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Drano and Beyond

By on February 19, 2016
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Each week one of the Salmon University experts answers reader questions in our “Ask a Pro” feature. This week’s questions are answered by Tom Nelson. Submit your own question here.


Q: Are there good opportunities for Coho in Hood Canal in February?   Tony

Hi Tony – there are a few local rivers that will have Coho in them, but most of the Coho have already passed into the rivers and are not available in saltwater.   In saltwater the Coho available would be very small and not worth keeping. Better to let them go and grow into adult Coho. There is good fishing for Blackmouth (fin-clipped only) at the North End of Hood Canal (Area 12).

Q: Recently a friend’s grandfather was nice enough to give us an old 13.5-foot Boston Whaler with a newer Merc 20 on it. We were out on it a bunch for fall Coho in Area 10 (Wash.), but generally in flat water. I want to take it down to the Columbia in April-May, but am worried about the size of the boat. Any spots other than Drano you’d recommend for smaller craft? – Frank

Hi Frank- Boston Whalers are stable and good boats, but the Columbia River can have high winds and strong currents. That is one reason Drano is such a popular place. There are a few other sheltered bays up and down the Columbia. You might be better off taking a guided trip during that period and learn the water from a professional before you commit your 13 foot boat to the Columbia. Also you might be interested to know that Josh Hughes, a long-time Columbia River expert, will be teaching “Columbia River Salmon” both days at our saltwater seminar in April.   Here you will gain knowledge not only at his “on stage presentation”, but he will also be available throughout these two days for one-on-one guidance.

Q: We are Floridians who will be camping near Port Hardy in the middle of August. I would like any advice for fly fishing for salmon from a Kayak, and any advice on procurement of barbless hooks. Thanks – Vlad

Hi Vlad – Port Hardy is a wonderful place to fish in August. You need to go no further than the bay right in the front of the town to catch fish. Sockeye, Chinook and early run Coho will be passing through those waters in August. Fish along the kelp beds and I am sure you will find plenty of hook-ups. There are a number of barbless hooks on the market from various companies. However, I would recommend you just pinch the barbs down on your own hooks and these will suffice.   One of the classes we teach at our annual Saltwater Seminar in April is “Fishing Vancouver Island” and Port Hardy is one of the areas we focus on, both in the “on the stage presentation” and one-on-one in the lobby.

Q: If your salmon is frozen, and then you thaw it and smoke it, can you vacuum pack and refreeze it? – Des

Hi Des – yes, you can refreeze it after you have smoked it.

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Tom Nelson is the publisher of salmonuniversity.com. Known throughout the Pacific Northwest as the “Dean of Saltwater Fishing,” he has helped develop and test tackle and gear for Scotty, Pro-Troll and Silver Horde, is a regular speaker at area sports shows, has taught more than 5,000 students how to fish during his classes at western Washington community colleges, and is the co-founder of the Puget Sound Anglers.

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