The Guide Review

Humptulips River Salmon with Phil Stephens

Mystical Legends Guide Service

Species Targeted: Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon

When: November 6, 2007

Where: Humptulips River

Techniques Used: Bobber and Eggs

It's 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 be cautious.

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 weeks ago.

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.

We 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 the fish!

Now 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 about fun.

 

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 their journey.

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".

 

Contact Info:

Web: www.riverfishin.com

Email: pmbstephens@comcast.net

Phone: (206) 940-0052

 

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