This morning started off a little different from my normal fishing trips, and is the second of my quest for Five Fishing Trips in 10 Days.
First off we weren’t in any rush to hit the water first, and I along with my sons Taylan and Tegan met Eric Tomita of Mercer Island at his house around 6 a.m. to load up the boat for our trip on Lake Washington in search of cutthroat trout.
We arrived at the Mercer Island East Channel boat ramp around 6:30 a.m., and some of the early rising wakeboarders and waterskiers were well ahead of us.
In fact, one young girl in a wetsuit and wakeboard in hand waited at the end of the dock for her ride.
We got the boat launched and headed north toward the 520 Bridge by 7 a.m.
Our plan was to start on the southwest side along the no wake buoy lines. Eric got our four lines down on the downriggers at varying depths from 40 to 55 feet.
On one side we had two poles out with pop gear trailed by a Wedding Ring with a piece of worm. On the others we had two small Rapala like plugs laced with scent.
We headed south in water about 90 to 100 feet deep near Bill Gates house [OK mega mansion] with no luck, so we decided to turn north and troll alongside the bridge heading in a westward direction.
It was one of those beautiful days where the water was flat calm and the sun was already allowing us to take off layers of clothing.
At around 8 a.m. one of the shallower lines vibrated like something was hooked and had been doing it for quite some time so we pulled it from the downrigger clip, and had my youngest son Tegan reel it up. Once it reached the surface a small trout of about 12 inches was tugging on the end and we had our first fish of the day.
In a matter of a few minutes after setting the pop gear back down, the rear pole released from the clip and we had our second fish of the morning tugging.
This one was a little bigger and I gave the pole over to Taylan who fought the fish to the surface. He got the fish up to the top and then we netted our first cutthroat that measured out about 15 inches.
We continued our troll pattern around the mid way point of the south side of the bridge when the small plug pole flipped off the clip, and it was again “Fish On!”
Taylan grabbed the pole from Eric, and took control of the reel.
Finally, it was what we had been waiting for as it surfaced it made a few strong runs around the back of the boat, and jumped on the water’s surface before he managed to bring it close enough for Eric to net.
The big cutthroat had the telltale signs of the streaked orange color lines below the jaw line, and this one measured out at 21 inches.
The bite continued to be fast and furious when the deep set pole with the wedding ring unhooked off the clip. Taylan again took control of the reel and this fish from about 50 feet behind the boat came right up to the surface and leaped into the air twice and made a few strong runs away from the boat.
This one also dove and made some twisting motions behind the boat and when it got close enough we noticed this was a big fat sockeye salmon that easily weighed 6 or 7 pounds.
The fish was mint bright and looked as if it had just made its way up from the Ballard Locks hours before being hooked.
We commented about how strange it was to hook a sockeye on pop gear with a Wedding Gear laced with a worm.
I guess the flash of the gear got its attention. We quickly got it to the side of the boat and released unharmed as it flipped and headed back into the deep water.
Then came our fourth hook up on the pop gear side and this fish too made a couple of leaps on the surface as I brought it closer to the boat.
“Another sockeye,” Eric commented, and I agreed as I continued to reel the fish closer to the boat.
Then to our surprise just was we prepared to unhook the fish we noticed this was no sockeye but another nice cutthroat trout. We quickly put down the hook out and grabbed the net to boat our fourth keeper fish of the day.
A quick look at the clock said it was only 9 a.m. and in a matter of one hour had gotten into one wonderful bite.
The sun continued to beat down on us and it felt like the kind of heat that bakes you in the middle of the afternoon versus the early morning hours.
We continued to troll around for another hour, before deciding to call it quits and beat the rest of the boats that we knew were headed to the ramp for what is a perfect day to be on the water no matter what your sport.
This is one quest I can chalk down as a success, and thanks in part to Eric who is an expert cutthroat trout angler that knows how to fish the huge urban watershed well.
I can’t wait to try this fishery when it is at its prime in the winter time, but for now lets concentrate on the task at hand when the sunny days are long and warm.
Next up in my quest tomorrow [July 12] is the Lower Skagit River for a chance at catching what is known as some of the biggest kings in the state.
I’ve seen the old pictures from Skagit anglers back in the day hoisting kings that weigh in excess of 60 pounds. This past spring state and tribal fisheries managers agreed that the Skagit king return was large enough to produce a summer fishery, the first in 16 years.
I’m not getting my hopes up to high though as I’ve heard the first couple of days of the summer fishing season haven’t been that good.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings so stay tuned and I will post a report here when I get back from Burlington.