Category Archives: Fishing Trips | Real Women Of Northwest Fishing

Read the stories of Real Women of Northwest Fishing on their Trips and Outings here at NW Sportsman Mag.

Allons! Northwest Steelheader Goes Cajun

By Rick Itami

Like many other sports fishermen in the Inland Northwest, I endured a disappointing year in 2017 with most steelhead and salmon runs much lower than average because of poor ocean conditions caused by El Nino and the dreaded “blob” of uncharacteristically warm water in the northern Pacific Ocean.

So I decided to look elsewhere to try new fishing experiences that were on my bucket list. The first venue that came to mind was inshore fishing for redfish, black drum and speckled trout in the Mississippi River estuary south of New Orleans often referred to as the Bayou.

I researched the internet and found what sounded like a good fit for my needs — Griffin Fishing Charters and Lodge (504-689-7588). Their rates were reasonable and their accommodations appeared to suit my preference of something comfortable and not luxury high-end, which frankly turns me off.

I called and talked with Colby Creppel, co-owner of the facility. The first thing I wanted to know was if the hurricane season was over since up to then, seemingly one hurricane after another had hit somewhere on the Gulf coast, including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Colby quickly assured me that hurricane season was indeed over and that November was a good month to fish for reds. I told him to sign me up and was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t require a non-refundable deposit of half the cost of the chartered trip that most other charters require. He also said that he would not charge if the weather was too bad to fish.

Griffin Fishing Charters has a stable of modern, well-kept boats right next to the Lodge on the Inland Waterway. (RICK ITAMI)

Eagerly anticipating the trip for the next three weeks, I finally boarded a flight on November 13, 2017 in Spokane, Washington, and landed in New Orleans that afternoon. It was an easy one-hour drive from the airport to Griffin Fishing Charters and Lodge. I enjoyed viewing the features of this flat, watery world that was so different from the hills and mountains of the Northwest.

As I got within a few miles of the lodge, I crossed over the Inland Waterway and turned on to Jean Laffite Boulevard, named after the notorious privateer who is viewed as both a hero and an outlaw. Not surprisingly, the lodge is located on Privateer Boulevard. I parked at the lodge and found Colby at a fish cleaning station at water’s edge peeling a batch of freshly caught shrimp.

After a short, friendly chat, I told Colby that I hadn’t eaten all day and would like his recommendation as to where to get a good meal. He pointed me to Voleos Restaurant, about 7 miles down the road. When I arrived, I knew right away this would be a good place to eat because all of the others in the restaurant were local fishermen. I ordered the seafood platter with a side of seafood gumbo. It was all delicious, but the gumbo was something to die for.

The next morning, breakfast was served at 5:45 a.m. and all of the guests boarded their assigned boats at 6 a.m. I was assigned to guide Casey Rojas. I got to liking Casey right away. He is a soft-spoken and knowledgeable middle-aged man who has guided for 15 years. I appreciated the fact that Casey didn’t engage in constant chatter like some guides and answered my questions and explained things clearly and succinctly.

We headed out on the Inland Waterway and took a little less than a half-hour to run the 10 miles to the fishing areas, which are about 15 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The area is comprised of hundreds of small islands ranging in size from a few square feet to several acres. They were formed over millions of years from the sediment that flows out of the Mississippi River.

Casey first anchored in a small channel where the outgoing tide was moving the murky water into a larger channel where we hoped some redfish would be holding to ambush baitfish.

We started hearing a lot of shotgun blasts not far away and Casey informed me that duck season had just opened. I told him he should have brought his shotgun along to bag a few ducks while I was fishing. Any outdoorsman would love this area because of the many species of waterfowl. During the morning of fishing we saw ducks, pelicans, ibises, kingfishers, herons, terns and other species. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Casey set me up with a spinning rod and reel with a small fixed bobber about 2 feet above a weighted jig hook onto which he put a fresh shrimp. We both fished for about 20 minutes without any action. Casey pointed out an alligator cruising around about 80 yards from us. I wondered if that may have had a negative effect on our fishing.

Anyway, we picked up and moved to another spot about 5 minutes away. Casey baited my hook and told me to cast toward a point of a small island about 50 feet out. Within about 5 casts, I got my first good take-down and set the hook on my first redfish — a nice 3-pounder that Casey said was perfect eating size. I was impressed by the fight the fish put up. It stayed low and pulled hard like a Chinook salmon and didn’t jump.

The author’s first-ever redfish from the Louisiana bayou. (RICK ITAMI)

The rest of the morning’s fishing was fabulous. I landed at least 10 redfish ranging from about 1-6 pounds, and an assortment of small black drum, sheepshead and channel catfish. The only other species that we could have caught were speckled trout, flounder and possibly even a largemouth bass, which remained elusive to us.

As usual, we had some quiet times when the fish were not biting during which I enjoyed talking with Casey about fishing and hunting experiences. At the end of the morning, I was thankful for being blessed with great fishing, 70-plus-degree weather and a great guide.

After taking a short nap after lunch, I took a walk around the town of Barataria. Known as the Town of Jean Laffite, it exudes a rich history of the days of yore. Laffite is known notoriously as a pirate and privateer who smuggled precious metals and other goods taken mostly from Spanish galleons and selling them in New Orleans. He was also known to profit from smuggling slaves into the United States.

Barrataria, Louisiana, proudly advertises itself as the Town of Jean Lafitte. (RICK ITAMI)

If you don’t know the difference between a privateer and a pirate, I’ll save you the trouble of searching the internet and give you the definitions here.

A privateer is any individual granted license by their government to attack shipping belonging to an enemy government, usually during a war. A privateer operates legally so long as he has a Letter of Marque from the government.

A pirate robs or commits other acts of violence for private ends on the high seas outside the normal jurisdiction of any nation, and without authority from any government.

During the War of 1812, Laffite was recognized as a hero for leading his privateer group to help General Andrew Jackson fight the British in the Battle of New Orleans. General Jackson is quoted as saying Laffite was “one of the ablest men” of the battle. Laffite also supplied Jackson with flints and gun powder from his stolen stores in Barataria.

All of this won Laffite a full pardon for him and his men from President James Madison. But something in Laffite drew him back to privateering and pirating, which he spent much of the rest of his life doing.

One of the interesting features of many of the homes around Barataria is that they have been raised by special hydraulic jacks and placed on stilts, seemingly 12-15 feet high. This was in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Casey said that they have developed the technology to raise the homes so that there is virtually no damage to any part of the homes raised.

A large home that has been raised and put on stilts in case of another Katrina. (RICK ITAMI)

The second day of my trip started out the same, but for some reason we seemed to be able to catch only smaller fish regardless of whether they were reds, black drum, sheepshead or catfish. Casey moved us to several different island points to try to find the big ones.

Finally, at mid-morning, he anchored us off a small island where I landed two keeper reds along with a few other smaller fish. As we were moving to another location, Colby maneuvered his boat full of adults and children with one fellow holding a video camera next to our boat. To my surprise Casey handed one of my reds to Colby and they took off. Casey explained that Colby’s boat was filming a commercial for the Town of Jean Laffite and they needed a redfish as part of the filming. So he said my redfish would become famous. What a hoot!

We continued to another point where on my first cast, I saw my bobber disappear a second or two after it landed in the water and I managed to land my third keeper red. Then the bite completely shut off and we could not catch any fish of any size. I thought to myself that redfish were just like steelhead by inexplicably failing to bite. So we called it a day and I ended my trip with a great feeling of satisfaction.

Guide Casey Rojas with a sheepshead, a species known for its human-like teeth. (RICK ITAMI)

Some things that Casey shared with me are worth keeping in mind when planning a trip to this area. For one thing, Casey said that a cold front will absolutely shut the bite off and he said that Griffin Fishing Charters tries to discourage fishermen from going out during such a front to keep them from being disappointed and wasting their money. Also, high winds will also make fishing very difficult.

For those of us who must reserve airline tickets well in advance, this makes it kind of a crap shoot. I was lucky to have blue bird weather the two days I fished. But you can look at some of the weather forecasting sites on the internet and view the forecasts up to 10 days in advance.

As far as when the best time to fish for reds goes, Casey says generally May through November is good fishing with the hottest months varying from year to year.

While we used shrimp under bobbers during my two days of fishing because of the murkiness of the water, Casey says that when the water is clearer in the summer, they often use lures such as spoons and swim baits to catch reds. He also said that a few of his clients choose to fly fish for reds, but that can be a little more of a challenge.

I tend to be more of a home body most of the time, but I am so happy I decided to break out of my mold and branch out to this great fishing venue. I now have good memories and a great appreciation for the fishing, cultural history and people of the Bayou.

If steelhead and salmon runs in the Inland Northwest continue to be at the low end of the scale, I will be looking for another fun destination to fish like the Louisiana Bayou somewhere else in the U.S.

RWONWF: Avid Fisherwomen Team Up On Sturgeon

Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing! 

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by Ashley Burows

Ashley Burows (left) and Natalie Travis, both of Tri-Cities fished the Columbia River in Richland on the second to last weekend of sturgeon season 2016.
(FISHING PHOTO CONTEST VIA ASHLEY BURROWS)

(FISHING PHOTO CONTEST VIA ASHLEY BURROWS)

Natalie, who fishes for sturgeon a great deal, had yet to catch a keeper for the season and this was Ashley’s first time for sturgeon.

Both avid fisherwomen, Ashley fishes frequently for bass on the Yakima River while Natalie chases the migratory species.

The day was going very well for us when Natalie’s drag started to sing, giving Ashley the opportunity to reel in a 72-incher, her first sturgeon ever!

Having three rods out we were able to play with a few shakers before having this dandy on.

“I felt bad not handing off my rod to Ashley, but knowing I felt a large keeper on the other side I chose to fight him myself,” says Natalie.

It paid off. After measuring the fish three times in the water, we finally lifted him into the boat with a final measure of just under 54 inches.

RWONWF: Power Of The Pink Rod

Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing! 7th-annual-real-women-logo

By Troy Rodakowski

She has this pink rod and I believe it’s magical. I witnessed it first-hand on a trip with her – guess which one of our rods went off? Yep, Vicki Tindall’s hot pink one.

“I don’t ever remember a time when my family didn’t hunt and fish growing up. I always loved helping my dad gut anything he killed. Fish, deer, elk – it didn’t matter, I loved being there and watching my dad,” recalls the Springfield resident.

Good thing, too, since her father was a fishing guide on the Umpqua and McKenzie Rivers for many years. Tindall has endured struggles in her life, with family members abusing drugs, and the loss of her grandmother and father very recently, but fishing is what has kept her grounded and alive inside.

(TROY RODAKOWSKI)

(TROY RODAKOWSKI)

Tindall’s become good friends with local guide Guy Springman and they’ve spent countless hours on the water fishing together. Both have been good therapy for one another through tough times and losing close family members.

“In spring we decided to do the Scappoose Bay fishing derby. I was super excited, and Guy came over with a present – a hot pink fishing rod! I couldn’t wait to fish with this new rod. It has caught a crazy amount of fish, and it saved me from dying inside,” she says.

Fishing is more than, well, just fishing for Vicki Tindall. Her favorite moments on the water?

“I think seeing someone catch a fish for the first time is very special, and just being around to help is rewarding,” she says.

“Of course, catching fish always makes me happy, especially when it’s given me a great fight.”

RWONWF: Fishing A Field Trip

Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing! 7th-annual-real-women-logo

Teresa Schmeck, a seventh-grade history and English teacher at Ochoa Middle School in Pasco, has become an excellent angler over the last five years.schmeck-1

“My personality of calm peace in my thoughts, patience, attention to detail and competitive tenacity make fishing perfect for me,” Schmeck says.

Friend Andrew Templeton says she enjoys bass, crappie, kokanee and lings, but walleye and salmon are her faves.

(FISHING PHOTO CONTEST, BOTH)

(FISHING PHOTO CONTEST, BOTH)

“Fishing has helped me as a teacher of Washington history,” Schmeck adds. “I’ve seen so much of our state’s amazing geography, natural beauty and influential history while travelling the state and fishing.”

“I always want to be learning. Steelhead next, please!”

RWONWF: Lemonade From A Lemon Of A Salmon Season

Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing! 

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By Toni Pollock-Bozarth

This year saw the gloomiest salmon predictions for the areas I usually fish – Puget Sound and Sekiu – but in July, I was able to seek them in new locations. I journeyed to Neah Bay for a salmon/bottomfishing trip with my brother and sister-in-law. Though it wasn’t too successful, I was able to experience humpback whales that were so close I could see the baleen in their mouths. That was something I couldn’t even imagine.

I returned home from that trip on a Tuesday and was in the Southern Washington port town of Ilwaco by Thursday morning. Fishing with a group of ten other anglers I was last to get my limit. However, it was worth waiting for: an 11.9-pound coho, the biggest salmon of our trip.

The first week of August I was honored to fish out of Westport with friends. There I was blessed to catch a 17-pound king.

(TONI POLLOCK-BOZARTH, BOTH)

(TONI POLLOCK-BOZARTH, BOTH)

pollack-bozarth-1

The most challenging year for salmon fishing turned out to be exciting as I traveled from one tip of Washington state to the other to catch some beautiful salmon and lasting memories.

Editor’s note: Toni builds and sells tackle through wannafishalure.com.

RWONWF: 2016 A ‘Turning Point’ For Valerie

Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing! 7th-annual-real-women-logo

Buoy 10 and Lower Columbia fall Chinook weren’t just fisheries for Valerie Holmberg. They were learning experiences and provided a “very real turning point,” she says.

Holmberg spent a good part of August and September on the big river catching big beautiful kings while fishing and deckhanding with ace guides.holmberg-1

“The best part about Bouy 10 for me this year was the amount of confidence I gained by watching how so many different masters created success for their clients,” says Holmberg. “I learned a great deal about targeting big fish and combat fishing in general – boat-handling skills, bait prep and running six rods at a time. I really focused on the process involved in running a sled, trolling and how fishermen work together to find fish.”

(VALERIE HOLMBERG, BOTH)

(VALERIE HOLMBERG, BOTH)

At last check she’d carded nearly 30 salmon and said she wasn’t done fishing yet. Stay tuned for more from Valerie Holmberg in the future!

RWONWF: Healing And Learning

Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing! 

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By Troy Rodakowski

was always drawn to fishing but never really had anyone in my world who fished, so it was just something I might do ‘someday,’” says Gretchen Dearden.

The smiles of happy anglers and the peaceful scenes from the water intrigued her, but also were intimidating for the Everett resident.

That is, “until a few years ago, when I went on a guided tour with Mr. Dave Perez and got my first salmon ever,” she says.

Since then, Dearden has made sure to visit the water regularly, and not just to catch as many as she can but also to absorb all that she could about baiting hooks, the gear and how to manage her own. She has done a pretty good job over the last few years and now spends even more time fishing.

“I wanted to spend all my free time on the water; I wanted to learn everything,” she adds.

Dearden’s life has not come without challenges. In August 2015 she lost her ex-husband in a tragic canoeing accident while her two boys watched during a Boy Scout trip in Montana.

(Gretchen Dearden)

(Gretchen Dearden)

“It took me months to be able to leave my boys and even think about fishing again. But when I finally did, with that first sunrise on the Columbia I knew it was where I belonged. That spiritual moment of feeling close to their father and talking to him and God, telling them to please protect my boys,” says Dearden.

Being on the water with nature helps to cleanse the soul and heal her heart.

Dearden has also been blessed to meet Jay Johnstone of Wraptor Rods and become a part of that family. Everyone there has been so helpful to Dearden. Several people have taken the time to teach her something.

“In all honesty, they saved me and kept me believing I could fish and be good at it,” she says.

Folks like Bill Monroe Jr., Sara Dodd, Jay and Julie Johnstone, Pam Magley, and Dan and Corin Snider all are very special to her.

Dearden wants to continue with her passion and never give up. She wants to be that grandma who is taking her grandchildren fishing and creating a lifetime of memories with them.

RWONWF: ‘I Just Want To Go’

Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing! 

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By Troy Rodakowski

I think the thing I love about fishing the most is the adventure with the water!” exclaims Sasha Mord.

The angler from the southern Willamette Valley enjoys chasing different species and exploring all the nuances that each adventure offers.

“When I was young, the only fishing I did was on the Long Tom River,” she recalls. “We had a pond on our property, and to keep me entertained my grandpa would give me a 5-gallon bucket and send me down to the murky water. I would sit down there and fish with whatever pole and reel we had lying around, using worms that we dug up in the yard around my grandma’s flower pots.”

It was these special times with her grandpa that Mord remembers the most. As she grew older, she fell in love with the McKenzie River and its beautiful waters.

(TROY RODAKOWSKI)

(TROY RODAKOWSKI)

“I spent a lot of time there, met a lot of fellow fishermen and made summer money flipping cars for local fishing guides on their trips,” says Mord.

Shortly thereafter she was fishing the Siuslaw and other local rivers for Chinook, finding that there’s always something more to learn about the fish and waters. It intrigued her and she knew at that time she wanted more.

Two years back Mord fell in love with Montana’s Clark Fork River, where her interest in fly fishing was born.

“I still don’t care if it’s fly fishing a new river, trolling for Chinook in the big water, chasing pretty chrome steelhead on the riverbank in January, going 40 miles out for tuna in the dead of summer, or taking my 8-year-old daughter out after carp in that old murky water I grew up fishing, I just want to go, “she explains.

For Sasha Mord, fishing isn’t just about the catch but about the adventure, the community, the water and the circle of life.

RWONWF: Camaraderie

Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing! 

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By Kari-Lynn Smith

Fishing and hunting have been male-dominated industries for as long as they’ve been around and us girls were always left waiting on the dock, figuratively speaking. Well, not anymore, ladies! Every year more and more women get into fishing, and over the last five I have had the opportunity to meet some pretty amazing ones who I am proud to call my friends. There is no greater feeling than sitting in a boat full of other female anglers sharing stories. Whether on our boat, deep sea and tuna fishing, or the all-girls tournament this year on the Big C, we share the same passion for fishing, and it’s very empowering.

Kari-Lynn Smith (right) and a few of her friends take a moment before leaving the docks at Westport for their deep sea fishing adventure this past summer. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Kari-Lynn Smith (right) and a few of her friends take a moment before leaving the docks at Westport for their deep sea fishing adventure this past summer. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Every summer a group of us girls from beginners to experienced get together for a trip of a lifetime. About 25 of us book out a charter boat in Westport. Spending the day out in the ocean hoping to catch the big one while surrounded by other women is the best feeling in the world. From the deckhands teaching us how to filet our day’s catch to throwing your rod in the holder to help out the girl next to you bring her catch in, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

And following this year’s deep-sea trip, a few of us girls stuck around another night to embark on a new adventure – tuna fishing! I tell you, that was a whole new adventure. I still have yet to catch my first tuna but I am no stranger to reeling in sharks! It only makes me push harder next year to finally get that first tuna!

(KARI-LYNN SMITH)

(KARI-LYNN SMITH)

And now on to the next adventure – come on, winter steelhead season!

RWONWF: She Sets That Hook!

Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing! 

7th-annual-real-women-logo

By Randy Woodward

Lisa Woodward grew up fishing Tacoma’s Commencement Bay with her dad, but had not really spent much time fishing afterwards. Now she is on the river year-round with me. She spends winter on the Wynoochee, spring on the Olympic Peninsula and late summer and fall on the Puyallup, Carbon and Satsop. woodward-1

Float fishing is Lisa’s favorite. She float fishes for big kings, silvers and chums every year. When that float goes down, she knows to set that hook!

(RANDY WOODWARD, BOTH)

(RANDY WOODWARD, BOTH)

It is fun to watch guys get out of her way, thinking Lisa is just some woman who will cast over them and tangle their gear, only to watch her make pinpoint casts and hook fish after fish. Last year she walked into a combat zone on the Puyallup, made 10 casts and hooked eight fish, including two 10-pound silvers – see ya, guys!