Have a youngster dinging you to take him or her fishing? But you’re a single parent, or you just moved here from Sioux City, and you don’t know a red Gamakatsu from a blue Suzuki? Fear not — the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club has the perfect solution to introducing kids to recreational trout fishing, that indispensible part of the Northwest lifestyle.
The first portion of the two-part equation is a Kids’ Trout Clinic, produced in conjunction with Everett Parks, April 16 from 6 to 8 p.m., at Silver Hall, Silver Lake Park, in south Everett. Club members will present the basics necessary to successfully catch trout in our local lakes — where to go, how to do it, baits, weights, hooks, lines and leaders. To register, call Everett Parks at 425-257-8300.
The second part of the scenario, presented with the Snohomish County Parks Department, is a kids’ fish-in at Twin lakes (Gissberg) Park on April 19 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The north lake is open to juvenile fishing only and it will be well stocked prior to the event. The fish-in is open to young people 14 and under, accompanied by a parent or responsible adult, and there will be club members in attendance to assist anyone needing help catching rainbow trout.
The club asks anyone with their own tackle to please bring it, but that there will be a limited amount of gear available for those without.
Twin Lakes Park is adjacent to the west side of I-5, via Exit 206 at Smokey Point, north of Marysville. The lake is kid-friendly, with toilet facilities and lots of room to run.
For more information on either of the two activities, call Jim Brauch in Everett at 425-745-0444.
SPRINGERS: What is predicted to be one of the strongest upriver chinook runs in many years is in full swing now on the Columbia, and if you hurry, you can nail one of those red-hot spring kings right at Vancouver in a fishery both easily accessible and simple to learn. Columbia River springers are often classed with Copper River kings as primo table fare, packed with fat and energy for a long upriver journey.
Local guide, fishing show host, avid angler and Lake Stevens resident TJ Nelson said anglers are scoring above the I-5 bridge with basic trolling techniques, and that the fishery is slowly moving upriver toward Bonneville Dam. The well-known spots above the dam — Drano Lake and the mouth of the Wind River — are just now starting to put out a few fish for a handful of anglers.
But the Vancouver area is where it’s at currently, open every day except Tuesday and with a much larger quota than last year, Nelson said. To reach the launch at Marine Park, go south on I-5 (not I-205, the bypass) to the four Vancouver exits, D, C, B, and A, and take Exit 1-A. You’ll go east on Hwy 14, take the first exit, go right at the stoplight, and then left onto Columbian Way. Drive east, upriver, on Columbian Way to the end at Marine County Park. You want to be in the water by at least 6:30 a.m., Nelson said.
It isn’t necessary to have a jet sled or other special equipment, since the Columbia at Vancouver is relatively benign, Nelson said, with much less current than found farther upriver. Most saltwater craft used locally to fish salmon will work fine in this fishery, but you need a small kicker, or a sea anchor of some kind, because a very slow troll is critical. You will not need downriggers.
Launch and run a half-mile to a mile downriver to the first red navigation buoy on the Washington side. Troll downstream very slowly to the I-5 bridge, then run back up to the red buoy and do it again.
Use green label herring, plug-cut, on a pair of 3/0 Gamakatsu hooks, and 5 to 6 feet of 20- or 25-pound test leader to a good-quality ball bearing or bead-chain swivel. Then a 2-foot section of 40-pound shock leader to another swivel, then a slider on the line, and a one-foot sinker dropper of 15 pound test max, to a 6- or 8-ounce ball sinker.
“You want to troll downstream very slowly, so that your ball is constantly bouncing on bottom,” Nelson said. “And if you think you’re trolling slowly enough, you’re probably not.”
Nelson said most of these salmon will run 10 to 25 pounds or so, and are superb fish and magnificent fighters.
Checks by Washington/Oregon salmon management personnel for the first six days of April counted 3,287 fishermen, who averaged one legal chinook for every 4.2 rods (boaters) and 8.7 rods (bank anglers). By comparison, boat anglers during the same time period last year averaged an adult chinook per every 8.8 rods.
DERBY: The Stanwood Hotel and Saloon Blackmouth Derby runs Saturday-Sunday for an entry fee of $60, in marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 only. Tickets and rules are available at the hotel/saloon, 26926 102nd Ave. N.W., Stanwood, also the site of the weigh-in, 3-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Cash prizes are 45 percent of total entries for first; 25 percent for second; 15 percent for third; and 5 percent for fourth. For more information call 360-629-2888.
BLACKMOUTH: Winter salmon fishing in the San Juan Islands is probably only a fair bet right now, and checks at the Washington Park ramp west of Anacortes showed low fishing pressure over the weekend and about one legal fish for every seven or eight anglers. Locally, the Whidbey Island side of Saratoga passage, along with Elger Bay on the Camano Side, are probably the top prospects. Checks at the Port of Everett ramp over the weekend showed 49 fishermen with six fish on Saturday, and 26 with zip on Sunday.
Out on the Strait, a check at Olson’s Resort in Sekiu on Sunday showed 19 anglers with 8 legal fish.
HOUND HUNTING: In case you hadn’t heard, the hound hunting bill passed during the recent legislative session, opening up the possibility of increased use of hounds for cat hunting and the control of cougar. Hunting activist Rone Brewer, with the Washington Waterfowl Association, said this was an important piece of legislation for the state’s hunting fraternity for many reasons, “… one of which is that it brings common sense wildlife management back under the responsibility of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and out of the hands of a political initiative that was poorly conceived and which played to the emotions of voters instead of the reality of dealing with large predators.”
Brewer said the state’s hunters owe a big thank you to the Hunter’s Heratige Council and all its member sport groups (including WWA) for their good work on this and other key issues.
Which shows once again, I believe, that if you profess to love the outdoor tradition in this part of the country, but you don’t belong to an organization or in some other way offer your support, then you’re not walking the walk.
TURKEY: The general spring turkey hunt opens April 15, running through May 31, but unusually cold, snowy conditions could make access to productive areas iffy. Rone Brewer (above) scouted the Colville area last week — one of the state’s top spots — and found four to six feet of snow in some of his better turkey habitat at only 2,200 feet elevation.
“The birds are not talking much, and they haven’t spread out yet,” Brewer said. “And a bright spot is that despite the snow and bad weather, it doesn’t appear turkey winter kill has been particularly bad.”
Turkey populations generally are strong, according to state upland game manager Mick Cope in Olympia, but he said hunters in much of the state’s better habitat could have difficulty gaining access because of the snowpack.
Turkey harvest is strongest in Spokane, Lincoln, Stevens, Ferry, and Pend Oreille counties, and again in the southeast portion of the state in Whitman, Asotin, Garfield, Walla Walla and Columbia counties.
WALLEYE: Guide and Brewster resident Rod Hammons (firstname.lastname@example.org) said Columbia River walleye fishing is down for a while, as the fish are on the spawning beds. Now’s the time to book summer chinook trips, however, as the word of mouth about a big run coming upriver this year has anglers making early reservations.