Interview by Kate Calamusa
You are both avid anglers: What do you personally most enjoy about fishing here in the Northwest?
GH: For me, what I most enjoy is that fishing is something I can enjoy every month of the year. That’s actually one of the goals of the seminars at the show, to outline how to embrace fishing opportunities year-round here in the Northwest. I actually added up all the different types of fishing you can target here and I came up with nine: You have freshwater and cutthroat trout; squid; crab; halibut; tuna; lingcod; shrimp; and then of course, both Puget Sound and coastal salmon, which are two different techniques and fisheries, really. I can’t think of a lot of other places that have the sheer variety that we do.
KM: I would echo what George said about the variety and add that because of our year-round opportunities, there is always something new to try. Because we don’t have to put our boats away here for the winter, the season doesn’t end when summer does. Squidding is the perfect example of how to shake off the fishing blues during the darker months because it needs to actually be done in the dark—you shine lights into the murky water to attract the squid. You can go pretty much anywhere around here, too.
The fishing seminars offered at SBS are always a big draw; what do you think it is about this series that makes it so popular?
GH: Not all fisherpeople are boaters, but I have a pretty fun statistic to back up the idea that most boaters are fisherpeople. Year after year, a range of 60-70% boaters have reported that they use their vessel for fishing most of the time. I’d argue that number would be even higher here when you consider how popular crabbing is, too. So, I think to begin with, a lot of people are interested in fishing. But, also, one of the key things you really get out of the seminars is the background knowledge to help make you really successful at it, like very specific go-to locations and recommended times, tried and true tricks, and the like.
KM: I’d also say the breadth of knowledge among our speakers is pretty astounding. Keith Robbins is one of the best there is out there, and Tom Nelson from KIRO is just so enthusiastic; it’s pretty contagious to see the crowd engage with him and see what questions they ask.
Boating, and by effect fishing, has surged in popularity in the last few years, and there are a lot of new anglers out there. What should a beginning angler keep top of mind here in 2023?
GH: I think the first thing to ask yourself is what type of fishing are you interested in? Once you answer that, you can really pinpoint the discussions that will be most relevant to you at SBS. Also be sure to be on the up-and-up on the state’s fishery schedules. You first need to know when and where to go and there are specific seasons and time frames. Our seminars can really help you map out a whole year of fishing; you’ll be primed and ready to go on the right date if you plan ahead. Also, keep checking the dates, either on the state’s website or read Mark Yuasa’s column here in Northwest Yachting, to help you keep abreast of any changes.
Any interesting fishing trends you’ve seen emerging lately?
KM: A new one for me, and I’m lucky there is a seminar on this one this year, is that you can fly fish here in Puget Sound. I went out this year and filmed a webinar and did a trip with Keith Robbins and it was a fun reminder that cutthroat trout in saltwater is yet another year-round fishery; you just hit the beach with your fly rod.
The other thing that’s gotten pretty popular is tuna fishing. Most folks think of Mexico or Southern California when it comes to tuna, but the truth is, we have huge amounts of albacore tuna that come through here. Tommy Donlin, who is one of the most passionate fishermen out there, is doing a seminar that I’m going to attend myself as I’m hoping to learn more about nabbing those—and navigating how to find them 20-60 miles offshore.
Lastly, and I find this one really interesting, there has been a resurgence in mooching, as opposed to trolling, over the last few years when it comes to salmon fishing. Keith Robbins has been one of the big proponents of the movement. I love it: there’s something pretty cool about getting back to basics, wielding the pole in your hand, and feeling the bite. The simplicity is alluring.
Which SBS seminars are you attending?
GH: Keith Robbins is always on my calendar; I love to spend time with him as I aspire to be an angler like him. And I pop by as many others as I can, too. I think it’s worth noting that though Karsten and I have had the benefit of knowing these experts for years, we learn something new every year. It’s like recapping a football game. Every year, the analysis and the strategies all change depending on how the last game, or in this case—fishery, went.
KM: To echo that, I always make sure to attend Tom Nelson’s salmon fishing to brush up and see what the latest, greatest techniques are. I also like his shrimp seminar; last time I was enthralled by his knowledge of scent trails when it came to shrimping. And I will add that beyond the seminars, the Q+A sessions are just amazing and I love sitting in on those. Everyone from a beginning angler to an expert can pipe up and tap into these speakers’ expertise, and someone always asks a question that I need to know the answer to.
About the Experts: George Harris is President/CEO and Karsten McIntosh is the Director of Communications for the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA), the organization behind the annual Seattle Boat Show that is set to kick off on February 3rd and run through February 11th. Along with Boat Show University and a slew of new boating presentations (see this month’s feature on pages 44-51 for a preview), the popular fishing seminars will cover a variety of Northwest-related angling topics from a trusted group of local experts. For more information on seminar topics and for a full schedule, go to: seattleboatshow.com/seminars/