Local fishing charter owner/operator Gary Krein of Everett will be one of the expert presenters at this winter’s edition of the Seattle Boat Show, scheduled for Jan. 14-23 at the Qwest Field Event Center and, concurrently, on the water at Chandler’s Cove on Lake Union.
Krein will cover all the basics of catching salmon in Central Puget Sound. He’ll be speaking from the Event Center’s fishing stage at 4 p.m. on Jan. 14, 15 and 17.
Other recreational fishing-oriented seminars, all from the fishing stage, include:
* Crabbing in Washington, Clyde McBrayer, 1 p.m. on Jan. 16; 4 p.m. on Jan. 18; 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 19; 4 p.m. on Jan. 20; and 4 p.m. on Jan. 21.
* Fishing the San Juans, with veteran state biologist Jim Aggergaard, 7 p.m. on Jan. 14 and 15; and 4 p.m. on Jan. 16.
* Fly Fishing Puget Sound, with Seattle-area charter operator Keith Robbins, 1 p.m. on Jan. 23.
* Halibut Fishing A to Z, with veteran bottomfish expert John Beath, 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 22.
* Jigging For Salmon, Terry Rudnick, 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 15; 1 p.m. on Jan. 17; 4 p.m. on Jan. 19; 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 21; and 4 p.m. on Jan. 22.
* Mooching in Puget Sound, Keith Robbins, 1 p.m. on Jan. 15 and 22.
* Salmon Fishing in Puget Sound and British Columbia, with charter operator and “Salmon University” host Tom Nelson, 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 14; 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 15; 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 20; and 2:30 p.m. on Jan 22.
* Tips and Techniques For Fishing Lake Washington, Larry Gonczy, 4 p.m. on Jan. 23.
* Whole Herring Magic for Salmon, John Beath, 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 23.
Boating seminars at the show include touring, electronics and maintenance, financing and insuring a new craft. A complete schedule of topics and times is available at the Web site www.seattleboatshow.com.
Admission – which includes both venues – is $9 for adults; youths (ages 11-7) are $5; and the event is free for kids 10 and under. A five-day pass is $25. Tickets can be purchased online at the Web site noted above.
One of the more interesting boats at the show is sort of an aquatic version of the Hummer, a 37-footer derived from the Navy’s 340C patrol boat. The M2 all-aluminum catamaran is powered by twin 380 horsepower Cummins turbo diesels and pushed by twin Hamilton jets. It’s for serious weekend warriors only.
Smelt: Lower rivers and less freshwater influx into coastal areas have apparently been the catalyst to improve what had been a generally slow winter smelt jigging season. Bob Ferber at Holiday Market Sports in Burlington (360-757-4361) said jigging has definitely picked up at times for those working Cornet Bay, the Oak Harbor marina, and even the La Conner docks.
Steelhead: Cold water and spooky fish have made steelheading a tough proposition the past few days, forcing anglers to go to smaller baits and longer leaders, and to wait until afternoon hours and a few degrees of warmer temperatures. The Skykomish remains arguably the best of our local streams, particularly the stretch from Reiter Ponds down to Sultan, both for bank and boat anglers. The Stillaguamish has been very slow; the Skagit only fair. Even though the Cascade has dropped off because of too-low, too-cold water conditions, the pool below its mouth, in the Skagit, has remained productive.
The southwest rivers offer a strange picture at this juncture in the winter steelhead season. While many anglers have given up on the Cowlitz, citing very slow fishing, the numbers of fish returning to state facilities on the river don’t indicate a particularly down year. According to state biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver, a total of 686 hatchery winter steelhead had returned to the trout hatchery through the first week of January, and 2,241 to the salmon hatchery. The first is about the same as last winter, but the second is nearly double last year’s returns at the same point.
So if the run is at least as strong as last year’s decent number, why have the catch rates been substantially lower? And why is the run at least as strong, considering that the smolt plant two years ago – the adults from which are coming back this winter – was about half the plant of the previous several years?
The answer is that no one knows, said state regional fish biologist Wolf Dammers.
“It’s a little embarrassing to admit that,” Dammers said, “but the fact is that trying to forecast steelhead runs is pretty much guesswork. You can be a little more accurate with salmon, but steelhead don’t seem to correlate very well with coho, with the size of smolt plants, with the number of jacks returning the previous year, with any of the usual indicators.”
On the Kalama, where good fishing has been the rule all winter, the number of steelhead trapped so far, according to biologist Chris Wageman, is three times the river average.
The Washougal is double the average, and the Lewis is up 30 percent at one facility, but at only half the average at another. And the Elochoman is showing just half last year’s hatchery return.