By Wes Malmberg
This is the second part of a two-part series on Fish Camp 2011. This is an annual event that is hosted by Cabela’s that brings together writers, editors, publishers, manufacturing reps, guides, veteran anglers, presidents and CEOs of companies that are involved in fishing, camping and outdoor activities. It is an opportunity to get together on different fishing outings and try out the new equipment that is coming or already has come onto the market.
Previously I wrote about Day One. Day Two of my adventure had me on the road at zero dark thirty and headed for the Hood River Marina with my fishing partners for the day to work the water where the White Salmon River flows into the mighty Columbia. As luck would have it I couldn’t have been put together with a nicer group of guys — Steve Ichinokuchi, the president and CEO of Izorline International, and his associate, Jim Duntley, as well as my friend and fellow Northwest Sportsman magazine writer Jason Brooks, three great guys to share a fishing adventure with.
Our host for the day was long-time veteran angler “Dub” Burnum. Dub is a great guy whose main concern was if we were catching fish and having a good time. We were also to learn a great deal about this fishery. One other thing about Dub that I found out is that he fishes folks who might not otherwise have the opportunity to get out, let alone catch some of those upriver bright Chinook. To me, that is the meaning of sport fishing, to share that experience with others.
As we arrived at the mouth of the White Salmon River we eased our sardine-wrapped K-14 and K16 Kwikfish into the water using a G.Loomis Salmon Plug Rod #SAPR983C, 8’ 2” Ex-Fast 14-30 lb test, 5’8-6oz weight. At first light Dub prefers to use the glo dill pickle Kwikfish.
The setup for this was 60-pound TUF Line Guides Choice white with 6-feet of 40-pound-test fluorocarbon line and 6 ounces of weight. Dub has informed me he has been using the Izorline brand fluorocarbon. We each gave our glow in the dark Kwikfish a few flashes to illuminate them and over the side they went.
Dub explained to us that on many occasions limits have been taken long before the sun is on the water. Unfortunately for us it wasn’t to be, but shortly after the sun hit the water, I had the first hook-up. My rod started bucking and the reel started singing as the salmon peeled off line. I grabbed my rod and let out the battle cry, “Fiiiish Oooooon.”
After several nice runs I brought the fish boatside, a dark tule that was quickly released to make its way to the hatchery. It was a fun little battle, but unfortunately for me, the extent of my action for the day.
Shortly after that Jason was to hook-up with a nice 8-pound upriver bright. It was a great battle and fun to watch as Jason masterfully brought him under control and Dub scooped him into the net and into the boat.
After a little more time had passed Dub informed us he was going to teach us how to hover fish. This is a method that was perfected by the legendary guide Herb Good. In fact, Herb collaborated with Gary Loomis and together they developed the Hover Rod. Dub informed us that he had learned this method from the master himself who is also a very close friend and fishing partner.
The Hover Rod is no longer put out by G.Loomis but I have heard through the grapevine that there is another rod manufacturer in the Northwest that is going to put out a new and improved model. The G.Loomis rod is model number SAHR883C, it is 7’4” in length, ex-fast action, rated 10-20 lb test, 1-3 ounces. I thought that it was a pretty nice rod and worked great for this type of fishery.
Now let me explain how this fishery works. In theory it is a lot like drift fishing. It is, however, a controlled drift with your engine running for the most part at an idle. The setup we used was 40-pound-test TUF Line Guides Choice Indicator, the leader was 4 feet of 25-pound fluorocarbon line with 2 ounces of weight attached above the swivel. The hook was 1/0 VMC Octopus #9229TR tied with an egg loop knot.
Something interesting about how Dub ties this knot is that he goes 20 wraps around the hook which not only allows the knot to hold the eggs at the top of the hook, but also the bottom.
The bait was cured upriver bright salmon eggs with Dub’s own special cure. I tried to get his recipe, but there are just certain things a guy won’t give out. He did, however, mention that Pautzke Bait products are very similar.
As for how to hover fish, you drop your line over the side until your weight hits bottom then give it a couple turns of the reel to get it off the bottom about a foot or so. You hold the tip of your rod about 6 inches from the water and watch and wait for an ever so subtle pull, then set the hook. For the most part you are hooking them in the snout. Then hang on for a great battle.
It wasn’t long before Steve got to give the battle cry as he brought in a bright Chinook jack, very nice table fare. As time wore on his compadre Jim also brought a nice jack boatside.
It seemed as if everyone was adding to their coolers except me, but nevertheless I was enjoying my adventure, the company and the conversation. I will admit, though, to wondering if I should have worn my hip-boots because at times it was getting a little deep.
The day was starting to come to an end for us when all of a sudden Steve got to sound the battle cry one more time as a salmon stripped line off of his reel making several runs and many of them just as he was getting closer to the boat. After battling him for several minutes Dub was able to slip the net under him and scoop him into the boat. This upriver bright I would say weighed in somewhere in the 18- to 20-pound range, and the smile on Steve’s face said it all I couldn’t imagine a better way to end the day.
I kept in touch with Dub and he informed me that later in the season they put several in the boat that weighed in at 30 pounds or more. You gotta believe a guy who also sends pictures.
Good job, Dub, I’m looking forward to next year. Who knows, maybe my luck will change.
DAY THREE OF MY ADVENTURE found me headed out bass fishing with Dan Harry.
Yes, this was the first time I intentionally have gone after bass. Not that there is anything wrong with bass fishing, it’s just not what I target or write about. My readers expect me to tell them about trout, steelhead even salmon, but never bass. So needless to say I took some good-natured ribbing about crossing over to the dark side.
I had gotten together with Dan the night before to discuss what time we should meet. Dan’s comment was “anytime you are ready” sounded good to me. The next morning I rolled over to the Mess Tent had breakfast and Dan and I headed for the launch which was about 10 minutes away. We were on the water at about 9 a.m.
I was very impressed with his bass boat – it was like a jet camouflaged as a boat. In a matter of minutes we were at his first spot. He explained to me that I was to cast towards the weedbed and reel in slowly until I had a hook-up. To my surprise I landed my first Columbia River smallmouth in a matter of minutes. Dan told me that I was using a Carolina rig.
I found Dan to be a pretty interesting guy as he explained to me how he got started and what he enjoyed about the sport. Seems Dan has belonged to a bass club for quite some time. He and his partner used to fish in tournaments, even winning one. He went on to tell me how the sport had changed over the years, and that winning a tournament against the young pros coming up is almost impossible, but that you might stand a chance if you are competing on your home waters. Seems a lot of the youngsters coming up now days start at a very young age and specialize in nothing but bass angling.
There was very little current on the river making it a little more challenging to hook-up, but after working five of his spots we had managed to hook and release 20, the largest one coming in at about 3 pounds, Dan’s of course. I did manage to have consistent sizes of around a pound and a half and was quite pleased with myself.
Dan explained to me that the lack of current hampered our efforts and we should have had around 50. For me I thought 20 was pretty good considering we only spent three hours on the water – arthritis in my shoulder would only allow that much time of consistently casting and reeling in. I enjoyed my adventure and time on the water with Dan and would like to give him a shout out and a big thank you for the experience.
EVERYONE WHO KNOWS ME knows that I am quite the beef jerky connoisseur when I’m on the water. I just recently ate my last piece of B&D Meat’s jerky and I am craving more. This stuff is the best I have ever had. I will be giving them a call in the near future and see if I might just get my hands on some more.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this two-part article. In my coming columns I will be giving some product reviews of things that I received at Fish Camp and have been putting through the test. For me this was a great experience. Not only did I get to meet some of the top anglers and legends of the industry, but also got to test some new equipment I might never have gotten to use otherwise. I am looking forward to next year already.
So until next time may your next trout be your trophy mount.