General Tso’s Ling Cod


I don’t think of myself as being a superstitious person.  I know fishermen are renowned for being so, but I consider myself a bit more reasoned.
Take the famous superstition of bananas being bad luck on a boat as an example.  I have always considered that to be complete hogwash.  The fact that I have never brought, or allowed anyone else to bring bananas on board my boat, is immaterial to my point.

Buck & Tina with the two lings that were caught by the three of us who were fishing opening day.

And there was that one slow day of salmon fishing we had some time ago, when Buck and I noticed that a number of the guys we saw bringing in fish on other boats, happened to be wearing red shirts.  The fact that we both showed up to the marina the next morning wearing red t-shirts, was a complete coincidence.  And the limits we took home that day was entirely due to our skills as anglers, and was not at all related to the color of the Hanes we were wearing that day, or every fishing day for the rest of the season.

That’s why, when I personally had slow start to this year’s ling cod season, I used my brain and took a methodical approach to improve my results.  I knew the problem wasn’t location, bait, or presentation, because while I had no luck on the first couple trips, the other people on my boat were catching. Continue reading General Tso’s Ling Cod

Easy Chowder Base

It’s soup season, and I have an easy little kitchen hack (yeah, I hate me for using that word too) for making a chowder base.  It’s an old hotel kitchen trick for prepping several soups while doing the work of just one.
The idea is that you make up a batch of the base.  You divide it into containers that you can chill and/or freeze.  Later you combine some of the base with basically any seafood you want, and some cream.  Cook it for just a few minutes, and soups on.
Check out the video, for a step by step rundown.  No exact measurements on this recipe.  Just some of this, and a little of that … the way most great food is made.

Calamari Party

Squidding this season has been REE-diculous.  They showed up earlier than usual, in crazy numbers, and they appear to this angler to be of larger average size than we’ve seen in recent years.

The Schnazzy Brite 3000

They are everywhere right now.  My personal favorite spot has been the Seacrest pier in West Seattle, but that’s primarily because it’s so convenient to my work kitchen.  They’re being caught at the Seattle downtown waterfront, down south in Tacoma they’re cleaning up.  Up north in Edmonds guys are filling their buckets.  Pretty much any well lit pier in the Sound is squid territory right now.

I got all schnazzy this year, and put a portable light rig together.  It’s simply a car battery, with power inverter (you can find them at Home Depot next to where they have the car batteries) and a couple of bright LED work lights, all strapped to a hand truck.

If you’ve checked out any of the squidding spots, you’ll know that squid fishing is particularly popular with the Asian community.  These guys know their shit, too.  They have their squidding game dialed in, and really haul ‘em in.  It’s pretty obvious when you’re the clueless cracker amongst these guys, trying to figure out how to catch them.  I owe a lot of these guys thanks for …. tolerating me, sidling up to their lights, and trying to get in on their action.
Once you have your own light rig though, that attitude of tolerance quickly becomes welcoming.  “Right this way sir.”  “There’s an open spot right here, sir.”  “May I get you a hot towel, and some chamomile tea?”   Continue reading Calamari Party

Albacore Tuna

Yeah, I spared you a picture of me this time.  That’s Captain Mark holding that albacore in the photo above.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or following my FaceBook page, you’ve doubtlessly heard me talking about fishing with him.

I first met him after I asked on a local online angling forum for guide recommendations.  I got a number of suggestions, but a solid 80% of the responses threw out Mark Coleman’s name.  From the way he was described, I was picturing a grizzled fishing veteran that looked like this:

I admit to being a little taken back when this guy rolled up who looked like he could have been the cover photo of a Fortune magazine article titled 25 Young Entrepreneurs to Watch.  Nonetheless, this “kid” has more than proved, repeatedly, he knows how to boat fish.

My buddies and I have been making an annual albacore tuna fishing trip on one of Mark’s boats for a few years now.   It’s become a favorite tradition.

This isn’t one of those party boats where you board in the evening, sleep overnight on the boat while it moseys to the tuna grounds, fish all the next day, then sleep on the boat again while it makes the slow overnight crawl home.

Live well full of anchovies. We’re going to use these little pieces of meat to catch big pieces of meat.

On these trips, you spend the night before having cocktails at the bar like a civilized adult. You board the boat in the morning, slightly hung-over, as God intended, load up on live anchovies, and then take a 90 minute-ish cruise to the tuna grounds.
Once you reach the fish, trolling lines get put out and lures get pulled behind boat at near waterskiing speed.   It usually doesn’t take long before one of the lines gets bit, and then IT’S ON!

When you’ve found one fish, you’ve found a school.  That means it’s time for a “bait stop”. While one angler is bringing in the one that hit the troll rod, the engines are shut off, the other troll lines are brought in, and it’s time to put the bait lines out.  And that’s when things get crazy. Continue reading Albacore Tuna

Into the Pink

Once every two years, a remarkable angling event happens here in the Pacific Northwest. Pink, or “humpie” salmon make their bi-annual return to our waters, in numbers between 6 and 8 million.  You heard me right, that’s million with an “illion”.  It’s like a freakin’ Egyptian biblical plague of pink salmon around here.  Only these plague beasts taste great smoked, and readily bite on pink lures.
Yep, their name is pink, their flesh is pink, and they have a fondness for pink lures.  They’re like the Paris Hilton of sport fish. Continue reading Into the Pink

Crab Sour Cream Enchiladas

One of the great things about crab is how versatile it is.  It’s great just steamed and eaten out of the shell.  If you’re feeling schnazzy, you can dip it in garlic butter or aioli.  A simple chilled crab cocktail is delicious.  Of course, there are crab cakes and stuffed mushrooms; its great on salads and in pasta dishes.  Unlike most seafood, it marries well with cheese and dairy…. Continue reading Crab Sour Cream Enchiladas

Skagit River Sockeye Salmon

It feels like I’m going back to the beginning this time around.  My very first post about salmon was on sockeye from the Skagit River.   Now it’s a few years later, I’m a little more seasoned, a little more skilled, and I’ve got even more of that Clooney-esque distinguished charm going on.

So I had a confident swagger when I walked up to my usual fishing spot on the Skagit river this season and saw that …. everything was different.
Usually at this time of year, we have high water due to the mountain snow melt.   This  winter though, it was so warm that, well, we basically had no winter.   No winter equals no mountain snowpack, and that means that this year  …. Let’s contrast & compare, shall we? Continue reading Skagit River Sockeye Salmon

10 tactics to help prevent losing that fish

It’s always going to happen.  It’s part of fishing.
There’s always going to be the ones that get away.

Around here, conversations with other fishermen we encounter often go like this.
“How did you do today?”
“Not bad, we went six for ten.”    Or, “6/10″ if we’re texting, emailing, or whatever.

That gives a quick picture of how the day went.  We had ten fish on the line, and landed six of them.  That sums up how we did on our two main tasks.  Getting fish to bite, and landing them once they do.

6/10 isn’t a bad day, at least when salmon fishing. Still, those ones that got away always chap the behind, don’t they?

You’re always going to have some fish spit the hook on you.  It’s part of the challenge, and part of the frustration.  Learning to play and land fish is a very large part of becoming a better fisherman.  So here are ten top tips for getting that fish from the strike to the net. Continue reading 10 tactics to help prevent losing that fish