I recently joined good friend and fishing legend Buzz Ramsey on the Columbia River, near the famed Buoy 10. We were testing the new Salmon Bungee, and found great results. In all we hooked 19 fish, landing 15. The bite was good for both chinook and silvers.
There’s no doubt the Salmon bungee resulted in more hookups, as the softer presentation allows for less resistance when fish strike. As a result, the fish hold on to the bait longer, and if your hooks are sharp enough, there’s no need to even set the hook. This unique device may revolutionize the sport of ocean and fall salmon fishing. I can’t wait to try it while backtrolling Kwikfish.
July and August are prime times for salmon anglers to hit the sea in search of coho and chinook salmon. This 25 pound king was take in early July, 2003 while fishing with good friend and local guide, Pat Sullivan of Sully’s Guide Service 541-915-1493. We were fishing out of Winchester Bay, Oregon, where the action has been red-hot for both silvers and kings.
Trolling hoochies tipped with a strip of sardine works well, as does working plug-cut herring. Both can be fished behind a diver, with a trolling weight or with a flasher off a downrigger. When the silvers are feeding on the surface, try trolling and casting flies to these frenzied fish.
Spring salmon season in the Pacific Northwest is off to a great start. Early arriving fish in big numbers have graced many streams, and anglers are finding high success. While the runs will be winding down in some streams by early June, other rivers are just kicking in.
Into the middle of July anglers can find places throughout the NW to tie into spring chinook. Some 80% of the salmon expected to arrive in the famed Willamette River drainage of Oregon are five salt fish, meaning there should be some monsters taken. Several fish in the upper 40 pound class were taken on the Umpqua River this spring, in what many old timers are calling the best fishing on that river in a quarter-century.
This 28 pound springer was taken while fishing with guide Bob Cobb of Bob Cobb’s Reel Fishing Trips out of Reedsport, Oregon (1-877-552-5452). Cobb is having a great spring and getting his clients on to some magnificent fish. These are also the best eating salmon I’ve had anywhere in the world!
During the last week in May, good friend and fellow professional outdoorsman Jim Van Norman, and I found ourselves north of Alberta, Canada. We were hunting with noted outfitter Ryk Visscher, of Ryk Visscher’s Hunting Safaris (780-462-6611), www.ryk.ca. Visscher maintains quality spring bear camps, has excellent guides and caters to bow hunters.
On this hunt, Jim and I were filming a TV episode for Outdoor America, on behalf of Sims Vibration Laboratories. Jim and I ended up arrowing good bears, both of which were caught on film. I took a second bear with a muzzleloader. The hunting was done over bait, from tree stands. While trying to film, Jim had a sow climb the tree he was in, sniffing his boots from 4 feet away.
Jim and I had 16 bait stations to choose from which to hunt, and had some good bears come in during the course of the week. Jim’s bear missed the P&Y book by less than a half-inch. For the season, Visscher had 43 hunters take 51 bears, 9 of which were of varied color phase. If you’re looking for a great spring bear hunt, one where you and a group of friends can hang out, enjoy a comfortable camp and see lots of bears, give Ryk a call.
Given the warm fall weather, bandtail pigeons stuck around their summer habitats a bit longer than normal. Though the 2003 Oregon bag limit on these birds was only two per day, my dad and I got into some excellent shooting during the last week of the season.
By taking advantage of traditional watering holes, we were able to be in key position for some good shooting. We’ve also had excellent shooting in past years by focusing our efforts on food sources and daily migration routes along ridgelines. Too bad the season is so short and the bag limit so minimal, as these are great birds to hunt, and they make good table fair.
With coyote populations booming throughout much of the west, archers have a good shot at scoring on these crafty canines. This big dog was taken in the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade mountains. He was called in using a combination of fawn bawls and rabbit distress sounds.
An electronic calling system is ideal for bowhunters targeting coyotes, and the Foxpro System is the best I’ve seen. It has 32 calls programed into it, which are controlled with a handheld remote. To inquire about these state of the art calls, contact Foxpro Systems in PA, at 717-248-2507. They can program in your desired calls, to fit the geographic area in which you hunt.
Whether you craft your own or purchase one, a decoy is also effective in diverting the attention of approaching coyotes. Feather Flex makes a line of decoys that have proven effective, and the Rigor Rabbit is by far the most popular. To learn more about these decoys, call Outland Sports in MO, at 800-922-9034 and request customer service.
Eastern Oregon jack rabbit hunting can be good if you know where to go. Though their numbers are not what they once were, there are scattered pockets around the state that hold impressive densities of these varmints.
Because they do a vast amount of damage to alfalfa crops, land owners are eager to help keep their numbers under control. You can either hunt the alfalfa fields by day or by night, as long as you’re on private land. In Oregon, spotlights for rabbits can only be use on private land.
Early summer is prime time when it comes to hitting largemouth bass in the Pacific Northwest. As waters begin to warm and fish enter the spawning phase, the fishing can be exceptional.
In early June I fished a noted bass lake in the central Oregon desert with noted bass guru Steve Fleming of Mah-Hah Outfitters out of Fossil, Ore. (1-888-624-9424). Fleming specializes in John Day River smallmouth, but has access to one of the areas best largemouth lakes. Bass up to 8 pounds are taken from this lake.
We fished all hours of the day, throwing topwater plugs, spinner baits, crawling plastics along the bottom, and even fished at night. All methods were productive, yet there’s just something hearing a bucketmouth slurping a surface plug under a moonlit night.
Early summer is a prime time to get out and hone your shooting skills on marmots. At this time, adults as well as pups can be found soaking up the early morning sun on rocky outcroppings, offering excellent shooting opportunities.
They can also be seen scurrying around the local food sources. At times, long shots are the rule, as there’s virtually no way of approaching within a couple hundred yards of these sharp-eye varmints. Not only are these excellent animals to sharpen your long range shooting skills on, but they allow you to test out field loads and put your stalking skills on the line. The marmots in these photos were taken in southcentral Oregon, just north of Klamath Falls.
One of the best forms of shooting practice, be it with bow or rifle, is on live game. The tough part can be finding enough game to shoot at. Not so when it comes to the Belding’s ground squirrel, or sage rat as they are commonly known.
Throughout eastern WA, OR, CA and into other Western states, the sage rat is a menace on alfalfa crops, and land owners are eager to get rid of them. Rifle hunters can expect to burn a minimum of 500 round a day, with 2,000 round spent from one position not uncommon.
For the archer, these little squirrels provide more action than you can physically withstand. They are also excellent for long range shooting practice.
On a recent hunt out of Crane, OR, I threw arrows until my body could no longer hold steady, and all from one spot. To book a high-volume sage rat shoot, call Justin Aamodt of Diamond A Guides in Burns, OR at 541-573-6080. Aamodt has access to some of the best land in the state, and can get you into outstanding shooting.
On Oct. 16 this 150 class Saskatchewan whitetail came within 60 yards of the tree stand, and fell to a single shot from my CVA Hunterbolt rifle shooting a 295 grain PowerBelt bullet. In 7 days I saw 5 bucks in the 170-200 B&C class, and not one other hunter. Rifle season is closed in mid-October, open only to bow and muzzleloaders.
I was hunting with outfitter Elliott Maduck, four hours north of Regina. Elliott and his father have been guiding hunters in this area for over 30 years, and the caliber of bucks they get on is astounding. For hunters looking to score on a monster buck prior to the rut, this is one of the best kept secrets in the whitetail world. When you’ve tagged out, the coyote, goose and grouse hunting is superb. For more information on this world-class hunting opportunity, give Elliott a call, toll-free, at 1-888-339-4219. He can also arrange all your travel.
Elliott’s father, Ken Maduck, offers incredible spring bear hunts and far-north fishing, log on to campgrayling.ca to learn more.
This buck was taken on film with Outdoor America and will debut on the Outdoor Channel in the spring of 2004.
During the first week of May, a group of friends and I went to Alaska’s famed Situk River. Alaska’s premier steelhead stream, it was more than I’d ever dreamed of. Seeing schools of 200-300 steelhead, several in the 18-25 pound class, not uncommon. But due to record low water conditions, the fishing was very tough.
Though we’d all brought enough gear to outfit everyone else on the river, the only approach we had luck with was drifting Glo-Bugs on a nine foot leader beneath a floating fly line. Due to the unusually clear water, many anglers were resorting to 8 and even 6 pound leader. Holding a trophy fish on this light of line is nearly impossible. Instead, we went with P-Line’s 15 pound fluorocarbon and didn’t see any fish being spooked. In 4 days of fishing we hooked over 75 fish, the one pictured here being the biggest we landed, at 16 pounds. We did lose a few approaching the 20 pound class.
We also had a great day on the ocean, landing 6 halibut, 4 of which were over 100 pounds — 158 pounds being the largest. We stayed at Glacier Bear Lodge, about halfway between the airport and town. They arranged drift boats and pointed us to the best bank fishing holes on the river. To learn more about this world-class fishery, contact Martha Donohue at Glacier Bear Lodge, 1-866-425-6343.
Backbouncing for sturgeon is a new concept, first introduced to me by noted Columbia River guide Dan Ponciano (360-573-7211). Applying specialized backbouncing techniques, Ponciano has been having excellent success on keeper sturgeon and oversized fish. For anglers who enjoy taking an active approach to their sturgeon fishing, this is the way to go.
With an autopilot installed in the motor, the boat guides itself downstream while anglers have their hands free to fish. This is a must in big water like the Columbia, where deep, swift stretches require dedicated effort to work a 16 ounce lead ball and a three pound shad downstream. In shallow, slow flowing conditions, one ounce of lead and a whole anchovy may be all you need to nail some keep size fish.
This technique is also proven in slower moving water, against tidal fluctuations and in estuaries. Anywhere there is a current, you can backbounce for sturgeon. If the bite is slow, backbounce your way to the fish.
Calling coyotes in early summer is one of the toughest challenges faced by predator hunters. Combine this with often tough-to-find badgers and the hunt becomes even more difficult. But it’s the challenges of this sport that make it so addicting.
In the mid-June, I had the good fortune to spend a few days in the field with Burns, Oregon guide Justin Aamodt (541-573-6080). Putting to use the digital Foxpro calling system, we came away with a coyote and two badgers. The coyote responded to a male challenge call while the badgers went crazy over the flicker call.
This time of year, putting yourself in the right habitat is key to success. Aamodt has access to tens of thousands of acres of private land, a real hunter’s paradise, situated in the heart of Oregon’s best predator country.
Given the cold, wet, dreary days since the start of Oregon’s 2003 turkey season, the results have been slow in coming. By the 12th day of the season last spring I’d brought two dozen birds to the call and decoys. This year in that same number of days, 4 toms have come in.
Many hens went to nest early this year, during the record high temperatures we experienced in February. As a result of natural factors beyond human control, it’s been tough getting toms to respond like usual. Nevertheless, keep trying new approaches and applying different strategies, for it will make success that much sweeter when it comes.
For the opening day of the Wyoming elk season, good friends Tom Buller and Bob Wells, both of Cody, and myself packed 22 miles into the wilderness area. Intent on arriving a day early to scout, we had so many bulls bugling around us, we didn’t leave camp all day long. Opening day was the best hunting any of us had experienced in our entire lives.
In all we called in 16 bulls, one being a 5 point, the rest 6 and 7 points. We had a 340 class bull charge to within 10 yards, and I botched the shot at 20 yards as he paused to check out Bob’s cow calling. Minutes later I found myself at full draw on a 370 class bull, but never had a clear shot.
Bob then called in two bulls to one site. He arrowed his 300 class bull and five minutes later my P&Y 6×6 was on the ground. The next day, while butchering our bulls, we called in a bull which had been bugling in an adjacent ravine. Tom barley had time to grab a bow and get ready as the hot bull responded to Bob’s cow calls. Tom shot the 330 bull at 16 yards. All three bulls dropped within 300 yards of one another. It was the best hunt of our lives!