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Ocean Flyfishing for Salmon Perhaps the most under-rated fishery in the world

Thread: Coho tube flies? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
06-27-2001 09:51 PM
juro In all honesty I don't deserve credit for either but I might have been a bit anxious to see all the PNW had to offer while there.

I had 12 years in the PNW and they were not squandered, that I will say. I knew that with my in-laws illnesses that my wife would pull the rip cord sooner or later so I explored every possible face of the jewel of the northwest. Although I got into a rut with certain reliable spots (visting over and over) I did try to go somewhere I had never been before regularly and tried to mix it up as much as I could. At first it would dilute my focus on a river or region but over time it provided a macro view of the region that I would not trade for all the secrets on one river.

In a sense I was lucky to have a sense of urgency that the next adventure could be the last, particularly after cardiac problems in the family.

I fished the Chehalis system - Wynoochee, Satsop, Skookumchuck, Newaukum and Chehalis itself; I fished Grays Harbor for big ocean silvers and kings, three rivers - from the mouth to the rain forest, Sol Duc, Calawah, Elwha, Hoko, Sekiu, Pyscht, Goodman Crk, Morse Crk, Sekiu, Neah, Ilwaco, Willapa Bay, Pt.Townsend, Bush Pt, Fort Casey, Hamma Hamma, Hood Canal tribs around Tahuya, Columbia tribs... Puget Sound / Cascade rivers. The Columbia tribs from the Cowlitz to Wenatchee's Icicle creek were sampled frequently. Many trips to the striats and across to Swiftshure bank made the saltchuck adventures complete. It was a wild romp through an endlessly fascinating anglers' paradise called the pacific northwest.

I am convinced that a person could never stop roaming the Pacific Northwest in an entire lifetime! Now that it's down to once a year my rate of discovery has slowed w-a-y down but I do truly appreciate those times with towering trees and snow-capped mountains all around me and the promise of a wild trout the size of my leg electrifying every pool I fished.
06-27-2001 09:10 PM
NWflyfisher Juro,

Either you have one outstanding memory, or you keep a super detailed set of notes. You never cease to amaze me with your TOTAL recall of fishing in the great state of Washington. If only I knew half of what you've forgotten....
06-26-2001 10:38 PM
juro There was a contingent of regulars at Middle Pt (Sekiu) staying at the campground (Coho Resort?) who went out to Moussolini Rock to fish squid at night. The kings they brought back were unbelievable! The buzz-bombers do very well after dark at Redondo, Des Moines, etc.

McClane's encyclopedia includes a description of a study biologists did with tagged chinook, who exhibited distinct depth changes between day and night.

I am convinced that if you flyfished at Nittinat Inlet's gravel delta when the kings are feeding on that 20 foot shelf you are bound to score. Those guys who camp there fish that 20 foot shelf and bring tyee consistently to the boat. Our group stopped for a look and scored with the biggest being ~30 pounds.

Because of their size, an occasional big king on the fly would be worth the pursuit for an entire week. I just don't think it's been figured out yet myself. Could be wrong, but I just don't think it has. Who ever does will make the bare hook sockeye thing look dull in comparison!
06-26-2001 07:39 PM
NWflyfisher Regarding Kings, how photosensitive are they? I know they are fished deep for most of the day. Perhaps this is a night fishery?? Just a thought.
06-25-2001 09:40 AM
topwater well, chinook are just plain tough, even when you find them in the right places and circumstances. i just spent a week in the queen charlottes with nothing to show for it on flies even though cut-plug success was pretty much in the top 30 feet of the water column. the other problem in washington is the closures of prime water, such as the inside waters of neah bay (sekiu will have a short king season starting next week, but i'll probably just plain avoid the mob-scene that will be). i'm hoping to get some time to check out the offshore banks off ucluelet and bamfield within the next month plus work some of the offshore shoreline at neah bay but who knows how successful that will be. my personal catches to date have been small blackmouth... which i can hardly translate into success with the big boys.

the book by jim crawford on pacific salmon on flies has some tips and ideas... but his flies imo are mostly imitating cut-plugs and jigs... and i personally want to imitate what they are feeding on and not what others are catching them on (call me stubborn). plenty of people have spent time chasing kings in the salt with flies, and nobody is just killing them to my knowledge. if only they were as aggresive as coho <G>.

the problem is that much of the prime water for kings (shallow feeding kings all day) are in places that are kind of isolated. i think it takes quite a bit of time to figure out any fishery (especially one as tough as chinook) and getting the time in these destinations can be pretty cost prohibitive. i know that in my week up in the charlottes i learned a lot, and if i get a chance to return i will have a better idea about flies, techniques and places to fish.

and nwflyfisher, don't start trolling flies if you don't have to. trolling has been useful in learning the water where i fish, but i don't do it much at all anymore. casting and retreiving is way more fun (plus is actual flyfishing <G>).
06-24-2001 09:52 PM
juro There are spots of 30-40 feet of depth right next to shore on the straits where I can almost guarantee big chinook to be at dawn and dusk during season, and have taken plenty of neophytes out there to prove that over and over with success using cut plug herring in those days. I agree that even with a 400-500 grain line or LC-13 and the right fly worked deep or up and down the water column you will score the big tyee on the fly rod with some regularity once the tricks are figured out.

For instance, even though the depth of the water is 120 ft at the green can, the kings can be in the first 10-20 feet during the outgoing rip. There are inlets on the south side of Vancouver Island where the tyee are caught in 20 feet of water - that's all the delta has for depth!

Willapa Bay - about 20 feet deep.

The rocks off Wadah Island at Neah Bay constantly have chinook running bait against the rocks and spraying them out of the water in the morning and evening.

Kenmore area, shallow huge kings. Olympia area, south sound; Nisqually delta, the rip at Point no Point, Dalco, Bush Pt - a deep twitching retrieve with the outgoing rip pushing north toward the bluffs,

Kids fishing buzz bombs off the rocks by the kelp beds at Clallam Bay catch huge kings regularly.

You're right there has to be a way to do this, and I wish you the best of luck figuring it out. I only wish I could do it with you!!!
06-24-2001 06:28 PM
NWflyfisher I have extremely limited experience with Chinook on the fly...just the one I recently caught casting a Krystal Flash Clouser using an LC-13 shooting head off a Point Dalco ledge. However, in all fairness, that was also my first attempt targeting them. Conventional wisdom puts Chinook deep (125ft+) at the Clay Banks around Point Defiance during an incoming tide which is why that place looks like a parking lot. I expect to find them more toward the surface at dawn's light around points of land such as Point Evans in under 60 feet of water. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'll have fun proving it.

A very effective fly has been developed and is gaining popularity among gear fishermen here as a deep trolling lure off a downrigger (Grand Slam Bucktail) which, for all practical purposes, is a Krystal Flash tube fly between 4'" and 6" with colors to emulate Anchovy and Herring. Maybe I'm naive, but I would think a Clouser, or something similar to the aforementioned GSB, casted and retrieved on a quick sinking line in appropriate structure, would be equally effective. Though I could be wrong, I think there are times of the day when the Chinook can be found in shallower waters. At least that's what I'm betting on. Hopefully, Topwater can provide better insight. Like I said, I'm new to fishing the Kings on a fly and my thinking may be more wishful than factual.
06-24-2001 12:38 AM
juro I hadn't tried clouser minnows or any weighted fly when I was out there but weighted eye candlefish patterns are a staple out here for stripers and I would love to experiment with them for pacific salmon (maybe even this fall).

I used to fish a candlefish pattern tied on a long shank TMC 911s similar to the surf candy or roger's slim jim (but different). Also tied small squid on the same hook after finding numerous small squid in their gullets, a fancy hoochie fly really. Bucktails were essential to have on hand and then there were the experimental flies some of which worked really well.

Lots of folks contend that the mighty chinook salmon is not prone to take a fly in the saltchuck. How have you guys done on the kings?
06-23-2001 06:38 PM
NWflyfisher Several flyfishers here in the South Sound swear by tube flies. Though I don't have anywhere near Topwater's experience trolling, my personal experience with conventional Clousers coincides with his: I don't feel as though I miss many that hit. Clousers are the ticket for Coho, though - take that one to the bank. Best producing Clouser for me is white/peacock Angel Hair with a few strands of Pearl Krystal Flash tied in first behind the eyes. Finished fly is about 3 inches overall. Although this is my first year flyfishing from a boat, I still have a strong preference for casting and retrieving. Maybe that will all change in the future and I'll find myself trolling more. Maybe tube flies will find their way into my arsenal. My fishing database shows that since moving to WA in Dec. 1996, I've landed 347 Silvers in 4.5 years - a little over 70/year...most were from the Sound's resident population. I have no idea how this stacks up against anyone else, but I'm content with the success I've enjoyed to date. Adding a boat to the equation expands the opportunity for me...why change the method/fly if its working?
06-22-2001 09:34 PM
topwater well, i like the tubes for trolling flies, but prefer standard hooks for casting and retreiving. i also find that a fast strip isn't always best. just work the clouser, letting it drop between strips and for me i don't feel like i miss many strikes. the chartreuse/white flashtail clouser is my no.1 fly for ocean silvers. i've tried many others (including tubes and flies with a trailing hook) but none have outproduced the clouser. i think the constant movement the lead eyes produce plus the movement of the trailing flash are the two main strike producers.

plus, i can tie a dozen clousers in an hour... can't say the same about tubes <G>. as for my bucktailing flies, i've been using silicone instead of epoxy or other glues to form the heads... it allows me to get that v-wake going at slower speeds (i find slow outproduces fast as long as the fly is up and waking)... but i find myself doing less and less trolling and more casting. with the numbers of fish we've seen the last couple summers... almost every rip is loaded with silvers so why troll.
06-22-2001 02:22 PM
Coho tube flies?

In my past as a coho junkie, I found tube flies to be great for saltchuck salmon because they provide a way to get the hook back in the rear third where coho make the crippling strike when you are stripping really fast to get them excited or when you're bucktailing them in the wash.

Long shank hooks make a big difference as well. I hear that Clouser's Deep Minnow is getting popular but with the hook so far up front do you miss a lot of strikes?

Species like striped bass will hit the head and you can fish a foot long fly with a 1" hook up front and they will get hooked. My experience with coho (and I could see them from the boat) was that they hit broadside in the midsection of the fly and thus don't connect as often with a hook tied in up front.


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