Not sure where to go with this report and even if I did, a few paragraphs are not enough words to adequately describe our incredible weekend. Yes, this is a weekend report; in that I worked most of the summer, sometime ago we through a dart at a calendar and decided this weekend was going to be a getaway weekend.
Karen was born in Port Angeles, spent her toddlerhood in Bowman Beach and eventually her family moved back into Port Angeles. She has always considered the Olympic Peninsula home and has family ties with the Makah’s so we made a reservation to spend a long weekend at Hobuck’s Beach Resort out in Neah Bay. Neah Bay? I was in and started planning our fishing expeditions as soon as the reservation was made.
I knew that we would be doing a lot of hiking, exploring and general decompressing and that I would have to wiggle in some fishing between other activities. We have our tribal fishing permits so I knew that we could fish both Hobuck’s Beach for surf perch and the Tsoo-Yess River for salmon. We didn’t really focus on the salmon but I did have two on in the river while throwing a chartreuse weighted spinner. Drive-bys really and I ended up loosing both of them. The highlight of our trip was the hiking and surfperch opportunity.
The hiking was amazing, our primary hike was the Cape Flattery trail. The trail is maintained by the Makah Tribe and you can feel the history (the spirit of the Makah’s) as you descend the gravel path from the trailhead parking. Eventually the trail transitions to a series of cedar planked boardwalks and paths through the rainforest. The rainforest is spectacular in itself but as you hike to the raised viewing platform at the end of the trail there are numerous spurs in the trail that lead to additional viewing areas. You can feel the surge of the Pacific Ocean in the many sea caves as you hike the lower part of the trail. The whole experience is nothing short of spectacular.
The hike is about 1.5 miles with an elevation gain/loss of around 200’. It is not overly strenuous but there are many uneven areas and root steps so I would recommend that you wear hiking boots or shoes. Lastly be sure to purchase the Makah Land Use Permit. The permit is only 10.00, good for the whole calendar year and in part helps to maintain the trail. The permit is available at Washburns and a few other places in town.
Regarding the fishing; it was stellar! Knowing that our water time would be limited I wanted to learn something about the surf perch fishery at Hobuck’s Beach. We had decided to fish both a high and low slack tide. Saturday morning we fished the low slack for about 3 hours and then Sunday evening we fished the high slack for about 2 hours. Although we caught fish the whole time we were on the water, the best fishing was the hour and a half before and up to the tide change.
Initially I had Karen set up with a simple hi/low dropper loop rig and I was running a Carolina rigged - setup. In that Karen was kicking my butt I eventually switched to a single dropper loop rig and started catching up to her. This was Karen’s first surf perch trip and she is hooked! I explained the basics and she took it from there. Later Saturday evening over a glass of Fresca (the Makah Reservation is dry and it is illegal to possess alcohol) we were talking about our time in the water. She said that after casting she would close her eyes, become one with the sea and imagine the fish swimming up and biting her offering. That said there is always something magical about surf fishing. I have fished many beaches all along the pacific coast from southern Baja to Washington and a few east coast beaches. The feeling is always the same; once you walk into the surf you become part of it. You can feel the power of it and a sense of awe as it allows you to harvest it’s offerings.
As previously mentioned, the key setup for the weekend was a dropper loop rig. The rig was tied on 15# fluorocarbon with 2’ from the sinker to first dropper loop, 1’ of separation to the next and then 2’ to the braid mainline. We were using #4 bait holder hooks and a 1 or 2 ounce pancake weight. We were baiting the hooks with one half of the 2" Gulp sand worms. The rods were 10 ½’ and 9 ½’ spinning rods with the appropriate reels. Pancake weights hold very well in the surf but that said we would cast them out, let them settle and very slowly bring them back through the surf.
2 people, about 5 hours of fishing with 110 fish caught. Aside from 7 fish kept for dinner the fish were caught and released.
Calico Surf Perch (15)
Redtail Surf Perch (40)
Silver Surf Perch (33)
Walleye Surf Perch (8)
Sculpin, (Prickly Sculpin?) (12)
Starry Flounder (2)
A ton of 3-5” Dungeness Crabs
The whole weekend was just what the doctor ordered. Lots of back to nature goodness, awesome fishing, good food and hanging out with the misses.