The Jig Is Up, Humpies!

WDFW’s hump-dar was showing the Duwamish as “fair” fishing for the odd-year salmon, but I was beginning to wonder.

The fish seemed to be smirking as they splashed their way past me; my killer lures had gone kaput.

It felt like I was back in high school, standing on Humpy Rock, off Ben Howard Road, wondering what in the heck the trick to catching the plentiful pinks was.

Eventually, bezitted friends and I said to hell with the swirling waters around that volcanic chunk, where snags were much more common than fair hook-ups, and found that they just seemed to bite better lower down in the Skykomish, and so we honed our skills on them there.

But as it turns out, those tactics may not apply to tidewater fisheries such as the Duwamish where I was fishing.

Jig under a float? No dice.

Tiny pink worm under a bobber? Nope.

Small spoon on a drift-fishing set-up? Not working for me.

Larger spoon cast and retrieved? Nyet.

On the banks of a muddy river that runs two different ways twice a day, I was left scratching my head.

Very embarrassing.

I could sense the puzzlement of fellow employees here at Northwest Sportsman world headquarters.

‘The river’s full of fish, jumping everywhere, why can’t he catch any, everybody else is, what’s his deal, why’s he our editor again?’

It was time to go all in.

Tuesday night after we put the boys to bed I dug through the haphazard quiver of rods in my shed, stripped off the saltwater Buzz Bomb/hoochie set-up from one baitcaster, discovered a new 6 3/4-foot spinning rod and tore the reel off the stump of another longer, but broken one.

I thought back to how they do it on the Snohomish and lower Duwamish, and so for that latter rod, I made a run to Fred Meyer for casting jigs.

Turns out, only about 4.5 million other Pugetropolites had had the same idea, so there was only a very slim selection of 1/4-ounce beaded marabou jigs to choose from.

For good measure, I grabbed a couple half-and-half Dick Nites; this season’s wunderpattern, the frog, has proved fruitless, but 50/50s I have some faith in.

Wednesday morning found me back on the Duwamish. It was here in late August that another angler who’d been casting a pink jig tied straight to his mainline had claimed to have hooked numerous pinks.

I’d nodded and smiled — and kept fishing my regular Skykomish River gear for two weeks, apparently enjoying the fine funk of my skunking.

But now I was switching it up, going native.

To make a long story short — and get on with production of the October issue of the magazine, which is reaching critical status — casting and twitching the jig is working, and on all tide phases.

Yesterday I landed two on the incoming in the early afternoon and one on the outgoing after 5, and this morning two more as the Duwamish was dropping.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

I let all of them go, of course, as I primarily catch-and-release river humpies, but as the weather once again warms up, I will be watching the temperature gauge on the river.

It peaked out at a very-bad-for-salmon 74 in early August, but thankfully had dropped to 58 earlier this week as the run slid in. However, yesterday it popped back up to 64. That’s still safe for fishing, but … something to be aware of.

One other issue I’d like to add before doing some Real Work is that, besides reading the pamphlet and checking the e-regs to make sure your stretch of the river is open, is, anglers, let’s clean up after ourselves.

I’m finding a lot of crap left behind in the places I’m fishing. It really isn’t that difficult to pick up line, lure packaging and whatnot, stuff it in your back pocket, a sack or tackle bag and haul it out for disposal.

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(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

That’s the sort of stuff I don’t mind taking from the river as I plan ways to sneak back to the Duwamish for quick bouts with pink salmon.

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