-- Last Updated: Mar-14-06 2:44 PM EST --
be careful where it takes you, especially if you want to paddle back. Tide currents in island and channel geography at the lattitude of the San Juans produce currents like swift rivers, complete with whirlpools and rapids. Some are too swift to paddle against, though in a few hours they will be running the opposite direction. If it is going your way, you can fish for miles.
There are long periods of slack tide with little current, and kelp beds, especially in coves, tend to be out of the strongest currents. You will figure it out when you see it. In fog, however, you can be drifting at high speed and not know it on a calm surface, and move a LONG ways from where you thought you were.
My preferred way to fish for salmon is to drift with the flow and jig with a 2-4 ounce Dungeness Stinger (a metal baitfish minnow) in water 30-120 feet deep, keeping the jig within 6 feet of bottom. However, if you drift when you are in a kelp bed, which is where you are most likely to catch just some eating fish, then you will snag quickly and endlessy, so I clip in one spot.
Another reason for heavier/stiffer rods is to jig heavy lures efficiently, and a bait cast type reel works better than spin gear for that also. I only use spin gear when salmon are chasing bait on the surface, a rare but fun event to get in on.
The heavy line allows you to snag on kelp and still have a chance at ripping your lure free, or not lose a fish tangled in kelp if you can rip him through it. Think of a hedge type plant with flat leaves and wrist sized main stalk, 100 feet tall and made of slightly rotten wet leather and you have bull kelp. It's a forest for fish.
Dogfish sharks are more nuisance and likely to injure rather than dangerous to life. They run two to 4 feet long, have razor sharp flat edged teeth, sort of like human teeth, and a spike the size of a nail on their main back fin. The teeth cut flesh or fishing line instantly, and if you got a finger into their mouth, would lop it off. They roll in line when hooked and flop around making it hard to avoid the spike nail. Their skin is sandpaper and will abraid thorugh line pretty quickly. Check line for abrasions after releasing them and cut off the damaged part or the next fish will probably break off, losing lure and fish. Dogfish shark are edible, but cause an allergic reaction, swollen face etc. in some people. Been there.
Pliers and gaff are helpful for all of these kinds of fish. Tie everything to a lanyard and I clip those to the boat with small cheapo caribiners.
Obviously I am fishing with you vicariously, and obviously enjoy such fishing. On this rainy winter day I wish we were out there, as it is much easier to show than to describe in type. You will catch fish, in some of the most beautiful waters in N. America.