The main-stem Stillaguamish reasserted itself as a major salmon producer recently, putting out what will likely prove to be a new state and world record “humpy.” The jumbo pink salmon weighed 15.7 pounds on a digital scale at the river, and 15.4 pounds on a state-certified scale later, at Haggen Foods. Happy humpy hooker Adam Stewart of Arlington, 19, said he beached the brute on Oct. 11, on the lower Stilly, just before dark. He was drifting a clown Corky, white with pink dots.
Stewart said he would be taking the fish in to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Mill Creek office to have it verified, and was in the process of filling out the application form for the International Game Fish Association.
“I worked at Hook, Line &Sinker (the tackle shop at Smokey Point) for a while,” he said, “and they had a photo on the wall of the current state record fish of 14.8 pounds, so I was aware of how big a pink had to be to be worth looking at.”
He called the state and the IGFA the next day, he said.
“The IGFA’s all-tackle world record pink is currently 14.93 pounds,” he said, “and that was caught on 12-pound test line. Since I caught mine on 10-pound test, and they don’t even have a 10-pound line class, I don’t see any particular problem with establishing the record.”
Record fish are often worth something to the angler, monetarily, if the equipment manufacturer involved chooses to use it as a marketing tool. Stewart said he planned to contact the G. Loomis company, manufacturer of the rod he used. A call to Yakima Bait Company in Granger, makers of Corky and Li’l Corky lures, revealed that the person to talk to, Rob Philips, was out of the office for two weeks.
Adult, male humpies develop an almost grotesque humped back as spawning time approaches, thus the name, and this huge specimen was apparently no exception.”
“It’s one ugly fish,” Stewart said.
Upper Columbia steelhead: The first week of fall steelheading on the Methow was only fair, according to state biologist Bob Jateff in Omak. He said the fishing pressure was severe, which probably caused spooky steelhead and not-so-great success rates.
“I look for the Methow to pick up substantially in the next couple of weeks, for two reasons,” he said. “First, there will be more fish coming in from the Columbia. Second, the Wenatchee opens Monday, which should take a lot of the fishing pressure off the Methow.”
The majority of anglers are fly fishing, Jateff said, with black patterns and egg patterns predominating. Float and jig anglers are also taking a few fish, with blacks and purples, or a combination of the two, popular colors. Remember that the Methow is open to clipped hatchery fish only, and is selective gear water; single, barbless hooks and no bait, and that the very bottom end is closed to fishing. Read the regulations carefully.
The Okanogan is also open to clipped, hatchery steelhead under selective gear regulations, and is worth a little exploring.
“Bank access isn’t as good on the Okanogan as on the Methow,” Jateff said, “so you you have to do a little nosing around. There’s public access at the Hwy. 20 bridge in Okanogan; in Omak at the Hwy. 155 bridge; at the highway bridge in Mallott; and one down by the mouth, near the Hwy. 97 bridge.”
The Okanogan makes a good float trip, he said. Put in at the town of Riverside and take out at Omak or Okanogan.
Another steelhead fishing opportunity exists in the Columbia proper, for bank anglers at Pateros, just above the mouth of the Methow. Most of the fishing there — and it can be pretty good at times — is done with float and jig/shrimp rigs (bait and barbed hooks are legal on the Columbia), Jateff said. Success rates for the first week have been running about one fish for every eight hours on the water.
Two points to emphasize here, Jateff said. First, it’s against the law to take a wild fish out of the water, even to unhook it. Second, the department encourages anglers to keep their two-fish hatchery-stock limit, with the idea being to keep as many hatchery fish off the spawning redds as possible.
Waterfowl: The general waterfowl opener saw mild weather locally, but enough ducks around to make for fair to good shooting at places on the Skagit delta. Skagit Wildlife Area manager John Garrett said he saw a number of limits taken, but also hunters with zip. Lacking a lot of rain to form ponds and sheet water inland, the best shooting, he said, was along the Skagit bayfront.
“One interesting aspect was the mix of ducks I was seeing,” he said. “A lot of widgeon, pintail and teal, and not many mallards, which isn’t the usual situation. All in all, I would call it a good, but not great, opener.”
Garrett reminds duck hunters that the season is closed today and Friday, to make up for the two days alloted earlier to the special youth hunt. Federal regulators allow each state only a certain number of total hunting days.
“Naturally,” he said, “these are a couple of days when we’re supposed to get some real duck hunting weather, after a bluebird opener.”
Snow goose season in Goose Area 1 opens Saturday, he said, and there are excellent numbers — once again — down from Wrangell Island. It should be another blue ribbon snow goose year, and Garrett said that if you missed the deadline for signing up for the second edition of the popular Fir Island Quality Goose Hunt, don’t despair.
“You can probably work something out with the Wildlife Program folks in Olympia,” he said. “Call 360-902-2200 and ask for wildlife management.”
The weather was also too good for best hunting east of the Cascades, according to Mike Meseberg, at MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir, Grant County.
“Conditions were mild,” he said, “but there were enough local ducks around to make for pretty good shooting, particularly on Tuesday, when we got some wind. We saw some limits coming in, particularly from around the wasteways — Winchester and Frenchman Hills — and from over around the Lind Coulee arm of the reservoir.”
Most of the locally-hatched ducks, which make up the bulk of the shoot for the first few weeks of the season, consisted of gadwall, widgeon, teal, and a few pintail, Meseberg said.
Coho: There are still silvers being caught out of Sekiu, where checks over the weekend showed nearly a fish per rod at times, so coho are still a viable species in the rivers. Tops is probably the Skagit, in good shape at least through Wednesday and putting out some really nice-sized fish. Bob Ferber at Holiday Market Sports in Burlington said they have either weighed or seen pictures of a number of coho going 12 to 16 pounds recently. Ferber said some early chums are also starting to show, so pulling plugs could be a great technique right now for a mixed bag.
Book: A mention here last week of a hunting book written by a local author garnered considerable response. That’s the good part. The bad part is that the writer’s name got changed from John Otto to “Jim” Otto somewhere along the line. “A Season of Wing-Shooting: Hunting Tales from Washington State,” by John Otto, is available by calling 425-232-9934, or visiting www.xlibris.com/aseasonofwingshooting.
Eastside Chinook: Only one weekend left for kings on the Yakima and on most of the Hanford Reach. On the Reach, anglers were taking a nice mix of chinook (still in decent condition, in many cases), coho and steelhead. The catch rate was about one chinook for every 13.4 hours on the water.
On the Yakima, activity picked up last week. Some 218 anglers were contacted by creel checkers, with 82 adult kings and 87 jacks, for a catch rate of 11 hours per fish.
Upper Columbia triploid rainbow: The popular winter fishery for big, pen-raised triploid rainbow trout is underway on Rufus Woods Lake (Chief Joseph reservoir). Anton Jones of Darrell &Dad’s Family Guide Service said trolling along the “can line” just above Chief Joseph Dam, with F-7 frog pattern Flatfish is a good way to go. Current water temperatures are prompting strikes from 5- or 6-pound and larger ‘bows right on the surface, Jones said, which makes for some interesting fishing. This presentation will also take some of the lake’s jumbo, 2-pound kokanee as well, he said.