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Columbia Mouth Expert Cody Herman


Eastern Oregon Big Game Preview

Think Pinks!

Sound, Puyallup, Snoho, More

Fish The



Great Spots In Path Of Totality


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AUGUST 2017 | (800) 939-0310


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Sportsman Northwest

Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 11 • Issue 11 PUBLISHER James R. Baker

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

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Dick Openshaw EDITOR Andy Walgamott LEAD CONTRIBUT0R Andy Schneider THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS Douglas Boze, Scott Brenneman, Jason Brooks, Scott Haugen, Doug Huddle, Sara Ichtertz, MD Johnson, Randy King, Buzz Ramsey, Troy Rodakowski, Terry Wiest, Mike Wright, Dave Workman EDITORIAL FIELD SUPPORT Jason Brooks GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins




INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGER Lois Sanborn WEBMASTER/DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines DISTRIBUTION Tony Sorrentino, Gary Bickford ADVERTISING INQUIRIES CORRESPONDENCE Email letters, articles/queries, photos, etc., to, or to the address below. ON THE COVER Cody Herman, king of all Northwest fishing media, shows off a Buoy 10 fall Chinook caught during last year’s fishery. For his tips on how to fish salmon at the mouth of the Columbia, see Buzz Ramsey’s column this issue. (DAYONEOUTDOORS.COM)


DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and get daily updates at





1-877-426-0933 8 Northwest Sportsman

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WASHINGTON OFFICE P.O. Box 24365 • Seattle, WA 98124-0365 14240 Interurban Ave. S., Suite 190 Tukwila, WA 98168 OREGON OFFICE 8116 SW Durham Rd • Tigard, OR 97224 (206) 382-9220 • (800) 332-1736 • Fax (206) 382-9437; | AUGUST 2017

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Last winter was brutal – months and months of lingering snow and cold temperatures tested Oregon’s big game herds like we haven’t seen in awhile. But while there are tag reductions in some areas, all is not gloom and doom. In fact, prospects don’t look too bad. Troy Rodakowski shares the bad and the good as 2017’s hunts commence this month.


BUOY 10 ALTERNATIVES Don’t care to boogie on down to the buoy? Looking for less crowded waters than the mouth of the mighty Columbia, but somewhere with just as good fishing? Andy Schneider knows how you feel – he spotlights two top Chinook waters and how to fish ’em!


SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON CLAMMING There’s a Northwest saying that goes, when the tide goes out, the table’s set. In the case of Willapa Bay, that feast includes oysters and bay clams. Grab your rake and follow MD Johnson onto the flats!


COLUMBIA CATCH & RELEASE STURGEON You’ve heard of girls night out, no doubt, but how about “Fish Like A Girl Adventures?” That’s what Sara Ichtertz found herself on with several ladies as well as guide David Johnson, who provides the special trips. For Sara, it was a chance to bond with gals like herself and match her skills against a whole new river monster, one utterly like her faves from the Umpqua.


IDAHO’S ALPINE FISHING GEMS Summer’s heat kiboshes trout fishing in lower waters, but not so at the high lakes of Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest. Lace up your boots for a hike into the hills with resident trout hound Mike Wright!


FISHING THE ECLIPSE The year was 1905 and a British chap by the name of A. Mosely found himself catching buckets of fish. The reason? A partial eclipse of the sun. With Oregon underneath the path of totality for this month’s, might the action be even better? Who’s to say, but we tasked Andy S. with identifying eight great fisheries to give it a go as day turns to dusk and dawn again on Aug. 21!

135 UNCONVENTIONAL CALLING Using sounds that black bears and other predators – as well as elk – aren’t familiar with could greatly increase your success, especially in overhunted areas. Northwest Washington hunting author Douglas Boze shares some of what he’s learned by mixing things up on the call.

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Go to for details. NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Periodical Postage Paid at Seattle, WA and at additional mail offices. (USPS 025-251) POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Northwest Sportsman, 14240 Interurban Ave South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Annual subscriptions are $29.95 (12 issues), 2-year subscription are $39.95 (24 issues). Send check or money order to Media Index Publishing Group, or call (206) 382-9220 with VISA or M/C. Back issues may be ordered at Media Index Publishing Group offices at the cost of $5 plus shipping. Display Advertising. Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2017 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A.

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With the Puyallup set to defend its title as the King of Puget Sound Humpydom, local boy Jason sets us up for success on Commencement Bay and in the river, and gets ready for bear season. 47


BUZZ RAMSEY Cover boy Cody Herman’s becoming a widely known and well-respected voice in the Northwest fishing scene, and that’s based in part on his expertise at Buoy 10. Buzz sits down with Cody for a Q&A on how to fish the West Coast’s most spectacular fall salmon fishery. CHEF IN THE WILD What do the Basques, La Grande rainbow trout and Yaquina Bay clams have in common? Randy’s latest culinary masterpiece!

109 THE KAYAK GUYS Scott pushes off from the beach in search of shorerunning pink salmon, which perhaps evolved to be fished for from a kayak! 115 WESTSIDER Truth be known, pinks may not be Terry’s all-time favorite 12 Northwest Sportsman

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salmon, but he takes one for the team with a saltwater primer for our odd-year obsession! 119 NORTH SOUND The Nooksack Basin has a split personality this month – Doug has the deets on where to look in its bottoms for Pugetropolis’s earliest returning humpies, and heights for black bear. Also: best spots and rigs for Snohomish, Skykomish pinks. 151 GUN DOGGIN’ 101 The phrase “teachable moment” doesn’t mean quite the same thing in dog obedience school as it does in a junior high classroom, but Scott has what to watch for when training your pup. 155 ON TARGET Like to eat venison? Yeah, dumb question, but Dave shares five things you need to know about ammo if you want to grill more. | AUGUST 2017

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Bucket biologists @$%@ it up for the rest of us, ruining fisheries that cost tens of thousands of dollars – millions in one case – to turn around.


THE EDITOR’S NOTE On pink salmon


CORRESPONDENCE Reader reactions to recent news


SPORTSMEN OF THE NORTHWEST Seattle angler Juan Valero has the bottom of the state record book solidly hooked.


PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD Spring bears, halibut, walleye, Chinook and more!


PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS Browning, Fishing monthly prizes


THE DISHONOR ROLL Wallowa rancher sentenced; TV hunters in trouble; Kudos; Jackass of the Month


DERBY WATCH Pete Flohr Memorial Salmon Derby; Tuna time; Recent results; Upcoming events


OUTDOOR CALENDAR Upcoming openers, closures, events


BIG FISH Record Northwest game fish caught this month

113 RIG OF THE MONTH Building a better (Buzz) bomb 14 Northwest Sportsman

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

The ONE place not to be is in the path of whales. Don’t position your vessel in the path of oncoming whales within 400 yards of a whale. A jig-hooked humpy makes a dash back toward the depths of the Duwamish during 2015’s pink salmon run. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)


race yourselves, fellow pink salmon fans. No, a tsunami of the odd-year fish isn’t about to wash out of the Straits and swamp Pugetropolis. Rather, it’s the biennial poo-pooing of the humped ones – the jokes about stinky pinkies, the well-at-least-it’ll-give-the-kidssomething-to-do-for-awhile air of superiority from some in the Northwest salmon mafia. Of course, it’s all good-natured. We all wish our waters were as bountiful with Chinook and coho as they’ve become with pinks since around 2001. That was the year annual returns began to take off after a period of low production. Going back in Washington’s catch card records I was shocked to read that the Puyallup’s 1999 harvest was all of two. But since 2009 it’s yielded the highest catches for any Puget Sound river: 92,794 in August 2013 alone, and 149,746 for the season. The latter figure represents 87 percent of all the sport-caught salmon kept in the Pierce County river that year; in 2015, that percentage rose to 95.

BUT PINKS ARE also a fragile resource. I didn’t recognize that at first. I thought they were well on their way to taking over the world, able to thrive in waters that were becoming more and more unsuitable for kings and silvers, as well as steelies. The Blob of 2015 showed us it was not so. That year, the pinks came in absolutely ravenous, driving catches in Puget Sound saltwaters into record territory. Surely, the greatest run of all time was on, I thought, but it didn’t pan out. The returning fish were snappy because they’d been starved by the ocean and were desperately trying to add weight before their spawning run. Afterwards, a series of floods scoured the gravel. Bad timing. This year’s forecast is for 1.15 million back to the Sound and Hood Canal (and another 8.7 million to British Columbia’s Fraser River). With so relatively few, I’m hoping the fish fed well in the Pacific and come back at Humpzilla size, not only because they’ll fight better but because they’ll be more fecund and able to lay more eggs. And I’m bucking advice from a trusted source and going ahead and buying pink tackle. I’ll be casting my jigs for them with a new appreciation for the struggling native stock, one almost entirely wild, and one that shows even the simplest of salmon are having a hard go of it these days. –Andy Walgamott


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


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

Visit to learn more, download the laws, regulations, and guidelines, and to report violations. Report Violations: Enforcement 1-800-853-1964 or online at | AUGUST 2017

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SCENE By Andy Walgamott

Comment from the www

ROADKILL PROGRAM SERVES UP SUCCESS As the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife comes up with how to run its recently legislatively mandated roadkill salvaging program, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s turned a year old on July 1. It’s been widely successful, with 1,427 deer and 183 elk collected along the state’s highways and byways, and the residents of Olympia, Spokane and Port Angeles taking the most advantage of it, hauling off 50, 48 and 43, respectively. (With just four to their credit, Seattle needs to, er, pick it up). “Them’s good eatin’!!” enthused Matthew Alexander on our Facebook post with the news, though Rick Gurule wasn’t so sure: “There’s some serious rednecks in this state, lol.” Rednecks? Who you calling rednecks?!? “There’s ones that put meat on the table, and one’s that don’t,” responded Charles Brown. “Safeway doesn’t count.” While the boys argued, Kathy May reminded everyone of general rules for salvaging: “If I had hit it, or saw it hit, then yes. If it had been marinating for an unknown period of time, pass.”

COLUMBIA STEELHEAD STRUGGLES With even fewer steelhead than had been forecast heading up the Columbia, ODFW asked anglers to use “best handling practices” on this year’s run. In addition to the agency’s guidelines (and call to maybe fish bass or walleye instead), Mark Crawford offered, “And don’t stick your hand in their gills to take a picture!” But some said, that’s all?!? “The data is telling ODFW not to fish this … run and their approach is to be gentle?????” commented Paul LeFebvre.

CALL FOR ‘OLD-TIMES’ SAKE’ SOCKEYE FISHERY Sportfishing advocate Frank Urabeck’s call for a “token, for old-times’ sake” Lake Washington sockeye fishery if the Ballard Locks count hit 100,000 caught attention. While a very long shot at press time, it at least led to more substantial discussions to lower the fishery threshold to 200,000. “It’s so sad we don’t get to fish this fishery for a day or two. There are more sockeye there than Baker and the Columbia combined,” said Patrick Landolt, adding, “350,000 is a ridiculous escapement goal.”That the state and tribes were willing to chop 43 percent off of that kinda proved the point. “Hatchery fish we can’t catch. Awesome,” noted a chagrined Kyle Sorenson.

MOST LIKED READER PIC WE HUNG UP ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE DURING THIS ISSUE’S PRODUCTION CYCLE The first of a few nice Banks Lake spring walleye for Julia Murauskas, 5, was tops on our social media. “She landed this 18-inch eater using a 3-ounce bottom bouncer hitched to a Mack’s Slow Death rig with a green Smile Blade and a nightcrawler,” reported dad, Josh. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) | AUGUST 2017

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Bucket biology is strongly associated with bass, perch and other species that anglers want to stock in waters near themselves, but fishery managers worry about the threat from goldfish as well. (BHARATH KISHORE, FLICKR)

Buckets of Pain

‘I don’t know how many people really know how much it affects the game fishery or the native fish’ – ODFW biologist on illegal introductions. By ODFW Staff


n the cool waters of Diamond Lake in Oregon’s Douglas County, anglers can fish for rainbow trout surrounded by the beauty of Diamond Peak and the encompassing forest. In eastern Oregon’s Ontario, at a location accessible by car, entry-level anglers can find easy fishing success thanks to a schooling bluegill population. And in the mountainous areas of Central Oregon, fisheries for kokanee, brown trout and rainbow trout are alive and well in Paulina and East Lakes, part of the Newberry Crater. Yet these fisheries and many others

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like them throughout Oregon are always at risk from what’s sometimes called “bucket biology.” Invasive species introduced to the lakes and reservoirs can change fish populations. Whether introduced by individuals who dump leftover live bait into the water, not realizing the harm, or added by people who want to change the fishing grounds themselves, bucket biology is harmful to fisheries. It’s disappointing for anglers who count on getting a good catch at their favorite lakes. It’s also illegal, with a hefty fine for those who are caught. “Most introductions do not take, from what we understand, but when they do

take, they can be pretty catastrophic,” says Mike Harrington, interim deputy director for Fish and Wildlife Programs at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

TAKING OVER Illegally introduced fish can compete with those that are either native to the area or native-compatible fish stocked by ODFW. Stocked fish are chosen because they thrive in that particular climate, provide a good catching experience and are what the majority of people want, regional fish biologists say. Invasive fish may eat the same food source eaten by the stocked fish, causing stocked fish to suffer from low growth and

Diamond Lake could be the Northwest’s poster child for the wreckage caused by illegal fish introductions. This image shows boats applying rotenone in grid patterns to the Southern Cascades water during a 2006 effort to rid the lake of tui chub that probably were used as bait and discarded at the end of the fishing day, and which cost $5 .5 million to remove. Spraying of liquid rotenone at the shoreline happened simultaneously. (ODFW)

poor quality. “We were able to show that relative weight was very low in those lakes where we had those illegal introductions,” Harrington says, including in Walton Lake and Antelope Flat Reservoir in the Ochoco National Forest. Illegal introductions can also wreak havoc on the habitat, stirring up sediment at the bottom of the lake and muddying the water. That’s what happened in Ontario at Beck-Kiwanis Pond, which is stocked with largemouth bass and bluegill, and then rainbow trout in the winter. Carp and goldfish that were illegally introduced look for their food in the sediment, stirring up the pond in the process, says Dave Banks, district fish biologist in ODFW’s Malheur Watershed District. “It’s a game of attrition. Once you get those species in there, it’s only a matter of time before they take over a pond,” Banks says.

COSTS ADD UP Bucket biology is costly, both in terms of unhappy fishermen and budget dollars that have to be spent and which come from taxpayer and the anglers who pay fees. What works best to fix the problem, once it has happened, depends on the location. One solution is rearing fish for a longer time in the hatchery, so that those released aren’t as vulnerable to predation.


A sign warns anglers about knowingly or otherwise transporting unwanted aquatic invasive species between lakes. (ODFW)

That’s the current solution at Howard Prairie Reservoir in Southern Oregon, where there was a successful rainbow trout fishery before it crashed in 2005 because of a surprisingly large list of invaders: golden shiners, brown bullhead, black crappie, and both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Previously, ODFW released 2- or 3-inch fish in late May, recalls District Fish Biologist Dan Van Dyke. But in 2010, they began raising and feeding the fish longer, releasing 6- to 7-inch fish each October, a size meant to be just large enough so smallmouth bass couldn’t feed on them. “We’re releasing fewer but larger fish at a size and time of the year when they’re less likely to be eaten by the illegally introduced bass,” Van Dyke says. It’s helping, but the downside is that it’s much more expensive to keep hatchery

fish for longer: $6,700 more per year, for example, to raise 150,000 fish. In ODFW’s La Grande District in Baker County, one of the solutions the department is trying is introducing a nonnative, sterile predator fish – tiger muskie – to control the perch population, estimated to be about 500,000 fish strong, according to District Fish Biologist Tim Bailey. “They would reduce the biomass of perch enough that the trout could increase in survival and growth,” Bailey says. “And that’s happened at other locations across the West.” At Paulina, East and Lava Lakes in Central Oregon, a summertime trapping program of spawning chub has used interns for some of the labor, at a cost of about $25,000, estimates Jennifer Luke, a Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program biologist in the Deschutes area. | AUGUST 2017

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MIXED BAG “I don’t know how many people out there really know how much of a problem it is, and the costs of it when we have to try to fix it,” Luke says. “I don’t know how many people really know how much it affects the game fishery or the native fish.” Conservation efforts, too, can in some cases make certain waterways less habitable for invaders. When waters are cool, the way salmon and steelhead like it, these native fish stand a better chance of outcompeting invaders, like redside shiners, which have colonized in the Rogue River, Van Dyke says. “It’s just another reason, here in the Rogue, to really stress everything we can do to keep streams as cool as possible, with riparian restoration and protection,” he says.

COSTLIEST CASE Chemical treatments – such as rotenone – can be an option for clearing out illegally introduced fish and restarting the fishery. The cost of treating Oregon waterbodies with rotenone, using Fish Restoration and Enhancement program dollars, was about $800,000 for 2011 to 2015, says STEP and R&E program coordinator Kevin Herkamp. Additional federally funded stream treatments were also completed during

Rotenoning large lakes can be expensive or impossible, so fishery managers are turning to hybrid species such as piscivorous tiger trout to take out invasive ones such as any tui chub that turn up at Diamond Lake, and tiger muskie to eat yellow perch at Phillips Reservoir. Both types of tigers are sterile so they won’t breed, providing a relatively safe option for biologists. (ODFW, ALL)

this time period. One of the costliest and highest profile illegal introduction sites was at Diamond Lake. Here, tui chub were competing with rainbow trout for food, deteriorating the water quality and causing problems with

bacteria and toxic algae blooms that were interfering with recreation. To fix this, at a cost of $5.5 million, in 2006, ODFW drained the lake to about 75 percent of its normal capacity. It treated with rotenone in the lake using pontoon

The illegal introduction of yellow perch into Phillips Reservoir crashed its renowned rainbow trout fishery, affecting tourism in a rural county that could ill afford to lose business. True, state and federal biologists have made their share of mistakes putting fish in places we now know they shouldn’t have, but as ODFW’s Tim Bailey points out, it’s “an educational process” to convince freelancers not to do so. (BAKER COUNTY TOURISM, FLICKR) 22 Northwest Sportsman

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MIXED BAG boats, in boats near the shoreline using long-range sprayers, and on foot using sprayers to target weedy and marshy areas near the shorelines. It used drip stations in major tributaries, and used sentinel fish in buckets in the lake to test effectiveness at different depths and locations. “We went through a litany of different tests to make sure that we were treating at the proper level,” says Greg Huchko, district fish biologist for the Umpqua District. The project was successful. However, tui chub are back in Diamond Lake again, though the number currently seems to be low. “We are not taking this lightly. We’re hitting it very hard with our monitoring efforts to keep track. We want to see what’s going on over time,” Huchko says.

EVERYONE CAN HELP The most effective treatment for illegal introduction long-term is prevention. About five years ago, Oregon B.A.S.S.

The good old days of fishing returned to Diamond Lake after it was rotenoned more than a decade ago now, with KJ Ruffo catching this nice rainbow about five summers afterwards. (USFS, FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) Nation, The Bass Federation and Oregon Black Bass Action Committee founded the Turn In Illegal Introductions – or TI3 – program to make reporting this crime simple for tipsters. The program is a combination education and enforcement campaign, in coordination with ODFW and Oregon State Police. TI3 educates anglers with fliers

SEATTLE WALLEYE STUDIED This past spring, a Seattle-area tribe made a concerted effort to capture and radio-tag walleye in Lakes Sammamish and Washington, where the species has been illegally introduced. Though details are scant, the idea was to “assess their overlap with migrating juvenile salmonids in addition to locating areas these invasive predators may be targeted in subsequent fisheries.” That’s according to a brief from the Muckleshoot Tribe that was included in this year’s final North of Falcon salmon fisheries agreement with the state. Tribal officials are mum on the project, but the rumor is that they caught half a dozen or so on Sammamish and a couple on Washington this year, inserting tracking devices in some to figure out where schools might hang out to better target and remove them. Walleye first turned up in Lake Washington in 2005, a small male, 24 Northwest Sportsman

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Biologists were not happy to find a dozen walleye in Lake Washington in 2015 – nor a northern pike earlier this year. Since then, the Muckleshoot Tribe has launched an effort to capture walleye and outfit them with acoustic devices to better track their movement and target concentrations of the unwanted predators. (WDFW) caught by University of Washington researchers, with anglers catching one or two in following years. But in 2015, state and tribal biologists caught a dozen, mostly in Lake Washington between Mercer Island and Bellevue, including a 13.5-pound hen that was dripping eggs (Northwest Sportsman, July 2015). Natives of the Midwest that have long since arrived in the Columbia Basin, walleye could only have been brought over the Cascades illegally. –AW

that highlight the problem of illegal introductions and provide information about how to turn in people suspected of illegally fishing with live bait and/or illegally introducing live fish to Oregon waterbodies. People who call the hotline can remain anonymous while reporting and while receiving reward money of up to $3,000 upon conviction of a suspect. They can report the problem by calling the same TIP (Turn-In-Poachers) hotline (800-452-7888) that the state uses for tips about poaching of wildlife. “Convincing bucket biologists not to illegally introduce fish is an educational process,” says Bailey, who is working on the perch problem at Phillips Reservoir. “Though someone might believe they have the knowledge to introduce a species and be successful in creating the fishery they want, they could be wrong.” “Each water body is different. And the response of a fish species being introduced into a waterway, you just don’t know,” Bailey adds. “It can provide a fishery or it can do exactly what happened to Phillips (Reservoir), where it could cause one to crash,” that “one” being a formerly regionally significant trout fishery. NS

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Profile of a

The King Of Small Fish

Northwest sportsman

Seattle angler Juan Valero has the bottom of the state record book solidly hooked. By Andy Walgamott with Juan Valero


uan Valero’s small catches are starting to make a big impression on the Washington state record fish book. His latest, a Pacific sanddab, weighed 1 pound even – and still was a fifth of a pound heavier than his other record, a Pacific staghorn sculpin. They’re the two smallest entries on the saltwater side of the ledger, and fourth and fifth lightest listings when freshwater fish are included. Valero, the only person currently with two record fish in the book, caught his 12.5-inch sanddab on May 25 at the southernmost end of Whidbey Island. The Seattle angler landed his .80-pound staghorn sculpin not far to the west, off the northern Kitsap Peninsula, last July. And no, Valero didn’t set out either day to nudge pretty low bars slightly higher. “Honestly, I was not trying to break any records, nor was I targeting any of those species at the time,” he says. “But like that great painting by Ray Troll says, ‘Careful what you fish for!’” But now that he has set two records, you might say he’s starting to cast a speculative “eye” on some empty spots elsewhere in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s state record book. I’m going to step aside now and let Juan Valero tell his own story because, honestly, I couldn’t do it any better, and if I tried, I’d mangle its subtle poetry. Take it away, Juan:

I WAS BORN in Argentina into a family of fishermen and seafarers, and as such I have always been drawn to the sea and its creatures. I moved to Seattle almost 20 years ago to study fisheries at the University of Washington. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and with the woman who became my wife, with whom we have a beautiful, smart and incipient fisherwoman preschooler. Our daughter Cecilia loves to do

Juan Valero fishes for many species, and it was during pursuit of those that he caught Washington’s new state record Pacific sanddab (above) and Pacific staghorn sculpin not too far apart in central Puget Sound over the past year. (WDFW) gyotaku – the traditional Japanese way of making fish prints – for which she often requests that I take her fishing or that I go fishing and bring her fish to paint, requests that are always music to my ears. The day I caught the staghorn sculpin I was fishing for king salmon, mooching a cutplug close to the bottom near Point No Point. When it hit I could tell it was no salmon, but I thought I may bring it to my daughter to paint it.

To my surprise, it was the biggest staghorn sculpin I had ever seen. A friend of mine had done her graduate research with that fish species, so I could tell it was a special catch. My fishing buddy Nick checked the WDFW fishing records webpage and he encouraged me to go to the application process. In the meantime, my daughter and I had quite a bit of fun making prints with it. The | AUGUST 2017

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Profile of a

Northwest sportsman

Valero’s daughter Cecilia has made beautiful gyotaku, or Japanese, prints of his two record fish, as well as other catches. (JUAN VALERO) fish is now in my freezer, waiting for me to have time to process it for preservation and donation to the UW Fish Collection. The Pacific sanddab came under similar circumstances, but in this case fishing for lingcod off Possession Point, although none were to be caught that day. I actually did not realize it was a Pacific sanddab, or that it could be a record until we talked with the WDFW biologist at the launch area.

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Again we went through the application process. This time my daughter was a year older, so she was much more involved in the process and inquisitive about the special fish. I am not actively chasing any fishing records, although I had two other catches that were in the Washington record ballpark. One was a 24-pound chum salmon from the Stillaguamish River in 2002 (the record is 25.97 pounds).

More recently I caught and released a massively oversized lingcod that, based on our estimates from known size of lure and photographic and video images of the fish, was around 54 inches and over 60 pounds. The current state record for lingcod is 61 pounds, caught in 1986. Times have changed and the maximum size of 36 inches should prevent that record from being broken. I do research on | AUGUST 2017

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Profile of a

Northwest sportsman lingcod as part of my fisheries work, so it was great to see that monster fish swim away anyways! On second thought about not chasing any records, my fishing buddy was born in England, and looking at the Washington current records there are several righteye flounders with no current state records. So who knows, maybe we will work on English sole next time my daughter sends me to catch her some future fish prints! Life is full of surprises, and be careful what you fish for. I came here to study fish-

eries, but I ended up being hooked on the region myself. I went fishing for king salmon and lingcod; none were caught those days, but I ended up catching some unusually large fish, at least relative to the typical size for those other species. I think it is good to be an informed outdoors person; the more you learn about an area and its creatures, the more you enjoy each time you get to go outside. Of course I like to catch larger and tastier fish, and sometimes I do. However, in these times of changing, uncertain and even diminishing fishing opportunities, you may end up not catching the fish that you want, but with the right attitude still manage to make the most of any outing. NS

FUN FACTS Juan Valero’s record sanddab topped a .81-pounder caught in 2003 by Richard Bethke – who himself has a 1.27-pound brown rockfish listed. That’s the next lightest record fish amongst saltwater species. The smallest freshwater state records are a .53-pound warmouth, .58-pound prickly sculpin and .79-pound green sunfish. –AW

“In these times of changing, uncertain and even diminishing fishing opportunities, you may end up not catching the fish that you want,” says Valero, “but with the right attitude still manage to make the most of any outing.” (JUAN VALERO)

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Six days into a week-and-a-halflong May 2016 hunt on the back side of British Columbia’s northern Rockies, Jim Testin of Camano Island downed this big grizzly with his .338 Win. Mag. (BROWNING PHOTO






There are birthday presents and then there are awesome b-day gifts. Hunter Herrsins’ first-ever steelhead qualifies as the latter. He was plunking the Skykomish River in June; it was his 23rd birthday. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

It was a men’s campout on Priest Lake, but a custom jigging fly tied up Tyler Sylvester’s mom led to this fine trio for the lad. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Adam Perez attempts to turn a spring Chinook on a small Skagit County river. He hooked the salmon bottom bouncing a small cluster of eggs. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Bertha Logsdon shows off her and her husband Les’s limit of rainbows caught on Washington’s trout fishing opener. The Logsdons live in Hood River but fish in both states. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

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

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Fishing a herring and spinner on anchor led to Kris Rondeau’s first Umpqua River spring Chinook, caught near Scottsburg. “Gave her a terrific battle, made several good runs before we finally landed him,” reports husband Jim. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Monica Weeks made a “perfect shot” on this beautiful cinnamonphase Eastern Washington spring black bear. She was guided by husband and High Buck hunter Stan Weeks. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

It’s the year of the walleye on the Columbia! Rod Paul of Ellensburg caught this 31.5-incher in early June while trolling a Mack’s Wally Pop worm harness in water 14 feet deep.

^ ^



Erik Higgins of Bend got in on the Deschutes River’s salmonfly hatch this past spring, catching and releasing this 15-inch redside rainbow on one of the big-bug-imitating patterns. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

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Amanda Spiegel’s biggest halibut yet didn’t come easy, what with “dishwashertype seas” that day this past May out of Port Angeles. But she hung on to bring this 60-pounder aboard while fishing with her dad, Eric, who landed a 50. On the run in they helped rescue a kayakar lost in the fog 3 miles offshore. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) | AUGUST 2017

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In what we believe is a first, we’re declaring two pics sent by Eric Jungblom as our monthly Fishing Photo Contest winner – Lily and Hannah Hunnicutt and their small-pond spinyrays. It wins Jungblom a pile of loot from the overstuffed office of our editor!


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Eric Smith’s pic of daughter Grace Smith and her mule deer taken with the .243 given to her on her 11th birthday is this issue’s Browning Photo Contest winner. It wins him a Browning hat.

Sportsman Northwest

Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

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

Northwest Sportsman 39

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Wallowa Rancher Sentenced For Killing Elk


Northeast Oregon rancher who shot numerous elk on his property last winter received an interesting sentence from a county judge in late June. Along with fines and loss of hunting privileges, Larry Michael “Mike” Harshfield must work with ODFW and county prosecutors and give three presentations to fellow livestock producers about the right way to deal with elk depredation issues, according to the Wallowa County Chieftain. The 69-year-old Wallowa resident was arrested in mid-April on charges of shooting 12, and while at the time the Oregon State Police said they were

sending potential charges for the deaths of 13 more found on neighboring land to county prosecutors, Harshfield ultimately pleaded guilty to illegally killing six. A long, cold, snowy winter led to many elk raiding the Harshfield hay barn. ODFW said it offered a number of potential solutions, which were declined by the family. The shootings occurred between December and mid-February, according to the paper. In addition to the presentations, Harshfield was also sentenced to pay $18,000 in restitution, and received a three-year hunting ban and two-year probation, according to the report.



nother Northeast Oregon man was also fined for his part in the killing and wasting of two bulls outside Elgin in early winter. Local reports say that Dylan Crouch has had his hunting and fishing privileges suspended for three years and must pay $17,500 in restitution. His brother, Dylan Crouch, also suspected in the poaching, is reported to still be at large with an active warrant for his arrest.

By Andy Walgamott



A middle Willamette Valley fish and wildlife officer was named the Oregon State Police’s 2016 Fish & Wildlife Trooper of the Year. Trooper Jim Andrews (second from left) of the Albany Area Command was nominated for his “excellent work” last year, and was lauded by OSP as “very well rounded in his enforcement activities with a high level of activities and professional efforts protecting citizens and Oregon’s natural resources. He is an excellent investigator and report writer and always willing to help other troopers. Trooper Andrews is well respected by the public, his peers, supervisors, partner law enforcement agencies in his assigned area and by the local courts and the District Attorney’s Office.”

List Of TV Hunters In Trouble For Violations Lengthening


hen a TV hunting show that promised to bring viewers “The good the bad and the ugly” got in trouble for “the ugly,” it inspired The Dishonor Roll to pull together list of similar cases: The latest involved Billy A. Busbice, a cohost of Wildgame Nation until the show was pulled by the Outdoor Sportsman Group Networks. That happened shortly after

the Wyoming Game and Fish Department made it known Busbice, of Louisiana, had been sentenced to pay $23,000 in fines for wasting an elk and taking another without the right license on his ranch last October. Others in recent years have included: Kentucky’s Ricky J. Mills and Jimmy G. Duncan of Hunting In The Sticks; Mississippi’s Clark Dixon of Syndicate Hunting;



e’re giving ourselves the Jackass of the Month after mistakenly awarding it to a Washington man for a second time this year. What he did was really dumb, but not worthy of a double shot from the JOTM. So this month’s is going to the editor – pay a little more attention, bub.

Chewelah, Washington’s Matthew Alwine of Trophy State of Mind; Alberta’s Jason (Chris) David of Wild TV; North Carolina’s Jason and Britney Edney, who appeared on Drury Outdoors and Drury Outdoors Dream Season 4; Tennessee’s William “Spook” Spann of Spook Nation; And Michigan’s Ted Nugent of Spirit of the Wild, in Alaska and California. This compilation is probably incomplete. And sadly it will probably grow as long as TV hunting shows attract eyes, shooters make or are driven to make dumb or illegal decisions to feed the feed, and we as a culture tolerate the subset of shows that Spokane fishing and hutning reporter Alan Liere terms “snuff flicks.” | AUGUST 2017

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Bonnie & Clyde Derby, Nootka Sound, Esperanza Inlet, Vancouver Island, BC, July 1-2: First place: Ryan and Robin Bell, 47.2 pounds (25.8- and 21.4-pound Chinook), $1,000CAD  Bellingham Salmon Derby, San Juan Islands, July 1316: First place: Doug Marr, 26.10 pounds, $7,500; second: Devin Koenen, 23.64 pounds, $2,500; third: Mike McCauley, 22.06 pounds, $1,000 

By Andy Walgamott

25-plus Lbr. Wins Wenatchee Derby


25-plus-pound summer Chinook took big fish honors at last month’s 6th Annual Pete Flohr Memorial Salmon Derby, while a four-man crew put 128.41 pounds of salmon in their fish box to win the team competition. Held on the Upper Columbia River between Johnathan Stavenjord holds his derby-winning 25.21-pound summer Rock Island and Wells Dams, Chinook, caught at last month’s 6th the two-day event out of Annual Pete Flohr Memorial Salmon Wenatchee saw 77 Chinook Derby. (CCA NCW) landed by 81 participants in 28 teams, with Johnathan Stavenjord’s day-two 25.21 the largest by far, scoring him $2,000. Second place and $1,350 went to Aaron Burt for his 20.93-pounder, which was the day-one leader, while Drew Bostwick took third with a 19.86. Bostwick was part of the winning team that also included Brett and Adam Bostwick and Ward Goodell. They won $1,750 for their big haul, but the crew of Shawn Nichols, Keith Meredith and Jeremy Avery weren’t far behind, with 123.7 pounds, good for second and $1,150. Stavenjord’s big king helped propel his threeman team to third and $1,000. The derby, put on by the Coastal Conservation Association’s North Central Washington chapter, was renamed this year for member Peter Flohr, who had been active in the region’s fishing scene but passed away last fall following a vehicle accident.

2017 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES Aug. 5: South King County PSA Salmon Derby  Aug. 12: Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby  Aug. 19-20: Vancouver Chinook Classic  Aug. 26: Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby  Sept. 2: Willapa Bay Salmon Derby  Nov. 4-5: Everett Blackmouth Derby II  Jan. 5-7, 2018: Resurrection Salmon Derby  Jan. 18-20, 2018: Roche Harbor Salmon Classic  Feb. 8-10: Friday Harbor Salmon Classic For more information, see 

MORE UPCOMING AND ONGOING EVENTS  Ongoing through the end of season: Westport Charterboat Association Weekly Derbies – info:  Ongoing through the end of salmon season: Chateau Westport Fishing Derby – info:  Ongoing through Nov. 1: 2017 CCA Oregon Salmon Round-up – info:  Aug. 4-6: 12th Annual Brewster Salmon Derby, Brewster Pool – info:  Aug. 17-18 18th Annual Buoy 10 Salmon Challenge, Lower Columbia – info:  Sept. 1-3: 14th Annual Slam’n Salmon Derby, ocean off Port of Brookings Harbor – info:; (541) 251-4422  Sept. 9: 18th Annual Coos Basin Salmon Derby, Coos Bay and environs – info:  Sept. 11-14 1st Annual Coho Enhancement Derby, Esperanza Inlet, Vancouver Island – info:

More events: To have your derby or results listed, email

OTC, More Albie Tourneys On Tap


s Northwest salmon derby season kicks into high gear, the annual slate of albacore tournaments revs up too, with three occurring in the coming weeks. Following last month’s Deep Canyon Challenge out of Ilwaco, the back half of the Oregon Tuna Classic’s annual two-set set-to is coming up Sept. 1-2 out of Garibaldi. Meanwhile, this month features the 9th Annual Washington Tuna Classic out of Westport Aug. 12 and the 2nd Tuna Derby out of Vancouver Island’s Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet on Aug. 24-28. Along with big cash payouts for the team that brings in the five biggest tuna, participants in the Garibaldi leg of the OTC are vying for a spot at the 2018 Offshore World Championships in Costa Rica. New this year is a ladies division, and organizer Del Stephens says he has had a great response. The classic helps stock the larders of coastal food banks; last year’s events set a record with $80,000 in donations and 8,450 cans of tuna. To learn more, see, as well as and | AUGUST 2017

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Brought to you by:


Opening of salmon fishing at Buoy 10; Steelhead retention closures begin on Columbia, lower sections of select tributaries; Steelhead retention opener in lower ½ mile of Idaho’s Clearwater (but see for updates); Fall bear season begins across Oregon as well as numerous Washington units; Opening day of antlerless elk hunting for numerous Oregon youth, other permit holders 1-5 International Federation of Fly Fishers’ 52nd Annual International Fly Fishing Fair, Livingston, Mont. – info: 4-5 Summer Central Oregon Coast all-depth halibut opener (every other Fri.-Sat. until Oct. 31 or quota met) – info: 5 CAST for Kids event on Potholes Reservoir – info: Abby Jennings (509-754-0211) 5, 11, 12, 19, 25, 26 Shotgun Skills Training (registration, $), Mid-Valley Shooting Clays & Shooting School near Gervais – info: 12 Opening day of numerous Oregon pronghorn controlled hunts 15 Bear hunting opens in Washington’s Northeast B, Okanogan, South Cascades Units 17 Crabbing opens in Washington’s Marine Area 7 North (Boundary Bay, Georgia Strait) 26 Opening day of bowhunting season for deer and elk in Oregon; CAST for Kids event on Clear Lake (Spokane) – info: Bobby Forster (509-217-2676) 30 Opening day of bowhunting season for deer and elk in numerous Idaho units


Washington statewide cougar, deer (bow), Northeast A, Blue Mountains, Long Island bear, dove and grouse openers; Grouse opener in Oregon; Numerous Northeast Oregon streams open for hatchery steelhead (but see for updates) 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 Family Pheasant Hunting Workshops (registration, $), EE Wilson, Fern Ridge, Sauvie Island Wildlife Areas – info: 9 Washington statewide elk (bow) opener 10 CAST for Kids event on Henry Hagg Lake – info: Jay Yelas ( 14-17 34nd Annual Portland Fall RV & Van Show, Expo Center – info:; 2017 Seattle Boats Afloat Show, South Lake Union – info: 15-23 Bandtail pigeon season in Oregon, Washington 15-25 High Buck Hunt in several Washington Cascades and Olympics wilderness areas, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area


Date Species Pds. (-Oz.) 8-1-92 Redear sunfish 1-14.2 8-4-01 Bullhead 3-7 8-5-99 Dolly Varden 10.94 8-8-16 Largemouth bass* 12.53 8-8-70 Sockeye** 5 8-14-04 Sockeye*** 9.37 8-16-78 Brook trout 7.06 8-25-01 Pink salmon*** 11.56 * Image; ** Ocean-going; *** Saltwater record

Water Reynolds Pd. (OR) Henry Hagg L. (OR) Whitechuck R. (WA) Bosworth L. (WA) Redfish L. (ID) Sekiu (WA) Henrys L. (ID) Possession Pt. (WA)

Angler Terrence Bice Bob Judkins Leroy Thompson Bill Evans June McCray John Stebly DeVere Stratton Jeff Bergman | AUGUST 2017

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Cody’s Take on Buoy 10 I f you fish the mouth of the Columbia River at Buoy 10 for salmon, it would be hard to not have heard of BUZZ RAMSEY guide Cody Herman of Day One Outdoor TV fame. His show (it airs weekly on Comcast Sportsnet), daily Buoy 10 video updates, and two-day instructional Northwest Anglers Conventions, as well as many seminars and speaking engagements – all designed to instruct and help anglers find fishing success – have propelled Herman into becoming one of the most recognized fishing names in the Pacific Northwest. But in case you’re not familiar with his story, Herman was introduced to fishing through the catching of a hand-lined hatchery trout at the age of six, and he followed his passion for the outdoors even though his family did not fish or hunt. He caught his first salmon, a 42-pounder, from Tillamook Bay when he was only 10 years old. Herman remembers the trip well and shared that his dad and two friends – one of whom knew how and where to catch salmon from the upper bay – were shocked when the young lad hooked and landed the biggest salmon they had ever seen. Although Herman loved fishing, it was never his intention to get into guiding or host a television fishing show. But after obtaining his college degree and a brief stint in the fishing industry at the corporate level, he decided that the guiding ( and promotion side of the business was what he wanted to do. He was 28 years old at the time and has never looked back. Given his fishing reputation and the fact that Herman has fished Buoy 10 for over 20 years and guided it daily for five, I thought it appropriate to interview him and find out what works for him when chasing salmon here. So, here are my questions and Herman’s – sometimes surprising – answers.

Cody Herman’s quickly becoming a widely known and well-respected voice in the Northwest fishing scene, and that’s based in part on catches like this 2015 fall Chinook at Buoy 10. (DAYONEOUTDOORS.COM)

Buzz Ramsey What time of day do salmon bite best at Buoy 10? Cody Herman The time of day is irrelevant because ocean tides have a lot more to do with when salmon bite than any other factor. Invariably, the salmon bite best a few hours before and after each high and low tide change. What I do is target the lower half of the estuary during the low tide change, and mid to upper estuary before and after the high tide.

BR When in August is the best time to fish Buoy 10? CH Generally the latter half of the month, but I’ve had some of my very best fishing at times not considered prime, like during the first week of August. After all, there is a lot less competition during the first week and a good number of salmon seem to be present for the opener. When it comes to the month of August, the fish can and will show up anytime. The point is, you never know when Buoy 10 salmon will be the most numerous, so if you want to catch them just go.

BR What tide sequence do you think will be the most productive for salmon? CH My most productive days come during the biggest tides of the month and the four or five days following the big tide exchanges. BR Do you fish different areas when there is a minimum tide exchange as compared to big tide swings? CH Big tides concentrate the fish into areas where they don’t have to battle strong currents, so we find them on the edges more. When there’s a small tide exchange, the fish spread out more, tend to be the most plentiful in the middle bay, and are more often found midchannel, with many suspended at middepths. BR Do you fish spinners or bait? CH When guiding I take six anglers, so I run all spinners on my starboard rods and bait – usually anchovies and not herring – on the port side of the boat. Since I’m steering from the starboard side, it’s easier for me to see the port-side rods and ensure we do not miss any short bites and are simply trolling bare hooks due to fish stealing our bait. | AUGUST 2017

Northwest Sportsman 47

COLUMN BR Do you try and cover all depths when trolling at Buoy 10? CH In a word: Yes. Of course it depends on water depth, but as a general rule I run my bow rods shallow and stern rods near bottom. As an example, I might run my bow rods at 16, middle rods at 26, and stern rods 36 feet out. That number is the amount of line out on my linecounter reels. BR What are your favorite spinner colors? CH I’m partial to Hildebrandt blades, with the size 4 Indiana being my favorite for Buoy 10. I believe so much in these blades that I have them custom painted, with the red and white, which I call Coast Guard, and the all-copper blades being my go-to favorites. However, I gotta say, the chartreuse and green blade with green/chartreuse beads and squid was my top-producing spinner last year at Buoy 10.

BR Do you fish whole or plug-cut herring? CH I prefer fresh anchovies over herring.

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I rig my anchovies whole, with my front hook placed upward through the lower jaw of the bait, and after bending the bait, I place the trailing hook in the body two-thirds to three-quarters of the way back. The placement of the second hook determines the amount of bend and spin of the bait.

It might be a stretch for some, but Herman says that some of his best fishing has come in early August, when few anglers are fishing the mouth of the Columbia. (DAYONEOUTDOORS.COM)

BR Do you fish divers or sinkers? CH I mostly use cannonball-style sinkers to get down. The only time I use divers is if I’m fishing near Buoy 10 itself on an incoming tide, or on rough-water days, as the divers help keep my gear stable at depth when the surface is rough. – your favorite channel – north or south?

BR How long are your leaders? CH I know a lot of the guides are into this long leader thing, but I keep mine at 3½ to 4 feet in length. I just feel like I lose a lot fewer fish with short leaders, the fish bite them just as well, and it make netting the fish a lot easier.

BR Which side of Desdemona Island is best

CH Both. It just depends on where fish are being caught, which is why I’m constantly talking with other anglers to see where a group of fish may be passing through.

BR What’s the biggest salmon you or one of your clients has caught at Buoy 10? CH An estimated 45-pounder that a client of mine caught and released three seasons

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COLUMN CH I don’t plan to change my gear in any ago. Biggest Buoy 10 salmon we’ve kept was a 20-pound coho and a 36-pound Chinook.

way to target coho. They seem to bite the same gear as Chinook.

BR With over 200,000 early-returning coho expected back this year, how might you target them?

BR How might Buoy 10 be different this year compared to past seasons? CH There are many anglers/guides think-

ing the salmon might not linger in the estuary as long as normal if the water is cooler. However, if the water is colder than in past years, it may make the fish bite better. It doesn’t matter; we will be fishing Buoy 10 either way.

BR What’s your favorite flasher color? CH My favorite Fish Flash color is some variation of green, red or chrome in the 8-inch size. The coho, particularly in the ocean, love the Wing Fish Flash, with my best-producing wing colors being chartreuse or pink.

Herman likes to run a mix of whole anchovies and spinners off his boat, with red and white and allcopper being his favorite blade colors, though he says last year’s top one featured a chartreuse and green blade with green/ chartreuse beads and squid. (DAYONEOUTDOORS.COM)

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BR Will you be doing your daily “Buoy 10 Video Updates” again this season? CH Yes. We will start the first day of the season, and anglers can view them on my Day One Outdoors YouTube channel or Facebook page. NS Editor’s note: The author is a brand manager and part of the management team at Yakima Bait. Like Buzz on Facebook. | AUGUST 2017

Northwest Sportsman 51

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54 Northwest Sportsman

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2 Alts To 10 The waters upstream of and in the next big bay to the south can produce fall Chinook for anglers who pass up Buoy 10.

It’s a long run west to Astoria, especially when the Lower Columbia around Longview and St. Helens, as well as the North Coast’s Nehalem Bay can be just as good for fall Chinook. John Olson caught this 25-pounder off Rainier a few seasons back. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

By Andy Schneider


t’s August and no matter where you seem to go, you’re confronted with it. Work’s not safe – everyone wants to talk about it the second

you make eye contact on the way to your first cup of coffee on Monday morning. Fisherman’s, Sportsman’s, Sportco, and forget about even mentioning it at Bob’s – you can’t escape it, it’s on everyone’s mind.

“How did you do this weekend? Can you believe that Cersei? She’s a terrible person! I don’t know what it is about Tyrion, I just love his dry sense of humor! I don’t really find Daenerys all that interesting but her | AUGUST 2017

Northwest Sportsman 55

FISHING dragons are freaking awesome!” Yep, Game of Thrones has everyone glued to the TV on Sunday nights, but what about water-cooler fodder for talking about the rest of the weekend? Winter may be coming, but fall is too – fall Chinook, that is. Buoy 10 fishing is in full swing and there are still plenty of anglers who will take this year’s forecast with a grain of salt and make some trips to the estuary, if nothing else for “old times’ sake.” But what’s been happening upriver since the Aug. 1 opener? You see those hoglines as you cross over the Longview-Rainier Bridge on your way to the estuary – they must be catching fish, right? Well, yes they are! When you have a salty boat and crew, it’s hard to deny them the experience of the Buoy 10 fishery. But for those who would rather not deal with the crowds, weather and finicky fishing, the Columbia from

Longview to St. Helens can be just as productive as Astoria.

TRADITIONALLY, THE UPRIVER bright fishery has primarily been to anchor up on the outgoing tide. But over the past couple seasons many anglers have completely foregone that and just stuck with trolling. Threehundred-and-sixty-degree flashers have been producing better results than anchoring, as well as allow anglers to fish all stages of the tide. Brad’s Super Baits, Cut Plugs and Mini Cut Plugs, and size 3.5 spinners have been the most effective baits behind 360 flashers like the Shortbus Super Series or 11-inch Pro-Trolls. Rigging starts with 50- to 65-pound braided mainline tied to a large duolock snap. Clip the snap into a triangle spreader, either a Short Bus or Yakima Bait model, to eliminate mainline twist. On the bottom of the spreader clip in an 8- to 20-ounce cannonball sinker,

depending on current. On the back of the spreader, tie 24 inches of 40to 50-pound monofilament to your 360 flasher. Behind the flasher, tie 30 to 36 inches of leader to your Super Bait or spinner. Troll your flasher at a speed that gives you a “thump” every second. Against a strong ebbing tide, you may need to increase your speed. The 360 flashers are very forgiving when it comes to speed, and as long as the flasher isn’t fluttering or spinning out of control, it’s still fishing properly. URBs tend to hug the lower 10 feet of the river on an ebbing tide, while stratifying throughout the water column on the flood. Pay attention to your fishing electronics to see where fish are being marked and put your gear at that depth. While having to constantly adjust to fish on your electronics becomes labor intensive, it’s the most effective way to continue to catch fish throughout the different stages of the tide. While 360 flashers are getting all the attention these days, there is nothing wrong with using a triedand-true wobbler on an outgoing tide. There are very few Northwest salmon fisheries that can beat the productivity and ease of anchoring on an outgoing tide with a simple wobbler. And the 5x5 – 5-foot leader and 5-foot dropper – set-up is sure to continue to work well into the next century on the Columbia. The Longview-to-Kalama stretch tends to be most productive for the month of August, while the St. Helens-to-I-5 section will begin producing consistent results late in the month and all through September (note the restrictions around the mouth of the Lewis).

NEHALEM BAY IS an often-forgotten fishery, what with all the hype that Buoy 10 draws. The North Coast estuary usually sees a very healthy run of summer and fall Chinook returning as early as July, with best fishing in late August through all of September. 56 Northwest Sportsman

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Fishing between the jetty tips is most popular with longtime Nehalem anglers and guides, but the bay is productive from the jetties to well above Highway 101. Trolling plug-cut herring is by far the most practiced method below 101, while spinner fishing is the most productive above the bridge. When fishing the jetties, make sure to hug the south jetty and keep your distance from the shallows of the north jetty, as multiple boats get into trouble here every year. Along the south, keep moving and don’t hover in just one location. Since this area is so small, it’s the courteous and most productive thing to do. Rigging for Nehalem Bay isn’t any different than what you’d use for Tillamook Bay fall Chinook. Six feet of 30-pound leader with two 5/0 hooks and an inline bead-chain swivel is the standard way to rig a blue label plug-cut herring. Running a 12- to 14-inch lead dropper and 8- to 16-ounce cannonball sinker will ensure your baits are tight to the bottom, which is a must when fishing Nehalem. Don’t forget to bring your crab gear. Place your pots in any of the corners or coves out of the main current. The waters around Nehalem State Park and on down to the Jetty Fishery are the most productive crabbing areas.

WHILE BUOY 10 gets all the attention this time of year, there are plenty of other opportunities available with less crowding. Trying different fisheries and exploring other options other than the frenzy in the Columbia estuary can be every bit as rewarding and a whole lot less stress inducing and expensive. While everyone may be thinking about dragons, White Walkers and Lannisters on Sunday night, there is a whole lot of weekend beforehand to get out and find your own success away from busy boat ramps, impossible parking and chasing phone bites. NS 58 Northwest Sportsman

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The Port of Garibaldi encompasses three coastal towns, including Bay City, Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach. Besides housing RV parks and lodging, restaurants, seafood processing, a lumber mill, and commercial and charter fishing, the Port’s harbor has moorage for 277 vessels. The Port’s property also features the Lion’s Club Lumbermen’s Park and an antique train display. A walking path is also a popular draw for locals as well as visitors to Garibaldi.

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Northwest Sportsman 59

60 Northwest Sportsman

AUGUST 2017 |

Steamin’ Up The Coast


There’s more opportunity than just razors for Southwest Washington clammers.

Willapa Bay provides year-round access to clam chowder fixin’s, as MD Johnson will attest. The expansive Southwest Washington estuary is home to Manila and cockle clams, as well as oysters. (JULIA JOHNSON)

By MD Johnson


ou know what I like about steamer clams, other than the fact they rate right up there on my culinary periodic table with Brach’s Classic jelly beans, Kentucky Fried Chicken Extra Crispy, and my wife’s wild Italian plum jam? They don’t run. At least not fast. Nor far. Deer run. Turkey run. Ducks? Geese? They fly off. Clams? They just lie there. Waiting. Waiting for me and my bucket and my white wine and my metric ton of butter. Waiting. Think Homer Simpson and donuts. That’s me and steamer clams. Fortunately, I have access to

any number of places along the Southwest Washington coast where I can get my fix of steamers. Sure, I can go to Oysterville or Jack’s Country Store in Ocean Park and buy ’em in their neat, clean little mesh bags. Or I can run to Winco or Safeway or Albertsons, but where’s the fun in that? Where’s the sand? The saltwater? The inevitable falling down? The torrential rain followed by 10 minutes of bright blue sky followed by – yes – more torrential rain? If you love steamer clams like I do, you have a couple landownership options when it comes to accessing the sand in which the tasty little

buggers dwell. That would be one, private, and two, public. Private is just that, and should you own or have access to a stretch of private steamer beach, well, that’s just super. Note, please, the envy in my writing here. (Can we be friends?) So that being said, and assuming you don’t own or have access to a private stretch of sand laden plum full of 2-inch steamers, you’re out of luck, yes? Relegated to driving to the aforementioned grocery stores, and doling out X-amount of folding bills in exchange for the little mesh bags housing your steamers? No, I’m not suggesting anything done under cover of darkness while wearing a | AUGUST 2017

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full-length black Ninja suit. Nah, I’m talking about public sand. Freeto-roam beaches, home to not only steamers but, with some exceptions, oysters as well. Public? No “Keep Out” signs? No “Trespassers will be violated” placards? Steamers for the raking? Absolutely. Of course, there are some rules. Some boundaries. But where to begin? First things first, and that’s a visit to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website (wdfw Scroll to the “Fishing & Shellfishing” section, and there you’ll find a drop-down menu with a guide to the Westside’s public clam and oyster beaches. This internet-based information is reasonably simple to interpret, thus making my role as a writer a rather moot point. Or does it? True, the guide is an excellent source, but there’s only so much Al Gore’s Internet can provide. Believe it or not. My advice, then, is to start here. Scout. Research. Then read on.

THE NAHCOTTA TIDELANDS If the late John Belushi were still with us and he went to Nahcotta, 62 Northwest Sportsman

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Maps available on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website ( fishing/shellfish/beaches) offer a guide to public beaches and facilities, as well as updated information from the Department of Health on any water quality issues. (JULIA JOHNSON)

instead of shouting “No Coke. Pepsi!” from behind the counter of Saturday Night Live’s Olympia Café, he’d be yelling “No clams. Oysters!” at Dan Aykroyd. That’s right. It’s an all-oyster show at Nahcotta – no clam digging allowed. But trust me. It’s all good because the oysters are to die for. And not literally. The Nahcotta Tidelands can be found on the Long Beach Peninsula east and a little north of the town of Ocean Park. From the southern portions of the peninsula, take Sandridge Road north to the stop sign at the intersection of 261st Place (Ocean Park) and the continuation of Sandridge, which technically becomes State Route 103. From here, the tidelands are perhaps an eighth of a mile north on the east, or bay, side. WDFW maintains a field office here, as well as a small interpretive site – a definite must-see for anyone interested in the natural history of Willapa Bay and the wildlife of the peninsula. Directly behind (east) the field office is 40 acres of tideland that the department oversees, and where the public is welcome to

gather fresh Willapa Bay oysters. The daily limit is 18 shucked oysters per licensed individual, with a 2½-inch minimum size (longest distance of shell). Each collector must have their own container; all oyster shells are to be left at the same tideline where they were gathered. Why? Baby oysters, which are known as spat, attach themselves to big oyster shells. Leaving your empty shells where you find them 1) ensures the next generation (or two) of oysters, and 2) guarantees the baby oysters won’t get homesick once they open their eyes. Eyes? Again, and as a reminder, oysters only here – no clams. And you’re sure to see plenty of Manilas and littlenecks.

LONG ISLAND (PINNACLE ROCK AND DIAMOND POINT) Due east of Nahcotta lies Long Island, which sports not one but two public shellfish beaches. The good news? Both clams and oysters are legal game. The not-so-good news? Access to Long Island is by boat only; those are typically launched at the Willapa Bay National Wildlife

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FISHING Refuge headquarters ramps east of the island on Highway 101. Unless, that is, you’re not opposed to a short swim and a very, very long and buginfested walk to the opposite side of the island. And before someone actually does that, I’m kidding. Kayaks do, however, seem an increasingly popular means by which to access and explore the islands, and provide another means of reaching the public tidelands. As mentioned, Long Island is home to two public shellfishing opportunities. Pinnacle Rock sits on the southwest side of the island, provides chances at steamers and oysters year-round, and is served by an adjacent primitive campground, should one wish to spend the night with the bears, mosquitoes, and banana slugs. Note: A total of five primitive campgrounds are scattered up and down the island. For more information on camping,

Daily limit for most of Willapa’s clams is 40 total, with a minimum size of 1 1/2 inches across the shell. (JULIA JOHNSON)

visit the refuge’s website at fws. gov/refuge/willapa/. The second publicly accessible

shellfishing beach is Diamond Point, situated at the extreme northwest tip of the island. Same rules apply for oysters here as at Nahcotta – 18 shucked on-site, and leave the shells where you find them. The limit on steamers is 40 (minimum size of 1½ inches at the widest point) in the aggregate, meaning your haul may include Manila, native littlenecks, butters, cockles, and eastern softshells. A great pictorial guide to the who’s who of Willapa Bay clams can be found on WDFW’s site under the Statewide Harvest Rules and Bag Limits.


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My personal favorite hunting ground when it comes to steamers lies north of the Long Beach Peninsula just outside the town of Tokeland. From Long Beach, take Highway 101 north. Note: You’ll pass by Goose Point Oysters, a subsidiary of the Nisbet Oyster Company, near Bay Center along Highway 101. My point? If you don’t like shuckin’ the bivalves, stop in and buy a bushel. They’re awesome, and relatively labor nonintensive this way. Go through South Bend, cross the Willapa River,

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FISHING and turn left onto Highway 105 toward Tokeland. It’s a beautiful drive, with plenty of elk, Canada geese, and “Make you wish for duck season” potholes and sloughs. The public tidelands, formally known as Hawks Point – we just simply refer to it as “Tokeland” – is roughly 13 miles north on Highway 105 (milepost 13) and extends for approximately 2 miles to the north. Oysters are fair game here; however, we’ve never picked any at this particular stretch of beach. Steamers are the primary objective here, with Manilas topping the menu, along with an occasional side of cockles. Unfortunately, clamming at Hawks Point today isn’t what it was when I first moved to Washington in the early 1990s. Oh, you can still find ’em there, as evidenced by the three limits my wife, Julia, and I, along with her brother, GW, dug a couple weeks ago. However, those

120 hardshells took us 90 minutes or a bit more to find. Why the decline? Interestingly enough, it’s not overharvest or disease, but rather an increase in the sand, aka ghost, shrimp population in this particular stretch. According to Zach Forster, a shellfish biologist with WDFW and stationed at Nahcotta who was kind enough to put the situation into terms even I could understand, this overabundance of shrimp roaming about willy-nilly liquefy the surface of the sand. Over time, clams eventually sink well below the surface – and too far to reach out with their siphon. The result? They suffocate and die. Sadly, Forster isn’t all too optimistic about the clam population at Hawks Point. “Recreational harvest isn’t an issue, but (the sand shrimp) will end clamming (at Hawks Point),” he says. For now, it’s a wait-and-see type of proposition, but there does remain harvestable numbers of steamers at

the beach we call Tokeland.

BOUNTIFUL BUT DELICATE RESOURCE Willapa Bay, like all the world’s bodies of water, is both a remarkably intricate ecosystem as well as an incredibly fragile resource. I’m not saying look but don’t touch – rather, touch with a light hand and a very serious mind to the future. Steamer clams grow surprisingly quickly, reaching harvestable size, according to Forster, in three to four years. Oysters? Roughly an inch per year, given the right growing conditions. These aren’t blackberry bushes – thank God! – but they’re not 100-year-old sturgeon, either. Be mindful when gathering. Watch where you’re walking. Take what you can eat fresh because, hopefully, it’s like a buffet where you can always go back for seconds. And thirds. And fourths. With lots of butter and white wine. So enjoy, but enjoy wisely. NS

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Armed with some of the tools of the trade, Cameron and Randy King tried their hand at clamming one of several areas of Yaquina Bay identified by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as bearing gapers and cockles. (RANDY KING)


Bay Clams, Basques And La Grande ’Bows A

s the tide slowly rolled into Yaquina Bay I looked down CHEF IN THE WILD at my bucket in By Randy King contempt. This was not the plan. This was not the plan at all. The three of us – my longtime coconspirator Ryan, my middle son Cameron and myself – had been digging for the better part of an hour and had about a dozen clams between us. I had managed to find a small number of immature gaper clams, all about 4 inches across, while Ryan and Cameron had gathered up a decent number of cockles. Our efforts had been extreme, our payoff light. I had dug probably 30 holes at

this point, piling sand in small hills over and over. The tide was at -.7 foot, not the best for the under-the-bridge flats of the bay beside Newport, Oregon, but a lot of sand, mud and clam holes were clearly in sight. So bad was our catch that a local who examined my bucket snorted, called me a baby killer and walked off. I asked him what I should be doing instead. He dismissively waved a hand at me, not wasting another word on the topic except to exhale loudly through his nose. Basically, we Boise boys didn’t know what the heck we were doing and our bucket showed that. But at that point my determination set in. While what I had was not the largest number of clams possible, I was going to cook them the best way I knew how. Basque style.

THE BASQUE DIET is heavy on seafood. Their homeland sits on the Bay of Biscay off Spain and France, and the residents have access to some of the best seafood in the world. Basques are also known as the best pastoralists in the world. So when Idaho needed a bunch of sheepherders and the Spanish Civil War was in the works, a large number of Basques immigrated to the Gem State in the early 1900s. There they found a lot of sheep, but few clams. Nowadays, Idaho has one of the largest populations of Basques outside the homeland. We have cultural festivals, sheep-sheering competitions and Basque food cooking classes. One of the biggest culinary imports – and something that has become | AUGUST 2017

Northwest Sportsman 69


Basque clam risotto with grilled choricero trout. (RANDY KING)

Pepper, Sausage Spice Up Clam-Trout Risotto For this recipe, you will want to start the risotto before you start the trout. But since I am recommending you marinate the trout first, that part of the recipe comes first. Recipe ordering conventions are weird – sorry!

minutes, until the skin starts to blister and turn a little black. Carefully flip the trout and cook for an additional two minutes on the other side. Remove to a serving plate. Serve over the top of the clam and chorizo risotto.

THE RISOTTO TROUT 4 10- to 12-inch trout (headless) ½ teaspoon choricero pepper powder 1 teaspoon paprika Squeeze of lemon juice Salt Pepper 1 tablespoon olive oil In a gallon Ziploc bag mix the pepper powder, paprika, lemon juice and oil. Add the fish to the bag and coat evenly with the mixture. Let sit in the bag for up to 24 hours, but at least one hour is best. Heat grill to medium high. Scrape it clean, wipe the grill grates clean with a paper towel that has a little olive oil drizzled on it. (This is always best for fish; otherwise they might stick.) Grill the trout on one side for four 70 Northwest Sportsman

AUGUST 2017 |

4 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon olive oil 4 ounces Basque chorizo, diced ½ small onion, diced 1¼ cups Arborio rice ½ cup white wine 4¼ cups seafood stock 4 ounces bay clam meat (for a reference point, 1 pound of Manila clams yields this much) ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon heavy cream 2 tablespoons chopped chives Salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste Melt the butter in a medium-sized stock pot on medium high heat. When the butter is melted add the oil – this will seem like a lot, but don’t worry, it is the right amount for the dish. When the oil

is almost smoking add the chorizo and brown it on all sides. Next add the onion 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” and then add the white wine and about a quarter of the seafood stock (see below). Stir the mixture a few times. When most of the moisture is evaporated, stir the mixture a few times. Then add about another quarter of the stock. Repeat this step until the rice is fully cooked and the broth has turned “creamy.” Remember to stir, which breaks down the rice a little and allows it to “cream out.” Remove the risotto from the burner and add the clam meat, shaved Parmesan and cream. Stir. The final product should be “pourable.” It should not be stiff like a pile of cooked rice. If it is too dry, add a little more cream or stock to the mix. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve the risotto as either the base of a grilled seafood dish or as a starter for a meal. Enjoy! For more wild game recipes, see –RK

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Dissension in the ranks? Ryan, one of the author’s partners in clamming, does not appear to be happy with the crew’s small haul on Yaquina Bay, but that only resolved Chef Randy to make the most of what they had harvested. (RANDY KING)

Northwest staple – is the Basque chorizo. Similar to the Portuguese chorizo but often dryer and including the signature Basque pepper, the choricero, this sausage is a staple of the “clams and white wine” scene in a large number of fine dining restaurants. It is ubiquitous in Idaho, my homeland – you can get them at curbside stalls with mustard and onions. I frequently compare it to bratwurst in the Upper Midwest in terms popularity. Away from the ocean in Idaho, Basque cooking started to change. They began to rely more on lamb, beef and pig instead of cod, clams and eel. The Basques also started to adapt to local Idaho “seafood,” also known as the rainbow trout. The Basque brought with them another tradition – the paella. Yes, some claim paella to be Spanish, while others think it might even be French (I do not associate with those type of people). But in the Northwest, paella is clearly a Basque dish. History suggests Catholics mixed with Moors in Spain (and the Basque homeland) to create a rice-based casserole dish. The dish is filling and can often be seafood only, keeping with Lenten traditions. Often these dishes are known as sacred cows for specific regions of Spain. Each area has its signature addition – saffron, muscles, shrimp, sausages, etc. The Basque dish is not paella without chorizo.

ALL THAT SAID, I am not a Basque. I am as American “Irish-ish” mutt as you can get. But I am always a fan of mixing my culinary metaphors. As such, I knew I could not possibly improve on a traditional Basque paella recipe. So, I decided to make a “risotto” instead. With a risotto I can basically add whatever I want and no one can criticize – and this will taste surprisingly like a Basque paella. When we all returned from the clam digging adventure to our fishing shack in Waldport, I made lunch. We had caught a few small trout near La Grande, Oregon, on the way to the coast, so I stretched our clams and trout into a filling meal for three. It could have fed four. NS 72 Northwest Sportsman

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ut of all the fish I have targeted since the day I stepped foot on the riverbank I finally found one where a guide was not only a blessing but, coming from the region I live in and from the fishing I know, was a necessity. Setting out from my end of the state and heading to the other, I was in high anticipation. I’d packed my things and the time to chase the dinosaurs of the rivers was upon me. Rendezvousing with other ladies who feel the passion too added even more to look forward to. We were all headed to meet David

Johnson on one of his “Fish Like A Girl Adventures.” His desire to bring women together on the rivers is a beautiful way for ladies of all skill levels to fish with one extremely fishy man for a day they will not soon forget. The fish that called me to the northwesternmost part of Oregon have been beneath these waters far longer than any person has walked the region. The fight they provide truly is some of the best of all worlds, allowing us to set our hooks like we mean it. And it comes with the possibility of witnessing jumps that are almost steelheadlike, where with that first handshake the fish

come erupting out of the big river. The tug is phenomenal, and when you get into an oversized fish, your endurance and overall rod skills are put to the test. I absolutely loved it. These fish, if you have not guessed what I speak of, are Columbia River sturgeon, and they fight like monsters, yet once they have surrendered to you, you realize they are more like gentle giants.

CLIMBING ON BOARD the sled, which felt so foreign to me, and heading off onto a river unlike any I have put my time on, the chasing of these prehistoric fish got underway. | AUGUST 2017

Northwest Sportsman 77

FISHING Every angle of this fishing was new, so I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering so many things, but also knowing I was about to find out the answers to them all. I have to say the day far exceeded my wildest expectations! I love sturgeon fishing! Finding that perfect guide who knows their gear, their water, and shares that knowledge with you makes booking that trip definitely worth it. As a heavy mist came and went, we dropped anchor at spot number one and rigged up the G.Loomis rods with a set-up so simple it shocked me. We cast out and waited. Looking back at it all, I realize why the fish did not want to play at spot one and spot two. Yet another angle to my anticipation of the day was that Rhonda Shelby of KATU News out of Portland joined us in the boat. The fish never want to cooperate right off the bat for a camera, it seems. It was also my first-ever interview, and

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Ichtertz and Sara Dodd (left) high-five each other during a double that saw a sturgeon leap out of the water while a cameraman for Portland station KATU taped the action. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

despite how very nervous I felt about it all, it went very smoothly. It felt natural and good for us ladies and David to share with Rhonda why it is that we love the rivers like we do,


and what it is that does it for us as we pursue the same passion through different sets of eyes. Each of us has a different story and purpose, but we share a common denominator: We have a love for the tug, the rivers, and what swims in their waters.

WE WERE SOON anchored at spot No. 3, as David believes that if the bite’s not happening, move on when targeting these fish. We again rigged sand shrimp, cast out and waited. Soon, David’s wife Tesha declared, “Well, David, I think it’s time I sing it!” He agreed, and to my surprise out came the most beautiful of melodies. She belted out a fun song she wrote to the fish, and to this day I find it stuck in my head, giving me a smile. As I sat amazed by her talent and in love with her verses, off went the first rod! It was like Tesha’s melodies had been the only thing missing. Within the next 35 minutes every rod in the boat went off, providing each of us our first fight and first sturgeon of the trip. My first sturgeon truly was such a rush! Never had I hooked a fish of the size, nor felt such power in its tug, and then to have it jump like one of my Southern Oregon steelhead!? Amazing! I would scream as the sturgeon jumped out of the river, | AUGUST 2017

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FISHING thinking, well, I am not sure keeping my tip down is going to do much on such a creature considering making a leap. To add to the adrenaline, my girlfriend Sara Dodd had a sturgeon on as well. My fish did not want to surrender to David and screamed off three different times. The rush of it all was one of a kind and I will never forget the Slaying Sara Double we shared on my first sturgeon! As my beautiful and somewhat massive sturgeon came on board, Sara’s slipped from her fingers. We’d wanted to capture the moment with one epic shot, and though that turned out not to be the case, the excitement of it all will be with me forever. This fish was the first I did not actually get to grasp onto, as for the safety of the sturgeon David said transferring him was a risk. So in amazement I watched David handle my fish and was thankful for the moment regardless.

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WITH THE BITE finally hot, we were feeling the love and oh so excited to get our lines back in the water. Shelby, though, was there on business, and sadly she let us know she had other work to do and needed to head in. Never in my life had I left a bite that was a little difficult to find, and so now I know what that feels like. I have to say, I wasn’t too fond of that feeling. As we got closer to dock David confirmed to me not to worry, we were heading back out. I instantly felt better and couldn’t wait. Spot four – the spot where the monsters lie – was unforgettable, as we got seven more sturgeon, two of which were oversized and one other that was well on her way to becoming oversized. The fish were thick in these shallows and almost instantly wanted to play with us. Sara’s rod went off, leading us to what was the biggest fish of the day. After she fought it for what felt like an eternity, I finally saw it surface,

Dodd smiles before releasing one of her diamondsides. Behind her is guide David Johnson who hosted the ladies during one of his “Fish Like A Girl Adventures.” (SARA ICHTERTZ) | AUGUST 2017

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FISHING and in that moment my mind was blown as it quickly swam back from where it had come. David pulled anchor and the chase was on. When I go into full photographer mode, I don’t pay attention to much else besides the fight. However, this fine day we heard a ruckus and what did we discover but that a G.Loomis was long gone – with a monster on the line. This was the first I saw David semi shook up, but after we reeled in the other two rods, he and Tesha began casting long bombs, hoping they might come across the line of the stolen rod. As Sara continued to fight her monstrous fish, I heard Tesha exclaim, “I got it!” Sure, enough she did. There wasn’t a fish on the line, but oh well, that very fishy rod was back in the hands of its owners and I could see how happy David was that his wife had reeled in what turned out to be the only keeper of our catch-and-release adventure.

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KATU’s Rhonda Shelby holds a sturgeon, with an assist from Johnson. On her Twitter page, the longtime Portland morning TV weather anchor lists fishing among her loves, and for a story posted to her station’s site, she quoted Johnson as saying, “Women are better (anglers) because they follow directions better. They don’t have that macho-ness, ‘I know how to fish’ attitude.” (SARA ICHTERTZ)

Just about the time we had all the rods secured and out of the way, Sara’s gentle giant surrendered and I got to see a fish unlike any I’ve ever laid eyes on, unlike any of those I love so much. It didn’t glisten like a diamond,

more like an armored soldier ready for battle. And yet I loved it. As one rod after the other went off, we caught many that were fun yet still quite young. Gretchen Dearden’s custom family rod proved | AUGUST 2017

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FISHING quite lucky in this stretch of time, and I absolutely loved seeing her rod skills improving and her heart erupting. Seeing someone else’s success and love for the sport warms my heart too.

Johnson and Ichtertz cradle the sturgeon Sara jumped into the river to fight. She says the moment with her big fish will live on in her heart forever. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

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WHEN MY ROD went off, with the hookset I could tell it was no tiny fish on the end. One thing I struggle with, even though I constantly try to remind myself, is to stay calm and just tire the fish out. Instead, I naturally just want to work that fish over and bring it to me. Knowing this now I am certain it’s why I have had so many hot summer steelhead snap me off at the bank. They were just not quite done yet. This fish, however, made me remember and use my own advice – as if I even had a choice! There was no just bringing the fish to me. He tested my strength and endurance. Fighting him for nearly half an hour I gave that fish all I had, yet he wanted

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more. We had to pull anchor, and as the fish eventually began to show signs of surrendering, we were close to shore. As I didn’t get to embrace my first sturgeon, I wanted to spend a moment with this fish that had just tested my strength unlike any other. David knew I wanted in the river and he told me to go for it, and so I did. I jumped out of the sled and into the Columbia, where the fight continued. David dropped anchor and joined me, and together we landed my nearly 6-foot-long Columbia River sturgeon. Standing in knee-deep water I managed to grasp onto him. David got the tail, and with my rod still in hand, I flipped the massive creature. Grasping onto his soft mouth, I submerged myself into his world, and into my element. Without a doubt, it was one of the most amazing catch-and-release moments of my life. Being in the water with him, watching him breathe, so massive and yet calming, I had my moment with a true river giant. That moment will live on in my heart forever.

THE DAY WE got our sturgeon on with David Johnson was a true blessing to me as an angler. Going out with a man who knows his business in a fishery like this is the only reason I had the success I did. I realize as my fishing continues to grow that there is many a good thing that comes with fishing with the right guide ( Sturgeon are the kind of creatures I desired to experience and because of him they’re no longer just a dream. They became a reality, all while in the company of some pretty incredible women doing what we love, in a new, yet beautiful setting, where the tugs were out of this world, and the creatures were so worth it. My heart is on the river and I couldn’t change it, even if I tried. NS Editor’s note: For more on Sara’s adventures, see For The Love Of The Tug on Facebook. 88 Northwest Sportsman

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Summer’s heat kiboshes trout fishing in lower waters, but not at the lakes of Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest. By Mike Wright


Tucked way back in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and surrounding national forests of North-central Idaho are a number of mountain lakes such as Old Man that can produce good fishing for a range of trout species. (ROBERT HAND, IDFG)

s the summer sun forces temperatures of lowland lakes and streams of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho to rise, trout fishing success diminishes significantly. Rather than storing away their fishing gear until early autumn weather moderates things, some anglers have found another solution – high mountain lakes. Water temps are consistently cooler up here, fish are almost always hungry, and although there are not many trout worthy of a trip to the taxidermist, they are healthy specimens and provide a good fight. Of note, the 5.13-pound Idaho state-record golden trout came from a lake high in the Bitterroot Mountains. One of the best destinations for high-elevation fishing is in, or in some cases adjacent to, the Clearwater National Forest of North-central Idaho. There are a vast number of lakes in this region, many of which contain trout. However, not all are stocked or have natural reproduction. For example, the Canyon Creek Lakes off White Cap Creek in the upper Selway region has a combined total of 25 lakes, but only four are stocked and contain fish. To avoid spending the day fishing barren water, it would be helpful to check with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game before hiking into an alpine destination. And since | AUGUST 2017

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FISHING many of these lakes are in rugged backcountry, a good, well-detailed map would be highly advisable too.

AMONG THE MOST popular of the backcountry lakes in the Clearwater region is Fish. The lake is reached by taking Forest Road 250, either south from Hoodoo Pass or north from Kelly Creek and then turning on 295 near the Cedars Campground and proceeding to the Fish Lake Trailhead. Reaching the lake requires a 12-mile hike; for those not excited about the thought of a 24-mile roundtrip, the use of ATVs is allowed. One of the factors that makes Fish particularly appealing is the fact that it contains bull trout, as well as westslope cutthroat. It is rather rare to find an alpine lake that hosts this colorful and endangered species. Off Highway 12 just a few miles west of the Lolo Pass summit is the Powell Ranger Station and several nearby campgrounds. From the Powell area there are a number of good fishing lakes in relatively close proximity. One of the easiest of these bodies of water to reach is Hoodoo Lake. Take Road 111 out of Powell, turn onto 360 and then it’s a straight line to Elk Summit Trailhead and less than an hour hike into this 5-acre lake, which contains cutthroat and brook trout. Two sets of lakes can be reached by taking Road 362 out of Powell to the Tom Beal Trailhead: the Waltons and the Winds. It is a 6-mile hike into the three Wind Lakes, which vary in size from 12 to 20 acres and contain cutthroat. The two Walton Lakes, which also have cutthroat, are both 20 acres in size. A third lake is much smaller and is barren. Three other notable and productive lakes are located off Highway 12, north and east of Powell. One is Beaver Lake, off Road 369 below a lookout on Beaver Ridge. The lake sits in a steep depression, with no established trail 94 Northwest Sportsman

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to its shores. It’s not far to Beaver, but it can be especially difficult getting back out. Still, the lake has a substantial number of 14- to 16inch cutthroat, which makes the steep, bushwhacking trip worth all the effort.

NOT FAR NORTH of Beaver Lake are two more waters worthy of consideration. One of these lakes is named Lily and can be found just off Road 373, which meets Highway 12 at Lolo Pass. The other is Moose Lake, and

There are trails to most backcountry lakes, though not all. Mike Wright reports that Beaver Lake is among the latter, but with nice cutts like this, bushwhacking down into its steep depression appears to be well worth it. (MIKE WRIGHT)

from sad personal experience I can attest to the fact that it is not nearly as easy to find. A number of years ago I was told about Moose by one of our elementary school principals. In describing how to find the lake, he mentioned that there was no trail into the place, but there was a small stream exiting the north end of the lake and all I had to do was listen for the creek and follow it to the lake. I found the parking spot off 373 he had mentioned and after tying my float tube onto a backpack, I began my hike through thick timber, buck brush

and occasional willow thickets, following the sound of the creek. After three hours of hiking I reached a clearing and could see a high, rocky ridge that I was sure marked the Idaho-Montana border. As for Moose Lake, I saw neither hide nor hair. By the time I finally made it back to my pickup the pain in my legs was so severe it was pure agony to push in the clutch petal to change gears. When I got home and related my tale of woe to the person who had told me about the lake, we checked a contour map and determined I had followed the wrong creek. I went back a couple years later and did find Moose that time. Unfortunately, the size of the fish did not live up to my friend’s description, but at least they were plentiful. Moose and Lily hold cutthroat stocked on a three-year rotation. Since fingerlings are released, if you fish the lakes early in the cycle, the majority of the fish caught will be small.

WHILE TALKING MOUNTAIN angling with Robert Hand, an IDFG fisheries biologist out of Lewiston, he mentioned several other lakes in the region which would be good late-summer destinations. One of these is the Lake Creek Lakes off the Magruder Corridor road and Bargamin Creek. The three waters range in size from 4 to 15 acres and contain cutthroat up to 16 inches. They can be reached by way of a 6-mile hike that takes around three hours. Hand also suggested Old Man, Florence and Elizabeth Lakes. Old Man is the largest of the three, at approximately 50 acres, and contains brook trout, while Florence and Elizabeth are 25 acres each and are stocked with cutthroat. They can best be reached by way of the Big Fog Trailhead, along Road 319 on the Selway River side of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness area. Hand notes that it is a very demanding 12-mile hike into the | AUGUST 2017

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lakes. You might consider camping at Cove Lake, at about the halfway mark, but whatever your choice, the biologist feels the scenery alone is worth the hike. Although they are out of his working area, Hand also mentioned that Baldy and Sheep Lakes in the Seven Devils area of Hells Canyon might be worth the trip. Baldy is 45 acres in size and contains rainbows up to 16 inches, while Sheep Lake has natural reproduction and contains cutthroat.


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lakes can be somewhat different than those used in lower waters. Since there is not a great deal of aquatic vegetation, fishing along the edges of weedlines is usually not an option, but the fish do tend to stay fairly close to shore, so fishing off the bank can be very effective. However, it could be helpful to have a float tube or inflatable rubber raft in order to reach some areas that would be difficult to fish from shore. There usually is not much surface action, so nymphs and small streamers are the most effective. There are some lakes where damsels, midges and various mayflies are present, so adult imitations could elicit some surface takes. Darker colored patterns in brown, black and olive seem to be preferred. One drawback with high mountain lakes is the fact that fish growth is slower than in many impoundments at lower elevations. There simply is not the amount of feed available for a rapid growth rate. In addition, the species that thrive in these waters generally have shorter life spans. However, these fish are strong fighters and eager feeders that can provide excellent entertainment in a beautiful, peaceful setting. All things considered, fishing a high mountain lake is certainly superior to staying home, waiting for the temperature to cool. NS

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8 great Oregon waters underneath Aug. 21’s path of totality. By Andy Schneider


o that brings your total for the four-night stay to $3,390. Due to the overwhelming demand, we will require full payment upon booking. Will that be Visa or MasterCard today?” Say what?! Over $750 a night for a hotel room along the Oregon coast? And a four-night minimum booking?! Yep, that is the going rate

for staying in the “path of totality” this month. So what do overpriced rooms and two minutes of darkness around brunchtime have to do with fishing? Well, if you want to experience a rare astronomical event while enjoying some of your favorite outdoor pursuits, you can make this eclipse one special memory by positioning yourself just right to enjoy both events at the same time. Albacore,

salmon, bottomfish, trout, kokanee, crappie and smallmouth bass should all be biting – perhaps very well – as this once-in-a-lifetime total eclipse crosses through Oregon and Idaho on Monday, Aug. 21. So where are some good locations to catch a shadow racing towards you at 2,240 mph while you fight something fun, instead of traffic, crowded campgrounds and trendy hipsters who’ve become druids for the day?

In case you’ve been living under a rock in a cave, the entire Northwest will see a solar eclipse on Aug. 21, with a swath across Oregon and Idaho completely shadowed. Remember not to look straight at the sun and moon – which will make it easier not to miss a bite in case the fish go crazy. (NASA) nwsportsmanmag.c nw com o | JULY 2017

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The total eclipse will hit the tuna grounds off Yaquina and Depoe Bays around 10:15 a.m. Pacific Standard Time and over the next 12 minutes will quickly move east across Oregon’s fishy Central Coast, Coast Range, middle Willamette Valley, northern Cascades, Central Oregon, John Day basin and Brownlee Reservoir. (NASA)

THE CORNERS Out where the 125 and 45 lines of longitude and latitude cross approximately 40 nautical miles from Depoe Bay is always a popular location for catching albacore. And there is no doubt that there will be fish present here on the big day. With favorable ocean conditions, a leisurely run west from Yaquina or Depoe at first light should put you hours ahead of the incoming eclipse and right in line with the path of totality. August tuna fishing usually is a transition time from surface-trolled lures to drifted dead bait and vertical jig fishing. Starting your day on the troll until you locate schools of albacore is one of the most effective ways to fill your fish holds. Once a tuna is hooked on the troll, stop the boat immediately and deploy 140gram butterfly jigs to the depths and 100 Northwest Sportsman

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start a frantic retrieve, all the while throwing whole and chunked IQF (individually quick frozen) anchovies over the side of the boat. Once a fish is hooked, put that rod in a rod holder and drop another butterfly jig over the side and attempt to hook more. Keeping a fish “hanging” on the side of the boat will keep the school of albacore close to the boat and allow for larger harvests.

DEPOE BAY Bottomfishing out of Depoe Bay on eclipse day will not only put you directly under the center of the path of totality, but it should allow you some breathing room from the crowds that are sure to be packing the parks, beaches and outlooks along this stretch of central Lincoln County coastline. Government Point just north of Depoe is one of the most popular bottomfishing locations, but

remains productive even with heavy pressure. Going north to the reefs around the mouth of the Siletz River will usually offer some relief from the crowds that don’t like to venture too far from port. When drifting over a reef, pay attention to what depth you are marking fish at with your electronics. Utilizing a linecounter reel will allow you to drop your lures to the depth that the fish are holding at. One sure way to have a slow day of bottomfishing is to fish the bottom when the fish are actually suspending off of it. When you are dropping your lures to promising depths, make sure to pay attention to your line, as many times suspended rockfish will pick up bait on the drop. Diamond jigs and shrimp flies are the lures of choice when pursuing black, blue and China rockfish.


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Brownlee Reservoir channel catfish, Detroit Lake rainbows, Lake Billy Chinook kokanee and bull trout and Depoe Bay albacore (clockwise from top) are among the Oregon fisheries that will be directly under the path of totality. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST; BILLY CHINOOK: MISSY SCHNEIDER)

Three- and 4-ouncers are the most commonly used over the shallow reefs out of Depoe. Tie one or two dropper knots 20 and 30 inches above your diamond jig, then slip a shrimp fly into the loops. Most diamond jigs come stock with a treble or double hook on the bottom of the jig. Having the hooks on the bottom of the jig makes it very prone to snagging the reef you are fishing. Swapping out the treble to a single assist hook on the top will pay off quickly in saved jigs and better hook-up ratios.

DETROIT LAKE While every campsite on Detroit Lake is more than likely booked, 102 Northwest Sportsman

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the reservoir’s trout and kokanee fishing should be productive and allow great viewing of the eclipse. With our healthy snowpack this year, the lake should remain fairly full throughout the summer, and while algae blooms may slow things down (and the desire to swim) as the season progresses, as long as the boat ramps are usable, Detroit should fish. The size of kokanee usually peaks about now, with 16-inch fish in good quantity, and while the males will start to show their spawning colors, they’re still in good condition. Pink and orange hoochies tipped with tuna-scented corn set around 60 feet on the downriggers should produce results.

LAKE SIMTUSTUS This often-overlooked lake that sits just below Round Butte Dam is a true hidden gem. While Lake Billy Chinook gets most of the attention, this Deschutes River reservoir offers the same dramatic steep basalt cliffs plunging into the water and abundance of osprey plucking off fish that venture too shallow. Kokanee and rainbow trout can be caught just about anywhere in this mostly 10-mph lake. But fishing is usually best towards the upper end later in the season. When trolling for kokanee, make sure to set the downriggers deep enough to escape the abundant pikeminnows.

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FISHING HOW ECLIPSED FISH BEHAVE So how will albacore, rockfish, rainbows, kokanee, bass, crappie and other Northwest species directly under the path of totality and elsewhere – Oregon, Washington and Idaho will see 85 percent or better coverage – react to the eclipse? Hard to say, but a compilation of studies suggests that some but not all 2-year-old herring observed during a 1963 Gulf of Maine eclipse schooled near the surface like they would at sunset; that freshwater airbreathers in a 1980 India eclipse “almost stopped gulping

air, became sluggish, and settled to the bottom”; and that Galapagos Island reef fishes “retreated to crevices within the reef, where they remained hidden for the duration of totality” during a 1998 event. But another observation gives hope. According to the April 19, 1906 issue of Nature, a British chap by the name of A. Mosely reported: “During the partial solar eclipse observed in England on August 30, 1905, I was taking a holiday, and fishing in Slapton Ley (Devonshire). All the morning the sport had

been indifferent, but as the eclipse neared its maximum the fish suddenly became ravenous, and I took more in that hour than all the rest of the day. My experience was also that of all the other boats out there at the time. The explanation, I presume, would be that the fish imagined night was approaching, and therefore prepared for supper; and as every fisherman knows, the last half-hour, when dusk is gathering, is the time that fish are mostly on the feed, and will readily take any bait.” Here’s hoping that’s the case! –NWS


history along its shores. Indeed, from its balancing rocks to petroglyphs and its kokanee to smallmouth bass, there is plenty to experience at this Central Oregon reservoir, so why not throw in a solar eclipse to really make a trip even more memorable? As Billy Chinook warms through summer, look to the

upper stretches of the Metolius Arm for best success on kokanee and bull trout. Trolling dodgers and hoochies on downriggers set just below the thermocline tends to be the most productive for the landlocked sockeye, but anglers casting and jigging to surface fish do find success too.

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If there is a place along the path of totality that you just might find a little bit of isolation away from the crowds, it would probably be the upper John Day River. Anywhere around the Clarno Bridge, the full effect of the eclipse should be seen. And if you happen to be on a multiday float on this section of the John Day River, you should have no trouble finding some peace and quiet, while the rest of the state is in a frantic dash to Periscope, Facebook Live or YouTube Live the event. If you have never walked the banks of the John Day casting Rooster Tails or Kalin’s 3- or 5-inch grubs on a ¾- to 1-ounce jig head, then you really are missing out on how to have a 100-plus-fish day while only fishing a half day.

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as the reservoir has a tendency to shrink as irrigation needs increase. Largemouth, smallmouth and crappie fishing can be good to excellent, but it’s a long way to travel unless, say, there is going to be an eclipse. While fishing may not be the priority for anyone traveling the 45-plus miles from Baker City on Aug. 21, it is definitely a good excuse to put the boat on the water and catch some fish before, during and after the big event.

BROWNLEE RESERVOIR This 57-mile-long reservoir has some of the best warmwater fishing in the entire Northwest. While smallmouth bass, catfish and crappie are the premier fish in the Snake River impoundment, Brownlee has also reared multiple Idaho state records, including black crappie, bullhead and flathead catfish and even a 37½-pound carp! Catfish are some of the easiest fish to catch. Using prawn meat, chicken livers or stink bait, cast from shore or boat and still-fish on the bottom. Best come prepared with a steelhead rod, as these catfish average around 5 pounds, and there are plenty more larger than that. Crappie can be found in any of the lake’s many small inlets. Using micro jigs or worms under bobbers is one of the most effective ways to catch your fill of these plentiful fish.

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OP Will the eclipse make for some good fishing, or will it send a ripple of confusion through nature? Will birds go to roost and bats come out to hunt the prematurely dark skies? Will we see a first-light bite at dawn, a flurry of action at “dusk” and then another first-light bite just after the eclipse? The only way to see if the eclipse of 2017 sparks the mother of all bites or yields just average fishing is to put yourself in the path of totality and see for yourself. But don’t worry if you miss this eclipse, since the next one is just around the corner – Oct. 5, 2108, a mere 91 years away. NS 106 Northwest Sportsman

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PINKS A Good Target For Kayakers


fter many sunny, clearblue August mornings a thin marine layer greets us when we arrive on the banks THE KAYAK GUYS of Puget Sound for a By Scott By Sco cott tt Brenneman Bre renn nneeman morning of pink salmon fishing. This change began a couple days ago, first filling the Strait of Juan de Fuca with low, cool clouds and progressively getting denser with every passing day. By the third day, the fog has engulfed South Beach on San Juan Island, and now the western shore of Whidbey Island down to Richmond Beach and across to Jefferson Head are covered in a blanket of visible moisture. Within the next couple of days, the marine layer will become thicker and cover all of Puget Sound, taking longer with each passing day to dissipate. This typical weeklong Northwest weather pattern mimics the migration of over a million pink salmon that will first enter the Straits in July and fan out through the rest of Puget Sound in August. Silhouettes of boats trolling in the distance can be seen as half a dozen kayak fishermen prepare to launch. Today, the fog burns off quickly and we spread out in search of schooling fish. It doesn’t take long to spot pinks finning at the surface. We sprint toward the school, and upon reaching casting distance, we launch pink Buzz Bombs and retrieve them slowly. Most of the group is rewarded with immediate hook-ups before the pinks swim away. We continue our search-and-destroy mission all morning, spreading out and then pouncing like a pod of orca whales when the school is located again. Working as a team in a small group is the most effective way to maximize your catch rate while humpies are staying near the surface in the morning and evenings. It eliminates the waiting game that shore anglers must endure while waiting for a school to swim by. Kayaks provide great access to pinks as the oddyear salmon return through Puget Sound, and the fish will also be the target of anglers like Walter Kettler as they participate in this year’s Humpy Kayak Classic out of the Tacoma area later this month. (SCOTT BRENNEMAN) | AUGUST 2017

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COLUMN As the pinks move to deeper open water, troll at a leisurely pace with a standard dropper weight set-up with 8 ounces of lead, followed by flasher and a pink hoochie. Leader length doesn’t need to be longer than 18 inches. Add a small chunk of herring or squid to a 1/0 or 2/0 hook. Rigging flashers to break away after a strike will help keep these smaller fish on all the way to the net.

IN THE TACKLE BOX For casting, use Buzz Bombs or similar diamond-shaped jigs, hoochies, jigs, spinners and small spoons in shades of pink. Three-inch Big Hammer bubble gum swimbaits will also work well. I rig my Buzz Bombs inline with some spinner wire so that they are easy to swap out and to simplify storage. Have different sizes on hand, from 1½ to 2½ inches. A ½-ounce Crippled Herring is a great alternative to a Buzz Bomb, but also try things outside the norm – dress up some 2-inch surface poppers with pink nail polish to entice a

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topwater strike. Small in stature, humpback salmon are aggressive, gritty fighters. A lightaction steelhead or trout rod in the 4- to 12-pound-test category paired with reels no larger than 2500 series will keep the fun meter pegged on high.

KIDS AND SALMON Younger children will really enjoy this salmon fishery. The attention span for children is about one minute per year of age, so 10 minutes is about all you have to keep them engaged. This is a nearly impossible feat when taking kids out for Chinook or coho – after trolling for about 30 minutes, from their perspective it is no different than riding in a car on a long road trip. The famous words “Are we there yet?” turn into “Are we done yet?” This is not the case when fishing for pinks. Try an evening trip during high slack when the humpies are schooling near the shore. Depending on age and ability, children can paddle their own kayak. A tandem is ideal for two; however, many

kayaks can be rigged to take children. Bring a varied selection of lures and let the young angler choose their offering. Let them change lures often until they find something that works. Act as a guide but allow the child to make the decisions out on the water. This will create a sense of personal accomplishment. The fast pace and high catch rate for this fishery will result in a positive experience that is sure to generate future interest. When I take my kids fishing, I bring a couple of squirt guns for a plan B. This is sure to save the day if the fishing turns out to be slow.

WHERE TO GO Humpies can be perceived as a nuisance by anglers targeting Chinook when they enter the Straits in July. But when they turn the corner to head south, this large biomass of salmon attracts anglers to every accessible beach or pier. Kayaks will offer much more breathing room than fishing from the shore. It is hard to beat the convenience of this fishery in central and south Puget Sound. Any place that a kayak can be launched will produce fish. But with the variance of run size for each river system this year, it may pay to try some different areas. If the local honey hole isn’t producing, try heading to alternative spots – these fish do move through. Just be aware that due to low coho returns expected back to the Skagit and Stillaguamish Rivers, Marine Area 9 switches to shore fishing only Aug. 16 – earlier if the hatchery summer Chinook fishery meets the quota – through Sept. 4, when salmon fishing closes until November. Areas 8-1 and 8-2 are also closed for pinks this summer and fall. While pink forecasts aren’t as high as they’ve been in recent years, there are over a million inbound to Puget Sound this summer. That is still a substantial number, and the smaller run size has the potential to produce bigger fish too. As the run heats up, try your luck at the Humpy Kayak Classic Tournament on Aug. 19 at Dash Point State Park. Proceeds from this benefit tournament are used to support veterans through the Heroes on the Water organization. For more information about this event, visit NS


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Building A Better Bomb NOTES With apologies to the companies involved, throw out the stock trebles that come with your Buzz Bombs and Blizzards and use a pair of octopus hooks instead. Advice to that affect arrived in my inbox early in 2015’s pink salmon run and I’ve had no reason to doubt it since. Of course, you’re not allowed to use trebles for salty salmon in Washington, and I’d been either cutting off two of the three hooks or using a siwash until a friendly fisheries biologist suggested this set-up. Tie a mooching rig (basically, back to back egg loops), except you want the hooks (a pair of 1/0s for a 2½-inch diamond-style jig) as close together as possible, and slightly offset. The bio also warned me to have pliers on hand – even barbless, you still might have to dig the hooks out of the salmon’s jaw, they hold so well. The rig at right also works for coho, but I prefer a chrome Bomb or Blizzard without a squid. –Andy Walgamott

21/2-inch diamond jig Micro squid

6- to 8-mm bumper bead

8- to 12-poundtest, 36- to 48inch leader

Ball-bearing swivel 1/0 octopus hooks Braided mainline (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

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You can bet Mark Schildt and Andrew Soper are ready to sink some hooks into pink salmon this season, after a stellar August 2015 outing that also yielded Dungeness crabs. (FISHIN PHOTO CONTEST)

Pesky Perhaps, But Pinks An Odd-year Favorite I

t’s that time again – the fabulous pink salmon run. Well, maybe not so fabulous this year in terms of the WIESTSIDER forecast, but with dwindling numbers By Terry Wiest of other species of salmon, at least with pinks we can be fairly confident we’ll take some fish home for our efforts. A couple great things about pinks: 1) You don’t need to buy a ton of gear; 2) Catch limits are usually generous; 3) They are probably the easiest of our salmon species to catch; 4) They’re a great way to introduce kids to fishing.

ONE OF THE more unusual aspects of the pink salmon is that they only return to the Puget Sound in odd years. Most anglers tend to get tired of fishing for them after a few weeks, so having two years between runs helps to get interest brewing again. Although there are a few pinks caught in late June and early July, the majority start showing up in August. For pretty much the whole month you can target these fish throughout Puget Sound and have great success (note this season’s Area 8-1 and 8-2 closure and shore-fishingonly regs for Area 9). For river anglers, September is for you. While we have so many options to catch these fish, I do have some I’d consider more productive than others. But if you have your own methods, by

all means, just make sure whatever is attached to your hook is pink! They’ll pretty much hit anything that moves and is that shade. The aptly named Humpy Special setup, trolled super slow with the use of a downrigger, is a mainstay of humpy killers out there, as you’ll find them on just about every boat targeting these fish. The Special consists of a white 8-inch plastic flasher, or size 0 white dodger, 14 inches of 40- to 60-pound leader material tied to a mini pink squid, or hoochie, with a single 2/0 super-sharp barbless sickle hook. Silver Horde makes it ultraconvenient for you, as they sell this set-up prepackaged. It doesn’t get much easier or effective than that on the salt. | AUGUST 2017

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A great trolling rig for saltwater pinks is the Humpy Special – a white 8-inch flasher (or size 0 white dodger), 14-inch, 40- to 60-pound leader, pink mini squid and single 2/0 barbless sickle hook. (TERRY WIEST) I like to experiment, and some of the other combos I like include a white/ pink spatterback dodger and a pink mini hoochie or Ace Hi Fly Junior. I’ve also done very well on the new Silver Horde 2-inch Kingfisher Spoon with pink on one side and white on the other. It also doesn’t hurt to stick an eyeball on the pink side and put a little Pautzke Krill scent on the spoon and/or dodger. To achieve the correct action you want to troll slow – very slow. The presentation should sway back and forth, and that includes the hoochie. If you’re not using that heavy leader,

the hoochie will not have the correct movement. The slower the better, while maintaining a gentle swaying motion. Always troll with the current, as the required speed doesn’t work well against the flow. After a good troll, or drift, reel up and head back to the top. Even at these slow speeds you want to cover as much water as you can until you come across a school of biters, then stay on top of them if you can. To stimulate bites I like to vary the speed by turning the boat in a backand-forth motion, or a giant figureeight if I’m on top of a school. The inside

presentations will slow down and drop, while the outside presentations will speed up and rise. Turn the other way and the rods rotate. You’ll find most strikes will occur on the drop.

SO WHAT ABOUT you bait anglers? OK, yes, a cut-plug works, no doubt. But to increase your odds of catching multiple pink salmon, add some bright pink Bad Azz Bait Dye to your brine and use smaller baits, red or orange label, with 2/0 barbless hooks. What else works? Again, just about anything pink! Try various spoons like the King Fisher Lite, Coyote or the new Mack’s Lure UV Magic Imperial Spoon with or without a dodger/flasher. Not a trolling fan? No problem here either. In fact, a way to have an absolute blast with pinks is to cast Buzz Bombs. These fish are generally in the top 60 feet of the water column. Early mornings they’re not hard to find on your fish finder. Shut off the motor and cast just “past” the school if you can. Let the lure flutter down. If you don’t get a strike as it falls, start retrieving once it has fallen 30 to 60 feet (at the rate of about a foot per second). When retrieving, use a twitching motion and reel in the slack as the lure is falling. This method produces some wicked strikes. After you’ve had enough action on the salt, get out your twitchin’ rod and target these fish in the rivers come September. There’s not much funner and more productive than that! NS Editor’s note: Terry J. Wiest is the author of Steelhead University: Your Guide to Salmon & Steelhead Success and Float-Fishing for Salmon & Steelhead, and is the owner of Steelhead University,

116 Northwest Sportsman

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Nooksack Bottoms, Heights Offer Split August Ops


ook low and look high for diverse August quarry in the Nooksack By Doug Huddle basin. Western Washington’s northernmost watershed is the only one above Everett with a pink salmon fishery this season, while its foothills and heights offer a shot at bruins, though hunters will have to adjust to field conditions to be successful. Let’s look at this month’s options.


HUMPY FORECAST, LURES Preseason forecasts for Nooksack River salmon runs, made last January, predict that wild humpies will come in at just over 95,000 strong, about 43 percent above the base escapement, or spawning, goal for the stock. Alarmingly, by comparison, pink numbers in the neighboring Skagit are expected to be only 25 percent of the 330,000 minimum spawning population size sought by managers. In some years past, the Skagit’s contingent has numbered more than a million humpies. With low coho forecasts as well, the river is actually closed to all fishing during the pink, coho and chum return period this year. Similarly on the Stillaguamish, fishers get no chance at its salmon because of low coho numbers, but a catch-and-release fishery for trout was salvaged out of the contentious 2017 North of Falcon negotiations. More about this in a later issue. Nooksack fishers have close to the entire mainstem – from the Lummi Nation boundary near Marine Drive Bridge west of Bellingham upstream to the Deming bus barn marker – to plumb. That’s about 35 miles of flowing water. Treaty tribe fisheries are directed toward fall Chinook and anglers may encounter drift net operations below Ferndale and stationary eddy nets near Ritter Road,

Due to low coho and pink salmon runs, North Sound humpy slayers like Anastasia and Raymond Borbon will be limited to the Nooksack River because of closures on the Skagit – where Anastasia caught this nice one in 2013 – and Stillaguamish. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) George Road and at Nugents Corner. Earliest to spawn of Puget Sound’s stocks, Nooksack humpies also have the distinction of being the smallest of Washington’s pink salmon, physiological affects of spawning in such relatively cold water and leaving saltwater feeding grounds earlier than other stocks. The majority of the run heads for the North and Middle Forks, but a fair number also enter the South Fork. Whether casting and retrieving or just plunking, carry a selection of these lures: FSTs – a broad spoon coming in several sizes and selection of finishes, colors and patterns in both thin-blade models for plunking and thicker (weighted) versions for casting. However, on glacially clouded waters, pinks and whites are the best

humpy getters. Dick Nites – a stretched, thin-bladed spoon, coming in a wide array of color pattern combinations. Most popular are basic metal finishes in chrome or brass. A rule of thumb for Dick Nites – and, by the way, other terminal tackle – is, the clearer the water, the smaller the lure. Winged drift bobbers – one of the better plunking rigs since they are both buoyant and have noisy action. Spin-N-Glos and other similar lures are effective either plunked or cast out, drifted and retrieved. FlatFish – an arched wobbling lure with plug-type action reminiscent of the old locally made “Guppy,” a proven but now discontinued humpy killer. Pinks seem inalterably attracted to the colors red, orange and pink, of all things. | AUGUST 2017

Northwest Sportsman 119

COLUMN Fly patterns – streamers in bright colors (again, pinks, reds and oranges). Bucktail flies or leech-type patterns tied with marabou are foremost on a noodle rod users vest.

GETTING TO THE RIVER Besides taking a well-appointed tackle box or vest, prudent anglers will check ahead of time to make sure their old favorite fishing holes are legally accessible. River banks do not have to be posted to be offlimits to trespass. Avoid trouble by getting to the river via these public lands (the left and right reference assumes you are facing downstream): WDFW: Nooksack/Tennant/Hovander Park Accesses – part of Whatcom Wildlife Area and Whatcom County Parks systems and providing 3.8 miles of continuous left-bank access between Marine Drive and Nielsen Road at Ferndale. Combined walk- and drive-in with a boat launch on the Nielsen Road (upstream) end. Ferndale: Centennial Riverwalk and Vanderyacht city parks – these municipal parks provide about .8 mile of right, mostly high-bank access, but there is one expansive bar upstream of the railroad bridge. Drive-up and walk-in. WDFW: Guide Meridian – also listed as the Degroot Access, it enables limited leftbank access to a river bar; adjacent lands are privately owned. A WDFW vehicle access permit is required to park here and the area is closed during hours of darkness. Drive-up. Whatcom County roads: Hannegan Road Bridge – this county road crossing has very limited left-bank access on the right-of-way under the bridge. When river flow is low a bar forms that may be accessed upstream of the mouth of Kamm Creek. The south-bridge approach is a high-bank option. Drive-up. Everson: Riverside City Park – this municipal park has about .3 mile of right-bank access onto an occasionally expansive – depending on the river flow – gravel bar. The ramp was intended to serve trailered watercraft, but the river remains uncooperative, so only carry-in personal or paddle craft have access here. One unfortunate characteristic of 120 Northwest Sportsman

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Chad Smith nears a black bear he downed last Labor Day weekend 3 miles up a North Cascades logging road. Hunting conditions this year may be different because of how the snowpack came off, warns author Doug Huddle. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST) the Nooksack is that it’s not boat-access friendly. The best launch site – at least for sleds and at this writing – in the entire main reach is at Nugents Corner. The only other publically accessible ramp is at Ferndale, but it’s in the wrong position relative to current and thalweg. and can silt in or be just unusable at low water. The ramp often shown on maps at Everson is not useable, but you can carry craft to the river there. The same can be said for the Highway 9 gravel bar east of Deming. Also keep in mind that there is no good egress at the lower terminus of the fishery, at Marine Drive Bridge, though there is public land on the left, or east, bank. Note a couple special rules here: Bait is banned and during the directed salmon fishery, hook gaps may not exceed ½ inch. One last cautionary. Avoid having the midsummer sun turn your humpies into an unsavory mess. Bleed them out quickly

by snipping a gill arch and put the whole fish in a cooler on a rack over ice wrapped in a wet burlap or coarse cloth to keep them moist and cool. They shouldn’t come in contact with ice or meltwater.

SNOWPACK AND BRUINS With July heat peaking in the “usual” range, from the Aug. 1 start Northwest Cascade black bear hunts will still be offrhythm. It’s mainly the snowpack – at least what’s left of it – that’s causing the paradox. The rub comes from the return of an above-average snowpack together with the way it’s come off in late spring and summer. It’s been several years since a well-distributed, deep-seated snow accumulation has covered this area. Natural depths at Heather Meadows, for instance, left 20 feet of pack in the northeast-facing basin in Mount Baker’s convergence zone. | AUGUST 2017

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COLUMN On Baker’s northwest side, Grouse Ridge had 8- to 10-foot cornices almost along its entire crest. This is the principle crossing point for north-south-moving animals. A deep snowpack that melts out over a typical timeframe means a late blueberry/ huckleberry crop at all elevations. However, this spring about midApril, the snowpack below 3,000 feet rapidly disappeared – almost in the blink of an eye. Shade-tolerant forest blue huckleberries, called whortleberries by some, came out, flowered and set fruit almost a little ahead of schedule, though red huckleberries did not. The second confounding outcome this spring and summer was the snowpack meltout above 3,000 feet, where deep snow still blankets north- and northeastfacing slopes, while opposite southtrending slopes even up 5,000 feet were “bared” by late May and early June. What all this means for bruins is that berry crops will not ripen or come a cropper uniformly.

In terms of seasonal movements, higher elevation-denning black bear that usually drop down after emergence to meet and then follow the seasonal plant green-up as it rises in elevation are not going to find early berries spread across the landscape. I’ve routinely cut beeline downbound bear tracks in the spring on one Forest Service road in an area called Cabin Ridge. A month to two months later after the snow has been gone for a while, fresh bruin rooting and dung sign returns to the area The middle Deadhorse Creek Road, in the North Fork Nooksack, also had a noticeable amount of scat left by one or more descending animals this spring. Sign appeared to be broadly distributed this spring at low elevations, and there were a number of alerts and young bear sightings close to human development this spring, including one on the suburban Bellingham neighborhood fringes, where the animal was dubbed the “Barkley” bear.

HOW TO HUNT THEM For the duration of the 2017 season, which runs through Nov. 15 here, national forest and state timberlands in Whatcom and Skagit Counties will offer consistent access by vehicle to a diversity of locales. The one caveat to that is that several major Forest Service roads remain closed due to as-yet unfixed storm damage on the north side of the Mount Baker Ranger District. Canyon Creek and Wells Creek Roads have otherwise provided entrees to good bruin-producing habitats in their namesake stream basins. With a cessation of logging on federally managed lands, however, the open clearcuts that were once the go-to stalking grounds for bear hunters are all but gone, so you’ll have to go high or settle for a chance sighting off national forest roads. A better array of clearcuts to sit and glass will be found on Department of Natural Resources lands, though, due to the formalities of road management, a lot of this ground may be cut-off to drive-in access by gates. For the first month of the season at least, one private timber company has taken to opening gates on some of its road systems to facilitate bear hunting, this in areas where they say their regenerating conifer stands take a hit from sap-feeding bears. At least two other major forestland owners, Weyerhaeuser and Seefeld Corporation, are selling both vehicle and foot access permits good for selected portions of their holdings in Whatcom and/or Skagit Counties. Weyerhaeuser’s motorized access permits are sold out but 97 day-use foot access recreation permits remained as of July 5. More on reliable areas and roads for black bear in September.

NEXT ISSUE: First deer hunts, Nooksack coho, fall high lakes. NS Editor’s note: Doug Huddle lives in Bellingham, is retired from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and has written about hunting and fishing in the Northwest for more than 34 years. 122 Northwest Sportsman

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DON’T FORGET THE SNOHOMISH, SKY! With the Skagit and Stillaguamish offline this pink season, what’s a Mount Vernon or Arlington humpy wailer to do? Well, you can look north to the Nooksack, detailed in Doug Huddle’s column, or you can head south to the Snohomish system. It’s forecast to see Pugetropolis’s second best run, 171,000. True, that’s off from the glory years, when all you had to do was whisper Dick Nite beside the water and you’d have three biting your ankles, but with plenty of access, it’s still worthwhile. The Snohomish below Highway 9 opens Aug. 1, and the river above there as well as the Skykomish below Lewis Street opens Aug. 15. Daily limit is three salmon, release kings, chums. Boat access begins just outside the mouth, at the big 10th Street Ramp off Marine View Drive in Everett, then Langus Riverfront Park off Smith Island Road and Rotary Park on LowellSnohomish River Road. In Snohomish, Cady Landing is small-craft only, but there’s a new ramp just south of town on

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Eric Bell holds a pink buck caught on the upper Snohomish during 2015’s fishery. (GREG OLENIK)

Lincoln Avenue/Old Snohomish Monroe Road, though it’s a bit cramped. Further up are Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put-ins at High Bridge on the lower Snoqualmie and Tualco and Lewis Street on the lower Skykomish. From the bank, try Langus and Rotary Parks, Fields Riffle, downtown Snohomish, Lawson access, the bank along Short School Road above Douglas Bar (which is the head of tide and which the state is asking the Zylstras to not allow drive-on access

anymore), and, of course, Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas’s Eddy. Those old humpy spoons, pink on one side, white on the other, undoubtedly will still work, but better options these days include casting and twitching almost any kind of lead jig with almost any kind of pink material lashed around it. Dick Nites, typically in half-and-half though in 2015 the green frog finish performed strongly, on a drift fishing set-up work well too, as do small jigs under a bobber. –NWS

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COLUMN Chad Hurst tries his luck at the Puyallup’s Fruit Stand Hole. The river is one of three in the South Sound that should provide decent fishing this month and next for pink salmon, as well as Chinook and coho. (JASON BROOKS)

Pink Salmon, Black Bear Seasons Arrive A

n odd-year August is one of my favorite months for outdoor activities. My kids are out of SOUTH SOUND school, the weather is great, the rivers are By Jason Brooks full of fish, and bear season opens up. August is also when the nights start to cool off, reminding us that fall is coming and it is time to prepare for our autumn adventures.

STARTING WITH SALTWATER, inner Commencement Bay opens up in early August, allowing anglers to fish near the mouth of the Puyallup River. Though the

overall pink salmon forecast is down over past years, 382,301 are still expected back, the most for any Puget Sound river this season. Two years ago the fish ran very small, averaging just 3 to 4 pounds apiece, but hopefully they return a bit bigger this year, as the warm blob in the North Pacific that starved 2015’s fish has long since dissipated. This year-class had more food and less stress in a colder ocean, and should also benefit from higher, cooler rivers thanks to last winter’s snowpack. Look around Browns Point lighthouse for pinks to start schooling up as they head towards the Puyallup. On the incoming tide, fish the north side of the lighthouse and up towards Dash Point State Park. Bank anglers can also fish the pier at

Dash Point, as well as the county park at the beacon. Other areas for shore fishing include Les Davis Pier and Thea’s Park on the Foss Waterway in Tacoma. Throwing pink Buzz Bombs is the most popular technique, but twitching 3⁄8-ounce Mack’s Lure Rock Dancer jigs will catch pinks and an occasional coho or Chinook. On the west side of Commencement Bay is a pair of famed salmon waters near Point Defiance – Owens Beach and Clay Banks. It’s usually an early-morning drill here, with the moochers taking the inside while those who troll flashers and hoochies patrol the deeper waters over the 120- to 160-foot contours. Turn the corner and head to Point Evans and the | AUGUST 2017

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This year’s forecast suggests we won’t see the abundance of pinks we grew accustomed to before 2015, meaning fishing the right gear in the right spots will make all the difference for putting together a limit or having a great day of catch-and-release fishing. (JASON BROOKS) Narrows Bridges to mooch the incoming tide with Point Wilson Darts or plug-cut herring for Chinook heading to Chambers Bay and the Nisqually and Deschutes Rivers and coho heading to the Squaxin Island Tribe’s netpens. This spring, anglers did really well for resident coho, which by August will be 5 to 7 pounds. Troll just outside the kelp line in 45 to 60 feet of water on the incoming tide.

RIVER ANGLERS HAVE plenty of options in August, including the Green, Puyallup and Nisqually. The Green, otherwise known as the Duwamish below the Black River, opens Aug. 20 downstream of the I-405 bridge, and it features a daily limit of up to six adult salmon, making it the only river in the South Sound that has the “bonus” pink fishery this year. Starting Sept. 1, Chinook join the bag (daily limit one) between Tukwila International 128 Northwest Sportsman

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Boulevard/Old Highway 99 and I-405, an opportunity that hasn’t been available in recent years but is this summer thanks to a forecast of 13,347. Be sure to read the regulations carefully. Anglers cast pink-skirted leadhead jigs from boats and bank for pinks. The best ramp is underneath the 1st Avenue South/ Highway 99 bridge, but small craft may be hand-launched at some parks (note the “rapids” that form at Cecil Morse Park at South 112th Street at low tide states). There’s a fair amount of shore access, thanks to the Green River Trail and parks. The Puyallup also has plenty of bank access, but don’t expect to be alone. It’s been Puget Sound’s top pink producer since 2009, yanking the title away from the Snohomish (just 10 years before then, state catch records show a grand total of two kept in the 1999 season). Just be sure to read the regs this year. When salmon fishing opens Aug. 15, you

can keep unclipped coho, but there is no fishing on Sundays in August or Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays in September and October. There’s also a new 400-foot buffer on either side of the mouth of Clarks Creek that’s closed to fishing. This year you can only keep two adult salmon, and no bonus humpies. Popular areas on the Puyallup include the K-Mart Hole, which as you might guess is across from the old discount store, now a farm supply store and a Planet Fitness. Access it from the North Levy Road, as you cannot cross the river from the parking lot. Try the banks along the shore near the “blue building,” a large glass building on East Main Street, or under the 5th Street bridge. Drift fish a cerise or chartreuse size 12 Lil’ Corky from Yakima Bait on a 3-foot leader of 10-pound Izorline platinum and a size 1 barbless hook. Currents can fluctuate on the Puyallup, with hot days

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COLUMN Black bears will be hanging out in berryfields this month, so finding a high spot and glassing can pay off with bruins like this. (JASON BROOKS)

seeing more water and swifter flows as the glaciers melt at the headwaters on Mt. Rainier. A ½-ounce weight usually works to bounce bottom, but make sure to bring along some ¾- and even 1-ounce cannonballs. The Nisqually has been open for awhile now, but not to worry, as Chinook arrive early and stay until late fall, and as August nears an end, coho will arrive. Pinks this year also enter the river but there is no bonus limit for them. You can keep unclipped coho but all wild Chinook must be released. The state access is very popular; it’s a small bulkhead that allows handicapped access but very little bank fishing. Your best bet is to purchase a pass from Rainbow Bend Campground, which has a large gravel bar to fish from. You can find some tidal access near the I-5 bridge but parking is limited and tides will flood the area, so you better be off the river before the incoming. If you have a small boat, you can launch near the tide flats and motor over to the mouth. On the high, some

anglers will go into the river but be wary of log jams. Anchor up and fish through the low tide, waiting for the waters to rise again so you can motor back out to the bay. Anglers also do very well near the green can buoy marker trolling the dropoff of the tide flats for Chinook heading south to the Deschutes in Olympia.

AS AUGUST STARTS to fade, I leave the rivers and head to the mountains. Huckleberries are ripe and it is bear hunting season. Drive towards Mt. Rainier and then turn south onto Skate Creek Road. From here there are a few turn-offs that lead up into the mountains near Storm King. Open slopes and avalanche chutes will have high mountain blueberry and huckleberry patches, thanks to the heavy dumping of Mt. St. Helens’ ash in 1980. The acidic soil makes for perfect berry growing. That means bears. Look for bruin sign, such as tracks and scat, and if you notice the bears have been feeding on berries, break out the spotting scope and start glassing. Years ago, back when it was still an option for Washington hunters, I would bait for them. I learned that bears are lazy, and are not early risers. All of the bears we killed back in the early 1990s were taken in the evening hours. That is one thing that I really like about bear hunting in August. You can take your time getting to the trailhead and then head up into the hills in midafternoon for an evening bear hunt. Stay until dark and keep glassing; as bears feed, they can disappear in the dense vegetation and then reappear a few minutes later. Bears don’t have great eyesight but they can smell better than our family dog. As the afternoon heats up, the thermals become steady, allowing you to work the wind and get close to the bruins.

THIS MONTH STARTS off as summer, quickly turns over to salmon fishing, and then cools off for bears and hunting. By the end of August we will be feeling the chill of early fall and getting our rifles ready for deer season. Shotguns will be taken out of their cases for grouse, and archery elk hunters will be digging out their camo. Until then, get out the waders and fishing gear for another odd-year pink salmon run and start scouting for bears. NS 130 Northwest Sportsman

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Unconventional Calling Using sounds black bears and other predators – even elk – aren’t familiar with could greatly increase your success, especially in overhunted areas. By Douglas Boze


his might place my age a little bit here, but I am sure some of you are in the same boat. Do you remember when car alarms first became mainstream? You would hear one go off and start to look around and see whose car was getting broken into. After, say, the first year (or maybe even sooner) everyone became accustomed to the alarm sounds and now nobody pays attention. We’re used to the sound. The same could be said for predator calling. My main passion in predator calling is bear and bobcats. Don’t get me wrong, coyotes get my blood pumping! I love shooting coyotes, but where I live in Western Washington is very brushy. Literally, there are walls of blackberry bushes that bears have tunnels through. The open fields locally are typically owned by farmers and I usually don’t hunt those, so I stick to public lands (or private timberland) and search for bears and bobs. There, using sounds that the target animals are not familiar with could greatly increase your success rate, especially if you are working areas that are heavily called. Let me explain why I like to use what I call “unconventional calling methods.”


An array of calls will work for predators, though with diminishing effect as bears, bobcats and coyotes become wise to them, so author Douglas Boze suggests unconventional methods – mixing and matching types, creating new sounds using domestic sources and more. (DOUGLAS BOZE)

the like usually come with preloaded sounds – different howls, distress calls, bird distress, etc. But they are preloaded and all are on the same units that get distributed with them. Many people only call with those sounds that come preloaded. They bring out the electric caller, place it on “coyote howl 1” and “rabbit | AUGUST 2017

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HUNTING distress 2,” do their set and nothing happens. Well, in their minds nothing came in, but possibly in reality, an educated coyote heard the sound that it may recognize from the past (and was possibly shot at or smelled the previous hunter who used the same sounds). The coyote had heard that call before, remembered it was not what it seemed, and avoided or approached the stand much more cautiously. Anyone hear of a “hoochie momma” cow call for elk? While this is a quality call, it has been overused so much where I bowhunt that the elk very much know it. You squeak on that call and the elk blow out of cover faster than you can bugle – gone. Why? They have heard it before, just like our educated coyote friend, and they aren’t hanging around to find out why they didn’t like it in the first place. We don’t even allow these calls in elk camp! Someone shows up with one of those and we instantly give them a hard time. I am not saying they are bad, but the elk are educated on it, no doubt. They need to hear something different that they do not relate to danger. Personally, I use a bite-style, closed-reed predator call for cow calling. Works like a charm – why? They aren’t used to that sound being made by a human. Mouth calling can be a little different, in that not everyone blows with the same pitch or intensity on the call, so the sound changes. But this is not always true. Bears in my area may have heard a rabbit distress call and smelled the hunter, thus becoming educated to the stimulus and to avoid it. But have they heard the hoochie momma call or calf distress call, or a combo of both? Remember, you as a hunter, are just trying to pique the interest of the animal; it doesn’t necessarily have to 100 percent believe you are what you say you are. If a songdog, bob or bruin shows itself long enough for a shot, that is all that matters. You just need that shot 136 Northwest Sportsman

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Black bear down! While this article primarily focuses on bringing in predators, don’t overlook using the ideas on call-wary elk. (DOUGLAS BOZE)

window. Now, depending on your weapon, that may need to be close, or some distance, but that is another story.


yourself, “What are the animals locally that predators have available to snack on?” Cottontail rabbits? Jackrabbits? Calf elk or maybe even domestic goats? Consider using the sounds of domestic animals if you aren’t having luck with your calling. The crying of a stranded goat sounds desperate. If you can mimic that using a howler or other mouth caller, that could just be your ace in the hole. I have also used the sounds of animals that are not from the area. For example, once I was using a cottontail distress call on a bear that I could physically see. The bear had zero interest in it. I switched over to a jackrabbit distress call and guess who came running to me on a string? Now, I know there wasn’t a jackrabbit within a thousand miles, literally, of this place. But, it was a new noise and one that made the bear curious. While rabbit distress is very much a go-to sound for predator hunters,

just like a jig might be for bluegill fishermen, don’t only try that call and give up. An angler wouldn’t only try a black jig and then call it quits; he would try a different color or different jig all together. If that call is not working for you, do not be afraid to get creative. For example, when I go elk hunting, I do not carry a big bull bugle with me. I carry an open-reed coyote howler. It’s much smaller than a bugle, but does the job. Why is this? Simply, I use the coyote howler like a bugle; I get deep and throaty on it and bust out a long-winded, rough-sounding bugle on it. I have successfully called in several big bulls, from hundreds of yards away, right into my lap using this method. Unconventional, right? Yes, but it works. Plus it lightens my load. I think it is safe to assume that most of you reading this article already have a lot of experience in predator calling, or at least reading about it. But if that is not the case, and you are used to calling coyotes and want to try calling in bear for a change, have patience and watch you wind. Bear, usually, are not like coyotes. They will take their






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HUNTING time coming into a call, usually. Bear tend to have moods; some will come busting into the call, all hot to trot, while others will put on the sneak. But, generally, it is safe to say they will take their time. Always picture playing with a cat when you are calling bear. If you stop moving the string, the cat loses interest; if you stop calling on the call, the bear loses interest. Keep at it for an hour at least. If nothing shows up by then, stay quiet and watch for 10 minutes or so, see what shows up. Sometimes, this is all it takes.

It sounds crazy, but recording the clucking of chickens as, say, they proudly announce they’ve laid an egg for playback in the woods just might bring in a predator, the author suggests. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

ANOTHER UNCONVENTIONAL METHOD that I like to use is a combination of electronic calls and mouth calls. Be sure to check your state regulations to ensure that electronic calls for predators is legal. A strategy that I have used before is letting the electronic caller play with either a distress or a howl or serenade, and

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I do the opposite. So, if the caller is singing away with coyote howls, I will squeal on a distress call or other prey sound, such as a cow elk mew. Don’t have elk in the area? Good! Give it a shot anyway – who else would be so foolish as to use a cow call in an area without elk? Probably not many people and, therefore, it is a new sound of desperation that the predator hasn’t heard but just might want to check out. The options we have as predator hunters really are limitless when it comes to calling sounds. With modern-day e-callers, you can download numerous sounds for free off the internet and mix and match those to meet your needs. If you can, record sounds from around the farm and try to use them. Ever try using chicken clucks for fox? Me either, but it just might work! If woodpecker sounds work for bobcats, why wouldn’t chicken sounds? Now, your significant other might ask you about your sanity if you are out in the chicken coop trying to record all those hens going nuts, but you can just explain that you are an unconventional predator hunter. Does your dog howl? Coyotes are territorial, as you well know. A strange canine howl could be just the extra trick you need. Believe it or not, I have had bear come charging into a coyote pup distress call. Bottom line, use your imagination and you just might surprise yourself. When your friends give you a hard time for trying all these unconventional sounds, you’ll be the one laughing when you pull up with a nice predator that made the fatal mistake of being a little too curious. We all know, curiosity killed the cat. In my case, it has also killed a few bears. NS Editor’s note: Douglas Boze is a lifelong hunter and author of No Bait Just Bears and The Ultimate Guide To Black Bear Hunting and has also been featured in Bear Hunting Magazine. You can follow him on Instagram @bozeandbears. 140 Northwest Sportsman

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Big Game Outlook Despite big deer, pronghorn tag cuts in Baker, nearby counties, prospects don’t look too bad.

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HUNTING By Troy Rodakowski


hen I hear the phrase “tag cuts,” I don’t get too excited. In fact, I get nervous and upset at the diminished prospects of having a successful season chasing big game. There are, however, a few bright sides to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife cutting tag numbers this year. We had one of the deepest snowpacks in modern history, equating to excellent forage and water reserves throughout the summer. “Water holes should hold into summer and keep animals more spread out than in years past,” says Randy Lewis, a state wildlife biologist in Bend. This holds true for most all of the eastern portions of Oregon (remember to not camp near water holes, as animals rely on them heavily during late summer and early fall). Another positive: “We have also been seeing a good number of yearling bucks being recruited into the population,” adds Lewis. So let’s start with deer in this 2017 season preview for Central and Eastern Oregon big game:


Oregon hunters hoping to dimple primers and notch tags can look forward to a better season than the harsh, lingering winter of 2016-17 foreboded, though deer and pronghorn herds in east-central portions of the Beaver State were certainly impacted and saw reduced tags. (TROY RODAKOWSKI)

Buck deer tag numbers were reduced overall, mostly due to last year’s tough winter in parts of Baker, Malheur and Union Counties and because more hunters are actually purchasing the tags they draw, which decreases the level of correction. (ODFW calculates the number of tags that are drawn but not actually purchased and corrects tag numbers by that level to maximize hunting opportunity). Yet many Eastern Oregon units still have good deer numbers heading into 2017’s hunts, which mostly begin Aug. 26 for bowhunters and Sept. 30 for riflemen. Last season, 32,522 bucks were harvested by 114,685 hunters throughout Oregon. Dry, hot | AUGUST 2017

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HUNTING conditions made it tough for hunting, and as a result animals were bedded early and didn’t start moving again until almost dark, contributing to lower success. In the Columbia Basin Unit there were 537 four-point-or-larger bucks taken in 2016, which was over a third of the total buck harvest there last season. White River sported a harvest of nearly 564 bucks, with 188 of those being at least three points and nearly 200 four-points. With some of the highest hunter numbers in our state, the Ochocos came in with a total buck harvest of 493. The Grizzly, Sled Springs, Beulah and Metolius had success ratios near or above 30 percent for bucks last season as well. Some other hot spots included the Upper Deschutes, Fort Rock, Paulina and Maury Mountains. “Overall, I am anticipating a pretty good hunting season this year,” says Lewis. There should be decent numbers of both mature and yearling bucks available in most units relative to the population size, he says. Spring fawn ratios were fair district wide, with a ratio of 36 fawns per 100 adults. Buck ratios are near, or above, management objective. However, he points out that deer populations are below what they would like to see in the Deschutes District units, except for the Metolius, which is near ODFW management objectives. “We do feel that adenovirus hemorrhagic disease is continuing to impact local deer populations. Late spring rains gave a boost, providing better forage and available water,” says Lewis. Western Oregon deer numbers remain fairly stable, so archery, rifle and muzzleloader hunters should find decent numbers of mature deer, especially in elevations below 3,000 feet and throughout the coastal hills.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK Elk tags also declined slightly because 144 Northwest Sportsman

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Bowhunters will likely find some nice bulls roaming Oregon’s mountain basins. (TROY RODAKOWSKI)

more hunters are buying the tags they draw. Northeast Oregon was probably hit the hardest by last winter’s suffocating snows. Calf survival in the units here was below normal. Hunters will likely see fewer young bulls to harvest this season. But despite one of the worst winters

in recent history, there were no cuts in tags because of those conditions. ODFW says that because of their body size, elk “can generate more body heat at less energetic cost and they can get through crustier snow easier than smaller ungulates.” Elk in the Deschutes District came | AUGUST 2017

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HUNTING through in relatively good shape, says Lewis. Numbers continue to grow slowly in the Cascade units, Upper Deschutes, Metolius and West Fort Rock units managed under the general season Cascade hunt. Elk densities are moderate, but hunter densities are relatively high near the road systems in the Cascade units. For solitude, elk seek more remote wilderness and locations in the mountains away from road systems. Elk numbers in the North Wagontire (High Desert) hunts are quite variable due to the large movements these animals make. In the North Wagontire Unit, the bull ratio is below management objective. Elk are most consistent in their daily patterns near alfalfa fields. In the Paulina, East Fort Rock and Wagontire Units, bull ratios are down slightly this year relative to the number of elk, but branch-antlered opportunities will be decent in the

first two units. Herds are at relatively low densities and cover a lot of country, so hunter success is typically low in these locations. Several units across the state consistently produce higher harvest ratios. The problem is, permits are becoming tougher and tougher to draw. For the most part, quality hunts take several years to obtain here in our state and patience is the name of the game. However, consistent success has been found in many locations throughout Oregon. Last season, 71,449 rifle hunters were able to harvest 13,294 elk for a 19 percent success ratio. The question now is, where are you going and what are you going to do in order to increase your odds? Change it up. Try different things – instead of standing around the campfire at 10 a.m., go out on a midday hunt. Hike to where you have not hunted in the past, sit longer, have more patience, adapt

and glass the open sage a bit longer. You will most definitely see different results if you are persistent and pay attention to detail. Archery hunters should do very well, especially with the prolonged snowpack providing creeks with moisture well into late summer. These locations also tend to have fresher forage due to higher soil moisture. Plants here will also have higher sugar content. Sugars in plants tend to drop off once grasses and broadleaf plants begin to die. Always focus on locations that have less human activity and traffic. Elk prefer secluded places away from trails and roads. Of course, one may find the best access at trailheads, campgrounds or other forest road systems. Google Earth and topo map applications can show a hunter where elk may hold up. Oftentimes, hunters can find places elk prefer to cross trails, creeks or roads based on topographic information.

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HUNTING Scissorlike drainages surrounded by roads can create bottlenecks for traveling animals. Also, think about obtaining permission and applying for a private land or agricultural hunt – it can be a great idea.

It won’t be long before hunters will be setting up camps throughout Oregon. Pronghorn hunters take the field Aug. 12, with archers testing their skills beginning Aug. 26 and riflemen Sept. 30. (TROY RODAKOWSKI)

PRONGHORN Hunter success throughout most of Eastern Oregon should be good, especially if one is willing to put in the time. In 2016 antelope harvest was fairly decent, with 2,157 hunters bagging 1,483 animals. Some of the best units for quality and consistency have been Juniper (87 percent success), Steens (83 percent), Malheur River (78 percent), Owyhee (80 percent), Whitehorse (89 percent), West Beatys Butte (92 percent) and Beulah (78 percent). Units near the gorge have also seen recent increases as antelope continue to expand their range. Indeed, the

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state’s pronghorn population has soared to over 25,000 in the last couple years, with ODFW surveying nearly 12,000 this past spring. Tag numbers have remained unchanged for the most part, except

for a number of units in central far Eastern Oregon that saw half of theirs cut because of winter mortality. But with favorable spring conditions, survivors should pull through and, overall, all herds should be rebuild. NS | AUGUST 2017

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Recognizing Teachable Moments U

p to this point in this monthly series that began in the January issue, we’ve looked at basic training tips for your pup. These GUN DOGGIN’ 101 tips have focused By Scott Haugen on teaching the dog restraint and basic instruction, while at the same time developing a valuable bond between the two of you. As the pup matures, you can teach it more and more. A pup’s brain is like a sponge, and for some things, the optimal learning window is relatively brief, with behavioral habits and socialization taking place within the first four months. Once you have the basic commands down, and the pup is responding to them, you can continue progressing in your training.

FOR THE FIRST few months my training sessions are short. I play a lot with my pups, both inside and out. I get them into as many different environments as possible, and get them around as many people as I can. Getting your eight- to 10-week-old pup around a half-dozen people a day – of all ages, sizes and ethnic backgrounds – is ideal. Avoid taking pups to dog parks, as you don’t want them coming into contact with dogs that may not be up to date on vaccinations. While I’ll spend a few hours a day playing with my pup, my actual training time is only about six to eight minutes, broken into three sessions. When I’m training, I want the pup’s full attention, and I don’t teach unless I have it. Time is valuable, as is consistency. You’re the boss; make sure the pup knows it. There’s a saying among many trainers that a cheap dog is an expensive dog to train, so keep that in mind when investing in a dog. Also, remember that when the

A trainer’s consistent communication and even temperament are key to gaining a pup’s trust. This will help get the most out of your training sessions and optimize the dog’s overall performance. (SCOTT HAUGEN) training starts, time is valuable. A lot of trainers will also tell you that before they can even start training a dog for someone, they spend a lot of time fixing it. This is because owners aren’t spending time with their pup, not like they used to. If the basic commands are not taught early – starting at seven or eight weeks of age – then it’s going to be challenging for anyone to teach your pup restraint and disciplined commands as it grows. Persistence, patience and socialization

are keys to getting your pup into a consistent learning mode. Spending time with a pup gets it bonding with you – a must to be able to effectively teach it as it matures.

WATCH YOUR PUP closely and get to know its behaviors as you continue teaching it. I never attempt to teach pups anything unless their eyes are on me and their ears are back, or perked up. If their head is tilted slightly forward with the ears down, they are not focused on me. They are | AUGUST 2017

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COLUMN thinking of something else, like wanting food, wanting to run, or wanting to play with something in sight that may be distracting them. It’s up to you to get the pup’s full attention before trying to teach it anything. Short, simple verbal commands and consistent eye contact is all it takes to get a pup to watch you closely. Stay positive with your facial expressions and voice, making the learning experience fun for the dog. Be careful not to get too negative or overbearing or the pup won’t respect you or will tune you out, and certainly won’t reach its optimal level of performance. By four months of age many pups are already reading your demeanor, voice inflection and facial cues. They know when you furrow your brows they’ve done something wrong and could be in trouble. They can see a smile in your eyes, and their tails will start wagging and they’ll want to please you. They can read a smile and raised eyebrows, and know all is good. When a dog can predict your temperament, and you treat it nice, it will be eager to please you. This is when optimal learning takes place, learning that will continue for years.

BY BEING CONSISTENT and communicating with your dog on many levels, you’re on the way to gaining its trust and respect. When a dog respects and trusts you, the amount of training they absorb is mind boggling. As they mature into adulthood, dogs that respect you will do anything you ask of them. Such strong bonds start forming now, the day a pup comes home, so don’t wait, and don’t overdo it with militant training. Puppies are smart, they just have to be taught a lot of basic things, including the difference between right and wrong. By maintaining a calm, positive demeanor, and a consistent training schedule, you’re on the way to building the ideal gun dog. NS Editor’s note: To watch some dog training tips, check out Scott Haugen’s series of short videos on his website, Also, watch his TV show, The Hunt, now on Netflix. 152 Northwest Sportsman

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When a pup is looking you in the eye, ears perked or laying back, they are focused and ready to learn. This is the teachable moment you’re looking for. (SCOTT HAUGEN)


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Things You Should Know About Ammo P

eople who enjoy eating venison need to bone up on bullets, if they haven’t already done so. ON TARGET The bullet makes By Dave Workman the connection. The projectile launched from a rifle or handgun is the critical element, the one thing that separates wild-meat eaters from people who buy it at the market. And there are five things one should understand about bullets.


Boattails are best. With but a few exceptions that apply to taking large, dangerous game primarily on the African continent, the spire-pointed boattail bullet is the best choice for Western hunters, especially those hunting open country. This projectile is superbly aerodynamic; that is, the bullet shape with the tapered base has the highest ballistic coefficient – the ability to cut through the air and hit the target – and is favored especially by long-range shooters who, like myself, reload their own ammunition. I’ve shot some nice bucks at long range, all with boattail bullets. Before those shots were fired, I spent time at the range making sure they went where they were supposed to. According to my Speer loading manual, the boattail design was originally intended for the .30-caliber machine gun bullet to give it a longer effective range. Hunters were quick to pick up on that a century ago, and they’ve made the most of it.


Check your factory loads online. Nonreloaders can find out plenty

Topping the list of longtime gun writer Dave Workman’s five things you should know about ammo is that boattail bullets are best. Here are three examples of that style – a Speer, Nosler Ballistic Tip, Hornady Interbond. (DAVE WORKMAN) about factory ammunition on the internet. Every manufacturer has a website. Look up the cartridge, check the ballistics and match them up with your anticipated needs.


Always zero your rifle using the same ammunition with which you plan to hunt. Doing target work with 165-grain bullets and then hunting with 200-grainers wouldn’t be my first choice. The trajectory will change – and with it, the point of impact. At longer ranges, this could become critical. Know your bullet’s ballistics. Most people are amazed at how much a bullet will drop at long range. For example, a 180-grain .30-caliber boattail bullet fired from a .30-06 rifle that leaves the muzzle at 2,750 feet per second if sighted in at 100 yards will drop just over 30 inches at 400 yards. If you’re shooting at a buck at that range with a rifle zeroed at 100 yards, you’ll be shooting at the ground

around his feet. The best place to find out about ballistics is in the rear of a reloading manual. Even if you don’t load your own ammunition, a manual is a good investment for the serious hunter. One shot may be all you get. Make the most of it.


Polymer or lead? I’ve taken nice bucks with Speer boattails that have an exposed lead tip, and nice ones using Nosler Ballistic Tip and AccuBond bullets with polymer tips. My brother head-shot a buck on the Snake River last fall (hell of a shot, IMHO!) using a Hornady 165-grain bullet in his Ruger bolt-action chambered for .308 Winchester. That round came from my loading bench and we zeroed his rifle at 200 yards. Both bullet types are terrific, but when one uses lead-point projectiles, look them over closely before leaving camp to see | AUGUST 2017

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SMALL GAME PISTOL RECALL Like a lot of other people, I bought one of the Ruger Mark IV .22-caliber pistols last year, and now suddenly there’s a recall to retrofit pistols manufactured prior to June 1 with an improved thumb safety. It turns out that some of these pistols “have the potential to discharge unintentionally if the safety is not utilized correctly,” according to Ruger. This has not happened with my pistol, which is deadbang accurate, incidentally, but at this writing I had made arrangements to ship the frame – not the whole pistol – back for a retrofit. I bought that pistol, the Mark IV Target model, after a field test during which it performed flawlessly. I plan to plug a lot of grouse and rabbits for as long as I’m able to go afield. The recall affects Mark IV Target, Hunter, Competition, 22/45 Lite and 22/45

Ruger has recalled certain Mark IV Target, Hunter, Competition, 22/45 Lite and 22/45 Tactical models because of an issue with the safety. (DAVE WORKMAN)

Tactical models bearing serial numbers starting with 401 or WBR, depending upon the date of manufacture.

The recall does not apply to Mark IV pistols with serial numbers starting with 500. –DW

whether the lead may be deformed from previous insertion into the chamber. As for polymer tips, I’ve seen them come out, though rarely. On the plus side, that tip doesn’t get dinged from being rechambered.


Go with blunts in the brush. There’s an exception to every rule, and brush country hunting where shots might be 150 yards or less is the environment for blunt-nose bullets, especially if one is using a lever-action rifle with a tubular magazine. The only pointed pill I’d use in a levergun is Hornady’s LEVERevolution with its FTX or MonoFlex bullets For close-in timber hunting, a .3030 Winchester or .308 Marlin Express loaded with the Hornady ammunition is formidable for coastal blacktails or Northeast Washington whitetails. I’ve taken blacktails with roundnose jacketed bullets from a .32 Special or a .300 Savage at 150 yards or less. Both guns were zeroed to put a bullet 2 inches high at 100 yards. A bullet that lands an inch or

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Zero your rifle with the same ammo you’ll be heading afield with, as trajectories are different between loads, and which at longer ranges can be quite marked. (DAVE WORKMAN) so from where it is aimed is still going to deliver the goods, even if you hit a bone.

SPEAKING OF BULLETS, Federal Premium Ammunition this summer announced its Gold Medal Berger, featuring a boattail bullet for flat trajectories and long-range accuracy. Four loads are available initially, a .223 Remington with a 73-grain Berger boattail target bullet, a 6.5 Grendel and a 6.5 Creedmoor, both with 130-grain Berger Hybrid bullets and a .308 Winchester with a 185-grain Berger Juggernaut projectile. And since we’re on the topic, just in time for fall hunting, Federal has introduced the new Hi-Bird shotshell designed to put birds in the bag. Hi-Bird shells feature lead shot. They’ll bring down doves, pigeons, pheasants, grouse and other upland game birds. There are five 12-gauge loads, all 2¾-inchers, featuring either 11⁄8-ounce loads of No. 6, 7 ½ or 8 shot, or a 1¼-ounce payload of No. 6 or 7½ shot. The shell features a specialized twopiece SoftCell wad that helps reduce perceived recoil and delivers better long range patterns. NS 158 Northwest Sportsman

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