3 Rivers Marine & Tackle has some of the most knowledgeable staff that would love to help you catch more salmon, halibut, tuna, crab, steelhead, trout, bass and more!
The Skykomish and Wallace River have been producing Winter Steelhead daily over the last two weeks. We have been checking in a handful of fish a day for our Winter Steelhead derby that have been caught out of both the Skykomish and Wallace River. Most anglers fishing the Skykomish have been finding the best success up around the Reiter ponds area. The average fish we have been seeing so far have been in the 6-7# range. Fishing a jig under a float has been the number one technique for guys fishing the Skykomish the last two weeks, but anglers are also finding success fishing beads as well as spoons. The best jig colors as of late have been nightmare, white, pink or peach in a variety of brands such as Johns jigs, Aerojigs, BK jigs and Getemdry Jigs. Remember when fishing a jig that tipping it with a piece of sand shrimp can help increase your odds of getting a bite. As the water keeps dropping and clearing up on the river, bead fishing becomes more productive with the more natural colors producing the best in the low clear water. Spoon fishing has accounted for some winter steelhead as well. We tend to favor the pen-tac spoons for steelhead fishing. Colors such as copper, silver and 50/50 in the 2/5 and 2/3 size tend to be the most productive.
Make sure to remember to bring in all your hatchery winter steelhead from the Snohomish, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Wallace and Pilchuck to be entered in our steelhead derby. We have great prizes for most fish, smallest fish, biggest fish and random drawings as well. So bring in your steelhead to be weighed in!
A great wintertime fishery that is often overlooked right on our own backyard is fishing for Cutthroat on Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish. The action can be fast and furious in the winter time with a good day resulting in 10-20 fish to the boat. The gear used to catch these cutthroat is simple. Spoons such as the needlefish in frog and metallic perch colors. Wedding ring spinners tipped with a nightcrawler in green or red trolled behind a dodger or pop gear is another way to target those feisty winter cutthroats. If you want to stay away from trolling dodgers or pop gear then consider trolling smaller plugs such as a mag lip 2.0 or 2.5 in frog, bleeding frog or anything red.
Areas to fish for the cutthroat on Lake Sammamish would be around Issaquah Creek, as well as the weather buoy in the middle of the lake. On Lake Washington anglers should focus their efforts around the Cedar River, South end of Mercer Island and around both the I-90 and 520 bridges.
Puget Sound Squid Fishing has been great whether you are fishing from shore or by boat. If you are looking to fish from shore then piers such as Edmonds, Seacrest, and Redondo are a great start to catch some squid. The best squid fishing has been at night although you can catch them all day. The gear needed to catch squid consists of a light spinning rod the longer the better with a spinning reel. Squid jigs made by Beau Mac or Goldstar in a glow white, pink or green are great starts. It’s best to carry a variety of jig colors and jig sizes as the bite can be better on a certain size or color of jig at any given time. You can also run multiple jigs on one line as well to increase the amount of squid you may catch on a given cast Go out and enjoy catching a bucket full of squid because nothing is better than fresh calamari.
Continuing the tradition of the last few winters Three Rivers Marine & Tackle is excited to be putting on our annual Winter Steelhead Derby. The derby runs from December 1st to January 15th. Rules of the derby are simple! Steelhead must be hatchery fish from the Snohomish System Only meaning the Skykomish, Wallace, Snoqualmie, Snohomish and Pilchuck river. All you need to do to be entered is bring your fish into Three Rivers and let one of our tackle associates weigh it for you. Prizes will be handed out for biggest fish, smallest fish, most fish and a few random drawings as well. Great prizes from companies such as G.Loomis, Shimano, Okuma, Simms, Daiwa, and many more!! Good Luck to all and we look forward to seeing your catches! The more steelhead you catch and bring in to be weighed the better the odds to win a great prize!!
With that being said let’s talk winter steelhead fishing reports. Early reports have been good on the Wallace and Skykomish river. We have been hearing about a handful of steelhead being caught every morning the last week or so. Anglers have been finding success bank fishing up by the Reiter Ponds Hatchery as well as the mouth of the Wallace River as well as up the Wallace river. To target these fish anglers have been employing a variety of techniques such as float fishing with a jig, drift fishing with bait or a corky and yarn or beads, or even fishing spoons or spinners. Pink, white, peach and nightmare pattern jigs have been the most productive for winter steelhead depending on the water clarity. Tipping your jig with a piece of shrimp if allowed can help increase your catch rate. The river is in great shape and the steelhead are biting! Get out there and catch them!!!
If you are still looking to learn more about steelhead fishing, make sure to come to our Winter Steelhead Seminar December 9th to learn more about how to chase and catch steelhead from some of the best steelhead fisherman the state has to offer!!
Winter Smallmouth Bass Fishing!
As the Daylight hours get shorter and the overnight temperatures get lower it’s time to think about wintertime bass fishing. Believe it or not we can catch bass in Washington 12 months out of the year even though many consider bass to be a warm water fish. By changing your tactics and depths you can find success catching nice smallmouth bass all winter long.
First let’s start with locations. For those fishing on the west side of the mountains your two best options for wintertime success will be Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington. Both lakes have adequate deep-water structure as I will talk about later and both lakes don’t freeze over which allows anglers to target bass all winter long. For the winter time anglers finding the best success will require a boat to reach the fish as the smallmouth bass will move far offshore into the deeper water to follow the food. Most of your winter time fishing on either lake will be done between 35-65’ with the best fishing typically in the 40-50’ range.
Now let’s move onto what sort of structure the smallmouth bass will be hanging around in the wintertime months. The fish will follow the forage out to the deeper water and on lakes like Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish that forage typically moves out to areas of harder bottom. In the wintertime the smallmouth feed heavily on crawfish and sculpin. They will also eat other baitfish such as perch but prefer to feed more on the crawfish and sculpin. Crawfish and sculpin will migrate out to the deeper hard bottom areas such as rock piles and or hard bottom flats with rock or clay mixed in as well as sand. Anywhere you can find hard bottom in deeper water mixed with either rock or wood on the bottom will be a prime habitat for winter time smallmouth. Some areas to focus your fishing on Lake Washington would be Coleman point, Pleasure Point, Webster Point, in between the three bays up in the Kirkland area, as well as the aquatic center on the south end of Mercer Island. In comparison to spring through fall the amount of wintertime smallmouth spots greatly diminish so on a nice day in the winter don’t be surprised if you are sharing some spots with others on the water. On Lake Sammamish it will be similar areas as Lake Washington around some of the main lake points as well as the sunken forest on the west side of the lake.
When it comes to fishing for wintertime smallmouth the gear needed to be successful is minimal. Like previously mentioned smallmouth feed predominantly in the winter on crawfish and sculpin and your presentations should reflect that. In the wintertime I like to fish either a football head jig or a drop shot or a tube jig. Let’s start with the football head, when fishing a football head, you can fish one with or without a skirt and weed guard. In the winter I tend to fish a football head just plain with no skirt or weed guard and some sort of crawfish or sculpin imitation plastic. Depending on how deep I am fishing and how windy it is I will fish anywhere between a ½-1oz football head. Some of my favorite plastics to put on the football head would include the Keitech fat Swing Impact 3.8 in Green Pumpkin to imitate sculpin. Another great bait to imitate sculpin and or baitfish would be the Fisher Brothers Skull Fish or the KGM TW Swimmer in the 375 and 475 sizes. When fishing the KGM TW swimmer in the 475 size I like to use a Revenge Swim bait head in ½-1oz size as well. If you are looking to imitate a crawfish some of the best options to do so would be a Yamamoto Hula Grub in color 176 or 221, Fisher Brothers Heart Throb in a smoke or cinnamon purple color. A couple other great baits would be a Reaction Innovations beaver in either the 3.5 or 4” size as well as the Fisher Brothers Donkey Chow in the same sizes. I like to stick to the natural colors such as the green pumpkin or watermelon in the winter time when fishing for smallmouth.
When fishing a football head if it’s windy I like to keep a slow retrieve dropping my bait a few feet behind the boat and free spooling it until it hits the bottom then engaging the reel and dragging the bottom using the trolling motor on a low speed to essentially troll along the bottom. This is effective on areas that are expansive deep-water flats. If you are fishing a smaller spot such as a rock pile I like to make a long cast past the structure and essentially bring it up and over the whole piece of structure on the bottom.
If you decide you want to dropshot I like to run a heavier dropshot weight such as a ½-3/4oz quikdrop drop shot weight with a size 2 gamakatsu split shot drop shot hook. For my bait selection I like to fish either a Fisher Brothers DS minnow, DS Hex, Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm or a Sniper Snub. I don’t like to impart a ton of action or shaking of the bait in the winter as the forage is more lethargic this time of year. I tend to pick up the dropshot when I notice fish on the graph suspended a few feet of the bottom otherwise I tend to fish the football head more. I like to fish the dropshot more vertical over a piece of structure or dropping my bait down to a fish I may see under the boat on the fish finder.
I like to run a green pumpkin tube with an internal tube jig head in a ½-3/4oz size to maintain bottom contact and reach the bottom quickly. I like to fish the tube jig the exact same way I like to fish my football head by either dragging or casting out and dragging the bottom whether it be an expansive hard bottom flat or a deep-water rock pile.
When you do hook into a Smallmouth in the deep water make sure you reel slow and steady to the surface as it will help reduce the expansion of the fish’s air bladder much like a rockfish or a diver getting the Benz. I always carry a hypodermic needle in the boat to fizz the fish to help it be able to swim back down. If the fishes air bladder expands and you do not help shrink it back down to size the fish will not be able to stay upright and will not be able to swim back down and will be floating on the surface. Most the time though if you reel the fish up slowly and unhook it quickly and put it back in the water the fish will be able to get itself back down deep.
Wintertime fishing can be slow, but you do have the potential on the good days to catch 15-20 smallmouth bass in the dead of winter. Hopefully this information will help you get out this winter and take advantage of another wintertime fishery in our own backyard!
This Tuesday in areas 8-1, 8-2, 9 and 10.
It’s time to get some of the pound for pound best eating best fighting fish of the season.
This fishery has always been by far one of my favorites! Often overlooked with hunting seasons going on and the kids back in school this fishery tends to have plenty of uncrowded areas to fish.
We all know the general rule of find the bait find the fish. However the golden rule is keeping your gear in the mud! Staying on top of your downriggers and working that bait on the bottom is the key to success with these aggressive feeding fish.
Hot Spot flashers in the Purple Haze, Gremlin and the Gibbs Delta Highliner UV Moon Jelly/Red Stripe are some of my favorites. On the business end Silver Horde Kingfisher spoons in the 3.0 Herring aides, White lightning’s and Irish cream tied on with 48” 20lb Seguar Blue label leader are all killer combos along with Tomic plugs in the 4.0 Tubby series.
In areas 8-1, 8-2, 9 and 10 it is a 1 fish limit of hatchery Chinook.
Remember to release wild Chinook and all Coho.
Don’t forget to bring your crab pots and a winter crab catch card. Winter crabbing is also open 7 days a week so you can throw out a couple pots and let em’ soak while fishing.That is a 5 star dinner in my book, fresh salmon and Dungeness is pretty tough to beat!
Stop by or give us a call for any reports or help setting up to get out fishing!
WDFW updated fishing and crabbing links.
3 Rivers Marine and Tackle will be hosting a Springer seminar Saturday, February 27th at 11:00 am. by Josh Hughes.
With above average predictions in the Columbia River system this spring, it is prime time to even the odds and learn from Josh how to catch these elusive “Springers” consistently!
RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 425-415-1575. Join us at this free seminar!
Stop by the shop on Saturday, April 4 for a full day of seminars, demonstrations and a meet & greet with the pro’s to set yourself up for success during our upcoming Halibut and Lingcod Seasons.
We will be hosting acclaimed author, Terry Rudnick, who will share his knowledge on Washington’s best halibut spots, most effective tactics and techniques, and how to harpoon, gaff, anchor, chum, and get the most out of our spring halibut fisheries.
Captain Kent Alger will finish things off with a great presentation on Puget Sound lingcod fishing. His years of experience has helped many anglers become better fishermen, so don’t miss this one!
Trained anticipation is an attribute that makes many talented athletes great. It allows the linebacker to be there before the offensive play develops. It makes for a fast break opportunity with a stolen pass in basketball. And for anglers fishing Buoy 10 on the Lower Columbia, great anticipation may put a boat consistently in the bite, making one of the best “big, bad” fisheries look easy.
While it is one of the best fisheries on the West Coast, for many it’s big, intimidating, and success is oftentimes accidental. Fishermen can become concerned with the location and don’t necessarily understand the “when” and “why” parts of the occasion. Let’s take the Church hole for instance. For Columbia River fishermen, the name brings visions of insane bites where a couple hundred nets might fly in mere hours. You might say, “if a couple hours fishing at the Church is good, then four, five, six, or even a whole day must be better.” Sure, there are days when the Church lasts more than a couple of hours, but most of the time, it is just a small window of opportunity before the fish are gone or the drift becomes unfishable.
Unfortunately, many fishermen will simply hang out in an area that they know to be good, simply keeping at it until they get their opportunities. Chances are that if you stay in one place long enough, fish will eventually move through, but why not move with the fish and end up with a more productive day? Rather than hanging out in the Church all day, you could begin figuring out the pattern. What routes are the fish taking? Are they coming off of Desdemona on the outgoing, meaning that a bulk of the fish are ending up on the sands during the incoming? Are the fish running tight to the Washington Shore, then settling on the sands as they run into depth resistance above the bridge? These are questions that need to be asked, and getting them answered requires a bit of moving around, or friends in every drift to do the moving around for you.
Over the next several paragraphs I’m going to outline a typical day of movements. This isn’t the only pattern I’ll use, but one that works when the fishing is hot on the Washington side. The movements are based on an approximate 12-hour tide cycle (incoming to outgoing), and I’ve tried to provide time-relationship references throughout. How far I fish off the sands and which routes I’m dialed into above the bridge might change, but this layout will provide you with a starting point to build upon.
In that we started this article with the Church Hole as our example, we’ll start on the Washington side and begin fishing the last hour and a half of the ebb tide. On a hard outgoing tide I might fish the tide all the way out to A Jetty. I love this troll and what happens as the up-welling of fish takes shape on my Garmin 6208. If I run out of room and run into the deadline between Buoy 10 and the yellow buoy along the Washington shore, I’ll simply pick up and run back up the river a ways and start the troll out to the deadline again. As the exchange begins to happen, the graph will begin to light up, and in a matter of minutes there’s action. If you fish this pass enough, over the years you’ll begin to time your arrival to this area so as to be the most efficient.
From A Jetty, my next move will either be into the mouth of Baker Bay or onto Desdemona Sands in the vicinity of the Desdemona Marker. You can fish into the tide at this point, but my M.O. is typically to troll with the tide. Why? I fish lead, which doesn’t have the ability to stay down like a diver does. I never fish more than 16 ounces, so I turn and go the other direction. Like many, I’ll work the sands with continued passes, working to get on a line of fish and using my GPS to hone in on the pods as I rerun my routs. The snail tracks on my Garmin are a big weapon that I use all the time. My passes will start further and further east over the next several hours until I reach the Astoria Megler Bridge.
From the bridge there are a couple of different route choices. On the Washington shore you can fish right up alongside the shipwreck. Another route option is to fish the 30-40 foot ditch that runs off at an ESE angle from the arches on the Washington side. This particular ditch is the beginning of Blind Channel. The final choice is the “bumps” that fish get stuck on right on the sands. If you run this series of bumps straight, you’ll eventually run into Blind Channel, as Blind Channel runs at an angle towards Rice Island and your paths will intersect. With the three choices, I’ll run one, but keep my eyes open and move to the various locations until I feel like I’m on fish. I don’t spend long in an area, as I believe the fish are either there or not 5 hours into the incoming. These fish are not hard to catch if you’re on top of them and fishing your gear correctly.
At high slack I’ve likely worked my way into Blind Channel, or one of the fingers that make up Taylor Sands. Depending on the strength of the tide, I might fish a little lower and hang a little tighter to the Rest Area just above the bridge. Strength of tide at this point is critical, and being able to mentally measure the distance that a ball of fish might push into the river is the name of the game. Instinct after years of fishing helps a lot, but the bottom line is this: if you’re not on fish, move! There are only so many places they can be.
As the tide starts out, I’ll begin to work my way off of Taylor Sands and eventually get below the bridge. I like to start high on Desdemona looking for fish on my graph and nets in the air. Often the bite will move and start in one part of the sands then migrate to another. The Trailer Park, the Red Roof, the Church, and the Tunnel make up the markers along the Washington side of Desdemona Sands. The bite could be anywhere in this area, but the Church is often times ground zero. Of course any time you run into a pile of fish, the “rinse and repeat” tactic of picking up your gear, traveling back up above the fish, then trolling back through the ball of fish is a must. The act of trolling is all about finding this “ball of fish,” and I’ve never really understood why folks keep trolling along after having had some success in a small area. Always pick up your gear, run back up, drop your gear in, and expect success as you troll through the area again.
Unless the tides are such that the bite doesn’t stop around the Church Hole, I’ll eventually work my way out towards the Buoy 10 area again, starting the whole cycle over again.
In 900 words we just covered about 12 miles of river, but the point to the story is move! Learn to move with the tides, and your experience at Buoy 10 will become a lot more productive. This is only one scenario, but hopefully the layout of these moves can become a template for your own patterns and program. You’ll very likely discover your own twists that garner success, and find yourself anticipating fish movements with more and more success.
Lance Fisher is a professional fishing guide, for guided trips you can call 503.680.6809 or visit lancefisherfishing.com.