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Family outdoor adventures
  We live in the outdoor playground of north central Washington.  This has to be one the best places to have a family if you are going to take advantage of all the outdoor opportunities that this region has to offer.  It is hard to believe that people can live in this region their whole life and never get into what this region has to offer.  People of north central Washington work hard, and play hard.  If I'm not at work or at home, we are either in the woods or on the water.  
  Fishing has been a incredible way for my family to pull together and find some common ground.  We have 2 happy healthy boys ages 7, and 11 (Oct. 2016) that have become avid outdoors men.   We spend time doing other outdoors activities like camping, rock hounding, picking huckleberries, and morel mushrooms.  Our boys understand that nature can provide things that are not typically available  to purchase in the department stores, and that natures bounty can better than any thing you can buy in the store.
  These family outdoor adventures give our family valuable skills, which is a huge reason we always go on these adventures as a family.  Solo trips are not a option in our house.  We are happy that our boys are gaining the skill sets necessary to target specific species.  Including various presentations, techniques, locations, and when to target specific species.
  This summer has been incredible.  We have encountered a  tremendous amount of wild life diversity this summer.  We got to fish for Kokanee with a black bear hanging out within throwing distance of our boat on Conconully lake.  We had the once in a lifetime opportunity to see a large mountain lion that jumped out in the road up Twisp river!  Our boys have seen deer, pelicans, eagles, osprey, snakes, bull frogs, Mormon  crickets, coyotes, raccoons, hawks, and many more critters.  It is the opportunity to see such diverse wildlife that will create these incredible memories that will stick with them for life.  
  We go on these outdoor adventures as a family to build life long bonds, give our boys the skill sets necessary to be safe in the wild, and share their knowledge with their family when the time comes.  Fishing teaches patients, staying power, problem solving, knot tying, aquatic species knowledge, importance of conservation, confidence, how to prepare and clean fish, and how to stay in the moment.  Another great aspect of taking our boys fishing is it teaches them that no matter how good you are at doing something you will not always succeed at the task you set out to do, and that is okay.
  The bond that fishing has created between my wife, our kids and myself has grown tremendously through the summer.  We have had some incredible moments.  For example, we had a moment where I had just lost a dandy Kokanee and was busy getting that pole ready to go again, and all heck breaks loose and the down rigger pole goes off!  Our boys spring to action.  Our 7 year old frees the pole from the holder and down rigger, sets the hook and with some expert net work from his big brother lands the largest Kokanee of the year for the old Bent Hook Pontoon.  What a moment to watch... speechless!  Another favorite moment was watching our 11 year old land his first walleye ever.  We had the bottom bouncers going with slow death rig heading down stream near the mouth of the Okanogan river and WAMO!  Tyler was all over it. A hefty hook set on the Ugly Stick and the fight was on with a absolute dandy 18" walleye.  What a great first walleye, so proud of him. 
  It wasn't all buttercups, and limits this year.  We still had our ruff patches and they make the good moments even better.  We decided to step up our game this year and purchased a 24 foot pontoon boat that we have named Bent Hook Pontoon.  Our first fishing trip of the year was to Palmer lake and it did not go so well.  We had the boat out the week before on lake Pateros just to test it out for about a 30 minute run.  Well I learned a valued lesson that day to remember to turn off the fish finder.  Our first fishing trip never happend due to a dead battery.  So we ordered a jump pack that we still have not needed to use but now we have it just in case.  We made our first trip to Banks lake on fathers day and got skunked.  That is okay.  You can not expect to catch them every time.  However that was not what made this trip a ruff one.  At the boat launch I went to hop from the boat on to the tailgate and slipped.  I went face first over the side rail of the truck and KAPOWIE!!!  You just knocked your self out at the boat launch in front of a bunch of people!  That was the beginning of the curse.  Next three fishing trip produced nada, zilch, nothing.  Oh the curse of Steamboat, and how it plagued us.  So you got bucked off.  Now what?  Lets take our vacation at Banks lake and break the curse.  So we did, and it was awesome.  We persevered and learned another valuable lesson that you will not always have a successful fishing trip but you need to keep at it and it will pay off.
  Now that it is fall, and our season is coming to a close.  We can look back at all the photos of our summer together and remember all the good times, and the lessons we have learned.  Not to mention having a freezer fully stocked with walleye filets, and smoked kokanee.  What a great year.
Thank you
Milo Marcille
Bent Hook Pontoon
Tight Lines!
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Posted: 10-07-2016, 05:54 PM
A Bucket Full of Perch, Now What?

Being that our freezers were void of perch fillets we planned a fishing trip to rectify the situation. We decided to hit Lake Washington and then focus on loading the cooler with perch. I have a general familiarity with Lake Washington fisheries but G-Man had shared a bit of his local knowledge so our learning curve was a short one. We metered around off Yarrow Point in 15’-30’ of water looking for schools of fish located on the edges of the numerous weed beds. On locating a likely area we would test fish it, drifting to determine size or if anybody was home. If all was good we would set the anchor and get down to business. As it turned out after a couple different test drifts we anchored over the perch mother load. Over the next couple of hours we caught hundreds of perch releasing all but the 8-12 inchers. We were fishing a butterfly rigged jig baited with a chunk of night crawler or perch meat. We started out fishing the jig with a drop shot hook about 12” above but went to just the butterfly rigged jig.


Although the big fish bite would come and go we had fish going from the moment we dropped anchor. We ended up keeping exactly 100 8” – 12” perch (98 + 2 for bait) releasing at least that many. Boat safely tucked away in the garage it was time to fillet. As it turned out it only took me 1 ½ hours to fillet our spoils. We had about a gallon of boneless fillets and a 5 gallon pail full of perch carcasses so now what?


We dip the perch carcass in milk and bread crumbs, not…, they went in the “Bait/Beer” fridge for crab bait. We bread the fillets, freeze them in dinner for 4 size portions and then vacuum bag them to be consumed later. Although there are many recipes for breading fish the one we use for perch is not really a recipe and pretty simple. The method follows; but first in my mind the key to a successful fish fry is the oil temperature. Maintain the oil temperature at 350-360 degrees. To keep the oil at the right temperature use a large cast iron fry pan or fryer, monitor the temperature and fry in batches.

  1. Rinse fillets but do not dry.
  2. Dredge the moist fillet in a seasoned, flour based fish fry such as “Krusteaz Fri-Eaz Seasoned Bread & Batter” available at Cash n Carry.
  3. Quickly dip the floured fillet in water or milk then dredge in Panko bread crumbs or as an alternative in the seasoned flour previously mentioned with cornmeal added to taste.
  4. Lay the breaded fillet on wax paper or parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  5. Repeat until all fillets are processed layering the wax paper/fish as required.
  6. Freeze overnight or until frozen solid.
  7. Vacuum seal the frozen/processed fillets in appropriate serving size packages.
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Posted by: rseas
Posted: 08-31-2015, 09:39 AM
Incredible Rainbow Trout Fishing on Opening Day!

I pretty much never go out and purposely target trout. But with the cold front that lead up to opening weekend, the bass at the lake I went to were shut down. After catching only a couple dink largemouth in a couple hours, my buddy and I decided to troll for trout and destroyed over 45 in just a couple hours. I just chose 16 clips for this video so it wouldn't be over an hour long. This lake actually gets brood stock so they were much bigger average size and fought a lot harder than most trout.

For you trout fishermen, you absolutely need to go get some of the 3" Minnow from

! This is the same company that also makes Pen Fishing Rods.

  I've caught plenty of bass on these little jerkbaits as well! They have amazing flash and action!



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Posted: 05-06-2015, 05:04 PM
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
Our Lund Renegade 1650, Before and After
Shortly after we purchased our Lund I promised that I would keep everyone up to date with the upgrades, improvements and our overall satisfaction with the boat. But first, as an interesting side note; sadly Lund has removed the Renegade 1650 from their product line up. They had a niche following here on the west coast but overall the Renegade model line fell short of their sales performance goals. I guess that our boat is truly one of a kind. Over the years I have owned everything from kayaks to off-shore fishing rigs. All of my boats were and are primarily used for fishing. During their time with me the boats were customized into better fishing platforms. Our Lund Renegade 1650, as delivered was bare bones with a couple seat boxes, a pedestal seat and a 40 hp Yamaha 4-stroke hanging on the back. Not glamorous but I had a “plan”.
Knowing what I ultimately had in mind for it. The goal was to set-up an economical to tow, easy to launch anywhere, stable fishing platform that was fishing friendly and easy on the wallet to run. As noted previously we purchased the boat bare bones, without the built in tank. No use hauling around 17 gallons of gas and trying to keep it fresh when most of our trips will only require a couple of gallons tops.
As with the purchase, everything that I do to the boat is well thought out and typically has a specific purpose. In rigging the boat I am interested in making it a capable general all-around fishing platform targeted towards trout, kokanee but also capable in any prop based freshwater or salt water salmon fishery. Following will address the evolution of our boat through its current configuration.

The first major upgrade was the addition of downriggers. In that I already had manual downriggers we ran them for a couple years. But this year we will be sporting the new Scotty High Performance downriggers. We ended up getting an outstanding deal on them but to be honest for me the key selling point was the illuminated digital depth counter. After years of fighting the condensation on the old mechanical depth counter windows the illuminated set up is fantastic. Another key feature of the 2106s is the 36”-60” telescoping booms. With the potential to run a wider spread off the downriggers is gives me a lot more flexibility in managing multiple lines while reducing the possibility of tangling the lines in a prop. The addition of the electric downriggers required an electrical system upgrade which included the necessary fuses and wiring for the downriggers and while I was at it, the installation of a main electrical shut-off and an additional fuse panel.


Last year’s major upgrade was the addition of new seat boxes. Originally I had ambitious plans to build a raised bow deck with a fishing chair, live well, rod stowage and a fish box but I had decided not to do anything until we had at least a season of boating activities/experience to help with the design activity. Late 2011 I had fabricated a full mock-up of my raised deck concept and we pondered if it would really meet our needs for a few weeks. For us the answer was no so it was back to the drawing board. All though many of the features were way cool the reality was we didn’t consistently need them. A key concern with the raised deck design was a safety issue. The raised deck design significantly reduced the deck to gunnels dimension and we felt it would be unsafe while pulling crab pots or pulling the anchor when fishing on the Columbia or other big water river.
We settled on a much simpler design and although the end results doesn’t look like much of a change. The change is significant in eliminating clutter and providing much needed additional seating capacity. In the current configuration the starboard compartment is sized to hold all the safety gear. The fire extinguisher, bow light and flash light all mount on the ceiling of the compartment with room leftover for all the PFDs, flares, mooring lines, first aid kit and boat documents. The port compartment is not dedicated stowage but available for a given trip’s needs. Our soft cooler will just fit in the hatch so lunch and sodas will be out of the way. One of our original dilemmas was to provide occasional extra seating capacity without having to bring a lawn chair or an additional ice chest to sit on. The current design is such that an additional passenger can comfortably sit on the forward portion of the seat box when needed. Custom seat cushions and bolsters are still planned. Another issue with the original seat boxes was their height. My primary fishing partner has short legs and the original design had her sitting in an uncomfortable position. The new seat box design is more comfortable for her.

As part of this year’s annual boat upgrade I fabricated new downrigger mounts. My goal was to eliminate the rotational torquing of my gunnels consistent with the old mounts and to better stabilize the downrigger mounts by transferring the load to a structural member of the boat.  This year’s upgrade also included the fabrication and installation of a new rear/driver’s seat pedestal that my fuel tank will fit under. Major boat projects are done for the year and weekly trips in search of one aquatic creature or another should get back to normal.


Today the boat is rigged as follows:
Yamaha Electric Start, Power Tilt 4-Stroke 40 with Tiller
Minn Kota 12 Volt Transom Mount Trolling Motor and Associated Wiring.
2 2106 High Performance Scotty Downriggers with Braided Cable and Swivel Brackets
Humminbird 798ci SI Combo Fishfinder and suction cup transducer
Columbia River Anchor System, with 150’ and 300’rode sets.
A General Use Anchor + 75’of rode
4 Scotty Rod Holder Mounts and 4 Scotty Rod Holders
1 Custom rear seat pedestal with a Tempess Navistyle seat
2 Custom forward seat boxes, port and starboards with storage and 1 each Tempress All-Weather seats
Safety gear

Future upgrades:

Top, Side Curtains and Drop-Back  
Some form of pot hauler
A Yamaha 4 stroke 8 as a Kicker
Are we still pleased with our purchase? Very much so! Purchase decisions in our house are painful but well thought out and so far our Lund has exceeded all our expectations. The short of it is that we love the thing. The boat fits in the garage, is economical to tow, easy to launch and retrieve solo. It is very stable at rest or at trolling speeds but will handle the bigger water if needed. Our Lund is the driest riding 16’ open boat I have ever owned. Not only is it dry riding but it is also it is very smooth running at cruising speed. While navigating any sea conditions encountered so far, the boat has been predictable at the helm and handles a following sea with confidence. While anchored the boat tracks well in heavy current and shifting river conditions. We feel secure taking the boat out on any body of water and in any reasonable sea or weather conditions. With 2 or 3 adults onboard and a day’s worth of gear our top end is about 33 mph. Loaded the boat cruises at 20-25 mph/4,200-5,000 rpm and idles down to about 1.2-1.4 mph. We often burn less than a couple gallons of gas while fishing our local lakes for the day. We have made numerous trips to fish Lake Stevens or Lake Samish where we were trolling for 4-6 or even 8 hours and burned less than 1 gallon of gas. Additionally the boat tows a tube with authority and I am sure that we could pull a water skier without any problems. After 420 hours on the hour meter our overall fuel consumption is excellent and allows us to run the boat without having to consider the cost of fuel. With the boat behind our 4x4 Tundra equipped with 410 gears there is minimal impact on the tow rigs MPG and did I mention, the thing fits in the garage...



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Posted by: rseas
Posted: 03-14-2013, 08:27 PM
Categories: Boats, Family, General
What a Catch!
Now where did that rseas guy go? He seems to do this every year, come along the end of October he disappears only to be found occasionally lurking in the forums. OK, I'm guilty. I don't know what happens with the 4th quarter but each year the rseas spare time machine always seems to be down for parts. This year though we have a good excuse, I now have a reason to buy more rods, reels and fishing gear. I have a new fishing buddy.

What the heck, what am I talking about? With the usual end of the year chaos, work and life in general it has been a busy 3 or 4 months but this year we had a special project in work, our household has been blessed with the addition of an adorable, energetic bundle of three year old little boy. I won’t bore you with the sorted details but the end result is that my grandson is now enriching our every moment and living in our home. Although the story may seem sad he was surrounded by loving caretakers that truly care about him. Through changing circumstances he has come to our home not as a guest but as a permanent member of the rseas clan.

As our little man is a future student of Rseas Kokanee University, weather permitting his brain washing begins this weekend. He is over the top excited about his first fishing trip and has already eaten lunch in the driveway bound boat. I am not sure which local fishery we will explore for his first outing but rest assured that it will be an adventure.

Never being one that can leave well enough alone, we have had a few other things on the burner as well. I have a number of fabrication projects in work for the boat and I am finally giving in and am going to have a bimini/canvas enclosure made for it (unless I can wiggle my way out of it for another year…). Boat stuff aside, we are also setting up a 120 gallon custom saltwater reef tank. In hindsight, since I used to do saltwater tank installations and maintenance I should have known better. Just like a boat someone could give you the set-up lock, stock and barrel and you'll still go broke. We are also looking at remodeling the upstairs bathroom. Hey why not, it can't be that big of a project... The last springtime project and hopefully not the straw responsible for the camel’s trip to the chiropractor is a bed platform/pullout kitchen for the back of the truck. It is all designed and I hope to start cutting wood by the end of the month, early March.

All that said I still have this years fishing adventures to plan and prepare for. I hope to perfect my sockeye flies. I am also developing a pink salmon fly where my goal is for it to be effective on the salt as well as in the rivers. In addition to our fall trip east of the mountains, while the water is still up in the tules I hope to plan a Mardon Resort/Potholes trip this spring. I want to actually target bass in shallow water instead of catching them as an incidental catch. We would also like to do a Chelan weekend and hunt the large lake trout that skulk in the depths awaiting the dark form of some lucky anglers lure to silently glide through their sensory zone. Although I have a few new kokanee lures on the drawing board there are no major changes in our kokanee plan this spring. Just pound the water as often as possible and keep the smoker full. As a quick side note; I have been keeping an eye on the happenings at Lake Samish and there are gazillions of large kokanee jumping all over the lake. Finally, on a briny note, this summer is forecasted (according to my inside sources) to be a banner Puget Sound salmon year. Either way we plan to frequently splash the boat in the salt this summer. I hope to try a number of the less crowded areas we fished as kids. With no major changes in our usual gear or technique being planned, the nostalgia and secluded fishing spots should be the makings for a memorable summer on the water.

I hope that this helps to clear up the where’s rseas controversy, well maybe not controversy but curiosity. We are very much looking forward to our new adventure and sharing this year’s aquatic exploits with our new little fisherman. To all, happy fishing and be safe on the water.
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Posted by: rseas
Posted: 02-10-2013, 12:32 AM
How I caught my P.B. in Washington this fall.
Hey guys,
     I just wanted to share my first attempt at video editing and some short footage I got of my Biggest bass out of Washington State. The cold weather is making me stir crazy already. Happy Holidays!!!

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Posted by: dresscode5
Posted: 11-28-2012, 12:32 AM
To smoke or not and if so, where do I start?

Being that trout season has recently opened, the kokanee fishing is in full swing and an excellent summer salmon forecast is on tap we as fishermen may be trying to figure out what to do with all these fish, well hopefully that is the case anyway. Around our house fresh kokanee is always welcome and is incorporated into many tasty meals but smoked kokanee is always a treat and is an excellent way to assure that the fish that isn’t eaten fresh is preserved and not wasted. I know there are many smoked fish recipes and I am sure that most produce an acceptable product but the whole smoking subject can be intimidating. Following are what I hope will be some simple instructions and comments to help assure that your smoking experience is a positive one (If you have a wood shed don’t tell your dad that I just said that). You need to plan on 2-3 days to complete the process and cannot skip or significantly shorten a step. Depending on what time of the day you start the process you should allow approximately one day to brine, one day to form the pellicle and one day to smoke. 

Mankind has been preserving fish and game with smoke for centuries. The smoking process is variable and can be as simple as running a stick through a piece of meat and placing it near a smoky fire or smoking can be a very technical affair as what is used by the commercial smoke houses. This is written based on what the average recreational fisherman will be using to smoke their catch. These are basic steps and will work with a Green Egg, box type smoker, pellet grill/smoker, old refrigerator, barrel or even a cardboard box over a hotplate. Although I have many brine or dry rub recipes that I use and I am frequently tweaking things, my favorite and the subject of this Blog post is my back to basics brine recipe. It is simple, fairly low in sodium and consistently produces excellent smoked fish. The basic recipe is for my smoker full of fish (10, 1 pound kokanee or equivalent). I usually double the recipe when smoking salmon to assure that the larger pieces are properly brined.

1 gallon warm fresh water
2 cups brown sugar
1 cups pure (non-iodized or pickling & canning) salt
1-2 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
3-4 whole Bay leaves crumbled

1 Tbsp garlic powder

2 tsp powdered ginger

To assure that your efforts result in an excellent piece of smoked fish you have to start by taking care of your catch as soon as you net it. If you can, bonk your catch on the head and put it on ice immediately. This will help to assure that your fish remain firm and in the best possible condition for smoking. Many people also bleed their catch but with the exception of humpies I don’t bleed our fish. Fillet the fish as soon as possible and then continue to keep the fillets cold. For trout and kokanee I don’t worry too much about bones and I am looking for a pretty fillet, the few remaining bones can easily be removed from the finished product.

So now what? You have a pile of chilled fish fillets, the ingredients above and a large plastic container with a lid. Unless you like odd metallic tasting smoked fish never brine in a metal container. Mix the brine ingredients until there are no salt or sugar solids in the solution. I use room temperature distilled water to help assure that the sugar and salt dissolve but don’t heat the water, you don’t want to cook the fish during the brining process. Once the brine is mixed add the fillets to brine mixture. When smoking trout and kokanee I leave the skin on the fillet, the dogs love smoked fish skin and it helps with handling as you remove the finished product from the racks.  Brine and fish now go into the beer/bait refrigerator in the garage. Speaking of, now would be a good time to crack open a cool one because your fish will need to soak in the chilled brine for 12-16 hours.  For Trout and kokanee fillets I usually brine for 12-16 hours, starting the brine process around 3 to 5 in the afternoon so that you can start step two at a reasonable hour the next morning. 

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A pot of coffee down the hatch and the morning news is over so it is time to start the next step. For me this is the most critical step in the process. You must allow the fish to dry and form the pellicle, a varnish like substance that concentrates the flavors and seals the surface of the fish helping to assure a moist finished product and reduce the fatty deposits often found on smoked fish.  If you have room in your refrigerator for multiple smoker racks you are lucky, or possibly starving. If not, this is my method for forming the pellicle and you will have to figure out what works best for your household. I clear off about 10 feet of stove top and counter space under the kitchen exhaust fan and then lay a continuous sheet of plastic, in my case a drum liner that I split up the sides to form a continues plastic drip shield on the counter. I then set the smoker racks on the plastic and hit them with a light mist of cooking spray. Next I lightly rinse the fish and let them drain for a few minutes in a colander or a wire rack over the sink. From there I transfer the brined fillets to the smoker racks, skin side down and turn on the kitchen exhaust fan. I let the fish air dry to form the pellicle for 6-18 hours or what ever it takes to form the pellicle. Don’t rush this step; the fish has to be dry to the touch with no tackiness. Using a light touch you should not leave a fingerprint on the fish. 

96580366_IMGP638405022012t.jpg 66263939_IMGP638905022012t.jpg

After the fish has dried and formed the pellicle I load the racks in the smoker. The actual smoking process varies widely depending on personal preference and type of fish but here is the general process I use to smoke trout or kokanee in my Master Digital Smoker (similar to the Bradley). I use an equal mix of apple and alder chips, loading the wood chip chamber on my smoker before I start the smoking cycle. The temperature uniformity of my smoker is very inconsistent so I load the racks with the thicker pieces on the bottom and thinner pieces towards the top. I can adjust the temperature in my smoker so I use a phased temperature process. I start with 130 degrees for 1 ½ hours, then go to 140 degrees for 2-3 hours and finally 170 degrees (for food safety) for 1 to 2 hours. I check the fish occasionally to assure that it is not drying out. At the start of the both the 140 degree and the 170 degree cycle I reload the wood chip chamber. I leave the smoker vent open to assure a more delicate smoke flavor in the final product. If you are using any other type of smoker follow the manufactures instructions but I would say that as a general rule, when smoking trout or kokanee you want to expose the fish fillets to a total smoking time of 5-8 hours at temperature and check the fish occasionally to assure that it is not drying out.

Final note; after the smoking process is complete, keep the smoked fish in an airtight container or in a ziploc in the refrigerator for a few days and also remove any sharp bones from the smoked fish before you vacuum seal the fish and freeze for long term storage.

I hope this helps with your smoking concerns and if followed the process consistently produces excellent smoked fish. 


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Posted by: rseas
Posted: 06-05-2012, 07:21 AM
Categories: Family, General, Techniques
2012 Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby, My Two Cents
Our family will be attending one of the kid’s graduation festivities in Portland on Saturday, May 19th and we will not be able to fish the Third Annual Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby. I have had many requests for derby tips and general Lake Stevens information so I have decided to put together a short Kokanee clinic as a blog post. I am having problems with posting pictures to my gallery and will not be able to pull pictures from the gallery to add to the blog so as soon as the problem is resolved I will edit the blog to include a few pictures. All that said and aside from being the beverage of choice north of the border what the heck is this kokanee thing?

Kokanee are land locked sockeye salmon. In Washington State some lakes naturally produce kokanee but most are planted as fry 1-1.5 years ahead of a given fishing season. As catchable fish they offer great sport on light gear often making long runs while putting on an aerial show that may include seeing both the fish and dodger out of the water. Kokanee are also excellent table fare and can be prepared using any recipe that uses salmon as the guest of honor. Catching kokanee can be a challenge but there are effective standard kokanee techniques. First kokanee eat plankton. Their gills are specifically designed to filter plankton out of the water. Of all the kokanee that I have caught in my… I won’t say how many years of fishing for them I have never found anything more than green goo in their stomachs. Then, how does one catch them? You dazzle them, piss them off, and invade their territory or whatever it takes to get a reaction bite out of them (kind of like what I remember of dating).  Now what? How does one go about catching a kokanee?

By attracting them with scent, low frequency vibrations or both and then dragging some flashy or irritating hardware in front of their noses.  I troll small dodgers or swing blades followed by some sort of small spinning, oscillating, vibrating or flashy offering. My theory is that, as the swing blade or dodger travels through the water they transmit low frequency vibrations or noise. The low frequency vibrations travel for long distances in the water. The dodger is like a billboard to the fish “The worlds biggest plankton bloom, just 100 more miles”. Curiosity gets the best of the kokanee and it heads in the direction of the noise. When it gets there all it sees is this irritant in the form of your lure. The fish is cranky now, it just swam 100 miles out of the way and all it sees is your lure. The fisherman is hoping for one of two things at this point. First is that the fish sees your lure/attractor combination as a form of competition and figures that it will eat the lure before the competition does or secondly, that it just plain pisses the fish off so he lashes out and strikes the lure. Ok so much for my views on kokanee fishing, now what? 

Technique and what gear to run? The list is endless but here are a few ideas for the Lake Stevens kokanee fishery. Technique; when downrigger fishing for kokanee and trout I usually don’t cinch the rod tip down to the water effectively pulling the release clip and cable tight. I usually set it so the release clip and cable angle is less than 45 degrees (you will have to experiment with your individual speed, the type of rods you use and set-up), and is somewhat loose so the bite is easily detectable. When setting the clip tension or line placement, make sure that the release tension is tight enough to set the hook, but loose enough that you can pop the clip if the fish doesn’t do it for you. When you have to pop the clip, gently lift the rod increasing the tension until the clip releases. Don’t just grab the rod and yank it to pop the clip, unless of course you want to be able to tell a story about the kokanee that broke your rod. With the exception of some specialized techniques I usually run a set-back of 24’ – 30’. I never use the snubbers but instead use rods designed specifically for kokanee fishing. The rods help absorb shock to help prevent the hooks from pulling out of the kokanee’s soft mouth. They are kind of a noodle rod with a stiffer butt section. In the past I have been asked about using treble hooks for kokanee. I never use treble hooks while fishing for kokanee and with some exceptions I custom tie all my rigs using size 6 or size 4 octopus hooks. I feel very confident in my 2 hook rigs and rarely loose a fish due to not enough pointy ends. Leader length varies from lure to lure. With a squid type of lure and depending on the day you may be fishing a very short leader, maybe as short as 8”. With a spinner type lure or a spoon I rarely use a leader longer than 18” and usually my leader is around 14”. Regarding commercial wedding band spinners, they work great out of the package but I would tie up some 2 hook leaders using size 6 octopus hooks and then restring the wedding band stuff on the 2 hook leaders. For bait I am partial to the corn but I am always prepared with worms and maggots also. Regarding colors, I am equipped with every color under the rainbow but in my experience the fish in Lake Stevens are partial to green, purple or pink. Whether it is a mini squid, spinner or something else, those three colors are my first choice in Lake Stevens. 

My basic Lake Stevens rig is a Swing Blade flasher, Skagit Tackle dodger or a small Sep’s dodger in a variety of colors, 8-16” leader and then one of the following lures; A wedding band type of lure, mini squid, Dick Night spoon, other lightweight trolling spoons, my “kokanee flies” and whatever else is on the boat that I can tie a hook to.  I often use scents and tip my lures with some form of bait such as corn or maggots. On my boat I typically run two rods off the downriggers, one lead line rig and then one flat lined rig. I may also stack lines on the downriggers, giving me the ability to comfortably run 6 lines off my boat, any more and it becomes work and not fishing. My trolling speed varies but I will usually try to target .9 – 1.6 MPH with 1.4 MPH being my preferred speed for Lake Stevens. I will frequently adjust the depth of any rod on the boat until I find fish that are willing to bite. The method is a bit laborious (my downriggers are manual) but I typically chase meter marks with one of the downrigger rods. 

Speaking about meter marks, in my opinion a good fish finder is important when fishing for kokanee. Kokanee have proportionately larger air bladders than other fish their size. When running your fish finder in the arch mode Kokanee will typically be distinguishable from other fish. I know that cone angle, frequency, water conditions, the fish’s position within your transducer cone and other factors will affect your ability to interpret sonar readings but generally when fishing for kokanee the fish arches showing on your meter will have a red area in the middle of the arch. Thermocline is also important in determining what depth to fish for kokanee. On a better meter the Thermocline will show as a band of (for lack of a better term) interference. Typically the band of interference will be denser in the middle with a symmetrical dispersion of the interference above and below the denser area.  My antidotal experience is that the bulk of the actively biting kokanee will be in the upper half or just above the thermocline.  Don’t be afraid to turn the sensitivity way up, surface clutter down and the noise filter off. I know that the screen will be a mess but a pretty white screen is not what you bought the thing for. Look for the thermocline and fish arches with red in them. 

Now to really mess with you, when fishing for kokanee one needs to be flexible. If something is not working, change tactics. Later in the summer it is common that the fish will be active as deep as 50’ or more while early in the season, overcast days or early mornings the fish will be in the upper 10’ of water. But consider that as a guideline only, change depths every 5 to 10 minutes until you find fish willing to bites.  I have one last comment on depth, if you are catching smaller fish and you need something to enter for the derby change depth in two foot increments until you locate bigger fish. Typically the bigger fish will be hiding below the relative safety of the school of little guys above. Now where to fish?

When fishing the derby I would launch at the WDFW launch in town, with your WDFW parking pass it is free and the adjacent park is the derby headquarters. Things will be crowded and unless you arrive very early you may have to park your rig somewhere in town. As you leave the cove into the main lake I usually get the gear down and head south along the 80’ line to the about the southern entrance of the bay then do an about face and head NNW trolling a slot “S” pattern across the 60-90’ line until your generally due east of the northern edge of the aerator pen. This trolling path is my honey hole and depending on success I may rerun the trolling path or head towards the aerator pen to work a “L” pattern along and around the southern and eastern edges of the aerator pen. I have also had good success working the shoreline to the west of the aerator pen. The, what we refer to as the Regatta Run” is also productive, especially in the afternoon. The “Regatta Run” is basically a trolling path that starts at the entrance to East Cove and runs toward the boat launch at Wyatt Park. Now you know everything I know about Lake Stevens kokanee but I believe there is also a prize category for the largest trout. 

The trout in Stevens can be difficult to find and only seem to bite early. I have scratched out some fish later in the day but it took a lot of hunting. There is a large flats area at the north end of the lake and early in the day I will fish the flats. I pull 3” stick baits or woolly buggers in 8-12 feet of water approximately 50-60’ behind the boat at 1.0 mph. Then as the day gets brighter I move out to 25-30’ foot line and fish the stick baits 50-60’ behind the clip with the riggers running at 20’. It takes a lot of patience and searching but can pay off. Color is a tough one. I usually start out with gold body/orange belly or silver body/blue back stick baits and then start going through the box until I get it figured out. The gold body/orange belly (perch colors) is by far the most effective. I have another technique that I’ve been messing with and it seems to work very well for targeting the big trout in Lake Stevens; I have experimented with a walleye bottom walker rig, floating spinner and trussed-up night crawler. In my opinion this rig will become the standard rig for targeting the larger Lake Stevens trout.

As previously mentioned, it will be crowded. I don’t really mind the carnival, bumper boat atmosphere and in-fact I enjoy the fellowship and being able to talk with the boat trolling next to me. For me the wait at the ramp to get in or out of the water is also not a problem but a good opportunity to get to know the other fisherman on the lake, find out what’s working or not. It is also a great time to ogle the other guys’ boat, electronics or rigging and tuck ideas away for future enhancements to your vessel of choice. We all take pride in our boats and the ramp wait is also an opportunity to show off. Whether it be your boat, trailering skills, the days catch or even to take the time to share your experiences and knowledge.  OK, so I’m a little strange…! I know that not everybody is comfortable with this type of fishery so how can you make the best of it? 

Be prepared to launch before you put your tow rig in reverse. While waiting to launch, secure your lines and bumpers, tilt the motor up, and remove the transom tie-downs, put the plug in and be ready to go when it is your turn to back into the water. Also if someone needs help offer assistance and be patient. Everyone has a different comfort zone and skill level. Be the teacher not the person that stands on their horn because the launch line is going too slow.

Organization, during a typical day of trout or Kokanee fishing I may change lures 50 times. Unless I kept things organized my boat would be a war zone, difficult to move around in and generally unsafe. While fishing for anything, keep everything organized. On my boat I have found that the pipe installation type leader keepers strung on bungee cords or the same on a PVC rack that I came up with are an excellent way to keep pre-rigged lures organized. I frequently have a 100# dog and kids on board so the placement of unused rods, the net, pliers, dikes and even the garbage is well thought out. The boat is still a mess at the end of the day but at least I started with a plan. For your boat look carefully at your needs, spend an hour or so just sitting in it while parked in the driveway and think out your organizational approach. Everybody’s will be different depending on, finances, time spent in the boat, your physical limitations, whether or not you fish solo, type of fishing excreta… Take the time to organize your boat and there will be a higher likelihood that your on the water experience will be a positive one. If not at least you’ll be able to find the first aid kit if you need it, which reminds me…make sure you have some form of basic first aid kit onboard. 

Hit your local tackle store the week before and stock up on kokanee gear. Holiday Sports in Burlington has everything an angler would ever need to catch a kokanee, boat supplies and the staff is very experienced in our local fisheries. 

Come Saturday morning I will be sending all the derby fisherman kokanee vibes and I wish everyone good luck and a safe fulfilled day.
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Posted by: rseas
Posted: 05-16-2012, 10:00 AM
Hand & Net Fishing in South Korea
I got to go to the very same stream in Korea that my dad grew up right next to.  We caught fish by hand and net.  It was pretty fun and was awesome spending time with family that I never met before.

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Posted: 05-13-2012, 11:55 PM
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