Making do in the salt

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Hey All,

I've lurked the forum for a while before finally signing up this year and lurking a bit more. This place has been a great resource and I'm glad I joined. I've spent my fly fishing life of some years now on small and medium sized rivers in WA, but I started searching in earnest/vain for steelhead the past two winters. This summer, I've taken to the salt for SRC and salmon.

I've been trying the beaches on Whidbey lately and haven't tied into anything yet. I've got a 9' 5wt and a 13' 7wt spey rod. The 5wt has been cast in hopes of SRC from *redacted*, and the spey rod has had a Skagit line or a Scandi line on it with the dream of a coho or two keeping me going. Seriously considering a 7/8wt single hander with a shooting head for beach salmon, but it's kind of moot if they don't really show up before the season closes.

Anyways, I was out at *redacted* on Saturday morning, and despite fishing with maybe 2 dozen others along the beach in thick smoke and fog, vibes were really mellow. One guy on fly gear said he saw a fish chase his fly, a gear guy reported a jumper, and in 5 hours of fishing the flood tide, I saw exactly one coho hooked and brought to shore (on gear). It was a form of validation that there were other dudes out fishing, and another form of validation that there simply wasn't much or any meaningful catching going on.

The Scandi line was great for moving a dense medium sized pink and purple thing out to current seams, but stripping to the leader was definitely a PITA that I didn't do often with the shooting head and 2-hand rod. Occasionally, frustration with running line (no stripping basket) and current/surf conditions would result in a 'hulk smash' overhead/aerial cast, but when things were right, the line was awfully nice to cast. And, that overhead cast was kind of fun....if only the rod and line were easier to handle on the strip.

Tight lines!

Edited to remove locations named
 
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wanative

Retired, gone fishin'
Welcome to the forum. I live about 6 miles from Canuckistan.
A fast 9' or 9"6" single hand 6wt rod with a clear intermediate airflo beach line on the reel of your liking as long as the drag is dependable will cover the bases for SRC and coho off many beaches. You may want an assortment of sinking lines and a floater too.
In windy conditions a 7wt may be beneficial.
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Wanative,

Thanks for the reply and advice, and for your continued vigilance protecting our sacred northern border from the voracious hordes of Costco/Raider Joe's customers in these difficult times. If you see someone making a butt of themselves on the Nooksack with a two-hander over the next few weeks, rest assured that it's probably me.

I was leaning 7wt or 7/8wt because I'd like to have a bit of backbone available for dealing with coho in rivers as well. Watching the salmon roll at Hovander has me really interested in the possibility of catching them. I figure the 5wt could continue the search for SRC and a 7/8wt could be used as a river/beach salmon & steelhead rod. Is this a reasonable expectation?

My goal is to have a reasonable number of rods to cover the kind of fishing I enjoy doing. The 3wt is the creek rod, 5wt pulls general purpose trout duty, and the spey rod is currently the only big game option. The limits of the spey rod seems to be that it is best at blind fishing in rivers whereas a SH can easily blind cast or sight cast, so I have a potential opening in the lineup for a salmon/steelhead SH rod. I'd greatly prefer to prove to myself that I can catch what I'm looking for on the gear that I already have available to me.

Another thing I was curious about for the saltwater folks....if you fish the same rods for coho and SRC, do you run the risk of getting some unwanted attention from WDFW, say in Marine Area 8 where salmon is closed?
 
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NRC

WFF Supporter
Another thing I was curious about for the saltwater folks....if you fish the same rods for coho and SRC, do you run the risk of getting some unwanted attention from WDFW, say in Marine Area 8 where salmon is closed?
I’ve wondered a bit about this as well. Typically if it’s coho season I’m out trying to catch coho somewhere legal, whereas during non coho times I tend to be in Areas 12 or 13 where sea run fishing is common. My plan of attack for cases such as the one you raise would be to fish something small and buggy on a size 6 or 8 hook, preferably a classic src pattern. I’d also go with a lighter tippet (say 8lb or so - not light, but light for salt). Not that fishing such a setup precludes hooking the odd coho, but at that point you’re making a visibly good faith effort to target sea runs over coho. Would be curious to hear more experienced people weigh in, though.
 

Kfish

WFF Supporter
I fish a fast 6wt in the salt year round no matter what the target is, locations, leader strength and fly size changes to suit. Lost a nice salmon couple weeks ago because I still had 6lb maxima on one of my reel with floating line :)
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Kfish,

Would you fish that same 6wt on the S rivers or Nooksack for coho and leave the fight to the reel? How about sneaking around on smaller steelhead waters? 6lb test....heartbreak for sure!
 

Kfish

WFF Supporter
Kfish,

Would you fish that same 6wt on the S rivers or Nooksack for coho and leave the fight to the reel? How about sneaking around on smaller steelhead waters? 6lb test....heartbreak for sure!
Hmm I'm not sure, it depends on how fast the river current is I guess. With 12-15lbs leader I horse those salmon in at around 15 seconds or less on the beach.
If river currents are fast then a stronger rod could be beneficial, I just don't have much experience with river salmon.
 

wanative

Retired, gone fishin'
Wanative,

Thanks for the reply and advice, and for your continued vigilance protecting our sacred northern border from the voracious hordes of Costco/Raider Joe's customers in these difficult times. If you see someone making a butt of themselves on the Nooksack with a two-hander over the next few weeks, rest assured that it's probably me.

I was leaning 7wt or 7/8wt because I'd like to have a bit of backbone available for dealing with coho in rivers as well. Watching the salmon roll at Hovander has me really interested in the possibility of catching them. I figure the 5wt could continue the search for SRC and a 7/8wt could be used as a river/beach salmon & steelhead rod. Is this a reasonable expectation?

My goal is to have a reasonable number of rods to cover the kind of fishing I enjoy doing. The 3wt is the creek rod, 5wt pulls general purpose trout duty, and the spey rod is currently the only big game option. The limits of the spey rod seems to be that it is best at blind fishing in rivers whereas a SH can easily blind cast or sight cast, so I have a potential opening in the lineup for a salmon/steelhead SH rod. I'd greatly prefer to prove to myself that I can catch what I'm looking for on the gear that I already have available to me.

Another thing I was curious about for the saltwater folks....if you fish the same rods for coho and SRC, do you run the risk of getting some unwanted attention from WDFW, say in Marine Area 8 where salmon is closed?
Fly fishermen generally don't reason when purchasing fly rods. We buy as many as we can in as many different line weights and lengths as possible.
At least that's what I do. :D
Kidding aside though I wasn't kidding
rule of thumb can be a rod in every other weight. 4, 6, 8 or 3, 5, 7, 9 etc.
Wdfw doesn't care about your rods.
I recommend picking up a 9' or 9'6" 6wt for
salty SRC and coho. Then an 8 wt in the same lengths for steelhead and chum salmon in the river.
The 5wt with a fast sinking sink tip and a floater is good for river SRC.
Use the forum's search function to find a wealth of information on the types of fishing/rods/lines you're interested in.
Maybe we could get together sometime to fish. Do you know how to send private messages on the forum?
A word of caution. Be aware that naming particular fishing holes, lakes, streams, beaches is frowned upon by many on this
forum. The results of naming spots often are not pleasant for the namer.
Feel free to PM me any time.
 

jasmillo

WFF Supporter
Thanks for the offer, Kfish, but I'm most of the way to Canuckistan so I'll do a dish tub makeover on the cheap and get fishin'. I was ready to trade my kingdom for a SH and a basket after the first 2 hours or so.

I understand the the interest in going cheap but a stripping basket is one of the most important piece of equipment you’ll buy for fishing Puget Sound. Spend the $60 bucks and buy a legit one and save yourself some frustration.

As far as rods - if you have a 5 my next purchase would be a 6 or 7. 6 if you are not interested in fishing the 5 for SRC - a 6 will cover coho and SRC. I would go with the 7 if the 5 is fine for SRC and you want a dedicated salmon rod good for all species, including chum in the Sound. IMO, if you want to cover everything SRC and salmon, salt and rivers, I would invest in a 6, 7 and 8....in the very least a 6 and 8. That would cover all scenarios, SRC, coho, chum - salt and fresh IMO.

I fish a lot of closed salmon water for SRC and have never been questioned. Then again, the beaches I fish in those MA’s are not great salmon beaches so that might be why. In the end, if you are legitimately targeting SRC, you will be fine regardless of equipment (assuming it is legal).

Good out there!
 

Vandelay Industries

A wholly owned subsidiary of Kramerica Industries
I understand the the interest in going cheap but a stripping basket is one of the most important piece of equipment you’ll buy for fishing Puget Sound. Spend the $60 bucks and buy a legit one and save yourself some frustration.

As far as rods - if you have a 5 my next purchase would be a 6 or 7. 6 if you are not interested in fishing the 5 for SRC - a 6 will cover coho and SRC. I would go with the 7 if the 5 is fine for SRC and you want a dedicated salmon rod good for all species, including chum in the Sound. IMO, if you want to cover everything SRC and salmon, salt and rivers, I would invest in a 6, 7 and 8....in the very least a 6 and 8. That would cover all scenarios, SRC, coho, chum - salt and fresh IMO.

I fish a lot of closed salmon water for SRC and have never been questioned. Then again, the beaches I fish in those MA’s are not great salmon beaches so that might be why. In the end, if you are legitimately targeting SRC, you will be fine regardless of equipment (assuming it is legal).

Good out there!
Here's a good option for $36. I have one as a back up. I agree with you, it is the most important piece of equipment to have to ensure a more enjoyable fishing experience.

 

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
Bummer to hear how few fish you see on the Whidbey beaches in mid September.

I just fish a 9’ sage VT2 8wt off the Whidbey beaches. I also use a 10’ 6wt PacBay switch rod, built single handed. On windy days, the 10’ rod is a bit too long and gets up where the wind is.

if you venture south you’ll findmore fishing beaches, and if one isn’t producing, maybe they’ll run into Lagoon or Bush
 

Jake

veni, vidi, fishi
I understand the the interest in going cheap but a stripping basket is one of the most important piece of equipment you’ll buy for fishing Puget Sound. Spend the $60 bucks and buy a legit one and save yourself some frustration.

This x1000. I’d rather fish sea runs without a reel than fish without my stripping basket, and I don’t understand why people will spend $100 on a reel and balk at $60 for a stripping basket. Heck, with a stripping basket I’d wager good money that a person could fish for, and land, sea runs and coho without bringing a reel. Just rod, line, and stripping basket.
 

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