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Old 12-12-2000, 10:30 PM   #1
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Default Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Most guys drift fish for winter steelhead. I know there are some dedicated plunkers down south of the boarder. What kind of success do these guys encounter? I know we get a lot of spring steelhead when plunking (bar fishing) for chinook. We target migrating fish. I imagine the same could be said for the smaller systems. Does anyone have any tips they would like to share?

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Old 12-12-2000, 10:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Plunking needs to be done in the proper spot on the river. You must be able to have the fish swim into your rigging as they move upstream. So being able to read water where fish travel is very important to being a good plunker.
To keep your spinglow from winding itself around into a knot put it on a metal spinner shaft with beads then rig a treble up below on the loop or split ring. Next tip would be to clip a hot shot/tadpolly on a 4 ft leader onto your line once the spinglow is in the water working. To keep the two from getting tangled place a swivel on the mainline a 12-24 inches above the threeway swivel your spinglow rig hangs on.

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Old 12-12-2000, 11:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Marty,

How does the sliding hotshot work? Do you have a bumper up your mainline?

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Old 12-13-2000, 01:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Plunking?!? Bah ha ha ha ha ha . Only wussies from Washington and B.C. plunk . ... Nah, jk . Good description and depiction Marty. Mind if I use your drawing in my book? I agree with you that if you use a plug in addition to a Spin-N-Glo that it should be a shallow diving 30 Hot Shot or standard Tadpoly, because deeper divers like Warts can easily dive down and tangle with the bouyantly raised SnG, especially in swirly seams where plunking is often productive. CP, the plug works by first getting a good lead hold with your SnG, then with a small wiresnap clip on the plug/short leader on your mainline and hold it out to the side and let it slide to the water where it will swing around and catch current to dive down to a swivel with bead above it. I suggest using 3' or so between this swivel and down to the 3-way to help avoid tangling, and cover more water depth when it's really murky colored (fish often swin up off bottom a little further when there is a lot to silt and mud whipping along the bottom because that bothers their gills). If the water you are fishing has strong 'boilers' and the lures tangle then use only one lure at a time. While super sharp hooks and good scents are always important, I believe it's crucial to successful plunking. Also put egg clusters or shrimp on your egglooped hook to both neutralize the bouyancy of the SnG and increase bite attraction. ... Plunking in the seams and travel lanes when the water is up and fish are moving is productive at times. And with a good rod holder and bell you can stay warm or do whatever in your truck. Especailly appropriate in your neck of the woods this time of year CP?

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Old 12-13-2000, 02:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Hey CP, I glanced at the B.C. board and saw your post about the -10 C. and the rivers icing over where you can't fish. It gave me an idea, in conjunction with the above plunking methods, that I think could work in some cases up there. The rivers freeze from the slower water near the bank then outward. When the ice gets very far out the steelhead will be moving under the ice. How about throwing several big rocks to break a large area of ice open and throw a plunking rigup into it, about where the fish are likely to migrate. Stick your rod in a good rod holder, with a little bell on it, and sit in your warm truck waiting for the bite. If you occasionally get out and throw a couple of smaller rocks near your line entry it should keep it from icing in place. Don't forget to put some vaseline jelly on your rod guides to keep them from icing. Doable? Feasable? Gotta be better than watching hockey on the tube, especially if ya got some things in need of reading? - RT
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Old 12-13-2000, 06:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

I only plunk when the river is to blown out to fish. I know a couple spots where some side feeder creeks clear up long before the main stem of the river clears up. The steelhead dont like the dirty water as well as the clear water, and will lay in the mainstem of the river just below the side creeks where the water is cleaner. It is kind of like fishing in a barrel when the fish get congregated in this clearer water. I use a rigging very close to what Marty describes in his diagram.

Dont ask I wont tell, you can find your own side creeks that clear up quick, I like fishing my honey holes all alone, when everybody thinks the river is nonfishable.
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Old 12-13-2000, 07:51 AM   #7
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

I preface this by saying I am far from a plunking expert. But over the years I used to watch a plunking expert that regularly outfished everyone: guides, other plunkers, and boaters alike with limits of kings and steelhead. His rig was very much like Martys except the plug he used was a k-12 blue pirate that had caught so many fish it was basically white with flecks of other colors on it. I believe the old timer passed away a couple of years ago and unfortunately I do not know his name to give him the credit due. He always told me you HAVE to have both the plug and the egg rig to be truly productive and that the vast majority of the fish hit the kwikfish. I used to swing by his truck with the custom rod holders welded to it and see how he did compared to the rest of us and he always did exceptionally well.
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Old 12-13-2000, 08:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

I have heard that the natives used to haul the fish through the ice in the winter time. It would work RT. We can only use bait on a few rivers though. Most of the time there is a little free flowing water. We definately stand high above the river on the ice shelfs. Makes for a nice drift.

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Old 12-13-2000, 10:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

CP there is a extra swivel on the mainline to stop the snap when sliding. You could use a bumper to protect your knot if you use light line. Also don't forget to tune your plug before it heads out. With a little creativity you could use a spreader bar setup to get another rig on the bottom end.
Also when using a bell on your rod, tie a piece of bright surveyors tape on it so you can find it after it falls off during the fight and for visibility.
RT feel free to use the pic for your book.
Tight Lines

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[This message has been edited by smilesforu (edited 12-13-2000).]
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Old 12-13-2000, 01:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

I don't think I could get drunk enough to plunk

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Old 12-13-2000, 02:04 PM   #11
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Osprey. Maybe you just ain't tryin' hard enough!!!!!
Jaeger outta do it!
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Old 12-13-2000, 05:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

If Jaeger won't do it, Jim Beam will! Caught my first steelhead plunkin' drunk.
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Old 12-13-2000, 06:12 PM   #13
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Plunking can be extremely effective. When I was first learning how to steelhead my buddy and I use to hang out with the oldtimers in tidewater and plunk. Alot of fish hit the bank. Also, hog island on the cowlitz - man you go down there when the fish are moving up and there are limits everywhere.

I think it is most effective in tidal influenced or lower sections on the rivers, and as RT pointed out you have to find the lanes they travel in to be consistent. It also seems to be best on the incoming tide. PCV Pipe and a piece of aluminum fence post make a great portable rod holder.

We always used a sliding weight set up (the sliding rigs made for sturgeon fishing) rather than a three way swivel, and used #4 Spin N Glows on three to four feet of leader - Pink with white wings did real well as did rocket red/chartuese - Sand shrimp seems to work better than eggs if you feel the need for bait.

Also, If the regulations allow - use a treble hook rather than a single. Guys using single hooks missed alot of fish.

Plunkin with a new issue of a magazine such as umm business week on a cold winter day can be a good way to spend a few hours.

You guys laughin at plunkin - don't kid yourself. There is alot to it and to be good and consistent you have to master an understanding of not only the rig to use but also the travel patterns of the fish.

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Old 12-13-2000, 06:50 PM   #14
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Thanks Scooby.

I know first hand how effective plunking is for chinook. I just haven't done much for winter steelhead. I will be sure to give it a try in the lower end of a few rivers I know. Beats the hell out of fighting crowds and pounding water all day. When you are plunking your gear is fishing no matter what you are doing. A nice fire and a few cold ones make for some entertaining action later in the day.

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Old 12-13-2000, 11:30 PM   #15
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

I for one find fishng with a plunking rig very relaxing.Isnt that what fishing is all about???? I use a 9 foot rod with 25lb. test main line and on my leaders I use any where from 8lb to 15lb. The bait of choice are prawns, died bright pink. I run a prawn threader through there bodies so that the prawn is on your line.Just above the prawn I either slide a pill body or a couple of corkies then a Thin-Twin blade. As for weight I use any where from 5oz.to 14oz. depending on water flow.The trick to using a second rig is to tie a bobberknot on your line and slide a small corkie down to the stopper.Now you can slide a second rig down to the stopper with a snap swivel.The stopper should seperate the two rigs 18 to 24 inches.This has been a produtive way of fishing Meldrum bar in Gladstone,OR for years.If you dont want to use prawns use spin-n-glows the pink with white wings works good,anothergood color is a Willamette special half chartruse and half orange. GOOD LUCK.....PS Dont forget your to put a bell on your rod and a portable TV!!!!!
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Old 12-13-2000, 11:59 PM   #16
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Make a size 4 or 5 spiner with no weight (only beads for the body and no hook) then tie on a spin & glow as close as you can In high dirty water that will put out a lot of sound and flash and yes you need bait also
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Old 12-14-2000, 07:32 PM   #17
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

You wouldnt believe how many spring chinooks I used to catch plunking!!! Did alot of it before I became a boat owner. Like they said above, the trick is knowing where the fish swim by; where their channel is that they are using. Unfortunately, the VERY productive spot that I used to plunk at is filled in now.

Most were caught on spin and glow with a sand shrimp.
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Old 12-14-2000, 09:27 PM   #18
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

How are you rigging the sand shrimp behind the spin n glo?

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Old 12-15-2000, 06:16 AM   #19
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

After fishing with RT yesterday,I could have plunked probably should have .......naaaaaa
The best thing about plunking is they always have the best food in them plukin-shacks.

Catarafts and plunking don't mix

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Old 12-15-2000, 06:41 AM   #20
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

I think the best way I have found to rig sand shrimp is to thread them through the tail and push the hook in on the under side of the body with the point coming out through the head. I push the hook through the tail two or three times (depending on the size of the shrimp) threading the tail onto the leader slightly, which helps allow the shrimp to not bunch up.

I believe that steelies like to have them "laid out" so they look like they are naturally floating down the river. It is my experience that they don't as readily take shrimp that are all balled up.

An alternative is to just use the tail. Stays on the hook longer, especially if your shrimp are not super fresh.

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Old 12-15-2000, 09:19 AM   #21
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

What size hooks and spin n glos seem to work best with this rig?

Does anyone use braided lines and how are they on your level winds for casting etc?

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Old 12-15-2000, 10:08 AM   #22
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

CP, I use tuff line for float fishing since it has no stretch and floats, and have used it for plunking. It casts good just carry a spare reel in case you get a backlash. These lines are super sensitive and you can keep a tighter line than with mono.
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Old 12-15-2000, 06:28 PM   #23
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Centerpin, for me, 90% of the time I just used the tail. My friend that plunked with me used the whole shrimp and I always outfished him.....might be because of some other reason though...lol. Besides, its easier to keep a piece of tail on rather than the whole shrimp.

Anyway, I used a 2/0 gamagatsu hook tied up baitholder loop style. Slide the hook point through the tail starting at the broken off end and end with the point just sticking out the end of the tail. Put the baitholder loop over one or two segments of the sand shrimps back and cinch it up but not too tight as to cut it in half. Add scent!

Also, Ive found that I catch more fish on a female sandshrimp that has her eggs attached.

Good luck!
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Old 12-15-2000, 06:45 PM   #24
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

I hook my shrimp up pretty much the same way as scooby and I have found that they fish a lot better when layed out flat as opposed to balled up. Do you take the big pinchers off? I wonder if they would last longer by removing these, less fighting.

Here's something else that I'd like to know. When I'm fishing the coast I have no problem keeping shrimp. Is there anyway you can keep them for an extended period without them falling apart and turning to mush?
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Old 12-15-2000, 09:07 PM   #25
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Keepin them fresh is tough, especially if you don't get them real fresh. If you can go get your own that will get you a couple extra days. I rinse them off, pat them dry and put them on shredded newspaper,change the paper every other day and always keep them real cold. This seems to help.

My buddy swears that the fish like those big pinchers, he never pulls them off. I like to get rid of them,they make it harder to rig up properly.

If I am using the whole puppy I also like the smaller or medium shrimp rather than the larger ones, they seem to stay on better.

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Old 12-21-2000, 12:50 PM   #26
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Some of my post productive days Steelhead fishing have been while plunking. Been doing it for 20+ years on the Columbia mainstem. I had a freind this year catch 17 steelhead in one day plunking off one of the lower river islands. I've always liked to keep it simple, run the basic setup that Smiles is refering to but run 2-3 fixed spin-glos in the size 2-4 range. Use either three-way swivels or spreader bars, I prefer the later, and space them about 30" apart. I've caught winter fish but the spots we like to fish are only accessable by boat and the weather sucks out there this time of the year. But come spring we clean house. We caught and released a half-dozen springers last year as a by-catch.

I like the pinks and white bodies with mylar wings in sizes 2-4. I stick with a 25lb. mainline and a 20lb. leader due to the fact that the hits can be violent sometimes and it is not unusual to hit a 15+ steelie or 30+ king and in that open water they can run. I've never tried it in smaller bodies of water but from what everyone else is saying it must work well in those situations to.
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Old 12-21-2000, 01:55 PM   #27
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

Scooby hit it right on the button regarding sandshrimp, imo, so I'm just reiterating what he said. Pump them fresh if you can, keep them cold, keep them dry, and give them lots of space to spread out. Shredded newspaper (changed frequently) works good, and fresh moss has also worked very well for me. If you buy them, whatever you do don't leave them in the container they came in. I have success storing them in a large plastic storage bin kept in my bait fridge, and I only take fishing what I am prepared to use that day.
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Old 12-21-2000, 04:11 PM   #28
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

OK Tshickam,

Are you going to share a little more info on the lower mainstam?

I asked a question about exactly this subject several months back and got veryy little input.

Just point me in the general direction, give me a depth to work with, and I can run with it from there.

Thanks
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Old 12-21-2000, 06:37 PM   #29
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

We fish several different beaches off several different islands. We fish off of Oregon river beaches below Puget island in Washington. We run out to the beaches in small boats in the 12'-14' range and we run them onto the beaches and fish the out-going tides. We hit it when the river opens up in May and fish it through most of summer months.

Look for any beaches that have sand and don't drop off extremly fast. It has been a general feeling of mine that people cast to far off the shoreline when plunking. The river runs hard on the out-going tide and I believe the fish run closer to shore to avoid the heavier current. I'm fishing in about 5' to 15' of water or so depending on tide height and sometimes less than that.


If your looking for places to fish run along the main channel and look for boats and people and you'll find the spots. Don't forget your bell, chair, cooler of beverages and spf-30 or better. It's the most relaxing fishing I know and very productive.

The best colors for us last spring and summer were size 4 ghost and clown spin-n-glos and for the springers we caught and had to release, #2 green or red/chartruese in #2. We even released a 20 lb'r that was fin-clipped but according to the regs at the time we couldn't keep it. Maybe this year we will be able to retain fin-clip springers in that zone??? I like to keep it simple when rigging up and I use lots of shrimp scent.

I've caught winter runs out there before but like I said the weather sucks and you don't want to be running in a puddle jumper when the gails are blowing. Makes for a pretty miserable day.


Maybe I'll see you out there in a few months?

[ 06-22-2001: Message edited by: tshickam ]
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Old 06-22-2001, 09:38 AM   #30
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Default Re: Plunking for Winter Steelhead

I wanted to pull this post up. It has a good diagram in it to help the people that are wanting to try this. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
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