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Prospects look good for Everett Coho Derby

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By Wayne Kruse
Special to The Herald
So we launched at Langus Park on Tuesday morning, determined to work our fingers to the bone, thoroughly researching the possibility of taking a money fish from the lower Snohomish River during this weekend's big Everett Coho Derby. The odds tilt heavily each year toward saltwater winners, but Nos. 4 and 5 on the 2011 derby prize list came from the river, caught on Dick Nite spoons.
Instead of the ubiquitous spoons, however, we were armed with newer weapons -- a selection of Brad's Wiggler diving plugs and a trolling technique gaining wide popularity with Snohomish River salmon anglers.
The system couldn't be simpler: just tie one of the plugs to the end of your line, no weight, no swivels, no attractors, no nuthin', put it out there 60 to 70 feet and troll at about one mph. Your rod tip should be rattling with the plug's vibration. Buzzing would be too fast, nodding would be too slow.
Troll upriver and down, with and against the current/tidal run, concentrating on rolling coho or where you see fish being caught. Researching hard all morning, sweat dripping from our brows, we saw a lot of activity around the second powerline crossing above Langus and both above and below the pipeline crossing. That general area is roughly a mile upriver from the Lowell launch.
There were perhaps a couple dozen boats spread out around us and, by noon, most had a fish or two or three in the box and had lost others -- not hot fishing, but not bad, either.
We had four takedowns, two of which were so vicious they buried the rod tips in the water, but put the hooks to only one -- a nice, bright buck of 6 or 7 pounds. We used the Wee Wiggler size plugs, having the best luck on a green fire tiger and a metallic cerise with a squirt of krill scent. Those plugs work at about 8 to 10 feet deep and we were trolling over 10 to 20 feet of water. Fish seemed to be scattered all across the river, along both shorelines and in the middle.
If you can't find a Brad's Wiggler to your liking at your favorite tackle shop, I was told that Greg's Custom Rods in Lake Stevens (425-335-1391) and Triangle Bait & Tackle in Snohomish (360-568-4276) have a good selection of the top colors in stock.
Out on the salt, meanwhile, there have been hot stretches and less-hot stretches, but what is generally conceded to be the best coho run in 25 years continues to roll.
State Fish and Wildlife Department checks were phenomenal late last week: 174 anglers with 278 coho at the Port of Everett ramp on Friday, for instance.
"This could be the best Everett Coho Derby ever, in terms of attendance, number of fish weighed, and size. It's going to be a kick!" said Tom Nelson, who will host The Outdoor Line radio show Saturday morning, live from Harbor Marine in Everett.
"The derby committee also made the grievous mistake of asking me to MC the proceedings on Sunday afternoon (the awards ceremony)," Nelson said.
John Martinis, owner of John's Sporting Goods in Everett (425-259-3056) said fishing early this week was excellent at the shipwreck, in Brown's Bay, and off the Edmonds oil tanks. Very high tides could have moved a few more fish north, toward Mukilteo, he said, and a scattering of larger coho -- perhaps Snohomish River fish -- has been reported, also to the north.
Martinis recommends any of the 11-inch purple haze flashers, or the Gibbs 11-inch red racer UV; 36 inches of 30-pound test leader; and a Gold Star OAL-12-R purple haze hoochie with an Ace High fly insert (any of the UV flies). To that smorgasbord he adds a fillet from the side of a 6-inch herring, heavily salted on the flesh side the night before using.
To see how he puts the setup together, go to his web site, and click on the coho video.
The early morning bite, fishing shallow, is prime time, Martinis said, but added that dropping to 120 or 150 feet after 8:30 a.m. would put additional fish in the box.
Gary Krein, owner of All Star Charters in Everett (425-252-4188) said the winning Everett Derby coho could come from anywhere in the Area 9 triangle encompassing Double Bluff, Point No Point and Edmonds/shipwreck. The shoreline from the shipwreck to Edmonds has been hot, he said, along with the area just north of the shipwreck, Brown's Bay and the shipping lanes off Possession Bar.
Krein also said that numbers-wise, there seemed to be more coho from Edmonds south to Shilshole, but most of those are under 10 pounds. Larger fish, he said, are being reported from the north.
Krein likes herring for larger coho -- assuming the angler knows how to cut, rig and fish the bait properly -- plug cut or whole, and without a flasher, trolling slightly slower than with flasher/squid.
A more popular setup would include a Hot Spot purple haze flasher (UV on a bright day) or a Gibbs moon glow, 32 to 34 inches of leader, and an OG55 white glow hoochie early in the day, going to a purple haze UV later. Krein said he would start at 30 or 35 feet, going deeper in 10-foot increments every 15 minutes or so, down to 90 feet after 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. Sometimes he'll leave one rod shallow, particularly one with a UV setup.
And how does it look for the immediate future? Rosy, considering state check data from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Sampling at Olson's Resort in Sekiu on Sunday showed 55 anglers with 101 coho.
Yakima River kings
The chinook fishery on the Yakima River is picking up, according to state biologist Paul Hoffarth in Pasco. Department personnel estimated 211 angler trips last week produced 62 adult fall chinook. The catch was evenly split between the river below Horn Rapids Dam and below the Prosser diversion.
For more outdoors news, visit Wayne Kruse's blog at
Story tags » Fishing

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