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Lost Lake and the Sea Run Cutts
Fishing for lil' 'Bows on chironomids and then to the salt for some beautiful sea run Cutthroats!! Hope you enjoy! Tight Lines

LOST LAKE 2015 from d3vilfish on Vimeo.

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Posted by: Devilfish88
Posted: 04-11-2015, 10:25 AM
Swimbaiting Western Washington 2013.
Hello everyone!
         I hope everyone had a great year of fishing. I made a short compilation of some swimbait largie's I caught over the last year. Please excuse my language in the opening scene. I hooked up a possible double digit so my adrenalin was floored! Enjoy and happy holidays!

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Posted by: dresscode5
Posted: 11-19-2013, 03:00 PM
Low Water Steelheading
 photo reiter-low-and-clear_zpse43a31dc.jpg Well, if you've taken a look at our rivers lately, you'll notice that they are crystal clear. That means nearly unlimited visibility, bright sunny days and spooky steelhead. In spite of these unfavorable condition, you can still catch steelhead. And a lot of them. I decided it's time to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and give you all some advice to help catching steelhead. Because if you take my advice, not only will you be more likely to catch fish, you'll be helping out the rest of us as well, as I will explain. I will preface with a warning, don't everyone go out at once, I don't want to blow up the river, but for those of you wishing to avoid the crowds of pink anglers, steelhead can be a good alternative right now. <br /> <br /> The above photo is taken at Reiter ponds. You can see the bottom all the way out. If you look closely, you can see a giant school of fish out there as well. Now, not every day is there a giant school of fish at the hatchery, but right now there are going to be some good days where there will be fish stacked up, some days they will scatter. <br /> <br /> The same is true for a lot of our hatcheries right now. The Stilliguamish at Fortson has a good number of large steelhead hanging out, the Duwamish hatcheries also have fish sitting in front, waiting for rain. Blue Creek on the Cowlitz has a bunch of fishing waiting for you, and these techniques all apply to catching these fish. <br /> <br /> Now on the day that that photo was taken, we had the hole to ourselves. We didn't show up until about 130 pm. Steelhead in the afternoon, you ask? Yep. We hooked probably about 8 fish that day, and limited out two guys. In the bright afternoon sun, with flighty fish.<br /> <br /> The number one thing to know about these fish is that they are people shy! If you can see them, odds are that they're looking at you. Don't let that happen! They are people shy. Not so much line shy, tackle shy, they are people shy. Below is a photo of the guy that you don't want to be. We came up on the hole, and there were to guys standing right on the rocks by the creek. We didn't fish, we just watched and waited. As they stood there, I would point out to my client every time they re-tied how the fish would shoot straight in and sit right at their feet. When they were done putting a new jig on, the fish would fly out and scatter, running up and down the river.
 photo censored-reiter-photo_zpsc39ff30c.jpg Don't be these guys!

The same thing is true about every hatchery hole. There is a place where the fish want to lay, where they feel safe. And they will keep coming back to it, no matter how much gear gets thrown in their faces, or how many people decide to go swimming through, or floating their over sized bobbers right over the fish.

That particular day, we waited for the early riser to leave to go to their respective jobs, it was a weekday after all. And then we sat and had a drink. We set up shop about 20 feet back from the river, and watched as the fish poured in from all over the hole. Every single fish in the river wanted to be right there, and they couldn't be there because we had two 6 foot guys basically standing on there heads.

When they had settled down into their hidey holes, we very carefully crept up to the river, almost at a crawl, from downstream of the fish and cast our presentation upstream of the fish, and on our first drift we hooked into a hawg. After walking it downstream, we waited another five minutes and repeated the catch. Two casts, two fish.

And to prove a point that day, we were drifting with 15 pound leaders. Trilene big game, which, as you may know, is not known for it's invisibility. We drifted a bright orange size 12 corky, with a two foot leader, maybe a 1/4 ounce of weight, right through the hoard of fish, and we had no problem enticing a bite. Because we were stealthy!

The main reason you should read and follow my advice, is so that you are not that guy. That guy stands in the fish and turns off the bite, ruining it for everyone that wants to catch a fish! The guy fishing the boundary at blue creek, wading out 10 feet and casting to the middle of the river. When asked, he'll tell you that's where the fish are! I have to cast to them! Of course that's where the fish are, but it's not where they want to be. Because they aren't where they want to be, they don't feel safe, and they are spooked. For all they know, you could be a bear just waiting to eat them. When they get to lay where they want to be, they start to feel safe, and resume their steelheady business of protecting their territory from wandering fish, or intrusive eggs or nyomhs floating downstream. That's what they WANT to do. Standing on top of them makes them pissy and they shut down.

Summer run are extremely aggressive fish. They will take just about anything when it is presented in a reasonable manner. It's a well kept secret by those of us that fish every day.

As for gear, you probably don't want to run fifteen pound line, just because these fish are going to be over pressured, and not everyone will stand back. A good 10 pound fluorocarbon will be a very acceptable stealth line, while still giving you a semblance of control over a hot 10 pounder. Lately, these fish have been float shy as well. First thing in the AM they will take a bait under a float, but as the day goes on, they respond more too a naturally drifted corky or bead. Corkies in orange and beads in peach to red have been what I'm throwing and cleaning up with. Small size 6 flies in natural tones have also been enticing strikes. The key is getting the most natural drift possible, unhindered by the twitches and jerks that accompany keeping an over-weighted presentation off the bottom. [i]Light Light Light [/i]weights, even if it's a single split shot are key. If you experiment, you will find the right size weight that will allow you to cast, and not spook the fish. I have been running the corky on my mainline, and crimping small split shot up from the hook in intervals, allowing for enough weight to get down, but not a big clump that will turn off the bite. Think of it like you would a super thin sink tip on a fly rod, spread out the weight and you have a smaller profile, and you can easily adjust your leader length simply by sliding the weight forward or backward.

If you must use a float, the best option will be a steelhead stalker balsa float. They are made to work with super light tackle, and have a very low profile. You can fish a bead and split shot under it and still have a decent presentation. One of the reasons that I've been staying away from a float, is because they are not hitting hard at all. If you're watching them bite, even if you have a clear view, you may not even see the take. With a float, they have rarely even been taking it under, just nipping and spitting. The steelhead stalker floats have the super long tips that show even the slightest twitch in the line, a strike may simply be a sudden tip of the float downstream. A drifted presentation with a sensitive rod will allow you to feel the bite faster, give you the opportunity to set the hook before it spits it out.

The tricky part is that you only want to set the hook on a legitimate bite. It can be super tempting to feel the rock on the bottom, knowing full well that you're drifting through a mess of fish and rip back hard. I too find myself having to hold back the impulse to set. Because if you're doing everything right, there is a good chance that you'll end up foul hooking fish, which is no bueno, or ripping your line and disturbing the run so much that it turns off the bite for a good while.

Even if you're fishing the lower river section below hatcheries, these are the techniques to remember. There may not be the large concentrations of fish that there are in the terminal areas, but that makes it even more important to not stand on top of the fish. Coming up on the Wallace Flats the other day, we saw a pod of three fish from 50 feet back, sitting behind a group of boulders. As we started sneaking, another angler came lumbering through with his spey rod and waders between us and the river, and we never saw those fish again. They are people shy, but they want SO much to bite your gear as long as they don't know that you're on the other end! So much!

A light rod, delicate presentation with small gear will catch your a ton of summer run steelhead, whether it's on the SKy, Green, Cowlitz, Calawah or Kalama, and right now these fish have had the time to stack up and hunker down, so it's the best time to have a captive audience for your gear. If you remember the three principles, you'll increase your success 300%.

Stay back, stay low and throw stealth.

Here's a little bit of what I'm talking about:

 photo Sky-Steelhead_zps0bb2f2ca.jpg
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Posted by: natetreat
Posted: 08-16-2013, 05:09 PM
How to Get That Fish You Just Hooked on the String

So you’ve put in your hours on the river, bought all the tackle, fished a float, drift fished, filled your tackle box up and now you’ve finally hooked your first fish!  That’s the moment when you see that float down, and you feel the hard tug of a big fish. Your adrenaline is pumping. You’re drag starts singing. You rod’s doubled over and you’re knee deep in the water and just holding on. Now what?

Hooking a fish is hard enough, but when you get it on you are only half way there. Lots of anglers will find that once they hook the fish, they can have a hard time getting it to shore. Let’s talk about some of the techniques that will help you get that fish on the stringer, rather than swimming around in the river 30 seconds later with a sore jaw. Nothing is more disappointing than feeling that tug and losing that fish.

Keep your Cool –

You’re first instinct when you hook a fish is to reel and reel until he gets in. You’re going to have to suppress that instinct. When you get that hook lodged deeply in the fishes jaw, yell “FISH ON!!!!” really loud. This lets the other anglers around you know to reel up and let you play out your fish. After that, take a moment before you start reeling to see what that fish is going to do. It may make a line peeling run, or it may just try to sit on the bottom, and what it does is going to dictate what you do next.

With the tackle that we’re using to hook fish, we’re probably going to be fishing with light line and a lighter rod than you’d think would be capable of bringing in such a big fish. This is when playing out the fish is going to be important, because if you just try to yank it in, you’re looking at broken leaders and bent hooks. Let the rod do the work.

Let the Drag and your Rod do the Work

It’s important that you set your drag for about half the breaking strength of your leader. This is going to keep you from breaking off. When that fish runs, your drag is your defense against a broken line. You’re going to use the flexibility if your rod as a cushion against the violent headshakes, taking the force of a powerful fish and spreading it out to your rod likes a spring. Every time the fish pulls against the rod, he’s using up a little bite more of the energy that he has, and the length and taper of the rod is going to help you tire him out. A tired fish is a docile fish and much easier to net.

Your rod is going to have the most power when it’s kept at a 45 degree angle to the water. If you hold your rod straight up, you’re putting all of the pressure of the fish on the tip of your rod rather than pulling against the entirety of the rod. The main strength of your rod is going to be in the butt or lower section of your rod. Keeping your rod at 45 is going to use all of that power to your advantage.

Directing Traffic

You’re going to look at the river and get the lay of the land. Across the way there may be some stumps in the water. You don’t want the fish to head that way. Downstream from you, you have the tail out, which includes a large riffle with swift current and large rapids that will drag that big fish downstream and spool you in seconds flat. At your feet Are some large boulders, upstream you have fellow anglers with their floats still out. You need to take control of that fish and direct him into the one place he doesn’t want to go: your net!

When that fish starts to run downstream, the first thing you want to do is bring your rod down and lay it against the water upstream. That will pull its head around and send him towards you and turn him upstream. You’re going to want to pull against the direction that the fish wants to go. When he heads back upstream, turn your rod and pull in the opposite direction. Putting pressure against the fish parallel to the surface of the water is going to encourage that fish to stay in the water, rather than jumping up and out.  

Try to avoid pulling straight up on the fish, because this is going to pull his head up and out of the water. As cool as it is to see that fish tail walk across the top of the water, there is a reason why they’re jumping. It’s the best way for them to gain slack in the line to shake that hook. Tension on the line is the most important part of the fight. If you lose the connection between you and the fish, that split second is when the fish is going to have the leverage to get the hook out of its mouth.  Jumping is the best way for it to get that leverage. A good technique for subduing a jumping fish is to lower your rod tip and pull down on the fish, sending him back down into the water.

Pump the Rod and Keep Tension

You’re going to want to bring that fish closer to you. That can be hard if you’re just reeling him in, he’s pulling too hard against the drag and you’re still losing line. The way that you’re going to gain line on the fish is by pumping him in. Raise your rod up to the 45, and as you bring is back down, reel up fast on it ensuring that you don’t lose tension on the fish. As you’re pumping him in, you’re going to continue directing the fish with your rod angle. When the fish makes a run, you’re going to have to let it run. Reeling against a running fish is going to twist your line up, and isn’t going to do much to gain any ground on it.

Palming or Thumbing the Spool

There will be circumstances where that fish is going to make a run towards the sticks that you just can’t stop with the drag alone. This is when the knowledge of the breaking strength of your line and rod are going to be the key. To slow the fish you’re going to have to palm the spool, gently pushing on it to add that additional drag on the fish to slow him down. A lot of times that additional and sudden force on the fish can stop it dead in its tracks and send him in the opposite direction. The danger here is that that additional drag is going to have the ability to break your line. Knowing how much pressure you can put on a fish before the line breaks is something that you’re going to have to be able to feel out, and with a little time you’re going to have a feel for your gear and know that lines breaking strength. Of course this is going to be your last resort when trying to stop the fish, because the risk of breaking off is going to be pretty high.

Take your Time and Tire Him Out

The object is to tire that fish out so that you can bring him to shore and get him in the net. Don’t try and net the fish until its good and tired out, because as soon as it sees the net, it’s going to run again, and often that first glimpse of shore is going to summon the strength to escape that the fish didn’t even know he had. You’ll often times get the most exciting runs out of the fish the moment that he sees the gravel, and you’ll have to hold on. Take your time and tire him out so that the fish is not going to be thrashing around when that net comes for him.

Banking and Netting

When netting the fish, net it head first, and don’t net until you know you’re going to get it. Missed lunges are going to knock that leader free, and fish lost at the net are the worst type of fish. Have your netter ready with the net halfway in the water, direct the fishes head towards the net and use a fluid swift stroke to engulf the entire fish in the bag. When the fish is in the bag, you’re going to pull it straight back and up, folding the net around the fish, making sure that he can’t escape. Get the net and fish up on dry land before you unhook him, and if you’re going to keep the fish, give him a quick whack on the head to calm that flopping. When you’re looking at nets, make sure that you get one that is bigger than you think you need, because if you’ve got a bag that is too short and you have the fish only half way in, he’s going to slide right out and break your leader.

With these techniques, you’re going to be able to bring that fish to shore quick, and you’ll have more fish on the card than in the water. Playing a fish is simple: keep tension, take your time, direct its movements and pump him in.


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Posted by: natetreat
Posted: 10-28-2012, 12:32 AM
Skinny water Coho, Kings and Late Summer Steel

It’s been a while since I posted an update, so I figured I better let you know where we’re at this summer. I say summer, even though we’d like it to be fall, as we wait and hope for rain, we’ve still been enjoying the heat. We’re getting great weather, but the drawback is that the fish don’t enjoy it nearly as much as we do! Even so, this is an exciting time of year, with the summer runs trailing off we have some great new opportunities on the Olympic Peninsula, the Skagit and  the Cowlitz.

As a lot of you have already experienced this summer has been tough with the arrival of the silvers coinciding with low clear water. We’ve been finding conditions on the Duwamish, Snohomish and Stilliguamish less than favorable for these finicky fish to turn aggressive. With these fish locked down and nervous, it can feel like you’re slamming your head against the brick as you see rollers on front and feel nothing on the end all day.

All is not lost however, and we have been able to find fish that are willing to come out and play, even in these dry and bright summer conditions. We’ve spent a lot of time on the water in these past few weeks and have found that a few things have helped to bring more fish to shore. Here are a few tips that have been effective for us.

As traditional logic dictates, you don’t leave fish to find fish, especially if you don’t have a guarantee that you’re going to find anything somewhere else. This hasn’t been working for us lately. The fish are starting to fill up the rivers, and as more fish come in behind, they’re pushing out those fish that would like to sit in that bigger lower water and moving them upstream. This means that there are fish collecting throughout the system, and so you can find them in a lot of different spots. When we see a big school sitting in a hole, it’s tempting to throw at them all day in the hopes that one will break down and bite. However, what we’ve found is that if they aren’t in the mood, they’re not going to be in the mood all day.

Covering water and showing our bait to a lot of different fish has given us the opportunity to seek out those aggressive and willing players that others have passed over. We’ve also found the the higher the concentration of fish, the fewer willing players we’ve found. When we come up on a nice little pocket that may only have a couple of stragglers witting in it, these guys have been our best bet. The majority of the fish we’ve touched have not even showed themselves, not really rolling around or hitting the top of the water at all. We’ll hit one of these holes for 15 to 20 minutes, and then we’ll move on. Some of these fish want to eat, but most of them don’t, so seeking out the biters has been the key.

As some of you know, I’m a big advocate for light tackle, and that has been paying off. We’ve been using a lighter presentation, with less weight, smaller hooks and not a lot of flash. When drifting, we’ve had our best luck running 10 lbs. main with 8 lbs. fluorocarbon leader. Small beads or corkies will impress those wary fish while not giving them a reason to run when they see a big black slinky running across the rocks next to your bait. Natural colors in pink and egg orange have worked, green infertile egg bead imitations with a small tuft of purple yarn has been a favorite for these Coho.  

When float fishing, we’ve been using jigs, Dick Nites and bait under a small clear drift floats have been. With water like this, stealth is key right now. Small 1/8 ounce jigs with a healthy amount of marabou to give a sweet little tail twitch have actually been working quite well. Add a tiny bit of prawn to the tip for scent and you’ll have a good chance. When you can use bait, small sand shrimp tails have been working the best. Drift them under a float like a jig for the proper presentation. We’ve been working right on the bottom, an inch or two above. Getting that bait to bump right into their head has been our best bet. I know that we all love the hard hit of a big Coho on hardware, but we’ve found that if they don’t hit it right away, they’re not going to hit it. We follow a protocol, float bait through, jigs and drift fishing water depending, and then we hit it with a spinner. If that doesn’t work, we move on.

While the fishing has been tough, the big fish are in! We’ve had the opportunity to play with some teeners lately, so it’s totally worth the extra effort.

On the more optimistic front, we have been having spectacular luck on the trout front. Summer steelhead, Dolly Varden and sea run cutthroat have been more than willing to play, and with most of the angling pressure focused on the Coho in the lower river, it has made for a great change of pace. Stealth again is key, sneak up on your favorite hole, go light on your tackle and give a proper presentation and you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.

There is something to be excited about though. My favorite spots on the Olympic Peninsula are starting to fill up with fall Chinook! I’m booking trips out there for the first week of October, and it’s a time of year I look forward to from January. If you’re tired of fighting the crowds on the Puget Sound area rivers, these may be the trips for you. Learning the river early in the season will give you the edge when the run is in full swing later on, and you don’t want to miss these wild and scenic fish. Some of the biggest fish I’ve caught have come from these rivers, the Humptulips, Queets and Wynoochee offer relief from the shoulder to shoulder days on the Snohomish.

If you don’t mind hanging out with some fellow anglers, the Cowlitz system is probably one of the best places to learn to salmon fish with a high chance to bring in our favorite fall kings. With big numbers, both in the return of fish and pounds on the scale, the Cowlitz can quickly become your favorite river relatively close to home.

So if you’re looking to get into fish this year, now is the perfect time to get out and hone your skills. Book an early trip on the Oly Pen to get the edge when that run is in full swing! I have some openings in the next few weeks, but they’re filling up fast. Good luck on the water, and I look forward to fishing with you in the coming weeks.



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Posted by: natetreat
Posted: 09-25-2012, 09:20 AM
3 Days, 403 Fish, Feeding Bald Eagles!
I was fortunate enough to fish Lake Roosevelt with my ex boss the past 2 weekends!

We fished a full day on 9/8 and put 100 smallmouth and 1 walleye in the boat!  We fished only about 3 hours on 9/9 before being blown off the lake by 35+ mph winds but still put 56 smallmouth in the boat!

We fished a full day on 9/14 and put 121 smallmouth in the boat!  We fished another full day on 9/15 and put 151 smallmouth in the boat!  We fished a little more than half a day on 9/16 and put 130 smallmouth and 1 walleye in the boat!  This give us a 3 day total of 403 fish!

We were targeting points and offshore structure in various depths of water with finesse tactics and we absolutely slayed the fish!  With such a huge smallmouth population and not enough food, the majority of the fish are quite stunted.  We caught countless fish in the 1/2 lb range with several in the 1 - 2 lb range.  All of these fish are feeding up for fall and are super fat like footballs!  A lot of them were puking up baitfish (fry?) sculpins and craws.

I didn't record much fishing because I forgot to bring my battery charger for my spare batteries.  But I did record some footage of us feeding 2 Bald Eagles!  Mike has put in some time over the past 1.5 years or so training these eagles.  They're so smart that if we get within a couple coves of the cove where they live, they will come flying over and perch in the trees or on the rocks.  We fed them a few dink smallies and I got some footage of it!


Here is a picture of a nice, chunky, super strong 1 lb 14 oz smallmouth that took me for a ride!  These river smallmouth are So Strong and put up a fight similar to that of a smallie twice their size!

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Posted: 09-16-2012, 11:11 PM
Shore Bound Sockeye? Drop a Line in the Skagit!
Sockeye fishing in the Skagit? Yup and it is a pretty darn good fishery at that.  I apologize that I didn’t put something together sooner but I had a dilemma to work out. Early in the season a fellow fishermen mentioned that he recognized me as Rseas, was familiar with my WashingtonLakes activity and then suggested the fishery was already too crowded so I should not post anything about the fishery. He further said that posting something “WOULD NOT” be a good idea and that it would upset a lot of people. I mulled this over for some time and with the fishery being so close to home decided to sit on it for a while. Now with two weeks left to the season and many of the diehard fishermen up to their eyeballs in sockeye fillets I figure it is time to share my experiences and insight into the fishery.

        56603716_IMAG0457070212t.jpg                                                               64994039_IMAG0478070212t.jpg

The fishery opened Saturday June 16th. I was out of town and didn’t get to fish the opener but was on the water a few days later. In preparation for the fishery I did a lot of research. An item in particular, the feeding and migration habits of sockeye caught my interest. One of the things that surprised me was that just prior to entering fresh water sockeye will put the feed bag on and eat everything in sight. They may eat shrimp, small forage fish, out migrating smolts and especially chum salmon smolts, small clams and sand shrimp. The research also suggested that once sockeye enter freshwater, sockeye make a b-line for their holding areas (usually a lake) in whatever watershed that hosts the given run of sockeye. Once there they will mill around waiting for late August through October before entering the feeder stream or river to spawn. Interesting, but how can we use that to increase our chances of catching one?

First remember that the open fishery is in the lower Skagit River. That means these fish will be bright and just in from the salt and with the feedbag still on! To capitalize on the munch fest your offering will need to include some form of bait and or scent. If the river was lower and in better condition (the gauge in Mount Vernon has been running between 22' and 25’ since the opener with moderate flood stage being 28’) I believe that bait alone would catch the fish. Unfortunately with the high glacial silt stained water the visibility is poor and some form of attractor is required. I have seen many different attractors being used but # 4 or # 6 spin-n-glows are proving to be extremely effective.  

The general rigging is as follows (they are many variations possible but this is my preferred rig)

1)    21-17 pound main line (40# Power-Pro)
2)    A sinker slide
3)    Bead
4)    Swivel
5)    3’ of 20# fluorocarbon with a 1/0 hook secured with a egg-loop.
6)    Spin-n-glow (Almost any color, color preference seems to change daily) and beads
7)    4-6 ounce pyramid sinker
8)    Bait; sand shrimp, cured shrimp, yarn with scent or some combination of the three.
9)    Sand spike type of rod holder

Slide the sinker slide on your main line, add the stopper bead and tie on a swivel. Slide 3 or 4 small beads down the fluorocarbon leader to the hook then the spin-n-glow and tie the rigged leader to the swivel. Ask what your next door neighbor is using for lead and fish what everyone else is fishing, if everyone is using 6 ounces use a 6 ounce weight. As a note; with the high water I believe that the fish will be migrating right next to the bottom and I don’t use a dropper, attaching the weight directly to the sinker slide. Next pin your bait on the hook and if using sand shrimp, ½ hitch the tail a couple times to assure it stays on the hook and add some scent (I am having very good luck with the anise/krill scents). Again watch your fellow fisherman and see where he is casting. When casting, try to place your rig about the same distance from shore as everyone else.  With every one doing the same thing you are much less likely to tangle. Although that said; again the high-water thing, the fish will be taking the path of least resistance. This means shallow close to shore travel lanes, taking the inside path and sticking close to the bottom. Once your offering is in the water insert your pole into a sturdy pole holder/sand spike and pour a cup of coffee while you wait for a bite.



A bite, hmmm what does the bite look like? Some fish absolutely hammer your offering, jumping free of the river before you even realize the fish is on your setup. While with other fish the bite is very subtle, the bite barely being a nibble. Either way when you get a bite remove your rod from the holder, hold it with some tension on the line for a moment or two then when you feel the fish gently set the hook. You will know immediately whether or not you have a fish on. These fish are fresh from the salt and full of piss-n-vinegar. An occasional fish will swim right to the net but most will give you an admirable battle before you slide the net under them.

Unfortunately with the high water shore access is some what limited and the boats are struggling a bit. If running a boat be considerate of the shore fisherman, both in where you set up and when traveling. With the high water most of the shore access is limited to Young’s Bar in Mount Vernon, the Trestle area and the soccer fields in Burlington and a number of less accessible areas in the Sedro Wolley area and upstream to Gilligan Creek.

To date I have fished the lower Skagit River Sockeye fishery a number of times. I have connected with fish every trip. I have hooked many more fish than went home with me, either because I released them (man did that raise some eyebrows) or flat out lost them. Thus far my biggest fish was just over 10 pounds and a beautiful fish. I have fished at various times throughout the day and although the fish seem to bite best right after daybreak I have caught fish during all daylight hours. If considering a trip to fish the Skagit for sockeye, don’t worry about the time of the day and just go fishing when you can. As an additional little teaser, Friday evening while fishing a local saltwater beach I caught and released (sort of released) a sockeye on a very sparsely tied chartreuse fry pattern fly. I was casting to the smooth side of some inshore rips when a few strips into one of the casts I went bendo. After a noble battle the fish rolled in the shallow water and knocked the hook out then swam away before posing for a picture and officially being released.  


This fishery is an awesome gift form the WDFW so be sure to get out there and see what it as all about. Make a point to read the regulations and remember that there is a night closure and anti-snagging rules are in place. These are the cream of the crop as far as salmon go so be sure to bleed and ice down your catch as soon as possible after catching it. I have made a point to fillet the fish so that I preserve the integrity of the belly slab for smoking. It is some of the best tasting smoked fish you will ever eat!
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Posted by: rseas
Posted: 07-02-2012, 03:19 PM
Tight loops in Mukilteo
I had a couple of hours to kill today, so I headed down to Light House Park in Mukilteo. I was spot on with my casting. I tossed some of the tightest loops I have casted so far. I didn't catch any Sea Run Cuts, but I had fun watching some smallies chase chase my Klauser Minnow. The high light of the day was watching a brawl between a Bald Eagle and a Crow. I couldn't believe the eagle let the crow drive it off of its perch. I can't wait 'till my next outing.
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Posted by: Hank
Posted: 06-10-2012, 07:34 PM
Categories: Fly Fishing
Tossing Flies In the Salt
I fly fished two spots today. I hit Kayak Point around noon and then headed down to Mukilteo Lighthouse Park around 1900. I didn't catch any cutthroats, but it was still a great first day in the salt after finishing school for the summer.
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Posted by: Hank
Posted: 05-28-2012, 10:57 PM
Categories: Fly Fishing
Margaret, Twin, and Lillian Lakes - Alpine Lakes

This is a tale of three lakes, each originating from the same starting location. I’m speaking of recent hikes I did to Margaret Lake, Twin lakes, and Lillian Lake. Three gems in the Alpine Wilderness, located off I-90.


To get to the trailhead is an easy one hour drive from Seattle, up and over the pass and taking exit 54 to Gold Creek. The parking lot is not Gold Creek, but ¾ of a mile further on the north side of I-90, continuing east, and then up Forest Service Rd 4934 to a parking lot on the left, marked “Margaret Lake”.


I hiked Margaret Lake on Aug 6th with my brother Chris and his fiancée Karena. On August 11 I came back and did a solo hike to Twin and Lillian Lakes.


The lakes share a common (and mundane) hike up a clear cut which has grown back to 10-20 foot tall trees. There are very nice views along the way looking back at Lake Keechelus, so that is something anyway. At 1.75 miles and 1,000 feet of elevation gain – finally! Second growth forest. From here the hike is a gem.  We started at 3,997 feet at the parking lot, and hit the second growth forest at around 5,000 feet. From there it’s decision time – go east to Margaret Lake or north to Twin and Lillian Lakes? The distance to do all three lakes in one day would be tough (at least for my 50-something body). We decided to hike down into Margaret Lake, which was about ¾ of a mile and a drop down from 5,100 feet to 4,800 feet. A word about Guide Books – they suck! I have not found one guide book that accurately measures elevation gain and distance. Try bumping whatever numbers they mention by 20% to get a better estimate. For example, my gps gave me a distance of 5.9 miles round trip for Margaret, and 1,521 feet of elevation gain. The guide book says 6 miles and 1200 feet, so I guess they got the mileage right, anyway.


As we broke the crest and descended down to the lake we began running into snow on the trail, which got more frequent and thicker the closer we got to the lake. Once we arrived, however, we found open areas and some very nice camp sites and rocks to hang out on. The lake was clear of ice – yes! I tied on a Fish Creek Spinner and began working the lake, but had no success. As we fished a half dozen very larger trout swam by. I would estimate them to have been in the 14-16” range – these were BIG trout and not at all what I have come to expect from Alpine lakes. Since the spinner was not working I tried flies (both dry and wet) behind a casting bubble. I actually had one of the trout nudge a small nymph pattern I had tied on, but he wouldn’t commit. After convincing myself that the fish were not in the feeding mood we gathered our things and hiked back to the parking lot. Margaret lake definitely would be worth visiting again, and the elevation and distance would make it a candidate for hiking in a small raft for more serious fishing efforts. I’m sure once a person figured out what those fish wanted they would be a hoot to catch!



Chris and Karena Fishing at Margaret Lake

Margaret Lake


Lot's of snow but passable

Thursday I returned for a solo hike with my goal to reach the furthest lake along the trail system, Lillian. It was another perfect morning for hiking and there were just a couple cars in the lot, which I found out later were overnighters at Twin Lakes.


I made quick work of the clear cut, and at the fork in the trail headed north to Twin lake, first in line. The hike here follows along a wooded ridge line with spectacular rock fields and peak a boo views. A really nice walk and the kind of hike I enjoy most. At 5,000 feet plus, I was running into some patches of snow and a lot of downed trees on the trail, so this portion of the hike I was pretty cautious.


At around 1.3 miles or so I dropped down into Twin Lakes, a very steep trail and feeling a lot more than the 250 feet descent the guide book said it was.



Twin Lake -shallow - no fish?

Twin Lakes are, as far as I could tell, barren of fish. The lakes are quite shallow and clear. I saw nothing and did make a few casts, looking for trailing fish, but didn’t see a thing. The lakes (one large and one small, but neither very big) are pretty and have several very nice camp sites. This would be a good destination if your goal was to hike and camp in a scenic setting, but not plan on catching fish. The lakes have nice rocky bluffs on several sides.


Onward I went through snow patches and fallen trees to my primary objective, Lake Lillian.  Distance traveled, about ¾ of a mile of intense ups and downs, rock fields, more fallen trees, and generally tough hiking conditions. But, well worth the effort! Lillian is one of those “take your breath away” destinations. Surrounded by rocky outcroppings and cliffs, you really get the Alpine Lakes experience. I found myself just taking in the scenery in quiet appreciation. Well, not quite quiet, as a group of seven arrived 5 minutes after I got there. But that was OK, they were cool and we had a nice visit.




52735880_P8110027web.jpg 31139974_P8110033web.jpg


Now, regarding fishing at Lillian. The lake was clear of ice except for the west shore where I was. It is possible to work up over some rocky cliffs on the south side of the lake, which would give you a chance to hit more spots, but I wasn’t willing to try this day. One false step and you ARE going in! The water is deep right up to the shore, crystal clear. I did not see any fish dimpling the surface. That said, I have no doubt there are fish in this lake. It is listed as having rainbow trout and the lake is 17 acres. So for me the fishing will have to be for another time.



Laura Lake

There is one more lake which is just west of Lillian and about 400 feet lower, Laura Lake. This lake is listed as having rainbow also and is 3 acres. It would require a scramble down a rocky hillside and some dead-reckoning. I’ll leave that to someone younger and more energetic than I.


I shot video and will post it at a later date.


Totals from my GPS:


Margaret – 5.9 miles round trip, 1,521 feet of elevation gain.


Twin and Lillian – 11 miles round trip, 3,020 feet of elevation gain (yes, I feel it!)

Margaret - hiked Aug 6, 2011
Twin and Lillian - hiked Aug 11, 2011

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Posted by: Mike Carey
Posted: 08-11-2011, 08:44 PM
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