cowlitz river

Updates!

Steelhead University has a brand new website! The new owner of Steelhead University, Terry Wiest, is very near and dear to Steelhead Girls’ heart. In fact, he’s the inventor of Steelhead Girls! I met Terry many years ago through, believe it or not, the Steelhead University Pautzke photo contest! We stayed in touch and met again at many fishing functions before I started blogging on Steelhead University. Terry reached out to me about a year after I was blogging and thought of the idea for Steelhead Girls, which I obviously LOVED! Steelhead University not only includes fishing updates and reports from some of the most well-known guides in Washington State, but many videos, articles, and product reviews. Go check out their new website and give their Facebook page a like!

http://steelheadu.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Steelhead-University/651083741685788?fref=photo

Now, for fishing! I have actually been fishing quite a bit the past few weeks, but since we’ve moved into our new house, I haven’t had internet hooked up! But I’m up and running, moved in and settled down, and………I’m graduating school this week! I couldn’t be happier about getting my life back and having time again to write more articles!

The past few weeks, we’ve been heading to Barrier Damn on the Cowlitz and I actually really struggled out there on the island because it’s so deep hip-deep on me) and you’re casting really, really far. If you don’t make the cast, you almost aren’t even fishing where the fish are. So, with the low water this spring, it’s actually been to my benefit! I’ve been finally getting springers out there again!

We went crabbing this last weekend and let me tell you, what was supposed to be an easy day, ended up being pretty torturous. We thought we would just catch the 7 AM high slack tide and crab for just a few hours, maybe 3 sets. We did our first pull and had 2 dungees and 3 rock crab. Great! If every pull was like this, we’ll be limited in no time!

So…..We set when low tide started moving out and we had about 100 extra feet of line so we figured, no big deal if the tide is moving fast, we’ll have the extra line to keep the buoys afloat…..Wrong! We watched our buoys go under and thought, well, we’ll probably see them again in an hour. Since we planned on only being on the water for a few hours, we brought no food or water for the entire day.

4 hours later, we finally see on of our buoys. We have been sitting tied up to a post for hours baking in the sun with no food or water. It took another hour for the other 3 buoys to appear and we were ready to get the heck out of there! It was 3 PM and I envisioned myself eating crab soaked in butter after a 2 hour nap by this time. It was low slack and we could see that close to the launch, there was almost no water. Good thing we have a jet! Again, WRONG!

We beached ourselves…..I waded back to the launch, ruined by favorite white chucks, got lost trying to get gas and food, and finally made it back just in time for the tide to have come in enough to take the boat out of the water. Did I mention how many crab we got though? 2 dungees and 3 rock. We should have stopped at our first pull. We are burnt to a crisp and hiding inside today. At least we have a few crab to eat! :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graduation and hanging out at Hood Canal next weekend! Hopefully my sunburn heals by then!!!

Birthday trip!!!

Last weekend I hit the Columbia for the extended Saturday with our friends Kari and Derrick while Jeff worked. We survived the largest hurricane known to Washington’s coast (not really, but that’s what it felt like) and managed to get just one bite that didn’t stick. We headed home early to celebrate mine and my stepdad’s birthday with our family! With all of the crazy things going on in my family right now, it was amazing to be able to spend the afternoon just hanging out with everyone with no agenda and everyone laughing!

Sunday, we were ready for some Cowlitz springer action for a trip that we’ve had planned for a few weeks with Kiley and Hillary! We headed up to Barrier Damn and much like last year, Jeff was first to get his limit in just a few casts. Kiley wasn’t far behind with one at first light while Hillary and I struggled to make our casts count and get in the fish zone. I’ve tried several different set ups and I just am not strong enough to make the distance needed be in the fish every cast L I LOVE barrier damn fishing, just not in the areas that require me to cast that far so I might be flying solo the rest of springer season while I watch Jeff limit out across the way.

Hillary finally got a hook up and waist deep in water with 3 people telling her different things to do, her mind must have been ready to explode! She was doing awesome until…..the handle on the reel broke! Snapped right in half! Thankfully the fish was almost in so we carefully walked her back as we tried not to slip in the deep water and get that fish to the net. Of course, it wasn’t as graceful as I make it sound, but there were no more broken fishing parts the rest of the fight, no one fell in, and the fish made it in the net!

 

Hillary’s been hitting the Columbia lately with Brandon Glass from Team Hook Up Guide Service (http://hookupguideservice.com/) who takes right after his dad’s (Jack Glass) incredible fishing talent!

We wanted to show her something a little different than what she was used to (small river steelheading and Big C trolling) so after the morning bite died down, we headed to Blue Creek for some side-drifting action!

She was amazed at the close quarters and population of fishermen, but jumped right in and held her own! Kiley lost about 20 steelhead (I’m kidding, it was one or two) but that was all we got for the day! I didn’t get my birthday fish, but we had a great weekend and went home with 2 springers!

For anyone not on my Facebook page, we had a little more eventful week and purchased our first home! So this weekend we’ll be busy painting but will be back to the river next weekend with our good friends Kelcey and Nick!!

Cowlitz Lemonade

It seems as though I have let life get in the way of fishing again. And when I think about it like that, I tend to obviously think that life events take a precedence over fishing until I get to a burdened point in life and finally realize why. It’s not that fishing should remain more important that life events, but that fishing is my release for life’s lemons and I quickly forget how to make lemonade. Once I realize that the steps to making lemonade include fishing, my life seems to fall back into place.

I’ve gone out here and there over the past month, but my heart was heavy, fishing felt like a chore and I couldn’t take my mind off the things going on at home, and I wasn’t catching which probably contributed to the slump that I was in. I go through this process about 2 times a year and thankful to say that I’m over this one and I was anxious and eager to hit the river bright and early Saturday morning.

We’re in springer mode although the thought of actually putting fish in the boat is always at the top of the list so we hit the Cowlitz to target a bit of springers, but get some blood in the box by targeting steelhead as well. I got out of slump hooked up for about 5 seconds only to be left with a bare hook and a happy steelhead that got away. I did manage to land one which I was quite excited about!

Brothers Jerry and Jason also got into some nice ones!

Sunday I was feeling even better and even more excited. We headed to Blue Creek and first pass, Zack gets a fish on! Second pass, my turn! Well this was a good way to start the day! Shall we try 3 for 3 passes? We unfortunately weren’t so fortunate, but we ended up with 4 in just a couple of short hours before it slowed way down.

Jeff always runs the boat and anyone that knows me, knows how much I hate running the sled. I’m terrified, I’ll row a drift boat all day but the sled creates so much anxiety through my veins, that I cry. It’s expensive, powerful, fast and I don’t want to be the reason something happens to it. Well, Jeff hooked up and when it’s an average or small fish, he stays on the motor and fights the fish, but this time, it was a big, hot steelhead and he immediately ran to the front of boat which left me with the motor. As I try to remain calm, I’m delegating the others on the boat and trying my best to keep the boat around the fish and make it as easy as possible to get this fish in the net so Jeff can regain control of the boat.

Of course it’s not that easy. It was several minutes of shear torture (but no tears this time) as we drifted slowly towards the next corner which had a few ripples which means I might have to actually maneuver around them or lift the motor up. I’m warning Jeff that he better hurry up because I can’t do this and he just wants to patiently land this fish.

Finally! It’s in the net and I immediately go for his rod so he can get the motor. It was a very nice hen full of glorious eggs that will become the next batch of steelhead bait, but I needed a beer after that. It was entirely too much.

My life is still a little bit hectic, but much like running the boat, I’m getting better and better at the things that make me uncomfortable and are unexpected. Once I realize that the ripples aren’t as bad as they look and that I can do this, I am able to remember how to make lemonade :)

A little catch up

I’m finally on spring break so I can do a little catching up on my fishing life! It’s been fairly nonexistent compared to normal which is very disappointing but I passed another quarter of school and still have a job :)

Since we got the sled we’ve tried several times to do the whole, Cowlitz Blue Creek boat full of cookie cutter winter runs. Last year, we went about 6 times and failed every time. We managed to hook ONE for about 2 seconds and that was it for the entire year. Jeff’s been doing some research and trying some new stuff so we hit it up a couple weeks ago when everything else was blown. We didn’t get skunked, but again, we weren’t very successful. It didn’t sound like anyone was very successful so it wasn’t a terrible day. We got one fish and it was a good thing that it was Jeff that hooked it, but it really wasn’t the “Cowlitz” that everyone hears about. This was all I was able to capture of the moment!

We took another week off and got geared up for SPRINGERS! Springers might be my favorite fish to target (and to eat!) mostly because the time of year. It’s finally getting nice out again, we fish the Columbia and Drano lake a lot which is a little more relaxing and easy to take family, and we are just so darn successful on the Cowlitz (as compared to winter run)! Plus, our birthdays are in April and May so we do birthday trips for springers :)

We spent all night Friday night switching our gear, wrapping plugs, and getting the boat ready. We headed down with a truck full of buddies and the sun in the weather forecast. I was so excited I couldn’t even sleep on the way down. And I sleep everywhere. EVERYWHERE: school, work, cars, dinner, everywhere. So for me to not be able to sleep, I had to have been REALLY excited!

We found out spot and set up. Since it’s still a little early, we were anchor fishing Kwikfish. Of course, the boldest colors with the juiciest sardine wraps and all 5 rods were out. We had a great day BBQ’ing, sharing stories, napping (I wasn’t the only one this time), and of course, trying to catch the first springer of the year! We didn’t catch anything, but we did get a pretty cool show from a couple of bored tugboat drivers! They were right across from us obviously killing time, doing donuts, racing, and even a little face off to see who could push who harder.

I even drove the boat! I don’t like driving the sled, especially not in small rivers. It’s big, expensive, and fast. I don’t like going fast in anything and in the sled, if you’re not going fast, you can’t stay on plane and you won’t get very far in a small river. I try to avoid having to drive it at all costs but Jeff insists that I learn. I don’t mind driving it in the big water because there’s really nothing to worry about except seals and logs but at least I practiced! ;)

 

One more week of spring break and a couple fun birthday trips coming up! I’m ready for springers :)