Editor’s note: Two sockeye reports from the Brewster Pool for you by contributors Jason Brooks and Leroy Ledeboer.
Leroy reports that a quartet of friends recently brought in 22 in a day’s fishing and could have completely limited except they threw back some smaller ones.
He also spoke with Bob Fately at Triangle Exxon (509-689-3473) in Brewster who says the drill is an O or OO silver or silver scale flasher, pink or red Mack’s Lure squidder, two-hook setup and a red-dyed chunk of shrimp.
Fately tells him there are two keys to catching more sockeye: “If you’re not getting fish, the thing to do is alter the length of your leader or alter your depth.”
Altering the length of their leader is exactly what Jason writes he and his crew had to do to find some fresh socks, in the following blog about a two-day trip this last weekend:
By Jason Brooks
I guess overconfidence and salmon fishing don’t exactly go together sometimes.
With all of the hype about the Brewster Pool’s almost half million sockeye and what seems to almost be folklore of limiting three guys in a boat (that’s 18 fish) in an hour, I got a bit big headed on this past weekend’s excursion. I loaded the gear, hooked up the boat and took my boys over to Eastern Washington Thursday evening.
Friday morning the alarm clock went off at 4:00 and we were at the boat launch just before 5:00. The first local legend of an hour-and-a-half wait at the launch turned out to be nothing but a myth as 20 minutes later the boat was in the water and the truck safely parked. There is ample parking at Brewster’s city park with a two-lane launch. And you will find everything from Bayliner ski boats to bathtubs with buddies trying to get in on the action.
I had read the articles in the past two months of Northwest Sportsman, got all of the gear, tied up all the leaders to 18 inches and tipped the double hooks trailing small pink hoochies with Fire-Cured shrimp behind the size 0 chrome dodger. We dropped the first downrigger to 15 feet and the next one to 20 feet. Dad put out a 12-foot noodle rod out each side of the boat with a 2-ounce banana weight and the dodger/hoochie setups.
Then the circus began.
Not once but twice our gear was swept by other boats going downriver at a pretty fast clip weaving in and out of the boats going upriver.
If you think Drano is combat fishing, you haven’t seen anything! We watched people catching fish all around us but for the next three hours we did everything we could to no avail. Finally a rod goes off and it’s one of the long-lined noodle rods.
My 8-year-old Adam reels like mad only to have the fish near the boat and then explode at the surface and the hooks pull free.
That night, as I sat at Dad’s house eating a big slice of humble pie, I called Bob Loomis, the marketing and sales director at Mack’s Lure in Wenatchee. He’d filmed an Angler’s West television show the day before and landed a dozen fish for the episode. The first question he had was how long were the leaders I was using and when I said “18 inches” he told me to “cut them in half.”
He was using 9 inches of 20-pound leader. He also said to make sure I was using a pink and clear Cha Cha mini squid with glow beads underneath, tandem red hooks and a size 0 Double D dodger.
Bob, being the local expert and one heck of a fisherman, made a few other suggestions. Match the speed of the boats that are catching fish and remember to keep the depth fairly shallow.
As we were talking on the phone I heard a loud rumble of thunder outside. I noticed some seriously dark clouds to the north. Damn, the fish might be on the move. Bob heard it too and said not to worry too much as there are still a lot of fish coming over the dams on their way there.
Next morning the alarm went off again at 4:00 and this time I had the rigs tied up to a fish-catching presentation. My boys and I met Chad Hurst in town since Dad had other plans for the day. As we pulled into the boat launch I noticed the line was twice as long as the day before, but it still only took 30 minutes to get the boat off the trailer. I also noticed standing water and mud puddles which meant Brewster got a good soaking during the night.
Once on the fishing grounds out in front of the Okanogan River’s mouth we started seeing boats landing fish and knew the sockeye were still there. On our first pass we hooked up and my 6-year-old Ryan landed our boats first ever sockeye.
We continued on and noticed even at the 1 mph speed on my GPS that we were passing boats. An old Drano trick prevailed and I tossed out a drift sock slowing us down to .7 mph. Next pass and two fish on with one more in the box.
Adam still hadn’t realized that you can’t force the fish in at the boat. But he redeemed himself on the next fish.
The sun was coming up and the 2-mile-long bank we trolled that seemed full of fish began to slowly fade away. We noticed that it went from just about every boat fighting sockeye to just a handful. The kids were getting tired so we tried one last pass and hooked another salmon. Ryan put the rod to work and Chad continued to net like a pro. Three for four in a couple of hours, not exactly boat limits but we were catching fish.
As we pulled to the dock I saw an old high school baseball rival of mine, Shane Magnuson of Upper Columbia Guide Service. He was cleaning fish on the bank for two clients. I strolled over and asked how he did and Shane replied, “Thirteen sockeye, three kings and one jack.”
Turns out he is not only one of the best Brewster Pool guides, but he makes a heck of a humble pie as well…serving me a big slice for my drive back to Tacoma.