Astoria 2013

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    Jack Etling
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    My wife and I took our good friends, Mike and Alisa down to Astoria over Labor Day for the second year in a row. This time, we fished the Tongue point area since the Bouy 10 zone was closed to unclipped Chinook. Though I knew we would do very well fishing my usual haunts around the bridge, with my entire crew, minus myself being novice fisherman, I couldn’t bear the thought of someone having to release a big bright Chinook, when there is equally good fishing (albeit more crowded) to be had just a few miles upriver.

    Being my first experience up there it took about an hour or two to get dialed in with the program but the multitude of unmistakable arches on the graph made it pretty obvious where I needed to be. The fish were down deep, pushing in on the remnants of cool ocean water on the incoming tide. After a late start, we found our first biter at 9:00am, Alisa scored a 20# Chinook to get us on the board, then Mike and my wife each got a Jack (killing up to 5 Jacks a day is another nice bonus up here). Then we had a short lull during the tide change. once it started to run again, I steered the boat west and soon the point side rod got slammed—HARD!. It nearly busted my Folbe as when I got to the rod, the holder sat at 45 degrees, when it started at 90. I set the hook and handed it off to my wife. It was pretty obvious that this fish was big so I grabbed the nearest rod and started cranking it in as fast as I could when-WHACK!! something grabbed it and took off!. I shouted something like “Holy crap, we got a double!” Mike and Alisa each cleared a rod and grabbed the net. It was somewhat fortunate that my fish was smallish and cooperative, as we landed it quickly and tagged it meanwhile Karissa was still fighting hers. once near the boat the fish would seemingly tease us by surfacing just out of net range then dive deep underneath the boat. after several close calls, the fish was subdued and brought aboard, After 10 years of marriage I had finally put my wife on a Chinook! she had caught seveal steelhead and even a Coho, but never a Chinook. and it would figure that her first would be nearly 30 pounds!

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    We got the gear back in the water with needing just one more Chinook to round out our limits but 2 passes resulted in 3 hookups and 3 lost fish for Mike. By this time it was 2:00 and we needed to clean fish and settle in at camp. Once all this was accomplished, we hit the pizza bar at Fultano’s in Warrenton, which I highly recommend! no waiting, just great pizza and drinks, which really hit the spot. I don’t hardly eat when I captain, as there’s just too much going on.

    Day 2 saw a myriad of bone-headed plays by the captain, which I’m still just not ready to go into detail about. not the least of which was that I left the killer Herring I brought from home get warm, and had to settle for Fred Meyer bought green labels, which I think were too small, and definitely too mushy to stay on the hook. they would strip off after 5 minutes of fishing. So I had to get innovative and rig them whole, which I hadn’t don’t in years so I found it tough to get a consistent roll, but at least it spun. the bite was hot, but I just couldn’t get us on the fish. By 11:00 we had just one Jack and a drive-by. Finally Mike Connected with a beautiful 18# bright and we could all head home with a fish for the trip.

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    I played around with a few things to combat the Barbless hook rule and the sometimes crappy conversion rate that it can produce, so I thought I’d share them.

    -The “Power-Set”. After the first few tugs, the fish will turn on the bait and begin swimming in the opposite direction. At soon as this happens I would rev the throttle up to about half power. This will reduce the line angle and help bury the hooks, especially in the deep water we fished here (40-50′)

    -Triple hook Moochers. From went with my standard 3/0 front, 4/0 back, but left a 2/0 stinger trailing two finger widths behind the 4/0. every fish hooked on this rig had both the 4/0 and 2/0 pinned firmly in its mouth. Only one fish was lost on the triple rigs in 2 days of trail. more testing is needed, but I like the early results.

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