Catch More Kokanee with these Useful Tips

Kokanee are one of the best eating fish to catch-Jason Brooks

by Jason Brooks

With temperatures finally starting to warm up it’s time to pull the boat out of winter storage and rig the rods for kokanee!

These tasty landlocked Sockeye are already starting to fill stringers on many Eastern Washington lakes and Southwest Washington reservoirs. Here are a few tips that have put a lot of Kokanee in my boat over the years.

Specialty rods that are limber will increase landed fish-Jason Brooks

Fishing rods need to be specific to this fishery. A 7 ½ foot rod with an ultra-light action is needed to help keep the fish hooked. Kokanee have exceptionally soft mouths and a fast-action rod will usually pull the hook free. Not only should you use lightweight rods, but also spool the reel with 8 or 10-pound test monofilament which will stretch and helps land more fish. The 8 foot Daiwa DXSK802L Kokanee trolling rod is an excellent choice for a this and so is it’s little brother the 7’6″ DXSK762L.

Dodgers and mini-squids are a top producing combo-Jason Brooks

Dodgers and lures need to be “teamed up” for the day’s fishing. The Double D dodger by Mack’s lure along with a Cha Cha mini-squid is a top Kokanee set-up. When using the 9 inch dodger shorten the leader to 8-12 inches to impart some whipping action on the fly or squid behind it. For the smaller 4 inch dodgers I like to pair them up with a Double Whammy wedding ring spinner and a longer leader of 24 inches. Both of these set-ups are designed to be used at slow speed, around 1 mph, which is about perfect for early season Kokanee fishing. Later in the year kick up your speeds to 1.5 mph and switch to a Sling Blade style dodger.

Shoepeg Corn  with added scents tipped on any lure increases bites-Jason Brooks

Corn is a must! White Shoepeg corn for some reason is an absolute must for Kokanee fishing. Corn naturally has a lot of oil in it and attracts Kokanee. To increase your bites substantially though soak your corn overnight in Pro-Cure bait oils along with some Wizard Kokanee Killer Korn Magic which toughens the corn and adds bite stimulates.

Kokanee are sensitive to sunlight, fish deep on bright days-Jason Brooks

Kokanee are very light sensitive. On bright sunny days you will find the fish at deeper depths and it is easier to locate fish during the early morning hours before the direct sunlight hits the water. On cloudy days the fish will be closer to the surface. Downriggers help keep your gear at the right depth once you find the fish.

New from Brad’s is the Kokanee Cut Plug-Jason Brooks

Try something new! Brad’s Killer Fishing Gear have come out with a smaller “Kokanee” cut plug. Just like the bigger versions, they are a hinged plug that allows you to fill the cavity with scents and come rigged with tandem red hooks. You can also get a two pack of un-rigged plugs. The one thing that these baits allow you to do is fish different speeds as they work well from the slower early-season fishing to the faster speeds that work better when the water warms up. These plugs can be fished bare or trailing 36 inches behind a dodger or in-line flasher.

Lake Chelan and Lake Roosevelt are already on fire for Kokanee and it won’t be long before the some of the top lakes in Western Washington start heating up for Kokes. It’s been a long winter and I’m pretty excited to get out there and test out some new Kokanee gear that’s been piling up on my fishing work bench!

Jason Brooks
The Outdoor Line – Blogger
710 ESPN Seattle

www.jasonbrooksphotography.com

It’s Here – Daiwa Lexa Line Counter!

By Rob Endsley

lexa_line_counter

Daiwa’s new Lexa 300 line counter is a compact powerhouse that will put plenty of salmon, steelhead, and tuna in the boat here in the Pacific Northwest. With the Lexa’s buttery smooth Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag anglers can finesse a big steelhead or walleye on light line or slam the breaks on a running Chinook or albacore. It also makes it a great all around reel for Pacific Northwest guides that make the seasonal switch from salmon and steelhead to walleye.

With 22 pounds of drag you can do just about anything with this reel. Saltwater salmon, ling cod, and tuna suddenly become fair game with this low profile reel.

The Lexa 300 line counter holds 240 pounds of 40 pound braid and is equipped with a  braid-ready spool with cutouts for tying off braid. No more wrapping electrical tape around the spool or backing with monofilament to keep the braid from spinning on the spool.

Most line counters are built with trolling in mind but this one also has Magforce cast control which makes casting a breeze. This makes for quick redeployment of the gear when the bite is on.

lexa_line_counter2

The line counter on the Lexa 300 is centered and the numbers are easy to read. The reel also comes with Daiwa’s “Swept Handle” that places the paddle closer to the rod.

Daiwa also has plans for a Lexa 400 line counter slated for release next year. That reel will very likely end up as mooching reel on my charter boat in Southeast Alaska.

The other nice thing about the new Lexa line counter is that you can find it in both left and right handed versions and two gear ratios, 5.5:1 and 6.3:1.

As of this blog very limited supplies of the new Lexa 300 line counter have been shipped to retailers and you won’t even find it on Daiwa’s website. They will retail at around $199 and expect to see them in stores sometime in early November. Definitely worth the wait!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
www.theoutdoorline.com

Rigging and Fishing Yarnies for Steelhead

It’s March 22nd here in Wet-stern Washington and I’ve been beating this yarnie horse for quite a while now. In the right conditions (low and clear) they flat out get the job done for winter steelhead and they are so, so, so easy to rig up.

I just transferred over all of the Outdoor Line videos to a new page and in doing so realized that we’ve produced three how-to videos on the subject of yarnies.

If you’re interested in how I fish a simple yarnie setup check ’em out:

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Sitka 2014 Great White: NORTH!

This year’s edition of The Outdoor Line’s annual Sitka trip was a very special one. We had some Alaska “first-timers”, (I was going to say “Greenhorns” but…) some of our wives made the trip for the first time in several years and 2014 marked the Alaskan arrival of the 710 ESPN flagship, the Weldcraft 280 Cuddy King.

The trip began back in late May with the barge trip from Seattle to Sitka. It’s a bit freaky seeing your boat and truck sail away but it’s a gas to fly into Sitka and find your ride safe and sound thanks to Alaska Marine Lines!aBarge

 

 

We were very fortunate to arrive in time for some flat, sunny weather and a solid chinook bite. Jack Reyes mugs for the camera on the first fish of the trip. Little did we know that the bite would remain…but the nice weather would not.aJack#1

 

Team Outdoor Line’s Brandon Robichaux can’t help but grin on his first day in Alaska..and his first Alaskan chinook!aBrando

 

Phil Michelsen handles a hot king and finds that the Daiwa DXS Series Rods and Saltist reels are more than a match for a big Alaskan chinook!aPhil

 

I even get into the act and all my work getting Great White ready for this trip comes to fruition!aDayone Nelly

 

710 ESPN’s Michael Grey of the “Wyman, Mike & Moore” show experienced Alaska for the first time and his very first Alaskan chinook turns out to be a very memorable experience!aMGglass

 

My summer on air partner John Martinis joined us in Sitka for the first time and I believe that it won ‘t be his last appearance on this trip!AJohnM

 

In between weather systems we managed to refine our halibut anchoring techniques. Here, Phil Michelsen, Michael Grey and John Martinis admire out day’s catch with chinook to 26 and halibut to 100lbs!aPMJbut

Speaking of refining techniques, Pro Cure’s Brine & Bite has  forever changed the way I handle my herring. With one jar of Brine & Bite powder, you can cure up to 8 trays of bait that stand up to some trolling, mooching and shine like nothing I’ve ever fished before!ABrine&b

 

My dear friend Larry Stauffer and his wife Dana enjoyed a consistent chinook bite and we enjoyed having our wives join us for a few days of Alaskan angling!aL&D

 

My wonderful wife Kathy handles this hot king and I can’t begin to describe how special it was to have her join me on this trip!AK

 

Kathy and Dana share a laugh and a special moment after this double on mid-20 lb chinook!

aK&D

 

Larry, Dana, Kathy & I with our days catch. We’ll be remembering this trip in pictures -and barbeques- for months to come!aLDK

ESPN’s Brock Huard joined us for his second season in Sitka and his passion for fishing and ability to learn is amazing to watch! I’m pretty sure he is as hard-bitten as I am with southeast Alaska!ABrockNelly

While it’s nothing short of wonderful to share this time in Alaska with family and friends, we’re working on a bit of a promotion that may allow us to host a listener on this trip next year so stay tuned for that!

Meanwhile, we’re working on sharing what we’ve learned in Alaska about chinook salmon fishing right here. Want technique tips? Stand by! We’re going to deliver some tips that will deliver more fish in your box this season!

Tom Nelson

The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Daiwa Saltist Line Counter Passes Alaskan Field Test

There are few products that I’ll give my blessing to before I field test them in the fish-filled waters of Southeast Alaska. I spend my summer months running salmon and halibut charters in Craig, Alaska, a place where very few reels last more than a couple of days. Read on to see how the Daiwa Saltist 30 line counter reel fared in these harsh Alaskan waters.

Between the sheer numbers of fish, severe abuse by charter customers, and harsh Alaskan weather any reel in service on a charter boat in these waters gets the living you-know-what beat out it. I can’t think of a better place in the entire world to test a line counter reel!

I recieved my shipment of Saltist’s in early July and they promptly went into service. At first I only switched out a couple of rods to the Saltist’s just to see how they felt and it wasn’t long before all of my Lamiglas “Salmon Moochers” were sporting them.

I opted for the Saltist 30’s because I could stuff 230 yards of 25 pound test Trilene Transoptic line on them. Break offs aren’t uncommon and we at times mooch cut plug herring in water as deep as 300 feet. I wanted plenty of line capacity to get the job done.

The Saltist comes with a power handle that makes cranking in large salmon, halibut, or bottomfish quite comfortable for even the most inexperienced angler. I also like the fact that the spool, frame, and sideplates are all made of machined aluminum, which greatly reduces any corrosion that’s caused by dissimilar metals.  A carbon drag system and sealed, corrosion-resistant ball bearings come stock with the Saltist. The drags on the four reels that I put into service full-time were just as smooth at the end of the season as they were when they first started. In addition, there was no gravelly feeling in any of the reels that we used, and abused.

These reels cycled thru thousands of fish, were punished by lord-only-knows how many snags on the bottom, and survived multiple encounters with our favorite fur bag…the Stellar sea lion. A 1,500 hundred pound sea lion will smoke a lesser reel in seconds. The Saltist took everything Southeast Alaska could throw at it and was still standing strong at the end of the beatings.

Lastly, and this is a big one for me, the counters were still working at the end of the season. The line counter always seems to be the weakest link on any line counter reel. Go figure!

If you’re looking for a reel for the Columbia River, Puget Sound, or the Washington coast I’d probably opt for the Saltist 20 instead of the 30. The smaller 20 still holds 210 yards of 20 pound test and is super light and sweet on a light jigging, mooching, or trolling rod. For our charter application in Southeast Alaska, however, the Saltist 30 is the perfect reel.

As you can tell I’m happy with the performance of my Saltist’s and I’ll be ordering a few more for next season. If they hadn’t passed the ultimate test, well, I wouldn’t be talking about them here on the Outdoor Line. I really like these reels.

The Daiwa Saltist 30…worth every penny!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Gearing Up for an Alaska Charter Season

It’s March 13th and while I should be thinking about steelhead fishing or something “current” my mind is already preoccupied with all the little things that could make my life easier on the boat this summer in Southeast Alaska. If you didn’t already know I own and operate Prince of Wales Sportfishing in Craig, Alaska during the summer months. I leave the Outdoor Line radio show in the trusted hands of the very-capable Tom Nelson and head north to Alaska to make a living doing what I love…fishing.

You’d think after ten plus years of running charters in Alaska I would have just about every gizmo known to man. That’s partially true, but there’s always something that will put more fish in the boat, provide a higher level of safety for my customers, and possibly make my job easier.

Here are just a few of the items that are on order for the coming saltwater charter season in Alaska:

I just picked up two new retractable steps from North River Boats for getting into and out of my 28′ aluminum charter boat, the “Polar Bear”. It’s a long step down from the dock to the deck of the boat and stepping onto a bucket, well, that just isn’t safe. It’s high time I installed some of these steps to make that transition in and out of the boat a lot easier. Plus, I’m not a spring chicken anymore and these steps are just as much for me as our guests.

A new custom bait station is on order from Three Rivers Marine and Tackle in Woodinville, Washington. The constant bending over cutting herring or simply reaching down to pluck a cut plug herring out of the cooler can put a serious strain on your back. Last summer I went thru 20 cases of bait, which means I had to bend down around 8,800 times. That, folks, is a recipe for major back problems.

The bait station will attach to the stern of the “Polar Bear” and can be adorned with any number of attachments. I’m thinking cup holders and rod holders on the side will work great. I’m very much looking forward to this upgrade to the boat.

Good luck trying to find one of these in Alaska. This is a long-shanked stainless hook remover that happens to be built by Calcutta, although there are several others on the market that also work. When we’re salmon fishing in certain areas we are constantly, and I mean constantly having to release ping-pong-paddle sized halibut and this tool is a must for that chore. Reaching down the throat of a gyrating halibut with mooching hooks flying everywhere results in barbed hooks right where you don’t want them…in your hand. This tool is a must for that task!

I’ve got two Lowrance HDS Touch 9’s going on the boat this summer too. I mounted a Touch 7 on my jet boat this winter and all I can say is this machine is the cat’s ass. They are super easy to operate and have a much brighter display than the Gen 2 HDS 10’s that are currently mounted on the charter boat. I thought the 10’s were bright…I will have no problem seeing these all the way from the stern of the boat. If you’ve operated a touch screen iPhone you will have no problem dialing in one of these units.

A Lowrance 4G radar will replace the 3G radar that’s mounted on the boat now. These broadband radars don’t require any warm-up time and the image you get with this technology is second-to-none. My Lowrance gear has treated me great over the years and I have the same high expectations for the new Touch 9’s and 4G radar that I’ll be mounting on the boat in May.

I’m making the switch to Daiwa Saltist line counter reels this summer. I’ve used their spinning and small levelwinds for years for steelhead and salmon fishing on the rivers in Washington and they have never let me down. I have some old Daiwa Laguna spinning reels that are pushing a decade old and remarkably they still work. That’s unheard of for a spinning reel that get’s that much abuse!

The new Saltist’s are built with a one-piece aluminum frame, alloy gears, and a drag that can hold up to 22 pounds of pressure. You simply can’t test them in a more harsh environment than Southeast Alaska and I’m hopeful that these reels will perform just as well as all the other Daiwa products I’ve used over the years.

I finally broke down and added Cannon downriggers to the charter boat last summer and I am so glad that I did. The fish were scattered early in the season and we tore up the king salmon using Cannon DT5 downriggers to cover large chunks of water. We simply couldn’t have covered that much water mooching.

This year I’m upgrading to Cannon DT10 downriggers for one very important reason…they have the Bottom Track feature. I’ve used this on my partner Tom Nelson’s boat on numerous occasions and it’s nothing short of a lethal weapon.

In the beginning I was skeptical of this new gizmo and being the stubborn sort I decided to run the downrigger on my side of the boat manually while Tom ran his on Bottom Track. What was the end result after multiple days of testing? He soundly kicked my ass. Bottom Track is da bomb!

Another news bit about Cannon downriggers is that they just redesigned their boom-ends, so they won’t jump out of the track. This is welcome news!

That’s just a little taste of what I’ve been up to folks. I’ll be diving into a huge pile of Mustad 92568 black nickel hooks here shortly too, as I begin the task of pre-tying all of our mooching leaders for an entire summer of hardcore saltwater fishing. More on that later.

Good fishing to you and thanks for stopping by!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

2013 Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby -Day One

Last year was our first time at the Olympic Penninsula Salmon Derby and after experiencing the event, the location and of course the fishing… there was no way I was going to miss this year!

The Harborside Inn was very generous to host us and we did a remote broadcast of The Outdoor Line Radio Show from the lobby over the excellent complementary breakfast! Many anglers competing in the event stayed at the Harborside Inn and took no small enjoyment in pointing out that they were heading out on the water while we were stuck in the lobby to do the show. To make matters worse, our cell phones started blowing up with fish pictures from our “friends”…Brutal!

When we finally got out on the water, Robbo was still getting reports… and while he was on the phone…  Hey ROBBO! YOU GOT ONE!!! …Uh, just a sec Nelly…I’m on the phone…

Needless to say, we lost that first fish…and it was a good one… but it wouldn’t be too long before the good ol’ Coho Killer produced a nice blackmouth for me.

 

Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby rules call for a 3pm weigh-in deadline so after a late start…it was an quick trip to the scale where lucky anglers were lined up to enter their fish.

Tony Dobson of Snatchin’ Lips Rods, fishing aboard John Keizer’s Team Lowrance boat, shares a laugh with the crew at the weigh in.

 

After my 8.9 pounder was weighed in, WDFW personnel were there to scale sample and measure the hatchery chinook entered in the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Lowrance heads for its slip at Point Hudson to get ready for day two of this three day event… Three solid days of fishing… No wonder they call this derby the “Iron Man”!

As of the end of fishing Saturday 2/16/13, 123 fish have been submitted; top three are 15.90, 14.80, and 14.30. With a “sporty” forecast for Sunday… it would be nice to be sitting atop the leaderboard.That 15.9 pounder is looking good for the ten thousand dollar first prize!