Tale of two days, what a difference! Beach report and a question...

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by formerguide, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. formerguide Active Member

    Posts: 313
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Ratings: +756 / 0
    So, finangled some time again on the water, Fri afternoon and then again this morning. Let's begin with Friday...

    You know how some fishing trips were just not meant to be? If you were anywhere near the water yesterday afternoon, at least where I was, well then you know. Wind was howling. It was a pretty steady rain the whole drive out from my place (I live in Bonney Lake if you know where that is...) Anyway, driving to my first chosen spot, not only is it wet and cold, but there are branches and crap all over the road, like a hurricane is about to pass thru. Get to the water, white caps everywhere. Worse, the wind is kicking up a sizeable mudline where I want to fish. Try and wade out past it, get swamped by an honest-to-goodness wave. Try to cast, get a mere 50' of line out, and 30' of it stacks straight up into the air, held up by gusts. Needless to say, I don't last long at this spot, and do not get even a strike.

    Head elsewhere, looking for a protected area, anywhere that the wind isn't directly at me. Think I know a spot that should work, long drive but oh well. Get there, and the bloody road is blocked by Puget Sound Energy truck, apparently a tree fell acoss some lines. Don't know my way around, get misplaced trying to get around it, but EVENTUALLY get down to the water. Sure enough, there is a line of mud coming off some nearby work being done, which was my concern. But the water is calmer, so I give it a try. Nada. Zilch. Wind kicks up, I decide to get back, and realize with the tide coming in, I'm now forced to climb over some fallen trees. Trees in water have barnacles, duh, and I rip my waders scrambling across one of them. Then my hemostats fall off into the water. Too deep to grab (I am, well, vertically challenged as they say...)

    Back to car, heat on, thinking, this is nuts, as whitecaps again form on the water. Oh well, found a few things out about the tide and the area, all lessons learned and useful in the long run, but man, talk about not meant to be...

    So, decide to try again this morning. Get out on the water early, tide is still dropping out. But it is cold, calm, and lo-and-behold, sunny. Not what I was expecting. But stick with it, and sure enough get a decent number of fish to hand. All small, but bright and feisty, got a so-so pic of one in the air. Very cool. As the tide is at the bottom, the action slows (ok, stops) and so I headed to a new spot I wanted to try out. Tide is now turned and incoming at the new spot. See a few swirls, get a number of hits but can't come tight. How in the world can a fish hit so hard and not be hooked? Operator error I'm sure. Anyway, so current is moving nicely now, wind is picking up and it's clouding over. I switch to a little pink squiddy-looking thing I tied, and start really hooking up. Like, a good hour and a half of pretty constant action. The weird thing was how close the fish were hitting at times. I got the best fish of the day with my leader/line loop in my tip-top. Couldnt' clear the knot back out, ended up fighting the fish in circles around me since it was basically stuck a leader-length away, haha!

    Talked to a nice landowner, he was giving me some interesting tips. One observation- at the second spot I fished, there was a lot of clam/oyster nets or something on the bottom. What is protocol/etiquette regarding these? I waded around them to avoid stepping on them, is this warranted? Also, all of the fish near the net area had sea lice on them, first I've really noticed this. Is this due to the oyster/clam nursery?

    Good morning, nice to break the stink of yesterday afternoon, thought I'd share. I have to say, I think SRC's are just the ideal gamefish. I'd rather spend an hour or two casting away on some isolated beach then fight the crowds on the river. And due to my need to stay close to home for the foreseeable future, it really works out well for me. Thanks again all, if someone could let me know the proper thing on the nets and walking on them, much appreciated.

    Dan

    Airborne!
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    Sunny and calm, but fish didn't seem to mind...
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    Pink, squiddy thing
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    Almost looks like a rainbow rather than a cutt...
    [IMG]
  2. miyawaki Active Member

    Posts: 3,211
    Kent, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +836 / 1
    You did good at a time where there aren't many searuns around as they are moving up into their spawning streams. I've fished on the shellfish beds carefully being careful not to pull on the nets with my shoes. Simply take care and do not be tempted to snack on any of them or you'll kill it for all of us.

    Leland.
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  3. Dipnet aka Tim Hartman

    Posts: 889
    Silverdale, WA
    Ratings: +370 / 0
    Nice report and pics and glad to see you did find some fish. Due to family being in town and me playing with a reluctant furnace at the same time, I haven't been out there in the last week or more. Kinda jonesin' for some fish time though!!! :cool:
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  4. Steve Knapp Beach Bum

    Posts: 682
    Maple Valley
    Ratings: +258 / 3
    You are doing really well for this time of year brother, nice work! Feb has always been my toughest SRC month. I'm going to change that Monday.
  5. formerguide Active Member

    Posts: 313
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Ratings: +756 / 0
    Good luck Monday, be sure to post up something cool!

    BTW, is that you with a lingcod in your avatar? Was that on a fly? Very cool. I ate some lingcod at Anthony's the other night, it was very tasty!

    Thanks for the kind words, been lucky more than anything else, though I'm slowly learning some spots, and what works and doesn't work. Wish I'd brought a floating line today, saw some real nice boils in super thin water, was hard to cover them with my intermediate rigged, ended up stripping super fast and immediately in the shallows, worked less than it didn't...

    Dan
  6. Richard Torres Active Member

    Posts: 1,350
    Mill Creek
    Ratings: +76 / 0
    Steve is right about Feb being scarce for searuns, so obviously you have found an area where they haven't decided to hit thier spawning grounds yet (finding sea lice still on them?).

    Case in point, DryflyLarry and I hit a beach on Monday that has done well for him recently and both of us came up empty. Maybe they ventured over to hang out with you and not us, what gives??
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  7. Dipnet aka Tim Hartman

    Posts: 889
    Silverdale, WA
    Ratings: +370 / 0
    You got that right! Lingcod and halibut are my top-two fish to eat!! Yummmm :D
  8. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,797
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +653 / 0
    FG -
    Sounds like the second day was a productive one. You may have found a pod of mostly sub-adult fish or it may be that some are all ready dropping back to the salt following spawning. Typically mid-March is the peak of our cutthroat spawning (the main period typically running from early January to late May). On the small streams especially that peak can vary quite a bit with flows being a drive - the fish moving into them and beginning spawning on the higher flows following. With the recent rains it may be we have had an early spawn - the lack of "lice" on the fish pictured may be a sign that they have recently been in the freshwater.

    BTW -While it may mental hard to fish them "mud lines" can be very productive. Like many predators the cutthroat at times take advantage of that poor visibility to ambush baitfish prey.

    Ling cod on the fly is possible and some have been able to achieve success fling "feathers" at them. There has been several discussion on chasing them with flies in recent years that you might find interesting. It is mostly a game requiring a boat and a willingness to experiment.

    I agree that ling cod and halibut are great on the table however they are wild fish. If you are among those that have a knee jerk reaction against the killing of wild fish you may want to rethink whether you support the taking of them for the table.

    Curt
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  9. formerguide Active Member

    Posts: 313
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Ratings: +756 / 0
    Curt,

    Good note on the mud lines. I'm did try halfheartedly to strip thru the edges of one of them, but the wind and rain conspired against me, and I really gave it a brief attempt.

    Are lingcod and halibut stock faring poorly? I will certainly reconsider if so. Thanks for the reminder; when we moved up here in Dec, we took the kids to the Monterey Aquarium. They had some very informative literature in what fish one could eat safely and which species were under duress. Unfortunately, given the human population, everything we do short of not eating at all will likely have an adverse affect somewhere and in some shape or form. But good heads up nonetheless!

    BTW, first area I fished the SRC's were devoid of lice, been like that the past few times. The second spot fish had quite a few. Given where the first spot is in location to some small streams, I'm guessing these fish may have dropped out of the freshwater recently? Just a thought, I've only been at this for 5 weeks for the SRC's, my knowledge base is minute. You miss that, having local knowledge, a wealth of when and where and how to fish during varying times and weather and condition. However, when everything is new, and every spot is exploring and only a vague sense of where to fish and what to use, well, it's kinda fun. It really is just this constant need to keep seeing new water, just to learn, to have some spots, to see water in varying tides and conditions. My new goal is after having fished a spot twice, I can't fo back until I visit a new spot. Only way to learn, really, lest you become dependent upon a few places.

    Dan
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  10. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,797
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +653 / 0
    Dan -
    Learning new fisheries is one of the joys of our sport! Strategies such as your "rules" on fishing new spots as well as trying new methods, different flies and other experimentation are the way our own fishing and skills as well as the sport grow - well done!

    Ling cod and halibut are reasonably well managed fisheries that clearly can support harvest. Puget Sound ling cod numbers have rebounded nicely from 20 years and the current management with the slot limits likely assure that the population will continue to do well.

    My wife and I enjoy seafood regularly (several times a week) with all the fish and shellfish being harvest by me and most of which are wild. Just this month we have eaten ling cod, halibut, coho, Chinook ,kokanee, razor clams and prawns. I'm extremely careful (some may say anal) to assure that the seafood that makes it to my table are of the highest quality and from what I consider to sustainable populations.

    I freely admit that my harvest practices are a bit paradoxical; in addition in keeping lots of fish for my table I release all the wild steelhead, sea-run cutthroat, and bull trout I catch (and have done so for nearly 40 years) even when legal to keep them. All of our fishing is a blood sport that probably isn't good for the fish we encounter. It is for each of us to wrestle with the ethics of our impacts on the resource and which are acceptable and what is not. I came to grips years ago that over my life time of chasing sea-run cutthroat I have killed more fish through hooking mortality than many anglers that kill a few for their table. I find it hard to justify imposing my "CnR values" on those that want a few for the table when our impacts on the overall resource are similar.

    Curt
  11. formerguide Active Member

    Posts: 313
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Ratings: +756 / 0
    Curt,

    Well said, thanks for the info on the halibut and ling... I am in complete agreement on your feelings on harvest and catch-and-release btw. I think that too many anglers came to fly fishing when it was trendy, and view the sport as this purely pastoral endeavor, which it can certainly be. But it is a blood sport, same as hunting, and we make an impact on fish mortality, regardless of practicing c&r.
    Some view releasing fish as almost a religious philosophy. For me, it's a matter of practicality (what would one possibly do if you kept your "limit" every time out?) and of a lack of desire to kill everything I catch. I do keep a fish from time-to-time when warranted, and fully anticipate keeping my share of salmon this summer for the grill and the smoker. But you're right, if our only mission was the welfare and well-being of the fish, we wouldn't fish for them at all. One must simply come to personal terms on what is and isn't acceptable, and I am fine with my role. Sportsmen and women are oftentimes the only stewards and proponents of the wildlife we pursue, and the net sum of our actions lies definitively in the "plus" column.
    Anyway, nice to be in a state with some true options available. Since moving here in Dec I've been fortunate enough to fish streams and rivers and beaches, landed some cool fish, and really falling in love with the SRC, such a unique and fabulous species. I've been fortunate enough to fish all over the world, for a mulitidue of species (once caught 30+ species on one trip!) but the SRC is way up there for me. Thanks again all, great site, great state.

    Dan
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  12. Tool Fly Member

    Posts: 126
    seattle, wa
    Ratings: +22 / 0
    Great report, Dan--thanks for sharing. While you might have started the morning with "small ones," it appears you did not end that way. That fish has to be every bit of 17", and I wouldn't be surprised if you told me it was a couple/three inches longer than that. I've yet to hit a fish in the salt that big--mucho jealous!
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  13. Ybsong Member

    Posts: 47
    Seattle, wa
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    I agree with Tool Fly. You must have some very small hands to call those small fish. Also, taking a picture of a fish you're fighting is one heck of a bar trick? Nice work! As for the nets, I'd just keep off of them as best you can. There are a lot of hard working folks who break their backs securing those shellfish nets. The only time I venture on top of them is when I snag into them.
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  14. Mark Mercer Member

    Posts: 1,135
    port orchard, wa
    Ratings: +502 / 0
    Great report as always FG. You are definitely going about this in all the right ways and it's paying off, good for you and I hope others new to the sport will see how you are going about it and follow your example. Thanks
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  15. Steve Knapp Beach Bum

    Posts: 682
    Maple Valley
    Ratings: +258 / 3
    FG, lingcod are an incredible fish to target in Puget Sound on the fly. Curt and Anil provided me with a lot of advice lat year when Steve Rohrbach and I decided to attempt it. We ended up finding some amazing fish and I can't wait for May 1st. There are several great threads from April to June of last year explaining flies and tactics, and plenty of pictures.

    The fish are not extremely plentiful in Puget Sound, and they take such a long time to mature that three of us split just two fish for the season. We could have kept 2 fish every time we went out, but that would not help us find fish this season!! This is our way of being able to eat some of the best fish availible while being conscious of their sensitive lives and habitat. I plan to harvest only one fish this year, and I feel that is a reasonable and sustainable tactic. I hope other people look at it this way as well.

    As for SRC, they are by far my favorite quarry in the salt and I'll lose sleep tonight knowing there is a chance tomorrow of finding some fish, and shaking off the Curse of February.

    Cheers,
    Steve
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  16. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,797
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +653 / 0
    Steve -
    Ling cod mature at a pretty young age. The males typically mature at age 2 and length of about 18 inches. The females mature a year or two later and are typically in that 25 to 27 inch size range at first spawning. For the first couple years the males and females grow at similar rates; after that point the females grow much faster than the females. A very old ling cod would be a late teenage fish. The slower growing males typically reach a max. length of the about 36 inches. The females can get much larger (approaching 5 feet and weights of 60 or pounds though my best PS fly caught fish was only about 35#).

    The logical behind the length slot limits for ling cod in Puget Sound is to protect those larger older females. The fecundity of the females vary substantially with there size. A 10# female may have 60,000 eggs while a 30 # fish may have 10 times as many eggs. They have some interesting behaviors that are probably outside the scope of this thread. Lings are fairly abundant in their preferred habitats (high relieve rocky areas) it is just that sort of habitat is not all that common in the Sound. Outside of the spawning period many of the lings are "home bodies" which make individual pieces of habitat vulnerable to being "fished out" and it may take several years to grow replacement fish.

    Lings can be sexed fairly easily by examining their vents; the female's vent is oval shaped while the male's is tear-drop shaped. When I opt to harvest a ling if possible I try for a 30 inch male; something to think about if you are into selective harvest.

    Curt
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  17. formerguide Active Member

    Posts: 313
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Ratings: +756 / 0
    Steve and Curt,

    Awesome info in the lingcod. I'm definitely going to make some effort to get some, will start looking at old threads. I've chased a lot of tuna and stripers, so have some idea on fishing deeper water for some big boys when necessary, but will have a lot to learn. Steve, good luck tomorrow, hope you get rid of the shack nasties and get into a few!

    As for the size of the fish, I got into a lot of 10-14" or so fish in the morning. Later at the second spot, defintely the larger fish were a bit bigger, the fish in the bottom pic, didn't really measure, but I'd guess 16-17" is likely right, but not certain. Doesn't matter, was a great day of course, lost a nicer fish up close that I would have liked to get to hand. I have really been lucky though. I know I've caught 6 or so that were pretty large including the one I shared in an earlier report last week, so feel fortunate, blind fishing like this really is luck, at least as far as size is concerned.

    Dan
  18. Dipnet aka Tim Hartman

    Posts: 889
    Silverdale, WA
    Ratings: +370 / 0
    Speaking of lingcod, saw this interesting video on another fishin' board:
  19. formerguide Active Member

    Posts: 313
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Ratings: +756 / 0
    Oh my goodness, that is bloody awesome. Thanks for sharing! Tell me you wouldn't be happy catching either of those fish. What a predator a ling apparently is.

    Dan
  20. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,650
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +540 / 0
    That is a very fine report, Dan.

    I don't worry about harvesting Lings out here on the coast, but I would probably release a large female, if I caught one.
    I caught a higher percentage of smaller males (under 28") last year fishing in shallower water, which was only 15' to 20' deep. Even as late as mid/late June. I caught and released a few around 22" and just under that, but I did keep most of my "keepers," including a 32.5" female that I hooked in only about 15' close in to the Jetty rocks.
    I wonder. Had these males been guarding nests? Seems kind of late in the year for that, but I don't really know. Or were they just still hanging out in the "shallows" just because they were getting territorial?