Landlocked coho salmon were plentiful Sunday morning out on the eastern side of Riffe Lake in rural Lewis County. Our five-person quota of 25 fish was met by 10 a.m.
The Nisqually Valley News was able to tag along on a fishing tour hosted by Twisted Waters Guide Service, a Yelm-based fishing guide that takes parties out to lakes and rivers, such as Riffe Lake and the Columbia River, for fishing expeditions.
“Everyone thinks this is some secret. Riffe Lake has been here a long time … the scenery, you just can’t beat it,” said owner Marc Bush. “It’s a very unique spot in that, and it’s a place you can go with reasonable expectation that you’ll catch a fish.”
Twisted Waters fishes for just about anything except sturgeon. But Bush said he “knows a guy” he can set customers up with if that’s what they’re after.
Coho salmon ranged in length from 13 to 18 inches and weighed in at a moderate size. We hit the waters for some fly fishing at 6 a.m. and were immediately inundated with bites. The sunshine was peeking over the hills and a thin layer of fog was racing over the lake.
Our crew set our boat up about 100-or-so feet away from the southeast banks, and we maneuvered our boat in wide circles, making a turn every few minutes around a submerged stump.
The bites came in — some were too quick — and after three hours we had a count of 10 strong at our small cove.
“If you start hitting fish, don’t change it,” Bush said.
Then we kicked it into high gear, dipping our rods deeper to about 45 feet down, mere feet from the lake’s bottom. By 8:30 a.m., we had nabbed 17 coho.
“Welcome to chaos,” said Buck Adams, a volunteer with Twisted Waters, as the rods vibrated in their holders. He characterized the day’s fishing as “very decent.”
After tallying three of my own coho, my rod went through a period of persistent nudging. I reeled in my line to check on my bait.
“Must be a 20-something fish,” Bush said. “Scared of commitment.”
For 15-year-old Spencer Bussell, of Yelm, this was his first time fly fishing for salmon. He knew Bush through family ties and jumped on the opportunity for Sunday fishing. Bussell, who has experience in bass fishing, said he enjoyed his first day out on the water.
“It’s really different. You can’t compare the two,” he said.
Standing out the stern of the boat, Dave Calhoun, owner of NW Rods and reporter with the Outdoor GPS on NBC Sports Northwest, streamed a live report.
“We are trolling for these fish and it’s been awesome,” Calhoun reported. “Sixteen- to 18-inch coho — they’ve gotten that much bigger from when I was out here fishing a month ago with them and it’s unbelievable.”
Calhoun said viewers really value his reports because it might be their only resource to find great fishing spots at the right time.
“If I don’t tell them where to go, when to go or how to do it, they may not go fishing that weekend. And that’s sad,” Calhoun said.
Once we had our day’s quota, we boated over to some shade to begin the fillet process for our salmon.
For more information on Twisted Waters Guide Service, visit their Facebook page or website, twistedwater-gs.com. You can also call Marc Bush at 253-468-0610.
Bush said he finds joy in seeing people learn the art of fishing and he hopes he can continue to bring himself and his customers that joy.
“It’s a one-man operation,” Bush said. “My wife does all the bookwork. I just drive the boat.”