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kjackson 07-23-2004 09:16 PM

Neah Bay
FWIW-- I did a one-day harvest trip to Neah Bay yesterday and am happy to report that the silver season looks good. Despite reports of fish deep, we caught almost all of our coho in the upper 15 feet of water. I even saw some surface activity; however, it was so rough that I couldn't tell you if it was salmon or rockfish.

Since it was a harvest trip to pick up a few fillets for my NY son to take home, I didn't bring a fly rod.

The good news comes in the size of the fish-- we caught maybe 10 or so that were over eight pounds, much larger than what I expect in July-- these fish were more what I would expect in August. For those interested in fillets as well as sport, the ratio was about 1 to 3 for hatchery fish.

The next trip I bring the fly rod and poppers...


NZ Trout Bum 07-26-2004 12:19 PM

Neah Bay...on the fly
Took the long rods to NB over the weekend. Wind was brutal and could only go outside at unacceptable risk to life and limb. In-side was tough in the afternoons but marginally fishable in the AM.

You are right about the size...awesome for this early. Most 6-8 and a couple a bit larger. Moonlight was out Saturday and got a couple on top but most fish on the Hi-Speed, Hi-D sink type. Had the full line in the water and as straight down as possible to hit fish yesterday. Still a great time and my hands are cut up from getting hooks out.

Seeing a few more fly rods every year. Don't get as many strange looks as we did a few years ago. The fish cops were out so make sure all your licesne stuff is up to date. Watch the water and be safe.


juro 07-26-2004 12:41 PM

Great news, I hope I can take advantage this year.

You should've seen it in the mid to late 80's when I started with the long rods on Clallam Bay and Pillar Pt - I was literally the only one I met with a fly rod at Sekiu a few trips. There were a few bucktailers, but they didn't use fly rods. I know you hard cores were out there, but we were so sparse you'd never know it.

During a Hooknose Conclave I organized with an old mail list FF group (FLYFISH@ hosted at UKY) well over 10 years ago we were actually ridiculed by passing boats... but the hooknose fishing was just screamin' hot and I purposely stuck around those making fun just to show them how much fun we were having battling the big slabs on the 8wts! We landed like 20 fish a day, and had several in the teens.

The trend as I see it is first light to 6:30-7am is topwater time, then for the next hour or two it's good intermediate line fishing while they are still cruising around in the rips and along kelp beds, etc - after that it's hi-density depth charging and stripping jolts and twitches to keep it down in the zone. All three are productive.

You can tell it's phase one because the fish are usually showing on top a lot, and the kicker boat crews are hitting fish. By the time the downriggers are the only ones hitting them it's time to drop the hi-den down and let the drift of the boat swing the line around, then start a series of twitches to hold the depth as long as possible to attract the attention of deep running salmon.

You can probably just skip the intermediate and go right to the fast sink, stripping faster in the mid-phase and changing to do the deep six sink as the morning gets closer to breakfast break.

A floater really makes the dawn surface fishing a lot easier, the intermediate tends to dog the popper down and make the line more of a pain to keep casting. Most of us cast to the side and let the popper swing around, if everything is dead and we go into "search" mode we will bucktail around until we see something happening.

I sure love that salmon fishery!

NZ Trout Bum 07-26-2004 04:24 PM

Piller Point - Sitka
We too were fishing Piller in the early 90"s with flies but thought "Bucktailing" (read trolling) was the only way. Wish I had met you then.

We started fishing Sitka with cast flies about 10 years ago and got the same reaction from the unwashed with lots of finger pointing and laughs. Much different now with a couple of charters half way catering to fly guys. Even have a fly shop in town now.

We use the same schedule in term of lines with floaters early and late and Hi-D during the day. Haven't bothered with the intermediate but could have an application when slower fly speed is needed.

Our most effective patterns have been epoxy bait fish in fucia or chartruse as the main color. Clouser style works very well but not quite as nice to cast. Haven't used the canadian "firecracker". I have heard great things about it but it is just too much of a lure.

Haven't figured out Kings yet but still trying. Have cought a couple in Sitka but hard to find the right situation - lots of fish, feeding heavily. Have you had any magic feather or style that worked for you?


juro 07-26-2004 04:40 PM

The kings I have landed were either by happenstance while fishing saltchuck coho or we stumbled on an obvious mauling of bait where a fly that looked anything like what they were eating was going to get eaten. The last time this happened was coming back to port around Wadah Island and the herring were being blasted against the rocks by big kings. I caught the silver flashes from the corner of my eye so we motored over. A dark swirling mass of herring were piled against the rocks with nowhere to go and the salmon were getting very aggressive chowing them. It was dusk and not much light in the day. I chucked my herring fly into the fray and let it sink several seconds among the baitfish, couldn't have been more than three strips and I was on.

As you know, these situations are far and few between whereas a well-mooched cutplug seems to be nearly automatic. There has to be a solution... I really think we should put our minds together to try to figure out the kings on the fly fishery. I hope to be out there sometime this season but it will probably be after the peak of the king season. During the 12 years I chased kings second/third week in August was about the very best timing out in the straits for migrating adult chinook in Neah Bay and Sekiu.

Boy wouldn't it be a great annual trip to go to Neah Bay to unlock the secrets of kings on the fly!

NZ Trout Bum 07-26-2004 05:09 PM

There are a few of us working on the problem. My experience has been the same as to those few and far between times when the gods smile and kings are on the bite - where we can target them. We were in Sitka a few years ago and there was a big batch of kings working candlefish off Biorka. We hooked three the first day and lost all. That night it started to rain and didn't quit for 7 days. Not a little rain, buckets! Bait went down and couldn't locate kings again. End of story.

Did catch a 30 and a 35 a couple of years earlier in Olga Strait near Sitka. Evening with a mix of coho and kings working a point. First year we really were up there so thought that although it wasn't necessarly common, it did happen. Little did we know.

Neah Bay research mission sounds great. Have my 19 foot Whaler on station all of August but work will get in the way much of that time. Should be out most weekends into September. Let me know if you are coming out. W

kjackson 07-26-2004 11:18 PM

Location, location, location
While I've been a fly fisherman for a long time, I've never consciously fished for kings in the salt. I have, however, towed a lot of cut plugs for same.

My thought is that if you really want to hit kings in the salt, you need to be in the right location--- and here I'm talking more of a type of area than Neah Bay or Sekiu. From my two decades of king chasing, I know of three such spots that hold kings that are actively feeding in shallow enough waters to be in fly range. Unfortunately, all three such spots are in the eastern Strait and now closed for kings. But, pardon my bass-fishing background here, the key is the kind of structure the fish hold on. Two of the spots that hold these shallow kings are sandspits with enough current passing by to sweep baitfish to waiting predators. Another is an area where kings will cruise by on the surface even during the middle of the day. This last place is the only spot I've ever seen that happen, and I couldn't tell you why they do it there, but they do...

Another possibility is to do the pre-dawn patrol when kings will be on or very near the surface. This might be a trolling show rather than a casting show because the kings I've caught during the dark hours were always taken on a fast, silver troll. They always hit close to the boat on the surface.

With luck, I may be home enough this summer to give 'em a whack, but I'd have to hit a run right on the money. We'll see.


Big K1 07-27-2004 02:01 AM

Thanks guys for the great info and reports. I am very envious of you guys. I love saltwater fishing with fly or gear. I have not done much but when I have it has been great, fish or no fish. Some day I will make it out to Seiku or Neah Bay. Is a boat needed for silvers out there?


juro 07-27-2004 05:06 AM

Kevin -

It's not critical to have a boat as you can catch fish off the beaches, but it will feel a little like being the pool boy at Hugh Hefner's playmate party with all the boats running out to the Caves, Mussolini Rock, the lanes etc - and coming back loaded with salmon... there but not really involved.

I think of it as a filler between runs out to the action more than a shore destination. You can rent a kicker boat for reasonable money, split it with another angler and it gets pretty cheap for a day out there.

I would suggest bringing a compass or better yet a GPS handheld in case the fog rolls in. Stay away from Slip Pt during big tide changes, come inside the bay on the flood if the east wind kicks up and you should be all set most days.

NZ Trout Bum 07-27-2004 09:32 AM


One of the guys in my fly club fishes from the beach at Seiku and gets a few shots most days during August. He walks the highest point on the shore and spots fish crusing close in and then gets ahead of them. You will never get 20 or 30 a day doing that but you can get some action.

You can rent a kicker for a reasonable price but watch the weather. Juro is right about safety. A few years ago a storm came out of nowhere down the Strait with winds going from 10 mph to 60 mph in 15 minutes. 9 guys died on the US side and 6 in Canada. Have fun but pay attention.


Big K1 07-27-2004 07:10 PM

Thanks guys for the info. I think I would be leary of taking a boat out myself. I have never skippered a boat in the salt. I had a 12' valco for lakes and before that I had a 20' Stratos Bass boat. I have alot of respect for salt water out there at Seiku and Neah bay I don't think it is any place for Kevin the greenhorn.
Am I being a wussy? Thanks again.


Moonlight 07-27-2004 09:08 PM

Kevin caution is a good thing and trout bum was just trying to make everyone aware of the potential for extremes in weather that can be encountered in Juan de Fuca Straits.
I personally started fishing Seiku in a 12' open plywood skiff with a 10 hp outboard and a good pair of oars for a backup. The 16' open aluminum skiff I use today is a little better but not anymore adequate in extreme weather than the 12'. The waters in the straits during the summer are typicaly very calm and safe, a little caution and you should have no trouble taking a boat out on your own.
I , like I said, started at Seiku with a well used 12' plywood skiff and ended up piloting my own 17 ton Fishing Vessel around the Gulf of Alaska for a quarter of a century. I would not have gotten started if I didn't start. My advice Kevin is "get started"!

SalmoGairdneri 07-27-2004 09:13 PM

Awesome Fishing@Neah Bay 2004!
The fishing has been really good. I've been out there 3 times so far and we are heading back again this weekend. We have caught a heck of a lot of silvers and tons of sea bass. The size of the silvers has been impressive even back to the 4th July weekend. Chartreuse & White clousers are usually the key. See below. It doesn't seem like the fish have really penetrated the strait yet and the best fishing has been out west.

It was tough fishing last weekend due to swell and current but this weekend should be better. See you out there.



juro 07-27-2004 09:47 PM

Tony, Bob -

Come a loooong way since the hooknose clave eh? That doesn't look like any kicker boat I've ever rented!

kjackson 07-27-2004 11:13 PM

Sekiu boating
Kevin-- I've spent a lot of time in the Strait, from Neah Bay to Port Townsend, most of it in boats under 16 feet in length-- in fact, I started in a 10-foot Livingston. If you've run a Stratos, and you're wise enough to be cautious, then you should have no real problems running out of Sekiu.

Often the silver fishing is close in-- you can almost always find some fish near shore, so it's not like you have to run 20 miles to find fish. Also, Sekiu has some of the best boating conditions on the Strait-- when it's rougher than a cob in Neah Bay or PA or PT, Sekiu can be pretty flat. Caution is a good thing, but I wouldn't let too much keep me from fishing in the late summer and fall-- as long as the weather forecast and your weather eye say it's OK, then it probably is.

There are a couple rules of thumb that you might use as guidelines: first, it's generally calm in the early morning unless there's a tide change. Second, the afternoons are when the wind kicks up, so you want to be closer to port later in the day. Of course, there are days when it blows all day and days when it's rough in the morning and flat in the afternoon. Usually when the westerlies blow in Sekiu, you can fish in the bay, and the water is rough, the silvers will be closer to the surface.

Neah Bay is pretty good as well, except that I don't think there is much of a rental fleet left. I've only seen a few boats at Big Salmon, and I don't know if any other place has rentals. I like NB because when the silvers are in thick, you don't even need to leave the harbor, and you can also score big on rockfish at the same time. However, the winds tend to make the area outside the bay pretty rough at times, and if you're antsy about your boat-handling ability, then you'd be better off at Sekiu.

But be careful; a few trips to either spot may find you looking for your own boat in short order. The fishing is pretty addictive.


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