Ling scouting turned bad

My wife, son and I took the Arima out today with the intent of spending the some time on the water as a family, doing some cruising, getting any kinks worked out of the boat, and I had planned to do a little scouting for potential ling cod spots. We put the boat in at Salsbury park, with the plan to run up towards Whidbey. The weather site I looked at showed it to be a decent day, if a little rainy now and then. I had confirmed last night that the docks were back in at Salsbury so we had little trouble launching and getting loaded into the boat. I hadn't planned on it, but my wife asked me to put the top up on the boat before we headed out. Good thing I listened! I was anxious to get on the water so I did a half assed job of putting the top up, not buttoning and zipping everything completely. Last time I will do that!

My 1997 Suzuki 140 horse was cold as usual, but after a few sputter and dies, she fired up and quickly settled in to idle. I let her run for 10 minutes or so as we got things situated on the boat. My wife had packed us a nice lunch, and my son set up his folding camp chair on the corner and kicked back. I pulled away from the dock and headed out, quickly getting up on plane and cruising at 32mph. We headed past the entrance to Gamblebay, and then cruised past Ed's neighborhood and then past our own community in Hansville. My wife and son enjoyed seeing our beach and clubhouse from a different perspective, and I was enjoying getting to play on the boat. As we cruised past the next community I gave a honk just in case Big E was out watching. We cruised north up towards the head and towards more open water. I was watching the sonar and noticed a couple spots where there were some shallower reefs or ledges or whatever that looked like it may be worth checking out after the ling opener next month.

At this point we had been on the water maybe an hour, and all of a sudden all hell blew up. Within a span of about 5 minutes it went from calm waters, partly blue skies, and no rain.... to white caps, whipping wind, dark skies and pouring rain. It came QUICK!!!!
I did a little looking around and realized this was nothing I wanted to mess around with, so I quickly turned us around and headed back to the dock. Now were were headed right into the teeth of this mess, and our progress slowed! We came out here at 30+ mph, and now the best I could do was about 7.5, and even that was stretching it. I'm no good at judging such things,but there was nasty chop and maybe 4-5' wind waves that were crashing over the bow. Since I had half assed the top, water was crashing down on us each time we would hit a wave. We were getting drenched!!! My son was huddled in the cuddy, scared out of his mind, and my wife was a real trooper. I felt horrible to have them out in that mess, but there was not much we could do at this point. I briefly considered running them into the beach in front of our place, but figured that would be a huge pain in the ass. Not once did I feel we were in true "danger", just very uncomfortable.

As the wind as waves got worse, I had to drop down to 6 mph. Arima's will plane at very low speeds, which is very handy, but I was not able to get us up on plane at all. It was just too damn rough. So we just slowly headed back. It was miserable, but I was proud of my family for toughing it out and I was proud of my boat for how it handled it. It took us a about 2 hours of this to finally get back to the dock. I pulled the boat out the water as quickly as I could, then let my wife and son head home in her car while I got everything taken care of. Once we got within a half mile of the launch it finally started to calm down some with the wind break from the bridge and the land ahead of us. I was able to cruise the last little bit at about 20 mph. Back at the dock I looked back towards the bridge and while it was fairly calm on our side, there were white caps piling up on the far side.

In the end things did NOT turn out as we had planned, but all things considered it could have been much worse. I was very impressed with how my boat handled that mess, and was glad for the opportunity to show much son the power of mother nature, and help him learn the proper respect for the water. Nobody got sick, so that was all good.

Anyway, didn't get to do much scouting but I did mark those two spots on my plotter for further investigation. Anyone have any tips for what to look for when scouting lings? I was mainly watching for spots where the bottom would come up to make ledges and such. I had planned to look for more structure and specfic things up towards Whidbey, but wasn't exactly sure what to look for along the way.

Also, anyone have any prefered websites for an ACCURATE marine forecast? Lol Obviously nothing is perfect, but boy did the forecast I saw sure not turn out that way today!

Just finished cleaning up the boat and am gonna spend the rest of the day watching movies and tying flies. Was a good experience today, and I think all of us will learn something from this one.



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I'm glad you got everyone home safe. It's scary how conditions can go from nice to uncomfortable to dangerous in the space of a few min. You've got the right boat for it though. Those Arima's sure are tough.


Active Member
Nick -
Glad everything worked out OK. Puget Sound can turn nasty pretty quick and suddenly it is a "Big Water".

One of the weather/wind sites I watch when planning my fishing trips is:

Click on the nearest icon to get real time weather. Real handy feature is the meteogram on the upper left. clicking on it will given you for forecast for the next several days. Since this is location specific I have found it to be more useful than some of the more regional forecasts. However as with all forecasts the further out the less accurate they tend to be and they all can miss the mark. That said on the whole this one has be the most reliable for me.

Enjoyed your post, Nick.If you get to tying , mabe a greenling imatation for the lings and some small sculpin patterns for the cutthroats? Got a nice cutt yesterday on the sculpin that had 2 fresh wounds on opposite sides of the shoulders, round and about 1/4 dia by 1/2 deep. Was this a lucky escape from an eagle? Any other ideas?
I don't own a boat but for when I go kayaking I always use NOAA. Not sure if that's what you use as well but I find NOAA forecasts to be the most accurate out of several other prediction centers I've tried. I was fishing the canal a few days ago and a similar weather pattern moved in. I'd got in my car to drive up the road to another spot and got out and it was partly sunny, low wind speed, and fairly glassed waters and in the 10min it took to grab my gear, lock the car, and walk down to the beach there were 30mph gusts 3ft wind waves and a spitting rain. Point being, up here in WA I've learned the way to be is hope the forecast is right and expect it to be wrong.
three words of advice to help in those situations...

get trim tabs.

especially on a hull like the arima, it will allow you to keep the bow down even at low speeds.

solid advice Chris and I plan to make use of it as soon as possible. trim tabs were already at the top of my want list for my boat. in all my research about arimas I kept reading the suggestion for trim tabs and today is the first time I really understood why. I couldn't keep the bow down for nothing today. trimming the motor just wasn't enough

wadin' boot

Donny, you're out of your element...
and for weather forecasts i always rely on noaa.

not perfect, but usually spot on. i don't know when they posted the forecast but they are calling for s to sw winds to 25 knots today along with a small craft advisory.
The small craft advisory was up last night, I was hoping to get the kayak in this am, but that shut down my plans. It was deceptive this am, calm winds till about 10 am then ...

Glad you are safe...
Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm not sure how I missed this one. The forecast I saw this morning called for mild winds picking up later this afternoon. Not sure if I looked at the wrong day or what. Oh well, lesson learned for sure.

It was wet and uncomfortable, but as I said I never felt in danger. Worst case scenario I figured I'd just pull up at Eric's house and have a few cold ones =)

It was nice to get an idea of how the boat handles rougher water. Other than being a bit sore and wet, she handled it quite well. Trim tabs will definitely help the ride in the future... And I plan to upgrade the canvas at some point to something with a drop curtain as well, but all in all I'm happy with the boat.


Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
Glad you and the family made it back safely.
Though not nearly as harrowing as your adventure, things started out calmly on the lake this morning. By noon the chironomid chop had turned to indicator surfing.
Glad you and the family made it back safely.
Though not nearly as harrowing as your adventure, things started out calmly on the lake this morning. By noon the chironomid chop had turned to indicator surfing.

My son and I were on a lake this am as well, great chironomid action even in the pouring rain...the fish were going nuts! Weather was good when we showed up, once we started rigging up it got ugly, but we bucked up and fished it anyway, glad we did! :)

Nick glad you made it back. As a boat builder, I say yes on the trim tabs as well, though it seems you need no convincing... ;)


Active Member
In my commercial fishing days I would use environment Canada for weather but we were fishing strait of georgia out of Blaine. Even with good forecasts, there were allot of times we had the same thing happen to us. My boat was 58 foot long and we got bounced around coming in. Was running back from Hood Canal after fishing all day and the forcast was for gale warnings but we had not much wind at the time so we took off. We made it out in the strait of juan de fuca before the wind came up hard. We were off deception pass when the seine skiff we were towing broke the tow line and the safety line and we did not notice it right away but by then it was too late. We could not find it in the dark and heavy seas so after searching for hours unsuccessfully we went into Anacortes. The next morning we rented a plane to search for the skiff. It did not take long to find it in a bay on San Juan Island. Always be prepared for the worst.

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
Nick. I know its a different trip when the family is along. All of a sudden you are hyper aware if the marine conditions when you see the white knuckles on the kids.

Here is a useful resource for Admiralty inlet, to go along with others above. Nice to see what us going on at Keystone/Pt. Wilson before it gets to you.

Then, along the same lines, you can see the big picture with the weather buoy out at swiftsure and east entrance. I check these once and a while also.

I don't target long cod often but I have caught them in unlikely spots. Trolling tight to shore, in holes that I find shallow. This is jigging rather than fly rod, but it applies to the fly right? If you launch in Port Townsend you will have easy access to the discouvey bay,/protection island and North beach area. My son and I did pick up a nice 8 lbs long in there last year. Far fewer people.

Hope some of these links are of use. I am typing this on my phone, so please excuse the errors"

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