Species Targeted: Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon
When: November 6, 2007
Where: Humptulips River
Techniques Used: Bobber and Eggs
late summer and the anticipation leading up to my favorite fishery
is building every day. I'm constantly looking at the weather,
looking at the river flows and going over my journal from past
trips which has nothing short of "world class" written all over
it. What I'm talking about is fishing Washington's Humptulips
River with who I consider the "Master of the Hump", Phil Stephens
of Mystical Legends Guide Service.
I've been blessed in the fact that for the last
four years I've been able to fish with my friend, and learn from
the best. Each river seems to have it's experts and the names
are synonymous with them. The Skagit has Endsley, the Columbia
has Ramsey, and the Humptulips has Phil!
The conditions are not favorable as the flow is
down to 568cfm and we were hoping for a little over 1000cfm, but
I know Phil's been getting his clients fish and I can't wait.
We meet in the dark and everything's ready to go. I put my gear
in the boat and include a new Steelhead rod which I'll mention
later. Although the Hump is not considered a hard river to navigate,
two boats have already flipped this year so with any water, please
As we begin down we're passing over many holes which
we've fished in the past, but due to the low water we don't want
to bother the spawning fish and those that have already been in
the system a while and turning dark. With a rain flurry we'd see
some fresh fish moving up, but no such luck as it hasn't rained
enough to make a difference since it washed out the river a few
The Hump is crowded this year, mostly due to the
one Chinook retention rule in affect, and the fact this river
just simply has fish. The first hole we decide to fish already
has another drift boat, but it's a large hole and it's been lined
with five or six boats fishing it on the weekends. We rig up using
10 1/2ft St. Croix Rods rated 8 - 20lbs, St. Croix baitcasting
reels loaded with 40lb Power Pro braid, a slip bobber setup with
30lb Suffix leader and a 2/0 barbless hook. We put a nice chunk
of cured eggs through the egg loop and we're set.
wait for the downstream boat to make their casts, we follow behind
them. After a couple of casts Phil doesn't say anything, but he's
got a nice little piggy on. Now those of you who haven't seen
Phil fight a fish, well let's just say he puts the wood to them!
A little dark so we let it go. Another couple casts and we hook
a little bigger one. I like to fight a fish so it takes me a little
longer to get it next to the boat. A nice size Chinook of maybe
25lbs, but our plan was to only keep coho and let the big boys
go. We decided we'd move downstream and let the other driftboat
have the hole, which it looked like they appreciated since we'd
hooked up so quick.
While moving to our next spot Phil had me bobber
doggin and I crackered a nice little coho. Good sign though as
it was chrome bright.
Our destination hole is in site and no one is there.
On top of that, fish are rolling! Phil slides the boat on shore
and we're going to hit this one from the bank. It's a snaggy spot
so I was warned if I hook a big one to clamp down and don't let
them pull me into the snags.
Oh what a blast! I think we hit the mother load.
Chrome chinook, chrome coho and plenty of each. We had so much
fun we stayed in the same hole for 2 ½ hours and constantly had
fish going. We both crackered a few and flat out missed others
as they weren't biting aggressively, but we were definitely in
comes the part about the Steelhead rod. We had both just landed
a pair of chinook when Phil said "Hey, where's that dang steelhead
rod?". Well G. Loomis had sent me one of the new Steelhead Series
rods to test out, and who better to test it with me than Phil!
Now this WILL be a test. The rod is a STR1163 9' 8" rated 8 -
12lbs. I have a Shimano Symetre loaded with 20lb braid and we
used 15lb Maxima Ultra Green leader. We already put 3 coho in
the box ranging from 10 - 15lbs and thought this would be a great
test for the rod. It wasn't long and the test was on… oh, but
not with a coho, Phil managed to hook a nice bright chrome chinook
a little over 20lbs. What a fight! And to top it off, I actually
got a pic of Phil smiling as he's tangling with the beast. A quick
release and he's ready to do it again. Now this is not the rod
either of us would set out in search of chinook for, but talking
We ended up the day keeping the three nice coho,
and one beautiful bright chinook that we intended to release but
she was bleeding. Some extremely nice fish were released to continue
Rain is in the forecast and it should only get better,
although I don't know how. Phil's got his enthusiasm going for
the upcoming clients as he anticipates getting them hooked up
like we just did.
Another unbelievable day fishing with my friend.
Phil Stephens is a full time guide and fishes year
round for salmon and steelhead. If you would like to fish with
him on the Humptulips, I suggest you book a trip with him ASAP
for next year as he books fast. He is, after all, the "Master
of the Hump".
Phone: (206) 940-0052
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