Thanks for the opportunity to share a little bit about our fishing experience. Fishing and spending time on the water has been a really favorite activity for our family. One of the best things is just the shared times with family and friends. Sometimes it means a really early morning, or some extra clean up time, but it’s been something we shared with our boys from the time they were young to now when they are adults. So many special memories have been made and we know we are blessed to enjoy something not everyone gets the chance to experience.
Where do you do your fishing?
We do most of our fishing in Puget Sound between Everett and Seattle mostly for salmon. We have recently tried a little bit of fishing for sole/flounder in some bays along Camano Island.
We focus on area 10 between Kingston to Shilshole.
What do you fish for?
We are mostly fishing for salmon. The Coho and king fishing can be good in area 10. As well, the pink salmon that run in the odd years are very fun to catch. We have really enjoyed fishing for the sockeye on Lake Wenatchee over the years also. Besides hook and line fishing, we enjoy putting shrimp and crab pots out when those seasons are open.
Because we are originally from the Midwest, we also have done some fishing for walleye in central and eastern WA on the lakes and rivers. Occasionally, to have a bit more fun and fast action for younger kids, we have also fished for perch on Lake Washington.
Not including rod and reel, what are your favorite pieces of gear?
Scotty 2106 downriggers are really a huge benefit when doing the salmon fishing. These are great high speed units. We also have the Scotty ‘orca’ rod holders; they are great because they are very secure. Any crew and/or guest can grab out of the holder with ease, even the younger kids you might have on board. When working on crab or shrimp pots, having an electric pot puller is a must have. We have a Scotty pot puller that works well.
How did you get into fishing?
My grandpa probably more than anyone got me started. For Sarah, she grew up fishing with her dad and brothers, primarily for walleye. We fished the lakes of MN before moving to the pacific northwest. When we moved to the PNW, Sarah’s uncle showed us a lot about fishing for salmon and shellfish in this area. He has been a great fishing buddy!
Who do you usually go fishing with?
Sarah’s uncle has been an avid fisherman and always a good partner. Together, we often took my two sons. Sarah also enjoys going when she can and as our boys have become more independent adults, she has taken over their seat in the boat. She does a lot more navigating the boat and can run the gear, but she still doesn’t bait her hook or clean the fish. Ha!
What do you enjoy about fishing?
It is such a privilege to be able to enjoy this sport. To be out on the water, working the gear and learning as you go, with anticipation to hopefully bring in some fish is very satisfying. Some of the best moments involve having kids along who continue to see the wonder in what you lift up from the shellfish pots or get excited to reel in a fish! The opportunity to catch a sunrise, maybe see a whale (from an appropriate distance!), spend time with friends and family and be able to share that time is something we are so blessed to do. We never take any of it for granted.
One of the videos we did when we took a young family fishing for pink salmon was awesome. These kids were having a great time and we have loved every minute -- https://youtu.be/xqkGpWxKim8
Any good “fight stories” come to mind?
Early in the 2020 salmon season, before the season for kings were open, we were fishing for coho when we hooked into a real fighter. I figured it must be a king and I handed off the pole to Sarah. She fought it while it peeled out line. It was the first time she actually felt some fatigue by the time she was finally able to get it to the boat. We could see it was a king so were careful to (sadly) release it.
I was also with a couple guys fishing off the coast of Canada in 2019 chasing some halibut. I hooked into a blue fin shark that put up quite a fight! In the process, the shark cut off two other fishing lines along with the downrigger scent bag. After getting the shark released, we continued fishing. You can’t imagine how shocked we were when I actually snagged into a bunch of the gear that was previously lost and were able to retrieve everything!
We have lots of great stories from sockeye fishing on Lake Wenatchee. From some GoPro footage a few years ago, we made several videos and here’s a link to one of the good times with our family from 2014.
What type of:
Rod: Medium action downrigger poles. From 9 to 9.5 foot. We have other ‘softer’ rods we’ve used, but the medium action allow kids to keep the fish on better (especially due to the barbless hook rules).
Reels: The reel needs to have a really good drag and you especially want to have a line-counter on it.
Line: Because we use the same rod and reels for the Sound as well as Lake Wenatchee, we run a little lighter than some people at 20 lbs main line. Leaders are 25-30 lb.
Terminal Tackle: We use 11 inch flashers. Any color as long as it’s green (ha!). We do a lot of squids, with a double hook setup. On Lake Wenatchee, we run a herring (8”) dodger with 10 inch leaders and bare double hooks, barbless. No bait or scent is allowed (and it’s not needed).
What’s the biggest fish you’ve caught?
The Blue shark caught up off of Victoria Island was the largest, although not intended. I also caught a 50 lb halibut out from Neah Bay.
Once you haul them in, do you have any cooking tips/recipes/smoking/grilling tips?
We have a simple dry brine for smoking salmon. There is so much variation on smokers so some learning is to be expected.
There are lots of ways to grill salmon so instead we will share a couple recipes that are a bit less traditional… including one for a ‘blackened’ salmon recipe that has become a favorite.
When it comes to cooking/grilling salmon our main tip is to think hot and fast is usually best. Often at 400-425 degrees, 10-12 min is all it takes.
Salmon Candy (dry brine mix)
Mix ingredients together. Then place fish chunks in a covered pan, skin down. Put about 1/8 inch of dry mix on top of each piece. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. The dry mix will make its own brine. Rinse the fish under cold water and let air dry for 1 hour. If desired, dust the fish pieces ever so lightly with Lawry’s season salt and garlic powder while they are air drying (I don’t always do). We smoke on a pellet grill for about 3 hours at about 150 degrees. With the variability of smokers out there, each person will have to decide the level of firmness you want.
Blackened Salmon w Citrus Salsa
Skin the salmon if it isn’t already. Make the salsa by mixing the honey and juice together then adding the rest of the ingredients. Set aside in the fridge. Mix all the dry ingredients in a flat-bottomed bowl. Dredge the salmon fillets in the dry mix and coat very well on both sides by patting the mix on to the fish if necessary to give a full coating. Heat a skillet on medium heat. Leave the pan DRY. No oil. Fry the fillets on each side about 5-8 minutes depending on how thick they are. Serve with the salsa on top.
Creamy Garlic Butter Tuscan Salmon