narrows just north of the twin bridges, drift with the current while mooching. Chinook returning to Chambers Bay and the Nisqually and Deschutes Rivers, as well as coho heading back to the tribal net pens at Squaxin Island, travel through this narrowest part of Puget Sound. The Nisqually sees an early return of Chinook and fish will be in the river system by the beginning of July.

TO TARGET THE coho, as well as sea-run cutthroat, troll small spoons such as the Cripplure by Mack’s, with the treble switched to a size 6 Gamakatsu siwash, or a small Coyote by Luhr Jensen. A lightweight kokanee or trout rod can make this a very exciting fishery in early June. By midmonth switch over to longer rods, as the resident coho will be putting on weight and some transient fish will begin to show. It is also not uncommon for Chinook returning to Chambers Bay and Minter Creek to use the west shoreline as a guide through the Narrows. Just to the outside of the kelp is where you can target all three species. Anglers who prefer to fish from the beach have several options in the South Sound. Narrows Park puts you on the long gravel edge of Puget Sound near the bridges on the Gig Harbor side. Another is Sunnyside Beach Park in Steilacoom, at the outlet to Chambers Bay. Penrose State Park is known for its sea-run cutthroat fishing. And if you can find access to a beach on Harstine Island, you will be in a prime location for the Squaxin coho and some native cutts. As June turns to July, the most famed fishery of all of Area 13 heats up. Known as the Green Can, the buoy marker for the channel into the Nisqually River, this is a troll fishery. A large flat formed by silt fills the Nisqually Delta, and just along that edge is where you will find the Chinook. Here, schools of fish will either turn into the river or keep heading south to the Deschutes River through downtown Olympia. 76 Northwest Sportsman

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With a far longer season than spotties, coonstripes are a viable option for Sound Sound shrimpers out to haul up appetizers or bait to cure for Chinook and steelhead. (JASON BROOKS) Most anglers use an 11-inch Hot Spot dodger with a squid skirt trailing behind, but give a Coyote spoon in cop car behind one a try too. Smear the spoon or fill the squid skirt with Pro-Cure Herring Super Gel or Super Sauce, which is very sticky and won’t wash off.

DROP SOME POTS before you fish to try and catch coonstripe shrimp. These small crustaceans are great for salads or frying up as a “popcorn” shrimp. And if you like to use prawns for fall Chinook and winter steelhead, then this is the best way to get fresh bait to cure up. You can use ½-inch mesh pots for coonstripe and pink shrimp, as long as there are no openings for spot shrimp in your area. And the season runs throughout the summer with a limit of 10 pounds per person, per day allowed (check regulations for each marine area you plan to shrimp). One of the biggest mistakes that coonstripe shrimp anglers make is not keeping their catch separate. Be sure to have enough containers onboard so that each angler can account for their own catch. Canned cat food and canned tuna are

popular shrimp baits. I like to use the cat food that is “gelled” and scoop it into a bait container. Then I take a can of tuna in water and punch some holes in it and put it in the shrimp pot so it can leach as the currents push it around. Don’t use oilpacked tuna, as oil floats, which means the scent will not disperse near the bottom where the shrimp are. I prefer to put my pots in 130 feet of water, but be sure to check if there is a depth restriction where you plan to shrimp. This is done to protect spotties, which prefer deeper depths. I hand sort my coonstripe and pink shrimp by size, with the smaller ones kept for bait, the larger ones for cooking later. I simply put them into a Ziploc with my name on them and put them into the ice chest, keeping them cold. By sorting them as you pull them out of the pot, you can identify any spot shrimp and safely return those to the water.

IT’S HARD TO beat a fresh-cooked fillet of salmon with a side of garlic-sautéed shrimp on a summer’s day, and you can enjoy that after productive late spring and early summer outings on the South Sound. NS | JUNE 2018

Northwest Sportsman 77

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hile most teenagers live for the weekend and its latenight fun – hitting the malls, going on dates and other modernday technology-filled diversions – Justin Wong was busy dreaming up a career that fit right into his passion for salmon fishing. Virtually born with a fishing pole in hand it was only a matter of time before the Seattle resident would reel in a salmon, although parents Benny and Gale Wong had him first earn his take. “Ever since I could remember I was out on the boat,” says Wong, now 23. “They wouldn’t let me fish for salmon, but I could jig for herring. I felt like I was part of the team and waited patiently to catch my first salmon.” At age six, Justin finally gained a seat on the family boat when he caught a summer Chinook on Elliott Bay, and he got lots more on-thewater experience observing his dad. “There was a time in my life when, if I wanted to go salmon fishing, I had to take Justin and his sister (Nicole), especially if my wife had something to do,” recalls Benny with a chuckle. “Justin would sit and watch closely as I fished, and I’d try to teach him to be patient.” There were trips when Benny handed off his pole to Justin with a hooked salmon. “I would let him lose the fish or land it on his own,” Benny says. “It was a tough way to learn, but Justin had fun doing it. I tried to introduce him to many different types of fishing, and by the time he was 9 years old, I also taught him how to tie hooks.” Justin learned a rather unorthodox

way to tie those leaders. “He watched how I tied hooks in front of me and not from behind, so he did everything the opposite way,” Benny says. “It was done right, and he’s tied them that way ever since.” One time on the river, Justin got a bird’s nest on his reel, with line tangled every way, shape and form. Dad had Justin sit on the bank where he managed to untangle the entire reel. All those life lessons about dealing with situations paid off, and when Justin was also 9, he caught the second largest fish of his life – a 34½-pound king – in June off the Clay Banks in Tacoma.

JUST LIKE ANY other kid, Justin led a normal life by playing baseball while attending the Emerald City’s McClure Middle School before going to Franklin High School. “Justin played all the way up to high school,” Benny says. “During summer he played on a select baseball team and we’d travel all over as a family. It was a lot of fun, and sometimes we’d even bring our fishing poles.” Salmon fishing flows through the blood of most of the Wong brothers – Kenny (age 60), Benson (58), Benny (57), James (53), Dennis (52), Gary (50) and Tim (49). They and Justin have a reputation for catching fish when everyone else is getting skunked during the Tengu Winter Blackmouth Derby, held on Elliott Bay usually from October through December. The derby – which began shortly after World War II in 1946 and is named after Tengu, a fabled Japanese character who stretched the truth – is for die-hard anglers, since the weather is often brutal and there’s simply a lack of Chinook during that time of the year.

At a time of faltering Puget Sound salmon runs and captains selling their guiding licenses and boats, Justin Wong (left) is taking a big risk by starting up a new service on the inland sea. Not long after opening Cut Plug Charters early this year, he took author Mark Yuasa and his son Tegan out to mooch for blackmouth, with good results. (MARK YUASA)

Justin earned the largest-fish crown in 2013 and 2014, and in 2017 he took third and fifth place. He’s also caught the most fish from 2011 to 2014 and 2017. Benny won largest-fish title in 2017; and took second in 2007; fourth in 2008, 2014 and 2017; third in 2011 and 2013. He also caught the most fish in 2016. Gary took second in 2010 and 2013, and fourth in 2016. Being a positive influence and showing kids the joys of outdoors will set a foundation of who they grow up to be. Those traits surely hooked Justin up for what he does now as a career in the sport-fishing industry. “I always thought it would be really cool to fish for a living,” Justin says. “While I was in high school I gave up my dream of being a baseball player and really started to think about being a guide.” Shortly after graduating from high school Justin enrolled at Bellevue Community College and held down some retail jobs. | JUNE 2018

Northwest Sportsman 81


With a fishy father and uncles, Wong was exposed to angling at a young age, but it wasn’t until he was a bit older that he did more than jig out of his dad’s boat on Elliott Bay for the day’s bait. (WONG FAMILY)

“One day Keith Robbins (owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide in Seattle) called and wanted to go fishing,” Benny says. Keith asked if he wanted to partner with him as a guide. It sounded tempting, but Benny felt he was too old, plus he already had a regular “land” job. “‘Let me ask my son, who has

that passion to become a captain,’” Benny said. To become a guide, you just don’t hop in a boat and take folks out fishing. First you need to obtain a captain’s license, a grueling five-week online course that culminates with a series of five tests. “The last test was the hardest, which

is on rules of the road,” Justin says. “You had to score 90 percent or above. That was a big relief once I passed.”

IN SUMMER 2014, Justin joined A Spot Tail Salmon Guide and learned how tough guiding can be. He often guided twice a day during peak summer months (the most trips he’s tallied is 120), working 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., and tying 50 to 100 leaders a day. Justin and his father discussed starting a charter business. Justin’s parents stressed over how big a commitment and investment it would be, and working on your own carries a lot of risk. “It is a huge investment that involves buying a boat and a charter license and all the equipment,” Benny says. “My wife and I told him, ‘You’re working (on your own), so you’ll have to stay in the best of health because if you get sick or hurt, there’s nobody to back you up.’” “But it was something he really wanted to do, so he had our total support. I gave him props for building his own website (seattlesalmonfishing. com). It took a lot of work.” Justin parents also wanted him to complete an online college degree so he’d have something to fall back on should this business venture not work out. Now he has just two quarters to fulfill a degree. “I told him, ‘You’ll always have that four-year degree in your pocket and it’ll help get a different job,’” Benny says. All the stars aligned this past January when Justin launched Cut Plug Charters and his phone has been steadily ringing with clients booking trips on a sleek 20-foot center console Grady White 209 Fishermen powered with a 200-horse Yamaha. I HAD A chance to watch Justin in action during a trip in mid-March with my son Tegan. The morning started off with cloudy skies and a steady breeze as we left Shilshole Bay. “It looked a lot calmer on land compared to this chop,” said Justin as we journeyed along the west side of

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Key lessons for the lad to learn were patience and that not all salmon are landed – but many are. Wong’s second largest fish is a 34½-pound Chinook from Tacoma’s Clay Banks. (WONG FAMILY)

the Kitsap Peninsula before arriving 30 minutes later at Point No Point. The winds eventually calmed down and the water was glassy smooth. Justin closely scanned his fish finder for baitfish schools and the telltale steep drop-offs and ledges where hungry salmon lurk. Most salmon anglers prefer to troll, but Justin likes an old-school method called mooching, which originated with Japanese Americans fishing in Puget Sound before World War II. Simply put, you drift using a standard salmon rod/reel, hooked up to a banana lead weight and two-hook leader baited with cut-plug or whole herring. Drop the set-up down to the bottom and reel it up, pausing every so often while working the entire water column. “Mooching lets you feel the bite and allows you to set the hooks on a fish,” Justin said. “I don’t like trolling with a downrigger because it’s a really boring style and you never feel that fish bite.” Justin is a stickler and noticed Tegan struggling to locate bottom, so he gave him a fishing reel with a linecounter that enabled him to gauge his depth more easily. Attention to details like this will make a difference on success for his clients. On our next several drifts along ledges off the Point No Point Lighthouse

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Wong’s stoked to be a charter skipper. “I couldn’t think of anything else better to do in my life,” he tells Yuasa. “It’s all good.” (WONG FAMILY)

my son released or unbuttoned a handful of Chinook and flounder. About two hours before low tide, Tegan felt a different kind of tug that carried some weight and swam up and ran away from the boat. “Keep pressure on the fish and your rod tip up,” Justin coached. The fish made a few more runs and eventually Tegan landed a nice 9-pound hatchery Chinook. We continued to find plenty of action and in no time had our limit of fish by 11:30 a.m.

AS WE KICKED back to boat ramp, I asked Justin about his future goals, fish politics, being spoiled by his six uncles and a look back on a fishing-filled life. “I’ve done a lot growing up and most of that was filled with fishing trips or family vacations and we’re a close family,” Justin said. “It’s those connections that have led me to succeed in life, and of course my biggest supporters are my mom and dad.” Once his charter business gets moving in the right direction, he’d also like to become more active in fish politics like North of Falcon, the annual salmon-season-setting process and a place where you don’t see many younger-generation anglers. “I love salmon fishing and really enjoy taking people out, watching them catch their first fish and showing them all the sealife we have to offer just minutes from Seattle. I couldn’t think of anything else better to do in my life. It’s all good.” NS


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COLUMN This could be a good year for Skagit springers. The preseason forecast of 3,439 clipped Chinook returning is the highest prediction state managers have ever put out for the stock. Last season was good too, as Adam Perez will attest. He was bouncing small clusters of eggs on bottom. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

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here’s one brand of silver here that even the Hunt brothers could By Doug Huddle never corner. That’s the kokanee in the big four Northwest Washington waters, and the fishery for them traditionally heats up this time of year. For serious river fishers, the Skagit’s early-summer twin-bill spring Chinook and sockeye fisheries take center stage. And kids also have a chance to tangle with fish in several June events (see Derby Watch).


WE’LL START THIS issue with the middle pairing, Skagit system salmon. On the upper river between Rockport and Marblemount and in the Cascade River, anglers working the 45-day targeted springer opening have a four-hatcheryChinook bag limit that includes two adultsized fish longer than 24 inches. And on the Skagit’s Mount Vernon-to-Gilligan stretch, fishers may retain three sockeye a day during the June 16-July 15 fishery. For Chinook, anglers are allowed the use of cluster eggs and sand shrimp. Single treble hooks are fine as well, and barbs need not be pinched. Both soft, scented baits when drifted

or plunked with Corkies or winged drift bobbers are highly effective. Boat-borne fishers say they have great success pulling plugs such as larger Hot Shots and Tadpollys through the deepest pools. Bank anglers on the edge of a deep pool should not overlook large metal lures such as the old Wells spoons or No. 6 versions in the Mepps or Steelie lines. Rig your reel with lots of backing line and be prepared for these strong fish when hook-stung to make multiple long runs. The springer fishery overlaps the sockeye season, but you’ll need to move downstream to take advantage of the latter. This year’s expected 35,000 Baker reds run is strong enough to allow both this in-river fishery as well as the nowpopular opportunity in Baker Lake. In the river, humpy terminal tackle also works, but add rocket red color equivalents to your collection of winged bobbers and Mylar hoochies. Size 4 red and orange Kwikfish and the 035 version of Hot Shots, in crimson livery, also work well. Also, selective-gear rules are off in the Mount Vernon-to-Gilligan reach, which means you won’t have to modify these lures. Beware that some days will be closed to avoid tribal fisheries. See


TO KOKANEE, four large waterbodies in Whatcom and Skagit Counties – each a reservoir managed to some extent for exploitation of its stored water – also are renown among anglers for their prodigious silver hordes. Though wily nerka have been planted and thus can be found in a number of lakes here, these stay-at-home versions of sockeye salmon are the major gamefish crops in Samish at 809 acres (Water District 2), Whatcom at 5,004 acres (City of Bellingham), Shannon at 2,060 acres (Puget Sound Energy) and Baker at 4,755 acres (also PSE). The relative size – and deeper depth – of each of these waters provides the advantage in boosting kokanee production since they can foster the growth of large volumes of plankton, a staple of silver diets for their entire lives. Reasons for the divergence in life history vectors for sockeye are not well understood and assembled genetic data from various sockeye/kokanee populations paints a Picasso-esque picture, one that’s hard to interpret. For example, well to the south, King County’s Lake Washington watershed has oceangoing sockeye that return to the Cedar | JUNE 2018

Northwest Sportsman 89

COLUMN River, others that spawn off one of the lake’s beaches, and a remnant kokanee population that now only runs up four Lake Sammamish tribs – and is in grave danger of extinction. Baker Lake’s reds (sea-run sockeye) and silvers (kokanee), though markedly different in stature, are virtual carbon copies of one another genetically. A natural lake before it became a larger impoundment in the late 1960s, Baker historically hosted a native wild sockeye run, but there is no information about a resident form. Artificial propagation has been the dominant order of the day supporting the sea-run form even before the lower dam was built in the 1920s. One of the first fish hatcheries in Washington was established at natural Baker Lake in the late 1880s. Whatcom’s kokanee are unique genetically, which is no surprise since there hasn’t been a way for fresh sea-run sockeye genes to get into the lake since several Ice Ages ago. The strain has been exclusively

bred back into itself for decades with the production of millions of kokanee fry at a small hatchery at the lake’s south end. Lake Samish’s lack of a sea-run strain of sockeye is puzzling since they have had relatively unconstrained ingress and egress for centuries. Ocean sockeye just don’t seem to make it that far up the Samish basin’s arterial network (a few spawn in the river below the old Highway 99 Bridge). The lake’s kokanee have been subsidized with up to a million fry plants from Lake Whatcom in past years and now persist with natural spawning in several key lake tributaries.

THE DEEP, WIDE character of these four waters make angling for kokanee both mysterious and frustrating. The fish congregate in great schools but often move quickly about the expanses of their homes in very narrow bands of cooler water (aka thermoclines). In all of these silver venues, in vast areas it can seem to anglers that there are absolutely no fish to be had at all.







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A fish finder helps somewhat in revealing the secrets of this game of hide and seek. Meanwhile, savvy anglers who don’t have sonar detection capability rely on the truism that when you catch one kokanee, to get more you circle around quickly and troll back through that patch of lake repeating exactly what you just did in terms of depth and gear. A buddy of mine and I found out the validity of this one June at Samish when we made six straight passes 200 hundred yards off a specific residence, windmooching Ford Fenders and shrimp flies and hooked six fish each in ten minutes. Arguably Lake Samish is the most conveniently accessible kokanee haunt for I-5 fishers. It’s a leftover artifact of continental glaciations and a reservoir of sorts, as the county water district and the community association annually install dam boards at Nulle Road to hold back its summer water. The structure has a water ladder that allows anadromous and resident fish back and forth. Under its current management regime, Samish could boast that it consistently produces, inch for inch, the biggest kokanee of the two-county area. Once the bastion of plunker still-fishers using periwinkle baits, Samish is now trolled with offerings on lead-core line in the main basin in June. Dawn or close to sunset are your best bets as that’s when kokanee move up and down with the light while feeding on clouds of plankton. If you do still-fish, slopping silvers with chum, once an essential tactic, is banned here because the lake is a water source for shore residents. There’s no size limit even if the odd sea-run sockeye does show up.

LAKE WHATCOM’S RENOWN native kokanee population is unique in that it is the most isolated from other fish populations and thus has a disease-free certification that makes its eggs and fry exportable without fear of transferring IHN and other deadly viral agents. The old Wildlife, nee Game, Department traded Whatcom kokanee for the likes of Montana grayling, Texas channel catfish and California golden and rainbow trout. The small state fish-production facility

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COLUMN at its south end that started as a county hatchery in the early 1900s, sustains an aggregate population (in four age classes) roughly estimated to be around 10 to 12 million. Of course, the 3- and 4-year-olds are the ones of greatest interest to anglers and because they are plankton feeders that congregate in large schools locatable either by fish finder or the old-fashioned way of hooking one. Even when chumming was permitted – it’s not now to safeguard water quality – trolling not still-fishing was the order of the angling day, principally because of the roving nature of the feeder schools and the 5,000-acre lake’s staggered plankton blooms. Early-season silvers are found most often in the first basin off the lake out of Bloedel-Donovan Park above the 20-foot line and also over in Agate Bay. As the summer and lake warm, kokanee move south, and by the end of September the best trolling is down in South Bay at dawn or dusk relatively near the surface as the fish stage for running Brannian Creek to

the hatchery. The City of Bellingham, with its vested interest in 5,000 acre feet of Lake Whatcom water for drinking, zealously guards the zebra or quagga mussel-free status of the lake. Boat put-ins into Whatcom are highly controlled. All watercraft prior to launch must be inspected, certified pest free and marked with a sticker.

KOKANEE ANGLING IN Lake Shannon, the older of the two PSE Baker River reservoirs and once known for its prodigious silver production, has fallen on hard times. Its steeper shoreline offers less in the way of spawning streams and a substantial drawdown regime makes lakebottom seep spawning less of a possible alternative as well. However, what it may lack in frenzied angling these days it still makes up for in the glorious sense of remoteness and relatively low density of anglers. There’s only one public boat launch, on the lower east shore. Access now is highly limited at the old limestone quarry and down by the

dam, as well. Trolling and still-fishing pay off here, and silver fishers are allowed to ladle portions of homemade concoctions of chum to draw in schools of fish. The log-boom barrier is still a pleasant and productive place to tie up and fish from on a sunny June day. Another favorite still-fishing haunt for boat-borne fishers on the eastern shore is at Three-mile Creek, also known as Bridge for its old log stringer span just above full pool. Trollers, especially those with lake-scale downriggers, also do well but a thorough understanding of the contours of the lake bottom, as well as the twists and turns of the old river channel, are necessary to reduce downrigger ball and terminal tackle loss. In fact, it’s best if you use Pop Gear or a small dodger to stay downlake of Thunder Creek.

BAKER LAKE, PSE’S upper impoundment, has perhaps the most liberal access, as 97 percent of its shores are national forest.


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The 3 percent that’s in private lands includes a nicely appointed south-end boat launch owned by the utility and which makes everywhere else except the concrete Upper Baker Dam itself and the penstock reach inside the logboom, available for public fishing. Since the days of the big Anderson Creek, Red Rock flotillas, kokanee fishing has slowed somewhat at Baker and the once highly effective still-fishing has given over to fewer boats trolling at a relatively shallow depth. Baker’s resident kokanee also have taken second seat with more sea-run reds going into its waters now in June and July. Five USFS fee campgrounds run by a private concessionaire and one provided by PSE at the upper dam complex offer formalized overnight options. In addition, anglers may stay at any of a number of traditionally used, so-called dispersed campsites up and down the west side of the lake, as long as it’s not below the lake’s high water line. At Baker you can chum, but take note of the slot limit for kokanee caught outside the dedicated sockeye fishery; they can only be between 8 and 18 inches. Baker’s kokanee fishery also is thought to be influenced by the 800-pound geological gorilla in the neighborhood. Glacial-clouded flow from Boulder Creek, which originates directly from the ice-covered heated meltwater pool of Sherman Crater, carries not only large volumes of glacial flour but can at times be significantly on the acidic side of the pH ledger, as documented by the U.S. Geological Survey. That combination can hinder plankton blooms and may even irritate fish gills, which may prompt large schools of kokanee to migrate into the upper though shallower unsullied half of the reservoir.

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Editor’s note: Doug Huddle lives in Bellingham, is retired from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and has written about hunting and fishing in the Northwest for more than 35 years.


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Make A Beeline To The Alpine For Summer Trout

John Weinheimer releases fingerling cutthroat into a mountain lake in the William O. Douglas Wilderness, in Washington’s South Cascades. Trout stocked at low densities in alpine waters provide a traditional and well-loved fishing opportunity in typically stunning scenery. (BUZZ RAMSEY)


f the trout action has slowed on the lake you fish, it might be time to head to one of our region’s mountain BUZZ lakes, where the RAMSEY fishing might be just getting started. It’s the summer weather and resulting warm water that kills the trout bite on many, especially small, shallow lowland lakes, where limits might have been easy just a month ago. But an all new adventure awaits anglers willing to uncover the joys of chasing trout in high-elevation lakes, where the scenery can be stunning, experience memorable, and the trout

bite lasts all summer long. According to retired Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist John Weinheimer, high-elevation lakes are considered to be those located above 2,500 feet. In the Northwest, hundreds of these waters also have trout – most of them hungry. Winter snow is what keeps anglers and hatchery trucks away earlier in the season, especially on lakes having drive-up access. That road/trail-blocking snow has or will soon disappear, allowing access to the majority of waters and the stunning vistas and views they provide.

MANY HIKE-IN LAKES are planted by state fish and wildlife agencies via backpack,

horse, airplane and/or helicopter, the last of which is ODFW’s primary method. Back in 2009, I tagged along on one of these trout stocking adventures. Our destination was Jess and Pipe Lakes, located in Washington’s South Cascades north of Highway 12 in Lewis County. Because these relatively small lakes (4.1 and 8.1 acres, respectively) are located within the William O. Douglas Wilderness and about 8 miles (as I recall) from the nearest road, we drew straws to see who would carry water and over 500 fingerling-sized trout; our horses lost that bet. I trust some lucky angler(s) had fun discovering the lakes and fat cutthroat lurking there in years that followed. Depending on the lake you visit, your | JUNE 2018

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COLUMN catch might include cutthroat, brown, rainbow, bull, lake, brook or some combination of trout. A few lakes, like Twin Sister (Big) in Yakima County and Mystery Lake in Custer County, Idaho, have golden trout. According to ODFW fisheries biologist Mike Gauvin, Oregon stocks over 300 high mountain lakes extending from Mt. Hood south along the Cascade Range, and several dozen hike-in lakes in the Wallowa Mountains, near Joseph. Jeff Yanke, who is the Northeast Oregon bio, says one Eagle Cap Wilderness water you might try is Francis Lake, elevation 7,700 feet. It features 14to 16-inch brook trout, which might make the 9-mile (one-way) hike worth the effort.

Not all mountain lakes are a sweaty 12-mile hike through the woods – some are located right along Forest Service routes and even state highways. Goose Lake, in Washington’s South Cascades and where Wade Ramsey caught this stringer of cutthroat, and Oregon’s Diamond Lake are two prime examples of the diversity of Northwest’s alpine offerings. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

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NO ARTICLE ON high-elevation would be complete without mentioning Oregon’s Diamond Lake. Located in the Umpqua National Forest, Diamond is one of the most popular and talked-about mountain trout fishing destinations the Northwest has to offer. Although not secluded, this nutrient-rich lake offers plenty of action. It’s not uncommon to catch rainbows measuring 20 inches or more here. This is a drive-up lake complete with boat launch, boat rentals, store, fish-cleaning station and rustic (so I hear) rooms/ cabins, including ice (, as well as Forest Service campgrounds. I spent a week camping and fishing at Diamond Lake back in the late 1960s and have promised myself to visit it again. And although I’ve never been fortunate enough to fish one of Idaho’s backcountry lakes I found hundreds of mountain waters listed on the Department of Fish and Game’s website ( According to IDFG, Redfish and Stanley Lakes in the Salmon River Basin might be a good place to start.

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Washington home is Goose, located south of Mt. Adams and west from the community of Trout Lake. It’s amazing how different this fishery is compared to the lowland lakes we fish earlier in the year. You’d think high mountain trout would go for pretty much the same lures and baits, but with the exception of still-fishing PowerBait, Goose’s trout want different stuff. Perhaps it’s the clear water or fact that brown, cut-

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COLUMN Horses and hikers with strong backs have traditionally carried young fish into the heights, and backcountry groups still help out state agencies with the mission. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife also uses a custom-made shuttle (bottom) that holds 30 separate water-filled canisters with as many as 1,000 fingerlings apiece. Each can be opened over the target water by remote control from the cockpit. “We want to provide a unique angling experience for backpackers and hikers who might like to catch a cutthroat or brook trout for dinner around the campfire,” said an Oregon biologist last year. (BUZZ RAMSEY; ODFW)

throat and brook trout (rather than rainbows) dominate the fishery that makes the difference. Spoons and spinners are what have produced the quickest limits for us at Goose Lake. Although we have tried many others, the Thomas Buoyant spoon and Rooster Tail spinner have become our favorites. We’ve noticed the cutthroat mostly like a steady retrieve speed, while the browns will sometimes go for a more erratic spoon/ spinner presentation. And although we sometimes do well trolling plugs, it’s generally not as productive as casting. However, what produces best might be different on the lake you visit. My advice is to try different lures, baits and flies until you discover what produces best. Because the water is generally clear – in fact, crystal 102 Northwest Sportsman

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clear compared to most lowland lakes – light-test monofilament line along with a fluorocarbon leader and an early morning or late evening experience combined with a stealthy approach might be what it takes to find success. When it comes to lure color, we’ve had the best success with copper, brass or black in the Thomas Buoyant and black in the Rooster Tail. We tip one prong of our spinners with a ½-inch section from a PowerBait or Gulp! worm – for whatever reason black is usually the best worm color when used in combination with spinners. And while tipping will add to our success anytime, it is sometimes the only thing that seems to work when the fish are in no mood to bite. For us, tipping our spinners has turned slow days into limit days. Keep

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It’s great to practice catch-and-release at alpine lakes, letting others enjoy the experience, but it’s also OK to harvest a few. Garn Kennedy fries up several he caught in August 2015 at an alpine lake in Washington’s Central Cascades. (GARN KENNEDY) in mind that too large a worm section can spoil the action of a spoon, so keep those worm sections thin and short, or just add a spray-on lure scent when tossing spoons.

NO MATTER WHAT mountain lake you explore, realize that it’s important to check conditions prior to your trip, as deep snow can block access early in the summer and high winds can diminish the fun should they occur. Sunscreen is a must, as the combination of elevation and sun reflecting off the water can make for the worst burn of your life. And finally, don’t forget your insect repellant. There are times when mountain mosquitoes and/or other bugs outnumber the trout. NS Editor’s note: The author is a brand manager and part of the management team at Yakima Bait. Like Buzz on Facebook. 104 Northwest Sportsman

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Oregon’s Southern Cascades lakes provide majestic scenery and outstanding fishing – just be sure to get there before all the boats are rented out if you’re not trailering your own up! (TROY RODAKOWSKI)

South Cascades 6 Shine Fishing season looks good at Diamond, other lakes in Oregon’s mountains. By Troy Rodakowski


ast issue, in part one of this two-part series, we headed into Oregon’s Central Cascades to preview the fishing at the region’s many lakes and reservoirs. This month we’re jumping onto U.S. 97 and heading south with our rightturn blinker on for routes leading back west into the mountains. In the past, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has featured Lake of the Woods, Fish and Fourmile as the Highway 140 Summit Lakes. No more than about 10 miles apart, together the trio offer anglers the opportunity to catch seven species of trout and salmon. Whether you check out those, famed Diamond Lake or others, making summer trips to the state’s

South Cascades makes for great adventure and is breathtaking for wildlife viewers and anglers alike.

popular getaway. From the resort heading north and south there are two campgrounds with good places for tents, trailers and RVs.

STOCKED WITH RAINBOWS and home to brown trout and kokanee, the occasional naturally produced brook trout is also caught at Lake of the Woods, near Klamath Falls. Most come for the stocked fish, but there are also some nice kokanee to be had here. The brookies are not huge but are quite the prize and can be caught many ways, from trolling to fly fishing. Accommodations: Lake of the Woods Resort features a laid-back waterfront getaway, two restaurants, bar, rustic cabins and a general store. Make sure to book well in advance (; 541-949-8300), since this is a very

FISH LAKE LIVES up to its name, as it is not only stocked with spring Chinook, rainbow trout and tiger trout (catch and release only) but also has naturally produced brook trout. The tigers have been released since 2011, but the first sizeable stocking of over 20,000 didn’t take place till last year. They’re fish on a mission too. “Unlike Diamond (Lake), we have not been able to destroy the tui chub with rotenone, despite repeated attempts. Fish are able to survive treatments by escaping the chemical in the numerous springs in the lake,” says fisheries biologist Dan Van Dyke in Central Point (541-826-8774). | JUNE 2018

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FISHING Tigers to 19 inches have been confirmed at Fish, but harvest is not allowed, so any of the highly vermiculated hybrids caught must be released unharmed. The salmon have reached 18 inches and just over 2 pounds. Additionally, ODFW is releasing thousands of legal-sized and larger rainbows through mid-July, with another stocking of 14- to 16-inch ’bows in September. Accommodations: Cabins, tent sites and plenty of RV spaces are available here. The High Lakes Trailhead provides excellent hiking opportunities for enthusiasts. Fish Lake Resort (; 541949-8500) has a nice hotel and is very kid friendly. There are also boat rentals, a store, game room and café.

LAKE BOASTS stocked rainbows, along with naturally produced brook trout and kokanee.


Lake trout are also present, and run about 20 inches, providing a real treat. Fishing at this lake underneath Mt. McLoughlin can be quite good after a stocking, and 8,000 legals and 2,600 trophies will be released between the start of summer and end of August. Fly fishermen tend to have good success. Accommodations: Along with campsites for trailers, tents and RVs, there are nearby trails that provide great hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities. Nearby resorts have general stores, restaurants and additional lodging options.

DIAMOND LAKE’S ONE of the premier trout fisheries in the West and has recovered nicely from its 2006 rehab. I fished the 3,000-acre water due north of Crater Lake last year and I’d honestly be surprised if you came away disappointed. Trollers are very successful here, whether using downriggers or flat-

lining behind a boat, float tube, etc. Flyrodders find some very good fishing along the edges, particularly where creeks empty into the lake. Some of the best fishing is just a short hike from the lodge and cabins. Diamond’s fish stocking has fluctuated in recent years from a high of 346,000 fingerlings to a low of 166,000. The reductions were made to try and balance the lake’s fishery and ecosystem. Twenty thousand legals were set to arrive at the start of June. In 2017, anglers averaged almost three fish each. Tiger trout were also introduced in 2016 to eat any tui chub or other invasive species that turn up, though they still need to be released unharmed. Accommodations: Diamond Lake Resort (; (541793-3333) will not disappoint. The restaurant is very good and the rooms and cabins are very fun. There are boat and kayak rentals. Additionally, there are nearby campgrounds, hiking trails, mountain biking opportunities and places to ride your ATV.

HOWARD PRAIRIE LAKE hosts good numbers of trout, along with plentiful smallmouth and largemouth bass. A nearly 2,000-acre impoundment, it offers some of Southern Oregon’s best fishing, thanks to a combination of spring releases of 15,000 legalsized rainbows, last fall’s stocking of 130,000 fingerlings for this year’s fishery and holdovers from previous years. Adult fish can range from 12 to 20 inches and will run 1.5 to 3 pounds – pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. Accommodations: Along with great fishing, the lake can boast scenic views, hiking, canoeing, skiing and more. There are several county campgrounds, plus Howard Prairie Lake Resort has a store, restaurant, laundry services and boat ramps and a marina. For more information, call (541) 482-1979 or go to 108 Northwest Sportsman

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It’s summer again and people are getting their boats ready. I work on the retail side of the parts and service counter and tend to see the same issues over and over, so I want to share my thoughts on how to make boating happier and more trouble free. What I see is that people just do not service the engine enough. They wait too long. Remember, it’s cheaper by far to service and maintain something than repair it. You know how often you change the oil and fluids in your car? Well, the boat needs it more than once every three years; it should be done annually, no matter the use. I have seen quite a few gear-case failures where a simple oil change would have prevented a $2,000 repair. The price of new boats has gone through the roof, but people still tend to neglect the major investment they have made. Winterize the engine and make sure the interior is protected. Good covers are very important and also treat the fabric with sun protectant. I am floored when I see a three-year-old, $80,000 boat come in looking like it’s 20 years old. I also get a lot of first-time buyers asking questions about a boat they’ve just bought. It’s sometimes sad to see people who’ve overspent and didn’t have the experience to see a boat’s issues. Oftentimes they buy it on the trailer with no test ride or check out. Many times repair costs exceed what they could have spent on a newer boat in better shape. I really wish people would consult experts like us before buying. I am honest and many times will say, “DO not buy it; it’s junk.” | JUNE 2018

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Thanks to abundant forage, rainbows as well as browns, brookies, lakers and tiger trout grow fat and sassy at these mountain lakes. This one was hooked at one of the best of the lakes, Diamond. (TROY RODAKOWSKI)






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MILLER LAKE IS one of the best brown fisheries in the state, and anglers who flock to the Chemult-area water find beautiful, hard-fighting Teutonic trout. Additionally, the lake boasts stocked rainbows and nice kokanee, with many anglers finding great success on them. Along with 14,000 legal-sized ’bows being released this summer, 1,700 trophy fish are being stocked as well. Many of the trout are 20-plus inches and night fishing is also allowed here for anglers equipped to do so. Fly fishing is excellent at dusk and taking a drift boat out on the lake will provide some great success for anglers. Finding the right fly combo is, of course, the key. Accommodations: Miller Lake provides some excellent camping opportunities and day-use areas. Digit Point Campground is fantastic, with campsites available on a firstcome, first-served basis. Located near the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness and Pacific Crest Trail, there are several trails available as well. For more info, try the Fremont-Winema National Forest (; 541-947-2151). NS



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Even before the final school bell of the year rings, author Sara Ichtertz has plans to get her family afield all summer long. The bounty of the Umpqua watershed includes steelhead-rich rivers, wondrous forests, and trout-filled waters like Diamond Lake. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

June’s Boon Companion: Outdoor Adventure From her beloved steelhead waters all the way upstream to Diamond Lake, this month’s prime for Sara and her brood to go fishing, camping. By Sara Ichtertz


he beautiful sound of that final school bell of the year means one thing! My babes are out for the summer. Though now away from their classes, the hands-on learning and adventuring we embark upon each June is without a doubt something that’s vital in helping them to help themselves. There are some things in life that simply cannot be learned from a book. They must experience what nature has to offer by embracing it.

And embrace it we do. This time of year there are so many angling options that I find Southern Oregon to be the very best summertime classroom and playground going for my babes. Year after year their selfconfidence, knowledge, teamwork, and hearts grow stronger as we chase fish in some of the most beautiful places on the planet. There’s camping and trout fishing at high mountain lakes, hunting for the beautiful diamonds – summer steelhead – that lie beneath the waters of our big backyard, along with the option of a little ultralight hardware

action up Little River, and the possibility of a nontypical reservoir or two thrown in there. Indeed, June gives us that summertime fun and growth that we just can’t get enough of. Up the rivers and into the woods we get plenty of tugs, no matter the destination. The amazing thing is, there are still so many fish I need to learn to pursue this time of year. One by one we do scratch species off our to-fish list, and I hope you are doing so too. Indeed, no matter whether you live in Southern Oregon or not, the possibilities across the Northwest | JUNE 2018

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FISHING are abundant. With a little desire, research, exploration and discovery it’s more like, what can’t we do in June? Give that research some love and ambition and the possibilities become grand, as will be the adventures. The creatures that come along with them are magnificent, giving us great purpose in making the most of our summer break.

The mountain meadows and campgrounds that her parents took her and her sisters to now host Sara and her brood, connecting them through space and time. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

HEADING HIGH INTO the mountains, where the timber itself tells a story, I feel a deep connection, as these are the lakes and meadows I was blessed enough to share with my parents and sisters growing up. As soon as the snow melted, up the river we would go. I know that that chapter of my life prepared me for the years ahead that we did not see coming. Fishing the little peninsula of my favorite childhood lake, I was now a mother sharing that very water with my own children. As a family we gained

comfort on the banks up in the forest, camping and catching rainbow trout. Having my husband there when my babes were just toddlers gave me a feeling of strength that allowed me to start growing into the fishy mother that I was meant to be. Even though my parents were not what I would call fishy, they always had a few trout rods, nightcrawlers, PowerBait, and marshmallows along for the ride, allowing my sisters and I to give it whirl. But to say they were there to fish would not be accurate. They were there to provide us the freedom to find comfort in nature; because of that I know this path in life I walk comes quite naturally. That lifelong comfort, along with timing, and ambition has allowed the depths of my own found passion for rivers and fishing to be endless. The foundation of my love for the forest stems from this place, so kicking off my family’s summer vacation with eager trout and the wild mountain meadow in bloom is like coming home.

AS THE DAYS grow to the longest of the year and river temperatures rise ever so perfectly, I know what creature awaits us. Glistening like diamonds through that summer-green water, they are the one! No matter the season, those beauties are on my mind and in my heart. Only a hop, skip and a jump from home these fish are the true highlight of Mom’s June. As we learned to target these radical fish from the banks of the river, that comfort we developed on lakes was so helpful in making the dreams of us becoming mighty summer steelhead hunters a reality. Though Ava has yet to land one of these smoking-hot fish, she’s experienced the thrill that comes with having one those beauties smoke you, never to be seen again! Nate knows that heart-pumping joy that comes with fighting and landing these fish. He watched from 114 Northwest Sportsman

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FISHING the sideline far longer than most, learning from a distance. When I had the confidence I needed, he joined us. Never could I have imagined loving these fish any deeper than I already do, yet somehow with each passing year the true love that is summer steelheading continues to grow as my boy drift fishes beside me, casting the distance of the river with ease. He might step away from the bank to frolic with Sister, but when he is fishing, he’s bouncing a tasty rigging through the hole just right. Learning a lifelong sport that not only will feed his soul, he will feed his family with it as well. He handles his gear and overall approach like a champion. With June upon us those fish will be reaching out to grab hold of him. Amazing thing is, I know he is ready for them!

SOME MAY THINK it’s crazy for the mom

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Nate leans back as a summer-run nears the net. “With June upon us those fish will be reaching out to grab hold of him. Amazing thing is, I know he is ready for them!” writes his mom. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

or wife to look at home more as a pit stop and restocking station in the summertime, but this is the reality we live in. We go up one river to camp, regroup at home, and come Dad’s weekend, you can bet your bottom dollar that I have us ready

to head right up the other. And with the lakes, I prefer to give them a go before the high mountain hatch takes place, changing the appetite of the fish overnight, so off we go! June is the time to shine when it comes to boating Diamond Lake

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FISHING for some downright dandy-sized rainbow trout. The “gem of the Cascades,” this beautiful natural lake tucked between Mount Bailey and Mount Thielsen and just north of Crater Lake is home to the largest trout I have ever caught. Whether we are trolling or on anchor, this lake gives my babes plenty of action, teaches them fishing from a boat, and provides hands-on experience catching trout. Yet out of all the lakes we’ve trout fished, never have I seen the bug-hatch effect quite like what I’ve witnessed here. Once the surface is covered with freshly hatched insects, fishing the weedbeds and shelves on anchor isn’t the same. Worms and scent chambers trolled deep behind flashers is no longer what they desire. I’ve watched their demeanor go from hammering that worm or Wedding Ring with conviction to never touching it again. Even fishing

Like mother, like daughter. Sara and Ava hold up Diamond Lake trout. “Taking children camping is not only good for them, it’s good for us parents,” Sara writes, adding that fish fresh from the lake taste pretty good when cooked over a campfire too! (SARA ICHTERTZ, BOTH)

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at the crack of dawn or as the sun sets I can rarely get them to bite. Watching trout come to the surface to gulp mouthfuls of bugs leads me to believe I need to learn to skate flies across the top of the water if I want to fish this lake successfully in the heat of summer. Camping allows us to step away from the water when needed and yet be able to go right back after it. This is such a great thing for any family trying to embrace fishing the lakes together. Whether you are fishing from the bank or from the boat, time is needed to have success on all ends, and camping gives you just that. And trout cooked straight away in camp just taste better. Taking children camping is not only good for them, it’s good for us parents. There’s just something about getting out of service and setting up camp that I love. Drinking percolated coffee in the woods with my husband … breathing that high mountain air as the babes frolic … lakefront campfires under a blanket of stars. The overall outdoor experience that is camping feels better now that we can share it with our children.

A FEW YEARS ago, I truly discovered how much I love June. The beauty throughout the forest. The endless possibilities at our fingertips. The most magical fish I know. June rocks! Though this is the first year where our life revolves fully around public school and all that goes with it, leaving my river-loving soul feeling a bit deprived, nothing makes me happier than knowing it’s now time to dive into summer, where the education my babes now receive comes directly from the surroundings we choose to embrace. As the facts of life try to pry me from the riverbanks, this I know. My heart is on the river and I couldn’t change it, even if it tried. NS Editor’s note: For more on Sara’s adventures, see For The Love Of The Tug on Facebook. 120 Northwest Sportsman

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Moyie Trout Fishery Improving Remote North Idaho river’s rainbows, brookies increasing in size, length.

Way up in the Idaho Panhandle’s northeasternmost corner is the Moyie River, which holds a mix of rainbow, cuttbow hybrids and brook trout. This ’bow bit a soft hackle beadhead Prince Nymph during the spring runoff. (MIKE WRIGHT; INSET: IDAHO FLY FISHERS BLOG)

By Mike Wright


or the angler who prefers to fish for wild trout in pristine streams located in scenic, sparsely populated regions that see very little fishing pressure, extreme northern Idaho’s Moyie may be a dream come true. The river flows south out of Moyie Lake in British Columbia, coursing some 57 miles in Canada before entering the U.S., then traveling another 26 miles before it empties into the Kootenai River a relatively short distance northeast of Bonners Ferry, at Moyie Springs. For a number of years the river provided high-quality fishing, thanks

to the large numbers of catchable rainbow trout released annually and low angling pressure. However, as stocking rates subsided, catch rates dropped and fishing pressure declined even more. A 1998 study determined that fewer than 15 percent of the stocked fish were being caught by anglers, which was considerably lower than the recommended 40 percent statewide rate and not a good economical use of sportsmen’s dollars. There were also some concerns expressed by the Canadian fish managers that hatchery fish from the Clark Fork Hatchery were testing positive for an infectious disease. For these reasons it was decided to discontinue the

Moyie’s stocking program. Still, studies between 1975 and 1999 found that there was a significant wild rainbow population present in the river, though it would not support high harvest rates. In 2000 the river was placed under a wild trout management system, which reduced the number of fish that could be kept to two, with the brook trout limit remaining at 25 (there is very little of catching that many). The latest study of the Moyie indicated that the rainbow density has remained similar to numbers estimated in a 2005-06 survey, which had been the highest in decades. It gets better. “The 2016 study indicated that | JUNE 2018

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FISHING the average size of the rainbows have shown a noticeable increase in both length and weight,” notes Rob Ryan, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional fisheries biologist for the Panhandle. “There were also indications that the same was true of the brook trout population. There were also some very respectablesized rainbow-cutthroat hybrids captured (19 inches).” Pure-strain cutthroat numbers, however, have remained very low, making up less than 1 percent of the total fish population. Most live in the small tributaries of the river and do not seem to migrate out the way they do in many other North Idaho river systems. Blocked access to many of the feeder streams and competition from the resident rainbow, brook trout and whitefish may be the primary factors for the low density of cutthroat in the Moyie itself.

THE MOYIE RIVER is generally divided into two distinctly different stretches of water, with Meadow Creek considered to be the dividing line between them. The upper portion extends from the U.S.-Canadian border downstream to Meadow Creek, a distance of approximately 17 miles. This section fits into a B3-stream-type classification, characterized by a gradual gradient ranging from 2 to 4 percent, with a cobblestone substructure and gentle side slopes. It has long stretches of shallow riffle habitat and is not blessed with an overabundance of pools and holding water. In this section, accessing the water is relatively easy, since roads parallel nearly its entire length. Although approximately two-thirds of the land in this section is private, there is ample opportunity to reach the water. Due to the relatively gradual gradient and shallower water, the Moyie here is ideal for wade fishing. For the fly fisherman, this is an excellent stretch of water for dries, golden stone and caddis patterns in 124 Northwest Sportsman

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The Moyie’s upper Idaho half flows through a wide valley, while its lower end squeezes through a canyon and the site of the former Eileen Dam. (MIKE WRIGHT; BRIAN CRAIG VIA FLICKR, CC 2.0)

particular. Using a Prince Nymph, Pheasant Tail or San Juan Worm as a dropper attached a few inches below the dry fly can be a very effective strategy. For the bait fisherman, the use of a worm or PowerBait with a strike indicator floated through the runs can also be very productive. A smaller-sized gold Mepps or Panther Martin would be excellent choices for hardware anglers.

IN THE LOWER, or canyon, section of the Moyie the gradient increases considerably, varying between 4 and 10 percent and there’s a great deal more pools and holding water. With large boulders and steep slopes, fishing is far more difficult here than the upper section, but at the same time it can be very rewarding. The deeper pools seem to be the preferred domain of the larger rainbows. However, getting to these “honey



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FISHING holes” can be very challenging. The steep rocky slopes along the banks make for tricky navigation and difficult casting. In addition, access to the river in the canyon section is rather limited, with the road reaching the river in only a couple spots. In many areas reaching the Moyie requires a hike through very steep, rugged terrain. There are a number of places in this stretch where fast-moving rapids feed into deeper pools with relatively calm water. For fly angler working these waters, it might be advisable to use sink-tip line and weighted flies in order to reach the lower depths. Black, brown or olive Wooly Buggers, Muddler Minnows and heavier nymphs might be appropriate too. For those using lures it might be necessary to switch to heavier ones or add split shots to the line. Bait fishermen will also need to adjust their strategy by adding weight to

reach the deeper recesses. Trout in excess of 20 inches have been caught out of this type of water. One angler I’ve talked to insists he’s seen a fish that would probably be 30 inches or more in length holding near the bottom of these deeper holes. Of course, since the fish wasn’t caught, the validity of the statement may be considered suspect. But then again, it would be highly unusual for a fisherman to exaggerate.

more prevalent, with floating recommended only for experienced whitewater rafters. By mid-July the upper portions become so shallow that only one-man pontoon boats, light canoes or kayaks can be used. Floating the lower portion of the river would be an excellent method of reaching the more remote and less-accessible stretches of this lower section, provided the boater or rafter has the necessary expertise.

FLOATING THE MOYIE is possible in a drift boat or raft, but there are no developed launches on the river, with the exception of the Moyie Reservoir, just a short distance upstream from the mouth. There are, however, numerous undeveloped access points at road crossings from the U.S.-Canadian border to Twin Bridges, just a short distance from the Meadow Creek Campground. Downstream from Twin Bridges rapids become

COMPARED TO OTHER Idaho Panhandle rivers, the overall trout density on the Moyie is considered high, very similar to estimates on the Little North Fork of the Clearwater, the St. Joe and the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene, all of which are considered very good fisheries. However, Moyie trout also show the slowest growth rate. That’s probably due to the watershed’s low productivity. The glaciated nature of this landscape adds very little nutrients to the river. Water samples from the river indicate there are considerably lower levels of nitrogen. A nutrient-enrichment program implemented on the Idaho portion of the Kootenai River and which has been successful at improving primary productivity, fish growth and fish abundance may be tried on the Moyie. In 1990, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company constructed a natural gas pipeline that crossed the Moyie in eight places. To stabilize the crossings, 20 bank barbs were installed, creating deeper and more complex pool habitat. In the electro-fishing data from the 2005-06 survey, it was discovered that there were noticeably more fish in these pools. In addition, smaller-sized gravel was added to the base of the structures, which IDFG’s Chip Corsi suspects improved the spawning habitat of the pools. “Continued efforts to improve pool habitat and complexity would likely increase the population abundance of rainbow trout in this system,” he says.

THE OVERALL OUTLOOK for fishing on 126 Northwest Sportsman

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FISHING the Moyie River seems to very be positive and improving. The density of both rainbow and brook trout has remained high through most all sections of the river. Although the growth rate remains low and there will be a large number of small fish, their life expectancy is quite favorable, so there should be an increasing number of larger trout in the future. Habitat improvements will continue to help the survival rate, along with enhanced spawning areas. The presence of an 80foot waterfall and a dam near the mouth of the stream will help in maintaining the genetic purity of the resident trout population. Although there are certain portions of the river that are difficult to fish, anglers willing to put in the effort can find a very satisfying and rewarding experience. The Moyie is definitely a stream worthy of consideration. Open year-round, many also take

There are two Forest Service campgrounds along the upper portion of the Moyie River in Idaho, Copper Creek and Meadow Creek. The latter is also the site of what was at one time a bustling settlement that is now just a memory. (MIKE WRIGHT)

advantage of its winter fishery. To reach the Moyie River, take U.S. 2 or 95 north to Sandpoint and continue on the joined highways for 35 miles, then head east on U.S. 2 toward Moyie Springs. At the sign

pointing the direct to the Meadow Creek Campground, turn and follow the Moyie River Road. The road eventually connects with U.S. 95, which parallels the river to Eastport, the international border crossing. NS

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FISHING There’s more to Westside spinyray fishing than just largemouth bass and yellow perch. Danny Garrett says he’s seen pictures of Lake Washington crappie “that made my jaw drop.” (DANNY GARRETT, WDFW)

Warm Up To Westside Spinyrays Abundant and in many lakes, crappie, yellow perch, bass and more provide good summer fishing action. By MD Johnson


almon seasons got you down? Thinking about boycotting Fish and Wildlife, or worse, hanging up that hover rod in exchange for a badminton racket or croquet mallet? Now I’m not saying badminton or croquet can’t be fun, given enough Pabst Blue Ribbon. What I am saying is that it’s a bit premature to be saying no to fishing, just because salmon season isn’t what it used to be. So what do you do? Two words – warm water. Or put it together, and let’s talk about Washington’s warmwater fishing opportunities.

Specifically, Westside fisheries. What? Not interested in dem ol’ spinyrays? Don’t want to hear about 10- to 14-inch yellow perch? Ten to 11-inch crappies? Eight- to 10-inch bluegills? Well, how about this one: Danny Garrett, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Region 4 lead warmwater biologist, who we’ll talk to more in-depth in a moment, tells me about netting a 14-inch rock bass. Yes, I says rock bass. In the shipping channel between Lake Union and Lake Washington, Portage Bay area. No big deal? Perhaps you don’t realize that the world-record rock bass, a record which by the way has stood

since 1974, measured just 13.5 inches. That’s one hell of a red eye! No, I don’t expect all you salmon fanatics to swap your braid and backbone for a set of matching light and ultralight spinning outfits spooled with 6-pound monofilament. Spinyrays, after all, aren’t springers or silvers. They are, however, some of the finest-eating, easiest-to-catch species swimming Evergreen State waters today. And this month, we take a look at some of the Wetside’s best places to go, so sit back, forget about salmon for a while, and get your warmwater mojo going.

SILVER LAKE (COWLITZ CO.) This popular lake east of Castle Rock was, at one time, the go-to water if you wanted crappies, and lots of ’em. But then the bottom fell | JUNE 2018

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FISHING out. The bass fishery declined, and with fewer largemouth, the crappie population exploded. Not a good thing, as it wasn’t long before the crappies stunted. Yeah, there were lots of them, but you had to catch 100 to get two, if that, to stretch to the legal length limit. Things seem to be turning around at Silver, though, says Stacie Kelsey, a 25-year veteran with WDFW’s Region 5 office, and the area inland fish program manager. “I’m going to be continuing to study up there to determine if, indeed, we have a stunted population,” says Kelsey. “There will be a lot of work this summer collecting length, weight and age data. But I’m starting to hear more and more about some keeper crappie up there. Not at a good proportion to the overall population, but it’s getting better and that’s encouraging. We’re definitely not where we want to be yet.” At this point, Silver does have a 9-inch minimum length and 10fish daily bag limit on crappie. That may change, however, if biologists determine the lake indeed harbors a stunted crappie population. “We would take it to upper management,” says Kelsey, “to remove the size limit. We wanted to do that this year, but it didn’t go through. And we want to make certain we have the proper science to back a decision like that.” But Silver Lake isn’t all crappie. “There’s bluegill there,” says Kelsey. “And some warmouth.” Warmouth, for those unfamiliar, are another member of the sunfish family, and look somewhat like a cross between a bluegill and a red ear. “And there’s a good yellow perch population, too. That population seems to be doing well, with no imminent issues regarding size or diet availability,” Kelsey says She points to the section of lake along Spirit Lake Highway near the Mount St. Helens RV Park as a good jumping-off point. 134 Northwest Sportsman

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The new record Washington bucketmouth, caught on a hinterland lake in August 2016, only reaffirmed that there are big bass to be landed here. Kelly Corcoran shows off one from last spring that he hooked on a South Sound lake. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST) Though smaller than some of their warmwater relatives, bluegill can be found in numerous lakes. (JULIA JOHNSON) | JUNE 2018

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FISHING “There’s good shoreline access,” Kelsey says, “and the perch do like to hang out there.”


The Columbia Gorge’s Rowland Lake provides a variety of tasty panfish, including yellow perch and redear sunfish, plus bass. (STACIE KELSEY, WDFW)

Located in the Columbia River Gorge east of the town of Bingen, Rowland Lake is actually two lakes – North Rowland, and on the river side of Highway 14, South Rowland. “South Rowland is an amazing water,” says Kelsey. “It has gorgeous pumpkinseeds and bluegills, with some warmouth. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well.” The lake, she explains, is connected to the Columbia and to each other via a series of huge culverts. “Pretty much anything that’s in the Columbia,” she says, “is going to be in Rowland.” Shoreline access to both lakes is manageable, albeit rocky and somewhat treacherous. Small boats, cartoppers and kayaks can be launched at an unimproved WDFW ramp off Old Highway 8 at North Rowland, nontrailered skiffs, with some effort, from a gravel parking area on the north side of South Rowland.

VANCOUVER LAKE/LAKE RIVER (CLARK CO.) As a dedicated crappie fisherman from way back in The Day, I was excited to hear Kelsey talk about Vancouver Lake in Clark County. “Vancouver Lake does have a good white crappie population,” she says. “Anglers do well at the mouth of Burnt Bridge Creek, in the southeastern part of the lake. And they’re big, chunky crappies, 9, 10, 11 inches. It doesn’t take anything fancy at all. Small crappie jigs under a bobber will do it. Crappies are pretty easy to please.” North of Burnt Bridge, Lake River, the waterway that connects Vancouver Lake with the Columbia, is another option. “The top part of the lake and north to the Felida Moorage is another good spot for crappie,” Kelsey says. The river supports a good population of black crappie, bluegills, 136 Northwest Sportsman

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BAIT & TACKLE yellow perch and channel catfish.

LAKE WASHINGTON (KING CO.) I’ve written plenty about King County’s jewel, Lake Washington, over the past couple years. Bass fishing. Panfish. Panfish. Bass fishing. Tournament bass anglers love Lake Washington. Recreational boaters too. But there’s a relatively small contingent of diehard panfish enthusiasts passionate about this big body of undeniably metropolitan water, as well. Eight years with WDFW and a seasoned tournament bassman himself, Danny Garrett can’t seem to speak highly enough of Lake Washington. “It’s off the charts in terms of yellow perch abundance,” he says. “No, the quality may not be quite as awesome as Moses Lake or Potholes, but you’ll find real nice quality here. It’s a 7- to 8-inch average, with the occasional 10-incher, but you’ll have 12- to 14-inch fish too.” Perch in Lake Washington, the biologist explains, are a calendar fish. “It gets a little slow in April as they’re preparing to broadcast spawn,” he says, “but come May, they’re back at the edge of the weedy shorelines and on the feed. And by June, their metabolism is up, they’re well organized, and feeding regularly.” And as tablefare? “Think of them as a miniature walleye,” Garrett says. “They’re one of the finest eating fish you can catch.” Garrett, who incidentally is the face of many of WDFW’s YouTube instructional fishing videos (, is a firm believer in artificials when it comes to perch jerking. “I’m not opposed to using (real) worms,” he says, “but the finesse (plastic) worms are just cleaner and easier. And perch are aggressive, and will take an artificial worm readily.” Garrett rigs a small scented plastic – he’s partial to the Snub worms from Sniper Lures – on a drop-shot rig. “Drop-shooting works great for


Another Midwest transplant, rock bass are found in around a dozen Puget Sound lakes, and this particular one could be the International Game Fish Association’s new world record. Garrett, who caught it during a Lake Washington Ship Canal survey last year, says it measured 14 inches, a half inch larger than the current high mark, and by one weight-length calculator, two-thirds of a pound heavier than the state record. Unfortunately, it appears that rock bass also like salmon smolts, and the canal is a key chokepoint in Chinook, sockeye and coho migration. (DANNY GARRETT, WDFW)

perch,” he says, “because you have your weight right on the bottom and your rigged hook from 10 to 14 inches above that. So the hook’s always out of the weeds, but right near the bottom where the perch are.” Rock bass and crappie are just two more reasons to drop a boat in at the Gene Coulon, Mercer Island, Magnuson or Kenmore ramps. “Rock bass have really flourished in Lake Washington,” says Garrett. “They weren’t always here; in fact, we didn’t see any in a netting survey done in 2008. Now, we’re hearing about rock bass being caught all the time.” Also known as red eyes, they’re more confined to the embayments than are the open-water yellow perch. “Union Bay is loaded up with rock bass,” says Garrett. “A drop-shot rig, crappie jig, or small Rooster Tail is all that’s necessary. On light tackle, rock bass are an excellent fighter.” Most will run up to 10 inches, but Garrett says he’s collected several over a foot long, including the aforementioned 14-inch monster. That’s silly big for a rock bass. And for the crappie fanatics, Seattle’s watery backyard has those too. “I want to clue people in,” says Garrett, “to the crappies on Lake Washington. There’s definitely something going on in the lake during May for black crappie. Maybe it’s because we’ve had a little more of a warming trend the last five years. But I’ve seen pictures that made my jaw drop. There’s a learning curve there, but if you work 4 to 6 feet of water around the boats docks with a 1/16-ounce jig, that should be the ticket.”

OK, SO SALMON fisheries aren’t what they used to be. I don’t say that casually nor in jest, only realistically. Our choices as salmon anglers are three: Hang it up; fish what we’re given; or, as I’m likely to do, rediscover – or in many cases, discover – the joys of Western Washington’s warmwater fisheries. That, and stock up on lard and Pride of the West fish fry batter. NS 138 Northwest Sportsman

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This School's In Session

25-pound braided mainline

NOTES Sometimes two is better than one. This is certainly true when it comes to the double soft jerkbait rig. Bass anglers know how deadly a single soft plastic jerkbait can be, and there are times when two fished in tandem can be absolute dynamite for landing largies and smallies. As the two baits work together to create the illusion of a school of baitfish, their erratic action can trigger vicious strikes. To construct the double soft jerkbait rig, slide a barrel swivel up your 25-pound braided mainline and tie another barrel swivel to the end of the mainline. Attach an 18- to 24-inch length of 15-pound fluorocarbon leader to the swivel at the end of the mainline. Attach a 12-inch leader to the swivel threaded onto the mainline. Next, tie a 3/0 Gamakatsu Offset Shank Worm hook to the end of each leader. Finally, Texas-rig a soft plastic jerkbait on each hook. -Mark Fong

12-inch, 15-pound-test fluorocarbon leader 3/0 Offset Shank Worm hook

18- to 24-inch, 15-pound-test fluorocarbon leader

3/0 Offset Shank Worm hook (MARK FONG) | JUNE 2018

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Members and supporters of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers descended on Boise in April for the Montana-based organization’s seventh annual rendezvous. The event focused on protecting public lands and included food and a hike. (SAM LUNGREN)


‘Keep Public Land In Public Hands!’ Beaver meatballs, grilled lynx on menu as Backcountry Hunters and Anglers delivers message at annual rendezvous. By Randy King


he beaver meatballs were a clear hit for two reasons. One, they tasted good. Beaver meat is soft, sweet and full of natural fat, plus I combined it with five-spice powder and a nice elderberry and coconut sauce. Second, and perhaps the funnier reason, is that the beaver meatballs make great cocktail jokes. “I am here for the balls, chef,” attendees carrying cocktails would

utter. “I didn’t know beavers had that many balls!” they would say as I took the lid off the Dutch oven I was cooking them in. The bad puns continued all night. Basically, you can’t combine beaver and balls in a dish without getting serious junior-high-type laughter. I totally endorse this.

I WAS ACTUALLY really happy for the laughter, because the dinner I was cooking at was for a very serious

cause – public lands. As a working bloke, I don’t have a big ranch that elk hang out on. I don’t have a back 40 with a stock pond and blackberry bushes. I have a quarter acre in suburbia with a small garden area. I rely on public lands to fill my larder each year. I never really thought about public land as a child and young adult. It was always just there. I could go with my dad to the Owyhee Bureau of Land Management ground and | JUNE 2018

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BHA’s Field to Table Dinner featured beaver meatballs (left) and other wild fare. Author and Boise-area chef Randy King (right) serves appetizers. (MARGARET HAMILTON)

shoot rabbits. I could chase grouse in the Nez Perce National Forest. I could gather mushrooms in the Cascades. My playground was public property. Nearly all my wild food depended on public lands. Yet I had no idea what made that so special – why public lands were special. As I got older I would chat with people from all over the country – in the army, through kitchen work or via travel – and we would always get to “What do you do for fun?” My answer for those situations has always been “Hunt and fish too much.” The response I consistently get from those not in the West is how they love to go but wish they had more access. I did not understand the problem. How could those who like to hunt and fish not have access to do so? All you had to do was look, maybe hike a little bit, but public property is everywhere. Not so, it turns out. In the Northwest we are basically spoiled compared to the rest of the country. Oregon is about 50 percent public land, Washington about 30 percent and Idaho is nearly 70 percent (state and federal). Compare that to Connecticut – about .3 percent of that state is public. So it is no wonder that chefs from across the country were willing to chip in and help preserve the public lands we all hold so dear. 144 Northwest Sportsman

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THE BEAVER BALLS were part of a larger spread I foraged, hunted, fished and bummed from the wilds of Idaho. It was all in support of the Field to Table Dinner for the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers’ annual convention in Boise, in late April. Seventy-two people had agreed to purchase tickets at $300 per person, with all proceeds going to BHA and their fight for public lands. It sold out in three days and had 115 on the wait list. Now, before anyone panics and reminds me that you can not sell wild game, I just want to say that all proceeds were given to BHA for this dinner. BHA is a nonprofit. All game was hunted legally and donated to the event. No “profit” was made on this dinner. It was legal with all state agencies – in fact, Virgil Moore, the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, was in attendance. Moore even ate lynx that my father grilled. “Where did you get the lynx from?” he asked. “Alaska,” Dad responded. “Good answer,” deadpanned Director Moore. BHA’S ANNUAL CONVENTION is more than appetizers and a dinner, of course. The weekendlong rendezvous is a gathering of some of the “most hardcore backcountry hunters in the

world,” according to Randy Newberg, a well-known public lands hunting advocate from Montana. This year’s had a lot of draws and opportunities for hunters and fishermen. It kicked off Friday night with the Beer, Bands and Public Lands rally in Boise’s downtown. Over 4,400 people crowded The Grove Plaza and rocked out to some funky tunes from Lounge on Fire and Tylor & the Train Robbers. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter spoke about the importance of public lands for the city’s Ridge To Rivers trail system, and there was a brief welcome from BHA CEO Land Tawney. After a good night of drinking and frolicking, a nice hike sounded like a good idea, right? Que up the “Hike to Hunt” challenge. It’s part of a program that supports fitness in the hunting community by organizing hikes for hunters in the offseason. For this hike, about 200 people climbed to the top of Table Rock in the Boise Foothills, a 7.5-mile roundtrip with about 900 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead. The first person to the top also won an Exo-Mountain Backpack. The weekend continued with a full day of learning for those so inclined. There were seminars on gear and tactics for backcountry muleys, making use of entire animals and they even let me teach one on


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HUNTING eating healthy with wild game. Corey Jacobsen from Elk 101 talked elk hunting tips and tricks before a packed room off 300. Clay Hays gave a ground blind hunting presentation. Another panel discussed issues around public waterway access and current laws with an eye on improving the rules. Chefs from 16 states from Maine to Arizona created dishes in the Wild Game Cook Off held Saturday afternoon. It was judged by hunting celebrities like Newberg, from On Your Own Adventures and Fresh Tracks, as well as Remi Warren from Apex Predator and Steven Rinella from MeatEater. The Arizona team won with a dish comprised of bighorn sheep testicles and elk chorizo sopas. The capstone event for the weekend is the storytellers’ night. Like it or not, storytelling is a huge part of the hunting experience and sharing them is great fun, especially

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Chefs at the Field to Table dinner included Kasandra Rodriguez, Tom Healy, King, Ryan Busse, Chol McGlynn and JR Young. (ALEX KIM)

when you line up some great talent. Warren spun a gut-wrenching yarn about besting the search-and-rescue teams and finding his lost wife in the desert outside Reno – while on their honeymoon. The mood lightened a bit with Ian Malepeai recounting the time he accidentally discharged his rifle and shot his wife in the booty (it was just a flesh wound). And the evening ended with a surreal and metaphysical story

from Rinella about being charged by a Kodiak brown bear while hunting Afognak Island. And the weekend wrapped up with a mini biathlon – a run and bowshoot. Not all the competitors were in top form – a few had to stop and forcibly dehydrate themselves during the run after a long night out in Boise – but it made for good laughs from the crowd. The shootout featured a celebrity | JUNE 2018

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HUNTING shooting contest – for a donation you could shoot against some renowned hunters for a good cause.

BUT BACK TO Saturday night’s festivities. In addition to beaver balls and lynx, I had goose confit and rice noodle salad with peanut sauce, along with classic rabbit pate with whole grain mustard and little pickles. I also made a canapé spread from maple-smoked Idaho trout. It was a host of items displaying the bounty of the Northwest – and I was only doing the appetizer hour. More chefs, in fact the whole dinner, was to follow my appetizers. And the meal attracted some serious culinary talent. Professional and amateur wild game cooks came together over the last few months to plan out an epic meal. Chol “Cholly” McGlynn, a chef from Colorado, convened a snowshoe bunny hunt for his ragu. BHA staff members all collected Montana mallards over

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duck season for Ryan Busse’s course. JR Young got a little political and acquired Bristol Bay salmon for his course. (For those who don’t know, a giant mine is being lobbied for at the headwaters of the most productive salmon stream in Alaska; most interested in the survival of the fishery and the natural beauty of the place oppose the mine.) And the number of grouse for Tom Healy’s grouse cakes is probably more than I have gotten in my life. After all the meat was acquired the meal needed to be cooked in Boise for the rendezvous. BHA rented out a barn in an area known as Hidden Springs, a high-end bedroom community in the foothills and which also happened to have an old farm barn. The setting was both rustic and civilized, kind of like BHA.

AS EVERYONE ATE, Tawney, BHA’s gaptoothed leader, rose to speak. His exuberance and charm showed through. He spoke of the value and

economics of public land. He talked about the danger faced each year in Congress and about how our help at the dinner funded the defense of hunting and fishing across the country. At that point a few auction items came up for bidding. One of the packages was an all-inclusive falcon hunt (!) with a biologist from the Peregrine Fund. The meal and the auction items created a truly unique experience for all involved. It’s not every day you get so see a peregrine falcon on someone’s arm or watch a video of that style of hunting. The evening ended with a busload of well-lubricated and overfed publicland advocates headed back to Boise. Tawney’s charm was punctuated with a sales pitch. “I need two things from the people in this room,” he said, letting his request hang in the air. “I need your time, and I need your money. With those two things we can keep public land in public hands!” NS

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Burger Time! T

is the season! The concrete is as hot as the briquettes in the barbecue CHEF IN THE WILD and the smell By Randy King of grilling meat hangs heavy in the air. It is burger time all over the Northwest. Now, a good burger is greater than the sum of its parts. The burger is at once about the meat and has nothing to do with the meat. It is juicy and crunchy and sublime. A good summertime burger and a beer are just about the best thing a hunter could ask for. In the summer, if you are anything like me, you have an abundance of ground meat left in the freezer. The venison steaks are long gone and the shoulders have been made into pulled meat or tacos, but I always have a few pounds of ground as the days heat up. Making a burger does not need to be something to fear, yet some preparation is involved. Below are my thoughts about making the perfect wild game burger.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS First things first: What type of burger are you trying to make? Are you looking for an 8-ounce steakhousestyle burger with thick chunks of bacon and avocado? Or more of an In-N-Outstyle creation that relies on simplicity and quality? Figuring that out will determine a lot about how you create your burger. Making a fast-food burger to serve with a glass of Mondavi merlot is going to produce disappointment Whether it’s a ground-venison burger or patties from Costco, summer’s a great time to kick up your grill game with Chef Randy’s tips. River Walgamott takes a bite out of one during an August 2016 camping trip at Oregon’s Sunset Bay State Park. (ANDY WALGAMOTT) | JUNE 2018

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WOULD YOU LIKE EVERYTHING ON IT? Basic Burger Sauce ¼ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup ketchup 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard Dash cracked pepper Mix well in a small bowl. Spread on a bun as desired. Midscale Burger Sauce ¼ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup ketchup 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce Dash of hot sauce Dash cracked pepper Mix well in a small bowl. Spread on a bun as desired. Steakhouse Burger Sauce ¼ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup ketchup 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon horseradish, prepared

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Wild game burger on a potato bun with pickle slices, balsamic onions, cider-spiked cabbage slaw and homemade special sauce. (RANDY KING) Dash of hot sauce Dash cracked pepper You guessed it: Mix well in a small bowl. Spread on a bun as desired.

Balsamic Onions 2 onions, sliced thin 1 tablespoon butter ½ cup balsamic vinegar Salt and pepper In a large sauté pan add the onions and the butter. Heat on medium until the onions are soft and translucent. Next add the balsamic vinegar and reduce heat to low. Cook the balsamic until nearly totally evaporated. The onions will look almost black at this point. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to serving dish. Serve warm or cold. (Warning: Do not inhale the steam coming off the onions. This is an oldschool practical joke played on culinary students and new cooks. The vapors can make you nearly pass out – trust me, I know firsthand.) Cider-spiked Cabbage Slaw ¼ cup mayonnaise 1 small shallot, minced 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar Salt and pepper ½ head cabbage shaved/shredded very thin Mix mayo, shallot, garlic and cider in a medium-sized bowl. Add the shaved cabbage to the bowl and toss. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Use as a substitute for iceberg lettuce on burgers. For more, see –RK | JUNE 2018

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COLUMN – know what you want and go down that path with the ingredients and techniques below.

THE MEAT Unless you grind pork fat into your meat, which is delicious, ground game meat is typically leaner than ground beef. Now, I think that that is just fine, as long as you don’t overcook the meat. A good thermometer (cook the center to 140 degrees and then let rest for five minutes) or a simple rule of thumb should do you just fine. The rule of thumb I follow is to cook one side of the burger patty until blood starts to pool on the top of its raw side. Then I flip the burger – never pressing the meat – and cook until a little blood pools on the cooked side. Then I remove the burger from the grill or pan and set it aside for five minutes. This allows the juices to flow back into the meat and for any remaining raw portions to cook. Make sure to season your meat

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liberally with salt and pepper. I also like to use a touch of Cajun seasoning on game. While I do not think that wild meat tastes “gamey” all the time, a little Cajun flavor covers a lot of rut and sagebrush. When forming the patty do as little work as possible. If you mix the meat too much, you will lose the “crumble” effect. Basically, don’t play with your meat.

THE BUN In the bread aisle, don’t automatically reach for that eight-pack of sesame seed-covered buns. Anthony Bourdain, the chef and host of Parts Unknown, is a firm believer in the potato bun. “Make sure it is squishy” is among his rules for a perfect burger. I can get behind this, but I don’t think the bun “must” be potato. I like a little bit of texture to my buns, though it depends on what kind of burger I am constructing. High-end steakhouse burgers get a nice whole-wheat onion bun. In-N-Out-inspired burgers get the cheapest white bread buns I can find.

The bottom line, literally: The bun sets the expectation for the burger.

THE CHEESE This one is difficult. Cheap burger inspiration means that you should use a processed and melty cheese. Think Kraft singles. Steakhouse burger? Try a nice blue cheese, Stilton or even Tillamook smoked Cheddar for a little extra love with the burger. You can ruin a burger with the wrong type of cheese for the occasion.

THE ONION Raw, cooked or fried, an onion of some type is nearly required for all burgers. I like a cooked onion on mine – the sweetness is a great contrast with the savory meat and the cheese. An onion ring can add some nice crunch. But I am not a fan of raw onion on a burger. It is too strong and can kill the whole flavor profile of the burger. Sliced a little too thick and it’s all you’ll taste. Want to take it one more level up? | JUNE 2018

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Try cooking your onions with a little balsamic vinegar (see recipe sidebar).

THE PICKLE A little pickle goes a long way. I like one slice of pickle on my burger. Too much pickle and you hide all the flavor of the sandwich. But enough pickle and you get a little twang on the back end of the bite. Again, the desired outcome affects the pickle choice. A steakhouse burger lends itself to a nice bread-and-butter pickle, a budget-style burger means one slice of dill.


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Nothing kills a burger like some wilted green-leaf lettuce. In fact, I do not think that lettuce belongs on a burger. A burger is not a salad – to quote Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson when asked if he wanted some salad, “Since I am not a rabbit, no, I do not.” Now, a little shredded cabbage on the other hand can do wonders. It can do the same job as shredded iceberg lettuce but it will not wilt and die on the bun. Cabbage for me is the best green for a burger. Dress the cabbage with a little apple cider-spiked mayo for some next-level greens.

THE TOMATO Full disclosure – I hate tomatoes. Now, not everyone is like me. Some, like my old sous chef Ryan, think that a thick slice of vine-ripened tomato is like having a second slice of meat on the bun. It adds additional moisture and twang to the burger. All good things – if you like tomatoes, that is.

THE SAUCE A good start for any burger sauce is a 50/50 combo of mayo and ketchup. In Idaho this is known as fry sauce. Add to this what you will – for a fast-food-style sauce, add a little dill relish and some mustard. For a more steakhouse burger, try adding a little horseradish and whole grain mustard. You can change the profile and composition of the burger by the sauce alone, so making sure that the sauce aligns with the expectation is critical. NS 158 Northwest Sportsman

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Pups And Water

Making water entry fun for shy pups can be the key to success. This may mean putting waders on, hopping in the pond and encouraging the pup to come to you. (SCOTT HAUGEN)


s temperatures warm, it is time to introduce your gun dog pup to water. With some puppies, getting them interested in water is GUN DOGGIN’ 101 easy, while others may By Scott Haugen take time. Being a former science teacher, I equate puppy learning to that of students. Not all students learn the same way, at the same rate, so how instruction is delivered has to be personally tailored. The same with dog training. My first pup, Echo, took to water at eight weeks of age – the day we brought her home, in fact. She was on a leash, and happily walked through short grass, then tall grass, then right into a shallow creek. She waded the stream, getting her belly wet without a care in the world. At 16 weeks, as water temperatures warmed, she was swimming on her own, fetching bumpers and jumping in the water just to play.

HOWEVER, OUR OTHER pup, Kona, took some work. Early on he wanted nothing to

do with water. He didn’t even like getting his feet wet. We introduced him to shallow, clear water so he could see where he was going, but he wasn’t thrilled over the idea. Echo, two years older than Kona, would run and jump into the water, and though Kona would excitedly watch, he’d rarely so much as get his feet wet. I got worried; every trick I tried failed. Then, at about 18 weeks of age, Kona finally got excited about getting into the water, but would rarely go belly-deep. That’s when my wife Tiffany and I worked together and made fast progress. Tiffany stayed on the bank of a shallow, clear pond, while I waded into the water with a bumper that Kona liked. I talked to him in a high voice and tried getting him excited, but he still wouldn’t get into the water. “Let me try,” suggested Tiffany. We switched places. Tiff reached into her pocket and grabbed a few bits of kibble, which she let Kona sniff. I’m not a fan of using food for training unless it’s for discipline and hand-signal work, but I was willing to try anything to get Kona to swim. Tiffany then waded shin-deep into the water. She took some food in her hand

and excitedly called Kona’s name in a high voice. Instantly his ears perked up and he waded right out to her. I called him back, and simultaneously, Tiff waded deeper. This time when she called, Kona pranced into the water and waded nearly to his back. Kona was excited and loved this game, so we kept going. I got on one side of the pond and Tiffany got on the other. It was only 15 yards wide, but it was deep and Kona had to swim 10 yards of it if he wanted to reach Tiffany. I held him on the shallow side so he could start by wading and feeling the bottom. As he entered the water, Tiff excitedly called to him and showed him the food. He kept walking and was soon swimming on his own for the first time. We repeated that one more time with food and Kona once again swam. Then we switched places. But first I took a bird wing in my pocket, which I showed to Kona to get him excited. Tiff held Kona in the shallows while I excitedly called to him and waved the wing from across the narrow stretch of pond. Without hesitation, Kona waded into the water, swam the entire way and grabbed the wing from my hand. I praised him, let | JUNE 2018

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COLUMN him run off with it a short distance, then called him back and took the wing back. We ended the training session on a high note. Ever since that day, Kona has swam, no matter what he was after.

INDEED, PATIENCE IS the key when you introduce your pup to water. Observe their behavior and demeanor, and know what gets them excited. Starting them off in cold water can set them back, so don’t rush it. Some pups won’t mind how cold the water is, but some will. This is where it’s up to you as their owner and trainer to read them and understand what they do and do not like. The goal is to get the pup into water on its own and swim under its own power. Taking them into a heated swimming pool can also help. We routinely took both our pups into a warm swimming pool, where they happily played and swam. To this day we use that swimming pool for water training. If you bring a pup home in the winter, get in a warm tub with them. You can also

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(Left) Coaxing a reluctant pup into a shallow pond is a good way to get them interested in water. Make certain they always enter water under their own power; never force a pup into the water. (Right) Introducing a pup to water can be challenging. Don’t overlook the value of heated swimming pools, bathtubs and kiddie pools with a few inches of warm water in them, to help expedite the water introduction process. (SCOTT HAUGEN) fill a kiddie pool with a few inches of warm water for play time. Read your pup and don’t force things. They’ll take to water eventually; it just might take time and require some creative thinking on your part. Keep the experience fun and always stay positive, as that’s the key to any successful training,

especially when it comes to introducing your pup to water. NS Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is host of The Hunt on Netflix. To watch some of his basic puppy training videos, visit scotthaugen. com. Follow Scott on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. | JUNE 2018

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Brought To You By:




Summer is the time for mounting new recoil pads on your rifles or shotguns. Author Dave Workman uses neutral shoe wax to buff up the stocks of his rifles and polish away any tiny scratches that might linger from buffing down a new recoil pad. (KICK-EEZ)

Summer’s The Time To Work On Your Hunting Guns


ummer is the time of year I prefer to do any kind of upgrades to my hunting rifles and shotguns, whether it involves a major task ON TARGET By Dave Workman like replacing a stock or trying a new load, mounting a scope or even replacing a recoil pad. I’ve never been fond of recoil, and that’s why a few years ago I took the time to replace the factory pads on a few of my rifles and on two shotguns. Older rubber, whether of the solid or ventilated variety, just never made it for me. But since they once were about the only thing available, they spent years on a couple of my favorite guns. But then came modern materials such as Sorbothane. Whatever else they do, today’s recoil pads truly suck up the “kick” and make shooting more comfortable. I checked with Cheryl Poppe at Kick-

EEZ to learn that Sorbothane is a “vistoelastic polymer.”The company, based in the Southwest Washington town of Woodland, has been using this material since the mid1980s, which has been plenty of time to discover any drawbacks, but as far as I can tell, there have been none. While such recoil pads – another example is the neoprene Pachmayr Decelerator – may seem soft, they are pretty tough and can take the rigors of the field in stride. They mount easily but some people have a bit of trouble doing the grind to make them conform to the angle and profile of the stock. There are various videos online that offer tips on how to fit a new recoil pad to a stock. You’ll probably want a disk or belt sander to do most of the work, and be sure to wrap the buttstock wood in a couple of layers of heavy tape. Now, if you’re refinishing the entire stock, it’s wise to fit the pad to the bare stock before adding the finish. There are

lots of finishes available these days, but I prefer a 50-50 mix of warm linseed and tung oil, after taking the wood down to a fine, smooth finish. In my teens, I learned a trick from a neighbor called “whiskering.” When you think the wood is smooth enough to finish, wipe it down with a damp cloth and pass the wood over a stove burner. This will cause little whiskers of wood to stand up and you can take those down with 400to 800-grit sandpaper. Some folks even finish after that with very fine steel wool. To strip an old finish out of checkering, get some stripper and brush it in with a fine toothbrush. Be sure to allow the refinished stock a couple of days to dry and then wipe it down with a clean, soft cloth. Some people will even finish off by rubbing the stock with furniture wax or neutral shoe wax. I’ve done that with two rifle stocks, including one on a Lyman muzzleloader, and the result was very pleasing. | JUNE 2018

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Brought To You By:



Ruger has announced two new chamberings of its No. 1 Single Shot, .308 Winchester and .450 Marlin. is also carrying two exclusive models in .30-30 Winchester and .257 Roberts. (LIPSEYS)

IF FIREARM FUNCTION problems hit your fowling or hunting pieces last season, now is the time to be working on that, not the day before fall’s openers. New scope? Summer provides the daylight hours to install your glass and head to the range to zero. Need to fix some rust spots? Pull the stock, check the underside of your barrel, take some fine steel wool to any problems you find and then touch it up with cold blue. Use steel wool to remove the rust spot and buff up the metal. Apply a degreaser to remove any surface oil. Apply the blue, wait half a minute or so, rinse with cold water, dab it dry and then buff it up with very fine steel wool. Apply gun oil.

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If you have a leather rifle sling, now is a good time to give it a treatment of neatsfoot oil or a fresh application of saddle soap and/or neutral shoe wax.

SUMMER’S ALSO A good time as any to learn about new guns and ammo, and Ruger recently noted that it has expanded its legendary No. 1 single-shot rifle by adding two chamberings: .308 Winchester and .450 Marlin. At the same time, Lipsey’s has added two exclusive No. 1 models, one in .3030 Winchester and one of my favorite cartridges, the .257 Roberts. The latter is offered with a full-length stock. The Ruger No. 1 single-shot is and

always has been handsome, functional and – in my experience – remarkably accurate. Some years ago in South Dakota on a prairie dog hunt with Ruger’s thenpublic relations stalwart Ken Jorgensen, I used a No. 1 in .204 Ruger to cap the little buggers out to 350 yards more than once. This new batch of rifles feature American walnut stocks and satin blue finishes. The .308 wears a 22-inch barrel cut with a 1:10-inch right-hand twist, the same twist rate found in the .30-30 and .257. Meanwhile, the .450 has a 20-inch barrel with a 1:16-inch twist.

ON THE AMMUNITION side, Speer has some pretty good timing. They’ve just added three new projectiles, including one for the .257 Roberts that ought to turn in a good performance out of the aforementioned Ruger No. 1 from Lipsey’s chambered for that round. The .257-caliber pill is a 120-Grand Slam, as are the other two bullets, one in 6.5mm/.264 caliber weighing 140 grains and a .243 weighing 100 grains. All three are packaged in 50-count boxes. These Grand Slams feature a tapered, precision-drawn jacket with internal flutes and longer front-end profile for a flatter trajectory. All three calibers are widely known for their flat trajectories, which makes them good choices for game out on the plains. Of the trio, the .257 Roberts has earned a special place. It’s the caliber I used to conk a couple of deer many years ago. I shot a fat three-point whitetail during the late season east of Colville on the Little Pend Oreille wildlife area, and two years later, I toppled a spike muley – the last year it was legal for anything under 3 points – on a ridge between Manastash and Taneum Creeks. Both were one-shot stops using 100-grain bullets. The whitetail fell to a Speer boattail, the mule deer a Nosler Ballistic Tip. NS | JUNE 2018

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Ns 6 18 web  
Ns 6 18 web