Friday, November 5, 2010

November Sucks!

Not really, but on the West side of the state you never know what you are going to get. Cold, rain, showers, blown out rivers, spawners, darkies, mold, ragweed, short days, dry lines disappear and leaf takes are annoying. Driving over to the East side means multi-day trips because with the short cold days you really have to make the most of it. I generally fish the locals a bit when they are in shape, but with the few salmon around that are on the spawn and higher flows, you never know what you are going to get out of your day. I want to stay away from those precious redds and there are fewer bright steelhead around to make it worth it.

Still fishing time is fishing time and in the Pacific Northwest there really is an endless season. What I mean is there is always something to fish for every month of the year. This year I finally got off my ass to check out Puget Sound in hopes of finding one of those looked down upon salmonids, the chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta). Yeah there are a few places you can find them in Oregon Coastal streams closer to home, but really those should be closed. Yeah I said it, those very depressed runs should be left alone. Sorry guys, but ODFW shut them down.

Keith putting his work in.

There are quite a few places to find chum salmon in the sound and Keith and I decided to check out a terminal fishery not to terribly far from home and use the sled to find them. I had only been to this location once before and it was more a recon mission years ago. This was a totally different experience for me. I have done quite a bit of estuary fly fishing for salmon in Alaska, but never in Washington. From my personal experience, salmon in the lower forty-eight hate me and I am no dentist.

Not knowing what to expect and not putting a lot of thought into it we got there the day after this section of the sound was netted. Starting our day at low tide, we ended up parked next to a lot of gear guys fishing bobbers with eggs, sandshrimp and sardines. Not really what we were looking for, but there was fish there and stuck around watching bobbers go down in the boat next to us for a few hours. We through the kitchen sink a them with nothing but a sculpin to hand. It was a bit frustrating, but like I said, we really didn't know what we were getting into.

Guys lining up at the hatchery at high tide. It didn't look like much fun.

Hours later when high tide came in we saw some interesting things. One was what I can only call the crowding of the hatchery. Both by fish and fishermen. This was a bit funny and disgusting at the same time. People in line crowding a creek mouth while salmon pile in. That was not my cup of tea and was glad I was in a boat in the distance. But at the same time more fish started to move in closer to shore and finally Keith and I started to get grabs and hookups. It was not before long that my first dime bright chum was caught. I saw this somewhat loosely, because as we all know even bright chum are not that bright. Still all the fish we caught were ridiculously covered in sea lice and yes bright. The amount of sea lice was almost shocking on some fish. Dozens spread throughout their body, including there heads and fins. Goddam salmon farms!

Bright Chum?

What worked for me was a full intermediate Airflo 40 Plus Saltwater line with a short leader and both chartreuse and green chum candy on an Echo II 9 weight saltwater rod. The 40 Plus rocks! The Echo II was a bit too much for these fish, but good to cast when the wind was up. FYI, Echo is apparently retiring that model rod this year.

Paul Kim fighting one of several fish.

We also ran into Paul Kim of Felt Soul. A local from Bellevue, Washington that recognized me on the water. Always an odd feeling when someone asks if you are who you are. Paul writes an interesting blog from his perspective of Washington fishing, especially when discussing Puget Sound fishing. You should check it out.

I am looking forward to learning more about what the Puget Sound has to offer, and what needs to be done to help restore the ailing steelhead populations in that region of Washington. I doubt I will be able to make it back again this year, but can't wait to find more new water.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Glad you made it up here to the salt, even though it was that famous 'terminal' hatchery! And, yes, that is about as bright as you get for a chum. Nicely done.