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- Make The Most Of -

SUMMER SALMON! Rogue Bay • Puget Sound • Buoy 10 Lower Columbia • Willapa • Straits PLUS

Patagonia’s Monster Chinook

FALL BIRD HUNTS Shotgun Prep Gun Dog Training Dove Decoying, Recipe

SKY HIGH RISK WDFW’s Desperate Bid To Save Skykomish Summer Steelheading ALSO INSIDE

Salmon Derbies Hit High Gear

Poachers Get Lifetime Hunt Bans

Inflatable Kayaks For Alpine Fishing


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Sportsman Northwest

Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 10 • Issue 11

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





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


PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker OFFICE MANAGER Katie Aumann INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGER Lois Sanborn WEBMASTER/DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines DISTRIBUTION Tony Sorrentino, Gary Bickford ADVERTISING INQUIRIES CORRESPONDENCE Email letters, articles/queries, photos, etc., to, or to the address below.


ON THE COVER Brady Hertzog and his dad Bryant show off the 9-year-old angler’s Lower Columbia fall Chinook, caught last August. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST) DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS Dates for two CCA Washington events were incorrect in last month’s Derby Watch. The 7th Annual Pete Flohr Memorial Salmon Derby was scheduled for July 20-21, not July 13-14 (it was ultimately cancelled due to Chinook returns), and the Lower Columbia Steelhead Challenge was held July 27-29, not July 20-22. 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 2018

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For the Vancouver area’s Tyler Hicks, a two-week trip to Patagonia with wife Sidra was a chance to fish for Austral Chinook – South American springers. The challenge was figuring out how to catch these salmon originally from the Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers during the few days they had to troll Chile’s Reloncavi fjord.


THE SISTERHOOD OF BUOY 10 An invite to the Fountain family fish camp at the mouth of the Columbia yielded new experiences and great fishing for Sara Ichtertz. Ride along in a reconstructed dory as she battles Chinook with her friend Tina and the boys at Buoy 10!


LOWER COLUMBIA UPRIVER BRIGHTS Even as runs wobble, it will still pay to fish wobblers, spinners and Super Baits for fall Chinook as they head up the Columbia. Andy Schneider has the lowdown on how to slow up kings during all of the big creek’s tidal states!


LUCKY 13: OLYMPIA CHINOOK Deepest South Sound tends to get overlooked for fall king salmon fishing, but a friendly local game warden knows differently. “Each summer large numbers of hatchery Chinook swarm into the terminal areas of Marine Area 13,” reports WDFW Officer Greg Haw, who invites you to try these fisheries out.

103 PUGET SOUND’S SILVER LINING Coho runs back to the inland sea are still lower than we would like, but 2018 offers anglers a return to coveted waters in prime time. Mark Yuasa preview’s late summer’s silver salmon outlook for the Straits, Areas 8, 9 and 10, the San Juans and South Sound, and details top rigs! 129 DECOYING DOVES With the start of Northwest bird hunting seasons right around the corner, now’s the time to make plans to bring in more mourning doves. MD Johnson has the specs for how to make “dove trees,” “dove wires” and other ways to attract these speedy gamesters to your field.


SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Go to for details. NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Periodical Postage Paid at Seattle, WA and at additional mail offices. (USPS 025-251) POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Northwest Sportsman, 14240 Interurban Ave South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Annual subscriptions are $29.95 (12 issues), 2-year subscription are $39.95 (24 issues). Send check or money order to Media Index Publishing Group, or call (206) 382-9220 with VISA or M/C. Back issues may be ordered at Media Index Publishing Group offices at the cost of $5 plus shipping. Display Advertising. Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2018 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A.

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THE POWER SHOP Mon - Fri 8am–5pm Sat 9am–3pm 3829 Harrison Ave. Centralia, WA 98531 (360) 736-6340 Make Your First Stop The Power Shop! | AUGUST 2018

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BUZZ RAMSEY: How To Catch Rogue Mouth Chinook


With a big forecasted Chinook return this year, the Rogue Bay at Gold Beach should be on your radar. It’s definitely on Buzz’s, who shares tips from veterans Sam Waller and Andy Martin on how to fish it.


SOUTH SOUND: Kings Near, Far-ish Await From the estuaries of the Puyallup and Willapa Rivers to the heights of the Cascades, there’s plenty to do in August. Jason’s got tips for kings in the bays and scouting for game and fish up where the pikas make hay!


WESTSIDER: Tactics For Fall Salmon It’s Terry’s favorite time of year – that month when fall salmon near their natal streams. From the salt chuck into the rivers, he details how to target Chinook and coho in August and beyond!

113 KAYAK GUYS: Inflation Expands Kayak Fishing Options A lot of backcountry fishing is limited to bushwhacking around lake shores, but some anglers pack in float tubes or mini rafts. Scott found loading a 27-pound inflatable kayak on his back was doable too. He recounts his experience! 119 NORTH SOUND: Head To The Hills For Hot August Ops Mountain waters outside of the major North Cascades reservoirs don’t host tons of trout and char, but fish are there for the catching in many streams and lakes. Doug has the details on where to fish, plus alpine bear hunting and boundary waters crabbing tips. 141 ON TARGET: Things You Should Know About Birds, Shotguns And Fall Now is a good time to pull your shotgun chokes, clean them up and make sure they’re all set for September’s bird openers, Dave counsels. He shares what to work on, as well as new products from Ruger, Savage and Winchester! 151 CHEF IN THE WILD: Feathered Follies There are better ways to bag doves than trying to sluice them on the ground with a bow and arrow. Randy needed to learn that the hard way, but it resulted in an interesting recipe for smoked dove pepperoni sticks! 157 GUN DOG: Retrieving Bigger Birds Come time for fall hunts, you want to make sure your pup is comfortable carrying large birds. Scott has training tips for helping gun dogs get used to bringing in large fowl such as geese, blue grouse and more. 12 Northwest Sportsman

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With the National Marine Fisheries Service pushing a change, fishery managers hope to save Puget Sound’s popular Skykomish River summer steelhead program with broodstock from a nearby trib – will it work?


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THE EDITOR’S NOTE Vivian’s fish!


SOCIAL SCENE Reader reactions to recent news


READER PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD Sturgeon, kokanee, halibut and more!


PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS Browning, Yo-Zuri monthly prizes


THE DISHONOR ROLL Man caught gillnetting at Oregon ferry dock; Pendleton, Lane County, Southeast Idaho poachers sentenced; Jackass of the Month


DERBY WATCH Lipstick Salmon Slayers Tournament, Lower Umpqua STEP fundraiser; More upcoming, ongoing events; Recent results


OUTDOOR CALENDAR Upcoming openers, events, deadlines


BIG FISH Record Northwest game fish caught this month


RIG OF THE MONTH From the Vault: 360 flasher URB set-up | AUGUST 2018

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eah, watching my two sons catch their first fish years ago was pretty special, but I was absolutely thrilled when my niece Vivian landed hers last month. The boys, Amy and I were camping at Central Oregon’s Lake Billy Chinook with Vivi and her mom, my older sister Ilene, during an extended Fourth of July trip that included plenty of water fun, great food, My niece Vivian and her Lake s’mores and stargazing. The evening before, Kiran, my sharp- Billy Chinook bass, caught literally minutes after I taught eared younger son, had heard two anglers her how to cast a spinning rod. say the cove at the upper day-use site on (AMY WALGAMOTT) the Deschutes River Arm was good for bass. So the next morning, we all headed that way with two rods and a box full of baits, as well as inner tubes, lunch, drinks and towels. Prospecting to figure out the easiest way to catch fish, I tried bank fishing the cove with crankbaits, then hopped into a tube and floated out with a green grub on a ¼-ounce jighead, which finally got a bite. The kids were all right there and that sparked their interest in trying their luck, and so began everyone’s first lesson on how to catch bass.

FIRST UP WAS my oldest, River, then Kiran, who wanted to hold the spinning rod upside down, like he does with a baitcaster he’s used at our local beach. Unfortunately, the bass didn’t respond to their casts, and so the boys lost interest. Damned screens anyway – no patience! Vivi asked if she could give it a go, so I showed her how to cast. After just one try, she had it down, so I wandered into the shade to watch. Less than five minutes later the rod was bent and Vivi was battling her first fish, a feisty smallie! We all rushed towards her, Ilene and Amy encouraging her and taking videos, the boys crowding around. I figured we’d all catch bass, but the speed at which Vivian had was surprising (and humbling, what with only one to my name over two hours!). And it only got better – five minutes later she had a second! In the days afterward, we fished off a rented pontoon boat. River hooked the biggest of the trip, a footlong pikeminnow, in the Crooked River Arm, and showed more interest in angling than he has in a long while. Back in the Deschutes Arm, as a chukar family looked on, Vivi showed it was no fluke she’d caught her first two so fast. At the start of our campout trip I’d worn a Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association shirt on which was printed a slogan she’d inquired about. “You are right,” Vivi said later, “the tug is the drug.” It’s one thing to be a fishing magazine editor and put out all these how-to articles and receive reader success photos in exchange, but it’s quite another to teach someone in person and see that instruction result in a catch. I tell you, I was positively glowing! If you haven’t already, try it, it’s a great feeling – and will help the future of our sport. Besides ripping around the lower end of Billy Chinook on a jet ski with their parents, I think that the fishing will stand out in my niece’s and sons’ memory from the trip. I know watching Vivi successfully figure out how to catch bass will stay in mine. –Andy Walgamott | AUGUST 2018

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Comment from the www

By Andy Walgamott

COLUMBIA RIVER SEA LION UPDATE Efforts to reduce California sea lion predation on ESA-listed Columbia salmon and steelhead got a big boost in June with a 288-116 U.S. House of Representatives vote on a bill that would allow state and tribal managers to increase removals of the marine mammals by up to 100 more annually. Readers on Facebook applauded the move, which saw all Northwest Congressmen voting yes. “Sometimes, politics work!” posted Bob Martinek. “It does seem like not a lot of pinnipeds, but a very promising start,” wrote Rory O’Connor, adding, “Nice to know our reps care enough about salmon to carry this through.”

HATCHERY REFORM POLICIES UNDER NEW SCRUTINY Three principles dictating salmon hatchery operations in Washington were suspended in late June by the Fish and Wildlife Commission for a policy review, a move in part reflecting a “change in attitude” about production practices and also increased focus on the plight of starving southern resident killer whales. It came from the newest member, Don McIsaac, and is the second major salmon-related shift he’s been involved with this year. “First it was hatchery fish were bad, now it’s hatchery fish are good!” reacted Mike Mathiesen.

HATE MAIL OF THE ISSUE The editor got a little crazy with a blog on the latest lawsuit against the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Blatantly ripping off the radio show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, he offered three options in his “Bluff the reader” challenge: Was it A) the Center for Biological Diversity was suing because their candidate wasn’t chosen as the agency’s new director; B) crackpot Geau Avay was suing over a WDFW water access site sign warning “Lanuch at your own risk” (“I will lanuch in the morning, in the blazing-hot sun without sunscreeen on, and while firing bottle rockets out of my butt!”); and C) a Whatcom County woman was suing over advice a state staffer gave to drown trapped nuisance squirrels “out of sight of anyone this may offend.” Lynn Last Name Unknown didn’t hazard a guess, but got this barb in at said editor: “Spokane [sic] like a real knuckle-dragger Andy. You fail the test of logic, reasoning, and ethics that separate humans from other animals.” By the way, C was the correct answer.

MOST LIKED READER PIC WE HUNG UP ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE DURING THIS ISSUE’S PRODUCTION CYCLE Chase Gunnell’s notable catch – a 22-pound hatchery Chinook that bit a fly in Neah Bay’s rockfish-rich kelp beds and was landed on a 6-weight fly rod – drew a lot of admiration and shares. “Still feels surreal, though maybe less so once we grill up the collars and belly,” Gunnell said, adding, “I need to go buy a lotto ticket.” (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST) | AUGUST 2018

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Sky High Risk

With NMFS pushing a change, fishery managers hope to save Puget Sound’s popular Skykomish summer steelhead program with broodstock from nearby trib.

Skykomish River Skamania-strain hatchery steelhead, like this one caught on a rainy day by Winston McClanahan near Reiter Ponds, would be replaced with Tolt River summers under an ambitious plan hatched to save the popular fishery. One problem is, not many return to the Tolt. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

By Andy Walgamott

He says that switching to in-basin steelhead will also help meet conservation and Endangered Species Act goals for the listed stock. The good news is that at this point, side-drifting and spoon fishing for the Sky’s hot summers seems unlikely to come to a sudden screeching halt. “There’s no expectation to eliminate the existing program until we build up the Tolt,” Scott says, “and there will be a period


t’s a move that feels like a hail Mary but is also described as just about the only realistic path forward. Under pressure from federal overseers who want the state to end production of Skamania summer-runs in Puget Sound streams, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Tulalip Tribes have come up with an initial plan to replace

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the strain in the Skykomish with Tolt River steelhead instead. The whole thing could take years to get approved let alone implement, but it’s also a testament to the lengths officials are willing to go these days for the region’s last consumptive steelhead river. “We’re looking for a way to preserve that fishery,” said WDFW’s Jim Scott, a special assistant to the director, in late June. “We know its importance.”


Lewis Street is a popular takeout for anglers targeting a relatively rare opportunity in Western Washington, hatchery summer steelhead and Chinook on the same float. If the Skamaniasfor-Tolts switch works, it would preserve the full fishery. (ANDY WALGAMOTT) of overlap of the programs” before releases of the fish originally from Southwest Washington ends.

SEVERAL THINGS ARE driving the move, Scott says, including last year’s new Mitchell Act biological opinion for hatchery operations in the Columbia Basin. “NOAA informed us they would no longer permit out-of-DPS (distinct population segment) steelhead stocks in the Lower Columbia,” says Scott. That effectively killed off use of earlyreturning Chambers Creek winter steelhead in that region, though it had been previously discontinued on the Cowlitz in 2012, to the detriment of December and January fishing. Scott says that now-retired National Marine Fisheries Service hatchery boss Rob Jones dropped another strong hint afterwards about what was coming down the pipe – that managers should “just say no to stocks outside DPS.” “Given the tremendous value of the Skykomish summer-run fishery, that created a great deal of concern in my mind,” Scott says.

Like the state, the feds are just as vulnerable to ESA lawsuits for incomplete or poorly permitted hatchery operations. A July 2017 letter from NMFS West Coast regional administrator Barry Thom noted WDFW had yet to submit an updated hatchery genetic management plan (HGMP) for the summer steelhead program at Reiter Ponds on the Sky as well as Whitehorse on the North Fork Stilly, that those be reviewed with stakeholders and that the review result in the “timely development of alternatives to using segregated Skamania broodstock in the Snohomish and Stillaguamish basins.” So WDFW along with the Tulalips and the ad hoc Puget Sound Steelhead Advisory Group have been casting around for potential solutions. Scott suggests that there are still other though lesser possibilities, but one participant in PSSAG’s “gritty discussions” says realistically, this is it to save the fishery. “WDFW has only one alternative, and that is to mine the Tolt River native stocks,” says member Mark Spada, who is also president of the venerable Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club and a longtime local angler.

THE TOLT IS a tributary of the Snoqualmie River which joins the Sky below Monroe to form the Snohomish. “Without the Tolt fish, the summer-run program is done, despite being arguably one of the most successful hatchery programs ever designed,” Spada says. “This decision makes no sense, but the Sky smolt plant has already been reduced from 160,000, to 116,000, at the direction of NMFS.” Two years ago, it actually looked even more grim than that. Rumors flew that Reiter Ponds summer steelhead output might be cut by around half – or the program killed off entirely. A PSSAG meeting handout from an early May meeting explains the Skamaniasfor-Tolts plan more fully. It involves pumping redds in the Tolt to collect eggs that would then be hatched at WDFW’s Tokul Creek Hatchery, just below Snoqualmie Falls. Fish would be reared at the facility, then released from there and back in the Tolt. A couple years later, fertilized eggs from first-generation adults returning to Tokul would be transferred to Reiter for rearing | AUGUST 2018

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PICTURE and release there and upstream at Sunset Falls, on the South Fork of the Skykomish. Release of unmarked steelhead above Sunset Falls would cease and Skamania production at Reiter would be phased out as Tolts took over.

SKAMANIAS, KNOWN FOR their fight, are a 1950s mix of Klickitat River and Washougal River steelhead and originally came from the hatchery on the Washougal. They were once planted in numerous Puget Sound rivers, including the Dungeness, Green, Skagit, Cascade, South Fork of the Stillaguamish, Canyon Creek, Sultan, Wallace, North and South Forks of the Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Raging and Tolt. But they have a propensity for straying and interbreeding with native fish – steelhead in the North Fork Sky are “almost all Skamanias,” according to Scott – and so have been largely discontinued, leading to shrinking fishing opportunities over time. So one big question is, if local wild summers are already Skamanias in part, why even bother and put the fishery at risk? When WDFW was mulling Puget Sound wild gene banks in 2015, a presentation showed that native steelhead in the Tolt had been genetically influenced by the strain. But according to Scott, new work shows that that percentage is “dropping” and that there may be different genes even between early and late spawners. “Through careful selection, we hope to select for mostly Tolt summers,” he says. Yet, relatively speaking, not many summer steelhead even spawn in the Tolt. A WDFW chart shows the old Department of Game’s escapement goal of 120 for the river or so has rarely been met the past 15 years. And 2015’s snow drought probably didn’t do us any favors either. But a side benefit of the plan is that it could help rebuild Tolt stocks, which numbered as few as an estimated 50 three summers ago.

A LONG REACH, seemingly, but Spada’s actually optimistic. “With the science now available, the Tolt 22 Northwest Sportsman

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The Sky summer-run program produces fish for bank anglers who flock to Reiter Ponds and Cable Hole, and side-drifters like this quartet who work lower in the river system. Anglers retained 1,049 on the river and the Snohomish, which it feeds, during 2016’s season, and 1,662 in 2015. The next closest summer steelie rivers are the Wynoochee and Cowlitz, both more than 130 miles from the Sultan ramp. (THEFISHERE.COM) project has a good chance of succeeding, and should be the long-term answer.” And Scott too is bullish. “We want to be careful how we do it, but we have real experience restoring runs that are very small,” he says. Scott points to restoration work on Hamma Hamma steelhead, Nooksack spring Chinook and Stillaguamish fall Chinook that is “opening up paths we didn’t have before.” He credits PSSAG members for their work on the issue, calling them “a great group of folks” with a wide diversity of perspectives. Indeed, he cautions that not everybody’s on board with the general consensus to move forward with this plan, but “to the extent we can, we’ll address their issues.” Yet more questions remain. Responding to an early online version of this article, one well-informed observer of Northwest salmon and steelhead listings questioned eliminating the self-sustaining summer stock adapting to the South Fork Sky and whether NMFS was wise to put all of its eggs in the none-from-out-of-DPS basket when it comes to hatchery programs. What

about a hybrid segregated/integrated one? Then there’s the question of how long will it take for WDFW and the Tulalips to write a solid HGMP? And with NMFS’s workload, how long will it take for the feds to review the document, get clarifications and ultimately – hopefully – approve it? Who is the local ally to chivvy them, if need be? Former state Sen. Kirk Pearson, who represented the Skykomish Valley and invited NMFS’s Rob Jones to speak to a gathering of lawmakers in Olympia about the fed’s progress on key winter steelhead and other HGMPs, has gone to DC. So you can see why Scott doesn’t want to guess how many years it all may take. And in the meanwhile, will the Wild Fish Conservancy or other similar-minded groups use the lack of an ESA-required HGMP to sue WDFW over Skamanias, like they did with Chambers winters in the Sky and elsewhere in Puget Sound? That’s all to be determined, but Spada’s crossing his fingers WDFW’s gamble pays off because of the importance of the Skykomish fishery to Puget Sound steelheaders. “It’s the only viable summer-run program left,” he says. NS | AUGUST 2018

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READER PHOTOS Silas Frigault holds his first salmon ever. He was fishing with his grandpa just below Willamette Falls when the spring Chinook bit a homemade spinner behind a diver.



It had been 20 years since Mike Huwaldt last fished Oregon’s Detroit Lake, but it looks like his kids Allison, 8, and Owen, 5, dialed it in pretty well! They landed a nice mix of rainbows and kokanee trolling with Arrow Dodgers for a few hours. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST) Birthday boy Isaac Murauskas shows off some nice Lake Chelan kokanee, two of several he caught on his 5th. “He did most of the damage with a Rocky Mountain Tackle 5.5- and Simon dodgers, trailed by pink micro hoochies or (Bill Herzog’s) famous ‘Rasticle’ rig with silver Smile Blades, 12-pound fluorocarbon, and tipped with orange corn/bloody tuna scent,” Isaac’s dad Joshua notes, adding, “He’s learning well from dad on how to long-arm for fish pictures!” (YO-ZURI



A fishing trip on the next-to-last day of sturgeon retention on the Lower Columbia paid off for Elise Passmore. “Once again, she has more entries on her Columbia River report than I have!” noted hubby Michael. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

For your shot at winning great fishing and hunting products from Yo-Zuri and Browning, send your full-resolution, original images with all the pertinent details – who’s in the pic and their hometown; when and where they were; what they caught their fish on/weapon they used to bag the game; and any other details you’d like to reveal (the more, the merrier!) – to or Northwest Sportsman, PO Box 24365, Seattle, WA, 98124-0365. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for use in our print and Internet publications. | AUGUST 2018

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READER PHOTOS Brad Mosier and Gary Lundquist hoist halibut caught out of Westport, a trip that also yielded “limits of very nice lings” and a photo bomb from Jamie Quiocho Jr.

Scott Hensley can’t wait to head back to Lake Roosevelt for sturgeon after catching this one during a Fourth of July trip there. He was on a guided trip in the Kettle Falls area and fishing with squid. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)


Sophia Regelin and her grandpa Derek Day are all smiles over the youngster’s Buoy 10 Chinook, caught last year while trolling a plug-cut herring on the Washington side of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. “It was an epic day – limited all five of us on the boat,” Day reports. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Last issue’s cover boy Jake Mandella holds a wild winter steelhead caught on a 50/50 spoon. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

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Nathan Sylvester found some good bass fishing on the Pend Oreille River near Sandpoint last spring, landing this 4-pound, 2-ounce largemouth on a creature bait. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST) our seasons are done, Northwest sportsmen pick up their cameras to catch other cool ^When outdoor moments. Testing a new lens, Westsider columnist Terry Wiest captured this image of a

bufflehead winging its way across a South Sound water in early spring. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

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Myra Miller is the winner of our monthly Yo-Zuri Photo Contest. Her pic of her big birthday winter-run from last February scores her gear from the company that makes some of the world’s best fishing lures and lines!

Jeff Benson is our monthly Browning Photo Contest winner, thanks to this shot of son Jack and his Southeast Washington spring gobbler, the lad’s first. 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 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 2018

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MIXED BAG Man Caught Gillnetting At Ferry Dock


man caught tending an illicit gillnet at a Lower Columbia ferry pier in May was cited for that as well as fishing for salmon during a closed season. The incident occurred on the Oregon side of the Westport-Cathlamet run, in Westport Slough, a side channel of the Columbia, and was detailed in the OSP Fish and Wildlife Division monthly newsletter. According to the report, Astoria-based troopers got a tip that there was a gillnet stretched between pilings under the landing. After they checked the tide tables they figured that the perpetrator would most likely pull the net around 10:30 that evening, so they set up and waited. Sure enough, when the day’s last ferry departed at 10:15, it wasn’t long before a man pulled up in a car, took a look around, and carried a fishing rod down to the dock. Troopers watched as he then hooked the

net and yarded it up to untie from the dock. They moved in as the man initially hid behind pilings and then claimed the net wasn’t his, that he’d seen it in the morning and had returned to remove it. As it turns out, however, the “good samaritan” wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. “After maintaining his story, he was confronted with the fact there was a second piece of gillnet in the back seat of his car,” troopers detail. They say the man eventually admitted that he and another person had put the gillnet in the day before, and that he’d also been fishing there too, both of which were violations. “The subject was cited criminally for Attempt to take fish prohibited method – gillnet and Angling for salmon during close season,” troopers report.

By Andy Walgamott

Oregon fish and wildlife troopers recovered this gillnet at the Westport ferry landing. (OSP)

Young Pendleton Poacher Will Never Get To Hunt


regon State Police say that a Pendleton man in his late teens has been sentenced to pay $50,000 in restitution, had his hunting privileges suspended for life and was put on five years probation for a slew of wildlife violations. Troopers say that Joseph Reide St. Pierre pleaded guilty to: Unlawful take of a trophy whitetail buck; trespass with a firearm; unlawful take of a

trophy whitetail buck; unlawful take of a cow elk (two counts); exceeding annual bag limit; unlawful take of a mule deer buck; waste of a game mammal; hunting upon cultivated lands of another; unlawful take of a trophy mule deer buck; waste of a game mammal; assisting or aiding another in the taking of a buck deer (two counts); unlawful take of a trophy bull elk; waste of a game mammal; unlawful take of a whitetail buck; waste of a game mammal; unlawful take of



Southeast I d a h o man was banned from hunting for life after poaching a trophy elk last September. Authorities say that Bart Rhead of Soda Springs shot the 363-class bull, then dragged it with a bulldozer to a place where he removed the animal’s antlers, ivories and hide, and wrapped the rest of the carcass in a tarp which he then pushed off a hill, wasting the meat. When conservation officers served

a search warrant on Rhead’s property, they found an illegal “wildlife feed station complete with an overhead street style light, large amounts of alfalfa cubes, mineral tubs, and a water trough.” They say that Rhead also killed another bull with a rifle during a bow hunt and, all totaled, killed three elk and mule deer that he had mounted at his home, out of season. Rhead pled guilty to two elk charges and some trapping violations, surrendered the taxidermied animals, and in addition to the lifetime hunting ban, was sentenced to pay $12,650, plus serve jail and community service time.

mule deer doe; waste of a game mammal. The case began last September when troopers received some poaching tips, which led to the arrest of St. Pierre, then 18, last January for allegedly poaching and wasting game in Umatilla County. According to OSP, St. Pierre had been unlawfully taking wildlife as far back as 2016. St. Pierre was also sentenced to pay $500 to a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Youth Day Event. Troopers thanked Umatilla County prosecutors for help on the case.

Joseph Reide St. Pierre was sentenced to pay $50,000 in restitution for poaching several trophy bucks in the Pendleton area. (OSP) | AUGUST 2018

Northwest Sportsman 35


By Andy Walgamott

Father, Two Sons Sentenced For Unlawful Hunting


ane County continues to do a great job prosecuting wildlife law violators. In May, a father and two sons here had their hunting licenses suspended for three years and were ordered to pay $7,000 in restitution to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and $500 to the Turn-in-Poacher Program. The case stems from trail cameras discovered on private land near Goshen, southeast of Eugene. Search warrants served on three locations led state fish and wildlife troopers to conclude Denver D. Traxtle, 26, of Springfield and Stacy D. Traxtle, 48, of Marcola had illegally killed three trophy blacktails in 2016 and 2017 on land they didn’t have permission to hunt, according to KVAL During the investigations, troopers also discovered that Spencer L. Traxtle, 22, of Veneta had unlawfully killed another deer as well as a cow elk. According to the TV station, Spencer Traxtle pled guilty to three counts of aiding in the unlawful hunt/take of buck deer and one count each of unlawful hunting on

The southern Willamette Valley’s Stacy, Spencer and Denver Traxtle were recently sentenced for unlawful deer and elk hunting. (OSP)

another’s land, hunting a cow elk without a tag, and failing to validate a deer tag. Denver Traxtle pled guilty to unlawful hunt/take of trophy deer on another’s land, aiding in the unlawful hunt/take of a buck, unlawful hunting on another’s land and possessing elk unlawfully. And Stacy Traxtle pled guilty to two counts of unlawful hunt/ take of trophy buck on another’s land. KVAL reported that Denver Traxtle

was sentenced to four days in jail while Spencer Traxtle was given 120 hours of community service. They also received three- to five-year probations, and two rifles, a bow, trail cams, meat and mounts were seized and forfeited. Last summer, Lane County Deputy District Attorney Erik Hasselman was named the state police’s Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year.

Felon Found With Guns, Big Game


man who shouldn’t have had guns nor been hunting was found in possession of guns, deer and elk. Nathan J. Rice, 40, of Sweet Home, Oregon, was arrested after fish and wildlife troopers found eight firearms, a number of which were loaded, along with many sets of trophy blacktail and elk antlers as well as venison during a search warrant following a tip. Rice is a convicted felon with a lifetime hunting suspension for poaching violations in 2006 and 2007. He was taken to Linn County Jail for a parole violation and criminally cited with eight counts of illegal firearms possession, 17 counts of take/possession of buck deer, two counts each of take/possession of bull elk and aiding in a wildlife offense, and one count each of lending/borrowing a big game tag and exceeding the bag limit. According to OSP, wildlife law violations are a Class A misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $6,250 each.

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Weapons and big game mounts seized at the home of Nathan J. Rice, 40, of Sweet Home, Oregon. (OSP)

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By Andy Walgamott

Lipstick Salmon Slayers Derby Comes To Buoy 10

The Lipstick Salmon Slayers Tournament is being organized by Weddy Stephens and Megan Waltosz. (DEL STEPHENS)

ady anglers will be fishing for a good cause this month at Buoy 10 and nearby ocean waters during the first annual Lipstick Salmon Slayers Tournament, benefiting the American Heart Association. Named after the moniker Del “Tuna Dog” Stephens gave them after a particularly good day of fishing, the event is headed up by Weddy Stephens and Megan Waltosz. They hope to simultaneously get more female anglers on the water while also bringing attention to the fact heart disease is the leading killer of women.

“So let’s fish together and improve the lives of all women!” the duo says. The event will be held Saturday, Aug. 18, out of Astoria. While anglers can fish with their husband, brother, uncle, grandfather, nephew or other male relatives and/or a guide, it is a ladies-only derby. Top prizes of $4,000, $2,000 and $1,000 in cash will go to the fishers with the three salmon closest to predetermined weights between 10 and 45 pounds. For more info, see


Fall Salmon Derby On Lower Umpqua Coming Up


ear up now for the 25th Annual Fall Salmon Derby on the lower Umpqua River, a fundraiser for the Gardiner-Reedsport-Winchester Bay Salmon Trout Enhancement Program. Featuring $150 cash prizes for the biggest salmon weighed in each day of the Aug. 31-Sept. 2 Labor Day Weekend derby, a $500 grand prize will also be awarded for the largest overall fish. Last year’s winner was Ron James whose 26.4-pounder scored him $650, while 2016’s biggest was Dana Castle’s 33.7, a notable catch as he caught it while fishing alone in a 13-foot rowboat. The derby raises money for local STEP efforts such as rearing and releasing salmon, fish habitat work and public education. You

2018 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES  Aug. 3-5: Brewster Salmon Derby  Aug. 4: South King County PSA Salmon Derby  Aug. 11: Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby  Aug. 18-19: Vancouver (BC) Chinook Classic  Sept. 8: Edmonds Coho Derby  Sept. 8: Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby  Sept. 22-23: Everett Coho Derby  Nov. 3-4: Everett No-Coho Blackmouth Salmon Derby For more info on this year’s events, see

RECENT RESULTS  Bellingham Salmon Derby, Marine Area 7, July 13-15: First place: Darren Anderson, 24.28-pound king ($7,500); second: Kevin Klein, 21.6 ($2,500); third: Ryan Johnson, 21.44 ($1,000)  7th Annual Pete Flohr Memorial Derby, Upper Columbia, July 20-21: Cancelled due to low king return, quota constraints

can purchase $10 tickets (or $25 per boat with three or more anglers) at the Winchester Bay East Basin and Rainbow Plaza launch in Reedsport during the event. For more info, call coordinator Rick Rockholt at (541) 613-0589 or email him at It takes a big Chinook to win the annual Fall Salmon Derby put on by the GardinerReedsport-Winchester Bay STEP Program, and Dana Castle’s 33.7-pounder is a testament to that. He won the 2016 edition of the Umpqua River watershed fundraiser with it. (RICK ROCKHOLT)

MORE UPCOMING EVENTS  Through the end of various seasons: Westport Charterboat Association Weekly Derbies;

 Aug. 3-4: 2018 Deep Canyon Challenge, Ilwaco – info:  Aug. 4: Washington Tuna Classic, Westport – info:  Aug. 16-17 19th Annual Buoy 10 Salmon Challenge, Lower Columbia – info:  Aug. 24-25: Garibaldi OTC 2018, Garibaldi – info:  Aug. 26-29 3rd Annual Tuna/Coho Derby, Newton Cove Resort, Vancouver Island – info:  Sept. 1-3: 14th Annual Slam’n Salmon Derby, ocean off Port of Brookings Harbor – info: (541) 251-4422;  Sept. 4-7 Peetz Coho Derby, Esperanza Inlet, Vancouver Island – info: More events: To have your derby or results listed here, email | AUGUST 2018

Northwest Sportsman 39



Brought to you by:


Buoy 10 salmon opener; Fall bear season begins across Oregon and numerous Washington units; Steelhead retention opener in lower ½ mile of Idaho’s Clearwater; Antlerless elk opener for numerous Oregon youth, permit holders 3-4 Oregon Central Coast summer all-depth opener (open every other Fri.-Sat. if quota) 4 Washington Waterfowl Calling Championships, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Sumner 6-11 International Federation of Fly Fishers’ 53rd Annual International Fly Fishing Fair, Boise – info: 11 Opening day of numerous Oregon controlled pronghorn hunts; Youth Shotgun Skills Clinic at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area (free) – info: 11, 18, 25 How To Hunt: Family Shotgun Clinics in Portland, Gervais, Corvallis ($, registration) – info: 15 Bear hunting opens in Washington’s Northeast B, Okanogan, South Cascades Units 16 Crabbing opens in Washington’s Marine Area 7 North (Boundary Bay, Georgia Strait) 18 CAST for Kids event on Clear Lake (Spokane) – info: Darrel Startin (509-951-1451) 23 Clamming and Crabbing Seminar at Bullards Beach State Park, Bandon (free) – info: 25 Opening day of bowhunting season for deer and elk in Oregon 30 Opening day of bowhunting season for deer and elk in numerous Idaho units


Washington statewide cougar, deer (bow), dove, grouse and various small game, northeast and southeast fall turkey and Northeast A, Blue Mountains, Long Island bear openers; Grouse opener in Oregon; Numerous Northeast Oregon streams open for hatchery steelhead 1-2 Free Fishing Weekend in Oregon 8 Opening day of bowhunting season for elk in Washington 8 CAST for Kids event on Lake Washington (Gene Coulon Park) – info: Kristen Phillips (425-251-3202) 8-9, 15-16 Pheasant Hunting Workshops at Sauvie Island ($, registration) – info:; Youth Pheasant Hunts at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area (free) – info: 13-16 2018 Seattle Boats Afloat Show, South Lake Union – info:; 35th Annual Portland Fall RV & Van Show, Expo Center – 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 22-23 Western Washington youth bird hunting weekend; Youth Pheasant Hunts at Irrigon Wildlife Area (free) – info: 24-28 Washington senior pheasant hunting week 29-30 Eastern Washington youth bird hunting weekend


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RECORD NW GAME FISH CAUGHT THIS MONTH Date Species 8-1-92 Redear sunfish 8-1-13 Dolphinfish (image) 8-4-01 Bullhead 8-8-16 Largemouth bass 8-8-70 Sockeye 8-14-04 Sockeye* 8-16-78 Brook trout 8-25-01 Pink salmon* 8-27-11 Yellowtail jack * Saltwater record

Lbs. (-Oz.) Water 1-14.2 Reynolds Pd. (OR) 16.27 Ilwaco (WA) 3-7 Henry Hagg L. (OR) 12.53 Bosworth L. (WA) 5 Redfish L. (ID) 9.37 Sekiu (WA) 7.06 Henrys L. (ID) 11.56 Possession Pt. (WA) 20.50 Westport (WA)


Angler Terrence Bice Albert DaSilva Bob Judkins Bill Evans June McCray John Stebly DeVere Stratton Jeff Bergman Jason MacKenzie | AUGUST 2018

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Tina Fountain, a 14-year veteran of the fall salmon fishery at Buoy 10, shows off a Chinook from last season. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

The Sisterhood Of Buoy 10 An invite to the Fountain family fish camp at the mouth of the Columbia yields new experiences, great action for Sara. By Sara Ichtertz


p until this point in my Southern Oregon bank fishing life I haven’t found much about August worth being a fan of. August is hot and dry. The river temperature peaks, and I struggle in the biteless, smoky valley. Even though there is no other home for me, August and I aren’t

great friends. I typically dread to see it coming and love to see it go. But last year, as fate would have it, I left my semi-sad valley beneath the forest during this fishless, droughtish time of year, and headed north. I was off to experience the glory of the Buoy 10 fishery on the Lower Columbia for the first time, and the fish camp of a family other than my own. I traveled solo up the Oregon Coast,

making my way up the windward side of this stunningly beautiful state, and realized that the further north I traveled, the cooler the air began to feel. I thought to myself, “Oh yes, leaving home was indeed a good idea.” Reaching Astoria at sunset, I rendezvoused with David Johnson, my fishiest of friends, to borrow a set-up, as this bank fisherwoman was far from home. Despite having a few rigs that light my fire, I knew I wasn’t equipped for the fishery at hand. Good thing I know a guy. Johnson not only embraces North Coast fisheries with passion, he uses deadly weapons | AUGUST 2018

Northwest Sportsman 45

FISHING of fish destruction that in my opinion are second to none. Those include a Tekota 500lc strung with 65-pound braided mainline and paired with a 1266 SAR GH 10-foot-6 G.Loomis E6X. Johnson runs a slider with a wire dropper that allows the weight to stay rigid, and which is followed by two beads and a bead chain. Next comes a section of 150-pound test or a wire attached to a Short Bus flasher. And at the terminal end, he uses a 5- to 6-foot, 40-poundtest Maxima fixed mooching leader tied with Gamakatsu hooks. With that, Johnson’s ready for Buoy 10, and thanks to him, so was I. Wishing each other success on the water for the day ahead, we said our goodbyes and I found my way to camp.

Pelicans roost on jetty rocks near the mouth of the Columbia. The estuary of the mighty river can hold large schools of anchovies at times. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

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IT WAS DARK by then and my family for the weekend also was just getting back to camp. Aside from our first meeting I didn’t really know Tina. I did, however, get a very good vibe and looked forward to the day she and I would share on the water together. The fact she so openly welcomed me to join the yearly Fountain Family Buoy 10 campout warmed my heart and left me feeling more excited than scared to embrace the waters and the weekend with her and her relatives. As I set up my tiny tent in the dark, Tina briefly spoke of their big day on the water and how she had some fish on ice that she needed to tend to. She wasn’t kidding – limits for her and her family. I have cut up some fish in my day but I tell you what, watching her make easy work of that table full of Buoy 10 beauties I was instantly impressed with the woman I would be spending the next two days with. As the guys in her life gladly held her light and provided her with the packaging material, they shared the days events with me and I without a doubt was looking forward to getting out on the water with them. Tina and I talked late into the night about our rivers, our children, her grandchildren, and all the joy they bring into our

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FISHING lives. She spoke fondly of sharing this camp with her children as they have grown, and how she looks forward to the day her grandkids join her as well. With the crackling warmth of the fire at our feet she and I grew closer that night, leaving us eager for our wink’s worth of sleep and to be on the water.

THE VESSEL WE’D be hunting for our bounty was unlike any I had ever seen, let alone fished off of. It was built by its captain, which is very rare in this day we live in. Merle Fountain purchased the hull of a 23-foot Clipper Craft dory in 1988. I can only imagine the blood, sweat, and tears that went into transforming the wooden shell into the salmon-slaying boat I saw before me. Amongst the battlefield of aluminum sleds, I was blessed enough to experience this fishery in a boat that is a piece of history, a craft that had had love and passion poured into it by one man, and I love that. Despite

Author Sara Icthertz is still getting her sea legs, per se, having begun fishing off the banks of Southern Oregon rivers, but with friends like Tina inviting her to the Fountain family fish camp at Buoy 10, she’s growing as a boating angler. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

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FISHING the “high maintenance” of this dory, I know Uncle Merle would not have it any other way. Merle is the core of the Fountains’ fish camp. Since starting this family tradition in the early 1980s, they have never missed a single camp since it began. In the beginning, it was a great time to share with the boys in his life who mattered most to him, sons Ted, Ron, Tom, and Jim. Along with his nephew Mark – Tina’s husband – the tradition grew stronger each season. As the years flew by, part of the tradition became sharing it with others in the family, including Merle’s grandson Brian and in 2004, he began to share it with Tina as well. Though I didn’t know it at the time Tina is the only woman who has spent much time on the dory, proving to the Fountain family she too is a fisherman. Fourteen years later, Tina proves herself vital not only in her womanly ways, like making big

“Amongst the battlefield of aluminum sleds, I was blessed enough to experience this fishery in a boat that is a piece of history,” writes Ichtertz about the 23-foot Clipper Craft dory purchased and restored by her friend Tina’s husband’s uncle, Merle Fountain. She’s one of just a few women to have fished out of it. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

yummy sandwiches, but also in fishy ones as well. Her knowledge of this fishery, the bait, the options within the bait, and the best riggings was exactly the type of inspiration I love. Seeing someone thriving on once-foreign waters but which since have become their comfort zone is beautiful. Her understanding of what’s good out

there has come through learning with her family and embracing trial and error, just like all fishermen do. I learned a lot in watching Tina in action. What she had to say regarding the baits made sense. “I like to be prepared for each day by bringing a few different colors of brined herring,” she told me. “Sturgeon Paul’s always has a great selection of sardines, herring, and frozen baits. When selecting frozen baits be sure to inspect the color of their eyes; they should be fairly clear, with no yellowing or red. Look for bright fish with little to no loose scales. Keep this bait just as cold as you possibly can. This not only keeps them fresh but makes life easier when baiting the hooks.” No matter the fishery, fresh bait is crucial, and in the case of trolling a massive body of water like the Columbia estuary, fishing a tightspinning bait that leaves a heavy scent trail and isn’t blown out, along with the right flasher, will prove deadly.

AS THE SUN rose I was, as always, in love with the world before me. Pelicans by the dozens, lined up with sun rising behind them, provided an incredible display of natural beauty on every level. Seeing such sights feeds my soul just as much as the tug and fight of it all. It’s never the finish line that I am after, and that allows me to love each new day on the water regardless. 50 Northwest Sportsman

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FISHING As we made our first few passes I honestly wasn’t honed in on the fishing itself, or the rods. I was in total disbelief that there could possibly be a billion, billion-dollar boats (as I like to call them) on a single body of water! As I adjusted to my new surroundings time flew by, but the rods had yet to go off. That did not stop the Fountains one bit. They continued to check rods, change baits, eat great food, and fish on. In those moments I realized that even if the fish didn’t want to play, the family was exactly where they wanted to be, bite or no bite. Yes, they had camp set up, but on the water is where the actual camp takes place. They weren’t guides communicating with one another; they didn’t have any crazy pressure put on themselves; they weren’t trying to prove themselves to anyone. No, they were simply enjoying the moments with the ones they were sharing it with. That is priceless, and I feel honored to have been asked to join them. Tina told me that over the years, they’ve shared camp with many people who had never caught a salmon and were able to put them on their first big fish. She said they’ve also introduced the fishery to others, like myself. Though I was only the second woman aside from Merle’s wife to be invited on the boat, I’m thankful Tina knew I would not be a disappointment and that she welcomed me to join her. Merle’s son Ted finds joy in sharing the passion with others, which I find not only beautiful but also very important. Once you are to that level, I believe you are winning. This family is without a doubt winning.

AS WE MADE our way to a totally different section of the river I saw that a lot of the boats had cleared out, calling it a day. That was the furthest thing from the Fountains’ minds. As we let the rods out, Tina and I were to the point that we were talking to the fish like any good semidisenchanted fisherman does. Calling in the fish is something 52 Northwest Sportsman

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While many other boaters had called it a day by then, it wasn’t until late afternoon that the salmon started biting for Ichtertz and the Fountains. And while a sea lion made off with one fish, the crew limited before making a wet run back to port. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

one should never underestimate. Even though the wind was picking up a bit, that old boat didn’t even miss a beat and there it was – our first fish! My rod was pinned with that beautiful banging of life! As I grabbed the rod and fought my first-ever Buoy 10 salmon, I could feel genuine happiness coming from all angles. I fought that beauty like I had done it before and together we landed

a dandy! Happy to have one fish on board, everyone quickly got their rods back out and we were fishing once more. There was another fish, and the next thing I knew another. Having the double on the dory was too cool. As Tina and Mark fought the fish I was so excited never having seen anything quite like it. Then, out of nowhere, Tina’s fish began to scream off into oblivion. I was like, “What in






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charters & Guides the hell is happening?” I realized in my head what had happened just as Tina yelled, “A sea lion has got my fish!” Sadly, she was right. Her beautiful fish and rigging was gone, with absolutely nothing she could have done. It was depressing, considering how exciting it had been just moments before. Mark was able to land his, though, and so the adrenaline of the moment wasn’t all lost. Once we found the fish, the lateafternoon action was incredible. I saw things I’d never seen in my life before – watching one, two, three rods go off in a row only to have the third stay pinned with a fish on the line was amazing. Had it been the same salmon, one gorging like crazy? Whether it was or not, I was impressed by these salmon! Tina redeemed her sea lion theft and landed herself a Beauty 10. Indeed, we all fought, lost and landed fish that evening, making for a wonderful bounty.

THE WIND HAD continued to pick up as we reached our limit. Never being in that situation before I had no idea what a wet ride home we were in for. No matter where Tina and I went on the boat we got wet – very wet! It was impossible to avoid, so with how beautiful the day had been, all we could do was sit back, laugh and get wet. Living in the moment, knowing this day would never be here again, I embraced Tina, her family and Buoy 10 with all of my heart, and I will never forget it. Seeing the Fountains’ love for each other and this sport is what’s good and these are the types of things I care about. Life is as you see it and I am thankful I choose to see and share the good. I left Astoria with a full heart and a full ice chest, confirming that 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.

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Keys For URBs Even as runs wobble, it will still pay to fish wobblers, spinners and Super Baits for fall Chinook as they head up the Lower Columbia. By Andy Schneider


The Longview-Rainier Bridge is a good place to fish for upriver brights, as evidenced by Dylan Cooper and his catch, but due to lower expected returns this year, fall Chinook retention will end earlier than usual in the Lower Columbia, making it imperative to make the most of the opportunity. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

he sound of a thermos rocking back and forth in the gunwale tray kept rhythm with the bouncing of the rods as the 360 flashers did their job of tugging and pulling the small spinners erratically behind them. A boat running back upstream to make another pass drowned out the sound of the coffee capsule for a minute, but as the loud outboard started to fade away another sound became noticeable. It was that of a creaking rodholder and just a little bit of line slipping off a reel. Everyone looked to their rod, hoping that it was theirs making that sound known to send adrenaline coursing through one’s body. As everyone confirmed it wasn’t their own and started looking around the boat, the captain realized it was his that had the fish, and now the rod’s tip was buried in the water behind the transom! There is nothing better than | AUGUST 2018

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FISHING watching a big upriver bright Chinook put a bend in the rod and hold it there for upwards of 10 minutes. As the captain battled the fish, the boat drifted slowly downriver. As the crew passed other anglers, the skipper got some words of encouragement, a few thumbs up, but also a few glares of jealousy. But this didn’t bother him as he knew his success was from cleaning weeds off his spinner religiously and constantly moving his bait to the depth that he was marking fish. Any of his fellow fishermen could be just as successful, if they put in the effort.

THIS SEASON’S URB fishery on the Lower Columbia isn’t all that bad. While we would all love to have more fish, we should still have plenty of opportunities to catch those that are returning. What’s more, angling above the estuary could be a lot more productive,

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60 Northwest Sportsman

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Anchoring up and fishing with wobblers is a time-tested method for catching URBs, but salmon anglers are finding that they can also catch fish during other portions of the tide by trolling with 360 flashers and either Super Baits or spinners. Melissa McDowell sent this pic of a father and son teaming up to land a king a couple seasons back. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

what with such a short window for Chinook at Buoy 10. And with reduced king opportunities in September up to Bonneville, targeting these fish starting in mid-

August is going to be a must to hit the peak of the run. It wasn’t too many years ago that the most popular lure and technique for URBs was fishing metal wobblers on anchor. While many anglers have switched over to trolling, there is no doubt that wobbler fishing is, and will remain, productive. With the Columbia usually flowing at its lowest point of the year, tides can affect it all the way to the dam. Like the estuary, the lower river has different stages of the tide, from a slower and lazy current just after tide change to a 3 to 5 mph, hardpushing current at max ebb. With the fluctuating currents, one wobbler can’t fish it all. Using a lighter metal one when the current is slower and a heavier model at max ebb ensures that your wobbler won’t “blow out” and will instead be fishing effectively throughout the entire tide. Some anglers believe they can “tune” a wobbler by bending it so that it can fish all tide states. But once you start along that path, you will never be able to recover the device’s original fish-catching ability that it sold you on originally. Making an investment in wobblers designed for different current conditions makes more sense than having to replace a | AUGUST 2018

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The 2017 run isn’t forecast to be anywhere near the glory years we so recently saw, but then again, river conditions, the right gear, time on the water and a little luck just might put smiles on the faces of fishermen young and old alike. Carlen, Austin and Cosette Volk were happy with their catch from last year, also a down run. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)


This is a super opportunity for a family-owned business on Oregon’s beautiful north-central coast. Very busy sporting goods store, river shuttle service and exceptional deli. It’s a recently completely remodeled store and kitchen. Located in the heart of one of Oregon’s fishing and hunting meccas at the intersections of (Valley Junction) Highway 22 and busy Oregon Coast Highway 101. Strategically located near eight rivers, three lakes, three bays and the ocean. This area offers exceptional opportunity for outdoor recreation. High volume traffic, which invites fishermen, hunters and tourists alike, including camping throughout the area and ATV riding at Sand Lake. Year-round fishing for salmon, steelhead, and trout in the rivers and lakes nearby. The location also offers access to great tidewater and bay fishing, crabbing and salmon and bottomfishing in the ocean from the beach in Pacific City, home of Oregon’s only Dory Fleet. This offers a great small community setting, beautiful environment to live and work in and an amazing location for kids. Cash for business, inventory and equipment; will carry a contract or lease on building and property. Serious inquiries only, please.

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AUGUST 2018 |

tackle box of slightly bent $10 lures that you can’t get tuned anymore. With the barbless rule on the Columbia, there are lots of different theories on which hook is best for wobblers. This author hasn’t found a solution to this dilemma yet. Heavy leads and feisty fish usually means a percentage of fish are going to be lost. Keeping a tight drag and a lot of bend in the rod seems to be the most effective technique for constantly landing URBs on barbless hooks. While a tight drag may take some of the enjoyment of the fight out of salmon fishing, landing a Chinook is always better than the alternative. Wobbler rigging has changed very little over the years and the 5x5 setup – 5-foot leader and 5-foot dropper – is still the standard. The set-up starts with 50- to 65-pound braided mainline tied to a beadchain swivel. Above the bead chain run a plastic weight slider and two 8mm beads. From your weight slider, run 5 feet of 20-pound dropper line to 6 to 16 ounces of lead. From your bead chain tie on 5 feet of 40-pound monofilament to a large duolock snap, to which you attach your wobbler. The second most popular rigging is the 3x3x3 set-up. This starts the same as the 5x5, but with a lead dropper line of only 3 feet. From the bead chain, run 3 feet of 40-pound monofilament to a swivel. On this first piece of leader slide a small, 2- to 3-ounce float down the line. From the swivel, tie another 3 feet of 40-pound leader to a duolock snap to attach your wobbler.

WOBBLER FISHING FOR upriver brights was always a fishery that revolved around the ebbing tide. Once the tide was done, you were pretty much done fishing for the day and had to start your wait at the boat ramp as everyone else quit too. But in the last five years, another method has proven to be very productive on the flooding tide. Trolling 11-inch ProTrolls and Shortbus Super Series 360



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Quality built custom aluminum boats Typically the words “aluminum boat” conjure images of flat-bottom sleds skittering up and down a river or slapping and jarring across the open water. Michael Boulton, president of Boulton Powerboats, sat down at his drafting table and drew up the plans for an aluminum boat that you’ll want to have out in the salt or the big lakes in your area. As a designer and engineer with several boat companies, Boulton has learned boat design inside and out. When he drew up the plans for the 21-foot Sea Skiff, he wanted to create an aluminum boat that could handle rougher, big water conditions without sacrificing the durability and toughness of the aluminum. He accomplished the feat with a product that reflects the precise attention to detail, fit and finish that Boulton Powerboats are known for.

DESIGN Space and comfort are at the top of any list when you go looking for a fishing boat. There is no question that Boulton was thinking about these features during the design process. The first question that came to mind when we stepped on the boat was, “How big is this boat?” We were surprised to hear it was only 21 feet. It felt like a 26-footer. The boat feels spacious and open. With an 8½-foot beam and 6-foot floor, there is plenty of room to move around and fight fish. When you step into the full canvas-covered cabin, you don’t feel crowded. You can stand up straight. It’s evident that comfort is a top priority as well. With captain’s and bench seats, there’s comfortable seating for up to six passengers. We also liked the higher and more upright free-board. It’s much more comfortable and stable to lean against as you fight fish or handle your downriggers in rougher water.

the rough water with little bounce. And that slap of an aluminum boat is nonexistent. For a boat that is a little heavier, the Suzuki 140 fourstroke got us on plane in a hurry. In fact, the boat just lifted out of the water; the bow never rose up in your line of sight and then leveled out. Trimming the motor out had us traveling over 40 mph for a top-end speed. The Sea Skiff handles incredibly well too. The slightest turn of the wheel had the boat responding like an openwheel racecar.

FISHABILITY Space is important when you’re fighting fish on the big water. And with the outboard power, there is no annoying doghouse to navigate. This boat also comes equipped with two downrigger-mounting brackets and a big in-floor fish box. The walkthrough windshield allows you to move up and fight fish from the self-bailing bow. There’s also plenty of room on the transom for a kicker to help you in your trolling efforts.

SPECIFICATIONS Length: Beam: Bottom Side Height: Fuel Capacity: Horsepower Rating: Entry: Deadrise: Warranty:

21 feet 8 feet 6 inches 6 feet 36 inches 40 gallons 200 (200-horse can be 2 100’s) 34 degrees 16 degrees at transom 5-year hull warranty


RIDE Boulton Powerboats ride as well as any boat on the market. And the design of the Sea Skiff ensures that this aluminum boat completes at the highest level. With a 34-degree entry and 16-degree V at the transom, the Sea Skiff cuts through

• Two Bench Seats • Two Captain’s Chairs • Downrigger Mounts • Walk-Thru Windshield

• Locking Glove Box • Anchor/Bow Storage • Floor Fish Box | AUGUST 2018

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FISHING flashers has been producing excellent results on this traditionally difficult tide to fish for URBs. These flashers in a variety of colors will help dial in the bite if the salmon become finicky. But sticking with the ever popular and productive chrome and chartreuse is always a safe bet, as it tends to be the action more so than the color that triggers a bite. As for what to run behind a 360 flasher, Brad’s Super Bait line lures work exceptionally well. The Super Bait, Cut Plug and Mini Cut Plug filled with either tuna, herring, sardine or anchovy are the top choices for most anglers. But a 3.5-size spinner is on equal ground when it comes to catch rates behind these big flashers. Mexican hat and plain copper blades tend to be the most popular, but trying a variety of the different-colored “light bulb,” rainbow and solid-colored blades gives you an excuse to check

your gear frequently. Rigging a 360 flasher starts with 50- to 65-pound braided mainline tied or clipped to a plastic spreader. From the lower hole of the spreader clip on a large duolock snap to attach 8 to 20 ounces of lead. You should run 24 inches of 40- to 50-pound monofilament line between your spreader and 360 flasher to allow the proper rotation of the attractor. Behind the flasher, slide any Chinook-sized Super Bait product down a 36-inch leader of 40-pound mono. Utilizing 5mm beads, position your 4/0 single barbless hooks or 2/0 treble barbless hooks into a position that ensures that when a fish bites, the lure doesn’t interfere with the hooks. When fishing a 3.5 spinner, tie the lure 24 to 30 inches behind the flasher with 30- to 40-pound mono leader. You may need to adjust the length to get a good “surge” of action as the flasher rotates, as different

brands of spinner blades tend to pull differently behind the flashers.

ONE OF THE best things about URB fishing is that action is usually pretty consistent from the estuary all the way to the Hanford Reach stretch of the Columbia, where most of these fall Chinook are heading to spawn. But there are always hot spots that tend to produce more results than others. There’s the Longview stretch. The mouth of the Lewis. PDX. The mouth of the Sandy. And directly below Bonneville Dam. What’s the one feature most of these locations share? A nearby tributary entering the Columbia, but that may not have everything to do with why these are productive spots. Tribs’ cool waters certainly can only help URBs on their journey through the Columbia’s 70-plus-degree waters, but the contour, width and location of the shipping channel may play more of a role. Any time


AUGUST 2018 |

BAIT & TACKLE you can find a concentration of fish, anchor directly in their upriver path and stay safely out of the shipping channel, you should have a recipe for success. Anchoring in 30 to 50 feet is standard operating procedure for wobbler fishing. A lot of anglers get to their preferred anchoring grounds on the flooding tide and hold there with their trolling motors to “reserve” it. And while it may be extremely productive for part of the tide, it’s rare that one spot is good from the first hint of the ebb all the way through max ebb. Anglers willing to move from shallower to deeper with the changing tide usually have more success than those just sitting on the hook in one location all day. As for trolling, the 20- to 40foot depths tends to be where most fish are caught. On a flooding tide, most URBs suspend throughout the water column. Paying attention to your fishing electronics to see what depth you’re marking fish and adjusting your gear accordingly is the only sure way of having success on the troll. While simply putting your gear out 20 feet on the linecounter may result in a fish or two, as there are bound to be some fish suspended at that depth, how many fish suspended at 30 may not have even seen your gear because of a temperature inversion? This constant yo-yoing of your troll gear does get tiring and often feels like it’s without reward at times, but at the end of the day, the effort you put in will show results.

THIS FALL’S CHINOOK season on the Columbia isn’t going to be one for the record books, but there is no reason it can’t be one for the memory banks. Getting out on some of the Northwest’s most scenic locations with friends and family is what salmon fishing is all about. While you may not be able to relive the thrill of catching your first salmon, taking someone out to catch theirs is a thrill for everyone onboard. NS



360 Flasher Set-up For URBs


FROM THEUltragreen VAULT 12-pound-test

24-inch, 40-pound monofilament leader

11-inch rotating flasher

NOTES Want to get in on the 360 flasher craze for Lower Columbia fall Chinook? Or just looking to be able to fish the incoming tide? This rig will help on both fronts. Tie a large duolock to 50- to 65-pound braided mainline and connect the snap to a triangular plastic spreader. On the bottom of the spreader, clip in another duolock and attach an 8- to 20-ounce cannonball. Clip in a duolock snap or bead-chain swivel and tie a 24-inch leader of 40- to 50-pound monofilament and attach it to the flasher. On the other side of the flasher, rig up a fixtied leader with barbless 4/0 Big River Bait Hooks tied an inch and a half apart on 30to 40-pound-test mono and slide a Super Bait down the line. Fill the plug with flavor and troll away. –Andy Schneider

50-pound braided mainline Duolock snap or bead-chain swivel Duolock snaps


8- to 20-ounce cannonball

36-inch, 40-pound monofilament leader Fix-tied 4/0 barbless hooks (ANDY SCHNEIDER) | AUGUST 2018

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With a big forecasted Chinook return this year, the Rogue Bay at Gold Beach should be on your radar. Anglers troll from just above the Highway 101 bridge down to the jetties for salmon holding in the cool, ocean-influenced waters. (WILDRIVERSFISHING.COM)

How To Catch Rogue Mouth Chinook I

f the predictions are correct, and depending on how many Chinook were harvested in the ocean before BUZZ there could be RAMSEY now, as many as 400,000 Rogue-bound salmon returning to this famous Southern Oregon river. That’s a lot of fish for a river this size, one that originates in the mountains south of Crater Lake, flows past the outskirts of Medford and through Grants Pass before continuing its journey through the Rogue Canyon to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach.

And while Rogue River kings come in all sizes, a few lucky anglers take home 40to 50-pounders every year. I’m reminded of our son Blake, now in his mid-20s, catching his very first salmon in late summer many years ago here. After a tussle that included his reel falling off the rod and realizing we had no landing net (somehow it blew out of the boat) we ran our craft into the shore where Blake finally beached the fat salmon. Excited, we thought it was 40 pounds; as it turned out, it was 35. Not bad for a boy just 6 years old!

AS YOU MIGHT imagine, the waters of the Rogue get warm in the summer, so

warm (it can reach 70-plus degrees) that it mostly stalls the upstream migration of fall Chinook. This causes the salmon to linger in the Rogue Bay, where they wait for temps to cool before beginning to move towards the river’s headwaters. The fish typically move upstream on the flood tide, but once they encounter the warm river water at the head end of the bay – just upstream from the Highway 101 bridge – they put on the brakes and retreat back into the lower bay, and likely into the ocean, as the tide ebbs. Each daily tide, especially big ones, add more and more Chinook to the massive salmon school accumulating in the | AUGUST 2018

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COLUMN Rogue Bay. It’s this concentration of fish that results in an annual sport harvest of more than 5,000 fat salmon and draws anglers from around the region to take part in the bounty. For trollers, the hottest action starts at the jaws when the tide is out, and progresses up the bay as the water floods eastward. The peak bite usually occurs two hours before full flood tide, right in front of Jot’s Resort, which is located on the north side of the river just downstream from the bridge. Many guides and anglers troll upstream when tides are flooding and downstream as the tide ebbs. Others troll both directions, up and down the bay, when the tide is flooding and back-troll when a big tide causes the current to run. According to guide Sam Waller (541247-6676), it’s pretty much anything goes when it comes to trolling direction. The typical trolling outfit consists of a free-sliding weight set-up, flasher, 18inch weight-dropper-line, and 5- to 6-foot leader with an anchovy, herring, spinner or spinner-and-anchovy combination on the end. The most popular spinner sizes consist of a CV 7 or equivalent size 4 or 5 Hildebrandt and/or 5½ Mulkey or Toman. As for spinner blades used in combination with an anchovy, a size 4 Hildebrandt in genuine 24K gold plate finish is the most popular and many believe the most productive. In most cases 2 to 3 ounces of weight is what works. If the tide is running hard, you may need 4 or 5 ounces. For best results keep your speed medium to fast and, if possible, troll in a zigzag pattern with your gear just off the bottom, which is where the coolest water and most biting salmon are found. If the bay is crowded, zigzag trolling may not be possible, even though there are times it’s the most effective.

UNLIKE MANY SALMON fisheries in the Northwest, where herring is the most popular and productive bait, most Rogue anglers fish anchovies. The fact is, there are some days the fish prefer herring over anchovies but still the overall ratio is about 90 percent anchovies. If you fish an anchovy, you may in72 Northwest Sportsman

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Blake Ramsey, now in his mid-20s, earned a Rogue River Chinook Salmon Club pin after catching this 35-pounder as a 6-yearold fishing off his dad Buzz’s boat near the bay’s mouth. (BUZZ RAMSEY) Anchovies are king in this fishery, and the baitfish is best rigged with a size 4 spinner blade and trolled so they spin tightly. (WILDRIVERSFISHING.COM)


The Rogue’s known for putting out big kings, though most average 15 to 25 pounds. The fall fishery kicks off in July and has peaked in August in recent years; in 2016, the last year harvest data was available, the river below Elephant Rock just upstream of the bridge yielded 5,078 Chinook. (WILDRIVERSFISHING.COM) crease your success by rigging it in combination with a spinner blade. Although there are several presnelled rigs available, you can rig your own. The components you will need for this include a selection of size 4 spinner blades, beads, plastic clevis, old-style paper clips, and selection of single (sizes 1 and 2) and treble hooks (sizes 1 and 2). The single hook is normally snelled as a slip-tie, so you can place a bend in your anchovy causing it to spin; the trailing treble is half hitched to a loop at the end of your leader. The idea here is to use a threader to pull the loop end of your leader through the bait, reattach the treble and place one prong of the treble into the spine of the bait near its tail. According to professional fishing guide and longtime local angler Andy Martin (206-388-8988), it’s important to 74 Northwest Sportsman

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angle the head and tail of your anchovy downward when trolling, as doing so will yield the tight spin these kings like best. The small single hook, rigged as a slider, is then inserted into the head of the anchovy from the bottom up. Some anglers will hold the mouth and gills of their anchovy closed with a thin rubber band, while others use an old-style paper clip reshaped into a “U” to keep the mouth of the bait closed. It’s then that you close the distance between the hooks such that the bait will have a slight bend so it will exhibit a tight spin when trolled. For best results your bait should spin once every second or second and a half. Many anglers have switched from employing a wire spreader to a free-sliding weight dropper set-up so that if your sinker becomes tangled in the net, the fish can take off without breaking the line.

IF YOU HAVE a boat capable of trolling, even a cartopper, this is a fishery you can easily handle, as the water is calm compared to larger rivers and saltwater. The public ramp’s on the ba’s south side, at the Port of Gold Beach; $3 covers launching and parking. While you may catch a fat Chinook weighing in at 50 pounds or more, most average 15 to 25 pounds. If you do land a fish over 30, take it to Jot’s Resort where they will award you a Rogue River Chinook Salmon Club pin. Our son Blake got one after weighing in his 35-pounder taken near where the Rogue enters the ocean. For fishing tackle, bait, guides, and local info, contact the Rogue Outdoor Store (541247-7142) or Jot’s (541-247-6676). NS Editor’s note: The author is a brand manager and part of the management team at Yakima Bait. Like Buzz on Facebook.

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For angler Tyler Hicks, a two-week trip to Patagonia with his wife Sidra was also a chance to fish for Austral Chinook – South American springers. The challenge was figuring out how to catch these salmon that originally came from the Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers during the few days they had to fish. (TYLER HICKS)


Chinook Of The South A Northwest couple fish for the monster kings of Patagonia. By Tyler Hicks


rustration and exhaustion was written plainly on Sidra’s face as the muscles in her arms gave out. Thirty-mile-per-hour gusts ripped down from the Andes and across the Reloncavi fjord, pushing our kayak backward. We’d struggled to paddle through high winds for hours trying to reach the best salmon fishing grounds at the mouth of the Rio Petrohué. A powerful storm system was sweeping across the region, timed perfectly with our

planned visit to the fjordlands of northern Patagonia to target kings. Worsening the situation, the tides began to turn against our favor. It was hopeless. Our only full day dedicated to chasing Chilean Chinook had been squandered by the elements. Defeated, we turned back for camp. Now with the wind at our back and the tide in our favor, we were back on the move. We redeployed our fishing gear and trolled along the shoreline while seeking shelter from 3-foot wind waves rolling out on the main body of the fjord. We rounded the last point and our campsite came into view. On the fishfinder I could see a reef quickly rising up from well over 100 feet deep to just 20 feet under the kayak. I glanced nervously at the linecounter, wondering if I might snag up. Just as that thought

crossed my mind the rod loaded up, and then exploded into life. I plucked the rod from the holder and turned to see the unmistakable sight of a purple, chrome and black tail thrash on the surface of water. of visiting Patagonia, and one of the great passions my wife Sidra and I share is the desire to travel. On a whim we decided to throw together a trip to its northern end. We had only a couple months to plan the trip but highest on the priority list was landing a big Austral king from the kayak. I had only a few problems: I did not know where to find the salmon in Chile, nor where to find a kayak, or just exactly what technique and gear I needed to employ to catch the fish. Internet sleuthing did not reveal


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Home base for the duo’s salmon search alongside Estero Reloncaví, a fjord with dramatic 20-foot tidal swings. They gifted a catch to a subsistence farmer, who invited them to share the dinner with her. (TYLER HICKS)

much. Most information on fishing in Chile is tailored to high-end fly fishing lodges that charge more for a three-day fishing adventure than I planned on spending for the entire two weeks we would be in the country. Scientific publications were more revealing and I quickly zeroed in on two rivers known to support healthy populations of kings: the Rio Petrohué and the Rio Puelo. Both rivers flow into the Reloncavi Fjord and are in close proximity to Puerto Montt, where we planned to fly to. Additionally, I discovered that most of Chile’s established salmon stocks are believed to have derived from spring Chinook from the Cowlitz or Kalama Rivers. Timing of Patagonia’s springer runs seemed similar to ours, with fish pushing heavily into rivers from February through May. Our plans solidified as I discovered a kayak rental company that operated in the fjord that was willing to rent us a tandem kayak. Additionally, they arranged camping with a private landowner directly on the fjord. During this process I discovered the area is subject to massive tidal swings of over 20 feet in height! Fortunately, there were several days of “weak” exchanges of less than 7 feet in early February. As for tackle I went with what was familiar: Yakima Bait Company’s Big Al’s Fish Flashes paired with either Brad’s Super Baits or Toman’s Spinners have all killed numerous Columbia River kings for me in the past. I saw no reason why they wouldn’t be as effective on the opposite end of the West Coast. Late in the planning 78 Northwest Sportsman

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Hicks found that there’s not much info about Chilean kings that isn’t geared to flyrodders, so he went with what was familiar: Super Baits and Toman Spinners behind Fish Flashes, tackle he’s caught Columbia Chinook with. (TYLER HICKS)

process I stumbled on a video of veteran Pacific Northwest guide Clancy Holt chasing kings in Chile. I gave him a call and he confirmed that I was largely on the right track. With tickets booked and the kayak rental firmed up, I busied myself as departure neared tying gear and figuring out how to rig a kayak to troll for king salmon without drilling a hole into a craft I did not own. Fortunately, I discovered Scotty made a clampon rodholder that I could mount a Powerlock rodholder onto. Pretrip testing found them to be perfectly capable of holding well over 50 pounds of pressure. With some creative packing, I was able to squeeze two Shimano 8-foot TDR trolling rods into a carryon, and packed away linecounter reels, lead cannonballs, lures and a variety

of scents.

UPON OUR ARRIVAL, our first stop was Servicio Nacional de Pesca to buy our fishing licenses. We had a good chuckle with the Chilean authorities over the $11 cost for our annual licenses when we explained that we pay substantially more to fish in our own country. They countered that we should take them out for steak dinner to make up for it! We politely declined and then made a quick stop at the Chilean equivalent of Walmart, where we stocked up on food, camping fuel and tuna in oil for our Super Baits. However, we failed to find a landing net, the one item I could not squeeze into our luggage. For the next week and a half we enjoyed hiking and camping deep | AUGUST 2018

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80 Northwest Sportsman

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Since the author couldn’t drill holes in the rented kayak to mount rodholders, he had to figure out how to otherwise affix them, a challenge overcome using a clamp-on Scotty that he could then mount a Powerlock rodholder onto. (TYLER HICKS)

in the backcountry of northern Patagonia. I found streams full of large resident rainbow and brook trout that were eager to take a fly. The day before we were scheduled to pick up our kayak we stopped at a small tackle shop where I found a large landing net suitable for salmon. The next afternoon we met with the kayak rental company and retrieved our paddles, PFDs and paddling jackets. We loaded the chartreusecolored tandem Necky Looksha 17-footer onto the shop owner’s Subaru Outback. The car was devoid of paint and heavily pitted. I commented that it looked as if it had been through a blast furnace, to which the owner informed me that it had in fact been buried in pumice and acid rain from a recent volcanic eruption. I guess I wasn’t far off. We made the half-hour drive to the fjord, where we unloaded the kayak. “Don’t scratch the kayak and don’t die,” the kayak rental shop owner advised us. We shook hands and he agreed to have someone meet us there in two days, then roared off, leaving us in a cloud of volcanic dust. 82 Northwest Sportsman

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We packed the kayak full of two days’ worth of camping and fishing gear and shoved off for the 3-mile paddle to camp. It was late afternoon on a bluebird day without a wisp of wind. On the way to camp we observed several large Chinook rolling on the surface, building our anticipation for the next day. On shore, our host seemed skeptical about our intentions to catch a king from a kayak. In the failing light, Sidra set camp up while I busily rigged up the gear for the next day.

I WOKE AROUND midnight to wind rattling the tent and the sound of heavy rain. The storm worsened through the night and my hopes that it would dissipate by morning were not realized when dawn broke. We sipped warm tea and coffee in an old barn by the shoreline while hoping for an improvement for several hours. When the wind tempered ever so slightly we decided to give it a go. Pushing off from shore the wind immediately grabbed us and spun us away. Finally, we got the bow pointed in the right direction and

were able to deploy our gear in the protection of a bay directly to our north. Trolling with our gear at 40 feet down in 60 to 100 feet of water, Sidra picked up a small jack, or feeder king, on a Super Bait, followed by a 5-pound Chilean sandperch, a fish reminiscent of our greenling. I switched out my Toman spinner for a Super Bait Cut Plug as well and also picked up a small 2-pound king. In order to get to the area where we’d seen the kings rolling the day before we needed to nose around the end of a large peninsula. Every time we attempted this we were at the full mercy of the wind and we simply could not gain ground. Our late start cost us the advantage of having the tide on our side, and once the tide and wind were working against us, it was a lost cause. Then line screamed from the drag and a Chinook thrashed violently on the surface some 40 feet behind the kayak. The wind quickly whipped the kayak sideways and wind waves rocked us violently back and forth. I managed to move the net forward to Sidra just as she squared away her gear. I struggled to get the fish





Northwest Sportsman 83

FISHING forward of the kayak to a position that Sidra could net it. The wind kept us spinning and kings seem to have a natural desire to hug the tail end of a kayak. Finally, with a little rudder work the fish swung around where Sidra timed the perfect net stab. Joy and relief washed over me as I gazed upon a dream accomplished, a gorgeous dime-bright 20-pound kayak-caught austral king salmon. The wind had conveniently blown us to within a few yards from our camp. We quickly landed and decided to harvest and gift the fish to our host, an older woman who lives on a subsistence farm only accessible by boat. I hauled the fish up the hill to the small cottage, passing through several pastures, herds of sheep and trailed by curious hogs. It was still blowing with horizontal rain when the door of cottage swung open. The look on the woman’s face was priceless. In my broken Spanish I told her it was a gift for her and she rushed out into the rain, hugging and kissing Sidra and I and seemingly unfazed by the fact that we were soaking wet and covered in fish slime. She invited us back that evening for a celebration. Energized by our catch we tried to fish for a few more hours, but failed to find any willing biters. We returned to camp soaked and chilled to the bone as the sun started to slip behind the mountains. At the cottage we were greeted with more hugs and a freshly stoked fire in the stove. We slipped our wet sandals under the stove to dry and warmed ourselves by the fire. Our host brought out a giant bottle of red wine to celebrate the salmon. We told fishing stories, talked about life on her farm, life at home in the Pacific Northwest. She tried to teach Sidra how to make yarn from wool she had freshly sheered, and we all got a little tipsy together. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.

THE NEXT MORNING we were greeted with bluebird skies and no wind. We had around five hours to fish before 84 Northwest Sportsman

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Sidra shows off one of several big Patagonian Chinook she caught, salmon as wild and strong as this legendary storm-wracked region. (TYLER HICKS)

Like the Northwest, Chile and the rest of the mountainous west coast of South America is spiked with volcanoes. This one, known as Osorno, is one of three in the watershed of the Rio Petrohué, which drains into the Estero Reloncaví fjord. (TYLER HICKS)

we needed to get back to camp and use favorable tides and winds to carry us back to the launch. We struck north at daylight using the flood tide to carry us toward the mouth of the Rio Petrohué. We marked several fish but found no takers. Sidra suggested we troll the shelf where the flats drop off into the fjord. As we arrived on the edge of the shelf a large king rolled right next to the boat. A few

moments later my rod came to life, but it turned out to be a large 10-pound flatfish that I quickly released. We were zigzagging across the break when Sidra’s rod slammed hard and immediately began peeling line. There was no doubt in my mind this was a king. The fish immediately ran for deep water and kept her guessing by changing directions multiple times, forcing her to rotate the rod

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Northwest salmon gear not only got South American jack and adult Chinook to bite but also this 5-pound-or-so Chilean sandperch. (TYLER HICKS)

It was a trip neither Northwest angler will forget anytime soon, marked by Chinook in the 40- to 50-pound range. (TYLER HICKS)

around the bow repeatedly. From the spectator’s seat I tried to calm Sidra as she struggled against this powerful fish. With no current or wind, it was much easier to contend with than the struggle we had

experienced the day before. At the surface the fish made one last hard run for the rear of the kayak before it was safely secured in the net and Sidra had landed her first big Chilean springer. It was an absolutely gorgeous 35-pound






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king with massive shoulders. The fight had taken quite a bit out of the salmon as well as Sidra, and they both spent some time together recovering before they went their separate ways. We trolled for a few more hours, picking up only a few small kings before it was time to head back. The outgoing tide was in full swing and would carry us back to camp. As we turned back the current rapidly picked up and in front of us we could see the water boiling as the tide slammed the water against an underwater reef. We were clipping along at nearly 4 mph when the bottom suddenly rose from 60 feet up to 15 feet. We’d quickly reeled up to 20 feet on the linecounter when Sidra’s rod loaded up. For a moment I thought her 10-ounce dropper might have hung up on the reef. But those thoughts were quickly dispelled when her line rapidly began moving perpendicular to the kayak and opposite the current, dragging us along for the ride. She buried the rod butt in her thigh, shouting out numbers as line peeled and peeled from her reel – 50 feet, 100 feet, 150 feet, until finally it stopped at 180 feet. At the end of the run a massive fish jumped from the water out on the bay and sharked across the surface, skipping the flasher in its wake. It seemed like it

was a mile away. All I knew was that this was going to take a while. Each successive run was shorter and shorter. The current carried us into a large eddy that worked in our favor, drawing the fish towards us and pushing us near shore. The fish had left everything on the table on its initial run and by the time it reached the kayak, netting it was uneventful. What was clear was that this was the largest king I’d ever personally laid eyes on. Measuring well over 40 inches, the fish carried an enormous amount of weight in its girth. It took both hands to wrap around the base of the tail. We estimated the weight of the fish to be in the upper 40s, perhaps even nudging over 50 pounds. Exhausted from the fight and because of its size, Sidra was comically unable to lift the fish from the water. We snapped a few photos and the fish was revived and eager to get going. The giant fish slipped from Sidra’s grip, with its massive tail fin collapsing and sliding through her still-clenched hands not quite ready to see the fish go. Silently the massive fish disappeared into the blue waters of the fjord.

WE WOULD PAY dearly for the delay in our return to camp. The south winds had come up as we rounded the corner and massive super eddies were forming in the fjord as the outgoing tide peaked. At one moment we would be fighting head currents and the next moment they would be pushing us along. We struggled against wind and current before we finally made it to just offshore of our camp. We pulled our gear one last time from the water and beached the kayak. We collapsed camp, snarfed down lunch, hugged and kissed our host goodbye, and packed the kayak full to the brim. By then, the tide had again shifted and the wind was at our back. It was an easy paddle back to the launch where our vehicle was waiting for us. As the blue waters of the Reloncavi fjord faded in the sideview mirrors, I smiled knowing that we had realized a dream. I smiled also because I knew I would return … someday. NS







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Spoons and herring are a good bet for Chinook as they near their natal rivers in southern Puget Sound. (JASON BROOKS)


he strong king opener in Area 11 two months ago got anglers excited for summer salmon fishing in the South Sound. SOUTH SOUND Through August By Jason Brooks and into September, fishing will switch from kings to coho. This spring, resident coho fishing was excellent in the southern portions of Puget Sound and the ocean-going fish arrive this month. Anglers who want to continue the pursuit of the larger Chinook will head even further south to Willapa Bay, where a return of 40,258 hatchery

kings are forecast. But August is also time for preseason preparation for our deer and elk hunts and serves as a primer for fall black bears. It is a month to get into the high country for some hikes and do a little exploring with the family. For South Sound sportsmen, August is a month of variety.

ANGLERS WHO’VE BEEN trolling famed Clay Banks, Owens Beach and Dalco Point can move into Commencement Bay with this month’s opener. Most will be targeting the 11,778 hatchery Chinook bound for the Puyallup and Carbon Rivers, but coho numbers have been good the past few seasons. Indeed, during the last

run of pink salmon, which usually come in in huge numbers, reports had it that the banks of the Puyallup were thick with silvers instead of humpies. Commencement is best fished on the incoming tide, which allows anglers to get closer to the mouth of the Puyallup, where you can otherwise be left high and dry during low tides on the vast mudflats. Troll inline flashers such as the Big Al’s Fish Flash from Yakima Bait Company with a Mack’s Lure Wiggle Hoochie trailing 36 to 48 inches behind. Fairly new on the market, the Wiggle Hoochie creates its own erratic movement so the inline flasher adds the attraction and still allows you to fight the fish without the pull of | AUGUST 2018

Northwest Sportsman 91


The high country beckons in August, whether you’re out for mountain trout, looking to fill a bear tag or scouting for fall deer and elk. (JASON BROOKS) the flasher or dodger. Also give Coyote or Gibbs Herring Aid spoons a try. For fast and furious coho action, give the Clay Banks at first light on an incoming tide a go. For the outgoing switch over to Point Evans and troll along the kelp line with spoons. Further south the Green Can of the Nisqually will be the place to intercept fall Chinook passing through on their way to that river or further south to the Deschutes. Some anglers will venture up the Nisqually and float eggs under a bobber on the outgoing tide. Willapa Bay is known for eel grass that makes fishing conditions tough, but anglers are rewarded with large Chinook starting this month. It is the same eel grass that provides a great nursery for herring and anchovies, which will be the go-to baits behind an inline flasher. Try brighter colors, such as gold, yellow, chartreuse and hot pink with a green92 Northwest Sportsman

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label herring. Due to the grass, be sure to cure your herring; Pro-Cure’s Brine-n-Bite is one of the better brines that toughens baits. To keep it simple use the Brine-nBite Complete, which comes premixed and ready to use including in several colors that add to the bait’s attraction. Blue is probably the top choice, but also chartreuse and purple do well. Unlike other Washington saltwater Chinook fisheries, leave the downriggers at home, as you will be fighting the eel grass all day. Instead use a dropper weight on a slider and be sure to add a few “tee” beads ahead of the flasher to deflect grass. I use a little trick with a bobber stop knot and a bead which allows me to adjust the tee beads on my line and even place them above my sliding dropper weight. Add a few tee beads on your leader between the flasher and the cut-plug herring as well.

AUGUST IS ONE of my favorite months to explore the backcountry, mostly because of the several lakes and streams that are full of trout. Snow is gone, for the most part, and fording creeks is much easier and safer. Evenings are pleasant and I can get away with a lightweight sleeping bag during the cool nights. Weather in the Pacific Northwest is likely to be dry and even summer thunderstorms are mostly gone by now as humidity levels drop. One of the best hikes around is the Pacific Crest Trail. Sure, it is busy, but it also takes you to some great places for the family and there are stretches that are fairly easy to navigate from our mountain passes. South Sound residents, and others, should take the day hike to Sheep Lake from Chinook Pass. This 3-mile hike starts off right at the top of the scenic route adjacent to Mt. Rainier just after you leave the park on the east side. The trail has


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COLUMN LUCKY 13 For the last several decades, a handful of knowledgeable South Sound anglers have exploited a great fishing opportunity in the backdrop of the state capitol. Olympia anglers, supplied by numerous highly productive hatcheries, keep their mouths shut and snicker to themselves as their pals with bigger boats and gas-guzzling trucks head off to what they consider to be better places to fish. What their pals do not know, and what they often do not believe, is that great fishing happens right here in late summer as large numbers of hatchery Chinook swarm into Marine Area 13’s terminal areas.

WE HAVE ALL been inundated with gloomy salmon forecasts and greatly increased Chinook protection measures between the ocean and spawning grounds. In the interests of protecting wild stocks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife must limit fishing opportunity even though large numbers of harvestable hatchery fish are mixed in with them. What some anglers miss is that these protective measures virtually assure a huge escapement of hatchery fish returning to Marine Area 13. Last year alone, 30,000 surplus Chinook were culled at Deschutes Falls Hatchery. Nisqually Tribal hatchery also had big return numbers. If one adds the production of Minter Creek and Puyallup Hatchery and an expected return of 3year-old Chinook to McAllister Creek, the likely run of hatchery Chinook to South Puget Sound may rival the expected return of hatchery fall Chinook to the Lower Columbia River! In addition, when one compares the relatively small recreational Chinook quotas assessed for Marine Areas 1 through 11, these potential escapement numbers look huge. In Marine Area 13 recreational impacts to wild Chinook salmon are easily controlled by barbless hook and wild-release regulations. Simply stated, sensitive Chinook stocks tend not to stray down this far. So let’s go fishing! THERE ARE MANY local hot spots in the south end of the Sound, all with their own 94 Northwest Sportsman

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Paula Corcoran shows off a “15-minute limit” of hatchery Chinook, caught in Marine Area 13 early last September. This end of Puget Sound features several salmon hatcheries and they’ve seen strong returns in recent seasons. Corcoran was using a spoon taped with Hyper-Vis+. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST) quirks. Anderson Island and the Nisqually River mouth will produce good fishing starting in late July. Other areas, such as the appropriately named Big and Little Fish Traps near Olympia can get red hot in early August. Any small seaworthy boat will work in these protected waters. There are a number of public launching sites nearby, and some of them are free to use. Run times to the fishing areas are minimal. All conventional salmon fishing modes and methods work. White Dart jigs are especially popular and work well in depths less than 60 feet. These jigs are also

recommended for use by novice anglers who will find their chances of catching a Chinook are about as good as anybody’s. Fresh bait is usually available nearby for those who know how to catch their own. And last but not least, your two-pole endorsement works here! My apologies to those who considered this fishery a secret, but I am a secondgeneration public servant and believe in my heart that the very people who care about fishing and financed this opportunity are entitled to know that it is there. I will proudly see you at Little Fish Trap come August! –WDFW Officer Greg Haw

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very little elevation gain or loss and the lake itself is very refreshing. It does get fished a bit but can still provide some fun in August. Those looking for more of a challenge can head towards Packwood Lake and into the Goat Rocks Wilderness. August is pretty incredible in this high 108,000acre roadless section of the South Cascades. Mountain goats are abundant and the open hillsides of the alpine are impressive as you skip along the mountaintops that are all that remain of an old, worn-down volcano. Come late August and the vast huckleberry and blueberry fields will be ripe. This is also a good place to search for that fall bear, the season for which opens Aug. 15 west of the Pacific Crest Trail, Aug. 1 on the east side. Be sure to check the regulations for the game unit you plan to hunt. Scouting for next month’s High Buck Hunt should be done now that August is here. This is more than just checking out trailheads and access points. Head up and look at water supplies, possible camp sites, and even glass for the buck you hope to find in a few weeks. Keep in mind that water can become scarce; last year I was up in my high hunt area and my normal water holes were all dry by mid-September. I found a hidden basin that was shaded and there I found water and a lot of deer sign. Returning the next month, we found a mature buck that slipped away before we could fill the tag, but if I hadn’t found that basin we wouldn’t have even known about the buck. This is also the time to check your gear and yourself to see if you are ready for the backcountry hunts that are upcoming. Luckily, August is early enough that you can still make the adjustments necessary to get your gear and yourself ready.

DON’T LET THE lazy summer days of

Where Your Fish Story Becomes A Reality! 96 Northwest Sportsman

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August go by without putting them to use. Get out on the water and catch some Chinook and coho or head to the mountains. Either way, this month is a full of variety for the South Sounder. Explore the waterways and mountaintops and enjoy the last days of summer. Before you know it, the rains of fall will be here. NS | AUGUST 2018

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Tactics For Fall Salmon I

f it’s August already, it’s time to start thinking about fishing the rivers for salmon. I love this time of year! Starting around WIESTSIDER midmonth, fall Chinook By Terry Wiest will begin stacking up near the mouth of their home rivers in anticipation of heading for the spawning grounds, but they’re not quite ready to take that journey upstream yet. This is a great time to hit the estuaries for some killer Chinook fishing and even some bonus coho as well. Purple is preferred – herring, that is! Yes it’s time to bring out the big stuff. With a proper cut and proper hook placement, you’ll get that perfect tight spin for targeting these fish. As I’ve always said, if it’s not a perfect spin, don’t fish it! Recut the angle or reinsert the hooks, whatever it takes. If it means wasting a bait and putting a fresh one on, so be it. You need to maximize your efforts because when the bite is on, it’s on – but briefly. These larger herring have a tendency to flare out if the current is strong. A simple trick is to cut a half moon at the anal vent. This allows water to flow through the herring without flaring out the edges. Although it will slow the spin, the bait should still troll tight, which is what you want. Check your bait often. Besides current, estuaries tend to have lots of grass near the bottom, which can attach itself to your presentation and ruin your chances of hooking up. It may seem excessive but I like to check that bait every 10 minutes to make sure it’s clean and still spinning properly. Rigging up is simple. Slip a golf tee designed to distribute weeds away from your gear through your mainline of 25 to 30-pound mono, followed by a sliding weight holder and then a couple beads for bumpers. Even though I love fishing braid, this is not the fishery for it. You’ll need some stretch when hooking up. Tie your mainline

As fall Chinook stage in the saltwaters off their home stream, they’re vulnerable to larger, tightspinning herring. Brian Johnson caught this beefy one off Tacoma’s Point Defiance a couple seasons back. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

to a high-quality ball-bearing swivel. From the swivel use 4 to 6 feet of leader, add another golf tee and tie to a ball-bearing swivel. From the swivel attach a pretied no-drag flasher with a 36-inch leader with a double herring hook set-up. You’ll want to have some pretied droppers, typically 18 inches, with 4 to 8 ounces of lead. The fish are going to be right off bottom, so while your boat’s in gear let out your presentation slowly. Once you hit bottom, trolling will bring your gear slightly up, hopefully right in the face of the fish. The line angle should be less than 45 degrees and stay within a pull or two of the bottom. Test it once in a while to make sure this is the case. If not, add more weight. The idea is to troll as close to bottom without dragging.

This is a good fishery to take advantage of the rod holders. You don’t want to set the hook too quick. Once the rod buries, that’s when you set the hook.

MOVING UPSTREAM Pulling plugs has always been popular and will produce both Chinook, coho and even chum if they’re running at the same time. This technique also is best fished with a rodholder, as you want to wait until that rod slams down and is buried before setting the hook. One thing I always stress is that all anglers work as a team and set all the plugs back the same distance. Slowly backing down into a hole with a line of plugs proves deadly time and time again. Wiggle Warts, Brad’s Wigglers, Kwikfish, Mag Lip 3.5s and | AUGUST 2018

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COLUMN It’s early yet to test most rivers for multispecies catches of salmon, but as fall arrives Chinook and coho can be landed in some Westside streams, such as the Humptulips, where Northwest Sportsman contributor Jason Brooks bonked this duo. (JASON BROOKS)

FatFish are all killer plugs and will produce fish. Colors and patterns are endless, but I’ve had my best luck on blue pirate and orange herringbone when it comes to salmon. Hopefully you have some eggs set aside for this time of year because if bait is allowed, it’s the ticket. It’s hard to go wrong with good eggs no matter what species you’re targeting. Back-bounced, drifted, or suspended under a float, eggs will produce. For back-bouncing, adding a Smile Blade or Spin-N-Glo can increase your chances of attracting fish if they’re being picky. Normally just a golf ball-sized cluster of eggs will do by itself. When drifting or under a float, just the eggs will do. A good cure is essential as it will provide the chemicals that salmon go nuts over. I prefer Pautzke Borx O’ Fire in deep red. It’s a proven winner for coastal salmon.

COHO MOJO For those looking specifically for coho, there are some killer techniques besides the above that will produce. Because coho have a tendency to become lockjawed, having multiple techniques ready can be a huge plus in putting fish in the boat. Throwing spinners, spoons or twitching jigs can turn a slow day into a fantastic one. My go-to technique for most water is twitchin’. This has become my favorite and I can’t wait to get out there this fall. I like 3⁄8- to 5⁄8-ounce jigs in a variety of colors, but generally blacks and purples are killers. For the past several years now, my favorite jig has been in creepy nightmare – orange body, black tail, white head with white legs. Coho can’t seem to resist it. Then there’s spinners. A No. 5 Vibrax or similar works well most days. The key here is speed, or lack thereof. You want to retrieve your spinner just fast enough for the spinner to be off the bottom while also making sure the blade is rotating. A quick jerk is normally all that is needed to get the blade moving if for some reason it isn’t rotating. As fall nears and the air begins to cool, get ready for some hot salmon action. NS

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Silver Lining Puget Sound coho runs are still lower than managers would like, but 2018 offers return to coveted waters in prime time.

By Mark Yuasa


After a few years of skimpy silvers and even skinnier opportunities, Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca anglers should be excited about 2018’s prospects. Author Mark Yuasa shows off the grade of coho that fishermen hope to tangle with this month and next as the ocean-migrating salmon return. (MARK YUASA)

here is definitely a “silver lining” to this season’s Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca late-summer and early-fall salmon fisheries. After facing closures and limited fishing opportunities during the past several years for coho, it appears returns are regaining strength. “There are plenty of reasons to be an optimist, and it is great to get back to coho fishing in places like Areas 8-1 and 8-2 (on the east side of Whidbey Island) where we haven’t done so in a number of years,” said Mark Baltzell, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife salmon manager. “One thing we try to keep in mind as a fisheries manager when crafting seasons is to keep supporting small-town communities like Sekiu that will have a full coho season through September.” The preseason forecast calls for 557,149 of the silvery, acrobatic fish to flood into local waterways from Sekiu clear into view of the Emerald | AUGUST 2018

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FISHING City skyline. That is compared to actual return of 595,074 last year (the forecast was 559,045) and well above 2016’s dismal 255,403 that led to one of the most contentious disagreements between state and tribal fishery managers on how to carve out fisheries. That year saw much of Puget Sound clear out into the western Strait shut down for coho, and it wasn’t until late in the season that a small section of extreme southern Puget Sound was reopened. “If you’re just looking at pure numbers for coho, it will not be a banner year,” Baltzell said. “Wild coho return forecasts are down and hatchery figures are average. But, looking at the long term, we are moving in the right direction.”

Herring are a favorite of coho, whether cutplugged and flatlined right behind the boat or cut into strips and added to hoochie setups. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)


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hatchery and wild coho runs are down about 6 percent from the 10-year average, and the hatchery component is up 118 percent from last year. Forecasts for the five wild stocks that drive Puget Sound sportfishing seasons – the Strait, Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snohomish and Hood Canal – are a mixed bag. “The Stillaguamish doesn’t have a great forecast and the Snohomish is relative to historical numbers,” said Aaron Dufault, a WDFW biologist. “The Skagit is always a big producer in North Sound, although last year’s forecast was dismal.” The 2018 Skagit wild coho forecast of 59,196 is 347 percent greater than the 2017 forecast of 11,160 and 564 percent larger than 8,912 in 2016. Same goes for the Stillaguamish wild coho forecast in 2018 of 18,950, which is 149 percent greater than 7,622 in 2017 and 584 percent larger than 2,770 in 2016. The Snohomish river system coho forecast is 65,925 in 2018, and down from 107,325 in 2017 but a whopping 294 percent increase from 16,740 in 2016. Elsewhere, mid-Puget Sound stocks – Lake Washington and the



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If you don’t have sonar, keep an eye out for birds working schools of baitfish, like this flock of seagulls on the southeast side of Possession Bar. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Green and Puyallup Rivers – are forecast at 90,732, down slightly from 100,224 in 2017; Strait of Juan de Fuca is 17,720, down from 25,999;

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FISHING see from August through September is the very good resident coho fishery that occurred in June and early July in central Puget Sound’s Marine Area 10. These plump fish averaged 2 to 4 pounds and were finding plenty of baitfish to feed on. Those heavy feeders – that should have gained a few pounds since then – were regularly providing two-fish limits to anglers off Jefferson Head, Kingston and Richmond Beach to just south of Edmonds. The front end of the return of their bigger ocean-migrating brothers and sisters – averaging 8 to 15 pounds – will begin to filter into the western Strait this month and then swarm into Puget Sound by around Labor Day, with peak timing occurring by mid-September. This train of silvers will begin “choo-chooing” into the Strait from Sekiu to Port Angeles (Areas 5 and 6) this month and build to a crescendo

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as we head toward the closure date of Sept. 30. Anglers targeting coho in the Strait should head right out into the shipping lanes in 400 to 600 feet of water. In the early morning hours look for coho in the top 20 to 40 feet of water, and then go deeper as the day progresses. Keep in mind that coho tend to move around in big pods, so troll until you locate them and look for schools of baitfish. The daily limit in Areas 5 and 6 from Aug. 16 through Sept. 30 is two hatchery coho, release wild coho. The San Juan Islands (Area 7) doesn’t get the love for coho other areas do, but those who put in the effort will find some great action along the southern portions of the west side of San Juan Island, Haro Strait, open areas of Rosario Strait and the northern portions of Orcas Island and Waldron Island. The daily limit here is two coho through

Sept. 30. Along the east side of Whidbey, the vast majority of anglers will troll in the shipping lane from the Shipwreck north to Mukilteo, green buoy off the east side of Possession Bar, Saratoga Pass and off the Possession Point Bait Box Hole (a good area for shore-bound anglers). Note that Area 8-2 is open through Sept. 23 with a two-coho daily limit, except the Tulalip Bubble area is open through Sept. 30. Eight-one is open through Sept. 30 with a daily limit of two hatchery coho, release unmarked coho. Northern Puget Sound (Area 9) is by far one of the best places to find hungry coho, but last year was closed during prime time, September. Good fishing can be found at Bush and Lagoon Points, off Whidbey’s west side; Point No Point (a great spot for shore-bound anglers); Possession Bar’s west side; and the southeast side of the bar



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FISHING toward the Edmonds Marina. The daily limit is two hatchery coho, release unmarked coho. Moving deeper into Puget Sound, the boundary line between Areas 9 and 10 from Edwards Point to Apple Cove Point is a location where anglers always seem to find excellent coho fishing. Depending on what side of the line you’re fishing will also determine whether or not you can keep an unmarked – in Area 10 – or just hatchery – in Area 9 – coho. In Area 10 look for coho off Jefferson Head, Richmond Beach, Kingston, Point Monroe, Meadow Point, West Point south of Shilshole Bay, Elliott Bay (opens on Sept. 1) and Alki Point off West Seattle. Southern Puget Sound waters (Areas 11 and 13) are often overlooked for coho, but some anglers have quietly been finding decent action, even during the lean coho seasons of 2016 and 2017. Places like Anderson Island, Clay Banks off Point Defiance, the entrance to Commencement Bay and Redondo Beach to Three Tree Point are all fairly good coho spots. The daily limit in Area 11 is two coho, and in Area 13 it is two hatchery coho.

A FAST TROLL with a glow-green spatterback squid (light green on bright days, dark green on cloudy ones) or Silver Horde Coho Killer or size 3 Kingfisher Spoon laced with herring scent on a 32- to 34-inch leader attached to glow-green flasher usually is the ticket. Coho can also be caught flat-lining with a cut-plug herring and a twohook mooching leader with a diver, but artificial lures off a downrigger will often outfish bait, simply because you can troll it faster without blowing out the frozen herring. A herring teaser strip is a must for coho on a plastic squid. Keeping it simple will also produce, and all that means is using a traditional mooching-type 110 Northwest Sportsman

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Resident and early ocean fish will provide the action this month, while September, when Brian Eglseder caught this pair last year, is when the coho run typically peaks. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

tandem-hook set-up with a whole or cut-plug herring and a 4- to 7-ounce banana weight sinker. If you plan to use herring, make sure to toughen them up by soaking them in a brine with a ratio of one cup of rock salt to one quart of filtered water. If possible, soak the bait overnight, although even just a few hours will make a difference.

Speed is also another factor in getting coho to hit your presentation: Get that boat moving at 3 to 5 mph. Lastly, keep a close eye out for what other anglers on the water are doing. Look at their gear and match it up or simply ask them what depth and technique they’re finding fish, as most are more than willing to share tips with a fellow angler. NS



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A lot of backcountry fishing is limited to bushwhacking around lake shores, but some anglers pack in float tubes or mini rafts. Author Scott Brenneman found loading a 27-pound inflatable kayak on his back was doable too, at least for the relatively short hike to Lake Dorothy, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness east of Seattle. (SCOTT BRENNEMAN)

Inflation Expands Kayak Fishing Options T

he sign at the trailhead reads 1.5 miles to Lake Dorothy; the distance is actually about 2 miles THE KAYAK GUYS before you reach the By Scott By Sco cott tt Brenneman Bre renn nneeman outlet of the lake. The trail is well maintained with a multitude of stairs, which help ease the upward assent. With an elevation gain of 800 feet, it is a relatively easy hike. Lake Dorothy is a good choice for taking my son Ben on his first alpine lakes hike to go fishing. I will also be packing a kayak for the first time. On the weekend this is a very popular place to hike and will be crowded. We plan a late start. After purchasing an annual Northwest Forest Pass at the Skykomish Ranger Station we are on our way. We reach the end of Miller River Road (Forest Road 6412) at about 3:30 p.m. Many of the day hikers have already left and we

are able to park in the lot close to the trailhead. Across from us as we unload our gear another fisherman is blowing up a float tube. After dropping a self-issued wilderness permit into the box at the trailhead, Ben and I don our packs and eagerly make our way up to the lake. The many distractions along the trail slow our pace. We stop many times to view the Miller River below the trail. We search without success for some ripe blueberries along our route. The bridge crossing Camp Robber Creek marks the midpoint of the initial hike to Lake Dorothy. This is a good place to take in the view of the rapids at the stream’s confluence with the Miller. As we continue on, we spy fungi attached to trees that resemble brains, mouths and eyes. Our focus for the rest of the hike is to identify trees and deadheads that are shape-shifting timber monsters. We make a pact to be off this trail before

nightfall. We finally reach Lake Dorothy an hour and a half after starting.

THE VIEW AS you approach the lake at its outlet is striking. Today a blanket of low clouds acts as a roof, enclosing us within the steeply sloped ridges surrounding the lake. Sheltering us from the sun we won’t have to worry about getting sunburned, but it won’t stop the bugs from annoying us. Ben and I unload the pack and start to blow up the kayak. Immediately, we are bombarded by gnats and the occasional mosquito. The organic bug spray my wife bought sure smells good but does not work, so we hastily inflate the kayak. We walk out onto the log jam at the lake’s outlet. At only 27 pounds, the inflatable kayak is easy to carry over the large timbers. After tossing our gear into the kayak we hop in and paddle away from shore, finding immediate relief from the | AUGUST 2018

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Once the kayak was pumped up, Brenneman and his son Ben were able to troll waters they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach. They plan to return and try again for pelagic trout. (SCOTT BRENNEMAN, BOTH) bugs. The clear water reveals submerged timbers and woody debris at the outlet and along the steep slope on the west side of the lake. The occasional cutthroat trout surfaces in search of food. Along with an ultralight rod and

4-pound-test fluorocarbon, a small spinner tossed over the logs is all that is needed to fool these fish out of their hiding places. Rooster Tails smaller than 1/8 ounce worked for us. Lake Dorothy was last planted May 12,

Washington’s mountains are rich with lakes and a great, up-to-date resource for finding ones with fish is the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s High Lakes webpage. It allows you to search by county, stocking date and more. (GARN KENNEDY) 114 Northwest Sportsman

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2016, so these trout have grown from 2 inches when released to the 7- to 8-inch range now. It is a good idea to check with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for alpine lakes stocking info; wdfw. will

Father kept it fun for son, going along with a game that the woods were home to “shape-shifting timber monsters” like this old bat-eared tree trunk. (SCOTT BRENNEMAN)


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give you an idea of what size fish are in the lake you plan on fishing. It takes us some time to catch them in Dorothyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clear waters. The float tuber we met in the parking lot is having about the same luck as we are. He is using what appears to be a 4/5-weight fly rod. Ben hooks one and loses it while we troll towards one of the rocky islands further to the south. After exploring the island we decide to paddle back to the launch point. Even though fishing will improve with the waning light, we want to get back to the car before the timber monsters wake up. Yet we are eager to return to focus more on trolling the drop-offs in search of larger fish lurking below.

DOROTHYâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S THE LARGEST alpine lake on


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the west side of the Cascades and the fishing is predictably consistent from June through fall. The trail to it continues on to three other lakes. For a more backcountry experience set up camp at a designated campsite. From there, you can hike to and fish Bear, Deer and Snoqualmie Lakes. An inflatable kayak is well suited for this endeavor. Float tubes fill the needs of most fishermen for backcountry fishing. At 12 pounds these lightweight watercraft allow the angler to reach rising fish that are not accessible from shore. Lightweight packrafts, some weighing less than 3 pounds, are another option. Both of these are good solutions to get away from the bank, but they are not as maneuverable as an inflatable kayak. They also are limited in their versatility. I decided on an inflatable kayak that not only works well on a mountain lake but is also capable of floating class III rapids, as well as launching through the surf. The tradeoff for better performance is the additional weight of an inflatable. At 27 pounds the Innova Safari 330 is not anywhere near as light as a float tube or packraft, but it is portable enough to trek into the backcountry with. Set up time takes about 7 minutes. To deflate and put it away takes even less. With the optional fin it tracks well and I was surprised at how well it glides. It is a much more comfortable platform to fish from than float tubes or packrafts. NS | AUGUST 2018

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Head To The Hills For August Ops Mountain waters outside of the major North Cascades reservoirs don’t host tons of trout and char, but fish are there for the catching in many streams and lakes, though regulations vary. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)


ith the rapidity of this year’s snowpack retreat, By Doug Huddle mid- and even some high-elevation mountain lakes and ponds have emerged early and spring run-off has subsided to the point that many troutbearing mountain streams are now in fishable condition. Also, heat and the ripening of the first wild berries top the list of influences on the behavior of black bear in August. Locating the latter and where bruins go to avoid the former are two key areas of knowledge that well-schooled bear hunters must have when venturing into the North Cascades. Now there’s a third essential educational element to go along with those. But first, the fish.


MOUNTAIN CREEK TROUT The upper North, Middle and South basins of the Nooksack River are bastions for a selection of trout species including prolific brookies, a reproducing mash-up of westslope (including so-called Montana blackspots) and coastal cutthroat, and a smattering of rainbows likely descended from releases of young hatchery steelhead. It’s been speculated that there may be remnant native char, a nonmigratory strain nominally called Dolly Varden, in several stream reaches of one or perhaps all three basins. These resident char are federally protected under the Puget Sound bull trout listing, however, both Dollies and bull trout can readily and successfully spawn with eastern brook trout, another char family member. Such hybrids are not protected. No one fishing these waters should expect the denizens to be of great stature. A big fish for these truly chilly flowing waters may top out at 10 inches. | AUGUST 2018

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COLUMN Also, except for most mainstem reaches, terrain and vegetation make these among the most challenging waters to fish. Tributaries are either brush thrashes or canyon scrambles and seldom allow anglers in without a hefty strenuous admission fee. Since the first of July, with 70 to 75 percent of the 2018 snowpack gone, upper North Fork Nooksack streams have dropped substantially and have lost much of their color. Also, water temperatures have reached the low 50s, prompting some insect propagation. The North Fork itself retains its greenish to latte-brown glacial tint well into September from ice hanging mainly on the north faces of Mt. Shuksan and in Nooksack Cirque, but the cutthroat population still aggressively feeds even in the low visibility. White Salmon Creek, off Forest Service Road 3070, also is known for its cutthroat trout, which are among the largest in the basin. Razorhone Creek, also crossed by FSR 3070, has a robust population of brook trout. Brookies, some to 10 inches but on the skinny side, are found in the lower inner gorge reaches of Swamp and Ruth Creeks. Swamp, which drains picturesque Twin Lakes, is accessed by FSR 3065, while the run of Ruth can be engaged off FSR 32. The Middle Fork Nooksack above the City of Bellingham’s diversion dam is the most problematic stream by visibility owing to its origins in Deming and Thunder Glaciers on Mount Baker and the Black Buttes. Through the spate of hot summer weather, it’s the color of creamed coffee. With that said Clearwater and Warm Creeks, both trout-bearing north-side tributaries, are much more hospitable in terms of clarity. Clearwater has a remnant resident rainbow population, while Warm has an introduced cutthroat population. The mainline road is FSR 38 with state Department of Natural Resources roads allowing upper basin access. The Nooksack’s South Fork is open for summer trout above the mouth of Wanlick Creek and runs the clearest of all three upper system branches. Seeking cover under log jams small rainbow trout and some char occupy the lower-gradient 120 Northwest Sportsman

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main channel reaches, while lower Wanlick harbors cutthroat trout. Access for the upper South Fork is circuitous, requiring an approach first by Baker Lake Road and then by FSR 12 through Wanlick Pass. Standard fishing rigs and terminal tackle including bait are allowed on the North and Middle Forks, with the usual trout bag limit of five fish and the now generous eastern brook trout bonus. The headwaters of the South Fork may be fished only with regulation fly gear and all trout brought to hand must be released. Steelhead are known to occasionally ascend to these heady heights and the non-clipped wild ones must be let go, while hatchery origins must be kept.

BROOKIE LAKES Several easily reached mountain waters laden with eastern brook trout have been fully ice-free for several weeks and are welcoming opportunities for a leisurely afternoon of fishing for young anglers. Blue Lake, along the line between Whatcom and Skagit Counties in the Baker River Valley, tops this list. Its open, rocky shoreline offers plenty of elbow room for casting and a good transition to depth just offshore makes it present offerings where the brookies lurk. Bait is allowed here, so a single-egg rig under a bobber works quite well. With

Aug. 1 marks the opening of fall black bear hunting in this part of Washington, and hiking or biking in behind logging gates to check out clearcuts and reprod or scoping alpine basins are good plans for filling a tag. Chad Smith bagged this bruin over Labor Day weekend 2016 3 miles up a blocked road. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

BOUNDARY CRABBING OPENS The last personal-use crab opening in Washington’s inland waters is Thursday, Aug. 16 in the Strait of Georgia waters otherwise known as Marine Area 7 North. Along the west Whatcom County shore, as long as you have the cord long enough for it, you can soak a pot almost anywhere and get keepers. Here are several wellknown north-end locales and their accesses: Alden Bank: An open-water (bayboat) site west of Sandy Point on the south end of Strait of Georgia, this bank is a gentle rise in the bottom of these broad waters where pots can be left. Plenty of weight is required if you soak through the day’s big tide change at Alden, though. Cherry Point Shore: There’s a sweet spot for personal-use fishers about 200 feet off the beach between the industrial piers (Conoco Phillips north to British Petroleum) on the southeast side of the Strait of Georgia. It’s accessible to both pot and startrap crabbers with small boats (cartoppers) that can easily be carried beachward and launched off the end of Gulf Road. Point Whitehorn: A mainland shoreline that’s accessible only by boat, its complex littoral drift areas always attract Dungeness. Access is complicated by the daily tide cycle, but cartoppers can launch at Birch Bay State Park, where you’ll need a Discover Pass and a Natural Investment Permit (boat launch fee) to enter the bay from the landward side. –DH




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1955 AF


The revised Washington sport-caught salmon import rule from so-called Canadian transboundary waters is now in effect, mandating that anglers returning with fish from immediately north of the border must register their intent to fish B.C. waters without passing through formal customs and immigration portals. Canadian and U.S. agencies no longer acknowledge phone-in notices of border crossings. For more details, go to jsp?id=2167. –DH

fly line offerings or plunked worms get at these fish under the revealing rays of the midday sun.

HOT-WEATHER BRUINS In July, most of the bear sign was pointing up – to the high country where generally south-facing slopes have been snow-free. Berry crops in higher old-growth and higher clearcut areas blossomed quickly after melt-out and it looks as if a fairly robust crop of both blue huckleberries and whortleberries will be available by mid-August. For the Aug. 1 opener, the easiest













only a sparse amount of snag wood on the bottom, casting lures such as Panther Martins, Rooster Tails and Dick Nites is easy here too. The route into Blue is Baker Lake Road to Forest Service Road 12 (LoomisNooksack) and finally FSR 1260 (Blue Lake). The walk-in is a pleasant, roughly half-mile stroll through old-growth. Bagley Lakes (Lower and Upper) in the Heather Meadows Recreation Area on the upper Mount Baker Highway are clear for the summer and present a challenge for anglers seeking their cache of brookies Lower Bagley is the shallower of the two, but don’t let its all-seeing nature fool you. Its brookies are wily and generally stay in cover under boulder or submerged wood on bright days. The best time to fish them is just before sun-up or at the last vestiges of evening light. Upper Bagley is far deeper and its larger brook trout denizens seek cover below visible depth, which can be 10 to 15 feet as summer progresses. Sinking











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access for bear hunters in Whatcom and Skagit Counties will again be on federal lands. But note that those bound for Game Management Units 418 and 426 – Nooksack and Diablo – for the first time must have a voucher in their possession saying that they have successfully passed a bear identification exam, either Washington’s or another state’s. That’s because both GMUs lie within the North Cascade Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone (a voucher is also required for a series of units across the northern tier of Eastern Washington). On the north end of the Mount Baker Ranger District, the Glacier Creek (FSR 39) system is once again open, as are Twin Lakes (FSR 3065), Deadhorse Creek (FSR 37) and Razorhone (FSR 3070) routes that serve mainly as jumping-off points for timberline berry haunts. Even though bears are occasionally seen there, hunters should avoid stalking the greater Heather Meadows and Artist Point areas because the ski area and ridge trailheads are frequented by large numbers of sightseers. At one time the Forest Service actually issued a no-shooting order for the area, but it is no longer in effect. Mountain goat hunters in the Lake Ann area actually had to, as a condition of their permit, adhere to provisios that they keep rifles in scabbards and cover carcass parts when on the trail in and out of the actual unit. Hunters should also consider prospecting for animals away from welltraveled trails in any locale frequented by other forest visitors. On national forest lands in the Baker River valley, Loomis-Nooksack (FSR 12), Schriebers Meadow (FSR 13), AndersonWatson Lakes (FSR 1107), Marten LakeBoulder Ridge (FSR 1130-1131) and Shannon Ridge (FSR 1152) Forest Service | AUGUST 2018

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roads provide access to aging secondgrowth units with some vistas. These roads also serve as jumping-off points for developed trails or pioneered routes into subalpine areas that are available for the more adventurous bear hunters. To get into the Rocky Creek locale or the lava flow barrens, walk in on the Kulshan Companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diversion access road from the 12 Road immediately west of the intersection with FSR 13. South and east of the Skagit River on the south side of the Mount Baker Ranger District are three roads in the Finney Block that can get you up to the best view seats: Iron Mountain, also known as Claims Road (FSR 1775), Gee Creek (FSR 1705) and Gee Lake Road (FSR 1722) off FSR 1720. The Illabot Creek road system, east of Rockport, is another major Forest Service network providing access via the FSR 16 Mainline and FSR 1620 to federal lands, as well as some walk-in opportunities on lower elevation gated private timberland roads. Much of this 20-mile-long route side-hills through second-growth forests with relatively limited visibility. But the current road end at Otter Creek provides a jumping-off point for Slide Lake and its avalanche chutes, plus the upper closed part of FSR 16 that ascends Marten Lake ridge. The broadest views in this locale are found well out and higher up the 1620 in upper Iron Creek basin, as well as on the 16 mainline 2 miles beyond the road barrier at the Slide Lake trailhead. The Jackman Creek mainline (FSR 14) east of Concrete, after a long run up the creek valley, tops out to the north on the ridge separating Jackman and Thunder Creeks. There are significant, but older clearcuts on the federal lands to the north of Jackman Creek as well as newer blocks of logged slopes on lower Jackman Ridge.

NEXT ISSUE: Archery deer and high buck, more mountain trout, first grouse and band-tailed pigeon. NS Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s note: Doug Huddle lives in Bellingham, is retired from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and has been writing about hunting and fishing in the Northwest for more than 35 years. 124 Northwest Sportsman

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Decoying Doves With Northwest seasons right around the corner, now’s the time to start making plans to bring in more mourning doves. By MD Johnson


With a couple “dove trees” out front of his hide, a wingshooter waits for birds to come in. Mourning doves are attracted to their own kind and will respond to decoys mounted on structures that stand out. (JULIA JOHNSON)

everal years ago, no one knows exactly when, a guy was sitting alone in a dove field. As he sat, he watched doves landing on an abandoned telegraph line some 100 yards away. He noticed, astute individual that he was, that regardless of where the first dove landed on the wire, the following birds would land alongside. He also noticed that birds that at first seemed hell-bent on over-flying his field often quickly changed direction and – surprise! – lit next to those already perched on the wire. Over time, our guy began to see a pattern. A common denominator, so to speak, until one day while sitting back in his recliner with the Daily News, the spark burst into flame. “What if,” he thought, “I were to string a wire between two high poles and clip a couple dove decoys to it?” And with that, the doctor smacked the man’s idea on the butt and the modern Dove Wire squalled its way into being. The way I see it, dove hunters flat got tired of feeling left out. After all, duck and goose hunters have their fake birds. Turkey hunters have their decoys. So too do those who chase sandhill cranes and crows. Hell, today’s outdoor market features decoys ranging from whitetail deer to pronghorn antelope, elk, and moose. There’s even a spastic rabbit meant | AUGUST 2018

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HUNTING Clip-on bases make it easy to keep decoys upright on thin wires. (JULIA JOHNSON)

to fool coyotes and fox into believing that, well, this particular entrée has some serious coordination issues. Why not doves? Enter the dove wire. In its most basic form, the dove wire consists of little more than a pair of uprights between which is stretched, well, something. Purists wishing to remain true to the dove wire’s name often use a cable or rope. Some folks opt instead for a run of ½-inch electrical conduit as their perch. Add a couple decoys and a method for keeping the outfit stable and in an upright position, and you’re ready to go. Simple? That’s the beauty of the dove wire. It is simple.

I KNOW WHAT is known as the Uncle Greg Version of the dove wire, named as it were for the uncle of two brotherfriends from northeast Ohio with whom we hunted years ago. Uncle Greg is a very nice gentleman and techhead who, according to the younger brother, Rob, lives for designing and building stuff. Greg, says Rob, was the mastermind behind the current 130 Northwest Sportsman

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If you’re handy, creating a “dove wire” out of PVC electrical conduit gives you a mobile decoy platform to add to a spread. (JULIA JOHNSON)

version of the brothers’ dove wire. What Greg did was frighteningly simple; however, I must apologize in advance if I don’t have the exact measurements correct here. Greg’s wire consists of two 10-foot sections of ¾-inch electrical conduit, one 12foot section of ¾-inch, two 2-foot sections of ½-inch conduit, and two 90-degree (¾-inch) elbows. The two 10-footers are the uprights, while the 12-footer with the elbows serves

as the cross-member, or perch. The two pieces of ½-inch are driven into the ground, and the ends of the 10-footers – remember, they’re ¾-inch, so they fit nicely – fit down over the top of them. Done as so, this wire is more than stable, not to mention high enough to catch the eye of any passing birds. A little bit of camouflage duct tape covering the shiny conduit, and the wire’s ready for business. | AUGUST 2018

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HUNTING The advantages of Greg’s design are many. First, and as already mentioned, it’s solid. Secondly, it allows the decoys to be displayed at least 10 feet above the ground, and as all decoy users know, the plastic doves can’t work if the birds can’t see them. Third, the total cost of wire, excluding the dove decoys, is less than $15. Fourth, and while the overall length of the rig is 12 feet, it’s still relatively easy to transport in either a pickup or SUV. Note: If you want to go with the Uncle Greg design but are hesitant because the wire won’t fit in your Prius, you can always cut both the 10-footers and the 12-footer in half. Buy yourself three ¾-inch conduit connectors, and assemble the whole thing in the field. Now you’re only working with 5- and 6-foot sections instead of 10- and 12-footers. But to continue. Advantages five and six: Greg’s wire is lightweight, and can easily be assembled and erected in less than five minutes. And seven, the darn thing works like a charm. Not every time, but often enough to make a believer out of me. A final note. When my wife Julie and I hunted with the brothers, Rob used a few short turns of black electrical tape to secure both the uprights and the cross-piece to the elbows during field assembly. Too, the eight or so dove decoys were similarly held tight to their metal perch using the same black electrical tape. Greg mentioned this “tape” step as somewhat of a side note during our opening day hunt, claiming that an earlier “untaped” version of the wire allowed the perch and the decoys to spin – a characteristic, I’m assuming, the doves found less than attractive.

I’LL MENTION THE dove stick simply because I built one. That, and it seemed to work. Years ago, I saw what looked like a collapsible television antenna – you know, from precable and Direct TV days, those constantly busted132 Northwest Sportsman

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Keep your back to cover, whether it be rows of corn, Russian olive or willow trees, or whatnot, to break up your outline. (JULIA JOHNSON)

up collections of aluminum rods of varying lengths that looked kind of like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, only shiny? – that came complete with a half-dozen dove decoys. I can’t recall for certain, but I think it went by the name of the Dove Tree. The theory behind the contraption, I believe, was that the tree could be placed in the ground, the arms raised,

and dove decoys placed randomly about the metal branches. Apparently, it stuck with me; however, my version was a bit different, and consisted of two 10foot sections of ½-inch conduit, a ½-inch connector, a 2-foot piece of ¾-inch conduit, and three 4-foot alder branches trimmed neatly – but not too neatly. In the field, I drive nwsports nwsp ortsmanm manmag.c om m | AUGUS A AUGUST UGUSTT 2018 UGU UGUS 20 018 1

Northwest Nor orthw thwest thw est Sportsman Sport Sp orttsma smann 133 3


BEST BETS FOR DOVES Sept. 1 marks the mourning dove opener in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and you can bet that Grant County in the middle of the Evergreen State will be one of the best, if recent trends are an indication. Last year, hunters in this well-watered part of the Columbia Basin Project bagged nearly 18,500 of the birds, blasting away all competition and providing more than a third of the overall statewide harvest. That figure was up 29 percent from the 2016 season too. Similarly irrigated Franklin and Yakima Counties were second and third best with 8,471 and 8,153 doves last year. Nearby Benton and Walla Walla Counties rounded out the top five with 3,634 and 2,165. Though harvest and hunter numbers are just a fifth of what they were in the early

1970s, they’ve also been pretty steady since the mid-1980s as wingshooters turn out for the first big opportunity of the year in Southcentral Washington. Doves are attracted to crops that produce seeds, so most hunting is done on private land, requiring permission to access, but nearby state lands with water and trees for roosting could be productive. The area west and north of Potholes can be good. See for locations of Feel Free To Hunt and other properties. Harvest figures weren’t available for last year for Oregon, but over the previous three seasons, hunters took between 20,000 and 28,000 doves, according to ODFW estimates. Look to the counties just

south of the Columbia River between the Cascades and the Blue Mountains, as well as the farmed areas from Harper to Vale to Ontario and north and south of the last town by Idaho. See oregonhuntingmap .com for private and public options. Mourning doves also occur in Western Washington and the Willamette Valley, but not in nearly the same numbers as in eastern aglands. Idaho dove hunting is primarily focused in the Southwest and Clearwater Regions. Mourning dove just might be the only species with the exact same regs in all three Northwest states – season runs through Oct. 31 with a daily limit of 15. Most will be taken in the first weeks of the hunt. As the birds are migratory, moving south as the weather cools in late summer and fall, a game bird validation, or HIP, is required. –NWS

the ¾-inch support into the ground. Next, I connect the two 10-footers. One branch is zip-tied tightly a couple inches from the top of the

pole. The remaining two branches are zipped together to make one long perch, and this is fastened securely 2 to 3 feet below the first.

Four or five decoys are clipped to the branches, and the entire rig is hoisted into position and slipped into the larger support conduit.

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HUNTING Seed-eaters, doves also require grit for their crop. Setting out ground-based decoys where they can acquire both can pay dividends. (JULIA JOHNSON)

During a hunt in early September, with the Dove Stick but days old, I watched several birds either land or attempt to land on the stick perches. Scientific conclusion? No, but scientific enough to convince at least one goofy dove hunter – me.

I’D BE REMISS if I didn’t mention the 21st Century version of the traditional static, i.e. nonmoving decoy, that being the spinning-wing dove, aka Mojo Dove. Powered by four AA batteries – or in my case, a swap for one 9-volt battery – these

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spinners, like their waterfowl decoy counterparts, provide a visual strobelike flash to an otherwise immobile spread of fake doves. The dark-light/ dark-light flashes resemble a dove coming into land. Seeing this, doves, if think they indeed do, reckon there must not only be food nearby but good company as well. When used either alone or in tandem with three-dimensional static decoys, spinners can be awfully good at attracting attention from a much further distance than can traditional decoys. They are lightweight, and most break down into a two-wing and body package that fits easily into a stool, seat, or, my favorite, a camouflage 5-gallon bucket that doubles as a chair. Typically, I’ll use a pair of spinners – one on its own stake approximately 2 feet above the ground, and an elevated second, either as part of the aforementioned dove wires or sticks. The downsides? Batteries and battery life are a consideration, but most Mojo Doves (mojooutdoors. com) will run continually for a hunt or two before starting to get sluggish. The answer? Extra batteries, of course. And as a note, I do use a single 9-volt as opposed to four AA (6-volt) batteries in my spinners. The extra RPMs generated by 9 volts versus 6 do seem to increase the decoy’s | AUGUST 2018

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Mourning doves are a here-and-gone opportunity, so it makes sense to do all you can to harvest your share of the fall flight. Top ops can be found in the irrigated country of Washington’s Columbia Basin Project and Northcentral Oregon. (JULIA JOHNSON)

drawing power via more rapid and/or more frequent flashes. However, one does run the risk of burning up the small drive motors inside the decoy as a result of the increased voltage. I’ve personally not burned one up, but that day, I reckon, will come. While Oregon bans batterypowered decoys for all game birds – migratory, upland and otherwise – Washington allows their use for all game save waterfowl, wild turkeys and deer. Idaho has no restrictions.

WATERFOWLERS HAVE RELIED on fake ducks and geese for hundreds of years, and, undeniably, with good success. Decoys in the dove field add an entirely new dimension to this hunting opportunity. And besides, anything that will slow a mourning dove down, even momentarily, is, as most avid dove hunters will agree, quite an asset. Speaking only for myself, I need all the help I can get when it comes to connecting with these grey speedsters. NS 138 Northwest Sportsman

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Things You Should Know About Birds, Shotguns And Fall


By Dave Workman

Now is a good time to pull your shotgun chokes, clean them up and make sure they’re all set for the Sept. 1 openers for doves and grouse. (DAVE WORKMAN)


unting corn country in Washington’s Benton County several years ago with Mike Krei, then a field rep for the National Rifle Association, we were working a draw for pheasants when one exploded from cover. Using a 20-gauge over-and-under, Krei fired twice and missed, after which I swung my 12-gauge side-by-side Beretta into action. My first shot missed, but then the ringneck sailed straight away at maybe 20 to 25 yards away, and my final round – a high-base 2¾-incher No. 6 – launched out of my fixed full-choke barrel and the bird folded in a cloud of feathers. Krei proved repeatedly that weekend that he was a far better wingshot than

I will ever be, and this was one of those moments of part skill and massive good luck that occasionally blesses yours truly. I hunted with that Beretta for several years. It’s a bird-busting marvel I bought at age 19 after finding it at the old Chet Paulsen Guns, when that store was on Tacoma’s Fawcett Avenue. The price was right, the stock fit me very well, it had double triggers, roll engraving on the receiver, deep blue on the barrels, and the bores were both like mirrors. Paulsen’s had taken it on trade from a guy who had put maybe a box of shells through it. His loss, my gain; I’ve put more blue and ruffed grouse in my bag with that gun than I can remember, and

against pheasants and chukars it has been a real performer. But remember, I said it has fixed chokes. A few years ago, I developed a real liking for O/U shotguns with interchangeable choke tubes. The Beretta is hardly retired, but I’ve found that the 20 is plenty, and these days I look forward to fall with a nicely balanced Franchi Instinct chambered for 3-inch magnums, though I’ve never used them in the gun. Choke tubes are a marvelous development, and I’ve got full, modified, improved cylinder and other chokes for the Franchi. I hunt grouse with the I/C and modified chokes installed, with the action set to discharge them in that barrel order. | AUGUST 2018

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Author Dave Workman gives his chokes a bath in Hoppe’s No. 9 and brushes them out. (DAVE WORKMAN) With the right chokes, your shotgun becomes the most versatile tool in the gun rack. It can be choked for everything from mourning doves to Canada geese and wild turkeys.

WITH UPLAND BIRD and dove seasons opening next month, now is a good time to set up your scattergun with the right

choke and shot combination to fill the cooler with fresh wildfowl. For doves, I recommend nothing larger than 7½ shot, and more likely No. 8 or even 9 lead, or No. 6 or 7 steel. Remember to use steel or some other nontoxic shot in the Columbia Basin and other steelonly areas. Also make time now with clay targets to hone up your shooting


During the season, when he might have to switch chokes, Workman keeps his choke wrench stuck in a choke tube that he carries in his pocket. (DAVE WORKMAN) skills before heading afield for these fastmoving birds. I much prefer grouse hunting over all other gamebirds, whether ruffed or blues. I prefer No. 6 for the big blues, while those or 7½ will suffice well for forest grouse, which are typically smaller. Again, I set up with the I/C and modified chokes because I’ll be hunting in cover and I don’t care to let thunder chickens get too far because they’ve got a habit of sailing behind trees or large bushes the farther out they get. Use the same choke set-up in a double gun for quail, and for those who hunt chukar, I’d suggest a modified/full setup because they’re liable to get out ahead of you and they are fast. You may have to reach out some to get them. If you’re hunting with a semiauto or pumpgun, I recommend the modified choke for upland birds, including doves, at least for starters. If birds are spooky and seem to be breaking cover, then you might consider going to a full choke. But if you’re hunting over a good dog that will hold and not make birds nervous, that allows you to move in closer, and that’s where the I/C choke will work best. Of course, each hunter to his/her own choice.

SOME TIME AGO, Browning put together a comparison chart showing how choke choices would differ when using lead versus steel. Steel shoots tighter and it is harder, remember, and I would never recommend using it through a full choke. But here’s how it shakes out: A cylinder choke for lead or bismuth translates to a 142 Northwest Sportsman

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NEW DEER AMMO, BALISTIC CALCULATOR FROM WINCHESTER Just as I was writing this month’s report, Winchester announced that its new Deer Season XP Copper Impact centerfire rifle ammunition was beginning to ship. If it’s not on dealer shelves now, it soon will be. Initially introduced in five popular buck-busting calibers, including .243 Winchester/85 grains; .270 Winchester/130 grains; and .308 Winchester, .3006 Springfield and .300 Winchester Magnum, all with 150-grain pills, this new ammunition is topped, as one might easily conclude, with solid-copper bullets. They offer plenty of weight retention, and they feature a different-colored polymer tip from the standard Deer Season

XP loads so shooters can tell the difference. All-copper projectiles are not a brand-new thing, but as increasing numbers of hunters adjust away from lead-core ammunition due to environmental regulations or just to try something new, expect the Copper Impact line to gain plenty of traction. Winchester Ammunition also recently launched its new website, Winchester .com, and it sports a key new feature, an enhanced “ballistics calculator.” This calculator offers a visual graph that “displays for shooters exact placement for their round of choice, with flight shown in increments as small as five yards,” according to a company press release. You’ll find trajectories for hundreds of

skeet choke with steel or tungsten. The lead/bismuth skeet choke performs like an I/C with steel, and the I/C with lead/

bismuth works like a modified with steel/ tungsten, and so on. A modified with lead acts like a full with steel. Got it?

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Winchester has announced its line of Copper Impact centerfire rifle cartridges in five popular calibers. (WINCHESTER) rifle, shotgun, handgun and even rimfire rounds. This accessory program enables shooters to “fine tune” their shooting, and it may be printed out in a regular format or on a smaller format that a shooter can stick on his/her stock. I checked this thing out online and it’s remarkable. It details bullet drop, muzzle velocity at various ranges out to the target, and how much energy the bullet retains at that distance. –DW I confess to shooting a fair number of grouse with .22-caliber rifles or pistols when they’re sitting on stumps or logs,

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Northwest Sportsman 145


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New from Savage is the Model 110 Tactical model with an extended magazine and three caliber choices. (SAVAGE)

SAVAGE MODEL 110 BOLT-ACTION OUT For or all the “tactical” folks, Savage has nveiled its high-performance Model 110 unveiled ctical bolt-action rifle, in three calibers. Tactical Available in 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor edmoor and .308 308 Wi Winchester, this slick repeater is offered with a synthetic stock in gray or desert tan. The .308-caliber model is offered with either a 20- or 24-inch barrel,

while the 6mm and 6.5-caliber guns come only with the 24-inch tube with the gray stock, while the desert tan version is available with a 24-inch barrel in 6.5 Creedmoor and 26-inch barrel in 6mm Creedmoor. There’s a 110 Tactical left-hand model in .308 Winchester with a 24-inch barrel. The 110 Tactical comes from the

factory with a 20-minute-of-angle EGW rail, and it features a “tactical” oversize bolt handle, detachable 10-round Magpul stock, and AccuStock rail system. It comes with an adjustable AccuTrigger, and the stock features the AccuFit system to allow the user to adjust the comb height and length of pull. –DW

usually during deer or elk seasons, but there is really nothing to compare with being able to tumble a big fool hen on the wing. It’s a hell of a rush when they explode from cover, and they cook up very well for the dinner table.

Now’s the time to pull your choke tubes, clean up the inside and out, wipe the threads with a soft cloth and apply some good choke lube and then clean your bores until they shine. Wrap a patch around the bore brush, scrub with

Hoppe’s or Outers solvent, wipe clean and then give your bore(s) a wipe with a lightly-oiled patch. As the season unfolds and leaves begin to fall, you’ll want to look for grouse to show up along old logging roads or trails,

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Ruger is offering its Scout rifle in .450 Bushmaster this year. (RUGER)

picking up pea gravel and catching any warmth from the sun, especially after a good stretch of rain. Remember, you can’t shoot them in the road, but grouse can be pretty predictable because they will likely trot back into the brush before taking flight if they’re spooked. I chased one bird through the boonies after spotting it on a road shoulder a few years ago. That thing wouldn’t fly no matter what, it seemed, and then finally

the bugger launched only to land on a tree limb about 20 yards away. Birds that stupid deserve to land in the stew pot. Once the bird is down, I recommend a quick field dressing immediately to help cool it down. A small incision along the soft belly and you can an pull the guts out pretty easily. Always take along a pair of gloves for this chore, and a small knife.

TURNING TO FALL’S other hunts, the .450 One of the biggest blue grouse the author ever clobbered was taken a few years ago near Leavenworth. His shotgun is a 12-gauge Beretta with fixed chokes he acquired decades ago. (DAVE WORKMAN)

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Bushmaster is an impressive cartridge, and Ruger recently announced that it is offering that caliber in their version of the bolt-action Scout Rifle. It’s got a 16.10-inch stainless steel barrel that is cut with six lands and grooves on a 1:16-inch right-hand twist. The barrel and action have a matte finish, and there’s a Ruger Precision Rifle Hybrid Muzzle Brake up front. The stock, meanwhile, is black synthetic with a soft rubber butt pad that comes with spacers to adjust the length of pull. Ruger equips this rifle with a protected blade front sight and adjustable rear. It’s got a four-round detachable box magazine, and the trigger guard and magazine well are glass-reinforced nylon. Now, about that cartridge. The .450 Bushmaster is an awesome brush-country round. It launches a 250-grain bullet at better than 2,200 feet per second out of a 20-inch barrel, so expect to lose some speed out of the Ruger’s 16.1-incher, but not enough to make a difference to whatever is on the receiving end. With a rebated base, the .450 Bushmaster’s parent case is the .284 Winchester sized out to take a .452-inch bullet. Now, that’s a big hole-maker, and against coastal elk, deer or bears, it’s got a lot of muscle. NS



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COLUMN There are better ways to bag doves than trying to sluice them on the ground with a bow and arrow, as author Randy King came to learn the hard way. (TOM KOERNER/USFWS)

Feathered Follies I

t was with trepidation and fear that I placed my foot on the pedal of my CHEF IN THE WILD mountain bike. It By Randy King was pointing down the grade and my heart was palpitating. My bow was slung across my back, water bag and quiver hanging off the side. Why shouldn’t we walk? After all, I had a perfectly good set of boots in the truck; why did I need these wheels? Like most good stories, this one starts with a bad decision. Did it really sound like a good idea to go dove hunting with my bow and on a bike? Sure, you bet.

Did the idea of ground-shooting doves get my inner child to chuckle a little bit? One hundred percent it did. But actually pulling it off came to be the hard part.

THE SNAFU STARTED when I invited my fellow traditional archery enthusiast friend Justin along. The plan was to scout for deer and, while we did that, shoot collared doves with our bows. Justin did not have a bike of his own, so I decided to let him borrow the mountain bike of one of my sons. We drove to the hunting location, a blocked-off road that had a cow path leading to the edge of private property and ag fields. The plan was to hunt the edges of the property and not anger the

notoriously bad-tempered landlord with any shooting – we would be using our bows, after all, no booms of shotguns, just the flit of arrows. With resigned bravado I started down the trail, slowly at first then picking up speed and a little confidence. Justin followed closely behind me. After a few hundred yards it seemed like I “got it,” to a degree anyway. It was like skiing, the uncontrolled control of letting oneself glide down a hill at ridiculous speed. The impending doom of each corner. The rush of adrenaline – from not being dead yet. But soon the trail flattened out. Then it became dusty. Then the dust turned to powder – the talc-like kind that can get feet | AUGUST 2018

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COLUMN Smoked dove pepperoni sticks. (RANDY KING)

SMOKED DOVE PEPPERONI STICKS Dove meat is surprisingly dark. I like to think of doves in this light and airy sort of way, but their meat is definitely not that way at all. It can even be kind of strong in the flavor profile too – having a bit of the livery and musk of a duck. A lot of times that is why dove poppers are so popular, in my opinion. You can cover a lot of culinary sin with jalapeños and bacon. I assume the darkness comes from how much they fly. Unlike a quail a dove is in constant flight, and like a duck or a goose that migrates, the meat on these animals is well used. Well-used meat tends to be darker and more flavorful than underused muscle. Cooking dove requires a little bit of care like other dark-meated birds. This recipe calls for the dove to be mixed with pork. The reason I mix it with pork is for the neutrality of the pork flavor in the sausage. Pork has historically been the go-to meat in sausage making because of its mild flavor. I use lean pork in this recipe too – I think it helps keep the natural flavors. Lastly, I add a little Insta Cure #1 and smoke the pepperoni. This does dual duty for the meat – it protects it from bacteria and gives it flavor. Both Insta Cure and smoke are preservatives. Just know that this recipe does not create shelf-stable jerky – these are not Slim Jims! But it does create a meat that you can pack all day without refrigeration and not worry about it. Just don’t leave it in the pack for a week and think it is safe to eat. Feel free to adjust the meat that you use in the recipe. Any wild game – offcuts such as hearts or the random goose breast – make a great meat for this recipe. 2 cups wood chips 1 tablespoon brown sugar ½ tablespoon red chili flakes (or more, depending on how spicy you want it) ½ teaspoon allspice 1½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground (about 2 teaspoons whole before being ground) 152 Northwest Sportsman

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¼ cup milk powder 1 teaspoon pink salt or Insta Cure #1 1 tablespoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon black pepper 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1 pound dove meat, diced 1 pound lean pork meat, diced 6 to 8 feet of collagen casings Special equipment needed: a grinder with a sausage stuffer attachment. Wood chips soaked in water. Smoker. Keep everything as cold as you can! This will help the meat stick together and not crumble when cooked. Do not walk away from the meat at any point in this project. If you do, put it in the freezer or the fridge and return to it. At no point should the meat get warm. Combine all the spices together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the diced meat to the bowl and coat the meat evenly in the spice blend. Run the meat through the grinder into another bowl. (Chef pro tip: It is a good idea to use stainless steel bowls; I put them in the freezer before I use them to make sure they are cold.)

Mix the ground meat with a spoon until well combined and it has become “sticky” to the touch. Next put the ground meat and bowl in the freezer for five minutes. Add the meat to the sausage stuffer and prep the collagen casings. Extrude the meat into the casing – being careful not to create an “overstuffed” case. This will explode when cooked. When the meat is stuffed into the casing (online videos show how to do this very well and much more clearly than I can explain in a written recipe, honestly), hang the meat in the smoker from the top rack. I tie the ends of the casings together and make concentric loops. Smoke the meat at 250 degrees for one hour. The real goal is to get the internal temperature of the meat up to 145 degrees. I used mesquite chips on this recipe, but just about any flavor should work great. Turn off the smoker and let meat rest while hanging. When no longer hot, remove to a tray and cool in the fridge. Vacuum seal the sticks in consumable portions and enjoy! For more wild game recipes, see –RK

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deep and prove dangerous to walk in. Then, not surprisingly, my bike stopped. I turned around and Justin was nowhere to be seen. I pulled my bike out of the powder and looked around, knowing full well that I was done riding for a while. I began walking back up the trail, looking for Justin. I found him about 20 yards into the fine powder and looking sheepish. He had the bike upside down and was trying to get the pedals to function. “I broke your son’s bike,” he muttered, free spinning the pedal without the wheel moving an inch. “Well, crap,” I said. Honestly, I was thinking more about the grief I would get from my wife than from my child. I could fix the bike, but I didn’t want to hear about it!

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we proceeded to start walking into the location. Soon we saw a dove perched on a rock, its collared neck letting us know it was fair game. I drew my recurve bow, focusing the sight picture on the wing of the dove. I let go of the string and watched in anticipation as my arrow traveled through the air. The shot felt good, but soon I watched my arrow lose altitude. Then I watched as the custom-made projectile shattered into splinters and hit about 2 inches below the dove. That was a $10 miss. The dove flew off, undamaged. Justin attempted a similar shot. His carbon arrow did not explode, but it certainly splintered upon impact. His arrow was even more expensive than mine. It did not take long for us to realize the folly. Every dove was perched on a rock. Every single shot presented the danger of destroying an arrow, or sending it over the top of a bird into the great beyond. There was not a groundbound dove to be found. What had begun as a dove hunt soon became a rabbit hunt, then when no rabbits were found, it turned into a walk in the desert with bows. After we picked our broken arrows, the broken bike and our broken egos off the ground, Justin and I made it a point to take our shotguns to my uncle’s feedlot. We shot a great number of doves that day. NS | AUGUST 2018

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Retrieving Bigger Birds

Come time for fall hunts, you want to make sure your pup is comfortable carrying large birds through tightly placed decoys, like this one making a retrieve through a cackler spread. (SCOTT HAUGEN)


ith the month of September fast approaching, and multiple bird seasons about to open, now is the time to make GUN DOGGIN’ 101 sure your pup is ready By Scott Haugen to handle big birds. Whether you’ll be grouse hunting with a 3-month-old pup, or goose hunting with a new gun dog for the first time, you want them to have some familiarity with what they’ll be retrieving. When it comes to teaching your dog to fetch, typically smaller bumpers and birds are used. Training your pup to retrieve starlings, quail or domestic pigeons is great, but once they approach their first blue grouse, they may grow shy. The same goes for dogs that’ll be hunting geese for the first time. Maybe your pup was old enough to hunt ducks last year, but a

12-pound honker is much different for a dog to handle than a wigeon or mallard. Here we’ll look at preparing a pup to retrieve both large upland birds and waterfowl.

FOR UPLAND HUNTERS looking to get a young pup on grouse or pheasant, start with a large bumper. Once the pup fetches a big bumper with confidence and ease, keep using that bumper; don’t regress to a smaller one. As the pup grows stronger, I like drilling a hole in the top of the bumper, then inserting pencil lead sinkers into it. This adds weight and also noise, something they’ll encounter the first time they clamp down on a grouse or pheasant. Over time, as the pup grows stronger, add more weight to the bumper. Don’t get too heavy, too fast. You don’t want the pup to feel overburdened with the weight. As you increase the weight, add bird wings to the bumper, or better yet, an entire bird

skin. Attaching dried bird skins to a bumper is a great way to replicate the flopping wings and tail a pup will encounter when they retrieve a bigger bird. Attach the dried bird skin to a bumper with a couple zip ties. Make sure it’s secured so the wings and tail freely move. For upland birds, a 3-pound bumper with a bird skin is a good training tool.

IF GOING GOOSE hunting with your pup for the first time this fall, invest in a goose dummy. Dokken makes a good Canada goose dummy that’s sturdy, heavy and offers plenty of movement. Introduce the goose dummy to your pup in a fun manner, in a place the pup is comfortable being. Move it around, encourage the pup to mouth it and praise the pup when it engages. Don’t get in a tug-of-war match with the dummy; rather, get the pup to mouth and eventually hold it. Once the pup can comfortably hold the | AUGUST 2018

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Proper training at home allowed this young pup to make his first blue grouse retrieve a success. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

With its size, weight and moving parts, Dokken’s Canada Goose DeadFowl Trainer is ideal when teaching pups to retrieve bigger waterfowl. (SCOTT HAUGEN) 158 Northwest Sportsman

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dummy, start walking and have it heel, so it gets used to carrying it. Periodically stop and have the pup sit while still holding the goose dummy. Once you know the pup can handle the dummy, toss it out for a short retrieve. It might take the pup a minute to gain a proper hold, so just keep encouraging it. When the pup brings the dummy back, praise it and quickly toss it a short distance for another retrieve. At this point, I like going to the water. Your pup will know where to grab the goose dummy, and pushing it across the water is less cumbersome than running with it on land. But the familiarity your pup gained in grabbing the bumper on land will easily transition to water. A day or two after a good water training session, hit the land for longer retrieves. Start in your yard or an open field, as you want the pup focusing on carrying the bulky goose, not having to worry about other elements. As you see the pup progressing with strength and confidence, start having it carry the dummy in tall grass, through ditches, in muddy ponds and among cattails. Introduce it to as many habitats as possible that are similar to where you’ll potentially hunt geese. If you’re going to be hunting snow geese or cacklers, where large, tight decoy spreads are the norm, be sure and practice this. Set out a couple dozen decoys and toss the dummy amongst them. You want the pup getting used to the goose it’s retrieving while bumping off the decoys, the decoys spinning and maybe even falling over, without getting spooked. When introducing your pup to larger, heavier dummies, keep it fun and gauge how hard you can push them based on their performance. Different breeds and even individual pups within a breed may progress at different rates, so let the pup be your guide. Above all else, stay positive and ease into longer retrieves, and you’ll likely be amazed at how fast your pup progresses, and how naturally they pick up those big birds while on the hunt. NS Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is full-time author, TV host and speaker. To watch some of his basic puppy training videos, visit Follow Scott on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. | AUGUST 2018

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NS Aug 2018