Spring and Summer Fun- 2013

Diane and I have had a busy spring/summer this year, and as we move into the monsoon season in the Northwest, we thought we would recap what we’ve been up to.  We continued fishing for kokanee during the months of April and into May with good success.. We are still learning this fishery, next spring will be better…

Kokanee- Lake Merwin

Kokanee- Lake Merwin

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In the cooler it went!

We also did a little sturgeon fishing, this was the last year for keeping sturgeon, so we made the best of it…

Abby waiting for the bite

Abby waiting for the bite

It didn't take long!

It didn’t take long!

Let's get another one Mama!

Let’s get another one Mama!

A great fish for Diane

A great fish for Diane

Wow!

Wow!

And another!

And another!

Annalysa gets in the game

Annalysa gets in the game

Tannyr's first sturgeon.  This was a proud moment for us!

Tannyr’s first sturgeon. This was a proud moment for us!

Even got Darrin in the game!  His first sturgeon as well

Darin with his very first sturgeon

Thanks Mama for taking me fishing today!

Thanks Mama for taking me fishing today!

I'll guard the fish!

I’ll guard the fish!

Next up, a great trip to the San Juan’s with our best friends Darin and Karin for ling cod and shrimp… Some of the best times of our lives are spent here.

Home away from home

Home away from home

Like no place on earth

Like no place on earth

Diane's first ling

Diane’s first ling

one for the grill

one for the grill

teeth anyone?

teeth anyone?

Darin gets in the act

Darin with his best ever ling

nothing like a little Jack to get the day going

nothing like a little Jack to get the day going

keep your hands away from that mouth..

keep your hands away from that mouth..

great eats!

best eating fish bar none!

a fish of a lifetime!

a fish of a lifetime!

where's Waldo?

my best Kilroy imitation

setting the shrimp pots

setting the shrimp pots

pulling the pots- there's 600 foot of line to coil

pulling the pots- there’s 600 foot of line to coil

a full pot, time to grade them out

a full pot, time to grade them out

they're everywhere!

they’re everywhere!

what a great smile

what a great smile and a job well done!

nice fish, Erik!

nice fish, Erik!

let's go already

let’s go already

at the top of Henry

at the top of Henry

best friends, best of times..

best friends, best of times..

a great day

a great day

Wescott Bay

Wescott Bay

spring flowers on Henry Island

spring flowers on Henry Island

shrimp and ling cod- nothing finer!shrimp and ling cod- nothing finer!

And of course, we caught a LOT of salmon!

early March in the San Juan's

early March in the San Juan’s

Jay got us started with this nice blackmouth

Jay got us started with this nice blackmouth

fish scales are always a sign fishing is good

fish scales are always a sign fishing is good

fish on!

fish on!

one for the table

one for the table

Darin with a really nice blackmouth

Darin with a really nice blackmouth

day's catch

day’s catch

stack em up Jay!

stack em up Jay!

we love silvers!

we love silvers!

another silver for the cooler

another silver for the cooler

let's have some kings too..

let’s have some kings too..

plugging the boat

plugging the boat

A great day's fishing!

A great day’s fishing!

As we move into the fall and winter season, there are always more to do and catch.  Winter kings, steelhead, and silvers to name a few.  It has been a wonderful year so far, filled with love, adventure, and great times fishing. ….

Tight Lines!

An Astoria adventure

peaceful morning

peaceful morning

Early Saturday morning Abby and I headed off to Astoria in search for an early season sturgeon.  It was raining when we left, but the sun broke through the clouds after we got over the coast range and it looked to be a good day in the making.  We arrived at the boat basin around 9,  parked the rig and looked around for a few minutes before getting started.  The air was crisp and full of the sweet, salty smell of the ocean, and the stress of the last week fell around my feet.  Abby was excited, she chased a few sea gulls around the dock and stuck her nose in all that she could find.  As I stood looking out over the water, she ran back and sat beside me, looking up with her large brown eyes as if to say “what are you waiting for? Quit daydreaming and let’s get down to business, the fish won’t catch themselves you know!”  I had to laugh a little, then proceeded to get everything rigged and baited.  For this trip I brought my big casting rod, the extra length provides enough leverage to get the bait out far enough to where I know the sturgeon run with the tide.  I carefully half hitched an 8″ smelt to the hook, attached the 12 oz weight to the slider and let it fly.  The bait settled to the sandy bottom and I brought enough tension on the line to place a slight bow in the top of the rod.  Now the waiting game began.  The tide was due to be full at 12:32, so I had a couple hours to go for prime time.

 

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the wait begins

The sun worked it’s way through the clouds, one minute bright and clear, the next covered and gray.  Abby kept herself busy, stalking the seagulls and ducks that lit on the dock.  I chewed through half a bag of sunflower seeds, the pile of shells a sundial on the deck marking time.  A few large ships made their way up and down the Columbia in front of us, and time continued to slip away with no signs of fish anywhere.  I reeled up my line a couple of times to check and recheck the bait, adding a little scent attractant each time before it went back into the depths.  Finally Abby jumped up into the truck and sat, watching the end of the pole with interest for a while.

 

Watching for a bite

Watching for a bite

 

When she had had enough, she just layed down on the seat and fell asleep.  HIgh tide was almost on us, and I certainly expected at least a bite or two before then.  We fished through the tide change and another hour of excruciating nothingness and decided to call it a day.  I was hungry for something substantial and a change of scenery.  A quick stop at the local burger joint filled the hole in our stomachs and we turned the truck towards home.  Abby laid in the back seat sleeping, her legs kicking while dreaming of seagulls and ducks, and I was filled with the blessings of a great day on the water, my nose full of the sweet smell of the ocean.

 

Tight Lines……

 

 

Big changes coming to the Columbia River and its tributaries

There has been a lot of jostling between the government entities and sports and commercial fisheries this last year.  A major attempt is being made to move commercial gill netting out of the river.  The following article from the Oregonian newspaper highlights the changes that are coming.  For me, most of the changes will make no difference in how and when I fish.  One change, no retention of sturgeon, has me fairly upset.  The sportsmen is paying for the lack of federal government policy concerning Stellar Sea Lions and their impact on the lower Columbia fish stocks.  Because these pinnipeds are listed as federally protected, they are off limits to hazing or removal even though it has been scientifically shown that they are the major player in reduction of fish stocks, including ESA listed endangered salmon runs.  My belief is that without a change in this policy, there will be a continued decline in sturgeon and protected salmon returns no matter what other actions are taken.  Below is the article, notice how no mention of Stellar Sea lions is made…….

Moving gill-nets off the mainstem Columbia River carries a price for sport anglers. 
 
Or, rather, price(s). 
 
An array of packaged decisions — some not quite finalized — await fish and wildlife commissions in Oregon and Washington when they meet Dec. 6 and 7 in Portland and Dec. 14 in Olympia. 
 
A joint-state committee of members from each commission, assisted by their respective departments and an array of sport and commercial representatives, has written off on the basics of a proposal far more wide-reaching than the failed attempts of the past to move commercial salmon fishing into off-channel zones. 
 
Even as a participant in 2009, I would never have imagined the scope of looming changes — or the speed with which they’re approaching. 
 
While plenty of angst is fertilizing sportfishing websites, none of the proposals is particularly daunting. Commercial netters will bear the brunt of the trauma, despite Gov. John Kitzhaber’s pledge to minimize their losses. Hopefully, sport anglers understand the critical importance of a strong commercial fishery in the lower Columbia River. 
 
The proposal calls for an end to mainstem non-tribal gill-netting by 2017, with a phased approach, putting more and more of the mainstem catch into the nets of anglers. It also increases hatchery plants in off-channel Select Area Fishery Enhancement (SAFE) zones such as those in Youngs Bay, Tongue Point and Blind Slough on the Oregon side of the river and Deep River on the Washington shore. 
 
Commercial fishing in the mainstem will not end, just the use of gill-nets. More selective commercial methods, already under development, will be used to mop up runs of hatchery salmon after sport seasons are done. Incidental commercial mortalities of protected wild salmon will be reduced to near-zero. 
 
Highlights of the proposal: 
 
SAFE zones: Sportfishing in SAFE zones, allowed now, will end. Gill-nets will be allowed. 
 
Buffers will be established outside the entrances of the SAFE areas. The gill-net community originally asked for a closure of the popular Buoy 10 fishery west of the Astoria-Megler Bridge to protect early returning chinook headed for Youngs Bay. 
 
Ed Bowles, fisheries chief for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said a no-fishing zone immediately outside the bay is more likely, although not from the bridge to the Hammond boat harbor entrance or all the way across the shipping channel to Desdemona Sands. “It’s got to be geographically identifiable,” he said. 
 
New off-channel areas are most likely to be researched on the Washington side of the river. The Cathlamet Channel has received much of the initial attention, although Bowles said enough protected upriver salmon use the passage that smaller tangle-nets might have to be used instead of gill-nets. 

Barbless hooks:
 Washington has wanted to shift to barbless hooks for several years on the Columbia River and its tributaries and Bowles said it’s now probable. 

 
“But it’s going to be barbless, not a single-hook rule,” he said. In other words, treble hooks will still be allowed as long as they’re barbless. 
 
The rule will allow fish to be more easily released, with less potentially harmful handling. Idaho anglers have been using barbless hooks for salmon for several years without problems. 
 
How far the rule will extend into Oregon tributaries remains a question. They include the Willamette, Clackamas and Sandy rivers, all of which might potentially shift to barbless-hook fishing. 
 
Bowles said his staff is still reviewing Oregon’s proposals and hopes to publish a draft — including barbless hook requirements — by Tuesday afternoon. 
 
Columbia River surcharge: 
Washington anglers already pay an $8.75 fee in addition to their license and tags to fish on the Columbia River and its tributaries (there’s that word again). 

 
Oregon will follow suit, Bowles said. The amount of the fee and where it may apply (read: tributaries) remain to be settled by Tuesday afternoon, but Bowles said his staff is leaning toward Washington’s model. 
 
This, incidentally, will not be a commission decision. Only the Oregon Legislature can establish fees. 
 
Hatchery production shifts:
 Hatcheries will send more of their salmon smolts to SAFE areas and release fewer in tributaries. 

 
Remember, though, while that may seem a severe reduction in the number of returning fish for sport anglers in tributaries, the absence of a mainstem commercial gill-net fishery also allows more returning fish to get upriver. 
 
In the case of the Willamette River, for example, 1 million, or 20 percent of the hatchery production of about 5 million smolts , will be sent to SAFE zones beginning in 2013. 
 
But without gill-nets in the mainstem, more of the returning adults from the remaining 4 million will return past the Portland skyline. 
 
“It’s about a wash,” Bowles said. 
 
Sturgeon: All retention fishing for sturgeon in the lower Columbia and Willamette rivers –sport and commercial — is destined to end in 2013. 
 
Bowles said that includes the SAFE zones. 
 
Sturgeon are in decline and a retention ban was probably in the stars regardless of the gill-net issue. 
 
Summer chinook:
 Commercial fishing for summer chinook will be phased out by 2017 and they’ll become an all-sport fishery in the lower Columbia. 

 
Public testimony will be taken by both commissions in their December meetings, Bowles said. 
 
Any differences on minor points will be ironed out by the time the Columbia River Compact meets in January and February to set new rules for the Columbia. 

Do your part, go to these meetings and make your voice heard.  You can bet that I will be there…….

 

Tight Lines…

 

Sturgeon City

On Sunday, my two boys and I put the boat in the water and went hunting for sturgeon.   It is still catch and release,  but we have a great time anyways.  The chance to catch a very large fish is always a great time.

Must have gained a little weight since I put these on last… LOL!

We got the boat in the water and into position and anchored up.  The fish finder started marking fish right away and it wasn’t 10 minutes till we got our first fish, a nice 39″ fatty.

First fish of the day, only took 10 minutes!

The bites kept coming and we were able to put the hurt on a lot of fish.  The day ended with me catching a 41″ sturgeon.

Last fish of the day….

It was a great day, lots of bites and lots of fish.

Gear Used:

  • Shimano 9′ Talora rod,

  • Shimano Calcutta reel spooled with 80lb Power Pro braid

  • Gamakatsu 6/0 circle hooks

  • Pacific Herring

Looking forward to the next trip!

Tight Lines…..

Shakerville Act II

Abby chasing a shaker as we reeled it in

The last catch and keep days for the spring/summer sturgeon season found us at Dibblee Beach again in pursuit of one last fish.  The weather was perfect, the waters were calm, and we were determined.  In an attempt to  mix things up a bit, we decided to use anchovies and squid as bait this go around.  The thought was that even though we had been catching fish on herring and sand shrimp, maybe the change in bait selection would get us into some larger, keeper fish.  It was a good day, we caught a lot of fish, but no keepers!  As the old saying goes, they call it fishing, not keeping for a reason.  We are really looking forward to October, when it all starts again….

Just a little short!

Great day on the water

A nice fish caught off the beach above us…….

we call her “sandy”

let it rip!

Shakerville…….

Looking for a keeper

Can lightning strike the same place twice?  We were betting so, and returned to our favorite little beach last Friday night and all day Saturday in hopes of connecting with a keeper sturgeon.  And, although we caught a lot of fish, none were of legal size to keep.  Juvenile sturgeon are call “shakers” and we got a lot of them.  It was good practice for my daughter who is still learning the finer points of setting the hook and keeping tension on the line when reeling in fish.  The spring season ends this next weekend, so we will be going out again Thursday and Friday after work, and probably all day Saturday in hopes of putting another fish on the tag.  I haven’t decided yet where we are going, the common thought is if you are catching a lot of shakers, you need to move either up or down the river to find the larger adult fish.  One thing that I did notice this last weekend was the amount of clam shells that were washed up on the beach where we were.  I am beginning to believe that there is a large clam bed in front of our fishing spot and that is what is attracting the fish.  If this is true, there will be larger adults in there feeding as well, it’s just a matter of time before we start connecting with them.  Stay tuned and see how this all plays out…..

Even Abby wants a keeper…

Another one just undersized

Great smile

nice fish, but under the lower slot limit length

Fresh herring half hitched to the leader with sand shrimp wrapped on other side

Herring wrapped with sand shrimp

The setup

beautiful day