Westport Lingcod Report May 10

I’m down here in Westport for a few glorious days of saltwater fishing. Today was my first day this week to play deckhand aboard the Reel Tight, and we had a great time. The weather was pretty nice, with a little breeze but no rain… I’ll take it! The ocean swells were about 6 feet and spaced about 10 seconds apart, which was a little lumpy but with no wind chop was manageable. Luckily the water laid down to about a 4 foot swell by the time we were finished with our trip. Our crew wanted to go out and catch Lingcod and Rockfish in the Pacific, so we cruised up north to a few spots to see what we could find.

We stopped on a few rockpiles in the 60 to 70 foot depths range, marking both great structure and schools of rockfish on the screen (always a good sign). On the very first stop we got into a school of aggressive Black Rockfish (Black Sea Bass). Within the first two drifts we had over 30 nice sized Rockfish on the deck! We were geared up with light tackle spinning rods spun with 20 pound spectra. Half the rods were rigged with double shrimp flies tied above a 3 ounce lead, the other half were rigged with one shrimp fly tied above a 2 ounce swimbait. While some veterans consider catching rockfish more of an afterthought on halibut fishing days, I honestly find fishing them on light tackle to be one of my favorite things to do. Anyways, I was a busy beaver once we got into the rockfish. Racing from port to starboard and back again, pulling in rockfish, often two on one line, shaking them off the hook onto the deck only to race back to the next guest… what a zoo! A little frenzy while fishing is good though.

As the fishing at our first stop cooled off, we went searching for another aggressive school of fish. We made a few experimental drifts on a few spots that we had yet to fish, and eventually we found the remainder of our limit. While we easily could have reached 80 rockfish limit for all the passengers plus captain and deckhand, we decided that just shy of 70 was enough. Limits for all the guests and a few fillets to take home for some fish tacos! We did land a very nice Lingcod while fishing for Rockfish, but really needed to get a limit for everyone. One down and eleven more to catch. So off we went looking.

We stopped on one of our favorite Lingcod spots with high hopes. We weren’t disappointed. One after another, the guys hooked up on Lings and I was kept busy racing around the boat with the net. It was a fairly good catch too, I can’t recall one Lingcod that was even a questionable keeper, plenty of nice fish in the 24” to 32” range. One of our guests was battling the last Lingcod we needed to round out a limit, and as I stood by his side, net in hand, staring into the abyss where the line disappeared into the depths, I suddenly saw his small Lingcod come into view with a much larger Ling latched onto it! With a urgency in my tone, I had him slowly and steadily reel the fish up, and as soon as the net was underneath them, the big one let go of its prey and dove right into the net! What a thrilling end to a great day!


Washington Halibut Seasons 2014

Here in Washington, there are few fish that draw more attention than the Pacific Halibut. Even as I try and stumble through writing this synopsis of the 2014 Washington Season, memories of the Barndoor Halibut we’ve landed, memories of incredibly fast-paced fishing, memories of almost getting pulled in by a just-harpooned-trophy, all those memories of great fishing days and the tonnage of fillets we brought back gets me too excited to focus. There is always a huge amount of excitement and anticipation geared around the upcoming Halibut seasons. This year we should see a great season, both on the Washington Coast and inside the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Here is a basic rundown on this year’s seasons and quotas, as always please refer to the Washington Fishing Regulation Pamphlet along with the Official Halibut Season Press Release and the Washington Halibut Reports for every detail.

[table caption=”Coastal Halibut Season 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left “]
Marine Area,Season,Days
MA1 Columbia River (all depths),May 1 until quota (or Sept 30),Thursdays-Sundays Only
MA1 Columbia River (nearshore),May 5 until quota (or Sept 30),Mondays-Wednesdays Only
MA2: Westport (all depths),May 4 until quota,Sundays & Tuesdays Only (Except closed May 25 & 27). Might re-open June 1/3 if quota remains
MA2: Westport (north inside 30 fathoms),May 4 until sub-quota, 7 days a week
MA3: La Push,May 15 until quota,Thursdays & Sundays Only thru May 24 (or quota). Closed May 29-31. Might re-open June 5/7 if quota remains
MA4: Neah Bay,May 15 until quota,Thursdays & Sundays Only thru May 24 (or quota). Closed May 29-31. Might re-open June 5/7 if quota remains.

[table caption=”Puget Sound Halibut Season 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100”
colalign=”left|left|left “]
Marine Area,Season,Days
MA5: Sekiu,May 22-June7,May 22-May 25 Thursday-Saturday Only; May 29-31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only*
MA6: East Straits,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA7: San Juan Islands,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA8-1: Skagit Bay,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA8-2: Everett,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA9: Admiralty Inlet,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA10: Seattle,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only


Ilwaco Halibut Season

Halibut anglers fishing from Ilwaco will have the longest halibut season in the state. The Marine Area 1 halibut quota isn’t usually reached, meaning that a season could potentially run through September 30. There is a clause in the quota arrangement that if 80% of the quota is reached early in the season, there will be a break to allow some dates later on in the season. At the very least, there is 20% of the quota saved for later in the season! There is also a nearshore halibut fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River that is available.

Westport Halibut Season

Westport hosts dozens of fishing charters that hit the offshore halibut grounds and are joined by many private boaters. Typically the majority of Westport’s fishing fleet heads out to fish along the Quinault, Grays and Guides Canyons way offshore where the halibut are plentiful. There is a nearshore halibut fishery in Marine Area 2 north of the entrance to Grays Harbor and inside of the 30 fathom mark (this inside fishery is mainly designed around allowing folks fishing for bottomfish to keep a halibut if they incidentally catch one). Don’t be surprised if the South Coast Quota is harvested within 5 to 6 days of fishing.

La Push & Neah Bay Halibut Season

Both Neah Bay and La Push are quiet coastal hamlets that become a hive of activity during the halibut seasons. Both harbors fill with boats, every hotel will be at capacity, and the fillet tables will be packed. While the North Coast is allotted 108,030 pounds for the recreational catch, this quota will usually be filled within 4 to 5 days of fishing.

Sekiu & Puget Sound Halibut Season

It seems that every year the Puget Sound halibut fishery becomes even more popular. An on-the-water survey of the angler effort on any day open to fishing will stun the Average Joe. While the Halibut seem to be spread out because there are just so many great fishing areas in the Eastern Straits and Admiraly Inlet, anglers find their fish. Once the annual quota is announced, it allows the state to create a set season which will stay open through June 7.

[table caption=”Washington Halibut Quotas 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left “]
Marine Area,Season,Days
MA1: Columbia River (Early), 9516 pounds
MA1: Columbia River (Late), 2379 pounds
MA1: Columbia River (Nearshore), 2000 pounds
MA2: Westport (Total),42739 pounds
MA2: Westport (Primary),40739 pounds
MA2: Westport (Nearshore),2000 pounds
MA3-4: Neah Bay & La Push,108030 pounds
MA5-10: Puget Sound, 57393 pounds



Washington Lingcod Seasons 2014

Lingcod are one of Washington State’s most popular bottom fish, and almost every marine area offers a fishing season for these voracious predators. They are prized for their aggressive hunting habits, their willingness to strike a variety of lures and bait, and their delicious filets. Washington has such diverse marine areas, each has its own character. In nearshore areas, Lingcod can be found concentrated around inshore bottom structure such as marina breakwaters, jetties, shoals and rockpiles. Along Washington’s Pacific Coast, they reside along the rocky coastline outward to the depths around the edge of the continental shelf. Here is a breakdown of the 2014 Lingcod Season for Washington State. This is just a simple guide, please consult the Washington State Fishing Regulation Pamphlet for full rules. Please be aware that each area may have a specific depth restriction, marine preserves closed to fishing, retention limits, emergency rules.

[table caption=”Washington Lingcod Seasons 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
Area,Season,Limit,Min,Max,Depth Restriction
MA1: Ilwaco,March 15-October 18,2,22”,None,Yes
MA2: Westport,March 15-October 18,2,22”,None,Yes
MA3: La Push,March 15-October 18,2,22″,None,Yes
MA4: Neah Bay,April 16-October 15,2,22″,None,Yes
MA5: Sekiu,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA6: East Straits,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA7: San Juan Islands,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA8-1: Skagit Bay,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA8-2: Everett,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA9: Admiralty Inlet,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA10: Seattle,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA11:Tacoma,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA12: Hood Canal,CLOSED,-,-,-,-
MA13:South Sound,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes

Saturday’s Spot Shrimp Challenge

Old Mother Nature just couldn’t seem to make up her mind this week. Thursday’s Lingcod adventure transpired under beautiful blue skies on a calm Puget Sound. Saturday’s Shrimp escapade was a little different. I accepted a last-minute (like 6am the morning of) invite to meet up with my buddies Brian and Al. Blurry-eyed, I jumped out of bed, collected what I could, and raced to Edmonds. Initially, I expected to stay home, yet a last minute invite is far better than no invite at all! As I sped along on the highway to Edmonds, I was already conjuring up memories of that unbeatable flavor that only those fresh-from-the-sea Spot Shrimp can offer. We only get a few days each Spring to fish for them, but the Sound’s bounty is well worth the effort.

We worked our shrimping gear near Edmonds, as did many others on Saturday morning. There were a few tangles, a few pots that drifted into our lines, but for the most part, it was a smooth operation. Brian brought the bait which was a mixture of shrimp pellets, fish oil, and canned mackerel. Several pots we pulled had upwards of 70 Spot Shrimp, most had between 20 to 50. So we worked hard for a few limits, and with a “second-shift” of eager friends hoping to get in on the experience, I ended my day at about noon, with a hefty bag of Spot Shrimp. They got divided up between myself, my parents and my brothers family. Just enough for a snack!

I hope that everyone that was out there on Satuday did well on their limits, stayed safe, and had a good time. Here are a few photos from our day out.

May 1 Lingcod

Yesterday was the first of May, which signals the beginning of 45 glorious days of fishing for Lingcod in Puget Sound. Most of you will agree that during this time of year, we all have way too much we need to accomplish and not enough hours in the day. Home and garden projects, family time, work, etcetera. On top of the normal day-to-day business, as soon as the weather gets nice we are also slammed with a half dozen great fishing opportunities (and if you are like me, it’s all about trying to figure out where you want to spend those precious hours on the water). While I am fortunate to get the chance to fish around the state, I love fishing for Lingcod so close to home. Finding a way to get out for opening day was a must!

I scrambled last week to see if there was anyone still looking for a crew on opening day. The first person that came to mind was my buddy Eddy, since we have tried to get out fishing many times through the years, unfortunately our schedules never really aligned… but we both had a mid-day window to hit the water for a few hours… so I was stoked! My friends Ian & Monica were available to join in on the fun as well. With a few minor set-backs in the morning (don’t ask), we pushed the meeting time to noon and launched Eddy’s Grady White at the Edmonds Sling.

The weather was perfect, one of those much appreciated warm windless days on the Sound. We zipped over to Kingston to grab a dozen sand dabs, jigging white crappie jigs smeared with a little scent. Once we filled the livewell with our Lingcod bait, we zipped over to Possession Bar. There are plenty of great places to fish for Lingcod throughout Puget Sound, but the location and sheer size of Possession makes it an easy target for folks looking to catch fish without travelling great distances. We fished for about two hours, witnessed a few folks around us hooking fish (including one of Eddy’s friends that landed a sea-monster sized Ling in the 30 pound class which he carefully released). Not even a fish hooked yet… It Was A Good Day.

Tides for the first day of Lingcod fishing weren’t ideal. We had a huge tidal swing with a low slack midday, but the vast numbers of Lingcod, unharrassed but fishermen so far this year more than made up for that. We found a good stretch of structure near the Westside of the Bar and made about a dozen drifts. With ripping currents, we quickly upgraded our weights to 10 ounces, and got the drift pretty dialed in. We averaged about 1 grab per two drifts, so fishing wasn’t that hot for us. I think that the ripping currents were causing us to drift a bit too fast.

About an hour into fishing, we picked up the gear to run back to the top of the drift and whoosh… somehow the net that was nested along the inside of the rail caught air and was launched overboard. After a few choice adult words, we collected our thoughts and made another drift. It wasn’t the cost of replacing the net that was a big deal, but being without a net makes for an interesting time when fishing Lingcod with live bait. Not only must barbless hooks be used in Puget Sound, but when fishing with live bait, Lings will often latch onto the bait and not actually get hooked. I’ve seen it happen many times before where a Lingcod will spit the bait the second its head is pulled above the waterline, either just prior to or just after being netted.

Well, Ian’s rod loaded over and after a short battle and a few returns to the bottom, he carefully reeled up the Ling. Luckily for us, our first Lingcod of the day was pretty docile once it got to the surface. I carefully assessed where the hooks were in relation to the Ling’s mouth (no one wants a hook buried in their hand), and slid my hand up under the gill plate. Lingcod have a piece of cartilage on the inside of the gill plate that acts almost as a natural handle, so once you’ve got your hand in there, a strong grip is all a guy needs to lift the fish out of the water.

Beware that Lingcod have razor sharp teeth and gill rakers as well as pointed spines built into the front dorsal fin, so these creatures are not safe to handle. For me, after years of handling Lingcod on the Westport Jetty, I feel confident that I can handle most average sized Lings. Anyways, we got the Ling in the boat, and it measured 35.5” YEAH! High-fives, pics, back to fishing. We made two more drifts, hooked one other Lingcod, and called it a day. I would imagine that even the most popular Lingcod spots will stay productive for the next several weeks, but later in the season we all have to get creative to find spots that haven’t been hammered with fishing pressure. Best of luck everyone!

Another great fishing day in the books! I hope everyone that made it out had a great time.

Fishing Season Opening Day

Opening day of the Washington trout season is quite a spectacle, as people from all over the state head to their local lake to wet a line. Fish & Wildlife touts the last Saturday in April as the “biggest fishing day of the year”, and with and hundreds of lakes across Washington stocked with catchable-size trout, it is a great time of year to own a fishing rod. I enjoyed the morning on my local trout lake, Pine Lake up on the Sammamish Plateau. I have a special place in my heart for this peaceful suburban lake, it is the place where I caught my very first fish many years ago, which was the start of my lifelong passion for fishing. To spend a morning catching trout with ease, on a beautiful spring day was a thrill. I headed out with my pal Ray, who specializes on kid’s fishing this time of year.

The beauty of lake fishing is in its simplicity. Many salmon fishermen shell out thousands on equipment, steelhead anglers sometimes over think everything, but even the most novice trout fisherman can have an exceptional day with only a few bucks worth of bait & tackle.

It was a great morning, it was awesome to share a few laughs with Ray as we caught & released trout every couple minutes. We trolled around the center of Pine Lake in Ray’s drift boat utilizing his electric trolling motor. We trolled with a small fly/bead/spinner blade lure behind a trout dodger. Once the gear was deployed, Ray worked to keep the dodgers wobbling at just the right speed. Between our two rods, we probably hooked 40 trout and landed half as many. One nice holdover caught our attention as it screamed line off the small spinning reel, but we landed it!

It was a great day to be out, with plenty of jovial cheers coming from the public fishing dock at the park. Lots of folks caught their first fish today, I am sure.

If you are interested in learning how to fish for trout, especially if you want to share a great fishing experience with your kids, I would highly recommend a trip with Ray! Fishing for an Experience

Washington Trout Season 2014

Saturday April 26 2014 (yeah, that’s tomorrow!) is the official kick off to a beloved Washington pastime, it is the opening day of fishing on hundreds of Washington State lakes. There are a few brave souls that spend blistery winter days on the water, but for most folks around here fishing is a fair-weather sport, and the sunny spring days of late April and May are best spent on the shore of a local trout lake. Whether you are a self-proclaimed trout fishing expert or a complete rookie, catching fish will not be any easier than it is during the first few weeks of our local lake fishing season.

Washington State has such a great number of productive trout lakes that choosing one can be quite the task. The beauty of this great fishing opportunity is that regardless of where you live, you need not travel far to experience great fishing. Pick a local lake, one that has been stocked recently, grab some basic fishing gear, and enjoy yourself. Not only is your local lake a great place to unplug for a few hours from a hectic schedule, but also a phenomenal place to introduce friends and family to the joys of fishing. Heck, even if you yourself are still trying to figure this “fishing thing” out, what better than to share the learning experience with others. So drag the neighbor along, yank the Xbox controller out of your kid’s hands, invite a coworker, bring a positive attitude and just go fishing!

The experience of witnessing someone catch their first fish is such a thrill. And the camaraderie between the folks that share the public fishing dock on your local lake is something that isn’t experienced anywhere with average strangers in daily life.

In the next few paragraphs, I will share a few important things that a beginner might find useful. Also, if you find this interesting, feel free to sign up for email alerts (right sidebar) or like our Riptidefish.com Facebook Page for updates. Keep an eye out for other informative articles in the next few weeks.

Where to go trout fishing in Washington State

Washington State has such a great variety of fishing locations that narrowing it down to find a fishing spot can be daunting. Is it the right time of year? It that lake open for fishing? Are there actually fish in there? Is it worth the drive? There are plenty of questions that arise, just remember that there is plenty of information out there and half the fun with this whole “fishing thing” is the thrill of discovery.

In the distant past, opening day was a HUGE DEAL. There were very few trout fishing opportunities before the opener, so when the last Saturday in April came around, frenzy ensued on the shores of every public lake. Nowadays, we have been given plenty of opportunities to fish for trout year-round. Many lakes in the state are open to fishing for the entire year. Check the current fishing regulation pamphlet for the season on your favored lake. Please take note that if you don’t see your lake listed (most lakes are listed in the “Special Rules” area), then it will fall under the General Statewide Season (for lakes that means open to fishing year-round).

A little research will go a long way. Look at a map to pinpoint local lakes with public access. Check out online references such as WashingtonLakes.com (I use this one all the time). Call a local tackle shop to get the most up-to-date information; shops such as Sportco in Fife, Outdoor Emporium in Seattle, Holiday Sports in Burlington, Three Rivers Marine & Tackle in Woodinville, Bob’s Sporting Goods in Longview, Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee, and Defiance Marine & Tackle in Bremerton among others are great places to get personalized service and help with tackle and rigging.

Anyways, here are a few links that will help you on your journey…

Fish Washington
WDFW Fishing Regulations
WDFW Online Fishing License Sales

Fishing Licenses in Washington State

You will most likely need a fishing license. Washington State offers three annual licenses, Freshwater, Saltwater, Shellfish. You can also get a combination license if you prefer. There are also 1-day, 2-day and 3-day licenses. There are a variety of add-ons, but for simple lake fishing all you need is a Freshwater Fishing License. If you are really ambitious, the state offers a 2-pole endorsement that is valid on most lakes (check the regulation pamphlet to see where it is valid). Everyone that is at least 15 years old needs a fishing license. Kids under age 15 do not need a basic fishing license for trout fishing. Get your licenses at a local sporting goods shop, online at WDFW Online Fishing License Sales, or at any Fred Meyer.

Basic Trout Fishing Gear

The beauty of local trout fishing is in its simplicity. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get the required gear. A basic trout fishing rod and reel setup can cost as little as $20. While I would recommend that a beginner invest slightly more on a setup, if you are on a tight budget… don’t feel like you can’t afford to go fishing. A lightweight trout rod 6’ to 7’ in length rated for anywhere from 2-8 pound test fishing line will be perfect, most are two-piece rods. I would recommend 6 pound line for beginners; going lighter than that can mean more lost tackle or lost fish, and going heavier inhibits your ability to cast a great distance. Regarding the fishing tackle and bait, that will depend on whether you plan to fish from shore or from a boat.

Basic Fishing Tackle for Shorebound Anglers

Most folks that are new to fishing will be fishing from a dock or the shore. With literally millions of trout planted in lakes across the state, fishing from shore will be a successful venture with the proper gear. The three basic techniques used are…

  1. Still Fishing with Weight & Bait
  2. Still Fishing with Bobber & Bait
  3. Casting & Retrieving Lures

Consult your local tackle shop on proper setup for these techniques, expect to find diagrams & write-ups on Riptidefish.com very soon!

Basic Fishing Tackle for Boatbound Anglers

Anyone fishing from a small boat, raft, canoe or kayak can utilize the same three techniques used by shorebound anglers. Boat anglers have a few advantages. The biggest advantage is the freedom that a boat affords, boaters can access any and all parts of the lake and get away from the crowds that line the shore on opening day. The second is the ability to slowly troll to cover water. Trolling with Small Lures or a Lure & Dodger Setup can be extremely effective.

Consult your local tackle shop on proper setup for these techniques, expect to find diagrams & write-ups on Riptidefish.com very soon!

Your Catch

While I am an avid supporter of Catch & Release when it comes to wild fish, the stocked trout in our local lakes exist so that we can enjoy a day’s fishing, but also so that we can procure a meal from time to time. Kids love bringing home a few fish, and there is a lot of pride in enjoying a family meal that you yourself catch out of local waters.

Know the daily limit before you head out to the local lake, and have a plan for your catch before you keep any fish. Did you bring a cooler with ice? Did you bring a stringer? Make sure that you act as a responsible sportsman by respecting your catch. When you keep a fish, cut or tear the gills so that the fish bleeds out (it will pull blood from the meat and offer you a better product). I like to bleed out my catch on a stringer, then transfer to a cooler. If you plan on releasing anything you catch, be aware that many fish will swallow any bait and can be possibly difficult to revive. There is actually a rule that any fish you catch with bait counts as part of your daily limit even if you release it (so catching & releasing 20 trout with bait is a big no no).

Anyways, I hope you all have a chance to head to your local lake this weekend for some great fishing! If you want any advice on a great place to go fishing, feel free to add a comment to this post and I will do my best to give you a great recommendation. Good luck out there everyone!


Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season 2014

Harvesting your own food is one of the great benefits of living in the Pacific Northwest. And for all of the seafood aficionados reading this, one of our region’s true delicacies is about to open for harvest. Fishing season for Spot Shrimp opens at the beginning of May. Here are the details.

Spot Shrimp in our inland marine areas are regulated on a quota system. The season is determined based on the health of the shrimp population and is split between tribal, non-tribal commercial and recreational users. Once the quota is set, potential user interest in the season is used to decide the number of days that we can fish in each marine area. Being such a sought-after shellfish, and being in such a heavily populated area where many folks enjoy boating and fishing, the seasons near Seattle, Tacoma and Everett are a mere few days.

Fish & Wildlife managers will assess the catch from the listed dates and decide whether to offer us an extended season. Get prepared early, take the day off of work, and go shrimping for a couple days!

For the full skinny from WDFW check out the OFFICIAL WDFW NEWS RELEASE

We will be launching a series of posts in the next month with tons of great information, tips & strategies that will help you catch more Spot Shrimp in Puget Sound this year!

Marine Area 8-1 Deception Pass, Saratoga Passage

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm

Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 8-2 Port Susan, Everett, Mukilteo

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm
Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 9 Admiralty Inlet, Possession Bar

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm

Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 10 Seattle & Bremerton

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm
Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 11 Tacoma & Vashon Island

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm
Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm
Saturday May 10: 7am-3pm
[table caption=”Everett Tides” width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
May 3,2:41am 6.1’L,7:37am 9.2’H,2:20pm -0.6’L,9:42pm 10.8’H
May 7,12:11am 10.2’H,7:06am 5.2’L,11:42am 7.1’H,5:41pm 2.6L
[table caption=”Seattle Tides” width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
May 3,2:42am 6.2’L,7:36am 9.5’H,2:21pm -0.6’L,9:41pm 11.1’H
May 7,12:10am 10.5’H,7:07am 5.2’L,11:41am 7.3’H,5:42pm 2.6L
[table caption=”Tacoma Tides” width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
May 3,2:45am 6.2’L,7:44am 10.0’H,2:27pm -0.7’L,9:43pm 11.6’H
May 7,12:14am 11.0’H,7:03am 5.4’L,11:48am 7.8’H,5:51pm 2.6’L
May 10,2:22am 11.1’H,9:11am 2.7’L,3:21pm 9.0’H,8:48pm 4.4’L

Seattle Washington March 2014 Fishing Report

Hello everyone! If you are reading this, then congrats… you have stumbled apon the very first in a series of monthly fishing reports that I plan on publishing. The goal of this series is to offer everyone a fresh outlook for the month ahead, share a few great opportunities, a few pointers, and get everyone excited about the fishing prospects in Seattle and the rest of the Great Pacific Northwest.

March offers the first signs of spring for us here in the Pacific Northwest, and the warmer weather and added daylight really spur many of us to break out of our winter hibernation and hit the water. With the overlap of late winter and early spring fisheries, anyone looking to wet a line will have more options than time. Regardless of how much I enjoy the sight of a just-now-caught Winter Steelhead, plans are being hatched as visions of Razor Clams, Spring Chinook, Largemouth Bass and Trout dance around in my head. We have plenty to cover, so let’s get at it!


Steelhead fishermen have seen a roller coaster of river conditions this season. We’ve experienced some phenomenal extremes in weather this season, but the term Deep Freeze best sums up the majority of the winter season. Although all of Puget Sound’s rivers are now closed to fishing, most would say that this season was more or less a bust. The steelhead angler that fished once and a while probably saw a few or no fish this year. The steelhead angler that devoted the past few months solely to fishing probably saw a handful of steelhead, but even the die hard guys that I have spoke with stated that the fish were few and far between. Most noticed that this year’s hatchery steelhead were very small. Enough negativity, let’s look at what really gets everyone excited…


Washington’s Olympic Peninsula has definitely been the highlight of the season. While it appears that area rivers are getting more and more acclaim, and even more busy with drift boat traffic, the size and numbers of quality steelhead keep folks coming back. Steelhead fishing on rivers the likes of the Hoh, Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Queets, and Humptulips should remain strong until these rivers close in April and May.

Fishing on the Upper Chehalis, Satsop and Wynochee has been decent. These rivers offer a great mix of both hatchery and wild Steelhead, and will offer up a great opportunity through their respective closing dates.

Guide Mike Ainsworth with a beautiful Steelhead caught last week.

The Cowlitz River has been putting out a few fish for the guys really putting in the effort. While there hasn’t been much of a true winter run, the real buzz is around the late-February through March return of B-Run Cowlitz Steelhead. Focus on the area around Blue Creek, The Wall, and the Crack Pipe (Blue Creek Boat Launch) for March fish. Fishing around Barrier Dam will be a great option, as the bank anglers here have a great shot at both late-run Steelhead and Cowlitz Spring Chinook.

Spring Chinook

Spring Chinook are just starting their monumental return to the mighty Columbia River. While the late winter storms in the Portland area have kept the Willamette River flowing high and muddy, once it starts to clear, the lower Columbia should see better fishing. Plunkers on the sand bars of the lower river have picked off a few Springers already, but the main return has yet to show. With healthy returns in the forecast, it should be a great season!


Puget Sound Blackmouth fishing has been decent in Admiralty Inlet (Marine Area 9). The bait has been spread out and difficult to find on occasion, but the salty dogs that have been braving the Puget Sound’s winter chill have typically had good luck finding some decent fish. Trolling around Possession Bar, Pilot Point, Point No Point and Skunk Bay has been productive for most. San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7) has some of the best Blackmouth fishing every winter, with plenty of large fish. Recently, the winner of the Roche Harbor Salmon Derby one the first place prize of $10,000 with a clipped hatchery Blackmouth that tipped the scales of 20.02 pounds! Both areas have a reduced daily limit of one salmon per person.


Razor Clamming seasons have been extremely generous this year. The past several years, coastal clam diggers have experienced some of the best digging, longest seasons, and easiest limits in recent memory. State biologists have recognized that our Pacific Beaches host extremely healthy populations and have green-lighted clam digging openings from early winter through mid spring. The latest opener runs through March 3, but expect more additions to the season through April.


Westport will soon be abuzz with anglers looking to score their first bottomfish fillets of the season. Charter offices have already begun to book their boats for the Lingcod opener on March 15. Expect great fishing for Sea Bass and Lingcod from mid March through the spring. Shorebound anglers can even get in on the action and head to the Westport Jetty.

It will be a great month to get out of the winter funk and hit the water folks! If anyone out there wants to share a photo or report, please check out our FACEBOOK PAGE

Good luck out there!

Snoqualmie River Winter Steelhead

The Snoqualmie River is one of the best places in the Puget Sound region to catch Winter Steelhead. Its three forks, the Middle, North and South forks converge into a respectable sized river and plummet over the 268 foot tall Snoqualmie Falls. Our beloved waterfall is an impassable barrier to the Steelhead that migrate home from the sea but below it, for many miles, lie a great number of fishing spots that will undoubtedly yield Steelhead to those persistent anglers who put in their time.

Most of the rivers that flow into Puget Sound suffer from diminished returns of Wild Steelhead, including the Snoqualmie. Even so, generous inputs from the Tokul Creek Hatchery continue to give us a great fishing opportunity during the winter.

Thanksgiving marks the unofficial start to the winter fishing season. Local fishing bums will start to catch a few Steelhead near the Tokul Creek Hatchery at Big Eddy. While early season catches are few, light crowds make for an enjoyable fishing experience. Before December 1, barbless hooks must be used and bait is banned. Once the bait ban lifts in December, the river becomes a flurry of activity. December and January will offer up a great two months of Steelhead fishing.

Recommended Gear

The Snoqualmie an be considered a medium-large sized river, therefore longer rods will give an angler better line control. For float fishing, I always bring my 10′ Lamiglas, and usually stick with my 9’6 G Loomis when swinging spoons or drift fishing. Our season closes before the larger Wild Steelhead return in great numbers, and because the average hatchery fish weighs less than ten pounds, a medium action rod will suffice.

The Snoqualmie offers such a great variety of water types that many Steelhead fishing techniques are considered productive. Float fishing is by far the most popular method, especially around the mouth of Tokul Creek. Bobbers matched with Steelhead jigs catch quite a few fish each winter. I prefer a jig that is 1/8 oz; favorite jig colors are any combination of orange, pink, purple, white or blue. When the river gets low and clear, a Nightmare Jig (white head, red body, black tail) offers the perfect contrast and is very effective. Drift fishing with cured roe also catches a fair number of Winter Steelhead and being the technique I first started off with, is something I still continue to catch Snoqualmie Steelhead with.

Bank Fishing on the Snoqualmie

1.) Falls Pool: Parking and the trailhead are located at the end of Fish Hatchery Road. The tailout of the pool will hold Steelhead as will the several smaller pools below.

2.) Big Eddy: Tokul Creek enters the Snoqualmie River at a huge shallow swirling eddy. This area has a high concentration of Steelhead, plenty of traffic, and lots of character. Arguably the most popular place to fish on the Snoqualmie. Located off SR 202 on 372nd Ave and Fish Hatchery Road.

3.) Tokul Creek: The hatchery is located on the creek, so all of the returning Steelhead that haven’t been caught by anglers below will have to swim through this turbid and fast flowing stream. Anglers drift yarn or cured roe in the fast waters of the creek. Located off SR 202 on 372nd Ave and Fish Hatchery Road.

4.) Plum’s Landing: The river at Plum’s Landing looks as if it were handmade for Steelhead. The choppy run just above the concrete ramp is always worth a few casts. Located off Fish Hatchery Road.

5.) David Powell Road: Located off Preston-Fall City Road just south of Fall City, the road closely parallels the river for almost 2 miles. I like to hop between empty pullouts; there are many great spots along this road.

6.) Fall City Bridge: The gravel bar above the bridge offers great water to swing flies or spoons or drift fish. This is one of the classic Snoqualmie River fishing spots.

7.) Tolt T: Tolt-John MacDonald Park is located at the mouth of the Tolt River. This large public park offers great fishing access to the lower Tolt River and the sweeping run on the main river just below the confluence. Located off NE 40th Street or Tolt Ave in Carnation.

8.) Chinook Bend: Chinook Bend Natural Area offers a few great drifts which are accessible by several maintained trails. Located off Carnation Farms Road.

Drifting the Snoqualmie

1.) Plum’s Landing to Fall City: This is a short float with lots of great Steelhead holding water. Plum’s Landing is directly below the Tokul Creek Hatchery. The river at Plum’s is very productive, some folks will launch their boats at Plum’s and fish this large run the entire day. The boulder strewn tailout of the Plum’s drift has lots of great holding areas. There are plenty of places to anchor and fish, pull plugs, or just side drift your way down. Take out at the ramp at the Raging River mouth in Fall City.

2.) Fall City to Richter’s (Neal Road): Also a short float, the Fall City to Neal Road drift has some of the Snoqualmie’s best steelhead water. The long stretch from the Fall City Bridge down to the Flag Pole has produced countless Steelhead. When spending an entire day on the Snoqualmie, I prefer to float both drifts: Plum’s to Richter’s.

3.)Richter’s (Neal Road) to Tolt Hill Bridge: While this float is technically doable, the Snoqualmie through this stretch doesn’t have the flow or character to hold Steelhead. This stretch fishes best when Coho migrate into the Carnation area in October and November.

Motor Boats on the Snoqualmie

Jet Sleds can be launched at the Fall City Launch or Carnation Launch. Side drifting with prawns or cured salmon roe is the most popular technique used. During higher flows, it is common to see jet sleds fishing from the Plum’s Landing Launch down throughout the Fall City area.

Giving Thanks for Early Winter Steelhead

It was another unforgettable Thanksgiving Day. The day was spent with friends and loved ones and was another reminder that we all have so much to be truly thankful for. Our traditional Thanksgiving morning fishing trip that was underway shortly after day break was followed by a great time with friends and a phenomenal meal with the family. For anglers looking forward to capitalize on an extended holiday weekend there are plenty of options, both close to home and in the remote reaches of our region. From late returning Coho to scrappy Chum Salmon to hatchery Winter Steelhead, there are plenty of places to go and plenty of fish to catch.

Most of our Western Washington rivers and streams will be effected by the weather system moving into the area on Saturday afternoon (November 30, 2014), but keeping an eye on weather conditions and water conditions will give everyone a clear idea of what their options are.

Remember, the smaller steams and rivers clear the fastest. After a large Northwest rainstorm, some of our smallest streams can drop into fishable shape well before our largest rivers even crest. Good luck out there everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are a few of my suggestions for anyone looking to go fishing the week after Thanksgiving.

Skykomish River (Coho, Chum, Early Steelhead)

Sky Country can be a great option for any Seattle area angler in late November to early December. While late Coho fishing has been decent, Chums have been a fun and scrappy incidental catch, excitement is building for a solid two months of Winter Steelhead fishing. River levels will move from low to high pretty quickly after our weekend rains hit, but anglers are already reporting Steelhead catches near the mouth of the Wallace River and upper Skykomish below Reiter Ponds Hatchery. Once we see the river levels rise, Steelhead will migrate quickly and offer great fishing options throughout the system. Best bets for bank anglers: Reiter Ponds, Reiter Highwayside, Cable Hole, Proctor Creek, Cracker Bar.

Skykomish River Fishing Spots

Snoqualmie River (Early Steelhead)

The banks of the Snoqualmie River have been a ghost town for the past several weeks. Aside from a few diehard bobberheads fishing the Big Eddy near Tokul and fly guys practicing their double hand casts off David Powell Road, most anglers are holding off until the bait (and barbed hooks) opener on Sunday December 1. Usually there are a few early Hatchery Steelhead caught on opening day, but this river really lights up after the first rains… which coincidentally are expected to hit on the eve of the opener. If the river is too high to fish, the seam at the mouth of Tokul Creek will be a busy place. Best bets: float fishing Big Eddy and with high water plunking at the Carnation Farms Bridge or Fall City Bridge. If the river rises above 6,000 c.f.s. there will be no good options though for a few days.

Snoqualmie River Fishing Spots

Green River (Chum, Early Steelhead)

For anyone living in King County or Pierce County, the Green River is an easy one to get to and has great bank access. The Green is currently loaded with Chum Salmon, has a few Coho still entering the system, and will offer a few lucky anglers the shot at some Winter Steelhead. Although it doesn’t receive the same gluttonous Steelhead smolt plants that other Puget Sound rivers receive, it is still cherished by many local Steelheaders. Bank Bets: Car Body Hole (Auburn Black Diamond Road & Hwy 18), Flaming Geyser State Park, Old Grady Park.

Bogachiel River (Early Steelhead)

Forks area rivers have all seen a few early returning Winter Steelhead, but the Bogey is the kingpin of early hatchery Steelhead catches. Expect quite a crowd at the Bogachiel near the hatchery, but for good reason: plenty of November/December hatchery Steelhead to catch! Float fishing with small jigs or live sand shrimp can be very effective.

Sooes River (Early Steelhead)

This tiny little tidal creek on the Makah Reservation near Neah Bay has a surprising number of returning Winter Steelhead. With slightly more smolts planted here than in the Bogachiel, this could be a great option if rains push our Forks area rivers to unfishable flows. Tribal fishing license is required.

Humptulips River (Late Coho & Early Steelhead)

A large push of late returning Hatchery Coho just hit the river last week, and with a deluge expected to hit the coast on Sunday, there should be a solid mix of Coho and Steelhead in the system once waters recede.

Satsop River (Late Coho & Chum)

The Satsop has been invaded by a huge glut of Chum Salmon, which are a great option for anyone looking to get out and play Catch & Release. Pulling K13, K14 or K15 Kwikfish in any deep runs is a sure way to wear out your fishing partners, but with a strong return of Late Coho and a few signs of Hatchery Steelhead starting to show, there are plenty of options is this Chehalis River tributary.

Puget Sound from Everett & Edmonds (Blackmouth)

Fishing for Resident Chinook has been pretty good in Puget Sound and while Marine Area 9’s November Season is drawing to a close, Marine Area 8-2 is open for fishing through April. Focus on the lowest 10 feet of the water column, as many of these resident feeder Kings are foraging on Sand Lance (Candlefish). Trolling at slow speeds with 11” Flashers paired with Coho Killer Spoons, 3.5” Kingfisher Spoons, or Needlefish Plastic Squid. For a few prime Blackmouth areas, troll around Sandy Point, South Gedney Island and Racetrack.

Winter Steelhead Fishing with Floats & Jigs

Fishing with a float and jig has become one of the most popular methods for catching Winter Steelhead. Float fishing is one of the easier techniques to master, making it a perfect option for anyone new to fishing on our Northwest rivers. And while some really do consider this a beginners technique, most expert anglers realize the effectiveness and are float fishing converts as well. While fishing with a float (or bobber) is often identified with lake fishing for smaller trout or panfish, we clever river fishers have infused that simple buoyant apparatus into our world of salmon and steelhead fishing.

This post is designed to break down each required piece of the Float & Jig setup, plus share a few tips. I hope you find this informative and helpful… Enjoy!

Steelhead Float Fishing Tips

  1. Float size, jig size and simple arithmetic. Standard steelhead jig sizes are 1/8 oz to ¼ oz. Standard steelhead float size is 3/8 oz to ¾ oz. While a smaller 1/8 oz steelhead jig offers the perfect profile, often these are too lightweight to anchor the float (submerge half the float) or to sink quickly enough. Including a sinker to the setup is almost always needed, whether it be an inline weight, snap swivel/slinky, or split shot.
  2. Keep your mainline from impacting the natural drift of your float. If the float is tilted downstream, the mainline on the surface of the water down-current can be pulling your float faster than the speed of the drift. If the float is tilted upstream, then you might need to let more mainline out so the setup is not held back. The goal is to see your float pointing straight to the sky, or completely vertical. When the float/jig setup is drifting at the same speed as the current, then we’ve found the best presentation possible.
  3. Appropriate depth of a Steelhead Jig. Winter Steelhead will hold in the soft currents that lie closest to the river bottom. Even the smallest of cobble or boulders can break the current and offer an easier place for a Steelhead to rest which is usually within 2 feet of the bottom. Set the distance from your float to jig so that your jig is within a couple feet of the bottom.
  4. Floating braided mainline is crucial. A quality floating braid allows us to manipulate the line on the surface so that it doesn’t negatively impact the drift. Floating braid can be mended and manipulated in the same way a floating fly line can be controlled.
  5. Dancing floats and depths. If you notice your float is dancing or bobbing, that could mean that the jig is dragging along the bottom. If you are managing the mainline properly, and the float is also tilted down-current then this is almost a surety. Shorten the float-jig distance 12 inches at a time until you get a natural drift.
  6. Losing floats? When fishing in areas with extreme snags, if you find that you are losing bobbers because your weight setup breaks off, place a bead/stop below the float.
  7. Hookset? When a steelhead pulls that bobber down, think about what a hookset will actually accomplish. If you have plenty of slack line on the surface (lack of a direct connection), it might be better to reel quickly to get the line tight before setting the hook.

Float Fishing Rods

Many of the rod manufacturers that cater to Northwest salmon and steelhead anglers offer some great options for float fishing rods. A float fishing rod is usually the longest rod that a fisher will have in his collection. One of the most important aspects in float fishing is line management. A longer rod will allow for easier mending and manipulation of the mainline to provide the perfect drift. The exact length of the perfect float rod truly depends on where you fish. On larger rivers where long distance casting and serious line control is the standard, a rod 10’ or longer might be perfect. When fishing smaller brushy streams, a rod as short as 8’6 might be perfect. Typically 9’6 to 10’6 is the perfect range for an all around float fishing rod. Look for a rod with a medium power: 6-12lb, 8-15lb, 8-17lb are perfect options for most fisheries.

Float Fishing Reels

As with many techniques, the first question is whether to go with a spinning or baitcasting setup; both have their advantages. When using extremely light tackle, such as 1/8 oz to ¼ oz floats, a spinning rod can offer easier casting for most anglers. The advantage of baitcasting reels, however, is that they can be left in casting mode so that line will flow easily from the spool and allow the drift to continue. Spinning reels allow for this also but when you see a “bobber down!” and need to disengage the free spool it is more cumbersome to flip the bail over, especially once a steelhead draws the line tight. I prefer baitcasting setups almost exclusively for personal use, but use spinning setups when taking out novice anglers or kids who might have difficulty mastering a cast with a levelwind baitcaster.

Float Fishing Mainline

Monofilament or Braid? Braid. Floating braided mainline offers so many advantages over monofilament that there isn’t even a question of what to use. Many braided lines come in a high visibility color such as white, yellow or bright blue. Being able to see your mainline will allow you to more effectively mend and manipulate your line for better float control. I would recommend a line that is between 30 lb and 50 lb; we never need that kind of breaking strength for steelhead, but the thicker diameter of 30 lb to 50 lb matches a typical 8 lb to 15 lb monofilament. Bobber stops might not properly grip thinner braid, plus thin braided line can cut into itself on the spool causing major headaches while fishing.

Float Fishing Leader

Monofilament or fluorocarbon leader material between 8 lb and 15 lb covers our spectrum of steelhead situations here in the Northwest. Favor 8 lb or 10 lb when water conditions are low and clear. Favor 12 lb or 15 lb when water conditions are high and muddy, also when targeting trophy steelhead later in the season. I will typically use a leader between 24” and 36”.

Bobber Stop & Bead

Slip on bobber stops made of string are popular for steelhead fishing. They can be tightened around the braided mainline and easily adjusted for changing depth. On floats with a wide opening, a bead may be needed to keep the stop from sliding through the float.

Steelhead Fishing Floats

There is a wide variety of steelhead floats available including balsa, foam, cork, and clear plastic. Float style selection comes down to personal preference. Using a sliding float (versus a fixed float) and a bobber stop will allow the fisher to easily adjust for depth. I typically use floats between 3/8 oz and ½ oz for winter steelhead fishing.

Sinkers & Weight

Inline float weights, pencil lead or slinky weights are often needed to balance out the smaller 1/8 oz steelhead jigs and larger ½ oz floats.

Split Shot

When using a leader greater than 24” I almost always add a small split shot weight to my leader. A split shot will help the entire setup to sink and bottom out quickly, which is especially helpful when fishing faster water where you want your jig to get down immediately.

Steelhead Jigs

There are a great variety of jig patterns available, and the great news is that many of these are extremely effective. Generally speaking, 1/8 oz to ¼ oz are the preferred sizes. The beauty of steelhead is that they tend to not be too picky, there are a variety of colors that will tempt winter fish: hot pink, light pinks, blue, purple, white, orange, shrimp, black and any combination of these can be effective. I have found that one of the greatest factors to success is matching the size of the jig profile to the water conditions. During low and clear conditions I will tend to downsize my presentation, an Aerojig Hackle series or micro jig would be great options. When river conditions are higher than average, a full bodied rabbit fur jig or palmered marabou jig might be the better producer.

Overall, float fishing with jigs can be an extremely effective way to catch Winter Steelhead, and it’s a great tactic for anyone from a beginner to an advanced Steelheader. Regardless of experience, once you dive into this technique, you will realize why it has become a favored tactic for riverbound anglers across the Pacific Northwest.

Basic Float Fishing Setup

Twitching Jigs for Coho

Every fall, river bound anglers eagerly wait for the return of Coho Salmon. While some rivers have gained notoriety for runs of aggressive and easy to catch Coho, other rivers have gained fame for Coho that are difficult to catch. At any given time in any river system, Coho can turn off the bite, truly testing the angler’s patience and skill. When targeting salmon that aren’t overly aggressive but still willing to bite, twitching jigs can be a very worthwhile technique. Once the secret tactic employed by a handful of Olympic Peninsula fishing guides, twitching jigs is now a well known option that works well in many situations.

The rivers of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula are prime areas for twitching jigs. Coho Salmon that are found in rivers like the Hoh, Queets, Sol Duc, Humptulips and Chehalis tend to have ample holding water that is conducive to twitching. Areas where the current is mild, such as deep pools, back eddies, and areas around submerged wood tend to be prime jigging zones. But aside from the Olympic Peninsula, any river that aggressive Coho swim can be a place to try out this technique. Anglers throughout Alaska and British Columbia have been twitching jigs for many, many years.

Coho Salmon love holding in areas where there is cover, so any area where the current is moving slowly and has some depth too it can be prime.

Coho Salmon Holding Water…

  • Slow current
  • Deep water
  • Submerged logs & woody debris

So if you stumble upon an area that has all three, you’ve got perfect Coho holding water, thus a perfect place to twitch jigs. Once you’ve pinpointed an area where Coho are holding, the main two things that need to be considered are jig choice and jigging method.

Salmon Jig Choice

Consider your fishing situation. Are the Coho super aggressive? Are the Coho lockjawed? Is the water clear? How close to tidewater? Have the fish been in the river a while? How deep is the water? These are just a few of the questions that run through my mind while I’m considering jig choice. I might fish a large bright pink jig near tidewater if I think there are aggressive Coho nearby, but if I am upriver and Coho have been in the river a while, then I might downsize to a smaller profile jig that is a dark blue or purple.

Typically salmon jigs that are ¼ oz, 3/8 oz or ½ oz are preferred.

Salmon jigs can be tied with marabou feathers, rabbit fur, or just be a jighead pushed into the head of a plastic squid.

Color patterns vary from river to river. Coho might consistently respond to a bright pink, or maybe a dark purple, or maybe black; our job is to experiment until we find the correct jighead weight, profile and color.

Twitching Methods

Jigging is a very universal term in the fishing realm, lifting the rod tip to lift the jig, and then dropping the rod tip to allow the jig to fall. To trigger a strike from Coho, it is all about the lift & fall. The rising and falling motion of the jig creates a reactionary instinct that is triggered. Depending on the demeanor or the fish in the river at that time, they might want an aggressive retrieve or a more mild retrieve. I’ve seen quite a few methods for twitching jigs. Some anglers prefer a short-quick lift and fall method, while other anglers prefer a big-quick lift with a slow fall. Experiment unit you find the preferred method. Recognize that Coho will hold near the river bottom, or suspend near submerged wood. If there is wood in the river, then an accurate cast near the structure is very important. Coho will often hold so tight to the wood that drifting anything could mean an instant snag up. But pitching a jig and letting it fall can often lure Coho out of those tight spots.

Twitching Equipment

Rod: A medium power bass rod is perfect. Look for a rod that is 7’ to 8’ and fairly stout (you don’t want a flimsy rod that bends when you’re trying to lift the jig). A rod that has a line rating of 6-15lb or 8-17lb should be perfect for jigs in the 1/4oz to 1/2oz range.

Reel: A standard 2500 size or 3000 size reel will have enough line capacity for this technique.

Line: Braided lines offer strength paired with thin diameter. They also offer zero stretch, which is beneficial when jigging.

Twitching Jig Tips

  • When fishing near wood, lures often get snagged up. If a jig is retrieved but the hook is bent straight, only bend it back into fishable shape once or twice. Every time that a hook is bent, it loses its strength and is more likely to bend out when a fish is actually hooked.
  • Focus on areas where there is ample depth, slow current, and woody structure.
  • Experiment with jigging speed. Coho will sometimes best respond to an erratic speedy retrieve, and other times a slow lift/fall tactic is most productive.
  • Jig color is a key factor and the preferred color can change from day to day. Generally speaking, Pinks, Blacks, Purples and Blues are the best colors.
  • Choose braided lines over monofilament. The control over the jig is much greater with braid plus if a jig is snagged, there is a better chance that you can get it back.

Best Lures for Chum Salmon

Autumn brings us such a great variety of fishing opportunities, and one of my favorite activities is to fish for Chum Salmon on the rivers near my home. These brutish salmon have the aggression and strength to make a day of fishing both easy and exciting. Chum Salmon push up into our Washington and Oregon rivers in October, November and December every year and are so much fun to catch! Here are a few of my favorite Chum Salmon lures that I would recommend to anyone heading out this fall. I’ve also written a short piece about How To Catch Chum Salmon.

Bobber Fishing Lures for Chum Salmon

Aerojig Hackle Series

My jig box is loaded with these things! Aerojig Hackle series jigs are one of my go-to jigs for Steelhead fishing, but I’ve seen them work extremely well for Chum Salmon when the water is low and clear. When I find myself fishing on a day when the Chum seem to be less aggressive, I will downsize my jig to a smaller profile Aerojig Hackle Series.

Aerojig Marabou Series

Aerojig Marabou’s seem to have that larger profile that I like when fishing Chum in dirty water. Stick with the purples, pinks and chartreuses.

Best Lure Colors

  • Cerise
  • Dark Pink
  • Purple
  • Chartreuse

Float Fishing Tips

  • Floating braided mainline is easy to mend.
  • 30 pound to 50 pound braided mainline.
  • Chum Salmon are rarely line shy.
  • 24 inch, 15 pound to 25 pound mono leader.
  • 1/4 oz to 3/8 oz jigs.
  • Smaller profile jigs when the water is clear.
  • Bigger profile jigs when the water is dirty.
  • Tip the jig with a small chunk of cured prawn meat for added attraction.
  • Allow your jig to be at a depth so that it is within two feet of the bottom.
  • At the end of the fishing day, store jig box open so that the jigs dry and don’t get musty.

Yakima Maxi Jig

Maxi Jigs are one of my favorite store-bought jigs for Steelhead fishing, so naturally I always have a few in my jig box. They are available in a few really great Chum catching colors. They are a little more expensive than other jigs on the market, but they are tied on a super high quality Owner jig hook.

Beau Mac Jig

I really like Beau Mac Jigs because they are fairly inexpensive, you can find them anywhere, and I’ve personally caught quite a few fish on them. Chum Salmon cannot resist them!

Rabbit Jig

I prefer to tie my own jigs for salmon and steelhead, and a hand-tied Rabbit Fur Jig is a deadly lure for Chum Salmon fishing. Rabbit fur is extremely durable. So if you end up having an exceptional day of fishing, you will not have ruined many jigs.

Marabou Jig

Marabou Chum Jigs are a great option for catching Chum Salmon, a simple jig is easy to tie and inexpensive. Marabou is a finer material than Rabbit fur, but it offers better movement in the water. I honestly don’t have a preference while targeting Chum Salmon, and have caught plenty of fish on both.

Plugs for Chum Salmon


Kwikfish are an absolute go-to lure choice when fishing from a boat. Whether anchored or back trolling, these diving plugs have the rattle and wiggle that Chum cannot resist. Add a sardine fillet wrap to the underside and you’ll knock em dead!

Low and clear water: K13 Kwikfish

Prime water conditions: K13 or K14 Kwikfish

High and dirty water: K15 Kwikfish


Yakima Bait Company designed the Maglip Plug several years ago, since then this deep diving plug has been a popular choice for Chum fishing. Maglips are available in several sizes and countless colors that look like true Chum Salmon killers!

Low and clear water: Maglips 3.5

Prime water conditions: Maglips 4.5

High and dirty water: Maglips 5.5

Kwikfish Tips

Scents: Various scents can be used to make your plugs even more alluring. Soak your wraps prior to fishing. My favorites are Sardine, Anchovy, Shrimp/Krill.

Dyes & Cures: Coloring up your wraps with bait dyes or cures can add a little flair to your offering.

Storage: Keep all pre-wrapped plugs that are not currently in use in a container/cooler. Keeping Sardine wraps cool is extremely important… salmon don’t like stinky bait!

Drift Fishing Lures for Chum Salmon


This classic Northwest drift combination will produce strikes in most Chum Salmon fishing scenarios. I will typically use a larger presentation for Chums, so a Size 10 or Size 8 Corky with a few tufts of yarn in various colors.

Corky Cluster/Yarn

The Corky Cluster is a new addition for Yakima Bait Company. This fishy looking drift bobber is composed of the same material and same finishes as the ever popular Corky but is shaped like a small salmon roe cluster. Very similar to Okie Drifters in shape, one of the most timeless steelhead lures ever made.

Drift Fishing Tips

  • 12 pound to 20 pound mainline
  • 18” to 30” 10 pound to 15 pound mono leader.
  • Use just enough lead to get your rig to the river bottom, but still drift with the current.
  • You want the sinker to “tap” the river bottom several times throughout the drift.
  • Apply Anchovy, Shrimk, Krill or Sardine scent to your yarn for added attraction.
  • Casting too far upstream will create a large belly in your mainline; try and cast straight out or only slightly upstream.

Spin Glo/Sand Shrimp

While a standard drift rig (corky/yarn, cheater/yarn, corky cluster/yarn) is usually all that is needed to tempt a Chum Salmon into striking, the flash of a Spin Glo and the smell of fresh Sand Shrimp will induce strikes from fish that aren’t as aggressive. Sand Shrimp are one of the top baits for Chum Salmon, so if you can find some for your next trip, pick up a couple dozen!


Beau Mac Cheaters come in a variety of great Chum fishing colors. Like the Corky/Yarn setup, I prefer a larger presentation.

Plunking Lures for Chum Salmon

Spin Glo/Sand Shrimp

Sand Shrimp are a very delicate bait; they are only stay fresh for a few days after they are dug. Travelling Chum cannot resist chomping down on a flashy Spin Glo/Sand Shrimp combo that has been plunked in the travelling lane.

Spin Glo/Prawn

Similar to Sand Shrimp, raw Prawns can make an excellent bait for plunking. Whether you decide to try cured or uncured Prawns, they are a proven bait for Chum Salmon. The great thing about using Prawns instead of Sand Shrimp is the fact that they are easy to find (every supermarket carries frozen 16-21 count shrimp), they keep in the freezer until you are ready to use them, and they are deadly effective!

Plunking Tips

  • Use enough weight to anchor your setup in one place.
  • Try to locate the area of the river where most fish are travelling, place your plunking gear there!
  • Check your setup every 15 to 20 minutes to rebait, check for leaves and tangles.
  • Tie your leader to a ball bearing swivel to limit the amount of line twist.
  • Sand Shrimp or Prawn works well as plunking bait.

Bait Options


Chum Salmon love the flavor of a Sardine fillet. I usually only use Sardines to wrap Kwikfish or Maglips, but tipping a jig with a small chunk of Sardine isn’t a bad idea either.

Sand Shrimp

Traditionally one of the most sought after baits for Chum Salmon. Fresh Sand Shrimp can be difficult to find, and make sure that what you are purchasing is fresh. Sand Shrimp will be dug on day 1, packed on day 2, and sent to the tackle store on day 3. Once you purchase Sand Shrimp, they will last for another 3 or 4 days. When buying Sand Shrimp, I always open the container and look to see how alive they are (don’t shake the container, it will knock a day off their life!) and then smell the container to see if they have started to turn. Bring a cooler and ice pack to the tackle store with you to ensure they keep chilled and alive.


Prawns are currently the go to bait for Chum Salmon. Purchase 1 pound of frozen Shrimp/Prawns from your local supermarket and you’ve got enough bait for all of Chum Salmon fishing season. Cured prawns work well for Steelhead too!

Albacore Tuna Trip Lake October Report Washington

It has been an exceptional year for Albacore Tuna hunters up here in Washington. We observed consistent fishing from Westport that begun in August and continued through October, which surprised many anglers who never guessed that they could plug fish boxes full of tuna well past the end of our Indian summer. An unexpectedly mild marine forecast left anglers with plenty of opportunity to catch Albacore Tuna even into October. With the exception of All Rivers & Saltwater Charters, the charter fleet in Westport had ended their operations before October this year.

After receiving a last minute invite late Sunday evening to fill the last seat on Captain Mark’s boat, I cleared my schedule and set my alarm for an ungodly hour of the early morning.

As I arrived in Westport that morning, high winds were gusting from the east. I was a bit concerned but the marine forecast suggested that we would have decent weather at least until the afternoon. The crew met the guests; Mark gave us all a safety briefing and a quick word on what we should expect. Fishing had been phenomenal and I was extremely excited.

I hadn’t fished for tuna since 2010, which happened to be my first trip for Albacore. I’d place that day as one of the most memorable fishing trips, so needless to say I was looking forward to another day.

We left the Grays Harbor entrance and set a heading due southwest from Westport. With an easterly wind, the ride out was fairly calm. The sunrise was amazing, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen that October sun as big and red as it was as it lifted off the horizon. 28 miles. A little over an hour before the first stop. That’s the beauty of a speedy boat, and Captain Mark’s Express Trip is a page directly out of San Diego’s fleet yet is unique to the Northwest.

Deckhand Mike pulled out the trolling gear; Mark assembled the crew and gave us our orders. 6 anglers, 4 trolling rods. Once we got into the tuna, four of us were to clear the trolling gear (and fight any fish) and two of us were to race to the bait tank and get some anchovies swimming. We had stopped at a place where the water temperature was 57 degrees, which is a little cooler than Mark would’ve preferred if it were earlier in the season but at a short 30 miles from port and being late October we will take it. There was a fair amount of birds congregated, which is a sign that bait and tuna are in the area.

We were on the troll for less than a few minutes, and it was obvious that we needn’t go searching for tuna. We had parked right on top of them! “Pull em up! We need to drop some live bait Right Now! We cleared the trolling gear and broke out the live bait rods.

We all lined up on the windward side of the boat and proceeded to live bait. The live bait rods featured a lever drag reel with braided mainline to a 25 pound mono topshot to a size 2 live bait hook. Seabirds absolutely love eating anchovies, so to avoid the birds there was a small piece of surgical tubing rigged with a piece of pencil lead to get the bait down out of their reach.

Live anchovies were hooked in the collar behind the gill plate, tossed overboard. Reels were free spooled to allow the bait to drift away from the boat. The freespooled line would slowly pull out from under my thumb, a quick change in line speed would signal a bite! Calm down, count to three, then engage the drag.

It took me several fish before I got the hang of it, but I can’t think of any more thrilling method of fishing. We made one long drift and in those several hours we filled the boat to capacity with large October Albacore. There were more double-, triple-, and quadruple-hookups than singular. We used up every Anchovy in the bait tank. We plugged both fish boxes with Albacore. We covered every square inch of that deck with tuna blood. Mark looked at the building wind chop and decided that it was time to head back; I checked the time and it wasn’t even noon yet! The final count was 45 hefty Albacore Tuna for the six of us, which (in my opinion) is as good as it gets for several hours on a bait stop.

We headed back to Westport in lumpy seas. The ride was long and bumpy. We made it back in the early afternoon, sorted everything out and I headed home. Yet again, I left mesmerized by how phenomenal the day was and counting the days until the next day out on the tuna grounds.


Early November Razor Clam Digs

All of you eager diggers will be happy to read that we’ve got a full week of Razor Clam opportunity on the Washington Coast coming up! Digging will be wide open during the first week of November. With evening clam tides, break out the headlights and lanterns for easy limits. October 2013 Razor Clam digs were exceptionally good with easy limits for nearly every single person who participated, regardless of experience.

Please also check out the Official WDFW News Release for details and the WDFW Razor Clam Page for additional information and regulations.

Digging Razor Clams at night requires a little more preparation, and the November dates will be a little more chilly, gear up and dress warm! Good luck out there everyone!

Friday November 1

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is 0.1 feet at 5:52 pm

Saturday November 2

Open Beaches: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is -0.6 feet at 6:36 pm

Sunday November 3

Open Beaches: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is -1.1 feet at 6:16 pm

Monday November 4

Open Beaches: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is -1.3 feet at 6:59 pm

Tuesday November 5

Open Beaches: Long Beach and Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is -1.3 feet at 7:45 pm

Wednesday November 6

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is -1.2 feet at 8:33 pm

Thursday November 7

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is -1.2 feet at 9:24 pm

Friday November 8

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is 0.3 feet at 10:19 pm

Razor Clam Digging Tips

  • Clam digging not allowed before noon during each open day.
  • Daily limit is the first 15 Razor Clams dug.
  • All clams dug are considered part of your limit, you may not return any small or broken shell clams back to the water.
  • Each person’s limit must be kept in a separate container.
  • Washington Combo Fishing License, Shellfish License or Razor Clam License is required for all participants 15 years or older.
  • Arrive at beach 2 hours before low tide.
  • Bring a propane lantern and a headlamp for night digs.
  • Dress warm during winter Razor Clam digs.

Kwikfish & Sardine Wraps

While talking about an effective lure for salmon fishing, the Kwikfish plug is in a category of its own. From small coastal streams to the salmon highway that is the Columbia River, Kwikfish have arguably caught more salmon over the past several decades than any other lure. While Kwikfish alone are a great lure, by wrapping the underbelly with a small Sardine fillet they become even more lethal. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to wrap Kwikfish.

Sardine Wrap

Step 1: Fillet Sardine

Step 2: Cut the Sardine Wrap

How to Wrap Kwikfish

Step 1: Secure Stretchy Thread

Step 2: Place Sardine Wrap on Kwikfish

Step 3: Secure Sardine Wrap

Step 4: Half-Hitch Thread

Kwikfish Tips

Scents: Various scents can be used to make your plugs even more alluring. Soak your wraps prior to fishing. My favorites are Sardine, Anchovy, Shrimp/Krill.

Dyes & Cures: Coloring up your wraps with bait dyes or cures can add a little flair to your offering.

Storage: Keep all pre-wrapped plugs that are not currently in use in a container/cooler. Keeping Sardine wraps cool is extremely important… salmon don’t like stinky bait!

True Running Plugs

Once a Sardine wrap is placed on a a plug, the plug will often need to be tuned. The newer Kwikfish Extreme have a fused eye that cannot/do not need to be tuned.

This Kwikfish was swimming to the right, turn the eye to the left (counter clockwise).

This Kwikfish was swimming to the left, turn the eye slightly to the right (clockwise).

Tuning Note: the plugs pictured above are severely un-tuned. Often there will be only a slight correction that needs to be made.

Tuning Plugs

Kwikfish are designed to dive straight down but they often need to be tuned. When the Kwikfish is placed in the current, it will either dive straight down and true (good!), dive left (bad!) or dive right (bad!).

When a plug does not run true, it will not dive as deep and can shift over and tangle with other lines. If the plug dives to the right or left, this can be corrected by turning the eye where the plug is snapped to the line with pliers. When tune a plug, remember that even the slightest adjustment can correct the problem.

Wrapped Kwikfish Tips & Facts

  • Always prepare a few wrapped Kwikfish prior to leaving the launch; wrapping plugs can be a very time consuming task so having a few ready to go will ensure that you will get right to fishing.
  • Use any downtime (trolling, waiting on anchor) to wrap a few extra plugs, always have a few replacements ready to go.
  • Sardines make the perfect plug wrap because they are extremely oily and they slowly leach out scent, but after a while a sardine wrap washes out and will lose its potency. Many seasoned Kwikfish enthusiasts will only fish a wrap for a while before replacing it. I’ve had some very good anglers say that 45 minutes is the maximum that a wrap is effective, some of the most experienced guides I fish with have told me as little as 20 minutes is all you get out of a wrap. Replace wrapped plugs often.
  • It doesn’t matter how the underside of a Kwikfish is painted if it is going to be covered with a drab Sardine fillet, but using bait dyes to color up sardine fillets is a great way to add extra color to your Kwikfish.
  • Keep all pre-cut Sardine wraps and pre-wrapped Kwikfish in a cool container.
  • Scrub & wash all plugs at the end of your day, clean plugs catch more fish.

Washington Razor Clam Digs October 2013

Washington’s Pacific Beaches are about to reopen for another exciting and rewarding Razor Clam dig! An earlier October dig proved to be a great success for hordes of Northwest clam diggers and this upcoming dig offers a chance to get back out to the Coast and score limits for the entire family.

Digging on Washington’s best Razor Clam beaches starts at noon each day, but remember that the closer to low tide the more productive digging gets. So plan to be out on the beach at least 1 to 2 hours before the low tide.

Thursday October 17

Open Beaches are Twin Harbors.
Low Tide is -0.2 feet at 6:15 pm

Friday October 18

Open Beaches are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.6 feet at 6:57 pm

Saturday October 19

Open Beaches are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.7 feet at 7:38 pm

Sunday October 20

Open Beaches are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.7 feet at 8:16 pm

Monday October 21

Open Beaches are Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.4 feet at 8:55 pm

Tuesday October 22

Open Beaches are Twin Harbors.
Low Tide is -0.1 feet at 9:34 pm

Please consult the Official News Release and the WDFW Razor Clam Page for more information.


How to Catch Chum Salmon in Rivers

Chum Salmon are some the meanest, largest, most aggressive and hardest fighting fish we have in our rivers. In many of our Alaska, Washington and Oregon river systems they offer a great fall fishing opportunity. Whether fishing on Alaska’s Nushagak, Canada’s Fraser, Washington’s Grays Harbor Rivers, Oregon’s Kilchis or anywhere else on the West Coast, preparing with the right tackle and tactics can lead to a great day of fishing!

Float & Jig Setup

Chum Salmon will return to the river of their birth well before they are ready to spawn. Often they can be found resting in areas of the river where there is at least a few feet of depth and a mild current; a slow edge near a steep bank or a current-break behind a rootwad will often hold Chum. Fishing with jigs suspended under a bobber/float is one of my favorite methods to catch Chum Salmon. If the correct color jig is presented at the proper depth it’s game on!

Chum rest just a few inches above the river bottom cobble so keep that in mind when setting the distance between your float and bobber; the jig should drift right at the salmon’s eye level or slightly above.

I prefer salmon jigs that are ¼ ounce to ½ ounce. Chum Salmon cannot resist a bright deep pink so anything marked as Hot Pink, Cerise or Fuchsia. I have also had some very productive days fishing Purple/Pink, Purple/Chartreuse or Chartreuse/Cerise salmon jigs.

Tipping with Cured Prawns

Fresh or frozen uncooked Prawns from your local grocer make for a great addition to the Float & Jig setup. Simply tip the jig’s hook with a small chunk of prawn. The added scent can often trigger strikes from moderately aggressive Chums.


Drift Fishing Setup

Drift fishing is a technique that is used to catch every type of sea-run species that swim in our Northwestern rivers. The concept is to use just enough weight to pull your lure to the river bottom, yet not secure it on bottom. We typically use a weight that is attached to a swivel and a short leader to our lure. The goal of float fishing is to have our jig drift downstream suspended above the bottom, but the when we are drift fishing we allow our sinker to tap and tick the gravel. Because we have contact with the bottom, our lure’s drift speed is slower than the current which can offer the fish a little more time to see, assess and react to our offering.

When drift fishing I use some sort of Drift Bobber (Corky, Corky Cluster, Cheater, Spin Glo, Ect.) along with yarn tied to the hook snell. The purpose of these buoyant Drift Bobbers is to suspend the hook/yarn off the bottom and add color to your offering. My favorite colors are Cerise, Fuchsia, Hot Pink, Purple and Chartreuse. The size of the Drift Bobber should match the size of the hook. For a smaller setup I will use a Size 1 hook with a Size 10 Drift Bobber, but a larger Size 2/0 hook will need a larger Size 8 Drift Bobber.

Plunking for Chum Salmon

Plunking is a time honored technique that has long been used in our larger rivers to catch Chinook and Steelhead. Plunking utilizes a heavy lead (usually pyramid shaped) to secure the offering in one place. Plunkers will typically search for an area of the river where they believe that salmon are migrating through. Plunking works well when the gear is placed in the travelling path. Unlike other methods such as Float Fishing or Drift Fishing, a plunker places his bet that his gear is stationed in the proper place: the section of a run that is the main migration path for salmon. He is letting the salmon travel to him so proper placement is crucial.

Fishing for Chum Salmon from a Boat

All of the bank fishing techniques described above will work very well from a jet sled or drift boat; when fishing from my drift boat or kayak, I almost always gravitate towards a Float & Jig to start off. But there are a few boat-only techniques that work very well.

Anchoring with Salmon Plugs

Anchoring with plugs such as Kwikfish, Maglips and Flatfish can be a very easy way to catch Chum Salmon. The first thing to realize is that anchoring with plugs shares many of the same concepts as plunking from shore. The travelling lane where salmon are migrating is the very best place to set anchor. Consider where that might be at your location. Consider where your plugs are most likely to attract attention.

Are you fishing a river that has low water due to a lack of rain? Maybe the head of a run where the water is deep and fast is the best place to find Chum that have travelled up and are now holding. Maybe a smaller profile Maglips Plug that runs deep is the best choice.

Are you fishing a river that has greater flows and lower clarity due to a rainstorm? Maybe the tailout of a large deep pool is the best place to intercept travelling Chum. Maybe a larger profile K15 Kwikfish that will show better in dirty water is the best choice.

Regardless of lure choice, I always prefer Sardine Wrapped Plugs. The added scent from an oily chunk of sardine can increase your success greatly.

Back Trolling Plugs

Back Trolling with plugs such as Kwikfish can be very effective. There will be many instances where you will find Chum spread out in a long straightaway; deploying your plugs and working them downstream through a hole or run will allow you to present to every fish that might lay in that path.

When a salmon is resting and a colorful, wiggly, scented plug swims into view there is little for that salmon to do but strike at it or back downstream. I have often found that even if I am certain that the majority of the fish are holding at the top end or middle of the run, plugs can push a fish back to the very tailout of a drift before that fish decides to strike. Salmon have made a very long journey home and having to make the choice between moving downriver away from their spawning grounds is often less appealing than striking at an intrusive Kwikfish.


Back Trolling Diver & Sand Shrimp

When the pressure of multiple boats causes salmon to turn off the bite, I will on occasion switch from plugs to a Bait Diver & Sand Shrimp. Chum Salmon absolutely love the smell of Sand Shrimp. A Sand Shrimp rigged on a double hook leader with a small Spin Glo at its head can often trigger a strike with even the most lethargic of salmon. In deep and fast runs a Jet Diver Size 10, 20 or 30 is preferred. In slow and shallow stretches a Brad’s Bait Diver will often be the best choice.

One of my favorite rivers to fish Chum Salmon is the Skykomish. I fish it for Chums in October and November. Like many Northwest rivers at that time of year, a Diver & Sand Shrimp is a very effective way to catch early Winter Run Steelhead. Why not use a setup that runs double duty for Chum and Steelhead!


Best Lures for Catching Coho Salmon

Coho salmon are one of Northwest’s anglers favorite fall target. Most rivers and streams from Northern California to Bristol Bay, Alaska host a return of Coho (Silver) Salmon.

Coho average 6-14 pounds, and can tip the scales at over 25 pounds! Some rivers are famed for their overly aggressive Silvers, others are famed for their Silver salmon runs that are extremely difficult to catch.

Many factors play into a salmon’s aggressiveness. But regardless of the demeanor of your local river’s Coho salmon, here are the Top 10 lures that will bring you success!

#10 – Brad’s Wigglers

B.S. Fishtales’ Brad’s Wigglers came onto the main stage of Northwest fishing when Storm decided to junk the classic Wiggle Wart and revamp it. Salmon anglers everywhere scooped up every last remaining Original Wiggle Wart they could find, thinking that there would never be a replacement for such an important salmon lure. Enter: B.S. Fishtales. They produced an extremely similar plug with an unbelievable number of killer color patterns geared towards us salmon and steelhead junkies.

#9 – Mepps Spinners

Mepps offers such an array of fish catching colors that they definitely make the top 10! Their large blades trigger aggressive strikes, their heavy bodies sink fast which is neccesary to get down in the fast currents of our large Northwest rivers.

#8 – Kwikfish

Kwikfish not making the top ten list? Uh-uh, nope, not gonna happen! This lure is synonymous with salmon fishing, and they catch Coho by the multitudes each season. Whether your drift boat is anchored on a small Olympic Peninsula stream or your jet sled is backtrolling on the Columbia River, Kwikfish are extremely effective for targeting Coho. Wrap a small chunk of sardine fillet on the belly and hold on!

#7 – Flash Glo Squid Spinners

Coho anglers have been adding squid skirts to thei spinners for years, and now one of the Northwest’s most innovative tackle manufacturers has paired up the effectiveness of a classic spinner design, beautifully painted blades, and a plastic squid skirt. Large and aggressive Silvers love big, ugly, colorful lures. Yakima Baits scored big when it came out with the Flash Glo Squid Spinner, and so will anglers targeting aggressive fall Coho this year!

#6 – Twitching Jigs

By far the hottest “new” technique. Twitching a jumbo marabou jig, or a plastic squid jig can trigger aggressive responses from brute Coho. This technique is deadly in slower holding areas and tidewater.

#5 – Worden’s FatFish

Wordens Fatfish are available in a standard size and magnum size. These productive coho lures feature amazing color patterns, an enticing wiggle and a loud fish-attracting rattle.

#4 – Corky & Yarn Combo

Buoyant Corkies paired with a tuft of yarn create a deadly combination that, when fished properly, can outfish any other setup in many of our Northwest rivers. Drift fishing with this combo ranks high on the list due to its versatility and popularity on top Coho Salmon rivers such as the Cowlitz, Puyallup, Skokomish and Green.

#3 – Cured Salmon Egg Clusters

Cured salmon roe tempt the pallets of both aggressive and non-aggressive Coho everywhere. Wet cured eggs will milk out scent into the water and trigger the spawning aggression out of any Coho!

#2 – Dick Nite Spoons

Dick Nite Spoons have caught countless salmon over the past several decades. This lure has been around forever, and its name is directly tied in with salmon fishing tradition. Drift fishing Dick Nite Spoons is a favored technique to catch the notoriously lockjaw Coho Salmon of northern Puget Sound rivers. This lure is the absolute favorite on the Snohomish, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Stillaguamish and Skagit Rivers. Try this low-profile lure wherever Coho become non-aggressive.

#1 – Blue Fox Vibrax Spinner

The Vibrax spinner is a lure that is well known in the salmon fishing world. While Alaska-bound salmon fishermen find that jumbo #5 and #6 spinners are the ticket for large aggressive silvers, this lure ranks on the top of the list for its versatility. Coho salmon in every river and stream along the Pacific coast are attracted to the combination of color and flash from this tried-but-true lure.

How To Tie A Marabou Twitching Jig For Coho

Twitching jigs has recently become a very popular method to catch Coho Salmon in rivers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Coho cannot resist the erratic rhythm of a properly presented jig; even those that seem to ignore more traditional offerings can easily be tempted into biting. A Coho jig is a larger offering than one would use for Steelhead, and has not only more weight but also a larger profile.

While several tackle manufacturers have begun to offer jigs that are designed for salmon fishing, most serious anglers prefer to tie their own.

I decided to write this post to help out anyone looking for a basic guide to tie marabou jigs. I’ve spoken with many fishers and have found that there is a wide array of colors that will work on our Northwestern rivers, but you will find that there might be a few very specific color offerings that are most effective in your favorite area: experiment until you find that magic pattern!
These are very easy to tie and require just a few tools and materials. Before getting started you will need…


  • Fly Tying Vise
  • Scissors
  • Bobbin (Thread Holder)
  • Super Glue or Head Cement


  • Jighead: ¼, 3/8 or ½ oz jighead on a heavywire hook
  • Thread: Uni-Thread 3/0 Black
  • Body: Blood Quill Marabou in your favorite colors

Step 1

Start by securing the jighead in the vise. You will be applying a fair amount of tension with the wrapping thread so make sure it is in there good!

Step 2

Take thread and make multiple wraps around the hook shank, overlap the thread to secure it onto the jighead hook shank.

Step 3

Make a decision on the size of the jig’s profile. Select 4 to 5 marabou feathers and measure and cut them out 2” to 3” for larger profile jigs. Select 2 to 3 marabou feathers and measure and cut them out 1.5” to 2” for smaller profile jigs.

Step 4

Tightly tie each marabou feather next to the jighead individually. (If you want to make the Twitching Jig more durable, coat the thread with a little fly tying head cement or super glue between each marabou feather.)

Step 5

Make multiple thread wraps to completely secure all marabou feathers, conceal marabou feather stems, and make a clean looking finish.

Step 6

Take thread and make numerous half-hitch knots around the finished thread. Then trim thread.

Step 7

Add super glue or fly tying head cement to the thread, this will bind the wrapping and prevent the jig from unraveling.

Puget Sound Late Season Crabbing Winter 2013

Washingtonians have been eagerly awaiting news about the fate of our beloved 2013 late-season Puget Sound crab fishery: the word is out, and the word is opportunity! Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife staffers have tabulated the harvest data from the 2013 Summer Crabbing Season and have figured out where there is still is available Dungeness and Red Rock Crab to harvest. Most of Puget Sound re-opened for crabbing on October 1.

Although the Summer Crab Season on Puget Sound draws a greater number of participants, the Winter Crab Season offers many boaters a chance to brave the cooler weather and harvest their own fresh local seafood. While temperatures can be chilly and the chop on Puget Sound a little lumpy, the winter crabbing season definitely draws a crowd. With plenty of crab still left to harvest, expect to see good catches through December.

What Areas of Puget Sound are OPEN for Winter Crabbing?

CLICK HERE for WDFW Recreational Crab Fishing

  • NEAH BAY (Marine Area 4) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SEKIU (Marine Area 5) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • EASTERN STRAITS (Marine Area 6) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SAN JUAN ISLANDS (Marine Area 7) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SKAGIT BAY & HOPE ISLAND (Marine Area 8-1) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • PORT GARDNER AND PORT SUSAN (Marine Area 8-2) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • ADMIRALTY INLET (Marine Area 9) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SOUTH PUGET SOUND (Marine Area 13) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • HOOD CANAL (Marine Area 12) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31

What Areas of Puget Sound are CLOSED for Winter Crabbing?

  • TACOMA & VASHON (Marine Area 11) CLOSED

Catch Limits & Regulations

Please consult WDFW Recreational Crab Fishing for a complete listing of rules and regulations.

Daily Limit:5 Dungeness Crab, males only, hardshell condition only, minimum size 6 ¼ inches at carapace. Please record all Dungeness Crab on Winter Puget Sound Crab Catch Record Card.

6 Red Rock Crab, males or females, hardshell condition only, minimum size 5 inches at carapace.

Puget Sound Winter Crabbing Tips

  • Winter weather in the Pacific Northwest can be hazardous for boating conditions, so always check the NOAA Marine Forecase before planning a trip on Puget Sound.
  • Make sure that your crab pot has added weight during periods of extreme tidal movement, please check Protides.com before planning your trip!
  • Fresh bait trumps stale/rotten stuff, so pick up some chicken, turkey or fish carcasses from your local grocer. Saving salmon fillets from the summer season can ensure plenty of crab bait during the winter.
  • Using Fish Finder/GPS waypoint marks to identify where you dropped your crab pots can save time searching around for those little red & white buoys.
  • Crabbing can be very productive at depths of 30 to 100 feet, make sure that if you crab deeper than 100 feet that you severely weight your pot down so that is doesn’t drift.
  • Many of the tips & tactics that crabbing enthusiasts use during Puget Sound Summer Crab Season are important during the Puget Sound winter season.
  • Completely fill out your Winter Crab Catch Record Card, and be sure to send it back to WDFW by February 1, 2014.
  • Dress warm during any winter outing on Puget Sound, it may seem 10 Degrees cooler out on the water than it actually is!
  • There is no better way to prepare fresh Puget Sound crab than to boil it in natural saltwater… bring a 5 gallon bucket (with a sealed lid) aboard to transport seawater back home for your next winter crab boil!

Humptulips Salmon Derby Oct 1 2013

Fall Salmon fishing on the Washington Coast just got a little more interesting with the announcement that there will once again be a Salmon Derby on a local favorite: the Humptulips River. The 5th Annual Humptulips River Salmon Derby offers anglers the chance to enter their trophy Chinook and Coho Salmon for hefty prizes. This great local derby is a great opportunity to join in on great coastal fishing but also give back to the local community! For anyone that fishes the Humptulips River, 1 ticket is good for the entirety of the Derby!

Humptulips Salmon Derby Information

The 2013 Humptulips Derby headquarters is the Humptulips Store, where derby tickets can be purchased and salmon can be weighed in. All proceeds go to fund the Humptulips Volunteer Fire Department and the Humptulips Food Bank & Community Support. Last year’s derby drew in 55 participants and local derby sponsors are really hoping that this year’s attendance will surpass that. All tickets must be purchased at the Humptulips Store, to be valid for the day they must be purchased before 9am. Any derby tickets purchased after 9am will not be valid until the following day.
The winner of the 2012 Derby weighed in a Chinook Salmon that was 26 lbs 6 oz… many folks stopped by the weigh in with larger fish, but no ticket! Get your ticket at the Humptulips Store!

Derby Prizes

This year community organizers have outdone themselves with an array of huge prizes! Get in on the action!

    Baranof Wilderness Lodge, Alaska, 4 days/4 nights $3500 Value
    $200 Bi-Mart Gift Card
    $150 Bi-Mart Gift Card
    $100 Bi-Mart Gift Card
    $50 Bi-Mart Gift Card
  • MYSTERY COHO ***October 26 Only!*** Alaskan Fishing Trip: Eagle Charters, Elfin Cove, Alaska, 2 days/3 nights $3300 Value

AWARDS DINNER: Masionic Lodge 8th Street Hoquiam. October 26, 1:00-8:00 PM

  • Kodiak Salmon, New York Steak, Roasted Whole Pig all prepared by 5 Star Chef David Poor.
  • Live Auction with plenty of great items including: 3 days/3 nights at Glacier Bear Lodge, Yakutat, Alaska. 6:00-7:00 PM
  • For Details Call (360) 987-2335

Purchase your $30 derby ticket at the Humptulips Store! One ticket is good for the entirety of the Humptulips Salmon Derby. As of October 1, 2013 there have already been 12 tickets sold, which is leading up to a very successful derby . The Humptulips Store is open daily at 5:30 AM, so anglers are encouraged to pick up a ticket before hitting the water.

Humptulips Store
1935 Kirkpatrick Road
Humptulips WA 98552
(360) 987-2335

Breakfast & Lunch

The Humptulips Grocery will be serving hungry derby participants lunch (burgers and hot dogs) on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays. Breakfast will be available Saturdays & Sundays only.

Great Fishing Prospects for 2013

An abnormally wet September has already pushed plenty of large, fresh Chinook Salmon into the Humptulips River! Local anglers and guides have been out seeing record setting fishing action for the early season! With a limit of 3 Salmon, anyone headed out to the Humptulips River is destined to see some of our region’s best fall salmon fishing. Capitalize on great fishing with this derby and help support the local community!


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***All fish entered into the derby are subject to inspection by WDFW or derby personnel. All WDFW rules and regulations apply.***


Snohomish River Pink Salmon

The Snohomish River is the largest freshwater source in central Puget Sound and its waters pulse with schools of silver-bodied Pink Salmon every odd year.

During these odd-numbered years (example 2013, 2015, 2017) the internal clocks within every maturing Pink Salmon in the Pacific triggers the largest annual migration of salmon back to Puget Sound. The fish invade the Sound by the millions; each river receives a healthy share.

The Snohomish River will see an estimated 988,621 Humpy Salmon returning this year, and there will be an equally impressive number of anglers that will head to the river to greet them.

The Season

Pink Salmon live, spawn and die on a very strict biological schedule. They hatch from the gravel, quickly migrate to marine areas to mature and return to the river to spawn at age two. While there is a run of Pink Salmon in Puget Sound rivers every year, the odd-year returns are massive with close to a million returning fish to each major watershed.

Fishing for Pink Salmon begins this year on August 1st in the Lower Snohomish River below the Highway 9 Bridge in the town of Snohomish. Upriver areas open on August 16th. Early in August small schools of Pink Salmon will push into the river with each incoming tide. Each fish caught will be silver-bodied and fresh from the Sound. The in-river runs build and build until a peak around Labor Day. By September there is an even mix of salmon that are both fresh from the salt and turned to spawning.

The Snohomish River is fortunate to have returns of Salmon that make it back to this system, one species stacked after another. Pink Salmon are the first to return to the Snohomish; as the Pink return peaks, Coho Salmon are just beginning to enter the freshwater. And just as Coho Salmon fishing peaks the Chums start to show. Then Chum Salmon fishing season fades into Winter Steelhead season. Therefore, on an odd-year there is a continuous fishing opportunity on the Snohomish River from August until January.

Best Snohomish River Fishing Spots

For a full listing, check out SNOHOMISH RIVER SALMON FISHING

Lowell Rotary Park

Lowell Rotary Park is a popular lower river fishing location. It’s launch can be a bit tricky at low tide, but anglers utilize this park to fish from shore and launch small boats, kayaks and canoes. Lowell Rotary Park is accessible from Lowell-Snohomish River Road.

Downtown Snohomish

Downtown Snohomish features a riverfront pathway that offers anglers access to a very fishy part of the river. The paved pathway meanders along a riprap rock bank of the river and the deep trough that runs next to the pathway consistently holds fish. It can be accessed from anywhere in downtown.

Bob Herman Park at Thomas Eddy

Thomas Eddy is one of the famed salmon holes of the Snohomish River. Bob Herman Natural Area is a vast public park popular with hikers, birders and anglers. A pathway leads from the parking area down to the river and splits, paralleling the river upstream and downstream of the main access trail. Access if from Connelly Road near Snohomish.

522 Bridge

Great public access is available under the SR 522 Highway just outside of Monroe. Anglers fish both the north bank and the south bank near the bridge. North bank access if from Tester Road near Monroe and south bank access if from Elliott Road near Maltby.

How to Catch Snohomish River Humpies

For a full listing of lures and methods visit BEST LURES FOR PINK (HUMPY) SALMON IN RIVERS

Float & Jig

Float fishing is close to being one of the most versatile techniques we have here in the Pacific Northwest and Pink Salmon are an easy target for the bobber crowd. Suspending a steelhead jig under a float can be a very effective way of catching Pinks. My favorite colors are Hot Pink, Light Pink and White. Tipping the jig with a small chunk of prawn or sand shrimp can double the lure’s effectiveness.

Drifting Dick Nite Spoons

Dick Nite Spoons are one of the most effective yet oddest salmon lures in existence. While we tend to look for lures that trigger the salmon’s spawning or feeding aggression with large flashy lures, the teeny tiny Dick Nite Spoon catches countless salmon on rivers like the Snohomish. When fishing in an area where there is little to no current, a cast/retrieve method will work well. In areas where there is greater flow, allow your Dick Nite set-up to drift down current with nothing more than a very slow retrieve. Whatever the water condition the goal is to get the Spoon to flutter gently; a fast retrieve will cause the Spoon to spin (no good) and a super slow retrieve might not create the flutter that entices the strike you are looking for.

Plunking with Sand Shrimp

Sand Shrimp are one of the most delicate, most sought-after, and most effective natural baits used to catch Pink Salmon. Plunking a Sand Shrimp in the current can be a great way to enjoy fast action without having rod in hand. Bait up a fresh Sand Shrimp on your plunking set-up, grab a rod holder, and place your bait into the holding slot. I prefer to rig a small Spin Glo in front of my bait to add a little floatation and attraction.

Buzz Bombing Humpies

In the lower reaches of the Snohomish River, fishing with small Buzz Bombs can be extremely effective. Buzz Bombs are a popular metal jig used to catch salmon from the beaches throughout Puget Sound and the deep tidal pools in its rivers. Popular colors include Holographic Pink, Pearl Pink, Hot Pink and Glow Pink. I would recommend fishing with 1.5” and 2” Buzz Bombs. These are very small and lightweight but perfect for twitching for Pink Salmon in the rivers. Fishing Buzz Bombs is very simple: cast, allow to sink to desired depth, lift rod to lift jig, drop rod and reel slack, lift, drop, repeat. The up-and-down flutter of the metal jig will drive Pink Salmon to strike.

How To Cure Salmon Eggs

Quality cured salmon roe is undoubtedly one of the most effective baits used to catch Salmon, Steelhead and Trout. Whether you are heaving a fist sized ball of wet eggs for King Salmon in the tidewater, stalking Trout in the high mountains with a single egg on an ultralight rod, or chucking a dried cluster of boraxed roe to a resting Steelhead, homemade cured salmon eggs are a great bait.

Unfortunately there has always been a little mystery as of how exactly to prepare the perfect roe, but here you will learn the fundamental steps in the egg curing process.

All about Salmon Egg Skeins

Female salmon develop their eggs in a skin sack called a skein. As immature feeding fish, a salmon’s skein is initially very small. As the salmon reaches their final months prior to spawning the skein will enlarge and the individual eggs will grow to about the size of a pea. Each skein can hold thousands of eggs.

As the skeins develop the eggs become tightly clustered in a skin purse that is the skein, this makes for great fishing bait that can be cut into the perfect sized chunks. As the salmon nears the spawning area the skeins break down and loosen, at this point the female will deposit the individual eggs in the spawning redd to be fertilized by the male salmon. Loose eggs can be cured but are difficult to fish; anglers must spend quite a bit of time to create clusters by wrapping loose eggs in cheese cloth.

The skein size varies based on the size of the individual salmon and the proximity to spawning. A skein from a small Pink Salmon may weigh only a few ounces but a skein from a trophy female King Salmon might weigh several pounds.

Salmon eggs are very delicate and high quality eggs are not the easiest to come by. Be sure to bleed your catch right away, keep cool until it is time to process and fillet, and begin curing the salmon roe within 24 hours.

What to do after landing a Salmon

The work begins just moments after landing an egg laden salmon. To produce a quality finished product, you must begin with quality fresh ingredients. Make sure to bleed the fish immediately after landing it; salmon eggs must be as blood free as possible to put up good bait. Placing the fish on ice will ensure that the meat and the roe are preserved, but on a crisp autumn day that may not be completely necessary.

Removing the Salmon Roe

Carefully cut open the underside of the salmon to remove the roe. Start the cut at the anal vent and slice up the belly to the throat of the salmon. Be sure to make the cut shallow as to not cut into the egg skein.

Each female salmon has two egg skeins. They are attached to the organs near the head and can be removed by hand.

Prepare the Roe for the Curing Process

There are a few simple tasks that will ensure a quality finished cured bait. First, blood free salmon eggs create the perfect bait. Even a well-bled fish will still retain a little blood, which courses through the skein and can spoil a perfectly good batch of eggs. Take a fillet knife and puncture any blood veins on the outside of the skein, run your knife blade from the end of the vein to the opening and remove as much blood as possible. Then butterfly the skein so that all the eggs will be exposed to the cure. I like to pat dry the recently opened skeins with a paper towel to remove any lingering blood or liquid.

How to apply Salmon Egg Cure

Bait Cure performs several functions. It preserves the fragile roe. It makes the roe more durable. It colors the roe. It adds bite enhancing chemicals to help create even more tempting bait. Bait Cure can be messy as the dyes used are often potent. I strongly recommend curing any bait outside in an area where a few permanent pink stains won’t cause a problem. Place the prepared skeins in either a small plastic bucket or a gallon plastic bag. Sprinkle the cure over the skeins until they are lightly covered. I like to add a little, roll the bag, then add a little more. An insufficient amount of cure will produce unpreserved bait. Adding too much cure will cause the roe to be burned by the chemicals in the mixture. Once the skeins are evenly coated in cure they then need time to complete the curing process.

Egg Curing Process

Salmon Egg Cure is a mix of borax, salt, sugar, dye and other preservatives. The salt preserves. The sugar toughens. The borax dries. The dye colors. Once the skeins are coated, the cure will draw out liquids from the eggs. Within a few hours the eggs will shrink and the container will be filled with a soupy colored juice. Within a few more hours the liquid will be pulled back into the eggs: preservatives, dye and all. Once the juicing and reabsorbing takes place, the eggs can be specifically prepared for the desired fishing technique.

Final steps in curing Salmon Roe

Cured Salmon Roe is extremely versatile. Anglers have many ways of using it to catch Salmon and Steelhead. After the curing process is completed, the decision of how to utilize it will define how it is finally cared for. If an angler wishes to fish for Chinook Salmon, he might want a very wet egg that leaches out juices into the water; he will sacrifice durability for a bait that carries a large scent trail. If an angler wishes to fish for Steelhead, he might decide that it is more important to have a durable bait that can handle a dozen casts before it falls apart.

When putting up Wet Cure Eggs, consider taking the entire finished product and simply place it in a glass quart Mason Jar to freeze. Juice and all.

When putting up Salmon Eggs for Steelhead fishing, consider straining the eggs in a colander, then air drying them on a rack to toughen them up. Placing a final coating of borax over the cured Salmon Roe can make the eggs even more durable.

Final Thoughts

Although fishers have been putting up roe for decades, curing eggs is a very fickle process. There are so many variables that can impact the quality of the finished product including the age of the eggs, the temperature at the curing site, the egg cure recipe, the amount of cure, the intended use, the list goes on. Even veteran fishing guides often find that there are batches that didn’t quite turn out as planned. There are always new ideas, new experimental methods and ingredients. The trick is to be patient, be attentive, and follow the basic process closely. Aside from that, good luck and I hope this article helps you understand the process and puts you on the path toward success on the water!


Snoqualmie River Fishing

The Snoqualmie River is regarded as a special place to many Seattle area fishermen due to the ample public access and generous winter steelhead plants. Because its famed pools and runs are so close to the city, it’s an easy river to hit after work or for a few hours on the weekend.

The Snoqualmie’s three forks (North, Middle and South) originate deep in the heart of the Cascade Range. They feed off the mountain range’s snowpack and lowland rains. The forks converge near the town of North Bend to form the mainstem Snoqualmie, which meanders through the upper valley for a few short miles before pouring over Snoqualmie Falls. The waterfall is 268’ tall and acts as a natural boundary for sea-run fish like Salmon, Steelhead or Cutthroat Trout. The river from Snoqualmie Falls through Fall City is a steelheader’s paradise. Its runs, pools and boulder gardens are full of character and offer quite a bit of holding water for the angler to assault.

Geographically, it is the closest steelhead river to Seattle and Bellevue. The lower river receives a return of hatchery born winter Steelhead, wild winter Steelhead, Coho, Chum, Chinook, Pink Salmon and Sea Run Cutthroat Trout. Above Snoqualmie Falls, the North, Middle, and South Fork host healthy populations of Rainbow, Cutthroat and Brook Trout.

While many of the famed steelhead holes become crowded during the prime steelhead months of December and January, productive steelhead spots away from the hordes can be found with a little gumption.

Snoqualmie River Winter Steelhead

The Snoqualmie’s first winter Steelhead are caught in November, and by the first week of December fishing really heats up. Fishing usually closes in February to protect returning Wild Steelhead.

Steelhead Fishing near Carnation

Fishing can be productive in the Carnation area, although the Tolt River no longer receives steelhead plants, and most of the hatchery fish travel through this area quickly. While most of the fishing pressure in the Carnation area is from bank anglers, it’s common to spot a few jet sleds that launch at the Tolt Hill Bridge launch and side drift bait downstream through the Carnation area.

Favorite Steelhead spots near Carnation

One of my favorite plunking areas is located in Carnation. While I don’t plunk that often, I have witnessed the locals catch plenty of steelhead plunking with sand shrimp/eggs/spin glos’ near the Carnation Farms Bridge. As you drive over the Carnation Farms Bridge towards town, hanging an immediate right (south) on 310th Ave NE will lead you to a King County Nature Park, with riverside trails that offers a great place to bank fish. I personally spend most of my time bank fishing at Chinook Bend Nature Park, located between Carnation Farms and the bridge. The Snoqualmie River flows around three sides of this 59 acre public natural area.

Steelhead Fishing near Fall City

There is more fishing effort from Tokul Creek downstream to Fall City than anywhere else on the river. The entire area is inhabited by fly fishermen, gear fishermen, drift boaters and jet sleds. Most of the steelhead caught in this large river system are caught near Fall City. The Tokul Creek hatchery releases about 150,000 winter steelhead smolt, and they all return in a two month period. Fishing in Tokul Creek isn’t for everyone. Tokul is a very swift moving creek, and most anglers drift fish with a tuft of yarn and a foot of leader. I have attempted to fish it once, and I assume that most of the steelhead that are caught here are lined (snagged in the mouth). I would consider it a pretty low quality experience, with many fishing shoulder-to-shoulder. The creek empties into the Snoqualmie, forming the Big Eddy. This area is a fun fishery if you don’t mind company. Plum’s Landing is below Tokul Creek, and is the drift boat put-in for the upper float. Some anglers make the short float down to Fall City, and others make the full day float below Fall City to Richters (Neal Road below Fall City Farms).

Favorite Steelhead spots near Fall City

I love floating the Snoqualmie River in my drift boat, regardless of how many people are on the river. It is my home river, I live about five minutes from Plum’s Landing. I often float Plum’s to Richter’s, beaching the boat in Fall City and walking across the street for lunch at the Raging River Saloon is one of our favorite winter passtimes. On any given winter day, plunkers set up their rod holders and build their campfires right at the Fall City bridge. These guys catch plenty of fish. The run just above the bridge up to the mouth of the Raging River is perfect for anyone swinging flies or spoons. For the bank bound angler, there is a bit of access off Fish Hatchery Road (leading to Plum’s & Tokul). On the opposite side of the river from Plum’s, David Powell Road parallels the river for a mile with multiple pullouts. I also enjoy bank fishing from Big Eddy to Snoqualmie Falls, but the road is currently closed so access is difficult.

Snoqualmie River Summer Steelhead

Fishing for steelhead on the Snoqualmie was once my favorite summer passtime. I loved going down to Snoqualmie Falls, Plum’s Landing or Fall City for the first light steelhead bite, but summer steelhead are no longer planted in the Snoqualmie River. Believe it or not, Skykomish River summer steelhead do travel up into the Snoqualmie and can still be caught, although the numbers of steelhead in the Snoqualmie during the summer are a fraction of what they once were.

Snoqualmie River Coho Salmon

The Snoqualmie River has a healthy run of wild Coho; they spawn in the main stem, the Tolt, the Raging, Cherry Creek, Griffin Creek and other smaller tributaries.

The most popular places to fish for Coho are boat access. The High Bridge launch just upstream from the confluence of the Snoqualmie and Skykomish Rivers is the most popular place to put in a jet sled to fish the upper Snohomish. Boaters catch plenty of Coho by drift fishing Dick Nite spoons and by casting wiggle warts and spinners.

Once the first October rainstorms start to push Coho up the Snoqualmie, Coho begin to stack at the mouths of the Tolt River and Griffin Creek (just upriver from the Tolt Hill Bridge launch). Trolling or casting wiggle wart style plugs can be very productive here.

Snoqualmie River Trout

The Snoqualmie offers resident and sea-run trout plenty of great habitat. While the lower Snoqualmie River watershed’s primary catches are Sea Run Cutthroat Trout, there still are some resident Rainbow Trout and Cutthroat Trout that can be found. The Snoqualmie River upstream from Snoqualmie Falls offers phenomenal fishing for trout in an almost alpine setting. The North Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork and Upper Mainstem Snoqualmie each offer a fishing experience that is unique unto itself. The North Fork being the most remote, the Middle Fork being the largest, the South Fork being the easiest to access and clearest, and the Upper Mainstem being the slowest and filled with drowned timber. Above the Falls, the river’s trout population doesn’t have to compete with Salmon or Steelhead younglings for food, so the trout-per-mile count is higher. Expect to see a healthy mix of Cutthroat, Rainbows and possibly Brook Trout above the Falls.

Trolling for Pink (Humpy) Salmon

When Pink Salmon surge into the waters of Washington, British Columbia and Alaska, catching them on the troll is usually an easy proposition.

Trolling is an extremely effective method to catch all species of salmon, especially the abundant Humpy Salmon that returns to nearby saltwater areas in droves.

Whether you are fishing for Pinks in Puget Sound, off the waters of BC’s Lower Mainland or anywhere in Alaska, trolling is the best way to put limits in the fish box.

Humpy Salmon Trolling Setups

Flasher & Spoon

  • 8” Flasher: White
  • Goldstar Coho Killer: Hot Pink, White Lightning, Purple Haze
  • 24” to 30” leader (20 to 30 pound test).
  • Run a small bead down the leader before threading on the Mini Squid.
  • Add Herring or Shrimp scent to spoon when fishing is slow.

Dodger & Mini Squid

  • 8” Dodger: Chrome or White
  • 2.5” Mini Squid: Hot Pink
  • Single 1/0 Octopus Hook tied on a 24” leader (20 to 30 pound test).
  • Run a small bead down the leader before threading on the Mini Squid.
  • Add Herring or Shrimp scent to spoon when fishing is slow.

Trolling Depth for Pink Salmon

Most schools of Pink Salmon will be found schooling near the surface in open water or travelling near the shoreline. Pink Salmon often school together in large groups. During early morning and late evening hours Humpy Salmon can be found at the surface. Set your gear anywhere from surface to 30 feet early on, then as the sun rises run gear at 30 feet to 80 feet. Marking fish on a fish finder will give you a great idea of what depth to run.

Trolling Speed for Pink Salmon

For the best Humpy Salmon fishing, troll slow. Most salmon anglers will typically troll at 2 mph to 4 mph for Chinook or Coho but Pinks prefer a slower presentation. When setting up for a troll path, place your flasher/lure in the water and troll barely fast enough to get your flasher to rotate or dodger to dodge. Trolling speeds are dependent on how strong the current runs but in general speeds of 1 mph to 2 mph is the range.

Downrigger Trolling for Humpies

Trolling with downriggers is the most popular and most effective strategy for catching Humpies in saltwater areas. Typically, set your Humpy rig back 15 to 20 feet before clipping the mainline into the release clip. If you plan on “stacking” more than one line per downrigger make sure to give at least 20 feet between release clips. I will start off my morning running all of my gear very close to the surface; as the morning progresses I start to lower my gear down. Salmon are very light sensitive and as the sun rises high over the water they will school at greater depths.


6 Tips for Alaska Silver Salmon Fishing

Alaska is a land of vast wilderness and draws many adventurous anglers. Silver Salmon pulse into Alaskan rivers in July, August, September and October depending on the location. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy great fishing for Coho Salmon (Silvers) in the land of the Last Frontier.

Tip 1: Alaskan Silvers Love Spinners

Silver Salmon are well known for their aggressive demeanor and will readily snap and strike at hardware such as Spinners or Spoons. Spinners are the most versatile lure for Alaskan Salmon. Whether the river is high from rain & snowmelt or low & clear, every angler’s arsenal should include a variety of Spinners.

My favorite lure for Alaskan Silver Salmon is the Blue Fox Vibrax Spinner. Vibrax Spinners are available in a variety of colors and sizes. Every fishermen should include Size 3, Size 4, Size 5 and even the jumbo Size 6 in their tackle pack. Silver Salmon are attracted to the flash of the rotating silver blade more than anything (it mimics the flash of the baitfish they have spent their entire lives feeding on). Color seems to be less important than size but popular colors are Chrome Blue, Chartreuse Yellow, Hot Pink, Rainbow Trout and Firetiger Yellow. Smaller Spinners work very well even when low water diminishes a Silver Salmon’s aggression. When targeting trophy Silver Salmon during normal to high water the bigger the Spinner the better!

Tip 2: Pack Your Fly Rod

Alaska is the perfect place to test your fly fishing skills and Silver Salmon will attack a fly with a vengeance. Fly fishing for Silver Salmon can be a lot of fun, even for someone who has had little fly fishing experience. Select a quality 8 weight fly rod, a fly reel with a sturdy drag and a floating fly line for your next Alaskan fishing trip. A variety of large salmon flies in Pink, Purple, Black and Chartreuse. I always recommend carrying a selection of split shot sinkers for deeper rivers & streams.

Tip 3: High Water & Low Water Strategies

Alaska is a land of extremes… weather included. To maximize your fish catching on your next fishing trip, be prepared for high & dirty to low & clear water conditions. When the water is high and colored, bring larger and brighter lures that will get down in heavy currents and attract Silver Salmon in murky water. During periods of low water, bring smaller spinners, jigs, cured roe to target Silvers when they are less aggressive.

Tip 4: Step off the Beaten Path

Many fishermen travel around the Alaskan road system looking for Silver Salmon. The most popular Silver Salmon areas are typically within close distance from a road. Hiking into the bush will get you away from the roadside crowds and can present some pretty amazing fishing opportunities. Anytime you travel into the wild, make sure you are prepared for anything. Familiarize yourself with the area and pick up a detailed map; make sure to pack bear spray, first aid kit, compass, topo map, extra food and communication device if applicable.

Tip 5: Consider Catch & Release Options

While Alaska is world famous for its abundance of Salmon, practicing catch and release will help to ensure the health of the returns. If you are planning your Alaskan fishing adventure, consider just how much salmon your family will consume in the next six months. Frozen/Vac-Packed salmon will keep for 3-6 months, so try not to overload on fish that will be left uneaten. I’ve seen countless groups of anglers come up here and experience “Fillet Greed”. Keep enough salmon to enjoy it at home for a few months and catch & release the rest. There is no worse feeling for a fisherman than having to throw away freezer burned salmon.

Tip 6: Take Care of Your Catch

Salmon is one of my favorite foods and I pride myself in taking good care of my catch from the minute I land a fish. Upon landing a Silver Salmon that you plan on keeping be sure to bleed your catch. If you are fishing on a warm summer day, be sure to keep your fish cool as long as possible. I always carry a small rope so that I can string up my Salmon and keep them in the cool river. When you get back to camp, be sure to process your fish as soon as possible. Fillet and freeze. Vacuum packaged Salmon will keep twice as long as any Salmon just thrown in a Zip-lock baggie. I prefer to label my bags with the date so I know when I need to eat it.

I hope you all get a chance to experience Alaskan Silver Salmon fishing. It is a true experience and a lot of fun!



Puget Sound Chinook Salmon Hot Spots

Many Pacific Northwest residents are excited to wet a line this year for salmon in Puget Sound. The return of Chinook Salmon to the Sound draws the greatest excitement, afterall they are the King of all Salmon. The chance at a hefty Chinook leads many to head out on our local waters all summer long. The Puget Sound has several extremely productive areas that have been putting Kings into fish boxes for generations; here are a few of our favorites…

Mid Channel Bank near Port Townsend

Mid Channel Bank is located a few miles south of Port Townsend and is truly the center of Chinook Salmon fishing in Admiralty Inlet. As Summer Chinook migrate south through Admiralty, they push onto Mid Channel and follow the outer ledge of it southeastward deeper into the Sound. Trolling with downriggers along the 100’ to 120’ contour line on the outside of the bank is very productive.

Point No Point near Hansville


Point No Point is the northeastern most point on the Kitsap Peninsula. PNP juts out into the Sound and creates enormous tide rips. Traditionally, a large boathouse on the point provided anglers a short row out to the salmon holding near the rips. Mooching had been the method of choice since settlers first entered the area. Drift mooching with herring is still a popular pastime here, and the moochers can be found on the lee side of the point during any tide. Trolling the outside of the rips can be very productive as well.

Pilot Point south of Hansville

Pilot Point is located south of Point No Point and is often lumped together with the notorious PNP. While it is geographically not as pronounced as PNP, it does offer enough of a feature to create a break in the current during a tide change. Troll northward towards PNP during an outgoing tide and southward from PNP to Pilot Point during an incoming tide.

Possession Bar south of Whidbey Island


Possession Bar is an expansive underwater shelf that features some of the Puget Sound’s best salmon fishing areas. The Bar actually offers many specific areas to target salmon. West Possession Bar near Scatchet Head abuts the heavy currents of Admiralty Inlet; it is also the most heavily impacted from weather entering the Sound from Admiralty.
The West Bar is best fished on an outgoing tide; heavy currents from an incoming pushes so much water up onto the shelf that trolling gear is difficult to fish and is easily tangled. I like to run my trolling gear close to the bottom and follow a contour line. On a prime outgoing tide set a northward trolling path along the western edge of the Bar.
East Possession Bar near Possession Point is best fished on an incoming tide. Bait gets swept off the top of Possession and the salmon will congregate near the shelf of the East Bar to feed.
Tin Shed is located halfway between the West Bar and East Bar. This horseshoe shaped shelf can be easily fished through either an incoming or outgoing tide. Tin Shed often holds plenty of bait which means that there is usually a fair number of salmon hanging around the area.

Appletree Cove Point near Kingston

Appletree Cove Point is an area just north of Jeff Head near Kingston. This is one of the traditional mooching areas in Central Puget Sound. Chinook find plenty of Herring and Candlefish in the area to feed on, so mooching is naturally productive here.

Jeff Head south of Kingston

Jeff Head is a large underwater bank that reaches out from eastern Kitsap Peninsula into the Sound. Trolling along the outer edge of Jeff Head can be extremely productive for Chinook; anglers also troll and drift mooch across the top of the bank. On an incoming tide troll along the southern shelf; on an incoming tide troll along the eastern and northern end of the shelf. This is an expansive area and one of the more popular salmon fishing areas in Puget Sound.



The Oil Docks at Point Wells offer a great area to intercept Puget Sound Summer Chinook. This fishing area is very close to Edmonds Marina and Shilshole Marina in Ballard. Focus on the area from the Oil Docks southward to The Trees at Richmond Beach. This area isn’t a traditional hotspot like Possession or Point Defiance but many fish are taken here throughout the Summer Chinook Season.

Meadow Point, West Point, Shilshole Bay

Meadow Point, West Point and Shilshole Bay are considered Ballard’s backyard. Seattle area salmon fishermen spend plenty of time fishing the early morning bites and those classic sunset tide changes. West Point is the most pronounced which creates huge tidal rips during a running tide. Fish the outside of the tide rip and troll around the point during a tide change. Meadow Point offers lighter rips and easier trolling, but the moochers seem to congregate around West Point. Chinook will mill around Shilshole Bay en route to Lake Washington via the Ballard Locks. Be aware of closures in the Bay during summer months.

Elliott Bay

Elliott Bay has been one of the most iconic salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest. Downtown Seattle skyscrapers rise up from the eastern shoreline. This urban fishery usually peaks in July and August but in recent years fishing for Chinook has been closed due to conflicts between the Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Muckleshoot Tribe. Countless Seattle salmon anglers are in mourning for this great fishery. We all hope to someday return to the waters of our city with the chance to catch a salmon in the shadow of the Space Needle.

Dolphin Point and Point Beales east of Vashon Island

Both Dolphin Point and Point Beales are popular salmon fishing areas in the northern reaches of Marine Area 11. This area opens earlier than the rest of Puget Sound for Chinook Salmon fishing and produces both Resident Chinook and Mature Chinook. Both are pronounced points and create a tide rip that forces bait to condense, so Chinook will congregate near these points. During a tide change anglers will fish anywhere. On an incoming tide start trolling southeastward towards the points, change course to southwestwards after clearing the point. I make a wide turn to clear the tide rip and troll along the outside of it. On an outgoing tide reverse your direction.

Three Tree Point near Burien

This area is often overlooked by Seattle and Tacoma salmon fishermen, but is a spot that South Sound Chinook slow down and hold. Troll around the point on the outside of any tide rip.

Point Defiance

Point Defiance is one of the most well known salmon fishing areas in the Northwest. Tacoma’s waterfront was once lined with boathouses and fishermen had easy access to this area. Point Defiance is the front door to the Tacoma Narrows; the area is a chokepoint for salmon. Mooching with Herring is the traditional method to catch Summer Chinook but trolling is the current method of choice for many who ply these waters.
Fishing at the Clay Banks just east of Point Defiance can be very good. Trolling with the tide in this area with Flashers & Hoochies or Flashers & Spoons are effective setups. Troll with the tide. An outgoing tide usually produces the best bite but fishing can remain consistent through both incoming and outgoing tides.



Puget Sound Crab Season 2013

Puget Sound’s 2013 summer crabbing season has just kicked off! Get in on some great summertime fun out on the Sound. Early reports are rolling in and crabbing in all areas of Puget Sound has been great! Here is a rough outline of the 2013 Puget Sound Crab Season, always consult the Washington Fishing Rules Pamphlet before heading out on the water… Good Luck out there folks!


Puget Sound Crab License

Anyone 15 years or older is required to possess a Washington State Shellfish License or Combination Fishing License. In addition, anyone fishing for Crab in Puget Sound is required to get a Puget Sound Crab Endorsement (regardless of age). All Dungeness Crab that are kept must be recorded on a Catch Record Card.

Crab Limits & Size in Puget Sound

The daily limit for crab in Puget Sound…

  • 5 Dungeness Crab (males only, hardshell condition only); Minimum Size is 6 ¼”
  • 6 Red Rock Crab (either males or females); Minimum Size is 5”

Puget Sound Crabbing Areas & Seasons

Marine Areas in Puget Sound (Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11, 13) and Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) will be open for crabbing from July 1 (7am) through September 2.
San Juan Islands will open at a later date. Marine Area 7 South opens July 15 (7am); Marine Area 7 North opens August 15 (7am). San Juan Islands will remain open for crabbing until September 30.

When is Puget Sound Open for Crabbing?

Puget Sound crabbing is opened for crabbing Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays only.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

  • There are strict rules and guidelines for crabbing in Puget Sound, please use this page as a rough guide. Consult the official Washington Fishing Rules Pamphlet for all regulations & seasons.
  • There are strict rules on crab pot/trap/ring construction: please consult the Washington Fishing Rules Pamphlet
  • All crab gear must be removed from the water at the end of the weekly open days.
  • Crab gear can be left overnight only when the following day is open.
  • Crab Catch Record Card must be returned to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife at the end of the crabbing season.