Saturday, September 3, 2011

Snohomish River Pinks

Ian Brodie took me to his secret honey hole on the Snohomish River yesterday evening. The spot is so secret that there were only about 200 people lining the banks, plus several boats. Some folks brought tents to camp for the night, campfires dotted the shoreline as we walked out at dusk. Maybe it wasn't so secret after all.

It did have fish some of which were perfectly willing to play. We each hit three. My first was starting to hump up, the last was nice and bright. Muscled up to a 7/8 weight rod. The bigger fish this year have been tough to control on my 6 weight. Since I'm releasing all my fish, makes sense to end the fight sooner so they can go make more pinks for 2013.

Always experimenting with patterns, ranging from a Flashabou Pink Comet to Fuchsia Bugger tied with trilobal yarn instead of chicken hackle. Favorite fly so far--fuchsia rabbit tail, couple strands of silver flashabou, dubbed fuchsia sparkle yarn body. I'll add some weight at the head for fishing during brisk tide changes or fast stream flows.

Pinks In the Duwamish

Today was the Herding of the Pinks event on the Duwamish. The hot area was just downstream of the 1st Avenue S. bridge. I fished an intermediate line and the fish preferred a larger fly than in the past. Most everyone thinks the fish are bigger this run than last–I concur. Several fish gave my Scott 6 weight almost more than it could handle. The first fish took me 30 yards into my backing and one fish I never landed and was glad the hook pulled out. Next time I carry a bigger stick.

Most of the fish took on a fairly slow retrieve–much slower than what the hoochie and bombers using.

Here are some launch sites: just upstream from 1st Ave S. bridge, T107, and Duwamish Waterway Park. Explore and you’ll find other as well. Make sure to read the regs before heading out.

A Brief Affair

Hit Lincoln Park again yesterday–the bombers are scoring with their 1000 yard casts. Hit one fish last evening as the sun was setting. Seeing that sunset was worth the trip, the fish was a bonus.
Back again to join Bob Young and Steve Bohnemeyer. Steve left before a few pinks came in close. Bob hit one that released itself. My next cast resulted in a fish that I released after a pleasant tussle.
Sure would like to see WDFW Enforcement on the beach–folks are taking more than the limit and rarely are they recording their catch.

Loveless At Lincoln Park

Hit Lincoln Park about 6:15 this morning before heading off to do some real estate work. I counted 22 boats in the water and about that many beach fishers including 5-6 fly tossers. Steve Bohnemeyer hooked one pink, landed one flounder and I got plenty of casting practice. Like I said, no love at Lincoln Park. On the other hand, the pink buzz bombers were scoring with long, long, long casts and some of down-rigger crowd were picking up fish.
The run will only get better as more fish arrive and push in closer to shore. Stay tuned and keep your casting arm limber

Serene Was Serene

Lynnwood’s Lake Serene, the site of so many largemouth bass the last time Steve Bohnemeyer and I fished it, was completely fishless last night. Okay, so I had 4-5 nibbles, and I do mean nibbles as they were not strong enough to be called strikes, but that was as good as it got.
We fished on top into the lily pads, we fished shallow along the edges, we fished deep and we pretty much fished all around the lake.
Our results matched what we heard from a couple of local anglers–the lake is simply not fishing well this year. Go elsewhere

Weird Carpon

Talked with Leland Miyawaki this morning as he was headed into the Orvis store about the weird carpon behavior on Banks Lake. Ed Sozinho, Earl Harper and Leland found tons of fish and no takers. Weather conditions were better than good–sunny, hot, no clouds, no wind and clear water. No hook ups despite three quite accomplished fly fishers.
Here’s why: the fish are exhibiting spawning behavior. In a normal year, the spawn on Banks Lake would be the end of May–perhaps into the first week of June. Leland said the fish were paired up, broaching and generally focused on each other instead of eating.
His description matches my observations of the week before at Banks. Lots of fish–little catching except for the smallmouth.

Banks Lake

After the Washington Council FFF meeting in Ellensburg last weekend was adjourned, Big Red (my darlin’s Ford F-150) took me up to Banks Lake so I could check out the spots were I was going to show Blake Oxley, Jim Morrison and Leland Miyawaki all my “secret” carping spots. Good thing because the lake is about 2.5 feet higher than I’ve seen it at this time of year. Found some carp and smallmouth bass in the bright sunlight.
Fast forward to the meeting the three nimrods at Coulee City Park, the clouds threatening to rain again and the wind freshening. The two enemies of sight fishing for carp are wind and clouds. I don’t usually put rain on the enemies list because it never rains in the desert in July.
So as the wind increased to 25 knots, the water muddied and the clouds opened up, Leland caught his first carp on a olive rabbit and rubber legs fly tied by your faithful correspondent. Unfortunately, the other flies given to Blake and Jim failed their appointed duties.
They all packed it in when the rain pelted the surface into a froth. I hung around to check out a couple more spots for future reference. Then the sun emerged, the clouds rolled back, the wind stopped and the fish were easy to spot.
Of course, they pretty much maintained their closed mouthed demeanor, though I did manage to trick one carp and another smallmouth–a bit smaller than the one in the morning.

Magnuson Park

Steve Bohnemeyer and I fished Lake Washington last night-wading between the boat launch and swim beach. Ugly south wind gave way to a calmer evening. Mayflies and caddis hatching–only the rare fish working. Northern Pikeminnow love my Chartreuse Caboose. Sadly the smallmouth were not in evidence.

Log Boom Park

River Wader and I launched our pontoons yesterday evening at Log Boom Park. We were searching for largemouth bass on the fly and found exactly none. Did see several adult and immature bald eagles, several mallard hens with chicks and two beavers. Lots of great looking structure that either wasn’t holding fish or the fish that were there simply declined to be caught. What’s up with that?


Just back from an interesting and unique fishing experience. Dale Robinson, Fishing Manager of the Orvis flagship store in Manchester, Vermont, hooked me up with Drew Price of Master Class Angling. Drew is a guide who, as Vermont’s first certified Master Angler, loves to guide for “alternative species” like carp, gar and bowfin. When Dale told me about bowfin, I knew that was the alternative for me.

Why bowfin? Because it is a smart, primitive, aggressive, hard-fighting fish that grows to respectable size and willingly takes a fly. Also because it’s got teeth, is attractive in an odd sort of way, is a contemporary of the dinosaurs, and I’ve never caught one before.

Drew, a science teacher by training, has studied these fish and knows their habits. He says the bowfin is found throughout Lake Champlain as well as much of the eastern United States, including the Mississippi River drainage. In the lake, Drew says they mostly feed on aquatic insects. They also eat crayfish and forage fish.

Drew and I met at Lake Champlain, that is, once I found my way to the launch site. Drew rolled up with his canoe which we quickly dropped by the road, then parked our cars. Drew fishes out of a canoe because two people can stand up, it is quiet and allows him to take his clients into waters inaccessible to other types of craft. Pretty cool setup and made even more stable by a set of plastic pontoons that can be extended on either side.

He showed me his favorite set-up—a relatively simple, workman-like affair. Drew favors an Orvis 8-weight Hydros rod, floating line, short 4-foot leader and weighted fly. A strong, tough leader and fly rod with plenty of backbone are necessary to deal with these bruisers in weed and brush-filled wetlands.

The fishing is relatively simple as well. It is Sight Fishing 101. Angler in front, standing up, scanning the water for one of these toothy critters. Drew standing in back, guiding the canoe through the open and not-so-open flooded wetlands, helping to spot fish as well. When a fish is spotted, the fly is cast. The target area for bowfin is much like the target area for tailing carp—right on the nose. A well cast fly, jigged up and down may get the attention of a fish. You can tell when a bowfin gets excited as it ripples its almost body-length dorsal fin and flares its gills.

The strike is generally seen as well as felt. Drew swears he can hear the powerful jaws clamp down as well. Not so with me—too much rock and roll and gunfire without ear protection. The motion necessary to get a good hookset matches the tenor of the fish—strong and powerful in order to penetrate the bony mouth structure. When hooked, the reaction is immediate. The water boils, the fish surges left, right, to and fro with an almost uncanny ability to wrap the line around every available bit of floating and underwater vegetation. The trick to landing these guys in such places is like what the bass guys do when fishing the slop. Get their head up and the rest of the body will follow.

When it’s time to land the fish, Drew grabs the net and I lead the bowfin into it. Drew brings it aboard, uses pliers to remove the fly, then uses a Boga-Grip to release the fish after it poses for the appropriate cheesecake shots. The Boga-Grip is an essential tool to avoid getting fingers shredded by those diamond-sharp teeth. Bowfin males, when defending the nest from predators, have been known to attack humans.

Vermont has a Master Angler Program that establishes qualifying length requirements for 33 fish species. For bowfin, any fish over 26 inches puts you in the Master Angler category. Drew got me into five fish in the few hours we fished in spite of the wind rippling the water and the clouds blocking the sun. Of those five, I landed four. The two males were each only about two feet long. The two females measured 29 1/8 and 29 3/4 inches—both Master Angler fish.

Bowfin are not for everyone. Some folks call them dogfish, some call them trash fish, some call them swamp muskie. After hooking my first one and seeing the surface of the water erupt and the bend of the 8-weight rod, I call them nothing but fun.

Any fly fisher heading for the east coast who wants a different, completely out of the ordinary and exciting experience should contact Drew for a day on the water. Driving distances from Boston, New York or Philadelphia are modest compared to heading to eastern Montana. And Lake Champlain has just about every other freshwater fish species as well. Contact Drew Price at His blog is Email at Phone is 802.324.5651. Dale Robinson can be reached at 802.362.3750.


Here’s a story from the P-I

If people want to go swimming, floating or boating on rivers in unincorporated King County they may need to wear life vests.

That’s because Executive Dow Constantine has called for a summer-long life vest requirement.

“This proposal will help save lives,” Constantine said in a statement. “River flows are unusually swift and cold this year due to a heavy mountain snowpack that is melting into King County rivers. Rivers are inherently dangerous places to play, but this year is bringing additional risks. The wearing of life jackets is as essential for swimmers and boaters as helmets for cyclists and seat belts for drivers.”

County Councilmember Larry Phillips agrees and has sponsored an ordinance that will be introduced Monday. If approved, it would be be effective until Halloween. People who don’t wear vests would face fines from the sheriff’s department of up to $86. The sheriff’s department supports the life vest ordinance.

Authorities say an average of more than 20 die in drowning accidents every year in King County.

Read more:

Freight Trains

Want to learn how and where to catch a freight train? Come to the Orvis store, Saturday, May 7, 2011 3:00 p.m. to catch my free seminar. I’ll cover carp behavior, what they eat, flies to use and where to go.