spring chinook

One More Drano Trip

We decided to make one more trip down to Drano because the week before, we really only got one good day of fishing and the damn counts were great. Again, we experienced what Jeff calls “The Drano Slump” where we make this big trip only to find out the fish want something else, there aren’t any fish, or we seem to be the only ones who can’t get a bite.

Our friends Kari and Derrick headed with us and it was Kari’s first Drano experience. We got to the launch early enough to be fishing in the dark and we felt confident! We watched a few other boats hook up, mostly on Superbaits/pro-trolls, and a couple on plugs. Following exactly what worked for us the weekend prior, we waited for our turn! We waited and waited and waited. We started the journey over trying to figure out what the fish wanted, speed, presentation, scent, bait or no bait, depth, and we had 2 pole endorsements so we had a boat full of rods out!

We finally got 2 fish near the end of the day and missed 2 others with a new captain on the motor! We decided that pretending to not know what you are doing is all the fish really want! We set out Sunday in hopes for better fishing and a little more wind than Saturday. We got what we asked for as far as wind goes and the fishing was okay.

We fished until 1PM to make the long drive home and we got 2 fish my mid morning. One on a plug and one on a Watermelon Superbait behind a Pro-Troll Flasher. We got a couple new plug rods a few months ago that have yet to be broken in with fish so we were excited to see that one get the plug fish! It was the IMX 1021-2cs which is rated 10-20lb 8’6″. The IMX blank makes it great for small plugs by allowing the plug to work more freely but but it’s still got the backbone for big king plugs and fish! It’s pretty cool to see the rod working all the way through the butt.

Taking my first CPA exam this Friday so this is what I spent a good portion of my time in the boat doing. Wish me luck!!

 

Jeff’s Birthday Trip

Jeff’s annual birthday trip to Drano Lake was a success! I won’t lie and tell you that the fishing was fantastic, because it wasn’t. We started fishing Drano several years ago and we fell in love. His parents started joining to celebrate his birthday and it’s now an annual trip. We’ve made some great friendships over the years and each time we go back, we add new friends and share laughs with those that we only get to see once a year. When you spend every daylight hour in a tiny little lake with the same people, you’re bound to share a few laughs (and beers) with fellow anglers.

 

We came home with 8 fish over a 3 day period and went a solid 24 hours of fishing without a single bite and didn’t hear of a single boat limiting either of those days. We finally dialed in our Superbaits and the fish made it to the lake and ended up with a few for the box.

It was a grind, both mentally and physically, but I got my studying done and we ended up with the highest class of springers there is! This is the stuff we dream of filling our freezers with! We tried about everything you could imagine on Saturday ranging from Brad’s Superbaits behind a Pro-Troll flasher, prawn spinners, herring, died herring, plugs, Wigglers, you name it. Sunday night we finally got our first fish with Captain Gordon (Jeff’s dad) on the motor. It was complete chaos but there was so much joy and excitement. We weren’t getting skunked!!!! We got another that night just as the daylight faded away and were the last boat in the lake. there was a bit of drinking involved and we made some of our best memories :)

It took a while, but we made more friends, saw old friends, and laughed a lot. Monday Jeff’s parents left for home early and it was just the 3 of us. We relaxed, napped, laughed more, got a little sunburnt, and most importantly, CAUGHT FISH! Our time had come and we were finally the boat that kept getting bites! Almost all of our fish were caught on Brad’s Superbaits stuffed full of smelly goodness. In a fishery that we only go to once or twice a weekend, it took a while, but we finally dialed in the right speed, weight, size, scent, etc.

I finally got my first springer of the year and hopefully got rid of this depressed state that I’ve been in for the past month spending countless hours fishing only to hear “you should have been here yesterday”. Drano Lake holds a very special place to Jeff and it’s a continued challenge that he enjoys trying to master from several hours away. It’s a trip that we spend months preparing for and make some of our favorite memories. We just may make it back there this weekend with the damn counts finally on the rise :)

 

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!!!

First springer trip!!

We finally made the official first springer trip and were quite successful! We ventured down to the Columbia for the last scheduled weekend that it was open in hopes to bring home some quality dinner. We started out on anchor with sardine wrapped plugs while the tide moved out.

We saw a couple fish on first thing in the morning but didn’t get our first fish until about 11 AM. It was biting for a few seconds and the rod was loaded, but in our boat, you don’t touch it until the reel is peeling line. It wasn’t peeling line but man it sure looked like it was on there good so we picked it up and….NOTHING! We didn’t get anything else on plugs that morning, but when the tide came back in and slacked out, we decided to pick up and troll herring behind flashers. We go one within 15 seconds of the rods being out and it was my step dad’s rod! He did great fighting it and it was extremely exciting to see him land his first springer!

We ran back up and got hit again! This time it was my co-worker and it was his first time out with us. He had a hot little fish that took several runs and dipped and tucked under the boat weaving from one side to the other! He thankfully landed it and we were feeling great with 2 upper river brights in the box!

 

I was glad that the two people that don’t get out with us were the ones to get the fish, but I really wanted one. It’s just always so much pressure to get the first one and then it’s all fun for the rest of the season.

So the next day we headed back down to the Columbia for some Easter morning fishing! We didn’t have any plugs wrapped to start the day so after we got 4 rods out, I spent the morning wrapping 20 more plugs to switch out. I wasn’t thrilled about that because I knew that if I was looking down with my hands full, I wasn’t going to be the one to see a rod get hit which meant I wasn’t going to be the one to get a fish. I watched 3 rods get hit while I was busy keeping them baited up. We got one hatchery and 2 wild fish and I was obviously irritated.

Jeff thankfully announced that the next fish is mine since everyone else already had their turn. Again, at high slack tide we pulled anchor and began to troll. Again, I was dealing with the plugs and was cutting off all of those beautiful wraps because we wouldn’t be using them again for at least a week. Sure enough, a rod goes off and my hands are full! We unfortunately lost that one which only added to my discouragement because I know (I say that) if I was fighting that one, I wouldn’t have lost it. We ran back and made another pass and sure enough, the same rod goes off but this time, we announced it was my turn!

I was kind of happy to have gotten this one, although it was smaller than all the others we got this weekend, it was definitely the best fighting. Stripped me out 130 feet upriver all on the surface. It was pretty awesome to watch it run on top of the water like that, but even more nerve wracking. Once we finally landed it I was happy to finally have the first one of the season out of the way!

Next weekend is my birthday weekend and the Columbia is still set to close so maybe a little drift boat action or back to the good ‘ol Cowlitz!