All posts by Andy Walgamott

Row, Row, Row, Row, Catch Fish, Row, Row, Row Some More

Rarely have I seen someone so excited about drift boats and steelheading as Jason Brooks.

The Northwest Sportsman writer, Chelan-area native, and longtime hunter and angler not only has developed a case of steelheaditis but drift boatitis.

And how.

He picked up the fishing bug this past winter from a midteens wild winter-run on a Peninsula river.

He picked up his drift boat, a used Willies, in May.

It has now made trips down the Skykomish and Cowlitz.

And while the Sky float was a bit of a bust, Brooks’ two wonderful illnesses came together on the Cow this week.

Here’s his report:

I got the kids off to daycare and met back up with Chris Clearman and Brian Chlipala at the house, and we were off, heading to the Cowlitz for a bit of summer steel. We used a shuttle service after I got the boat in the water at Blue Creek for our float down to Mission Bar.

Once on the water I got my rods rigged and baited, ready to go. Not an early morning start with us finally hitting the water around 11, but hey, we were on the water no less!

I pulled out some eggs I had cured using Borax-O-Fire cure with a little added drying time and some plain borax to keep em fresh.


We later tried some bait divers and fire cured coon shrimp, but by then my arms were getting tired.

One thing I have realized now that I own a drift boat is that the owner seems to do most of the rowing.


Brian finally gave in to offer up some stick time and I took him up on it.

We had already floated about 2/3rds of the way and after we switched seats I cast my eggs and double 4’s with a red rocket #14 corky into the shadows along the cut bank. Not a minute later, on that first cast, Fish On!…it only took about 5 minutes to get it in the net.


And it was back to the oars…after all, I did get a fish in the box.

Another great day on the river, and I am so glad I got that drift boat!



SnoCo Angler Lands 76-pd. Kenai King

The fishing hole wasn’t paying off and the guide was getting antsy.

“‘Let’s reel in and go to a different spot, this spot sucks,'” John Nordin of Lake Stevens, Wash., recalls him saying while fishing on the Kenai River in mid-July.

So Nordin, who runs an investment company, began bringing in his K-16 with a sardine wrap.

But he didn’t get far.

Ten cranks in and something big grabbed the plug.

Something way, way, way bigger than any of the salmon Nordin had previously fought on the Snohomish, or the 33-pound king he once landed at Sekiu.

It took him 30 minutes and a half mile of water to wrestle the huge fish to the boat.

“That fish kicked my butt,” he told the Lake Stevens Journal. “My heart was pumping so hard, I didn’t want to loose it. I was drained at the end, I couldn’t believe it. I did everything my guide said to do.”


He was fishing with Fenton Brothers Guided Sportfishing.

Once the king was in the boat, he had it weighed on a riverside scale. It pegged the monster at 76 pounds, he says.

It also was 53 1/2 inches long and 34 inches around.

“They say it was the biggest this year,” says Nordin.

He attributes the hookup to “a little extra wiggle” in the plug as he reeled it in.

A taxidermist took the skin for a mount.

It was Nordin’s first trip up north, a weeklong fishfest that also saw he and former classmates of his from Lake Stevens High School catch sockeye until their arms ached, lots of rainbows and several other large Kenai kings.

But none the size of Nordin’s.

“It sets the bar for the guys to beat next year,” he says.

Yeah, we’d say so!

Northwest Winners At ICAST

Two Northwest fishing tackle manufacturers won best of show awards at the recently concluded ICAST Show in Las Vegas.

Southwest Washington rodmakers Lamiglas won top honors in the rod and reel category for its part in a joint venture with two other U.S. companies on the Fishouflage Bass fishing combo, and G.Loomis took overall best of show and best freshwater rod for its NRX fly rod.

Lamiglas, based in Woodland, built the Fishouflage rod while Ardent, of Macon, Missouri, supplied the baitcasting reel and Outdoor Identities of Greenville, Wisc., creator and licensee of Fishouflage angler patterns which are derived from the freshwater aquatic environment, provided the finish.

The rod is constructed upon a 7-foot, fast-action Certified Pro XC 704 blank. Lamiglas’ most popular bass fishing rod, a custom split-grip handle design advances performance while the Fishouflage Bass finish creates a distinct identity.

John Posey, Lamiglas’ National Sales Manager, sees expanding opportunities for U.S. manufactured products.

“The value proposition continues to change at a rapid rate,” said Posey, “The incredible price differences that used to exist between domestic and imported product have narrowed dramatically. While avid anglers have always shown a preference for the technically-precise performance of U.S. manufactured Lamiglas rods, we’re now able to compete in the mid-range price points that have been driven up by the rising costs of overseas manufacturing.”

The Fishouflage Bass pattern cosmetically richens and unifies the Ardent and Lamiglas product. A mixture of green reeds and coontail, combined with broken grey and brown logs, laid over a natural background, the images of trophy bass hidden in the background are the icing on the cake.

“Our company is driven by identity,” explained Paul Bernegger, president of Outdoor Identities. “Fishouflage patterns serve a consumer base that prides itself on rugged independence. There’s nothing more independent than the American spirit that is the cornerstone of the Ardent, Lamiglas and Fishouflage brands.”

Another big winner was the Stormsuit FXE, which won Best of Show in the Apparel category, made by Frabill, a large advertiser in Northwest Sportsman.

Designed by Chris Leonard, an independent engineer based in Central Minnesota, the jacket-and-bib set builds upon his Snosuit, considered by some to be the benchmark in cold-weather gear for ice fishermen, and is Frabill’s first for open water fishing.

The biggest difference between the two suits, says Leonard, is that input from a team of 50 anglers – including Al Lindner – engineers and Frabill staffers went into refining the original design into the final waterproof, windproof, breathable shell sealed by DuPont™ Teflon® fabric protector.

“A lot of attention went into sealing this suit up to entry points for water,” he says.

Leonard also borrowed an idea from his firefighting gear – he’s a volunteer for the Crosslake Fire Department – for the Stormsuit’s bibs. “A cam buckle allows you to get in and out of the suit without having to unbuckle.”

But perhaps the Stormsuit’s most innovative design can be found at the crotch.

“Our patent-pending design … is a completely waterproof crotch and you’re able to take a pit stop without taking everything off,” Leonard says.

Think of the latter feature as dry-bag technology meets elephant trunk.

“Unroll the tube, pee, roll up and velcro back up,” he says. “Frabill broke the mold with this design.”

Other ICAST New Product Showcase Award Winners included:

Electronics: Lowrance-Navico for the Lowrance Elite-5 DSI

Eyewear: Maui Jim Sunglasses for the Guy Harvey Collection

Fishing Accessory: Adventure Products, Inc. for the EGO S2 Slider Landing Net

Giftware: Boating Expressions, Inc. for the Fishfenders

Kids Tackle: Pure Fishing for the Pflueger-Spinning Combo-Apprentice

Line: Rapala for the Sufix 832 Advanced Superline

Soft Lure: Koppers Fishing & Tackle Corporation for the Live Target Hollow Body Frog

Hard Lure: Shimano American Corporation for the Waxwing Sub-Surface Swimming Jig

Marine: Minn Kota-Johnson Outdoors, Inc. for the Talon-Shallow Water Anchor

Freshwater Reel: Shimano American Corporation for the Stella FE

Saltwater Reel: Shimano American Corporation for the Trinidad A

Saltwater Rod: Shimano American Corporation for the Terez

Tackle Management: HYI, Inc. for the Openwater Tackle

BackpackTerminal Tackle: Sebile Innovative Fishing for the Soft Weight System

High Steelie Catch; SW WA Fishing Report



Drano Lake – 25 boat anglers kept 8 steelhead and released 14 others plus 1 chinook jack.  The bite was reported good around daylight.  About 28 boats were counted here last Saturday morning (July 24).

White Salmon River – 5 bank anglers had no catch.  Some steelhead have been reported caught early in the morning.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort and catch rates were similar to the previous week.

Last week we sampled 1,594 salmonid bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream with 6 adult summer Chinook, 360 steelhead and 1 sockeye, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 4.3 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 446 salmonid boat anglers (208 boats) with 3 adult and 1 jack summer Chinook, 110 steelhead and no sockeye, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 3.9 rods based on mainly completed trips.  Overall, 78% of the adult Chinook and 62% of the steelhead caught were kept.

350 salmonid boats and 789 bank anglers were observed from Bonneville Dam downstream during last Saturday’s (July 24) effort flight count.  Nearly three-quarters of the bank effort was found on the Washington side.  Boat effort was more scattered.

An estimated 33,900 salmonid angler trips below Bonneville Dam resulted in a 3,400 steelhead kept in June.  The catch for the month was the highest since at least the early 1970s.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers off the White Salmon and Klickitat rivers are catching some steelhead though just over half were wild and had to be released.  Last Saturday 38 boats were observed off the White Salmon River and a half dozen each off Drano Lake and the Klickitat River.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers averaged nearly a steelhead per rod when including fish released.  The majority of the fish caught were wild and had to be released.

John Day Pool – No anglers were observed fishing for salmon or steelhead last week.


Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines downstream – Effort in the estuary was higher but catch rates were similar to the previous week.

Charter boat anglers averaged slightly better than a legal kept per every 3 rods while private boaters sampled at the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco averaged one per every 6.6 rods.  At the Deep River and Knappton ramps, boat anglers averaged 0.84 legals kept per boat.  Bank anglers sampled in the estuary did not catch any legals.   Overall, if an angler caught a fish there was a 37% chance it would be a keeper.

254 private and 12 charter boats were found fishing for sturgeon from the Wauna powerlines downstream during last Saturday’s flight count.

Through July 18 there were an estimated 31,400 sturgeon angler trips in the estuary that resulted in 4,900 legals kept.  The catch guideline for the season is 9,600 fish.

A Compact hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on July 29 in Cathlamet, Washington to consider fall season commercial fishing periods. Given the date, this hearing will also provide a timely opportunity to review the estuary sturgeon sport fishery.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Marker 82 – Effort and success remains about the same as the previous week.  A few legals were caught by boat anglers in the Vancouver to Kalama area and by bank anglers in Woodland.

Just over a hundred boats were counted from Wauna upstream during last Saturday’s effort flight count.  Only 37 bank rods were counted during the same flight.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers averaged a sturgeon per every 6.2 hours fished in the area open for catch-and-release.  The Columbia River from the Interstate 82 bridge upstream to McNary Dam will remain closed to all sturgeon fishing until August 1.  On August 1 this area will reopen for CATCH & RELEASE ONLY!


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Some walleye are being caught by boaters in the Camas/Washougal area.

The Dalles Pool – The few boat and bank anglers sampled had caught some smallmouth bass and walleye.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers targeting bass and walleye averaged one and 4.4 hours per fish, respectively.   Walleye anglers had also caught more bass than walleye.


Swift Reservoir – Planted with 2,900 one pound and 1,260 five pound rainbows July 20.

Takhlakh Lake (Skamania County) – Planted with 172 “jumbo” rainbows averaging 4 pounds each July 19.

Sox Hoppin’ On Web Site

Over the past two weeks, sockeye have stood out in more than one way in the Northwest.

A record run is moving up the Columbia, for starters, and there’s been enough on the Baker and Skagit Rivers to not only open a season, but extend it as well as open up Baker Lake for the first time ever.

Of course, we’ve been blogging about the buggers, and all that sock talk’s been drawing folks to our Web site.

On the WordPress side of things, sockeye has been one of the most common search terms for awhile now.

Well, today someone who may or may not be Northwest Sportsman writer Jason Brooks did also google “steelhead record breaker jason brooks,” but enough of that.

As fish numbers mount in the upper Columbia, anglers are beginning to seriously target the red salmon in the Brewster Pool.

One of those gents doing so is Scott Fletcher.

Last Thursday, he beat feet out of the Wenatchee area to get onto the reservoir before sunlight hit the water, scoring a pretty respectable sockeye, a 4.8-pounder.


I asked him for more details, and he wrote back:

It was on two #1 hooks about 2″ apart, one red on the bottom and one black with 12″ leader and OO chrome dodger.  The depth that day was at 15′ down but the trip before was at 25′ down.  The bite at Brewster seems to be early between 5:00 and 8:00 am.

Just a wee bit ago, Fletcher emailed me another shot, this one of nine sox he and his son, Tyler, caught today.


Writes Fletcher:

They all weighed between 2.8 to 4 lbs.  We caught them at 20′ down today.

For more on the emerging sockeye fishing on the Brew Pool, check out Leroy Ledeboer’s story from our July issue.

RMEF Rips National Wolf Recovery Petition

Tuesday’s petition by an Arizona-based environmental group calling for a national wolf recovery plan instead of the federal government’s regional approaches was met by a double-barrelled blast from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation yesterday.

“This is not about saving a lost species,” said David Allen, CEO of the Missoula-based organization. “It’s about money and special interest agendas.”

A press release from RMEF says “animal rights groups have learned that introducing wolves translates to major fundraising, and activists have found a way to exploit the Endangered Species Act — as well as taxpayer-funded programs that cover lawyer fees — to push their agenda and build revenue through the courts.”

Allen frames fundraising efforts on the behalf of wolves as “writing a check that our country’s rural and traditional lifestyles can’t cash. You’re eroding the fundamentals of America’s model for wildlife conservation.”

The petition, from the Center for Biological Diversity, requests the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service come up with a recovery plan for putting wolves back into Washington’s Olympic Mountains (looked at in the 1990s, and dropped after local opposition) and the Cascades of Oregon and California, as well as Great Plains, Great Basin and New England.

The Center says wolves are missing from 95 percent of their former range, and that there is enough suitable habitat in the above areas to foster recovery.


Reintroduction of wolves into Central Idaho and Yellowstone in the mid-1990s has grown into an extremely contentious issue in the region, including Washington. A wolf-related post on WDFW’s Facebook page last Sunday had run to 139 comments as of 1:23 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Idaho and Montana both unabashadly want to hunt more wolves this fall, though a ruling by a federal judge could put packs back on the endangered species list and move management from those two states back to USFWS before seasons start.

Noting RMEF’s successful work reintroducing elk into numerous Eastern states, Allen pointedly highlights two different approaches to restoring species, one more neighborly than the other.

“Our way is offering to help with funding and expertise so long as the local public wants the species and the state can manage them,” he says. “The other way is using lawsuits and loopholes to shove a project down people’s throats.”

The words also continue RMEF’s newly strident tone on wolf issues.

Feeling some heat from hunters around the collective campfire, earlier this year it got into a war of letters with the Defenders of Wildlife and Western Wildlife Conservancy.

In the latest press release, titled “Attention All States: Prepare to be Sued Over Wolves,” RMEF says wolf advocates’ lawsuits have cost the states as well as negatively affected revenues for conservation projects funded through hunter purchases.

“Now imagine bringing these kinds of impacts to more populated states elsewhere in the U.S., and I think we’re looking at an unprecedented wildlife management disaster,” said Allen.

He is urging USFWS to cautiously evaluate the petition and “reject the rhetoric of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Earth Justice, Humane Society of the U.S. and other animal rights groups. Wolf re-introduction in the greater Yellowstone region was a classic example of ‘let’s get our foot in the door and then move the goal line,’ and should be warning enough. This is a fundraising strategy with anti-hunting, anti-ranching, anti-gun impacts, and the public needs to understand and see it for it is.”

IN OTHER HUNTING NEWS, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, as well as Secretary of Agriculture will hold a national teleconference tomorrow to announce 18 members of the new Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council.

The group will help to promote and preserve the country’s hunting heritage, as well as serve as a forum for sportsmen to advise the Federal government on policies that benefit recreational hunting and wildlife resources.

Prineville Man Jailed On Charges Of Poaching 4 Deer


An investigation by an Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division trooper, assisted by the OSP Crime Lab forensic analysis, led to the arrest of a Prineville man Tuesday on multiple charges related to the illegal kill and waste of 4 deer six months ago.


On July 20, 2010, OSP Senior Trooper Amos Madison arrested BRADLEY BROCK, age 20, from Prineville, and lodged him at the Crook County Jail on the following charges:

* Illegal Taking of Deer (4 counts)
* Unlawful Waste of Wildlife (4 counts)
* Theft in the First Degree (4 counts)

BROCK’s arrest came following Senior Trooper Madison’s investigation that started January 9, 2010 when a central Oregon rancher in the Rager area about ten miles east of Paulina contacted OSP to report he found two deer that had been shot.  Initial response and investigation led to the discovery of a total of four deer illegally killed and left to waste.  All were does and at least two were pregnant.

Evidence seized from the scene and during the investigation was submitted to the OSP Forensic Services Division Crime Lab.  Forensic analysis linked BROCK to the crimes leading to his arrest.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Here’s what’s fishin’ around Oregon, courtesy of ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:


  • Bass fishing has been improving throughout the mainstem and South Umpqua River.
  • Trout fishing has slowed in many rivers and streams with the onset of warm weather, but the fishing can still be good in smaller streams where there’s lots of shade to help keep waters cool.
  • Anglers are still getting spring chinook, and also some summer steelhead, in the middle and upper Rogue River.


  • Siletz River: Steelhead angling is in full swing and providing a good fishery for many bank anglers. Good numbers of summer steelhead are returning with many hatchery fish being recycled back down stream to the Moonshine Park area. River conditions are now low, clear and starting to warm.  Anglers should focus efforts early or late in the day and try more subtle techniques.  Fish can be found through out the mainstem with drift boat/kayak/raft angling from Twin Bridges down to Morgan Park as flows allow and bank access from Moonshine Park up to the deadline. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good with sea-runs starting to show in the bay and lower river. Using small spinners or fly fishing can be very productive.


  • Now is a good time to target bass and walleye fishing on the Multnomah Channel.
  • Summer steelhead and spring chinook have moved into the North Santiam River around Stayton.
  • Good catches of kokanee have been reported recently on Green Peter Reservoir.
  • Summer steelhead are showing up in the Willamette River town run between Springfield and Eugene.
  • Trout stocking of most local valley lakes and ponds has come to an end for the summer due to warm water conditions. Lower and mid-elevation Cascade lakes are still being stocked and provide a good opportunity for trout fishing.
  • July and August are peak months to target largemouth bass in Fern Ridge Reservoir.
  • The cool waters of Breitenbush River, combined with a generous stocking schedule, should mean good trout fishing throughout the summer.


  • The water level on the Chewaucan River is near perfect and the dry fly fishing is coming on.
  • Brown and rainbow trout fishing has been fair to good on the Lower Owyhee River.
  • Fishing in the high Cascade lakes for brook trout remains excellent.


  • Fishing for both rainbow and brook trout has been good on Grande Ronde Reservoir.
  • Trout fishing remains good on Magone Lake but look for fish to be in deeper water.


  • Brownlee Reservoir: Crappie spawning has slowed but good fishing is available. Fish very early morning or late evening. The fish are deep in the middle of the day (25-70 feet) and the bite is very light. Use 4 lb test and an ultra light rod. Use jigs with a crappie nibble (motor oil, red and whites have been good lately). Night fishing with lights is producing good catches.  Bass are biting but are fairly small. Some large catfish are being caught using cutbait, worms or stink bait. Trolling for trout is fair. The reservoir is full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.


  • Effective June 26 angling is open for adipose fin-clipped summer chinook, adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead, and sockeye from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border.
  • The summer steelhead run is making a strong early showing at Bonneville Dam. Look for summer steelhead near the mouths of cooler tributaries as the water temperature in the Columbia continues to rise.
  • The walleye fishing has been good in the John Day pool where anglers are finding lots of walley — many in the 10-pound range. The best lures have been spinner and worm combinations and blade baits.


  • Tuna are still between 30 and 40 miles offshore. Tuna catches landed in ports on the central coast averaged between four and five fish.
  • Anglers fishing Cape Falcon to the Oregon/Washington border are now allowed to keep up to two chinook salmon in the bag limit. Daily bag limit is now two salmon per day, and all retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.
  • Sport fishers are approaching the cap on yelloweye rockfish and fishery managers will meet this week to decide how to limit bycatch of this federally-designated, over-fished species.
  • Fishing for lingcod remained at about one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcod. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
  • The annual conservation closure north of Tillamook Head to protect newly set razor clams began July 15 and continues through Sept. 30. Since 1967, ODFW has closed the 18 miles of beaches in Clatsop County to razor clam digging on July 15. The closure is to protect newly-set young clams that are establishing themselves on the beach during this time of the year.
  • The Oregon Department of Agriculture closed all recreational razor clam harvesting north of Bandon due to elevated levels of domoic acid.
  • Most crabbers had average catches between one and three crab. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.

WA Coast Goes 7 Days A Week For Salmon


Anglers will be able to fish for salmon seven days a week along the entire Washington coast beginning Friday (July 23), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

The new rules will increase recreational fishing opportunities in marine areas 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), where salmon fishing is currently restricted to five days a week. Salmon fishing is already open seven days a week in Marine Area 1(Ilwaco).

“Overall, salmon fishing has been good on the coast this summer, but the number of anglers participating in the fishery has been lower than expected,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon fisheries manager for WDFW. “With effort down – partly due to rough weather – we can provide anglers additional fishing opportunities without exceeding recreational harvest quotas for this year.”

Through July 18, anglers fishing along the coast had caught 8.3 percent of the 49,000 chinook quota for the ocean and 9.5 percent of the 67,200 coho quota.

Anglers fishing in those areas can keep up to two chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release any chinook measuring less than 24 inches and hatchery coho less than 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed.

Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 3 and 4, through Sept. 19 in Marine Area 2 and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1.

Ilwaco Team Wins 1st Leg of Wind-affected OTC


The first leg of the Oregon Tuna Classic is in the books. More than 60 teams signed up for the Newport event but due to strong north winds blowing all week the seas were a bit too sporty for some cutting the field to 36 teams at the starting line for the 6am Saturday morning flare start.

Most boats ran to the northwest towards tuna town partly because that’s where the most recent fish reports had come and partly to stay with the pack for safety reasons. Some teams stayed in and later came to watch the weigh in but at the end of the night more than 300 people joined in at the awards BBQ.


The forecast was barely within the parameters of the OTC criteria for fishing and participants could testify to the conditions by the way they felt at the end of the day with sore muscles from dancing in the rough seas, backs aching from the long ride out and back, tired but satisfied they had given a good effort to help feed the hungry in Lincoln County.

The north winds had pushed the warm water out to beyond 60 miles and had scattered the fish making for scratch fishing at best. The best of fishermen were humbled when only 19 teams turned in fish and only 12 of those teams turned in the required minimum of 5 fish.

At the end of the day 78 fish had been turned in totaling 1,510 pounds of fresh albacore going to the Lincoln County Food Share.

Team Engage from Ilwaco took the top honors with 105.55 lbs and now leads all teams in the points system to win the right to fish in the IGFA Offshore World Championships next spring. They are followed in second place by Team Gales Creek Tuna Gaffers with 104.2 lbs and Team Green Lightning Laundry secured the third place spot with 104.10 lbs.

The Oregon Tuna Classic will take its armada of boats, volunteers, sponsors, spectators and support staff to Ilwaco Washington on July 31st. for the second leg of the tournaments where over 78 teams and 500 people packed the event last year. The boardwalk will soon be buzzing with excitement again in anticipation of the teams rolling into town.

–Del Stephens