Duplicated from the salty dogs post, for your pleasure.
Hi Y'all, Well it looks like there will be a sport salmon season this year (’06), thanks to many folks who wrote letters & supported the cause, our Oregon leadership, RFA rep, PFMC rep, and especially the Coastside Fishing Club leadership. Since we are so fortunate it's time for.....
.....my annual primer on ocean chinook trolling. Note that I'm not talking about coho; Oregonians know enough about catching them. I'm talking about big boxes of big fish:
I'm gonna focus on "junk" (lures); bait is discussed in the (herring) tutorial on the tips page here: HERRING
Before diving in, back up a minute and think about the calendar....the seasonal patterns that go from spring through fall. Early in the year (spring) the water is cold (upper 47 - 50) and clear. There may be some baitfish, but the upwelling hasn’t started yet so there isn’t much plankton. In late spring / early summer (April – May) as the winter southerlies become less frequent, and it blows northwest more often, the water starts to “turn over” and we get more upwelling…and hopefully the desireable 52-54 degree water. This causes the plankton blooms, and hopefully the krill to appear up high. When this happens the water turns brown......which is the very best salmon water. During the summer, if we don’t get an occasional week of NW wind, the water fluctuates from clear, to green, to murky green, and other “frog-water” colors that may or may not have any life in it. When the water gets very warm & clear on the surface (like 57 – 59 degrees) the fish don’t usually stick around for long. They might go deep.....deep to the cooler water with more feed. All these things relate to choosing the right lure.
Starting with hoochies. There are hundreds if not thousands of different hoochie patterns. It could drive ya nuts trying to choose:
hoochie web page
But there is a small handful of patterns that match up well to most conditions. It doesn’t do much good to say “these are great hoochies”, without understanding when you use one vs the other.
When the "brown water" (from upwelling, plankton blooms, and krill) shows up, & the water temp is between 51 - 54 degrees, the absolute killer is this little guy:
[/image] North Pacific p/n C28CR. It is CLEAR with an olive back & a few highlights. It must have the clear belly, not a solid belly!! Best to use with a red hot-spot flasher.
A close second in brown water are the white patterns. However, whites will work in more different conditions & depths than any other pattern. Now, to clarify the whole "purple haze" vs similar..... In this batch:
Clockwise from top left is (1) Yamashita OAL12R which is a purple haze with rainbow a.k.a. "oil slick" ; (2) Yamashita OA12R purple haze; (3) North Pacific GBOA12R purple haze (4) 15R blue scale back w/white belly; (5) North Pacific AM12R...glow white w/oil slick.
The real purple haze has appears slightly purple and slightly clear when you look at it in the water. Purple haze works best in clear to slightly clear / lightly colored water, also down deep. The AM12R is opaque....and works better when the water has more color / dirtiness to it.
When the upwelling has been over for several days, and the water warms up above 55/56 degrees, and gets real clear, the p/n 15R or similar (i.e. light blue back/white belly) works well.
edit/addendum: 2005 was a strange year for water conditions. The spring upwelling never really happened (although we did see upwelling in the summer). Then in late summer there were miles & miles of this pukey greenish-brown water with plankton & jelly-like slime in it. Well someone discovered that this ugly thing worked well in that stuff:
OG152R (or OGL152R) The first examples above (i.e. purple haze, glow white, etc) are the "90 % rule" meaning a small set will cover 90% of the situations. Then you get the other 500 hoochie patterns that cover the remaining (odball) 10% of the situations. This OG152R is an example of the oddball situation.
Sometimes a little dressing (twinkle skirt) helps the hoochie. Also note this leader material. Whether it's for hoochies, or spoons, or bait, you want stiff leader material, not limp stuff. This Mason is great for light (20 - 30 lb) sport leaders:
Rigging your hoochie....
When you rig a hoochie behind a flasher (which you nearly always do) it needs something to fill the head. The best thing to use is a "gum pucky" which is a silicone rubber bullet with a hole in it. Yes some folks use plastic bead or plastic ones, but most highliner commercial fisherman will only use gum puckies. The best hook is a curved point, either durnickel (best) or stainless.
Size 7/0 is a typical commercial size or for "heavy" sport gear; 5/0 would be for "light" sport gear. The gum pucky fits in the hoochie real snug, and the knot can be shoved up snug into the hole. BE SURE TO USE A CURVED POINT HOOK! I can not stress this enough. Don't ask me what are the physics because I don't know; I just know that curved point gets buried well and rarely come unbuttoned.
Hoochies work best behind a Hot-Spot flasher, or an Abe & Al flasher. This type will "fling" the hoochie around. The oval-shaped "herring dodger" has more of a wobble to it. I have used a hoochie behind a very small dodger on a crowded party boat, but a Hot Spot is preferred. If you are concerned about drag (resistance) the small Hot Spots are very slick (upper left her):
The leader to the hoochie / lure is attached to the wider end of the Hot Spot. Lower left is an Abe & Al. These also work well with bait. Cool thing about an Abe & Al is you can tune / de-tune it by flattening out the curve on one or both ends (secret commercial trick #79 revealed :grin
. Les Davis Herring Dodgers on the right....preferred for bait. I tend to use the larger Hot Spots & dodgers when going real deep (100 - 300 ft); smaller ones when going shallow.
The Les Davis 0/0 size (6 inches long) is a real nice all-around size. Not too much resistance when the fish is near the surface.
The large Hot Spot and the Abe & Al have a lot of action, so you can put a pretty long leader on them (from the wire or sinker); 15 feet is standard commercial rig or even longer in certain situations. The lure end is 20 to 36 inches with a hoochie. You can get away with a pretty heavy leader with hoochies ( 60 lb). Plus you don't want your ten dollar flasher hanging by a 20 lb leader. Put a snap on each hoochie leader so you can change them easily from the flasher. The smaller the flasher, the shorter the lure leader you can get away with (like 6 ft to the wire, and 20 inches to the lure).
How are we doing
OK, on to spoons! There are a gazillion out there. Again, you want to match the conditions so there are two basic categories.
The metallic, "reflective" category (chrome/brass/copper) and the "painted" category.
When the water is very clear, (early in the year / spring or for short spurts in the summer when the upwelling has ceased) these metallic spoons work well.
Tom Mack, McMahon are standard names for the brass & copper, and the large chrome. The small chrome is an "Andy Reeker." Different from a hoochie these thin metal spoons should have a lightweight hook so as not to hinder the action. The tinned hooks ("partridge" style) are normally used on the Tom Macks. The brass & copper will dull quickly between trips. The commercial gear stores sell "hydratone", a chemical used to maintain these spoons. In between uses, the spoons are kept in a closed container of hydratone & fresh water. The Andy Reeker is a real killer. Good luck finding any though; aren't made any more. If you do find one in the package, remove the piece of junk hook that comes with it, and put a 3/0 or 4/0 on the size 4, and a 4/0 or 5/0 on the size 5. When using these metallic spoons in clear water, use a clear, light leader (20 to 30 lb), and either tie the leader directly to the spoon swivel or use a very small snap.
When the water starts to get some color to it, the painted spoons will start to work:
The two at top right are "Kingfishers". The green/chartreuse, or a green/white (not shown) work well in green water often found close in on the beach, esp. later in the season. The three at top left are Canadian Wonder - style wobblers. The pink & white is a bloody killer in brown water, when the fish are feeding on krill. The other wobblers and the red teardrop with black spots all work well in medium-dark water. And I had to throw in the flame-red teardrop at lower right: that one is a killer for those pesky coho. Just try one of those with a 6/7 ft leader tied directly to it with a light weight or a diver when the coho are biting, and see how it does compared with the other methods. With the painted spoons, you can use the heavier wire hooks.
Obviously there are many more spoons out there. Krocodiles & Apex's are also real popular. The commercial gear stores have hundreds of other shapes & sizes, but they pretty much fall into either the metal / chrome, or the painted. So just keep a few of each and you'll be covered for clear or murky water. BTW you can run a spoon behind a flasher or dodger.
How we doing?
Plugs! No conversation about chinook would be complete without mentioning plugs. Several i-fishers (TomicTime, JCarufo), have posted some pretty good info so I won't repeat it. Here is a link to the excellent post by Tomictime on how to rig a plug: Tomictime Post
Some commercial guys fish plugs almost exclusively. Plugs are a bit finicky, especially the larger ones. I tie the leader directly to the ring eye, or pull out the bar completely and thread the line through (see TomicTime post on how to do this). On the 6 inch plug, best hook is a 7/0 to 9/0 durnickel or "hayhook" style. Unlike stainless, durnickel can be bent. We bend the plug hook open so it has a shorter shank and a wider opening. When commercial fishing or sportfishing with a downrigger, big plugs fish well with a very long leader, like 20 - 30 feet. Late in the year, plugs are fished behind large flashers. As with hoochies, there are many patterns. A standard is one that simulates sardines (right side in picture). The pearl colors are also generally good (hmmm...so are white hoochies, remember?) The white & greens work well in green water, close to the beach.
Look at the Tomic web site for the menu: http://www.tomiclures.com/color_chart.htm
Almost every year a different pattern will be "hot". However, just like with hoochies, a few basic patterns will do you fine. The pearl / whites, the pearl with a pink stripe, and a sardine (dark back) pattern. Funny thing is that....most commercial guys all have a favorite that has most / all of the paint completely gone...and it keeps catching fish. This tells you that the action may be more important than the color.
A great thing about plugs: When coho are out of season, or if you are just trying to avoid pesky little coho so you can hook big kings…..with the large 6 or 7 inch plugs, you will greatly reduce the number of coho hooked. And when you do hook coho on them, they are usually the large models.
Some questions that came up before:
- gum puckies at most commercial gear stores;
- commercial style is one big single hook only;
- yes I love to use bait (whole herring & anchovey; no cut plug); that's a whole 'nuther chapter.
- You bet commercial guys use bait. It's just that bait (1) costs a lot; (2) is more time consuming; (3) has to be kept frozen for days at a time when trip fishing, which is an added hassle; (4) is a hassle & expensive when you get into junk fish like whiting & dogfish. In certain conditions, esp. when it's a wide open bite, lures work just as well. Other times though bait will outfish anything. I used to bait up 200 - 300 hooks before a trip.
That's all for now, folks.
Good fishing.....Kumbaya....Mark Mc