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Old 06-06-2004, 12:02 AM   #1
Mark Mc
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Corvallis
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Default How to bait a hook, commercial style (herring)

Finally getting around to this.... Time to "share the love" as Pilar likes to put it.

If you only like to catch coho, don't read this. But if you want to target kings, read on.

Serious commercial salmon fishers don't use RSK's or little 2 hook mooching leaders. They use a big, single, long shank hook that can be a cable hook, a "crowbar" (solid durnickel shank) or a "baiter blade" attached to a hook. The cable is preferred since the fish can shake it's head all it wants, and that cable will flex along with it. The baiter blade is next best for avoiding the hook-spit. I prefer to only use solid shank crowbars on smaller baits.

So you have this big herring you jigged up in Yaquina Bay (although this one is from last year, and is missing a few scales):


From my selection of hooks, it looks like I'm going to want the very biggest cable baiter on the left:

The little guys on the right are small crowbars used for anchovies or very small herring. Also note the "threader" needle.

For these big herring I only use these bait snaps invented and made by Sonny Maahs (sold at Englunds). Sonny Maahs is legendary; one of the top, top, elite salmon trollers on the whole west coast, and a helluva nice guy too. This snap is a heavy wire. It will not come undone from ANY salmon.


I start by laying the hook alongside to make sure it is big enough, putting the last (of 2) hole at the tip just behind the mouth, and checking to see that the bend of the hook will clear the...uh...anus:


This is where several techniques diverge. If a guy is going to stick 200 or 300 baits, he's going to use the threader needle to pull the hook through the side. But if a guy has the time, like a smaller day boat or a sport fisher, you want to do a "split tail." So this is the split tail method.
This next step is kinda like filletting the tail from the anus back to the tail, and removing that portion of the backbone. I start by sticking the point of the hook in the anus, and slicing back towards the tail:


After making this shallow slice all the way back, I use the hook, or a baiter blade, to completely "fillet" the one side:



Next I flip it over and make another slice down the back, to start the "fillet" for the other side of the backbone:


Now the tail / backbone is completely exposed. I use the stamped end of the hook, or the baiter blade, to snap it off:




Now I lay the hook down alongside to see where I'm going to thread it in, so that the point is about 1/8 inch away from the belly; not flush against it, but not hanging out too far:



Use the threader needle to "pre-drill" the hole all the way up & alongside the backbone through the mouth:






Now thread the hook through the pre-drilled hole until it is snug, with the stamped end just inside of the lips (not sticking out if you can help it, although unavoidable with very small baits):





See the stamped end? It takes some practice to get it through the right "tunnel":




See how the hook is almost completely hidden?


Now take your Sonny Maahs snap, which is tied to your leader (duh)


And stick it through the head, in front of the eyes (which is the hard part in a herring's head), and thread it through the hole in the hook that you have carefully placed in this area:


Give the hook a little jiggle to make sure you got it through the hole!!!

Make sure the herring mouth is closed, otherwise they will tell their friends that it's a trap!!! (actually, the jaws will fall apart if you don't close the mouth):


Now when you close the snap, it locks down firmly on the head:




There you have it. This is my favorite way to put a bait behind a flasher / dodger. I also used them this way on straight leaders when I commercial fished. This might seem kind of involved, but it takes me a minute or less to do it. One tip...be sure the herring is thawed out. If it is too hard, the tails tend to break when you try the filletting.

When I get some anchovies, I'll do a spread on how to bait them with crowbars.

Good luck to all........ Mark
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