Northwest Sportsman Magazine - June 2022

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Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 14 • Issue 9

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

PUBLISHER James R. Baker EDITOR Andy “On The Lookout For Rhetoric” Walgamott THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS Dave Anderson, Jason Brooks, Scott Haugen, Jeff Holmes, Sara Ichtertz, MD Johnson, Randy King, Buzz Ramsey, Tom Schnell, Dave Workman, Mike Wright, Mark Yuasa EDITORIAL FIELD SUPPORT Jason Brooks GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak SALES MANAGER Paul Yarnold ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Kelley Miller, Mike Smith DESIGNER Lesley-Anne Slisko-Cooper PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker OFFICE MANAGER Katie Aumann INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGER Lois Sanborn WEBMASTER/DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines DIGITAL ASSISTANT Jon Ekse ADVERTISING INQUIRIES ads@nwsportsmanmag.com CORRESPONDENCE Email letters, articles/queries, photos, etc., to awalgamott@media-inc.com, or to the mailing address below. ON THE COVER Trishana Israel holds up a nice-sized hatchery Chinook she trolled up early one morning last summer during Puget Sound’s Marine Area 9 mark-selective season. (COAST FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

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CONTENTS

ALSO INSIDE

VOLUME 14 • ISSUE 9

79

WHAT I THINK I KNOW ABOUT WASHINGTON SURFPERCH Surfperch can be caught up and down the Northwest Coast, but some locations and baits are better than others. At least that’s what MD Johnson thinks he’s figured out after more than a few trips to the Long Beach Peninsula and elsewhere on Washington’s South Coast. He shares hard-won wisdom and more from the waves.

91

STRONG OUTLOOK FOR LAKE ROOSEVELT FISHERIES A cool spring, big snowpack and late runoff equal unprecedented summertime trout angling and a variety of other opportunities on Northeast Washington’s Lake Roosevelt. Jeff Holmes highlights the trout, kokanee, walleye, bass and sturgeon season at this destination impoundment.

101 THE KOKANEE OF LAKE BILLY CHINOOK No doubt that Central Oregon’s Lake Billy Chinook is a watersports playground, but it’s also home to some pretty good kokanee fishing. Local angler Tom Schnell knows that by heart, and he details how to catch kokes in summer, as well as year-round in its open arms.

65

WASHINGTON SUMMER SALMON

Evergreen State anglers can look forward to decent opportunities this summer for Chinook and coho. Mark Yuasa previews best bets, close-to-home options and what to expect on the briny blue and mighty Columbia this season! (MARK YUASA)

110 RHYMES WITH FISHY Southeast Oregon’s lower Owyhee is famed as a blue-ribbon river, thanks to productive tailwaters, abundant bug life and a selfsustaining population of large brown trout and releases of hatchery rainbows. Our wandering flyrodder Mike Wright shares how to work this scenic stream. 119 RIVERS CUTT THROUGH IT For aspiring fly fishermen looking to get into the sport on the cheap, North Idaho’s trout- and char-rich streams and even lakes are a great learning landscape with good chances of success on large fish.

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Go to nwsportsmanmag.com for details. NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 941 Powell Ave SW, Suite 120, Renton, WA 98057. Periodical Postage Paid at Seattle, WA and at additional mail offices. (USPS 025-251) POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Northwest Sportsman, 941 Powell Ave SW, Suite 120, Renton, WA 98057. Annual subscriptions are $29.95 (12 issues), 2-year subscription are $49.95 (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 © 2022 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.

16 Northwest Sportsman

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128 NORTHWEST PURSUITS Start Packing For Mountain Trout Winter lingered a lot longer than usual this year, but soon the trails to higher elevation lakes will be melting off and the waters opening up again. Jason’s got your back – er, backpack, that is – in getting ready for one of the quintessential Northwest summer activities, mountain troutin’!

(JASON BROOKS)

COLUMNS 28

FOR THE LOVE OF THE TUG Did That Really Happen? “Blown. Away.” That would be the printable version of what Sara felt immediately after the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in late April voted 4-3 to end hatchery summer-run steelhead releases on her beloved North Umpqua, a river and fishery she has built her life around.

57

BUZZ RAMSEY Portland-area Salmon Ops Increase In June Springers in the Willamette. Summer Chinook in the mainstem Columbia. Coho and kings in the ocean. Those are three of the best options for Northwest salmon anglers this month, and Buzz breaks down the wheres and hows of success!

135 CHEF IN THE WILD A Cooking Quandary With just a few smoked trout and several bluegill fillets in his freezer and 96 people in need of appetizers, how in the heck was Chef Randy going to satisfy all those hungry folks at last month’s Backcountry Hunters and Anglers annual Field To Table Dinner and stretch his wild-caught fish as far as possible? Enter arancini. 151 BECOMING A HUNTER Ins And Outs Of Buying Your First Rifle And Scope Just as Dave A. detailed how to get into bowhunting last issue, this month he takes on becoming a rifle deer hunter, beginning with said rifle and its highly important attachment, a scope, as well as other accouterments to consider. 161 ON TARGET Never Overlook Or Underestimate The .25s These days it’s 6.5mm this, .300 Blackout that, but Dave W. reminds big game hunters of “a family of cartridges that has literally covered all the bases.” Our longtime caliber correspondent takes us on a stroll through quarter-inch country. 169 GUN DOG Summer Training Part I: Waterfowl It’s the start of the dry around the Northwest, but Scott’s thoughts are never far from waterfowl season. He kicks off a two-part summer gun dog training-tip series with behavior and conditioning work you can do now so your four-legged hunting partner is ready to tackle the duck marshes and goose fields. 18 Northwest Sportsman

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164

(WDFW)

NEWS

Two-lion Limit Proposed In Blue Mountains Chance to comment on WDFW plan to help out hard-bitten elk herd in Southeast Washington.

DEPARTMENTS

20 Northwest Sportsman

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25

THE EDITOR’S NOTE Passion, fury and monthly deadlines

28

THE BIG PIC Commission’s North Umpqua decision questioned

37

PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS Coast Hunting, Fishing monthly prizes

39

THE DISHONOR ROLL Convict loses hunting privileges for 5 years; Kudos; Jackass of the Month

41

DERBY WATCH $10K king derby coming up on Washington Coast; More upcoming events

45

OUTDOOR CALENDAR Upcoming openers, events, deadlines, more



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THEEDITOR’SNOTE

L

esson learned (again): A monthly magazine is not like a blog you can update a couple times a day, Andy. Or more, as I often find myself doing at nwsportsmanmag.com, your source for daily Northwest fishing and hunting news. You’d think I’d know that after being in this seat going on 13 years now, but nope. Which is to say, my digital eraser has been very busy as this issue’s deadline approached, and in the thick of it is The Big Picture, a pageturn or two from here. There, our For the Love of the Tug columnist Sara Ichtertz expresses her bafflement and anger over the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision in late April to not release summer steelhead smolts into the North Umpqua and end that hatchery program. Those fish are immensely important to who Sara has become as a woman, mother, river advocate, fishing ambassador and writer, and terminating them forever Sara Ichtertz holds felt personal. True, as Sara recognizes in a hatchery summer steelhead caught on the her column, we don’t always river her heart belongs get what we want and things to. (SARA ICHTERTZ) change, but maddeningly for her was that the 4-3 vote came despite Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists’ recommending the commission only reduce stocking and fix infrastructure at the facility to get hatchery stray rates within a coastal stocks’ management plan goals – not go full nuclear.

IT FELT FINAL as Sara and I talked early last month how to address it in her June article. I gave some suggestions and added she should also “leave a little wiggle room in case there is a dramatic reversal.” That’s because – even if it had a snowball’s chance in hell – county officials and others had filed a lawsuit challenging the commission decision. What I didn’t count on was a totally different potential dramatic reversal waiting in the wings – Fish and Wildlife Commission members abruptly voting 5-1 to consider “additional information” from local tribes at a date-uncertain special meeting, a pathway to a potential new solution. That had Sara and I hastily revising her column. Or the second potentially dramatic reversal, when a circuit court judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering ODFW to release the smolts while the county et al’s challenge continued to be mulled. At that point I threw up my hands and told Sara we were done tweaking her words. Too many balls in the air, too little time to tinker. But I also feel that, even as the news around the fish changed by the hour at our absolute press deadline, what she wrote has merit and deserves to run instead of be pulled. Her column reflects someone with a deep, abiding and spiritual attachment to the resource but who is confused about where Oregon overseers are taking it. It’s what Washington hunters have felt as they watched their own commission derail the limited-entry spring black bear season for no biologically sensible reason. We Northwest sportsmen recognize when fish and game need a break, and we’re fine with that, albeit after some grumbling. But to arbitrarily hamstring opportunity is another thing. I’m extremely proud to have Sara writing for me. In these times, every single one of our critter populations could use someone as passionate, engaged and articulate. –Andy Walgamott nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

Northwest Sportsman 25




Did That Really Happen? Defender of steelhead fishery and river left baffled, disappointed and more engaged than ever after Oregon commission votes 4-3 to end hatchery summer-run releases on famed North Umpqua.

F

ew things in life have caused me to throw total caution into the wind, diving in with everything I FOR THE LOVE have. Very few. But OF THE TUG despite total fear of the By Sara Ichtertz unknown, I was willing to fall flat on my face as the intrigue and desire I felt for the river and its fish was far more powerful than any fear. Even though such actions and feelings were new to me, I have always felt things to great depths. I believe not everyone in life finds what truly calls them and even if they do, many never get to live out that calling. Having a firm grasp on what matters to me, what I believe in, and the ability to pursue it, I know I have been extremely blessed. Believing this has helped me to never take my passion for granted. Passionate people thrive when they find something worthy of it and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that what I found worthy of my heart was not human. Pouring my very being into a place and pursuit, I found my calling. In embracing the North Umpqua and, more importantly, her summer fish, I found something that allowed total growth for myself and my 28 Northwest Sportsman

JUNE 2022 | nwsportsmanmag.com

children. No matter what life was throwing our way, we had our luscious forest, the stunning river, and summer steelhead, both hatchery and wild. This incredible package holds a massive piece of my heart to this day. Even though it has been rough the past three runs, what with the drought and the wildfires, I never dreamed that in just one day someone else’s – what I call – reckless decision could in fact alter my very life in such a profound way. Sure, maybe when it comes to a decision’s impact on humans, but not the fish. Not the fish that taught me how empowering it is to connect with nature and my babes all in one beautiful place. Not the fish that taught me how anything worth having does not come easily. Not the fish that taught me the beauty in sharing a harvest with my children. Not the fish that in pursuing them brought out the fish, fishing and river champion in me. Not the fish that ultimately created the best days of my life. No, they would never hurt me, and yet here I am, hurting deeply, as these fish may have slipped through my fingers for the very last time. If the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s April 22 decision to terminate the North Umpqua summer steelhead


PICTURE

The tail fin of a North Umpqua hatchery summer-run glistens in the sun. The Oregon river’s fish are the rock around which author Sara Ichtertz has built herself, but she found herself “Blown. Away.” when the Fish and Wildlife Commission decided in late April to end the hatchery program that in part fuels this fabled stream’s steelhead fishery. (SARA ICHTERTZ) nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

Northwest Sportsman 29


PICTURE

Ichtertz holds a summer-run from what she considers to be the last year of good water conditions for the fish, 2018. Stocks up and down the West Coast and British Columbia have fared poorly in recent years due to overheated streams, drought, wildfires and bad ocean conditions. But there are signs the Pacific is turning around and hopefully this cold spring will keep snowpack on the mountains deep into summer. (SARA ICHTERTZ) hatchery program stands – see The Editor’s Note, page 25, for late-breaking updates – then I fear the loss will be far greater than just this incredible Western Oregon resource.

AS I’VE WADED through the past few weeks since that 4-3 vote, I have felt many, many things. I just can’t seem to accept it, nor shake it. Thankfully I am not alone in this. I believe the decision to be radically wrong, as it did not make biological sense. I realize my feelings may be mostly irrelevant, but what is relevant is that we have a majority on the commission calling shots for Oregon’s fish and game going against their own staff’s professional, scientifically based recommendations. How can that be? We have biologists in each region who pour their life’s work into watersheds, fish and fisheries for a reason. So we can turn to them when we are challenged by the narrative that wild fish will thrive once more if only we wipe 30 Northwest Sportsman

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Chunks of summer steelhead and veggies cook on the author’s griddle. Ichtertz holds the Umpqua’s wild and hatchery fish in equal esteem, but it’s the latter that feed her family, making for a rich, healthy relationship with the river system and its fish. (SARA ICHTERTZ)


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PICTURE out every hatchery in the Pacific Northwest. Fiction can be fun; however, that narrative has no real data supporting the notion that hatchery fish are in fact the cause of the decline in our wild fish in the North Umpqua. When a commission goes against what their own biologists recommend, then something is very wrong. I would like to think that commissions are diplomatic, but after watching the nearly five-hour-long broadcast discussion on North Umpqua summer steelhead, I wholeheartedly believe some of the members simply created the illusion of diplomacy. I saw no sign of negotiation; rather than the middle-road option of reducing releases and improving infrastructure to decrease hatchery straying – the base issue here – four commissioners unilaterally ended production, despite their own staff presenting absolute science that showed how well the river system is able to house both wild and hatchery summer steelhead. That was amazing to listen to for me – seeing the science back up what I already knew in my heart was beautiful. I had felt hopeful after listening to ODFW staffers, as what they presented was well put together by passionate people who understand this precious watershed. The science showed not only myself and everyone else watching but the commission as well that there is “no evidence that the hatchery summer steelhead program negatively affected naturally produced summer steelhead.” Removing hatchery fish isn’t the answer to reversing declining wild returns. What’s more, if wild numbers keep plummeting, the integrated hatchery program, which is based on North Umpqua fish, could transform into a conservation program to try and save the run. Why would we willingly give up that nearly 70-year-old program in this time that our forest and river needs our help more than ever!? There are actions that need to be taken in the Umpqua Basin, but terminating the summer steelhead hatchery program is not one of them.

AS I FIND myself completely baffled, I can’t 32 Northwest Sportsman

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The emerald-green North Umpqua flows past the author’s daughter Ava as she perches on a rock. Taking her kids to the water has helped in their growth, whether that was son Nate becoming a steelheader in his own right or Ava exploring and becoming closer to Mother Nature. (SARA ICHTERTZ) help but question, Is a state commission truly what is best for Oregon’s fish and game? Should people who don’t truly know, honor and respect a watershed be in charge of it? Should they be able to go against their own biologists that we as taxpayers and sportsmen pay for!? What is really going on here? I feel compelled to learn, yet find very few people willing to talk to me since a legal petition was filed on April 26 by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, the Umpqua Fishery Enhancement Derby and local fishing guide Scott Worsley. The petition – which asked for judicial review of the commission’s decision to permanently terminate the summer-run hatchery program on the North Umpqua –

truly is a rarity in matters like this. If it were simply my heart being broken, then, you know, that’s life, but this story is so much bigger than that. There is not one good reason I should have to accept this decision – none of us should. It’s not like the best science was saying, Folks, you need to accept what the planet is doing, here are biological facts and it’s too late. No, it was more the opposite and I have to say I was beyond floored that a commission that is supposed to represent us went against not only science; they went against our federally recognized tribes, ODFW’s own scientific 143-page 2022 Assessment of Naturally Produced Summer Steelhead in the Umpqua Basin, a mass of letters from the



PICTURE

Make no mistake, we all want our wild runs to bounce back, but state fishery biologists and scientists found that summer steelhead production on the system neither affected natural-origin fish nor limited their recovery. That makes the commission’s April decision to eliminate the stock instead of reduce releases and improve hatchery infrastructure to prevent more returning adults from straying and meet management goals of 10 percent or fewer strays (it averages 17 percent and is largely limited to two areas) all the more inexplicable. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

people of this region, a petition with over 3,000 signatures on it and testimony from many – all in favor of keeping the program! Yes, some also wanted the program ended, but I find this rare – but long-shot – petition from our side of the matter more than justified. Never have I wanted someone’s nuclear decision to be reversed more so than I do now.

LOVING THESE FISH – both wild and hatchery – like I do, I know the realities we face. I know freshwater conditions have been less than fresh. At the same time, though, the North Umpqua is still very much alive and able to house all of the fish. As a responsible and respectful fisherlady, 34 Northwest Sportsman

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I know when the fish want to play and when they do not. As logical, thinking fishermen, we are willing to accept the reality of freshwater conditions and are willing to step back from the banks when nature is telling us to do so. We care about the fish. Angling closures will happen – it’s a given in this day in age – but April’s decision to terminate this program literally made me sick. If you want things to change with decisions like this, we need to take a stand. Write your local legislators, the Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the state’s governor! Let them know how you feel. Was this commission fair-minded to us as sportsmen? What is really going on here? Are you OK with a commission going

against its own staff? I am not, and I have reached out and let my voice be heard to the best of my abilities. I hope you do too. My good friend told me years ago, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. These fish matter more to me than any other. I knew as long as I was able to target them in the manner I desire, I would always be fulfilled. I don’t need lavish things; I need to be able to connect with nature and my family in an environment that challenges us and brings out the best in us. That’s what I need. These are the very fish that taught me firsthand to never give up, and so no matter what, I won’t. My heart is on the river and I couldn’t change it, even if I tried. NS


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MIXED BAG

Convict Loses Hunting Privileges For 5 Years

O

regon fish and wildlife troopers were excited about the conviction of a 32-year-old Southern Oregon man who they tied to the poaching of a trophy blacktail buck early last year. As part of a broader deal that included a no-contest plea to looting an ATV from a residence during September 2020’s Alameda Drive Fire that destroyed 2,600 homes near Ashland, Padyn Daniel Dineen of Central Point was ordered to pay the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife restitution for the deer and also lost his hunting privileges for five years, according to the Oregon State Police. Dineen won’t have much need for hunting this fall or next anyway, as he is currently serving a 2.5-year sentence for first-degree aggravated theft, with another two years of supervision afterwards. While local officers are quite familiar with Dineen – known as “Jackson County’s No. 1 failure-to-appear chronic offender” (how many times did he not show up for court before his arrest last year? 86, per local reports) – he drew the interest of state fish and wildlife troopers following a January 2021 pursuit that ended in a wrecked sedan and a deputy sheriff discovering the dead buck in the vehicle’s trunk. A trooper who reported to the scene seized two bows, seven arrows – one of which was

KUDOS

Senior Trooper Dave Herman was named the Oregon State Police’s 2021 Fish & Wildlife Trooper of the Year in a ceremony last month in front of family members and colleagues. The 13-year veteran of OSP’s Fish and Wildlife Division was lauded for going “above and beyond what is required of him every day in his level of professionalism, devotion to division and agency goals, and incredibly strong work ethic.” Assigned to the Marine Fisheries Team since 2015 and based out of Astoria, Herman was also recognized as being “a skilled leader and mentor amongst his peers – taking an active interest in the professional development” of fellow fish and wildlife troopers. “These attributes and the impressive work product turned in by Senior Trooper Herman all make him a deserving recipient of this award,” stated OSP. Kudos!

broken and had blood on it – and a quiver, plus night vision goggles, spotlight, trail camera, backpack and more, including, later, a cell phone. With a warrant, the game cam and phone were searched and wildlife charges were referred to the Jackson County District Attorney, according to OSP. Dineen, who at the time was wanted

(OSP)

on 12 burglary, theft, felon in possession of firearms and drug warrants, was captured in June 2021 and had his day in court April 19 of this year. Evidence against him included the poached January 2021 buck, “hunting equipment likely from previous burglaries,” and images and texts suggestive of wildlife (OSP) crimes, OSP reported.

JACKASS OF THE MONTH

T

rue, there are times, places and species you can legally use a dipnet to harvest fish on the Cowlitz, but late at night at the Blue Creek hatchery for steelhead is not one. But that’s just what three bozos apparently decided to do as the late-returning winter stock began to return in fair numbers in late March and the word got out.

Also listening was Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Officer Scott Schroeder, who spent a few graveyard shifts watching the “tube,” where returning fish pull out of the river and stack up in the shallower waters before entering the hatchery, making them susceptible to jackassery. As Schroeder watched one night just before midnight, he saw three men walking towards the tube while toting a dipnet perhaps used earlier in the month

on the lower Cowlitz for smelt. One of the trio was assigned the role of lookout man, but “did not do his job very well,” according to a WDFW Police post. As the guy watched his buddies try to poach steelies instead of keeping an eye out for Johnny Law, Schroeder was able to sneak up on the crew just as they dipnetted a fish out of the water. Very shortly thereafter they also netted criminal charges that were forwarded to the Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney.

nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

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$10K King Derby Coming Up T en thousand dollars will once again be up for grabs off Washington’s South Coast when the Westport Charterboat Association’s annual Chinook derby begins in early summer. That’s how much the catcher of the season’s largest king will score, and last year’s winner hooked his 27.65-pounder (gilled and gutted weight) very early in the 2021 season, on June 29. That was a bit of an outlier, as most grand prize fish have been caught in late July and early to midAugust. The biggest king over the past 10 seasons was a 36.19-pounder from 2012. Chinook and coho season opens July 2 in Marine Area 2 off Westport and the derby also offers daily prizes for largest salmon, and the biggest silver of the year will earn $1,500. There are also halibut, lingcod and albacore derbies with regular and annual winners.

Larry Tsunoda was 2021’s winner of the annual Westport Charterboat Association Chinook derby. (WESTPORT WEIGHMASTER)

To enter, you need to buy a $5 ticket, which is included in trip costs on some boats, before going on your outing. For more info, see charterwestport.com/fishing .html. Westport Weighmaster on Facebook also posts daily and other winners.

By Andy Walgamott

MORE UPCOMING EVENTS  Now through Oct. 31: WDFW 2022 Trout Derby, select lakes; wdfw.wa.gov/ fishing/contests/trout-derby  June 3-5: 2022 Annual Mackinaw Derby, Odell Lake; odelllakeresort.com  June 11: 2022 Lake Wenatchee Rec Club Fishing Derby, Fish Lake; Facebook: Lake Wenatchee Rec Club  June 11: Kokanee Power of Oregon Detroit Lake Derby; kokaneepoweroregon.com/derby  June 11-12: CRWWA Gordon Steinmetz Memorial Walleye Classic, Banks Lake; crwaa.profishingtournaments.com  June 25-26: CRWWA Lake Roosevelt Walleye Club Governors Cup, Lake Roosevelt; crwaa.profishingtournaments .com; lakerooseveltwalleyeclub.com  July 8-10: Northport Chamber of Commerce Annual Fishing Derby, Upper Columbia River; northportwa.us

nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

Northwest Sportsman 41




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OUTDOOR

CALENDAR* JUNE

1

North Fork Nooksack, upper Skagit and Cascade Rivers hatchery spring Chinook openers; Grimes Lake fishing opener; Washington Marine Area 11 hatchery Chinook opener 4-5 Oregon Free Fishing Weekend 11 Idaho Free Fishing Day 11-12 Washington Free Fishing Weekend; Washington State Archery Association 3D Championship, Mount Vernon – info: wsaa.wildapricot.org 16 Area 10 coho opener; Mid-Columbia River (Bonneville Dam to Pasco) hatchery summer Chinook opener (no sockeye retention) 16-22 Lower Columbia hatchery summer Chinook dates (no sockeye retention) 18 Areas 3 and 4 Chinook and hatchery coho openers; Oregon Coast south of Cape Falcon hatchery coho opener; Rods and Reels in Need Fish Expo, with special guest Bill Herzog, plus tackle, kids’ fish pond, food, music; Thurston County Fairgrounds – info: Larry Stamp, (360) 507-9718; CAST For Kids fishing event on Emigrant Lake (Ashland) – info: castforkids.org 20 Oregon controlled hunt draw results expected 25 Oregon Coast south of Humbug Mountain Chinook opener 26 CAST For Kids event on Bowman’s Pond (Winston, Ore.) – info: see above

JULY 1

2 7-9

Leftover big game tags go on sale in Oregon; Start of Oregon Youth First Time hunt application period; New Washington fishing regs pamphlet takes effect; Areas 5, 6 and 12 south of Ayock Point hatchery Chinook openers; Steelhead closures begin on Washington-side Columbia Gorge tributary mouths Area 2 Chinook and hatchery coho opener

Oregon Central Coast spring all-depth halibut backup dates (quota dependent) 14 Area 10 hatchery Chinook opener 14-16 Areas 7 and 9 hatchery Chinook retention days 15 Deadline to purchase Washington raffle hunt tickets; Steelhead closures begin on Oregon-side Columbia Gorge tributary mouths 21-23 Area 9 hatchery Chinook retention days (quota dependent); Oregon Central Coast spring all-depth halibut backup dates (quota dependent) 22 22nd Annual Merwin Special Kids Day, Merwin Fish Hatchery (North Fork Lewis River) (registration deadline: June 24) – info: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/ contests/youth 24 CAST For Kids event on Yaquina Bay – info: see above 28 Area 9 hatchery Chinook retention opens seven days a week (quota dependent) 30 CAST For Kids event on Lake Charles (private lake near Jefferson, Oregon) – info: see above

AUGUST 1

Oregon and Washington fall bear season openers; Columbia River from west Puget Island line upstream to Highway 395 bridge in Pasco Chinook and hatchery coho opener; Steelhead closures begin on select Washington-side Lower Columbia tributary mouths 1-24 Buoy 10 (actual buoy to west Puget Island line) hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho opener 4-6 Oregon Central Coast summer all-depth halibut dates 18-20 Oregon Central Coast summer all-depth halibut dates 25 Buoy 10 any-Chinook opener 27 Oregon general and controlled deer and elk bowhunting openers 30 Idaho deer and elk bowhunting season openers in many units * While Covid-19 restrictions have eased, always confirm public events before attending. nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

Northwest Sportsman 45



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PLEASE MAKE YOUR 2023 RESERVATIONS FOR THIS EXCITING PACKAGE BY AUGUST 31ST 2022. We are very pleased to introduce you to our one of a kind, Combo Adventure Fishing Package for the 2023 season. This is our 5 night 6 day, Combo Salmon and Sturgeon Package. This Combo Package includes: 20 hours of guided fishing for sturgeon on the world famous Fraser River and 20 hours of guided fishing for salmon, halibut and lingcod on the Wild West Coast of Vancouver Island. Zeballos Top Guides is pleased to announce that we are partnering with Great River Fishing Adventures in order to bring you this exciting Combo Salmon/Sturgeon Package.

HERE ARE A COUPLE OF OUR MOST RECENT REVIEWS: This review from David M. was received on Nov.9th 2021

Dale S fished with us last month.

Fabulous weeks guided fishing w/GRFA

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This was our first trip to GRFA and we were blown away. Despite some challenging weather, the whole trip was fabulous end to end. Our guide Landon was a real expert, super professional, but also a joy to fish alongside. From the Sturgeon in the Canyon to Salmon on the Harrison and Chehalis River, we were always on fish quickly. We really didn’t want to leave. So good...3 return trips already planned for 2022....Thanks guys.

This was my fifth year of Sturgeon fishing with GRFA. The guides are knowledgeable, helpful and fun. The Fraser River scenery is stunning. The boats are comfortable and well equipped. The boat ride on the Fraser River is an adventure in itself. Reeling in Sturgeon is awesome. The power of these fish is something to experience. I am already looking forward to next year, catching up with friends and catching and releasing more of these magnificent fish. GRFA is a fantastic way for friends to spend a memorable day together.

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5 NIGHT 6 DAY COMBO SALMON/STURGEON PACKAGE Includes the following: All meals, including wine with your dinner meals, 5 nights accommodations and 40 hours of guided fishing. You will spend your first 2 nights with GRFA and your next 3 nights with Zeballos Top Guides at their Lodge in Zeballos. Your 5 day fishing licenses are included along with the vacuum packing and freezing of your catch while fishing with Zeballos Top Guides. Also included is your transportation between our Great River Fishing Adventures location on the Banks of the Fraser River and the Zeballos Top Guides Lodge in Zeballos, BC Canada.

Party of 2, fishing 2 per boat...$5537.00 + tax USD PP Party of 3 fishing 3 per boat....$3633.00 + tax USD PP Party of 4 fishing 4 per boat... $3185.00 + tax USD PP How to book your Combo Salmon/Sturgeon 5 Night 6 Day Package for 2023: Go to https://www.zeballostopguides.com/contact and complete and submit the Submissions Form. If you have any questions or would like information on availability, just give us a call at 1-250-337-2158 or send an email to doug.zeballostopguides2022@gmail.com Here are the Dates for the package: May 1st to May 6th, May 6th to May 11th, May 11th to May 16th, May 16th to May 21st, May 21st to May 26th May 26th to May 31st, May 31st to June 5th, June 5th to June 10th, June 10th to June 15th, June 15th to June 20th June 20th to June 25th, June 25th to June 30th, June30th to July 5th, July 5th to July 10th, July 10th to July 15th July 15th to July 20th, July 20th to July 25th, July 25th to July 30th. September 1st to September 6th, September 6th to September 11th, September 11th to September 16th, September 16th to September 21st, September 21st to September 26th and September 26th to October 1st.

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COLUMN

Portland-area Salmon Ops Increase In June

Springers in the Willamette, summer Chinook in the mainstem Columbia, and coho and kings in the ocean are three of the best options for Northwest salmon anglers this month. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

W

hile opportunities to catch Chinook continue on the Willamette River and many tributaries, June also offers BUZZ RAMSEY the chance to catch summer kings from the Columbia and saltwater salmon off the coast. Here’s a roundup of the opportunities.

WILLAMETTE CHINOOK While you can catch salmon anywhere along the Willamette during the June

timeframe, many anglers and guides narrow their focus to the area extending from the St. John’s Bridge to the mouth of the Willamette (at the head of the slough). In this area of the Willamette in June and July, it’s mostly a daybreak-to-11-a.m. bite. A small 3.5 spinner fished in combination with a Pro-Troll flasher pretty much dominates this late-season fishery. Most guides and anglers position their flashers 24 inches behind their weight. The leader length, from flasher to small spinner, is generally in the 24- to 30-inch range. Keep in mind that there are times when a Brad’s Super Bait, SpinFish or red-label herring

might work too. When fishing Pro-Trolls, most anglers employ 16-ounce cannonball sinkers on their front rods and 12-ouncers on those extending out the back of their boats. Since you will likely be fishing over deep water for suspended fish, your letout might be 20 feet on your front rods and 24 on your back rods. It’s well known that the hook-to-land ratio can be poor when using rotating flashers, as the fish can get leverage against these big devices and throw the hook, especially one with no barb. And while there are release mechanisms that

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Northwest Sportsman 57


COLUMN allow one end of the flasher to be released after hooking up, a few anglers I know have figured out ways to not lose fish when employing large flashers. One such attractor with a release mechanism built into its design is the all-new Revolution Flasher produced by Brad’s. Professional fishing guide Terry Mulkey (mulkeysguideservice.com) says he lands nearly every fish when using Pro-Troll flashers. What works for him is to set his reel drags fairly light while purposely keeping the fish away from his boat during the first portion of the fight. “You’ve got to let the fish tire out while away from the boat before bringing them close enough to net. What you don’t want to do is allow them to frantically thrash near the boat, a sure way to lose them,” Mulkey advises.

G P

COLUMBIA SUMMER KINGS This year’s forecast of 57,500 Columbia River summer Chinook is enough for only a seven-day season west of Bonneville Dam – scheduled to run June 16-22 – but this short, close-to-Portland fishery with the possibility of catching a 30-, 40- or (occasionally) 50-pounder will likely result in fair participation for these unique fish. Since the resumption of this fishery in 2002, after a 29-year fishing closure, it’s been mostly an anchor fishery where boaters time their trips to coincide with the outgoing tide. However, this has changed some due to the effectiveness of rotating flashers like the Pro-Troll fished in combination with a small 3.5 spinner blade, Brad’s Super Bait, SpinFish or red-label herring. If you decide to troll, keep in mind that a flood tide or times when a soft outgoing tide is in play is when trolling will likely produce best. Some of the popular lower river areas include Cathlamet, Longview (both west of town and near the Cowlitz mouth), Kalama and Chinook Landing (near where the Sandy and Washougal Rivers enter the Columbia). Anchoring may produce best when tides are outgoing, thus providing the needed current to work stationary plugs and spinners. Summer kings like smaller spinners than their fall cousins, so a size 5½ 58 Northwest Sportsman

JUNE 2022 | nwsportsmanmag.com

D

Trey Carskadon prepares to whack a Chinook caught on the lower Willamette early last summer. Size 3.5 spinners are a good option for this fishery; run them 24 to 30 inches behind a Pro-Troll flasher and your setup 20 to 25 feet out on a linecounter reel. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)


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COLUMN to spring Chinook. We’ve had the best success anchoring from Beacon Rock to the fishing deadline near Bonneville Dam in depths ranging from 14 to 25 feet. Keep in mind that while you may find fish traveling in 14 feet of water during the early morning hours, when the light is low, their migration path will most likely move to deeper water as the sun intensifies. What this means is you may want to reposition your boat if the bite stops where it was good just an hour before. Bank anglers plunk/still-fish a size 2 Spin-N-Glo when targeting summer Chinook and often add a prawn to a barbless double-hook setup. Another way to add scent is to encase a ball of sardine or tuna into an egg netting wrap positioned at the top of a double-hook setup, so between the top hook and Spin-NGlo. Hoochie squids are often rigged just above their ball of bait.

OREGON COAST, ASTORIA SALMON

Anglers have a seven-day midJune window to get after summer kings on the Lower Columbia, where author Buzz Ramsey caught this one last season. Note that state managers also opened this part of the big river June 1-15, though that fishery is dependent on there still being spring Chinook available in the quota after May’s open days and run updates. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Mulkey Guide Flash or similar lure might be what you should try when anchoring. When it comes to salmon plugs, a K-14/M-2 or K-15/T-50 Kwikfish, FlatFish or Killer Fish will produce the most wiggle when river currents are slow moving. Try rigging a 50-inch leader behind a weight-dropper line of 24 to 30 inches. Keep in mind that while a 24-inch weight-dropper line might be right for a K-15/T-50, a dropper of 30 to 36 inches 60 Northwest Sportsman

JUNE 2022 | nwsportsmanmag.com

will likely be needed to keep a deep-diving Mag Lip from rubbing bottom, especially when currents are running fast. Of course, you will find steady current if you fish near Bonneville Dam, where the migration stalls as the fish try to determine how to get past this concrete barrier. Given that water temperatures are warmer in June, normally in the mid-60s, you will likely find these fish running somewhat deeper in the water column as compared

A flood tide is what makes for an easy bar crossing at the mouths of the Columbia River and other Oregon ports like Tillamook, Newport and Winchester Bay. And while the season won’t open off the mouth of the Columbia (extending from Leadbetter Point to Cape Falcon) until June 25, you can expect hot fishing when it does, as this season’s fin-clipped coho quota for this ocean zone is 84,000 fish. The any-Chinook guideline is 7,700 adults and the salmon limit here is two fish, one of which can be a Chinook. The season for the ocean zone that extends from Cape Falcon (near Manzanita) to Humbug Mountain (just south of Port Orford) is currently open for Chinook only (two-fish limit), but beginning June 18 it opens for fin-clipped coho, with a 100,000fish quota. South of Humbug, the hatchery coho season runs June 18-August 21 (earlier if the quota is met), but fishing for Chinook won’t open until June 25 – all with a two-salmon limit. Given that the ocean is an ever-changing environment, most guides, charter captains and seasoned sport anglers look for riplines and bird activity when searching the Pacific for salmon. Riplines (where two currents meet) are identified by a line


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COLUMN Ocean anglers should enjoy another good coho season, thanks to a strong hatchery forecast back to the Columbia and other rivers. There’s a 100,000-fish quota off Oregon’s Central and South Coasts, and 84,000 from Cape Falcon to the north tip of the Long Beach Peninsula. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

of surface chop, debris and often include a water color change. Once a rip is found, the strategy is to troll parallel to it on the smooth-water side, and not through it where debris might catch your lines. Deciphering bird activity can help you find ocean salmon too. Seagulls flying in an erratic pattern indicate they are seeing baitfish and/or salmon in the water below them. When sea birds are flocked together working a bait school, the direction they are flying can indicate the direction the bait and predatory salmon are moving. If you find a group of salmon and the bite slows, it may mean you have moved past the salmon school and should turn around and troll back through the area where you caught fish earlier. And while Chinook and coho can be found near the surface in the early morning hours, the fish will likely go deep as the sun brightens. Going deep as light intensity increases is especially true for Chinook. If you are after a big-boy king, you will up your odds by trolling your gear deeper in the water column after the early bite fades.

What many anglers do when targeting Chinook and coho is run their front rods out 15 or so feet on the linecounter reels and 30 to 50 feet out on the stern rods – deeper when the sun is bright. Herring remains the popular bait for ocean salmon and is usually rigged on a barbless double-hook 4/0 or 5/0 mooching leader and placed 60 inches behind a Fish Flash and diver combo. Rotating flashers work too, but are generally more popular for attracting Chinook when they go deep. Some anglers use cannonball sinkers instead of a diver, with 10- or 12-ounce sinkers on their front rods and 6 or 8 ounces on their back rods. Of course, it will take more weight, 16 and 12 ounces, to go deep when targeting Chinook. NS Editor’s note: Buzz Ramsey is regarded as a trout, steelhead and salmon sport fishing authority and proficient lure and fishing rod designer. He has been honored into the Hall of Fame for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders and the national Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.

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JUNE 2022 | nwsportsmanmag.com


TOP NORTHWEST FISHING GUIDES



FISHING

Wash. Summer Salmon Preview Best bets for Chinook and coho in the Evergreen State’s marine waters as well as the Columbia. By Mark Yuasa

S

ummer can’t come soon enough, and while you’ve got plenty of chances to catch some salmon, there’s simply not enough time to venture out into every waterway. To solve this dilemma, the following details should provide a clearer path in planning out your precious summer vacation time. But before we dive into the specifics on where to go, let’s see what expectations lie ahead for Washington’s salmon forecasts. Conservation remains at the forefront for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers, who have carefully put measures in place and crafted fishing seasons to ensure wild salmon stocks of concern aren’t overharvested. “The North of Falcon process always comes with unique challenges, and this year was no different,” said Dr. Kirsten Simonsen, WDFW’s Puget Sound recreational salmon biologist. “While shaping the fishing seasons this year, we aimed to be cognizant of both the conservation concerns that persist in the Puget Sound, particularly for the Stillaguamish and Snohomish River stocks, and our constituents’ desire for diverse fisheries throughout the region.” When it comes to wild Chinook in Puget Sound, the 2022 forecast is

Washington salmon anglers can look forward to decent opportunities this summer for Chinook and coho, and one of the most anticipated fisheries will be mid-July’s Marine Area 9 hatchery king season. Author Mark Yuasa caught this chromer at the northern end of Admiralty Inlet last summer. (MARK YUASA)

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Northwest Sportsman 65


FISHING 28,992 (compared to 26,918 in 2021), which is up 6 percent compared to the 2021 forecast but 40 percent down from the 10-year average. One of the key drivers in Puget Sound sport fisheries is a hatchery Chinook forecast of 201,059, up slightly from 2021. The stock, which includes both wild and fin-clipped fish, was listed as federally threatened in 1999 and fisheries require careful management. The Puget Sound-wide hatchery coho forecast shows an 8 percent improvement and wild coho are up 9 percent compared to the 2021 forecast. The recent 10-year average for hatchery coho is up 61 percent and the wild coho is up 29 percent. The combined Puget Sound hatchery and wild coho forecast is 636,952 (387,722 hatchery and 249,230 wild) in 2022, compared to 614,948 (369,059 and 245,889) in 2021 and 504,604 (341,895 and 162,709) in 2020. Fishery managers will continue to keep tabs on wild coho returns to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Hood Canal and the Snohomish River, which all remain in “rebuilding status” after

OCEAN QUOTAS, SEASONS

N

eah Bay: 6,110 Chinook and 17,470 hatchery-marked coho (5,825 and 5,730 in 2021 and 4,700 and 2,340 in 2020). Open daily from June 18-September 30, or until the quota is achieved, for all salmon, except no chum beginning August 1, with a two-salmon daily limit. Chinook minimum size is 24 inches. Beginning August 1, Chinook nonretention east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line. La Push: 995 Chinook and 4,370 hatchery-marked coho (1,300 and 1,430 in 2021 and 1,100 and 580 in 2020). Open daily from June 18-September 30, or until the quota is achieved, for all salmon, except no chum beginning August 1, with a two-salmon daily limit. Chinook minimum size is 24 inches. Bubble fishery is open October 5-8, but could close sooner if the 125-Chinook quota is caught. Westport: 12,070 Chinook and 62,160 hatchery-marked coho (12,925 and 20,440 in 2021 and 10,500 and 8,330 in 2020). Open daily July 2-September 30, or until quota is achieved. Two-salmon daily limit, but no more than one may be a Chinook (minimum size 22 inches). Ilwaco: 7,700 Chinook and 84,000 hatchery-marked coho (7,200 and 42,400 in 2021 and 5,800 and 11,250 in 2020). Open daily June 25-September 15, or until the quota is achieved. Two-salmon daily limit, but no more than one may be a Chinook (minimum size 22 inches). –MY

experiencing poor escapements since 2015. The Snohomish wild coho spawning escapement goal is 55,000 and the 2022 forecast is for 64,218 wild fish (60,000 in 2021) and 22,559 hatchery fish (29,938).

COASTAL SALMON FORECASTS COULD BE A BRIGHT SPOT “I’m cautiously optimistic for salmon off the coast, especially when it comes

Get a jump on salmon season this month, which sees Chinook opening in the waters off Tacoma and resident coho fair game off Seattle. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

66 Northwest Sportsman

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to the coho forecast,” said Larry Phillips, the American Sportfishing Association’s Pacific fisheries policy director and former WDFW Region 6 director. “The positive news appears to be ocean conditions have bounced back, so hopefully that’s a move in the right direction. What I am worried about is how quickly we might burn through our quotas, especially if we see the coho return pushing a million fish and we get good weather conditions.”


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FISHING On the coast, coho returns – mainly destined for the Columbia River – take centerstage in 2022 and it could be another spectacular year, thanks to a forecast of 1,225,900 (1,732,900 was the forecast and 1,114,500 was the actual return in 2021). To find anything closely related, you’d need to dial back to 2015 when the coho forecast was 1,015,000. Even if the coho forecast was off by 500,000, it would still be considered a decent return. The Queets River in 2021 saw a poor return of 15,699 coho (11,780 were hatchery and 3,919 were wild) and low expectations played a key role in crafting last year’s ocean fisheries. This summer the stock won’t be a hinderance, as the forecast rebounded to 40,374 (22,214 are hatchery and 18,160 are wild), along with other robust coastal coho predictions. This fall’s Columbia Chinook and

68 Northwest Sportsman

JUNE 2022 | nwsportsmanmag.com

While Yuasa is a huge fan of mooching and others like to jig, most anglers prefer to troll for their salmon, either with cutplug herring, large plugs like Tomics or a hoochie, like this Ace Hi Fly on a twohook rig. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

coho runs are expected to improve over the past few years and could create a blissful summer fishing season from Neah Bay south to Ilwaco and beyond. This is linked to a prediction of 484,900 fall Chinook

in 2022, which is slightly higher than the 2021 actual return of 481,300 but below the forecast of 580,800. The lower river “tule” Chinook – a driver for ocean salmon fisheries – is predicted at 73,000 (73,100 was the forecast and 74,700 was the actual return in 2021) and is 89 percent of the 10-year average. The tule stock has had the biggest impact on coastal summer salmon fisheries in the past several years, although early signs of a much largerthan-expected spring Chinook run might be a precursor to what lies ahead for other stocks too.

SOUTH SOUND SALMON OPTIONS “A strategy for Puget Sound anglers to be successful is being flexible and mobile while trying out new fisheries they may have not ventured to in the past,” Phillips pointed out. “I know that doesn’t sit well with some, but those willing to do it should find success.” One of the main summer



FISHING Amanda Wiles holds a beautiful Chinook she caught on the ocean last summer. This year’s king guideline is about the same as 2021, but the hatchery coho quota is more than double and should provide excellent fishing off Westport and Ilwaco. (AMANDA WILES)

attractions is the hatchery-marked Chinook fishery in southcentral Puget Sound’s Marine Area 11 opening June 1-September 30. The season length is dictated by an allowable catch quota of 580 hatchery Chinook (431 in 2021) from June 1-30, and the remainder-of-summer quota is 2,816 (2,656 in 2021). The coho-only fishery is October 1-31. The June 1 opening is more than two weeks earlier than 2021 and it had been closed during this timeframe since 2018. Before going, be sure to visit the WDFW website (wdfw.wa.gov) for any emergency rule changes that could arise prior to and during the season. Dogfish tend to be a nuisance at this time of the year in Tacoma-area waters, and many anglers prefer to jig with a P-Line Laser Minnow, Point 70 Northwest Sportsman

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Wilson Dart, Dungeness Stinger or Crippled Herring. Top colors are glow, chartreuse, pearl-white, green-nickel, blue-pearl and blue-gold patterns. Others will deploy downriggers and troll plugs, spoons or a plastic hoochie squid. If you’re brave enough, send down a whole or cutplug herring, but be warned that you might be going through a lot of fishing leaders, as dogfish feed heavily on baitfish schools in the area. Look for salmon at the Clay Banks and Owen Beach off the northwest side of Point Defiance Park; the Slag Pile off the Tacoma Yacht Club; the “flats” outside of Gig Harbor; Girl Scout Camp in Colvos Passage; outside of Quartermaster Harbor; Dolphin Point on the northeast side of Vashon Island; Redondo Beach; Point Robinson; and Point Dalco on the southwest side of

Vashon Island. Central Puget Sound’s Marine Area 10 is another decent early-summer fishery and it opens June 16-July 13 for resident coho only, with salmon averaging 2 to 4 pounds. For the past several years, this fishery tends to start off slow and takes about one or two weeks for the action to build. Hit the deepwater shipping lanes between Jefferson Head and the Kingston-Apple Tree Point area; the rip currents around the Edmonds oil docks to Richmond Beach; West Point south of Shilshole Bay; and the east side of Bainbridge Island. Area 10 then moves into a hatchery-marked Chinook and coho fishery from July 14-August 31. Chinook retention could close sooner if the 3,966 quota is achieved (3,718 in 2021 and 4,100 in 2020). The area then remains open for coho only from September 1-October 31. For summer kings in Area 10 when it opens on July 14, try Kingston; Jefferson Head; Richmond Beach to the Edmonds oil docks; the east side of Bainbridge Island from Point Monroe to Skiff Point and Yeomalt Point; Lincoln Park south to Brace Point off West Seattle; Allen Bank off Blake Island; West Point south of Shilshole Bay; and Southworth. There’s a small window of opportunity for Chinook in inner Elliott Bay August 6-9 and additional openings may occur, plus it’s open August 20-31 for coho only, and then follows concurrent rules with Area 10 September 1-October 31. A location already open for kings, just to the north of Everett, is the Tulalip Bay Terminal Fishery. Fishing is allowed each week from 12:01 a.m. Fridays through 11:59 a.m. Mondays only through September 7, and then Saturdays and Sundays only September 11-26. There could be intermittent closures from July 15-August 15. Southern Puget Sound’s Marine Area 13 is open year-round for salmon. Look for hatchery Chinook in June at Point Fosdick and off Fox Island’s east side at Gibson Point, Toy



FISHING Point and Fox Point. This area ramps up in mid- to late August around the Nisqually Delta Reach area, Anderson Island and Johnson Point near Olympia. From July 1-September 30, the minimum size for hatchery Chinook is 20 inches.

NORTH SOUND, STRAITS KINGS, COHO As July rolls around, the focus for

summer hatchery-marked Chinook moves to the San Juan Islands, which is Marine Area 7, and northern Puget Sound’s Marine Area 9, and fishing in both will begin slightly earlier than the past several years. In Area 7, fishing is open July 1416 only and additional days may be added based on in-season updates. The islands’ Chinook quota is 1,800

Buoy 10 opens on time, August 1, but note that for the first 24 days Chinook retention is limited to hatchery only. The author’s Tegan Yuasa caught this fin-clipped fall king there last season. (MARK YUASA) 72 Northwest Sportsman

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(up from 1,382 in 2021 and 1,562 in 2020). Fishing is set to reopen August 16-September 30 for hatchery coho only. Initially, WDFW proposed an August 1 or August 15 start in the San Juans, a time when impacts are less to the constraining Stillaguamish River Chinook stock. This would’ve led to a more fluid start right into the coho season, but sport anglers during public meetings this past spring wanted an earlier start when fishing is better in the island chain. There are many areas to catch salmon in the San Juans, which is a major intersection for kings migrating toward British Columbia or Puget Sound. The difficulty is the diverse underwater geography and knowing where the migratory fish are hanging out. Dogfish can also be a problem. In Marine Area 9, fishing is open July 14-16 and possibly July 21-23, and then open daily from July 28-August 15 if enough of the 4,700-Chinook quota (4,700 in 2021 and 5,600 in 2020) remains. It then reopens daily from August 16-September 25 for hatcherymarked coho only. Popular places in Area 9 are Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend; Point Wilson; the east side of Marrowstone Island; Fort Casey, Bush Point, Lagoon Point and Double Bluff off the west side of Whidbey Island; Point No Point; Possession Bar; Scatchet Head; and Pilot Point. The Strait of Juan de Fuca off Sekiu, Marine Area 5, opens July 1-August 15 for hatchery-marked Chinook and coho, and the Chinook fishery could close sooner if the 3,890-catch quota (4,077 in 2021) is achieved. Fishing is open August 16-September 28 for hatchery-marked coho. At Sekiu try The Caves, a ¼-mile stretch of shoreline near the breakwater at Mason’s Resort in Clallam Bay; Slip Point; Kydaka Point; Mussolini Rock and Little Mussolini Rock; Eagle Point; the “Slide” area; Coal Mines; and Pillar Point, where


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FISHING Chet Gausta caught the state record king that weighed 70.50 pounds way back on September 6, 1964. The eastern Strait off Port Angeles, Marine Area 6 west of a true northsouth line through the No. 2 Buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook, opens July 1-August 15 for hatcherymarked Chinook and coho. The Chinook retention fishery could close sooner if the 6,050 quota (4,769 in 2021) is achieved. The area east of that north-south line is open July 1-August 15 for hatchery-marked coho only. All Marine Area 6 is open August 16-September 28 for hatchery coho. The Dungeness Bay hatcherycoho-only fishery runs October 1-31. When Area 6 opens on July 1, look for Chinook west of Port Angeles off Ediz Hook; the humps and Winter Hole in the Strait; Freshwater Bay; and Crescent Bay to the mouth of Whiskey Creek. The entire Strait is the main

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thoroughfare for kings heading south to the Columbia River and beyond or east into Puget Sound and British Columbia. Successfully finding a prized migratory Chinook, averaging 8 to 20 pounds with some exceeding 30 pounds, will be measured by doing your homework before heading out the door. Study tide tables for optimal fishing periods; choose the right lures and baits; fish the right depths; watch what others around you are doing; look for baitfish schools; and make sure you’re on the water before sunrise – often a peak time for targeting kings. Over the past three summers, Chinook fishing at both Sekiu and Port Angeles was best right out of the starting gate and then eventually slowed down as the season progressed further into July and early August. In other positive news, the east side of northern and central Whidbey

Island in Marine Area 8-1 is open August 1-October 9 for a coho-only fishery. And that part of Marine Area 8-2 south and west of a line between the Clinton and Mukilteo ferry docks is open August 13-September 19 for hatchery-marked coho only. Possession Point and the Shipwreck/ Browns Bay locations are usually good for coho in late August and September.

HOOD CANAL AND OTHER OPTIONS A salmon fishery that doesn’t get its deserved attention is Hood Canal south of Ayock Point. This part of Marine Area 12 is open July 1-September 30 for coho and hatchery-marked Chinook with a liberal daily limit of four salmon and a minimum size limit of 20 inches. The areas north of Ayock Point are open September 1-October 31, but anglers must release all Chinook and chum. Quilcene Bay is open August 1-31 for


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FISHING a fishery directed at coho only. There are also other terminal fisheries in several marine areas like Sinclair Inlet, Hoodsport Hatchery Zone and Bellingham Bay, as well as piers open year-round for shorebound anglers. Consult WDFW’s regulation pamphlet or website for any changes like a reduced daily catch limit or emergency closures.

COASTAL, COLUMBIA OPPORTUNITIES The ocean sport catch coastwide quota is 27,000 Chinook (27,250 in 2021) and 168,000 hatchery-marked coho (70,000 in 2021). The “total allowable catch,” or TAC, for ocean sport and non-tribal fisheries is 54,000 Chinook and 200,000 hatchery-marked coho (58,000 Chinook and 75,000 hatchery-marked coho in 2021; and 45,000 and 25,000 in 2020). Off the coast, La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) are open for salmon retention

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beginning June 18; Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) on June 25; and Westport (Marine Area 2) on July 2. All areas are scheduled to remain open until September 30 or until quotas are met, with species and size restrictions dependent on the area. The highly popular Buoy 10 latesummer salmon fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River is scheduled to be open August 1-24 with a two-hatchery-salmon daily limit (only one Chinook), followed by all Chinook from August 25-September 7. A three-hatchery-marked-coho daily limit runs September 8-30. Further up the Columbia, the waters from the west end of Puget Island to Warrior Rock are open August 1-September 7 for two salmon (hatchery-marked coho only and one Chinook only) and reopen October 1 with the same limits. The area from Warrior to Bonneville Dam is open August 1-September 13 with a daily

limit of two salmon (hatchery-marked coho only and one Chinook only). A limited summer Chinook fishery from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Bonneville Dam opens June 16-22 with a two-hatcherymarked-Chinook daily limit. The summer Chinook fishery from above Bonneville Dam to Tri-Cities is open June 16-July 31. Sockeye retention is off limits in both areas of the Columbia mainstem. A comprehensive list of statewide freshwater salmon seasons can be found – along with more detailed marine fisheries – on WDFW’s website. The North of Falcon process and salmon forecasts can also be found at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/ management/north-falcon. NS Editor’s note: Mark Yuasa is a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Communications Consultant and longtime local fishing and outdoor writer.



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FISHING

What I (Think I) Know About Surfperch

Surfperch can be caught up and down the Northwest Coast, but some locations are better than others, including Beard’s Hollow. At low tide look for areas with pockets, pools and long narrow channels that run parallel to shore and then fish them as the tide floods back in. (WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY)

The wheres, whys and hows of catching coastal panfish from a guy who more or less – maybe less some days, more others – has it dialed in. Ish. By MD Johnson

D

uring the 50-plus years I’ve been involved in this thing called fishing, I’ve learned one thing. Actually, I’ve learned a lot of things, but one thing in particular stands out, and that’s that some people catch fish. All. The. Time. Day in and day out, these folks are catching fish. Don’t know why; maybe it’s the way they smell or the way they hold their mouth just right. Maybe it has to do with the gear, the bait, the gear and the bait. Again, I’m not sure I understand, but some folks always seem to have the hot stick.

I’ve seen it happen with walleye. With fall Chinook at the so-called Meat Hole on Cedar Creek of the Lewis. On the North Jetty in September. Hell, one year, I watched an older gentleman, spinning outfit held upside down and reeled in reverse, catch silver after silver … after silver. Never got off his butt. Never got excited. Fish after fish. What was I doing 50 yards away? Throwing the same hot pink Mepps Flying C the dude was, and … nothing. I even sat down and reeled my Pflueger backwards. No dice. Ugh! But with no other species have I seen this “some got it/some don’t”

aspect hold truer than with surfperch. Redtail. Striped. Doesn’t matter. Some folks, it seems, just have the knack. They know where to fish. When to fish. What to throw. What not to throw. Phase of the moon. How to dress. Hell, I don’t know what it is, but these are the folks with – yep, sure enough – a cooler full of redtails, each about a pound, more or less. You know this guy? Am I that guy? Some days, I am; I’m a hero. Others … well, it’s more like that big fat zero. If nothing else, and when the topic turns around to surfperch, I’m consistently inconsistent. But I’m getting better. I think. So this month, I’ve decided to let y’all in on what I may or may not know about catching surfperch. My AO – area of operation – is the Washington coast from the North Jetty at the mouth of Big River north nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

Northwest Sportsman 79


FISHING to Westport. Are there other places where perch hopefuls can ply their trade? Absolutely, but this stretch of beach is where I spend the vast majority of my time, effectively or … well … otherwise.

LOCATION, LOCATION, AND TIMING Let’s start with timing here, and work backwards. With surfperch, timing

relates directly to the ebb and flood of the tides; in other words, do you want to fish the incoming or the outgoing? Now I know you’ll find folks who beg to differ – and do quite well in that difference – but it’s been my experience that when it comes to perch, you want to concentrate on the flood. To my mind, the reason behind

A lot of surfperch angling occurs, well, in the surf, but jetties also offer a perch to catch the nearshore fish. A slip bobber setup worked well for author MD Johnson’s granddaughter Adrionna McClellan off the Columbia’s North Jetty. Note that the rock structures are shipping navigation aids and not made for fishing off of. Always keep an eye out for large waves. (JULIA JOHNSON) 80 Northwest Sportsman

JUNE 2022 | nwsportsmanmag.com

this decision is no different than my wanting to focus on the incoming tide when I’m duck hunting a tidal marsh. One, the flood means water, which – obviously – both ducks and perch are huge fans of. And two, the flood tide inundates areas previously dry, thus laying out an all-you-caneat buffet, again for both birds and perch. Does this mean you can’t catch perch on an outgoing tide? No, it doesn’t; however, I’ve seen it both with channel cats under high-water conditions in the Midwest, as well as with sturgeon here given an ebb tide. Falling water – be it naturally receding floodwaters or an ebb – can potentially leave fish stranded, often with most dire consequences to their health and well-being. I, unscientifically mind you, believe fish can sense this drop, and follow the drop into deeper water until such a time, e.g. the flood tide, that they can safely return. Conjecture? Sure, but it makes sense to me. So the incoming tide, it is. Location can be tough. The Long Beach Peninsula, for instance, is 28 miles long, and at any given time, perch can be found anywhere along that 28-mile stretch of sand. Historically, I’ve had my best luck from, say, the Cranberry Road Approach south to Beard’s Hollow, and I’ll tell you why: terrain. Above Ocean Park to Leadbetter Point, the near-shore topography is extremely flat; that is, very few deeper holes and troughs that might attract cruising perch. The further south you go, however, these deviations in bottom topography increase. Now, you’ll find pockets and pools; long narrow channels running parallel to the shoreline. Just the sort of bottom structure, per se, that perch gravitate toward. How do you find them? Two words: low (and) tide. You’ll see the best perchers running the beach at low tide, making note of these pockets, pools, drop-offs and channels. Then, it’s a matter of going back at the flood,



FISHING

Good offerings for surfperch include hardy natural baits like clam necks and plastic ones like Gulp! products, as well as sand shrimp. (JULIA JOHNSON)

and working those same areas noted at low tide. Understand, though, that these changes in bottom topography are constantly changing; here today, and gone a couple days from now, making this low-water scouting an ongoing process. Two places I’ve always had good luck with perch on the LBP are the waters on the north side of the rocks at Beard’s Hollow, and the stretch of Benson Beach adjacent to Campground “A” in Cape Disappointment State Park. After watching a Pontiac Grand Am get swallowed by the flood tide years ago inside the “bowl” at Beard’s Hollow, I no longer park there; rather, I park outside (north) and walk down to the rocks. There’s some deeper water – scour holes, I would imagine – on that north side of the rock that attract and hold perch, even through the tide turn. As for Benson Beach, the sand here slopes outward at a greater angle than it does to the north, giving surfcasters relatively easy access to deeper water – and theoretically perch – just offshore. So, with where and when behind us, let’s now take a look at some of the things I’ve learned over the past 30 years that I’ve been chasing these little red-tailed devils.

STOP THROWIN’ SO FAR! DAMMIT! I think it’s a guy thing – an American guy thing – this “bigger and farther must be better” concept. Oh, I’m sure it applies in some instances, but with surfperch? What I’ve learned after years of trial and error – that, and watching and talking with anglers who actually know what they’re doing when it comes to perch – is that often, I’ve been overthrowing my target. I’ve been working under the impression that I have to throw way out beyond the horizon in order to catch fish, when in fact, if I’d done my homework, i.e. scouting at low tide, I could be and should be casting not far off my boots into those deeper water pockets and pools and channels. 82 Northwest Sportsman

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Moral of the story? If throwing all you have isn’t working, then back off and try tossing a bait or two close.

SHORT-LINING My wife Julie and I watched a young man work the rocks on the ocean side of the North Jetty one morning, and catch perch after perch. Without casting. After having all I could handle, I walked up and used my patented, “I know I shouldn’t ask, son, but I’m asking … What are you doing?” He laughed, and then took the time to explain in depth. It’s important to note that he wasn’t, oh, 100 yards out on the jetty from the beach, and it was near the height of the incoming tide. His bait, he told me, was small salad (cocktail) shrimp soaked in Smelly Jelly Garlic. His rigging was a ½-ounce egg sinker, bead and swivel, culminating in an 18-inch monofilament leader and a size 6 baitholder hook. Instead of casting out away from the jetty, this kid was simply flipping his bait to the base of the rocks, where it would swirl around in the surf until, invariably, it was discovered by a perch. Simple and effective; just like I like it. I’ve since used the young man’s technique on the North Jetty, as well as other rock structures, with good success.

SLIP BOBBERS My brother-in-law Gordie is a fantastic fisherman, never hesitant to try something different. One afternoon in September, when the silver bite was nonexistent on the jetty, he switched sides and riggings, downsizing hook, line and bobber from the larger previous versions to ones a bit smaller, swapped his anchovy for a hunk of clam neck on a size 6 hook, and proceeded to bobber fish for perch on the ocean side. I was impressed; he did quite well, though the surf that day made for a pretty rapid-fire cast-and-retrieve, cast-andretrieve routine. Still, it proved that bobbers can work for perch, and so we tried it elsewhere.



FISHING Beyond Tokeland but before you get to North Cove is a little place called Hidden Beach, which, in case you’re wondering, isn’t that very well hidden, and in fact is quite popular during the summer. In trips past, we’ve caught perch from the inside – the beach side – of this

stretch of sand, using a Carolina rig consisting of a ¾- or 1-ounce egg sinker, 5mm bead, swivel, and a 24inch leader with the aforementioned size 6 baitholder hook; other times, we’ve thrown what the YouTubers call a “High/Low Rig,” which is influencer-speak for a traditional

sinker with a pair of droppers/hooks spaced above. But on the bay side of the short jetty at Hidden Beach, I’ve had good luck throwing a slip bobber rig not far off the rocks. Nothing elaborate – a 1- or 1½-ounce Beau Mac slip float, inline (swivel) ½-ounce sinker and a 30-inch monofilament leader. The only thing quirky, per se, with this rig is the hook, that being a safetypin-style double hook. Mine are from Mustad, and are known technically as a double live bait/liver hook. Not to say a long-shank Aberdeen-style cricket hook and some Magic Thread won’t help secure your sand shrimp – it will – only that these safety-pintype hooks hold a shrimp well, while making for good positive hookups. Experimentation is key here. Try setting the bobber stop the length of the rod, or roughly 8 feet, and then go deeper and shallower until you find fish. Play with distance from the rocks, too; close, far – but not too far, as it’s the rocks and the abundance of food that attract the perch.

SAFETY PIN HOOKS ’N RUBBER BANDS

No need to try and reach Japan with that cast. The fish may be closer to shore than you think. Johnson releases a smaller surfperch to grow some more. (JULIA JOHNSON) 84 Northwest Sportsman

JUNE 2022 | nwsportsmanmag.com

I never did catch the name of the Asian gentleman who, despite a language barrier, was all too happy to show me his preferred method for bagging perch. These were primarily striped surfperch, with the occasional redtail. The place was the Westport Boat Basin; specifically, the first short jetty north of the Harbor Resort and just off the observation platform, though I’m sure his method would produce catches from any of the Westport jetties, as well as those up and down the Northwest Coast. This gentleman’s rigging consisted of the above double live bait (safety pin) hook on roughly a 24-inch monofilament leader; however, where his differed from what I’d seen previously was in the weight. When he tied his swivel to his mainline prior to clipping on his leader, he’d leave the tag end long. Then, he took a piece of hollow-core lead, the


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Northwest Sportsman 85


length/weight dependent upon the current at the time, slipped the tag end through the hollow core, and doubled it over alongside the lead. This he secured to the hollow core with a small rubber band, the kind that kids use with their braces. He’d cast his bait – always sand shrimp – upcurrent and let it slowly work down. When he’d hang up in the rocks, which he did from time to time, a sharp yank would pull the tag end through the hollow core, and he’d retrieve everything but a short hunk of lead. Easily replaceable. It was a learned technique, he explained through pantomime and broken English, but I caught on. How to cast. Where to cast. Where the strikes would happen. “No fish,” he’d say, pointing to either side of a small nondescript current seam. That’s where you want to cast – and cast, he would, and almost without exception, be rewarded with a beautiful blue-hued striped perch. I learned quite a bit from that gentleman, including the fact that fishing is a common language. Surfperch are, Captain Obvious, where you find them, but there’s no shortage of them. Some days they’re there; some days they’re not. They come and go, just like the tides that support them. So try something different. Move down the beach a ways. Scout at low tide. Hook up this bait. That bait. And, if all that doesn’t work, try holding your mouth a little bit different. Hell, who knows? NS

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FISHING

Strong Outlook For Roosevelt Fisheries Cool spring, big snowpack, late-runoff equal unprecedented summertime trout angling and a variety of other opportunities on destination reservoir. By Jeff Holmes

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ake Roosevelt is a playground for trout and kokanee anglers during the winter and early spring when the lake’s big rainbows and kokes come to the surface. But in the summer the fish go deeper, and Roosevelt becomes the biggest sandbox and splashpad in all the Northwest for a wide variety of watergoers and fairweather campers. More than 150 miles in length with over 600 miles of shorelines, the Northeast Washington reservoir is a draw for many thousands seeking sun, cool water and lots of room to recreate in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. While plenty of visitors wet lines in the summer, most don’t know what they’re doing, fish as an afterthought, and don’t do nearly so well as the cadre of dedicated cold- and warm-weather anglers who chase big rainbows, kokanee, walleye, smallmouth and even keeper sturgeon in the giant Upper Columbia impoundment. A La Niña weather pattern and its resulting weird, wet, cool weather in 2022 coincides with an epic rainbow year at the big lake. I’ve written about how big and abundant Roosevelt’s rainbows are a few times in Northwest

Rainbows are the headliner at Northeast Washington’s Lake Roosevelt, thanks to a now-turboboosted hatchery triploid netpen program that is highlighted by Jacob Hodge’s 10-pounder. But the Upper Columbia reservoir is no slouch when it comes to kokanee, walleye, bass and sturgeon fishing, and summer prospects look strong for most stocks. (TIM PEONE)

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FISHING A wide variety of offerings will get the job done on rainbows – stickbaits, spinners, spoons, flies, bait – but Tri-Cities reader Jerry Han reported doing well with Kokanee Cut Plug and 2.0 Spinfish (right), running the latter 4 feet behind a small Fish Flash. (COAST FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Sportsman over the last several months, mentioning that the fishing for the Northwest’s tastiest ’bows will be good until late spring. Well, because of these somewhat bizarre environmental conditions that have Washington’s deserts soaked with rain and the mountains still full of snow as of late May, let me revise my flawed fishing forecast: June and even July will be excellent for adipose-clipped triploid rainbows averaging 3-plus pounds, with a 10-pounder recently caught. These trout are not hard to catch, either. Instead of plunging deep into the cool waters of the reservoir, rainbows should still be in the top 20 feet of the water column and within reach of shore anglers, especially during 92 Northwest Sportsman

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mornings and evenings. While much less numerous and infinitely more finicky, the reservoir’s very large kokanee – or as one fishing guide markets them, “trophy” kokanee – should also be much shallower at the summer’s outset and still available to those without downriggers and advanced sonar. Summer 2022 will offer a better and more diverse fishery than during a normal Roosevelt summer. Here’s a rundown of the reservoir’s fish and how anglers of all skill levels can start to catch them, whether from a $60,000 fishing boat or a sandy or rocky shoreline.

RAINBOWS I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but this is likely the single

finest year Roosevelt rainbow anglers have enjoyed – ever. A different but incredibly robust rainbow stocking strategy has the lake swarming with triploids that grow obese on the lake’s immense supply of zooplankton. Not only are the lake’s rainbows now triploids, they are released at slightly larger sizes from net pens, giving them a size and survival advantage right out of the gate. With absurd growth rates, the lake’s mature rainbows should average close to 19 inches in June with some much, much larger. There will be some recently stocked fish to contend with, but big, aggressive rainbows with tasty, sockeye-red flesh should be pretty easy to catch in June and July. If you’re camping, casually visiting the lake for the day, or are otherwise shore-bound, standard trout plunking setups will produce fish. It almost seems wrong that Power Bait and worm-and-marshmallow offerings will produce such high-quality fish, but rainbows are greedy with peasized brains. They are not tough to fool, but be sure to position baits close to the safety of dropoffs and on points in close proximity to deep water. Float your baits 2 to 3 feet off the bottom, or use slip bobbers in calm conditions. Casting Countdown Rapalas and small diving plugs from shorelines also works well, and Roosevelt rainbows are notorious for gobbling orange lures. I like Countdown Rapalas (sizes C5 to C9) from shore because you can vary depths by allowing them to sink and then working them back on finediameter braid to keep them deep. With these unusually cool spring conditions, keeping lures deep may



FISHING State fishery managers report anglers catch around 50,000 walleye at year at Roosevelt – here’s Bradley Ventner with one he hooked last summer while jigging a plastic crawdad on a ¾-ounce jighead in a deep, rocky cove. The population is stable, though dominated by 2- to 3-year-old fish. (COAST FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

leader-shy. Use subtle approaches far behind the boat or off to the sides via planer boards. Small dodgers trailed by small spinners, Kokanee Cut Plugs, small Apexes and other subtle baits tipped with shoepeg corn and maggots work throughout summer, provided you find the fish and present baits where they hold in the water column. Start up top and work your way down using your electronics if you can’t find fish shallow. Kokanee well in excess of 20 inches are not uncommon on Roosevelt, although the daily limit only allows two with intact adipose fins. Four more with clipped adipose fins are allowed (six total). Most Roosevelt kokes are unclipped, and a six-kokanee day – especially during summer – likely means you are a master-class Roosevelt kokanee angler.

WALLEYE

not be necessary, but the flexibility is nice. Walleye and smallmouth will also grab trout lures like Countdown Rapalas, one reason I favor them. For boat anglers, a wide variety of trolled lures and flies are effective. Rainbows here are less line-shy than kokanee, but a subtle approach with plenty of leader works well. Long leaders are the rule, and getting lures down to the fish is easily accomplished using leaded line, flatlined plugs, trolling sinkers or full-sink fly lines. Size F7 and F9 Rapalas in bright colors, Apexes, spinners, trolling spoons, Muddler Minnows, leech imitations and a variety of other reliable lures and flies get the job done. Roosevelt anglers tip most lures and even flies with a chunk of nightcrawler, and this approach seems to outfish unbaited offerings. Rainbows can be anywhere, but troll drop-offs along shorelines, the downwind areas below points, and large bays. Start shallow and work deeper only if you don’t locate fish. It’s almost a certainty that they will be shallow in June. 94 Northwest Sportsman

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KOKANEE A fair number of anglers fish kokanee in the winter and early spring on Roosevelt, but summertime kokanee anglers are an even rarer breed. Kokes go deep, 40 to 60 feet, most summers. They sometimes plunge to as deep as 100 feet, but when they reach these extreme depths nearing or exceeding 100 feet, they become very hard to catch. The good news is that like the reservoir’s rainbows, kokanee are liable to be much shallower this June and even July than in most years. Two kokanee fishing diehards I spoke with while preparing this article said they think the standard surface planer and other top-of-the-water-column presentations will continue to be effective throughout June, especially before the lake’s surface erupts with pleasure boaters and jet skis. If you don’t find fish in the top 20 feet, use your electronics to locate schools and target them with downriggers or lead balls. All of the standard kokanee trolling gear works here, but the lake’s kokanee are notoriously boat- and

Roosevelt is home to the state’s largest walleye population and was home to the original stockings of these toothy tartar-sauce-planks near the tiny community of Lincoln, in the 1950s. Walleye from Roosevelt seeded the entire Columbia River system over the years as larval fish washed downstream, establishing spawning populations in the successive series of reservoirs stacked behind dams. While walleye get bigger in some of the Columbia and Snake River reservoirs than they do in Roosevelt, the lake still kicks out occasional females from 10 to 15 pounds and more eaters than most could reasonably eat. There are walleye along the entire 150-plus miles of the reservoir, but some areas hold much higher numbers in the summer than others. While there are still walleye all summer long at Spring Canyon, Keller, the San Poil Arm, Lincoln, Hawk Creek and Seven Bays, most Roosevelt walleye move up the reservoir toward Hunters, Gifford, the Colville River, Kettle Falls and Canada as summer progresses. I’ve caught walleye in summertime along most of the lower arm from Keller Ferry to Fort Spokane, but for the most part the lake’s walleye are



FISHING most numerous in the Spokane River Arm and in the upper stretches of Roosevelt all the way to the border. That said, my own limited skills and fairly substantial success at times suggest walleye fishing the lower arm from Grand Coulee to Fort Spokane is still well worth it in summer. Boat anglers mostly troll 2- to 3-ounce bottom bouncers trailed 3 to 4 feet behind by worm-baited Slow Death hooks, Mack’s Double Whammy’s, Cha-Cha Squidders, Wally Pops and any of the many other worm harnesses with traditional and Smile blades. Once you locate fish, a variety of jigs are lethal on Roosevelt walleye. I’ve done especially well during summer on glow Gulp! plastics on unbaited jig heads and on wormbaited chartreuse and other brightly colored plastics on jig heads. Fish move from deeper to shallower water under cover of darkness, bringing walleye well within range of casting distance from beaches. Some anglers, me included, target walleye off of camping beaches in the evening and into the night. Fishing Countdown Rapalas in perch, orange, bronze with black back, rainbow trout and other patterns is lethal and also leads to incidental catches of rainbows and smallmouth bass. Heavy jigs tipped with chunks of nightcrawlers are also great bets for casting from shorelines during evenings and under cover of darkness. Less numerous but still showing up in the catch are tasty burbot, which are less likely this year to plunge to great depths in early summer due to waters that will be unseasonably cool in June and likely July. These fish are incidentally caught during early summer, usually by walleye anglers. Although walleye are much more likely night catches from the reservoir’s beaches, one might incidentally catch a burbot casting baited jigs or by running a plunked ball of nightcrawlers deep and firmly securing a rod to reliable rod holder on a beach or a rod holder on a beached or docked boat. A burbot is less 96 Northwest Sportsman

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likely to pull a rod and reel combo into the lake than an incidental sturgeon, a fish that’s much more likely to spool a reel while an angler slumbers away in camp than is a burbot.

SMALLMOUTH BASS Roosevelt is also home to an overlooked and extremely large population of smallmouth that provide great summertime action, especially for kids and beginner anglers due to the prevalence of clouds of small, juvenile bass in easy to find nurseries. Basically, if you find rocks at Roosevelt in June and July, you will find smallmouth. The aforementioned nurseries are great places to park kids and other beginner anglers in boats and to dangle nightcrawlers, tubes, curl-tailed jigs and other cheap, can’tmiss smallmouth lures imitating crayfish and minnows. For those seeking larger fish, if you are catching small bass, move deeper and stay in the rocks. Roosevelt smallies feed heavily on the reservoir’s abundant crayfish, and if you find rocks, you will find cooccurring smallmouth and crayfish. You won’t catch a state record here (or probably anywhere), but there are plenty of 2to 4-pounders with some a bit larger. Move around and fish deeper when you encounter juveniles, and you’ll likely find nice smallies at Roosevelt.

KEEPER STURGEON Starting June 18 on most of the reservoir, anglers will once again be able to retain sturgeon, a fishery that is the result of a multiagency hatchery project comprised of US and Canadian federal, state, provincial, First Nations and tribal representatives. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife manages the state fishery, now in its sixth year, but anglers can largely thank the Spokane and Colville Tribes and Canadian First Nations representatives for what is becoming a wildly popular fishery. Beginning in 2004, the Lake Roosevelt White Sturgeon Recovery

Since 2017, Lake Roosevelt anglers have been paid over $34,000 for catching and removing invasive pike, and the $10 reward for northern heads is again on offer from the Colville Tribes. The idea is to suppress the predator population – Sabrina Schoenberger hooked this 12.5-pounder last May – which is a threat to desired game fish species. For more info, see cct-fnw.com/northern-pike. (COAST FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Project and the trans-border Upper Columbia White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative and Team released hatcheryproduced juvenile sturgeon into the reservoir and the small stretch of free-flowing Columbia just south and north of the US-Canada border. Once those fish reached harvestable size, tribal fisheries were first opened in 2017, followed a short while later by a nontribal fishery that has grown in popularity. Efforts to recover sturgeon through hatchery supplementation were way more successful than fisheries managers had expected, which is what has made the sport fishery possible.


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FISHING Thanks to a trans-border hatchery program initiated in the early 2000s, there has been a keeper sturgeon fishery on Lake Roosevelt every summer since 2017. Bill Stanley hoists a keeper-sized diamondside that he actually released near China Bend last summer. (COAST FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Standard sturgeon baits – squid, herring, smelt, shad, etc. – on heavy gear is the typical approach on the reservoir’s fishery near Kettle Falls. Several guides target this fishery, and hiring one of them is a great way to learn it. Of course, so is trial and

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error by using electronics, trying new anchoring locations, and soaking reliable sturgeon baits in usually lovely June weather. Daily limit is one (two for the season). Retention is open from the dam up to the China Bend Boat Ramp.

THE SUMMER FOR ROOSEVELT Even when fisheries conditions are not as favorable as they will be this June, especially for trout, Lake Roosevelt and its immense national recreation area is an awesome place to camp and fish. Most of the popular campgrounds get booked in advance for the most popular weekends, but not all, and it’s still worth a look at the Lake Roosevelt NRA on recreation.gov. Meanwhile, there are vast camping and day-use opportunities in the recreation area and along the hundreds of miles of uninhabited shorelines and beaches along the reservoir. Look up and follow the camping rules outside of organized campgrounds, and also consider camping and lodging opportunities in small communities and on nearby public lands close to the reservoir. If ever there was a year to fish Roosevelt in the summertime and to have confidence in the ability to land numerous and very large trout, this is it. NS


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HUNTING FISHING

The Kokanee Of Billy Chinook Landlocked sockeye salmon can be caught year-round at the Central Oregon reservoir, and here’s how and where. By Tom Schnell

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estled in three canyons in Central Oregon, Lake Billy Chinook, oftentimes referred to as LBC, has long been known for its kokanee and bull trout fisheries. The reservoir was created in 1965 when Round Butte Dam was completed, blocking the Crooked, Deschutes and Metolius Rivers where they come together just east of Culver. Located off US 97 about 8 miles southwest of Madras, Billy Chinook also became a mecca for water sports, especially water-skiers, wakeboarders and jet skiers. Since it is only about a two-hour drive from Portland, the impoundment has become one of the top destinations for people living on the wet – I mean west – side of Oregon. Being that the lake is located in scenic canyons in the high desert, days can be hot and nights cool during the summer. Fall and spring can bring cool days and cold nights. During the winter it is one of the few lakes in Central Oregon where you can go kokanee fishing. This is because LBC does not freeze up and because of the fact that the Crooked River and Deschutes Arms are open year-round. The Metolius Arm is open March 1-October 31 and requires a tribal angling permit in

The author’s wife Rhonna Schnell holds a typical pair of Lake Billy Chinook kokanee. Though smaller than elsewhere, the fish are plentiful, and the stunning desert canyon walls that surround the Central Oregon reservoir make for a very scenic outing. (TOM SCHNELL) nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

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FISHING HUNTING addition to an Oregon fishing license. Always check the state regulations, both the printed pamphlet and online, for details, changes and updates. Growing up in Oregon back in the 1980s, it was a tradition to go to Lake Billy Chinook over the Fourth of July weekend. I would go with my friend’s family, who would rent a house boat for the week, and we would do anything but relax. Early mornings found us up the Metolius Arm fishing for kokanee, and when it warmed up in the afternoon we

A Brad’s Killer Fish dodger accented with some Hyper-Vis Tape and trailing a Dutch Fork Custom Lures offering has been the death knell for many a kokanee. Make sure to tip the setup with some white shoepeg corn. (TOM SCHNELL)

would water-ski until the sun set, or, if we were just too tired, take an afternoon nap. Then there was the fireworks show on the Fourth of July by Chinook Island. Looking back, we did not know how good we had it. A lot has changed since then, although the fishing has not. Even though there are several species worth targeting in the lake, like bull trout and smallmouth bass, it is kokanee that still draws us there.

Ultralight downrigger rods, like these Edge KDR 760-1s, are ideal for targeting kokanee. Downriggers are a must during the early season at LBC, since the fish are often schooled up deep. Toward the end of summer, when they begin to head for their spawning grounds, they can be jigged for as well. (TOM SCHNELL) 102 Northwest Sportsman

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OFTEN THOUGHT OF as a summer and fall fishery, kokanee can actually be targeted in LBC any time of the year. Because of its location and elevation, it is one of the few kokanee lakes that is fishable any time of the year. The fish are not the largest by any means, averaging around 9 to 12 inches during the winter and spring, and 11 to 14 inches by the time fall rolls around. But they are abundant in all three arms, which makes fishing for them worthwhile. Most anglers focus on the Metolius Arm in summer and fall. This is partly due to it only being open to angling part of the year, but the other reason is that the other two branches, the Deschutes and Crooked River Arms, tend to warm up during the summer and into the fall. The Metolius River flows from underground springs not too far from the lake, so the water in that arm remains much cooler than in the other two. Since kokanee


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FISHING HUNTING like water around 54 degrees, they tend to migrate to the cooler water temperature. As fall comes around, many of the kokanee start to head up the Metolius River to spawn. Late fall can find the stream full of bright-red spawning kokanee. During the summer, many anglers focus on trolling, as the fish are still scattered throughout the lake. A good fish finder is a must to target the schools. Their location can change from day to day, as kokanee are open-water fish and move based on current, wind, water temperature and where their food source is. Our typical setup is a dodger like an Arrow Flash or a Brad’s Kokanee dodger with a small spinner like a Dutch Fork Custom Lures or a small hoochie, always tipped with some white shoepeg corn kernels. We have found mixing in tuna and garlic with the corn

During the winter and early spring, Billy Chinook is very tranquil, a far cry from the busy summer months when water-skiers and jet skiers take over the lake. Cove Palisades Resort does rent fishing boats as well. (TOM SCHNELL, AMY WALGAMOTT)

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enhances the bite. Leader length is short: 8 to 12 inches for hoochies, and 10 to 15 inches for spinners and lures with their own action. Trolling speeds are between 1.2 to 1.6 mph. The fish can be found throughout the water column, so find where a school is and target it by running your gear about 5 feet above the top. Once you find a school that wants to play, stay on them. An old adage is never leave fish to find fish. While summer can be one of the best times to target kokanee at LBC, it comes with its own challenges. Again, the reservoir is one of the most visited lakes in Oregon for water sports, so anglers share it with jet and waterskiers, along with wakeboarders. These activities can make the water rough and unpleasant to fish on. It can also cause the fish to go deeper and get lockjaw. To avoid this, fish

earlier in the morning before the activities get into full swing, and consider going during midweek, when there are not as many boaters out on the water. We have found that by 9 a.m. we are pretty much done and headed back to the dock.

USUALLY AROUND AUGUST, anglers start to move into the upper reaches of the Metolius Arm and focus on jigging for kokanee. A favorite jigging area is up by the cabins and just above the nowake zone. It is relatively shallow in this area, so you can anchor up and just start casting towards jumping fish. Vertical jigging with a Buzz Bomb, Gibbs Minnow or a smaller P-Line jig can yield limits of kokanee fairly quickly. Jig color can change from day to day, but three shades that seem most productive are pink, orange and chartreuse.


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FISHING HUNTING Winter and early spring is still a great time to target kokanee in the open areas. Although some fish can be found in shallower depths, most are schooled up in deep water, often 90 to 120 feet deep. This requires downriggers if trolling, or heavier jigs if jigging. Downrigger weights are often in the 10- to 12-pound range to help prevent blowback at that depth. Light, sensitive rods are a must due to the depth and size of the fish. We have found the Edge KDR 760-1 rods to be ideal. Several spots to target kokanee during the winter and early spring are straight out from the Cove Palisades boat ramp towards the rock wall, and also at the confluence of the two river arms. From there down to the dam is a good trolling area too. There is a demarcation line on the Metolius Arm near the dam that one needs to be aware of from November through February. It is not clearly marked, so

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Limits of tasty kokanee are possible year-round. The daily bag is five but as many as 10, depending if any trout (limit five) are kept. This limit was taken in February, showing that it is possible to fish for and catch kokanee at LBC in winter. (TOM SCHNELL)

make sure to brush up on the fishing regulations so you know where it is, as tribal fines are not cheap. We primarily troll for kokanee in winter and early spring. As in summer

and fall, a dodger with a spinner or hoochie is our typical setup. Leader length during the winter months is usually longer than in summer and fall. The fish are less aggressive, primarily



FISHING

UNSIGHTLY, BUT SAFE

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ne thing we’ve noted about kokanee coming out of Lake Billy Chinook is the prevalence of copepods, also known as fish lice. They are an external parasite that many of the fish are infested with. They are most commonly located around the gills, and if heavily infested, on the skin. They can cause a fish to become listless and lethargic if heavily infected. They can also produce external abrasions, especially around the fins of the fish. They look disgusting on the outside; however, they do not affect the quality of the fish meat. Although copepods can cause damage to the fish due to their being a parasite, there is no human concerns associated with them. –TS Copepods, also known as fish lice, are often found on LBC kokanee. Usually located around the gill plates, they also attach themselves to the pectoral and pelvic fins, as can be seen on this one. Although not harmful to humans, they are unsightly and can cause harm to the fish if overly infested. (TOM SCHNELL)

because of colder water temperatures and because they are not beginning their spawning ritual. Trolling speeds are also slower, ranging from around .9 to 1.2 mph. Even as the fish are less active, limits still can be had, although sometimes you will need to work for them a little longer.

SINCE LBC IS such a great all-around lake with so many varied activities, making it a very popular vacation spot, many anglers like to stay for more than one day. There are multiple state, federal and private campgrounds to choose from, but due to the reservoir’s popularity among many recreationalists, spots go fast, so be prepared to make reservations as early as they become available. Tight lines and fish on. NS Editor’s note: Tom Schnell is an avid outdoorsman who lives with his wife Rhonna in Central Oregon. He is also a Kokanee Power of Oregon Board Member.

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Rhymes With Fishy Southeast Oregon’s lower Owyhee is famed as a trophy trout destination, thanks to productive tailwaters, abundant bug life.

The waters of the Owyhee River below Owyhee Dam are home to a destination trout fishery powered by a self-sustaining population of large browns and releases of hatchery rainbows. (ALAMY)


FISHING

By Mike Wright

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y introduction to the Owyhee River was a matter of choosing between two of my favorite pastimes: my love of athletic competition and my addiction to fishing. A friend of mine, Bill, was our vice principal before taking a principal’s job in southwest Idaho in order to be closer to his family. We had kept in touch, and he kept telling me about one of his teachers, a guy named Leonard, who was an avid angler. Bill emailed me a couple pictures of some very impressive brown trout Leonard had caught a relatively short distance from the town and school. Bill had invited me to come down over spring break, stating that Leonard would take me fishing. However, the week I was supposed to go on the trip, the weather did not cooperate, so we postponed and hoped for better conditions during the next spring break, or whenever I had some time off.

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FISHING A year later, our girls’ basketball team qualified for state, which, as was tradition, was held in the Boise area. I decided that I needed to take a couple of personal days off and attend the tournament. Since Bill lived in the Boise area, I called and informed him of my plans. He checked with Leonard and was told he would love to take a fishing trip with me. As it worked out, our team ended up playing Saturday morning for a trophy. Leonard and I arranged to go fishing after the game, although I could tell he wasn’t too happy waiting around when we could be fishing. He ended up calling me twice during the game to explain that the river might be very popular on that nice warm Saturday in February. He explained that fishing in February on the Owyhee was like fishing in April

around Priest River, in the far north of Idaho where I live. This was spring fishing and the Owyhee might be crowded. Reluctantly, I left the game at halftime with my team behind by 2 points. When we finally made it to the river, I saw that he knew what he was talking about; fortunately, however, no one was fishing the stretch of water he had planned to work. As it turned out, the fish were hungry and we did well. None of the trout were particularly large, but they provided good action. Unfortunately, I was looking at a 10-hour drive back home, so I had to leave much earlier than I would have preferred, but I was convinced I would try this river again. To add salt to the wound, our team ended up winning the game, and I took a lot of ribbing for leaving early. But we were

With plentiful insect life in these productive tailwaters, Teutonic trout grow fat, with adult fish averaging 18 inches and some considerably bigger. Browns are catch-and-release only, but rainbows can be kept, and they grow to nice sizes too. (MIKE WRIGHT)

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lucky enough to make it to state the next two years, and with our games being played in late afternoon and evening, it gave me enough time to hit the river each year, and I did well.

THE OWYHEE RIVER works its way through high desert terrain before meeting up with the Snake River along the Idaho-Oregon state line west of Boise. As it did in the Columbia Basin, the Bureau of Reclamation built a number of dams in Southwest Idaho and Southeast Oregon, with the idea being to make these dry areas far more friendly to agricultural. The Owyhee Dam was one of these construction projects to aid irrigation plans. The dam creates a highly productive tailwater fishery, powered by vast volumes of insects that serve


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FISHING

An Owyhee fly box should contain nymphs, terrestrials and dries – its browns are known for their habit of taking patterns off the surface, even during daylight hours. Irrigation season sees higher but fishable flows before water levels drop in October. (LARRY MOORE, BLM, FLICK CC BY 2.0)

as a very ample food source for the downstream brown and hatchery rainbow trout. The fish grow quickly, with the average adult brown growing to 18 inches and possessing the shape of a plump football. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that sampling in September 2020 turned up “plenty of large brown and rainbow trout available from 16 to 24 inches.” Browns, which were introduced here in 1990 by ODFW, are generally considered to be the graduate-level fish of the trout family, often having to be fished for at night with larger streamers and nymphs. However, Owyhee browns have developed a fondness for dry flies, thus feeding readily during daylight hours. This generally means longer, lighter leaders and tippet, often as light as 5X or 6X, and matching the hatch. For a number of years, the area around the Owyhee suffered through drought conditions, which resulted in a buildup of silt in the river. In 2005, there was a major change in weather 114 Northwest Sportsman

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conditions and the floodgates were opened, washing out the silt that had built up during the dry years and restoring the stream bed to prime habitat for mayflies and stoneflies. In addition, since 2005, dam operators have stabilized the flows, which generally run between 200 and 300 cubic feet per second during irrigation season and maintains excellent conditions for insect development, as well as wade fishing. This is not to say there isn’t a slowdown during the hottest summer months, but the river generally fishes well through June. Also aiding fishing conditions is the fact that the river snakes a path through a canyon, with multiple twists and turns along the way. That helped in the development of deeper holes and runs, which in turn provide cold-water refuges when the water heats up.

LIKE MOST FISHERIES in the Northwest, midges are inevitably the first hatch to appear on the Owyhee. (The river is named for three Hawaiians – then known as Owyhees – who joined an

1819 fur expedition and went missing in the region.) Before the adults begin to appear in numbers, small Chironomids and Brassies in sizes 16 to 22 are a good choice to mimic the midge larvae. As the fish begin coming up for the adults, Griffith’s Gnats, Renegades and Parachute Adams in sizes 16 to 20 become the dry flies of choice. When using small-diameter tippet and leader and small flies, a delicate touch is needed to avoid a break-off or having the fly pull loose. By the middle of March, baetis begin to appear, with the Parachute Adams or Olive Sparkle Dun in sizes similar to the midges the dry flies of choice. For the nymph pattern, the venerable Pheasant Tail is probably the best bet. In March the skwalas also start to hatch out, meaning larger flies can be used. A Bullhead Skwala, Olive Stonefly, Parachute Stone or Skawala Stonefly dry, all in sizes 10 to 12, are very effective. For nymph patterns, a dark stonefly, Brooks Stonefly or dark Yak Skwala in sizes 8 to 12 are always good choices. Blue-wing olives



FISHING also begin to appear in larger numbers in March, with the sizes generally running between 16 and 20. Pale morning duns, callibaetis and caddis usually begin to hatch out in May and will last into September. A Parachute Adams in 14 or 16 and Callibaetis Spinner in sizes 14 to 18 are the most popular patterns for the callibaetis, with Sparkle Duns and PMD Cripples being the most effective for the pale morning duns. The Elk Hair and Goddard Caddis, along with the Hemingway Caddis, in sizes 14 to 16 should produce fish. In late summer and fall, ants, grasshoppers and other terrestrials start to fall into the river and float downstream. This is especially true on windy days. Ant pattern sizes will run from 12 to 18, while ’hopper imitations will usually be 8 to 12. There is also a short-lived trico hatch that occurs from late August through September. With tricos, it is

the smaller the better, and you will need to spend a lot of time trying to tie the fly onto your line.

THE OWYHEE IS nearly universally considered one of the finest trophy brown trout fishing streams in the country. However, it should be pointed out that the river system also contains a sizeable population of native redband rainbows. Most of these Inland Northwest trout are actually above Owyhee Reservoir, but hatchery rainbows are stocked below the dam. For those anglers dedicated to catching redbands, probably the best area to try is either the East Fork or the South Fork of the Owyhee. Unfortunately getting into these tributaries is no easy task. The road into the two forks makes the old Oregon Trail look like an interstate highway by comparison. The average size of the rainbows will run around 17 inches, which

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compares favorably to the 18-inch average of the browns. There are far more browns, however, that meet or exceed the 20-inch mark than rainbows. One reason for this may be the catch-and-release regulation that has been placed on all brown trout. In addition, there are also smallmouth bass in the river that can grow to very respectable size. Although there are several routes into canyon section of the lower Owyhee, probably the easiest route would be to follow Highway 201 south from Nyssa, Oregon, to Owyhee Avenue/Owyhee Lake Road and follow the road along the river past Snively Hot Springs and beyond. There are numerous good fishing spots just off the road, all the way to the dam. Beware private property further downstream, below the Watchable Wildlife parking lot. Lake Owyhee State Park, just above the dam, has several dozen campsites. NS

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FISHING

Rivers Cutt Through It For aspiring flyrodders looking to get into the sport on the cheap, North Idaho’s trout- and charrich streams and even lakes are a great learning landscape with big fish. By Jeff Holmes

F

or well over a decade I dedicated my every summer (and other seasons) to trout bummery: camping for free, sleeping in my truck, and occasionally staying in seedy motels around the American and Canadian Northern Rockies in pursuit of wilderness experiences and wild trout with fly rods. Now I’m getting old and am finally mostly responsible, and I’m getting nostalgic about the best parts of the past. Although I have gone out of my way to try as many types of angling as possible in the Northwest, purposefully catching almost every species of freshwater fish and a pretty wide variety off our coast, as I reflect on the best of those fishing experiences, fly fishing in the subranges of the Rockies in June and July stands out as the simplest and most joyful of those times. Landing a 17-inch cutthroat trout on 6x (3-pound) tippet perhaps does not compare to the sheer thrill of fighting a 50-mph tuna or landing a 70-plus-inch halibut or a tyee Chinook. But the aesthetic experience of enjoying the mountains in summer splendor and catching and releasing the wild fish that swim in their cold waters is sublime and worthy of exploration for any Northwest Sportsman reader who loves the natural world and does

Westslope cutthroat trout are perhaps the most eager of all trout to take a dry fly. Most of my best times on the water have involved good dogs, North Idaho cutthroat streams and total immersion in the scenic and sensory splendor of the state’s Bitterroot Mountains. (ORVIS NORTHWEST OUTFITTERS, NWOUTFITTERS.COM)

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FISHING not always equate angling excellence with a full cooler of dead fish. I take great pleasure in a cooler full of wellbled chrome or many coolers of tuna or halibut, lingcod and rockfish. But not all fish are best enjoyed with tartar sauce or other condiments. Some of my fondest memories involve watching wild fish slip back into mountain streams and creeks in the West’s wildest places.

That’s particularly true of times spent fishing dry flies, streamers and nymphs in the Bitterroot Mountains of North Idaho. Home to zero or at most the occasional nomadic grizzly bears and a place to enjoy restful nights in between days of tromping up trails and down rivers, memories of North Idaho fly fishing flood into my mind and make me long for the simpler times when I didn’t own 75 rods for

salmon, steelhead, bass, bottomfish, walleye, panfish and even tuna. For years my essentials fit into a vest or a small backpack: a couple of fly reels with spools of floating, sinktip and sinking lines; a few boxes of reliable fly patterns; leaders and spools of tippet; hemostats, line nippers and fly floatant; and a survival kit and a can or two of bear spray and bug spray each. These essentials – along with some calories and a water purifier or a good collection of water bottles – was all I needed to have the grandest of time catching and usually releasing cutthroat, rainbow, brook and brown trout, and the occasional bull trout.

YOU TOO CAN enjoy these simple-but-

A single fly box stuffed with the right patterns is all a person needs to do well in North Idaho’s cutthroat streams. Mike Beard of Orvis Northwest Outfitters (nwoutfitters.com) can get you stocked up on what you need. (PAUL ISHII) 120 Northwest Sportsman

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great times in the mountains of North Idaho – or perhaps mountains much closer to home – and you can outfit yourself for a relatively small expenditure of cash compared to the monstrosity of expensive gear I own to chase fish with advanced terminal tackle from an expensive fishing sled that I need a V8 to haul. A 5- or 6-weight flyrod, a reel with a spare spool or two, some fly line backing, a couple/few types of fly line, an assortment of leaders and tippets and flies, a pair of hemostats and nippers, and some fly floatant and maybe some strike indicators (think tiny bobbers) is about all that is needed to get in the game during summertime. Of course there is other gear I’d recommend – felt-soled wading boots especially (four-wheel-drive for your feet in streams), breathable waders, a small catch-and-release net and perhaps a small assortment of other stuff. But the point is, it’s not tough to outfit yourself for a great time. I cringe to bring up a film that is all-too-often referenced in fly fishing articles, A River Runs Through It, but I probably watched it 50 times in my younger years. Many Montanans and other locals in the Rockies credit its release with releasing hordes of cityslicker anglers on the landscape and the rivers that, well, run through


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Nets are optional but can be handy, provided you buy one with a gentle catchand-release net basket. C&R regulations have been key to not only sustaining but growing the excellence of North Idaho‘s cutthroat fisheries. Treat these fish gently, please. (ORVIS NORTHWEST OUTFITTERS, NWOUTFITTERS.COM)

them. Other than reverie for the magic of fly fishing that its author, Norman MacLean, and the film’s director, Robert Redford, attempt to conjure, I find few parallels between the movie and real-life fly fishing. One not need be adept at the fantasy of “shadow casting” displayed by Brad Pitt’s character to do well. The real keys are to be persistent, to use flies that at least somewhat approximate natural food sources, and to be able to achieve a drag-free drift. The latter is hard, but I can look back on many days when my too-stubborn friends would abandon attempting dragfree drifts and, as a result, catch a couple/few small fish to my 15 to 30 spawning-class trout. If you’ve ever attempted to float fish for steelhead or salmon with a fishing guide – which many but not all of you have – that guide has instructed you to “mend” your line to keep a big loop of line from being sped downstream by the current, ultimately pulling your float downstream at speeds greater than 122 Northwest Sportsman

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that of the natural flow of the current. Many more salmon and steelhead will inhale offerings suspended below drag-free floats than will bite a float and bait/jig/worm presented unnaturally. To achieve a drag-free drift is to allow a float (bobber) to travel downstream at the same pace of the natural flow, unencumbered by unnatural motions imparted by the current or by a clumsy angler. Achieving a drag-free drift while fly fishing a dry fly or a nymph under a strike indicator is no different. An angler must mend his or her line to keep slack line upstream of the dragfree fly so that it cruises naturally in the current. A drag-free drift will encourage many more fish to take the fly than will a clumsy drift that looks anything but natural to fish that are used to feeding in the natural rhythm of a stream’s current. The simple truth is this, and it’s not stated often enough in articles and other advice for beginner and intermediate river fly anglers: Achieving a drag-free drift reduces the

learning curve for being a successful catcher instead of a mere fisher by an order of magnitude. And once you learn how, achieving a drag-free drift is like riding a bicycle for someone like me who has spent thousands of hours casting and mending lines and catching and releasing thousands of trout. The good news is it doesn’t take thousands of trout to learn to fish drag-free.

I HAVE RETURNED to my fly fishing roots several times a year over the last few years and will again this summer as I make trips to what I consider to be the mecca of ultra-chill mountain fly angling: North Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe, North Fork Clearwater and Little North Fork Clearwater Rivers, as well as Kelly Creek. These streams slice through mountains full of elk, moose, wolves, black bears and a wide variety of other animal species that are conspicuous in summertime. I have fished scores of other famous trout streams in Montana, Idaho, British Columbia, Alberta and my


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On more than one occasion I have had small cutthroat grabbed by toothy bull trout in Panhandle streams, and I have also landed a handful of these predatory char while pursuing cutts with streamers, including one topping 30 inches. If you land a bull trout, release it carefully since they are listed as a threatened species in this part of the country. (ORVIS NORTHWEST OUTFITTERS, NWOUTFITTERS.COM)

family’s home state of Wyoming. I’ve enjoyed great fishing at times in these places, but Idaho’s Bitteroots draw me back for their fantastic fishing – especially for dry-fly-eager westslope cutthroats – and their dearth of maneating grizzly bears. My brother is a fishing guide in northwestern Wyoming, home to the densest grizzly population in the Lower 48. He sleeps with an electric fence around his tent (now that he has a kid), carries a big pistol, has bear spray at the ready at all times and has enough close encounter stories to write a book. I can definitely get down with the risk of fishing in this and other amazing places with toothy critters, but there’s something reassuring about an ecosystem without grizzled monsters with uneven tempers – not counting humans who fit this description. They are everywhere and are often much more dangerous. Still, I like my odds against a crazy person better than against a 400-pound tooth-and-claw machine that runs faster than a horse. North Idaho has 124 Northwest Sportsman

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plenty of grizzlies up north, but they do not live/breed in the Bitterroots. As a result, that’s where you’ll most likely find my cowardly ass achieving dragfree drifts and hooking cutties.

MIKE BEARD IS the owner of Coeur d’Alene’s Orvis Northwest Outfitters fly shop (nwoutfitters.com), one of the West’s most reliable and friendly such establishments and the recent recipient of Orvis’ prestigious Fly Shop of the Year Award. Beard is an expert on the trout streams in North Idaho’s Panhandle and also its lakes. He can sell you gear that’s almost as expensive and advanced as you want to pay for, but he can also help you outfit yourself for a few hundred instead of a few thousand dollars. I trust Beard and his advice and am very comfortable suggesting you visit his shop. Buying and fishing high-quality gear is great if you can afford it – I love fishing the electric feel of an Orvis Helios rod – but less expensive gear works great if it allows you to get on the water. Whatever gear you choose to go

with, you’ll have a great time, especially in 2022 with its epic snowpack. “We are very excited for this season,” says Beard. “We haven’t had this much snow in the mountains this late in the spring for a few years. We should have great water this summer for both the fish and the forest in general. The Bitterroot Mountains, where we do most of our fishing, offer a lot of diversity in both types of water and species of fish for anglers to target.” That’s certainly true about types of water, and also about species, especially if you factor in lake fishing. But the undeniable target fish for North Idaho fly anglers is the westslope cutthroat, a fish known for its gorgeous coloration and unrivaled willingness to rise to the surface for dry flies and emerger patterns. Spawning-class cutthroats in these streams stretch 14 to sometimes larger than 20 inches. Fish of this size on fly roads in intimate, clear-water settings feel like trophy fish and can be every bit as captivating as steelhead. “The cutthroat in our systems are very surface-oriented, and we should


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FISHING have great hatches at the beginning of the summer,” says Beard. “It has been a cool spring around here, and if that continues into June the hatches will last longer into the season. Two of the most prolific hatches in the beginning of the season are golden stoneflies and green drake mayflies, big bugs that draw the attention of our rivers’ biggest cutthroat.” “Hatches usually show up earlier on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene than the St. Joe, since the St. Joe is

a higher drainage that holds more snow and has a longer runoff. Years like this are great for mayflies in general, which include a few kinds of drakes, flavs, Hendricksons, pale morning duns and blue-winged olives. But our streams also feature other big bugs including salmonflies, golden stoneflies and little yellow sally stoneflies. Caddis are also very prevalent throughout the summer and later in the season, and also in the later summer and fall we can

Coeur d’Alene’s Greg Ford was fly fishing for the area’s crappie when this tank of a rainbow (below) hit. I’ve known other North Idaho anglers to catch rainbows as large as 14 pounds on fly rods while fishing for crappie. The area’s lakes are also home to robust populations of northern pike and largemouth, and smallmouth bass that can also be pursued on the fly. (ORVIS NORTHWEST OUTFITTERS, NWOUTFITTERS.COM)

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have good terrestrial fishing – beetles, ants, grasshoppers.” Beard knows how good he and his friends and customers have it on North Idaho cutthroat streams, but there are also awesome stillwater opportunities. The same is true for anywhere in the Northwest where there is good lake fishing. Fly fishing is a fantastic and challenging way to fish lakes where readers have previously plunked baits and thrown lures. “Another great thing about the Panhandle area is the number of lakes we have,” says Beard. “From high mountain trout lakes to lower lakes that have warmwater species, there is a lot of options.” “This spring the lakes have been warming slowly but consistently, and while they have been a little erratic due to the cold, the fishing has been very good at times and will carry into June and July,” he adds. “Once we have more stable temps, the fishing should get more consistent and should stay better longer this year with the cooler temps and higher lake levels. We fly fish trout in the lakes but also target warmwater species with a fly rod, such as northern pike, large- and smallmouth bass, crappie, and even sunfish and bluegill.”

EVEN IF YOU don’t make the trip to what I consider the West’s most pleasant fly fishing mecca – the Gem State’s Panhandle – consider dabbling in fly fishing or becoming a more invested fly fisher closer to where you live. Opportunities abound throughout the Northwest. Don’t overlook Oregon’s many excellent fisheries, such as the Deschutes, Metolius, Crooked, Owyhee (see elsewhere this issue), South Fork Walla Walla and Wenaha Rivers (among many others), as well as the handful of excellent fly fishing rivers in Washington such as the Methow, Yakima, Upper Columbia, Kettle and even Spokane Rivers. Both states are loaded with excellent lakes and reservoirs to catch trout and warmwater species as well. NS


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COLUMN

Start Packing For Mountain Trout W

ith the coming of June, the snowpack finally starts to recede, providing anglers the chance NW PURSUITS to head to higher By Jason Brooks elevations. These hikes for me often include a fishing rod strapped to my pack and mountain trout lakes as the final destination. With this past winter’s higher-than-average snowpack and a cold spring, alpine lakes will have to wait until later this month or even into July before the ice is completely off and the streams are safe to ford. Until then, midlevel lakes will do just fine as a primer for early summer mountain trout. But before you load up the pack and throw in a small container of tackle, it is best to check on mountain conditions. Even in June you should always be ready for cold weather and high stream crossings. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Snotel site (nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/wcc/home/ snowClimateMonitoring) provides up-todate data on snowpack levels at locations throughout our region’s mountains. Then do a quick search for river levels at the U.S. Geological Survey’s website (waterdata .usgs.gov) to find out how much of that

snow is melting. Once you figure out if the lake you are trying to get to is not only icefree and any streams you might have to cross to get there are safe to wade, then a check of trail conditions at websites like the Washington Trails Association (wta .org) can provide you with important information such as any hazards on the route, if the trailhead has been blocked by downed trees, and other useful tidbits. National forest pages (fs.usda.gov/main/ r6/recreation) also provide trail info. The main reason why you want to do the research before you go is because June can be an interesting month for those trying to get to the high country. Southfacing slopes will be open and snow-free, but north-facing mountainsides might still have several feet of snow, making it difficult or impossible to get to the lake.

AS JUNE WANES, most of the high country will open up and access won’t be as much of an issue. Bugs will be, however, and that is where you really need to be prepared. Last year we hiked into a “high mountain lake” at about the 3,000-foot mark. Fish were jumping and we soon found out why. Mosquitos flocked to our skin and swarmed us to the point that DEET wasn’t going to be enough. Luckily,

Winter lingered a lot longer than usual this year, but soon the trails to higher elevation lakes will be melting off and the waters opening up again to offer one of the quintessential Northwest summer activities, mountain troutin’. (JASON BROOKS) nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

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COLUMN I had brought along Thermacells for both of us and plenty of extra butane cartridges and chemical pads to keep the bugs away. I also learned a lesson that if you strap a Thermacell to your pack, be sure that the vents don’t become blocked, as the unit can overheat and even melt nylon. Long-sleeve shirts, lightweight hiking pants and head nets will help with keeping bugs away and make for a more comfortable day of hiking and fishing. A lightweight double-wall tent is also a good choice so you can have a nice bugfree area to sit and eat lunch, or just rest and get away from the bugs for a bit. Being double-walled means the inner wall is a mesh material and you can leave the rainfly off if the weather is nice, or put it on if the clouds come up. Weather is another factor for June’s highcountry adventures. Cool mornings and warm afternoons often produce thermals. Welcome the breeze that will help keep the mosquitos at bay – but also be ready if an afternoon thunderstorm approaches. Rain is common in June in higher elevations, as it is still springtime up in the mountains. Keep in mind that if you hike into a wilderness area, fires may not be allowed, so drying out can be a challenge. High lakes are stocked at low levels and many anglers practice catch-and-release, but there’s nothing wrong with frying up a couple trout for a shore lunch or camp dinner. (JASON BROOKS)

COOKING BACKCOUNTRY TROUT

W

hen it comes to a shore lunch along the banks of a high mountain lake, it is hard to beat fresh trout. To make things easier, premix some flour, your favorite spices, and salt and pepper into a shaker. This will help with adding flavor to the fish and keep the mess down. Clean the trout and then butterfly it, cutting along the backbone from the underside while keeping the skin intact. Then simply shake the flour and spice mixture onto the flesh of the fish. When it comes to frying the fish, bring along a small jar of coconut oil, as it will remain a solid at room temperature, meaning you don’t have to worry about it leaking or spilling in your pack on the hike up to the lake. Scoop out some oil and put it in a titanium frying pan and place over heat. The oil turns into standard frying oil and adds to the flavor, but once you are done cooking and the pan cools, it turns back into a solid and can be scraped out of the pan. The coconut oil can be easily wiped out with a paper towel and stored in a Ziploc bag, plus it can be used as a fire starter if needed, much like paraffin waxed paper. Another fun way to cook backcountry trout is to butterfly it as described above but then use green sticks to skewer it. Build a small fire (where permissible) between rocks or make a rock oven and once the fire dies down, place the skewered fish over the hot coals. Spice it with your favorite seasoning salt and let the heat cook the fish. Easy, and no dishes to clean up afterwards. –JB

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AS FOR FINDING the right lake, be sure to check out state fish and wildlife websites and other resources. For those of us in Washington, the Department of Fish of Wildlife’s “High Lakes” page (wdfw.wa.gov/ fishing/locations/high-lakes) features a list of lakes, along with their GPS location, elevation and acreage. (Somewhat dated info for Oregon waters can be found here: myodfw.com/articles/stocking-oregonshike-lakes). There’s also directions to the trailhead or lake itself, and even details on when it was last stocked. These lakes are often supplemented with fish that are periodically hiked in by volunteer groups. Some lakes have natural production if there is a cold creek that trout can spawn in or if they have brook trout, a member of the char family that can spawn in the lake itself. Once you find a few of these high mountain lakes, you will soon realize which ones are popular with other hikers and anglers and which ones are “secret.” If you find a lake that is full of trout and nobody


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COLUMN else around, do yourself a favor and keep it quiet. These lakes cannot take much pressure and if you post your trip on social media and include the lake, trail or even a nearby mountain, soon the lake will get new visitors and the next time you go there it might be void of fish. (These aren’t driveup lowland lakes where the hatchery truck can dump in thousands of catchables at a time; rather, fingerling stocking is done in the hundreds every few years, if even that, and these fish grow very slowly.) Then again, there are several lakes that are popular and tend to get regular releases, so don’t feel bad about it if you find other anglers. Same with harvesting a fish or two for a meal. Most of these lakes were void of fish to begin with and the trout were introduced specifically to be caught. This doesn’t mean you should catch a limit to take home, as there are plenty of lowland lakes to do that at. But when it is time for a shore lunch, catch what you can eat right then and there. Speaking of cooking, know the rules on campfires. If they are allowed, packing a small piece of tinfoil makes cooking the fish really easy, or you can make a skewer and cook it over the rising heat of the flames.

Back before the interwebs, kids, the Lakes of Washington tomes were the search engine for backcountry anglers. (ANDY WALGAMOTT) But if fires are banned, a small titanium frying pan and a butane stove is a great way to go. Either way, high mountain trout make a great lunch, probably because of the work it takes to get to these lakes, as well as the views as you sit along the shoreline.

A FAVORITE WAY to fish these waters is with a lightweight fiberglass spinning rod. They’re nearly indestructible and

Spinners and flies are two of the best bets for getting a bite out of these fish. You might catch anything from rainbows to goldens or browns, cutthroat to brookies or tiger trout, depending on what’s been released there. (JASON BROOKS) 132 Northwest Sportsman

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can take a beating while strapped to my pack. The spinning outfit allows you to cast lightweight lures such as Rooster Tails and other spinners, but you can also use a plastic bubble-style bobber and a dry fly. Fly fishing is a lot of fun and a lot of the lakes have gradual shorelines, the remnants of large ice fields. Other lakes might have a scree slope where you can climb out on the rocks, but be aware of your backcast and that rocks can shift. Help may be far away. Early June might still be a bit chilly to wade, but by month’s end a day out swimming and wading in the cool water also means being able to cast further. Regardless of whether you use a fly or spinning rod with a bubble bobber, very few things can beat a rising trout taking a dry fly. Most of these fish will be small and malnourished due to the long winters and not much bug activity in the cold water. This means using smaller patterns, such as a size 12 Elk Hair Caddis or a size 14 Mosquito. Light leaders of 4- to 6-pound monofilament will suffice and keeping the mainline light, around 6- to 8-pound test, will help with casting long distances. June offers adventurous anglers the first chance at getting up to the high country. Lakes will become active with hungry trout and snow will be melting off of the trails. Load up the pack, be ready for changing conditions and grab the trout rod. It is finally time to head to the mountain lakes for some trout. NS


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COLUMN

A Cooking Quandary W

ild game everywhere. It was like I had died and gone to heaven. CHEF IN The table to the left THE WILD of me – wild boar with By Randy King green chilis and white cheddar grits. The table to right – Florida seafood ceviche. In front of me – mule deer and elk with spicy sunflower sauce. Bear was on the menu. Antelope too. Eight chefs from across the county had assembled at the Teller Wildlife Refuge in Corvallis, Montana, for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers’ annual Field To Table Dinner, a celebration of wildlife and wild food that kicks off the BHA Rendezvous – aka convention. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is one of many conservation organizations in the world but is the one I support most actively. BHA’s mission statement includes the idea of protecting public land for the benefit of wildlife, while providing access to hunt and fish on that land. Since almost all of my hunting and fishing is done on public property, this group speaks to me directly. Cooking at the Field To Table Dinner lets me help a cause that I truly believe in. The event itself is a fundraiser – bring in chefs and wine and dine them, then ask for cash in the form of an auction. A familiar format, but one that can have a great impact. I cook each year at this event, normally doing some sort of appetizer. I’ve leaned in on a crowd favorite with my beaver meatballs with a Mountain Dew sauce, but I was asked to think about seafood as an option this year. Only problem: My freezer was not exactly full. I did have a few smoked trout and a few bluegill fillets in there, not a lot of protein, but I figured a good rice-based dish would stretch the fish, and I had a lot of stretching to do too. I had to feed 96 people a cocktail appetizer with less than a pound of wild-caught fish. How do you make a rice dish easy to eat at a cocktail party? Arancini, that’s how… NS

Chef Randy King had a tall order to fill last month at Backcountry Hunters and Anglers’ annual Field To Table Dinner – come up with appetizers for nearly 100 guests with just the few smoked trout and bluegill fillets he had in his freezer. (AARON AGOSTO, AARONAGOSTOPHOTO.COM; IG: @AARONAGOSTO)

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COLUMN

A LESSON ON RICE

T

o understand the history of arancini, you need to understand the history of risotto. To understand risotto, you need to understand the history of rice, which has been around a long, long time. To say the story of rice is convoluted is an understatement. Rice began its life as a wild plant in China and was first cultivated 7,000 to 9,000 years ago. From there, rice traveled with river delta civilizations to the west, until just a few hundred years ago it landed in Europe. It is hard to believe that rice is not a “traditional” part of European cuisine. It seems to be everywhere on the continent’s menu map, from pilaf to rice pudding to paella. But in truth it is a relatively recent addition to the European pallet, having been brought over by the Arabs to Sicily and Spain in the 14th century. Not long after that, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Like every crop in history, rice production methods and cultural

Smoked trout, panfish and rhubarb risotto cakes with dandelion and pumpkin seed pesto. (AARON AGOSTO, AARONAGOSTOPHOTO.COM; IG: @AARONAGOSTO)

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preferences changed the type of kernel that was grown, including in Italy. Different types of rice have different starch contents and shapes. Long-grain rice grows thinner, longer and skinnier than other types. It does not release the starches that other rices do and is prized for its “fluffy” texture. Conversely, short-grain rice is, well, the shorter and fatter rice variety. It produces more starch per kernel and is what gives sushi rice its “sticky” profile. On the extreme end of the shortgrain rice spectrum is Arborio rice – super short, super starchy and the foundational ingredient in risotto. Risotto is a creamy dish made of white wine, rice and onions, and is an Italian staple. And out of risotto you can make the dish in this recipe – arancini, aka fried risotto balls. Arancini translates into English as “little oranges.” And the risotto balls are often stuffed and fried. They became popular in Italy because they were transportable.

Mobile food, like pizza, seems to be an Italian theme. The most traditional arancini is made with meat and tomatoes, but chefs over the centuries have stuffed them with basically everything. I have seen them sweet – honey and ricotta – and spicy – Italian sausage and peppers. This recipe is more the savory style. Arancini are a versatile creation that is perfect for appetizers when your guests are standing and mingling with others. No need for utensils.

THE NIGHT OF the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers event, I pan-fried my risotto balls on a Camp Chef grill with a little oil. For best results, I would recommend completely submerging them in oil, which develops the crispy shell that is so desired. To accent the dish I made a pumpkin seed and dandelion pesto. I was able to secure some leaves of the ubiquitous weed from the Teller Refuge’s river frontage.


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COLUMN Smoked Trout, Panfish and Rhubarb Risotto Cakes 4 tablespoons butter 6 ounces thin-sliced rhubarb ribs ½ small onion, diced 1¼ cups Arborio rice ½ cup white wine 4¼ cups chicken stock 2 ounces smoked trout (or salmon) 2 ounces raw panfish, diced (I used bluegill, but any flakey white fish meat will work) ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons heavy cream 2 tablespoons chopped chives Salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste 3 cups panko breadcrumbs 2 eggs, beaten 2 cups canola oil Melt the butter in a medium-sized stock pot on medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the onion and rhubarb and cook it until it is translucent. Turn the heat to low and add the Arborio rice. Cook the rice mix together until the rice gets “toasty”

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(about five minutes on low heat) and then add the white wine and about a quarter of the chicken stock. Stir a few times. When most moisture is evaporated, stir a few more times, then add another fourth of the stock. Repeat this step until the rice is fully cooked and the broth has turned “creamy.” Remember to stir, as this breaks down the rice a little. Remove the risotto from the burner and add fish, shaved parmesan and cream. Stir. Pour the risotto onto a cookie sheet and let cool in the fridge (preferably overnight). Then use a spoon to make similar-sized risotto balls. Heat the canola oil in a cast iron skillet until about 350 degrees. Dredge balls in the beaten eggs, then in the panko. Fry the balls carefully, in the hot oil until golden brown, about a minute and a half. Dandelion and Pumpkin Seed Pesto 3/ cup unsalted hulled (green) pumpkin seeds 3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan 2 cups dandelion greens (loose packed and picked from somewhere you trust; wash them very well) 1 tablespoon lemon juice ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste In a small saucepan heat the shelled pumpkin seeds on low until fragrant. This opens the cells and helps with the taste. Put the garlic and pumpkin seeds together in a food processor and process until very small. Add the cheese, dandelion greens and lemon juice and process continuously until combined. Stop the processor every now and again to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until the pesto is smooth. Some water might need to be added to get a thinner consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the smoked fish rice cakes. For more wild game recipes, see chefrandyking.com. –RK


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COLUMN

Ins, Outs Of Buying First Rifle, Scope I

grew up in northwest Iowa chasing pheasants, ducks and geese, so I primarily hunted with a shotgun. All the deer BECOMING hunting we did was A HUNTER By Dave Anderson with a 12-gauge and slugs. When I moved out West, I had to switch up my tactics, so I went shopping for a rifle that could be used on all big game species in the Lower 48. When I first started my search for a rifle to hunt deer, elk, bear and more with, I knew that I wanted something that I could easily find ammunition for anywhere. There are a bunch of calibers that I could have picked from, but I ultimately went with the .300 Win. Mag. This caliber is definitely not for everyone since it comes with significant recoil. I would not recommend someone just getting into rifle hunting with zero shooting experience to purchase a .300 Win.-, .300 Weatherby-, .300 RUMor .338-caliber rifle. This is strictly my opinion, but they could easily develop bad shooting habits right out of the gate. I have seen beginner hunters who chose one of the above calibers develop flinching with poor trigger habits. This generally will cause you to not enjoy shooting your rifle for fear of the recoil, as well as poorly placed shots that lead to lost animals. These rifle calibers are also more suited for elk. In my opinion, a good starting caliber for someone who wants to hunt deer would be a .308, .30-06, .270 or 6.5 Creedmoor. These are some popular calibers that are typically easier to find ammo for. The choices could also be fair game for elk with the right bullet selection. The calibers have

If you’re thinking about becoming a rifle deer hunter, author Dave Anderson says good starting calibers include .308, .30-06, .270 and 6.5 Creedmoor. Ammo is typically easier to find and comes in a variety of bullet options, plus recoil is lighter. (DAVE ANDERSON) nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

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COLUMN Because many shots at big game are taken at long distances and in low-light conditions, Anderson recommends allocating a big part of your budget on a quality scope. “Optics are so crucial in hunting that I often spend more on the glass than the rifle,” he writes. (DAVE ANDERSON)

some great bullet options and are much more forgiving when it comes to recoil. Now, when it comes to manufacturer choices, there are some amazing options out nowadays that can give you customrifle-type performance out of a factory rifle. Weatherby’s Mark V is going to be a little higher price, but they have more budget-friendly options in their Vanguard line. The Tikka T3 Lite is an excellent option in a lightweight hunting rifle, though no longer in production. The Bergara B14 series is an excellent-quality rifle at an entry-level price. Browning’s Hell’s Canyon rifles are great too. There are so many options that I’m sure I missed some. There are also some excellent high-end rifle choices made by Proof, Christensen and Fierce.

TO ME, WEIGHT is one of the greatest determining factors when it comes to selecting a new rifle. A Weatherby Backcountry Ti in 6.5 WBY RPM and 152 Northwest Sportsman

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Weatherby Backcountry 2.0 in .300 Weatherby are my go-to hunting rifles. The Ti weighs in at 4.9 pounds, which is absolutely silly and feels like a pellet gun. The 2.0 weighs 6.2 pounds and is fairly easy to carry around the mountains as well. Keep in mind that with less weight comes more recoil. One way to overcome this is by having a muzzle brake on the end of your rifle, but I would also highly recommend hearing protection. I have ear plugs with me at all times while hunting. You also want to be careful when laying down and shooting a rifle with a muzzle brake since it can blow dirt and dust everywhere when you decide to take your shot. There are brakes that direct the gases out the side and top instead. Another option that makes shooting any of these rifles much more enjoyable is a suppressor. Taking the noise factor out of shooting is a game-changer. The downside of a suppressor is the extra length and weight at the end of the barrel.

There are a ton of different options and lightweight versions as well, but they typically cost more. From my experience, the process of getting a suppressor is not as bad as what a lot of people will tell you. All it takes is some paperwork and a little bit of patience. I have never waited more than nine months to receive one.

ONCE YOU’VE SELECTED your rifle, the next step will be to choose a rifle scope to mount on top. There are a lot of great manufacturers that make quality products. Leupold, Vortex and Zeiss offer some great scopes at reasonable prices. You can jump up even higher into Swarovski and Night Force, if your budget allows. I recommend spending as much as you can on a rifle scope. Optics are so crucial in hunting that I often spend more on the glass than the rifle. The advantage of having high-quality optics is that you will generally have a better viewing area, no fog in moist conditions and better light


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COLUMN

Suppressors won’t silence your rifle, but there’s something to be said about reducing the noise, which can make taking a shot more enjoyable. The devices will add weight, but shooting sticks can help steady your aim when a buck or bull is in your scope. (DAVE ANDERSON) at dusk and dawn. I am 100-percent a Leupold guy, always have been and always will be, so I may be a little biased, but when selecting a scope, the first thing you will want to evaluate is what type of hunting you plan on doing. If you are a blacktail deer hunter or do most of your hunting on the coast, you may not need as much magnification as if you were hunting east of the Cascades, where a longer shot is more the norm. There also comes a price for better features and benefits. I started out with

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Leupold VX3 rifle scopes and had really good luck with them. I have a handful of the 4.5-14x40s and they are very versatile. They are great for thick up-close hunting or out to a few hundred yards, if needed. They also come with the Custom Dial System, which gives you a turret that matches your caliber, average temperature and elevation. For example, if you have a 400-yard shot, you can adjust your custom dial to 4, hold and shoot. This takes a lot of guesswork out of shooting. In the last few years, I upgraded to the Leupold VX5HD in a 3-15x44, also with CDS but with a larger 30mm tube diameter and

side focus adjustment. I have found that the difference between these two scopes is night and day. The amount of light that comes through the VX5HD is incredible. The price difference between the pair is right around $500. If your budget allows, you will not be disappointed to spend the extra money on a scope. Selecting a rifle and scope can be very overwhelming and looking online is a great place to start. I also recommend going to a few different stores to look at varying options, as well as listening to a few opinions from experienced hunters/ shooters. Everyone has their own thoughts


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COLUMN Now’s the time to pull the trigger on purchasing that first rifle and scope, not late summer just before seasons open. Taking the time to become familiar and comfortable with your setup will lead to more success afield. (DAVE ANDERSON)

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and we all seem to be somewhat biased on what is best.

THE LAST AND most important piece of advice I would give is to start this process as soon as possible if you plan on hunting this fall. It takes time to become comfortable and familiar with a rifle. Also, in addition to range time, get out and shoot in some real-life situations in the mountains. I always like to place a water-filled gallon jug on stumps at typical hunting distances. Shoot laying down, using a stump and off shooting sticks. You will not find benchrests and sand bags in the mountains to shoot off of, so it’s important to practice real-life situations. Ninety percent of the time, I am shooting off my shooting sticks, freehand or on my belly. Ultimately, you should find a rifle and scope within your budget that you will be comfortable with, because at the end of the day that is what is going to help you to be consistent and happy! NS



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COLUMN

Author Dave Workman’s bolt-action .257 Roberts, built on a Mauser ’98 action with a Douglas barrel and Weaver scope. It’s one of the reliable .25s, calibers that are often overlooked but never fail to do the job. (DAVE WORKMAN)

Never Overlook Or Underestimate The .25s I

n the shooting and hunting world, we’ve seen cartridges come and go with regularity; sizzlinghot one day and ON TARGET overshadowed by By Dave Workman the newer whiz-bang development the next day. But there is a family of cartridges that has literally covered all the bases, and the common denominator is that they all launch .257-caliber bullets. They are as reliable today as they were in their heydays, and among them are cartridges capable of bringing down inland whitetails and coastal blacktails, pronghorns and mountain goats, mule deer and sheep, and even caribou and elk with heavier projectiles.

A TRIP THROUGH .25 TERRITORY At the low end of the family tree are the .25-20 Winchester and .25-35 Winchester, which are known to have sent small game, coyotes and other varmints to hell by the bushel in their day. Today, both are considered obsolete. On the higher end of performance, you will find the .25 Winchester Super Short Magnum, the .25-06 Remington and the .257 Weatherby Magnum. In between, there’s the .250 Savage (still called by old-timers the “.250-3000 Savage” because it was capable of producing 3,000 feet per second at the muzzle with an 87-grain bullet back in 1915 when it first appeared), the fabled .257 Roberts and the .257 Roberts Ackley Improved. I own a .257 Roberts built on a Mauser

’98 action with a Douglas barrel, and I’ve put venison in the freezer with it on both sides of the Cascade Range. The .250 Savage was introduced in the Savage Model 99 lever-action, and with bullets in the 100- to 120-grain range, it remains a potent round for bucks and billies. I’ve encountered a few people in the field with Model 94 Winchesters in .25-35, including one old guy who was in the process of notching a tag many years ago. Likewise, the .25-06 Rem. – which is a necked-down .30-06, as the designation implies – can stop North American plains game (antelope and mule deer) anywhere, and has. The .257 Weatherby Magnum is a blazing-hot dose of flat-shooting nastiness capable of conking midsize game out to several hundred yards, and its fans will

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COLUMN On the left, the .243 Winchester, next to the .257 Roberts. Both are performers against Western deer, but the .257 never seemed to get the same attention as the slightly smaller .243. (DAVE WORKMAN)

argue it can do anything a .270 Winchester can, an argument in which I’ve never cared to participate. That all of these rounds have been somewhat forgotten or upstaged by such cartridges as the .243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Winchester and so many others I won’t mention, that does not mean the .25s can’t do the jobs for which they were developed.

FROM YAWNS TO GASPS When it comes to ballistics, the .25-20 and .25-35 are yawners, which explains why they’ve been consigned to the cemetery. When I did some cursory research for this month’s column, I found two popular loading manuals that didn’t even include data for one or the other, though there is data in the Hodgdon Annual Manual (while you will not find load recommendations

Federal Celebrates Centennial

F

or the past couple of months, Federal has been celebrating its 100th anniversary with a bit of pizzazz, and good for them because hitting the century mark happens only once in a lifetime. A few weeks ago, Federal released two loads in .45 ACP in limited edition “throwback packaging.” One load – the Monark Match – features a 230-grain FMJ in a 20-round box that is considered a collectible because it features a box with artwork from a bygone era. The other round features a 230-grain Federal Hydra-Shok JHP bullet, also in a 20-count box. They are pricey. Federal also released special packaging with three historic rifle calibers: .30-30 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield and .45-70 Govt. According to a company release, the commemorative packaging takes us back to circa 1963, yet the ammunition inside “offer(s) all the same features and performance of their modern Federal Power-Shok equivalent.” The .30-30 features a 150-grain bullet, while the .30-06 is topped with a 180-grain pill. The .45-70 offering has a 300-grain projectile. –DW

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COLUMN

WDFW PROPOSES 2-LION LIMIT TO HELP BLUES ELK

W

ashington wildlife managers are taking public comment on a proposal to allow hunters to take a second cougar “where monitoring has shown a high level of cougar predation on elk calves in the Blue Mountain elk herd.” GPS collars on the young wapiti (Northwest Sportsman, July 2021, January 2022) show just nine of 125 alive at last check, with 77 deaths attributed to predation, mostly lions. Under the proposal, the fall general/winter quota season structure would stay the same but hunters could tag two cougars in 12 game management units in the heart of the herd’s range. Blues elk were classified as “at risk” in a recent population assessment because counts have dropped so far below the management objective of 5,500. The decline began in the killer winter of 2016-17, but numbers are not bouncing back via reduced cow tags, and managers pin that on cougars, which accounted for 54 of the 77 dead calves, with bears and wolves killing most of the rest. The 2022 survey found 3,600 elk, as well as just 17 calves per 100 cows, far below the levels needed to stabilize let alone rebuild the herd. “This proposed rule is in response to a recent WDFW monitoring effort that showed higher than expected calf mortality attributed to cougar predation in the Blue Mountains,” said Anis Aoude, WDFW Game Division manager. You can comment online at publicinput.com/2022CougarSeasonCR102, via email at 2022cougarseasoncr102@publicinput.com and by mailing WDFW Wildlife Program, PO Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504-3200. The Fish and Wildlife Commission will also take input at its June 23-25 meeting and is expected to make a decision July 15. Stay tuned. –NWS

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for the .300 Savage, which I consider an astonishing omission). The .250 Savage on up, however, is a different story. A devoted hunter will find abundant loading data for all of those midrange calibers, which is good because it might be very hard to find factory ammunition for at least some of these “relics.” There are available bullet weights and styles for everything from varmints up to big game, and virtually all bullet makers offer several choices. Some cartridges go by the wayside while others have been declared dead so many times, only to be resurrected back into the spotlight, they might be considered immortal. (I count among these the .41 Magnum, my personal favorite bigbore handgun round with which I’ve killed three deer.) Some of the newer cartridges truly shine, but a combination of cost, recoil, fickleness and nostalgia will almost certainly bring the .25s back into vogue. The .25 WSSM gave the quarter-inch caliber something of a boost when it was first introduced back in 2003. It quickly


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COLUMN developed a following, and if it works for those folks, good for them. There isn’t a coyote on the prowl that can outrun this round, which is capable of nudging 3,500 fps with the right powder-bullet combination. The .257 Roberts has proven itself as one of the best mule deer cartridges around, despite it being outhyped by the .243 Win.

Rifles are still available in all of these calibers, though you’ll have to probably visit older gun shops and cruise the aisles of gun shows to find .25-20 and .25-35 specimens. Any of the calibers ranging upwards from the .250 Savage makes a great first gun for young or smaller-frame hunters, and they can be ridiculously accurate, as in threeshot groups covered by a quarter. I’ve managed that with my .257 Roberts using

100-grain Speer boattails or Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets, and I’ve used both pills to put meat in the freezer. Why did I look at the .25s this month? Because everybody else seems enamored with anything 6.5mm these days, and I say you can be different and still be successful. You’ll probably never see them mentioned in the “Top Ten” of anything, but sometimes the best can hide in the shadows. NS

NEW .30 SUPER CARRY

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ack in January at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade, or SHOT, Show in Las Vegas, a new caliber was introduced for handgunners, the .30 Super Carry, and both CCI Blazer Brass and Speer Ammunition introduced loads. Blazer Brass entered this arena with a round featuring a 115-grain FMJ bullet .313 inch in diameter, reportedly boasting the same muzzle energy as the 9mm Luger cartridge. This load is designated for training. Speer Ammunition offers a load with a 115-grain Gold Dot JHP. This smaller cartridge allows for greater magazine capacity in guns chambered for the round. Federal offers a load pushing a 100-grain HST JHP that leaves the muzzle at an advertised 1,250 feet per second. Currently, Smith & Wesson offers four different Shield semiauto pistol models that chamber the new cartridge. –DW

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Speer is among ammunition manufacturers offering rounds in the new .30 Super Carry caliber. (SPEER)


nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

Northwest Sportsman 167


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Summer Training Part I: Waterfowl S

ummer is here, bringing with it the most active time of year for gun dog training. While many hunters work dogs year-round, GUN DOGGIN’ 101 summer is when the By Scott Haugen most time is devoted to getting dogs in the field and in shape. Be it the nice weather, warmer temperatures, increased daylight hours or the fact you simply have more time on your hands, the next three months are prime for dog training. In this first of a two-part training-tip series, we’ll look at waterfowl season, while next month we’ll focus on upland hunting.

A GOOD PLACE to start your summer dog training for waterfowl season is with what needed fixing from last season. For me, it’s making sure my two dogs don’t compete on retrieves. I’ll devote time to working both dogs with multiple bumpers, as well as sending them on retrieves one at a time, to teach restraint. I’ll do this with bumpers and a dummy launcher. The sound of a launcher really gets my dogs fired up, so I’ll have a buddy shoot the bumper from a distance while I handle the dogs. If you have a dog that’s gun-shy or breaks on the shot, work on that now. If a dog is scared of a loud shotgun blast, start off with a BB gun or air rifle – something quiet. Once they’re comfortable, progress to a .22, then a small-gauge shotgun with light target loads. As you increase the firepower, thus the noise, be sure to keep the dog behind you so the muzzle blast isn’t too much for them. A great approach is having a friend shoot while you handle the dog. This is also the time to introduce new gear to your dogs. Neoprene dog vests,

Behavior and conditioning are two areas to work on in summer. Geese are big, and working with large training dummies in water and on land will go a long way once hunting season gets here. (SCOTT HAUGEN) nwsportsmanmag.com | JUNE 2022

Northwest Sportsman 169


COLUMN

Now is a good time to introduce new gear to your dog. Here, author Scott Haugen first got his dog used to her new vest, then a new blind. Keep introductions brief and in a familiar place. (SCOTT HAUGEN) dog blinds, platforms, even eye and ear protection, should be introduced now. Keep the introduction short and sweet, maybe in the comfort of your home or yard. Make the experience fun and take away the gear while their interest is piqued.

Next, reintroduce the gear in the yard, and let them use or wear it a bit longer this time; let them explore and get used to it. Again, keep it fun and make it seem special for your dog, and never force it on them. Once they get comfortable with the

Come hunting season, you want your dog to be comfortable with their new gear, and it starts with preseason training. This Lab is heading out on an airboat ride, complete with ear muffs and vest. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

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gear, bring in the bumper and get to work. Make sure their attention is focused on the task at hand – retrieving the bumper – not worrying about the gear.

SUMMER IS ALSO a good time to get your dog in shape. Truthfully, your dog should never get out of shape following hunting season. Allowing your dog to gain even an extra pound or two in the off-season could not only result in health issues, but actually shorten its life. Think of summer training as keeping your dog in shape. As summer temperatures climb, early morning and evening are prime times for physical workouts. Whatever you do, do not expose your dog to excessive workouts in the heat. Water-entry training and swimming alongside a canoe or paddleboard can be done during the heat of the day, and both are great forms of conditioning. Be sure to regularly run your dog on hard dirt or gravel in order to keep their pads firm and toenails short. Running dogs up hills is a great workout. Swimming your dog in moving water


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like a creek or river, amid tall grass and reeds, and anywhere else you might hunt, gets them used to such habitat and is also good exercise. Multiple bumper retrieves in vegetated water is great practice. If you’re a goose hunter, getting a large dummy for your dog to practice retrieving is a good idea. Pushing a big goose through water is relatively easy for a dog, but once they hit land, the bird becomes heavy and cumbersome, so practice this and get your dog in shape for such retrieves – especially if you’ll be hunting fields.

NO MATTER WHAT training you’re doing, keep it upbeat and positive, and clearly communicate your expectations to your dog. Teaching obedience and restraint are never-ending challenges of a dog owner, and for that, there is no off-season. NS Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is a full-time writer. See his puppy training videos and learn more about his many books at scotthaugen.com and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.


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