This was shaping up to be a busy morning. I’d gone out hiking with the dogs, and was heading out to the beach. Low tides were coming in the early afternoon, and I was looking forward to some great clamming. My son Steve and a couple of his buddies were going to be joining me. […]
On really nice benefit to a great fishing year like most of the salmon fishers have just enjoyed is that you can get pretty good at cleaning your catch. While one might assume that most fishermen can fillet a catch without much trouble, one would assume wrong! Over the years, I’ve learned that my best […]
Timing is everything! One of my biggest frustrations is that I have so much trouble sharing my favorite hobby with my buddies, especially my longtime friends living a thousand miles to the south! I like to send out photos with pictures of fish that I’ve been lucky enough to land. This practice drives my wife […]
The only problem I have after coming back from a wonderful fishing experience in Alaska is getting used to the fishing in the “real world!” Usually, my first fishery back is the Columbia River salmon season. In August, fish come back into the river, getting ready for their spawning runs with the first rains. While […]
One of my personal goals every year is to catch a new species of fish. While I have managed to land a fair variety in my time, I still have a pretty large bucket list of scaly critters that need my attention!
This summer, I had targeted a long, slender assassin, the pike! I’ve wanted to fish for one of these toothy ambushers for a long time. I can remember my Grandpa, back in the fifties, telling me about his battles with the northern pike up in the lakes of his native Wisconsin. He had a box full of scratched up lures dedicated to just that fishery.
My favorite salmon are one of the least known and most secretive of all the Pacific varieties. As a result, they get less angling pressure in many places, and are very much misunderstood. The two main reasons for this are their diet, which unlike most other salmon, doesn’t consist of lots of baitfish, and the second is their unique choice of habitat. Sockeye, or red salmon, are the only one of the Pacific species to require a lake for their development.
Of all the salmon species, only the chum or dog salmon join the sockeye as plankton eaters, and chums are not heavily sports fished, certainly not for table fare. Since the sockeye don’t chase down other fish and fast swimming critters, they don’t have the violent take that is so much the hallmark with silvers, chinook and steelhead. You can work a spinner all day and rarely have a sockeye give it much attention. Flies that imitate fleeing fish fry have little effect as well. To catch the fish, you have to imitate plankton!
After last year’s fun summer fishery in Homer, Alaska, my buddies in our fishing club decided this year to go for some bigger fish! Not that the little “chicken halibut” weren’t fun, but it only took a couple of meals to eat our entire summer’s product and we were looking for a bit more exciting bite and battle.
To that end, we booked this year’s summer outing to Yakutat, Alaska. There were some downsides to the trip. We couldn’t get our RVs there—the only way in and out is by ocean or twice-a-day airlines—and we’d lose our cellphones, but sometimes for special fishing you have to get a bit primitive, and we decided to make the effort.
No matter how well you plan your fishing outings, you are never exactly sure what you might run into. As I pack my fishing vest, I try to include all the tackle I might need, and sometimes will put in a few undersized and oversized hooks and leaders. I get funny looks from my fishing buddies, but one never knows what opportunities might present themselves.
I was reminded of some of my surprise opportunities when my buddy Tom and I were out fishing for little cutthroat trout in one of our local streams. These are tiny little fish, most under eight inches, but provide excellent practice for fly-casting. Here on the Oregon coast, not much will rise for a fly, but cutthroat are legendary for their aggressive rises to grab a floating surface fly.
One of the best parts of our angling pastime is the amazing scenery that we often enjoy. The top fishing spots are usually out-of-the-way, hard-to-find, “secret fishing holes” that are far from the beaten path. We enjoy the solitude, even if it takes us hours to get on location.
So in mid-June, my fishing adventure was a bit out of the norm. My fishing buddy Tom and my son Steve met me at a dock in a very urban setting. We parked in a small lot, shaded by an overpass, and walked down to the dock to meet our guide. We were within an area of at least half a million people, and lots of houses, motels, shopping centers and all the other accouterments of our species. Cars zipped overhead as we climbed onto the big aluminum sled captained by Rob Crandall, owner of Water Time Outfitters.
A lot of champion athletes will tell you that it can be harder to defend a championship than it is to get to the top in the first place. Not having enjoyed that level of success in athletics (or anything even close!), I can’t really relate. But this year, my buddy Milford and I were entering our local fishing derby as defending champs.
Now that may be a reach; they don’t really have an award for best fisherman, but they do give out prizes for catching a tagged fish, and we had caught a prize-winning fish two years in a row. Not only that, but the year they released really giant trout, I had landed a limit of five fish that tipped the scales at better than 22 pounds! They still use our photo for their website. So at least in our opinion, we were defending the crown.
As time goes on, I’m starting to get the feeling that even if I really hustle, I’m not going to be able to visit all the fishing meccas I’ve put on a rather extensive bucket list. Naturally, I’d like to catch tiger fish in Africa, a monster 500-pound catfish in the Mekong Delta, barramundi in Australia, and bluefin tuna in the wild waters of the Atlantic. Throw in golden dorado in South America and Amazon perch in the Nile, and you can see that my motorhome may have to put in a bunch of miles!
To this end, I am much indebted to those friends of mine who are more than happy to share their adventures with me. Recently, Christina De Witt, director of our amazing local seafood research center, gave our fly club a very detailed and intriguing show-and-tell about her latest outing.