Some notes on Puget Sound blackmouth/chinook [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Some notes on Puget Sound blackmouth/chinook

Leland Miyawaki
07-06-2004, 05:17 PM
It looks like this years salmon season in Puget Sound is going to better than last. I have seen a lot of bait in the water and for the first time, I saw schools of candlefish at the beach.

I fished the Narrows this past weekend, July 3,4 & 5. As many of you know, I fish my poppers almost exclusively. On Saturday, I fished it on a 6wt. Sage 9' SP. I had 10 blackmouth come up and take down the popper. I say take down because I have found that blackmouth do not take the popper the same as coho or searuns. They do not rush the cripple from behind nor do they slash at it or are they willing to chase it down. In fact, you never know they're on it, they simply tip up from behind, like a trout on a trico. Consequently, my strip is not the same as what I might do for coho. I let the tide swing my fly very slowly. I even make small uptide mends. I had one fish suck it down and when I didn't feel it's weight, I held up on the set. He rolled on it three times before he hooked himself.

Now here's the sad part. I wasn't able to get the metal into the jaw with the 6wt. It didn't have the backbone to do a heavy strip set. The next day, I came out with my 8'8" 8wt Scott Arc. Interestingly, I had forgotten that I had entered into my journal a few years back that this was a problem (it just goes to show you that not only should you keep a journal, you should read it). The first fish, I flat out missed in a backeddy. I hooked and landed the second fish that came. It was a 4-5 pound shaker. Now here's the sad part. There were far fewer fish Sunday than the day before and the next day, I only boiled two fish.

I don't know what kind of strip to make down deep that will excite chinook but I'm fairly certain that a very slow twitched retrieve on a popper (a true crippled baitfish) is the ticket on the surface.


07-06-2004, 05:29 PM
Leland that was an awesome account of your outings. Please keep the reports coming as things continue to heat up through the season and into the fall.

On a related note...

Remember the contest on Lake Washington where the prize was $10,000 for the one who found the best sockeye technique? The winner was either the U20 flatfish or the bare hooks behind the dodger on a 8oz mooching weight with 80 pulls - I can't quite remember the exact numbers. But anyway the contest led to a general understanding of how to approach an enigmatic problem - the ocean chinook on a fly.

I wonder if we could hold such a contest for fishing chinook in the salt... the criteria would have to include consistency as well as size of fish. Not too big on the contest part but the findings could be eye-opening.

Leland Miyawaki
07-06-2004, 05:36 PM
I wanted to post my notes because I recall talking to Kush and Dana about the problems fishing to chinook down deep with flies. I'm thinking that maybe we strip to fast and that a slow twitchy retrieve is best think cut plugs. Anyway, I've got to get out on a boat and try this over feeding kings that are only 20-30 feet down. But as they say, I've only scratched the surface.


07-06-2004, 05:41 PM

Your making me jealous........I spent many a day on the same stretch, mostly north of the bridge on the west bank. I used to use my Sage 6100 and a Teeny 200 along with my candlefish fly. I would love to try Bob Meiser`s 11' 7" 6/7 there. I had it on the Descuthes trying it out for Trout and thought the beaches along the sound would be a perfect spot for it. I never had a problem striking the fish. Most were so aggressive they hooked themselves.


Leland Miyawaki
07-06-2004, 05:49 PM
Yes, you're right when it comes to coho and searuns, they do hook themselves. But on the surface, with my popper, I have been surprised at how gentle and subtle the blackmouth takes are. I wonder what a deep sunk fly off the Queen Charlottes would do if it were tied on a "crooked" hook that wobbled like a cut plug herring.


07-06-2004, 06:04 PM

If I get up there to visit my son I will have to get a hold of you maybe we can wet a line. I never tied a popper for them, they just grabbed the sunk flies like the Silvers.

North Island
07-06-2004, 08:03 PM
I don't know what kind of strip to make down deep that will excite chinook but I'm fairly certain that a very slow twitched retrieve

My success in this area has been with t6 full sink lines around kelp. When stripping I like to change up the rhythm. With long slow pulls and short 6" pulls in rapid sucsession. Quite often the problem I find is getting the fly to the target species and not intercepted by Sea Bass, Cabazon or Coho. Although Coho is generally a good thing.

I know several anglers in my area that will be giving "Chinook on the fly" alot of effort this year.

Cheers N I

07-06-2004, 08:05 PM

I fish the Purdy Spit on a regular basis and usually on an outgoing tide. Looking at my journals, I notice that I had barely hooked a fish if at all past a 12'oclock low tide. Now, my journal records are far and few between, so I am not saying my info is 100%. It seems that the fish, IMO, whether sea runs, kings or cohos bite agressively before that noon low tide and again, a few if at all after 12.

Here at the spit, for me, I dead drift with my spey rod and usually get most of my strikes 3/4 through the drift with no strip at all. I know fishing from a boat is quite different but the above is what I have found. Drop me a line if you want to fish this area, if you haven't already.

I have not tried poppers yet, maybe that will be determining factor??? :confused:


Leland Miyawaki
07-06-2004, 09:35 PM
Yes, I've fished Purdy. It's one of my favorite winter searun spots. I vary my retrieves from very slow to very fast as well as herky-jerky and smooth and steady until I find what works for the day. The tidal movement putting a belly in the dryline is also a determining factor in the speed of my strip. A fast moving tide only needs a couple twitches every so often with the line hand.

See you at Purdy sometime,

07-07-2004, 01:26 AM
I have put some thought into this because Coho seem to be good for off the beach with only a few reports of Chinook. The only way I figured a fly rod could get down 30 to 60 feet, one would have to troll (I know that is a bad word) say an 1100 grain Big Boy, or 30 feet of T-14 on #35 slickshooter, really slow. If a fly had too much of wobble, you would need a swivel in the leader. I think a large squid imitation of 6 to 8 inches where the tentacles really wiggled around would be better than a fly that twisted your line up. I'm just guessing here. I don't really know and wonder if Les Johnson has tried this. I saw Tres Combs at the sportsman show a year ago and he was really into fly fishing for Salmon off Vancouver Island. He might have an idea too.

North Island
07-07-2004, 10:07 AM
I should have said " limited success"

As far as getting the fly down what we have done is cast the fly out. Then run the boat 50-100 feet away while feeding slack into the line. The goal is to just add more line into the cast and not troll the fly. After the fly is out wait a few minutes allowing the fly to get the desired depth and then begin the retrieve.

There are also bucktail trolling techniques but I don't think that really applies here.

Has anyone tried the new faster sink lines yet?

Cheers N I

07-07-2004, 09:51 PM
Just eating up all this talk of experimenting to go deep for Chinook, as I can now rest assured that their are others of you with the same obsession!

I also fished this weekend out of my kayak off the point to the west of Fox Island Bridge. Landed 3 small (largest was 18") blackmouth drifiting a angel hair baitfish pattern in the current very similar to a wet swing in a river. I noticed that the take was 50/50 - half of them coming at the end of the drift, and the other half coming during the drift itself.

I too noticed that there was bait all over Hale Passage, and am hopeful for abundant returns! I have been debating which type of running line to mate up to T-14 heads to fish deeper for Chinook, and would welcome any input on the subject. Have any of you tried this with "lead-ass" baitfish patterns? There was an intersting article about this syle in the past issue of Saltwater Fly Fishing. I am tying some these up to take out to Seiku... hoping for success.


07-07-2004, 10:52 PM
Seems I might have to pick that issue up and read up on the "lead-ass" bati patterns. Sounds very interesting!!!


07-07-2004, 11:26 PM
Here is a link to the article on the Lead-Ass Mac for any that are interested:


07-08-2004, 12:40 AM
Oh my lord, now you guys really got me to thinking about this. There are two things I really want to do. One, catch a Chinook with a fly and two, meet that old guy that can dance on the six flag commercials. Just kidding about the old dude.

I know you guys are going to call the Catholic church to have Satin exorcised from me for thinking this, but what if you used the new hollow gel spun spliced to T-14. That would be 80lb test you could cast a country mile with a two handed rod. In 25 seconds you would be at 30 feet. Then put one of those lead assed flies on. At least with the GsP you have no stretch so even at 30 plus feet, you would feel the take. I think that would be the best running line and you could forget about casting from shore, you could never retrieve it fast enough. You would have to have a boat.

07-08-2004, 07:49 AM
I am serious folks, how about a Neah Bay or Sekiu conclave whereby we visit annually to join forces to solve the riddle of consistent kings on the fly in the saltchuck!


Pooling expenses in gas, lodging, food, kicker boat rentals, etc.
Increased safety on the water - buddy system.
Great Saturday dinner event potentials, eat like kings (pun intended) for $10 each
Good friends and fun in the fresh air
Most importantly... share each others findings about this enigmatic fishery

This is not like a steelhead river with finite room on the shore and a limited potential, this is the open sea and things are in a state of change from minute to minute. Finding threads of consistency is a challenge but the rewards are huge.

Many of our forum claves have become annual events and the knowledge accumulates. I see this as the perfect situation for an annual clave because no matter how much we talk about it on line it will not change the fishery or the crowding, etc. At most it would change the ratio of trollers and moochers to fly guys out there.

It's also a seasonal outing, with some application to blackmouth but our clave would target the peak of the mature kings into their pre-spawn locations in summer and early fall.

We can always fall back on coho... no resist the temptation... fight it... :tsk_tsk:

What are people's opinions? Should I book tickets now?

07-08-2004, 12:38 PM
Down in Baja 30 to 45 feet is pretty standard for me for yellowfin. Cast upcurrent with a depthcharge/teeny/deepsea line, feed line and let the line come under the boat. Fly selection is important too. Surf Candies or other epoxy flies with tungsten cones are my go to for the super deep. After all the work to get down there, don't rush bringing it back...

North Island
07-08-2004, 04:25 PM
In no particular order,

Mattzoid, Give it a try and let us know. It sounds good.

Prouse, I have found flies with long feather wings to foul on either side of the hook and spin on the line. Anyone else?

Juro, very interested. I know it's alot further to travel but my uncle has a marine campsite near Port Hardy which could be very affordable. " Dudley's Cove "
We've been working on an idea where he can taxi 4 or 5 pontoon boats around from hole to hole and each can fish from their pontoon boat. Just a thought

Cheers N I

07-08-2004, 06:00 PM
Hey Juro,

Remember Roy? He's been experimenting with fishing for Kings out of Neah Bay with flies and is even interested trying for them with poppers.

I know that the Kings do come into the top 30' of water often, esp around dawn and dusk.

In fact, a 58lb fish was taken this past weekend off Waadah Island on a herring/downrigger combo. The downrigger was set between 30 and 35'.

07-08-2004, 11:34 PM
No need for any super fancy spliced this and spliced that. Grab a Rio Deep 7 Hypersink (the standard Deep 7 is great for coho) and you can throw it on a rod as small as a 8 and have it at it.

If you can set up your drift, make the properly angled cast, throw in some pseudo-stack mends, you can get to 30' without an issue.

btw-A late summer/early Fall without a visit from you and trip to Sekiu just isn't the same. Get your ass out here, clave or no clave.

07-13-2004, 06:42 PM
northfork is right that the depths required are not that difficult (with the right weather).
also, don't forget that trollers cover tons of water and flashers attract fish from a distance.... so depths and places trollers kill fish do not always translate to flies (take popular coho spots the trollers like... often they are terrible fly spots).

also, don't ignore the places that hold the most fish. while the shorelines offer some structure and small boats can reach them... in washington state they do not hold the large numbers of fish. just like coho, offshore is where you are going to find the largest number of kings actively feeding at all levels (and time of day is less critical).

tied with lots of bucktail surrounding them, long feather tails shouldn't foul (not a problem on half and halfs for me).

i'm not sure that kings can ever be figured out like coho, but they offer a real challenge, especially considering that not only do you have to find kings within reach but the ocean weather has to cooperate (hard to dredge with a 15-30 knot wind). a client last summer got a hog to hand while fishing coho with one of those half and half's.

good luck this summer... i'm looking forward to the upcoming coho fishing. the coho are much bigger this summer (no pinks....yeah).


07-14-2004, 06:02 PM

Mike and I are looking for another "Hog" next weekend!!! (Maybe I will be the fortunate one this time! See you on the 25th!


07-15-2004, 12:45 AM
in homer, alaska we have been trolling tube flies for kings and find they fish as well and many times better than herring plugs.we have done some limited "flyfishing" but wasnt able to get the line down quick enough.i like matts idea and may have to give it a try.