The Best Salmon Chips EVER…

Every once in awhile, through trial and error, you come up with something pretty good. That would be the case with my Salmon Chips. Only this time, I came up with something Damn Good….

I started making’em for the guys at work a couple years ago and kept refining it until I had a recipe that has the ability to turn fish-eating nay-sayers into “Salmon Lovers”.

It’s really nothing new, I mean “Fish & Chips” have been around forever. For some folks, Salmon Chips are a pretty recognizable staple in their diet. For others, “Salmon Chips” generate a far off stare as if I am the biggest idiot ever. ” You can’t make Salmon into Fish & Chips”, is usually the response. I simply reply, just keep an open mind and give it a try. The eye opening experience with the first bite, is just that… an eye opening experience.

OK, so how do we make’em….

I think it is important to serve any fish, cooked as a chip, absolutely boneless. This takes a little time but is well worth the effort. After you have your salmon fillets, you need to take the time to remove the pin-bones. A small pair of flat-nose or needle-nose pliers work well.If you are not sure exactly how to remove the pin-bones, here is a helpful quick video. “Remove Pin Bones”  Next you’ll want to remove the skin off the back side of the fillet and be sure to remove the excess brown fatty meat.

With the bones and skin removed, you simply cut your clean salmon fillett into large chip size pieces.

I will generally do this in the morning so that when I am done seasoning the pieces, I can put it in the refrigerator for the better part of the day. This allows for enough time to ensure that your seasonings absorb into the meat. This in turn makes for a much more favorable chip.

Here is were the rubber meats the road. For me, this makes all the difference in how your Salmon Chip will turn out flavorful, lightly breaded and with very little to no oil in the fish.

My choice of seasonings are pretty simple, Pepper, Garlic Salt and “Tony Chachere’s original Creole Seasoning”. If I want to make my Salmon Chips with a little extra bite, I’ll also add Tony’s Cajun seasoning as well. Season your chunks of fish generously, as you want the flavor to wake up your taste-buds…

I like to use McCormick’s Fish & Chips batter. The key here is that you need to make sure you mix it thin. Extra water in the batter, is a good thing. I like a very thin layer of batter coating my fish. We have all had those pieces of fish, heavily caked in dough, soaked with oil and lets face it, they taste nasty.

A light coating of batter means that you won’t have a ton of extra oil soaked into your chip. I also use a very light oil. I like the end product I get when using a light blend of Canola Oil and Light Olive Oil, made by “Smart Balance omega”.

I heat my oil in a large sauce pan, on the stove top. A medium high heat usually gets the job done. I’m not trying to flash-cook my fish, I want it a bit slower and controlled so I end up with golden brown pieces of fish.

I cook the pieces of fish, until they turn that light golden brown texture I’m looking for. Then I remove each piece and place them on stacked paper towels. This helps to draw any extra oil, out of the fish.

With paper towels underneath, I’ll continue to place more paper towels on top and continue to stack on more fish. I keep adding layers until all my fish is cooked. Stacking the fish on paper towels and covering the top with a piece of foil actually keeps the fish warm until they are ready to be served.

Spicy Salmon Chips with some Sweet Potato Fires and Cole-Slaw…. It doesn’t get much healthier then that for “Fish & Chips”. More importantly, the flavor will make you think twice about ever going back to Cod, when it comes to choosing what type of fish to consider to make your chips….

Bone Appetit ….

Beau Mac Floats, More Options Then Ever

I have been a big fan of Beau Mac Floats for years. For me, I’m sold on the quality and the variety of floats now offered by Beau Mac.

I look for several things when I am looking for a quality float. First and foremost is durability. I don’t like fishing floats that can’t take a little abuse and stay intact over the course of a tough day of fishing.

When you take a lot of buddies fishing your float’s get abused because, well, that’s what your buddies do to your gear. This wouldn’t happen if they were simply cast into the water. It’s the amount of time my floats spend in trees, banged against rocks and the shoreline that tends to beat’em up a bit. And no, I’m not talking about me…

Another key point that I like about Beau Mac floats is the color or the color contrast that they have. The vibrant colors at the top end of their floats not only make it possible for you to see your float, but it’s also an indicator as to how deep your float should be floating on top of the water. This indicates that you have your float weighted properly.

With so many styles of floats and weight ratings on floats how do I decide which float to use and when? One thing is for certain, not all floats are created equal. Several floats may perhaps be marked 5/8ths oz. but they actually perform completely different when rigged exactly the same in your presentation.

Let’s take a look at some of the floats Beau Mac now offers and I’ll identify some practical applications for each type or style of float.

One of the more popular styles of float and one of my favorites for my go-to technique of float-doggin with a stick lead is an in-line sliding float. For a majority of the season, for both salmon and steelhead, I match a 5/8 ounce float with my stick lead which weighs on average about .42 ounce.

As a comparison this is very close in weight to a four bead slinky. Keep in mind that with this presentation we are dragging the weight. That is why you have a float that is rated much higher then the weight you are actually matching to the float.  At times for summer steelhead I have cut the stick lead in half and then I’ll match it with a smaller 3/8 ounce float. Beau Mac’s In-Line Slider float has a wide range of weights starting at 1/4 ounce going up in 1/4 oz. increments to 1 oz.

The new Beau Mac wood floats are an extremely nice float too. If you’re looking for durability, this is the one. The wood is extremely tough and it does not crack easily. The brass inserts on both the top and bottom prevent line from cutting into the float. The brass inserts also ensure that the float slides extremely well.

My ideal conditions for this float application is fishing any presentation vertically. The wood float works very well for jigs, but it also is well suited for fishing bait suspended. The torpedo design makes for a float that goes down on a fish take with little to no resistance and the weight of the float aids in cast-ability when fishing small jigs.

As with all floats match your float, jig and in-line weight so that the float rides correctly in the water. With a 5/8 ounce float fishing a 3/8 oz. jig you should use a 1/4 ounce Beau Mac in-line sinker to get the proper presentation.

Even though this is a 5/8 ounce float it’s not what I will use for float dogging. It’s labeled 5/8 ounce as is the foam 5/8 ounce that I use. However, the difference in buoyancy is just enough that the wood float will not stay up where I like them to be in the water column while dragging weight.

The new Beau Mac clear floats are a very good choice for multiple steelhead fishing applications. One thing to keep in mind is that these floats are marked in grams (gms). Here is a simple conversion to memorize: 20g = 0.70oz, 25g = 0.88oz, 30g = 1.05oz.

The clear floats come in several sizes. I have had great success using the 25 gram float for float doggin and the 20 gram is great for fishing jigs. I will definitely use the 30 gram for fall salmon, fishing bait suspended under a float.

These clear floats are a great choice for low clear conditions or even moderately clear conditions anytime. They are extremely tough and I haven’t had any issues with the floats separating and filling with water. I think if you check these out you’ll also be impressed with the retail price.

Beau Mac also offers a great selection in their torpedo float design. There are several sizes and weights to choose from. I have used the torpedo floats for both float doggin and fishing jigs. I find the in-line slider to be a much more durable float for float doggin and really like the torpedo design for jigs or fishing bait suspended. The narrow taper allows for even the lightest biters to take your offering without feeling the resistance of the float. They are also extremely easy to retrieve as they do not create a lot of drag on the water. The shorter  and more round taper style is also a good choice on lakes for trout or spiny-ray fisheries.

Beau Mac offers the complete system for float fishing. You have a couple of options when it comes to Beau Mac bobber stops. The dacron thread stoppers work great on braid and they also work well as a line marker on your plug rods for knowing the distance of line you have out. Simply measure an equal distance of line on your reels for your plug rods and slide on and secure a bobber stop. You can even use multiple colors perhaps marking with a bright green stopper at 30 feet and a bright pink at 40 feet.

When I rig up my rods with a top shot of mono for float doggin, I will always run my bobber stops on the monofilament. This is where the rubber stoppers come in and work very well. You only need to remember a couple things when choosing which stopper to use. The dacron stops don’t work well on mono, so use the rubber stops if your using monofilament or flourocarbon. The rubber stops don’t work well on braid, so use the dacron stops on braid.

There ya go…..Hopefully some of this info helps you decide on which style of float to use specific to the application or technique you are trying to master.

Beau Mac is a great local tackle company that’s been around for decades and best of all they make gear specific to our fishing needs here in the Pacific Northwest. Their floats work for me and I’m sure you’ll find them to your satisfaction too.

See ya on the water!

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
Theoutdoorline.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing Pink Rubber Worms for Steelhead

The 2012-2013 Steelhead season has, as we’ve discussed on “The Outdoor Line”, shaped up to be a big fish year. Both hatchery fish and natives alike have made more than one fisherman perform a double take because of their eye-poppin’ size.

Check out some of the mondo steelhead we’ve taken time to post up in our “Heavy Metal 2013” photo album over in the Outdoor Line fishing forums. These are just some of the big fish we’ve been exposed to via friends and followers of show.

Without a doubt, it’s been impressive thus far. The exciting thing is we are actually now on the door-step the time when a good number of our large, and I mean LARGE, native steelhead enter our rivers.

On some of our favorite rivers some sections are regulated “artificial lure” only, which means no bait. On other rivers it just makes sense to use certain artificial lures because they flat out work.

One choice that many anglers seem to be drawn to is the well-respected “Pink Worm”, or Count Wormula as Endsley likes to call it. The rubber worm for steelhead has been proven time and time again and for good reason.Big steelhead love the worm!

When most anglers think about fishing a soft plastic worm the first thing they try to figure out is how? “How do I rig it or even more-so, how do I fish it”?  Well, here are a few simple options to give you some things to think about.

The first thing to understand is that “not all worms are created equal”. To be more specific, some float, some do not. Some are actually considered neutrally buoyant. They also come in several sizes lke 3 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch, and even 6″ worms are common. Also, pick a color, any color or even multiple colors. Lastly, what kind of tail do you prefer? Straight, paddle, curly…I think you get the point. As you stand in the isle at your favorite tackle distributor take some time, read the package, and if all else fails ask for help.

Now that you have your worms selected lets take a look at “How-to-Rig”. One of the easiest ways to present a worm is to simply drift fish it. You have a choice, worms that float or at a minimum are neutrally buoyant. You’ll definitely want to run a neutrally bouyant worm with a corky or cheater on your leader to give it some floatation. You can also put one on with your buoyant worms as well for more color, but it’s not necessary for buoyancy.

You’ll want to use a long needle or a worm/bait threader to pull your pre-tied leader  through the worm. You want to start a few inches from the tail and thread the worm onto the needle all the way through to the top. Placing a good plastic or glass bead down the leader on top of the hook, helps prevent the hook from being pulled into the worm and tearing it. You can also use something called a sequin. Sequins are those reflective do-dads used in costumes and found at most craft stores. These are actually a great choice as well.

This rig works great for drift fishing; however my favorite method for my worms rigged in this manner is “float dogging”. Of course I’ll run it with my stick lead and the only change I am making is to use an artificial lure vs. bait like I normally do. One thing to keep in mind, you’ll want to run an 18″ to 20″ leader so as to keep your buoyant worm down in the strike zone.

Here is another option and in my opinion the easiest way to rig a worm. If you can tie a leader on under a float, then you are 3/4ths of the way there.

I usually go with a 2 foot or 3 foot leader tied to a size 1 hook. This presentation works best with 3 inch worms and usually no larger than 4 inch. Place just a few split-shot on your leader to get it down under the float a bit faster and your leader is ready. Simply hang the worm on the hook at about the mid-way point, and your set. This is known as “whacky style”.

It can be flat-out deadly and I’ll fish this in most areas where I would also fish a jig. It’s a great way to present a worm suspended and creep it along structure, such as wood. I also like the fact that if I want to change out to a different color or style, it doesn’t get much easier. Remember that a buoyant worm isn’t necessary, as we want to make sure the worm is suspended under the float.

Similar to the wacky style and also fished under a float, is an inverted presentation. You have a couple options. Buoyant worms can be fished with a bullet sinker on a bead on top of the hook. Using the bait threader, this time you slide the worm on from the top first and only go about 1/3 of the way through. At this point you want to push the needle out through the side. As you thread this worm onto the leader, the leader will come out the side, allowing the worm to bend over and create a lot of movement when hanging upside-down.

If you use a non-buoyant or neutral buoyant worm, you can add a few split shot to the leader, again to get it down under the float. These also fish very well in water ideal for jigs.

“Got jig heads”? Yep, just that simple…. put a 2 inch or 3 inch worm on a jig head, suspend it under a float, and you are fishing a pink worm. Don’t be afraid to use these little guys to dress up some of your big steelhead jigs, as well. If you are looking for a big profile with a lot of action this just might be your ticket.

As my buddy “William” has been quoted in saying, many, many times…..”What isn’t tried won’t work”.

All I know is that several years ago I rigged a pink worm on a leader, with a series of beads and a Spin-n-Glo. My intention was to fish it on a bait diver. The first time I did this I was in a buddy’s boat. He put out a plug, I put out my worm and bait diver. In about 3 or 4 minutes we had a violent take down, and it wasn’t on the plug. I grabbed the rod, put a little pressure to it and POW….. the fish was gone. I reeled in and brought back my bait diver and half of the 5′ to 6′ leader. I could tell I must of had a nick or a knot or some defect that caused the leader to break.

The bottom line is that it worked and it worked well. I will use it on occasion when the conditions are right. You fish it as you would a plug. I rig the worm so as to increase the action. Again, using the bait threader I start a few inches from the bottom. Threading up towards the top and pop the needle out about an inch from the end. This little end of worm pointing slightly down below the beads and Spin-n-Glo actually act like a bit of a rudder in the water and creates additional movement on the worm. You are basically backing this crazy moving worm down right at the fish on a 5 foot to 6 foot leader. This particular rig is a little more involved but it can work very well.

There ya go, a number of choices and options on how to rig and fish a pink rubber worm in hopes of banging a huge wild steelhead this spring. There is still plenty of winter-run season left. Go get yourself some worms, get them rigged up, and go out a catch a big chrome nate. Just make sure you send us a picture of that “Heavy Metal Monster” here on our FORUMS page, under “Fish Reports“. Or feel free to post it up on the Outdoor Line Facebook  page.

Good steelhead fishing to you!

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Cured Tiger Prawns for Steelhead

How many different colors can you make your Tiger Prawn? I guess the question should be, “How many different colors of Nectar does Pautzke’s actually produce”?

If you said 5, then you are on the right track. With that, we will stick with the basics just to make sense of it all. If I start mixing and matching colors, there is no limit as to how lengthy this article could end up. With 5 Nectar colors to choose from, you could actually create what I refer to as the Tiger Prawn Rainbow…

Now to say that Pautzke’s Nectar will add some color to your Tiger Prawn, is an understatement. The colors are very vibrant and basically jump off the page at you. Nectar not only adds tremendous color to your Prawn, but also additional bite stimulants that you get just as a result of how the Nectar is produced. You are essentially soaking your Prawn in Egg Juice, which adds additional scents and attractants, Oh and by the way, did I mention COLOR…

Another question to ponder, Are you using Tiger Prawn for Salmon and Steelhead? If not, then How Come? Ok, I guess that is actually two questions.

If you have sat through any of my shrimp Curing Seminars, Coon Shrimp, Tiger Prawn etc. then you have heard me talk about the versatility of these baits and just how much you can do with them.

The first thing I like to remind folks is that fish, absolutely love them. They are a very natural smelling and looking bait that fish very well raw with a little salt and sugar.

Now we are going back into the Bait Lab to take our beloved Tiger Prawn to the next level. For me at different times of the year, adding color to my Tiger Prawn is great way of creating multiple baits and giving me multiple options from just one simple bait.

I can also create two different baits using just one color of Nectar. If I soak my Tiger Prawn, for example in Blue Nectar, it will turn my Prawn, very, very Blue. An option that I like to use more than not, is simply this. Some of the Prawn are soaked with the shells peeled off and some are soaked with the shell left intact.

For the Prawn that are soaked in the Nectar with the shells removed, you will notice the color penetrates the Prawn completely and makes all of the Prawn Meat a very bold color based on the color you have selected.

For the Prawn that I soak with the shells In-Tact, the Nectar color of choice penetrates the Prawn Meat around the edges, leaving the center of the Prawn almost a natural color or just slightly colored by the Nectar. For me this creates a bait with “Color Contrast” which at times, may be just the difference needed to stimulate a bite.

Now, past practice for many is to chunk cut your Prawn and use it while side drifting, drift fishing and or even tip a jig with it every now and again.

For me, as I have mentioned before, chunk cutting is ok, however I like to change it up a bit and fish bait that has a little more natural action. I find that by simply cutting your prawn length-ways, down the center of the back, you end up with a very nice thin Prawn Fillet. This will fish very well when side drifting or drift fishing, it will also fish very well under a float. The thinness of the fillet allows the bait to tumble and role and in some respects float naturally, to more so resemble natural bait then just a chunk of meat tumbling along.

How about to tip a jig? Have you ever strip-cut your Prawn.

Once you have mastered the skill of cutting your Prawn Baits into nice even Prawn Fillets, the next step is to cut them once again, length-wise, to create a nice long strip of Prawn that resembles a very small worm. We know that pink worms and actually multiple colors of worms have become very popular for fishing Steelhead and Coho. Why not create your own colored mini-worm that has great scent properties, and when tipped on a jig actually has the added bonus of action. You cannot get that by simply putting a chunk of Prawn on your jig hook.

Using Pautzke’s Nectar is a great means of adding tremendous color and scent to your Tiger Prawn. To get your Prawn to fish the very best that they can, you still need to add a little more to create the ideal cure.

A basic recipe I like to use is simply this:

One Bottle of Pautzke’s Nectar (any color)
1/4 cup Non-Iodized Sea Salt
1/2 cup Sugar, (White or Natural)

That’s all there is to it, really it is just that simple. If you are curing Tiger Prawn for Salmon a 1/4 cup of Salt and just a 1/4 cup of sugar will do just fine. For Steelhead, I like to sweeten them up a bit and will add the extra sugar, as much as a 1/2 cup. This can actually cure up to about 25 Tiger Prawn, in the 51 to 60 count size.

I will generally soak Tiger Prawn for about 24 hrs. in my colored cure mixture and then they are ready to fish. The Pautzke’s Nectar adds the color and bite enhancements and the salt and sugars add the sweetness and durability I can depend on that makes these little baits fish so good.

I will fish them right out of the soaking container the first trip out and cut as I go. If I have some left over and plan to fish within the next week or two, I can take the Tiger Prawn out of the cure and place them into a tupperware container and store them in my bait fridge. Just for test purposes I have had Tiger Prawn cured in this exact recipe last in my bait fridge for up to four months and still fish very well.

Which color of Nectar you choose is entirely up to you. I will however let you in on one additional secret. If you do select the Red or Yellow Nectar, you will also be adding UV to your Tiger Prawn, which may just be the difference you are looking for, when fishing low light or off colored water conditions.

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Build an Insulated Box for your Little Chief Smoker

The ability to have fish, fowl, game and even cheese, turn out consistently good in your smoker comes down to a few control measures. I’m not going to waste your time telling you the absolute best wet or dry brine for fish. I am also not going to tell you how fantastic your duck will turn out when wrapped in thick cut bacon…. You can read my smoked duck blog on that one..

I am, however, going to tell you or more importantly show you the importance of temperature control.

I have a Luhr Jensen Little Chief smoker. I’ve had it for years and it does a great job. Back when it was new and when I was smoking fish in the fall and winter I would follow the manufacturers recommendation and use the box it came in as an insulator. The smoker itself is not insulated so the recommendation in cold weather is to place the box over the smoker to help keep some of the heat in.

Once the box wore out, I actually used an old sleeping bag. I did this for a couple years until I finally decided that there had to be a better way.

It always amazes me the idea’s a guy can come up with by simply by walking through a Home Depot or Lowes. There is so much stuff in there it’s just a matter of time until you find everything you need for any project.

Now I was thinking insulation, as in insulating my smoker, when I was walking thru the store. So, I found myself standing in the area of Home Depot that has anything to do with everything in the realm of insulation. I decided to go with structural foundation insulation foam.

To build this insulator box, here is what you will need…
-4 X 8 sheet of one inch thick R. Tech Insulation Foam
-10 ft. of 1 ¼ in. corner molding
-Lock Tight Power Grip multi-purpose adhesive. Make sure it is foam compatible
-Duct-Work aluminum tape (aluminum foil tape)
-Hardware components and grommets

There are several different models of the Little Chief and Big Chief smokers. You need to measure your individual smoker, length and width, to get the accurate measurements. Check if your smoker has handles on the sides or front that you measure the overall width to accommodate for them. When your insulated box is finished, it slides down over the top and it needs to clear the width of the handles.

Cut your four panels using a straight edge with a very sharp fillet knife. I found that when I used a utility knife I had to cut each side of the panel. The utility knife cannot go completely through the one inch thick foam from one side.

The length of your panels should be about 24 inches. The length of your 1 ¼” corner trim should be about 26 inches. The important thing here is that the length of your corner pieces are two inches longer then the panels.

Next you’ll need to take two of your panels and cut a one inch recess along both edges of the panel. Make sure it’s the two panels that are aligned opposite. For example, you should have two panels that are 14. 5 inchs in width and two that are 16 in. Pick a set and make your cuts along each edge. The other set you can leave full dimension. This is so you can glue the panels together and the corner trim will fit evenly.

This is an example of how the corners will fit together, with the recess cut and the corner trim in place.

Once I have the four panels cut and trimmed, it’s time to glue it all together. I put a bead of Lock Tight along the cut-out edge that I made. I also put a thin bead along each side of the corner trim. I put all the pieces together and try to keep it square.

I then wrap the heck out of the box with a heavy string or small diameter rope. I make sure I pull it tight as I continue to wrap and again try to keep it square. The pressure of the string against all four corners will ensure the box holds together tight as the glue drys. I give it at least 24 hrs. to dry. You may need to move it into the house to dry if you are building your box in the fall or winter. The garage may be a bit to cool.

While I have the box wrapped and squared up I measure and cut the top to fit.

The fact that this is styrofoam, I don’t like to leave the edges unprotected. I found that duct-work aluminum foil tape works great for covering all foam exposed edges.

Basically I was able to do the lid with one long strip. You can do it in sections if you prefer.

Next you will also want to do the top edge of your box and the bottom. Again, I tape any exposed foam on the edges.

Next I need to cut a hole in the top for the heat vent. I use a quart jar, narrow neck lid. I make sure the hole that I drill is a bout a ½ inch smaller in diameter then the lid. I want to make sure my vent cover actually covers the hole when I need it to. Also, I need room at the edge to anchor the vent lid.

To make sure I can spin or pivot the vent cover open I use stainless components and plastic grommets.

I drill a hole through the top and reinforce the hole on both sides with some aluminum foil tape. Then, push a plastic grommet in both sides of the top.

I attach the vent cover lid with the stainless screw, nut, and washers. Next I drill a hole and insert a grommet for the thermometer. Depending on the model of smoker you have you can align the thermometer hole with one of the vents in the lid of the smoker. Or if there are no vent slits, you will need to drill a hole in the smoker lid.

If there is a vent, simply open it up a bit with a screwdriver so that your thermometer will fit through the lid. Having the thermometer through the lid and into the actual smoker is key. After-all, this entire project is all about temperature control…

The final two steps are to simply measure your smoker for the location of your pan door on the front and power cord on the back.

Measure and cut out both front and back and reinforce the edges with the foil tape. Again, having no exposed styrofoam makes for a stronger box.

That is pretty much it. This is one of those projects that takes a little time to complete, but it’s so well worth it. You will have an insulation smoker box with temperature control that will last you for years. If you’re like me, sometimes do-it-yourself projects are actually kind of fun.


Good luck and if you decide to build one, make sure you post some pictures on the Outdoor Line forums or over on our Facebook  page.

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

The Ultimate Steelhead Rag

Fishing rags for steelhead has actually been around longer then I have been fishing. A few guys have told me they were fishing rags back in the 1960’s.

My Dad started fishing rags on the Puyallup and Carbon Rivers back in the eighty’s. I’m not sure where he saw it, or came up with it, but it was a styrofoam and yarn combination that he swore by.

At some point, backer-rod was the simple go-to method to create the rag body. One cut and you had a nice small piece of foam to pull the yarn through.

Today, and for quite some time now you can find rags tied on leaders, packaged and sold in sporting good stores pretty much everywhere. Most of the manufactured rags are white-bodied and usually have one or two colors of yarn pulled through them.

I gave up on trying to find backer-rod about ten years ago. Walking through Target one summer I stopped in the toy section and stood and stared at the big box filled with pool noodles. There were about six different colors in the box but the colors that caught my attention were the orange, pink, and chartreuse/green noodles.

I figured colored foam…how could this not work? I’ve also experimented over the years with any type of colored foam I could get my hands on. Some are tough and spongy while others are light and brittle. You won’t know if it will work until you cut a piece of foam and then try to pull yarn through it.

Colored rag bodies just make too much sense. Over the years, I have found that they work great for both steelhead and salmon. I pretty much rely on the pink and orange for steelies though. I use green or pink for Salmon. When I say salmon I can honestly say that I have caught, kings, coho and chums on “Rags & Eggs”.

The other key component in your rag construction is the yarn. I use a lot of the Glo Bug Yarn. They have so many colors to choose from, it’s durable, and they now have a lot of colors in UV.

When it comes to steelhead I think color selection is key. Even though Dad, back in the day, would use white backer rod he would use anywhere from four to six different colors of yarn when he would make his rags. The key to his success was the color contrast and not much has changed in 40 years of steelheading.

Steelhead are very visually stimulated. Light and dark colors in combination create contrast that they pick up on. It also grabs their attention when color combinations replicate natural food that they feed on.

Think about the different colors in a Sand-Shrimp. Pinks, orange, purples, perhaps a little black, and the guts inside a sand shrimp are a brighter yellow color. Those are pretty much the basic go-to colors for my steelhead rags.

I will mix in some steelhead peach or at times a brighter pink or cerise. Usually I use a maximum of six colors with a single dark color mixed with two lighter colors in each combination. For me it’s all about the creating contrast.

Due to the large diameter of the Glo Bug yarn I will cut it to length and then separate each piece length wise to make it thinner. To try and pull a full size piece of the yarn through the foam and you’ll find that it’s just a little too thick.

To create or punch out the rag body it’s really pretty simple. First take your pool noodle and cross cut off a disc or round. The wider you make the disk you cut off, the longer your rag body will be.

Next take a three to four inch piece of copper 3/8th in. water pipe. Take a small file and sharpen one end of the pipe, inside and out, until you get a sharp edge. When pushing the sharpened end of the tool against the foam and slightly twisting it back and forth, it will cut right through the foam. Using a pencil to push the cut plug of foam out of the tool works well.

Next, grab one of your yarn color combinations and pull it through the foam. This is easy to do with a needle and a piece of braided fishing line tied in a loop. Something else that works really well for pulling yarn through the foam is a fly bobbin threader. Push the threader through the foam, place one end of the yarn pieces into the threader and pull it back through the foam.

I pull the first three pieces of yarn through the foam. With the three short pieces laid together you can easily pull it through the foam as long as you grab the very end of the yarn in your loop. The more the yarn doubles back on it’s self in the loop of braid the bulkier it is and the tougher it is to pull through the foam.

When I push the needle through for the second yarn grouping I place it in the foam just below the first layer of yarn. I don’t want to try to pull yarn through yarn because it won’t work.

Once I have both sets of yarn pulled through I’ll pull and separate the pieces of yarn and spread them out around the body of the foam. Then I’ll cut and trim the yarn to length.

The final step is to simply tie your leader and thread the rag on to it. Push the needle through the body of the rag from bottom to top. Make sure you put a bead above your hook before threading on the rag. This helps to keep the eye of the hook from punching up into your rag. Without the bead you’ll go through a lot of rags in a day because the hook will tear up the foam.

Tie yourself a leader roll full of rags and go chase some winter steelies. Eggs and rags or rags with sand-shrimp tails are both hard combinations to beat. For me, float-doggin rags with bait in steelie-green water conditions is a definite go-to…

Duane Inglin
710 ESPN Seattle
The Outdoor Line
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

 

The Worlds Best Smoked Duck

The reality is, there is more than one way to cook a duck. The first time I brought my limit of seven ducks home I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to cook’em or what I wanted to try.

The one thing I knew for certain, is that after I breasted-out my ducks I needed to get the blood out of the meat. Robbo gave me a great tip. An over night soak in a mixture of kosher salt and water did the trick. By the next morning pretty much all the blood was out.

While my duck breasts were soaking I had time to get on the internet and research some recipes. I found a few that looked interesting and I settled on one that gave me an idea.

I was going to smoke my duck breast and I was also going to change a recipe that I found for a brine…just a bit.

Here’s the ingredients that I settled on:

2 quarts apple cider
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
2 crushed bay leafs
1 tea sp. cracked peppercorn
1 tea sp. minced garlic
1 tea sp. garlic pepper

Mix your ingredients thoroughly with a wisp until the salts and sugars are dissolved.

This time I am actually going to smoke duck breasts and goose thighs. For the breast prior to brining I cut them in half length wise. For larger breasts such as big mallards I will even cut those into three pieces.

I will let this meat soak for a good twenty four hours. It’s all about adding flavor and ensuring that your meat will be nice and tender when the smoking is complete.

When you remove your breast and thighs form the brine you’ll notice a slight color change. No worries, this is the result of the salts and sugars absorbing into the meat.

Now here is the game changer. Knowing that duck and goose are extremely lean and free of fat also means that it is very easy to over-cook and have it end up chewy and tough. That is exactly what we don’t want.

I knew I needed to add some fat to the meat prior to smoking. In my mind I thought, “why not wrap each piece in bacon”. Everyone knows that anything cooked in bacon is a sure hit. Make sure you get the “Thick Cut Bacon”. It will cost a little more, but the amount of fat in each piece protecting your prized duck or goose is well worth it.

Wrapping each piece of duck and goose is pretty simple. For the duck strips I just take a single piece of bacon and go around it length wise and pin it in place with a tooth-pick. I make sure the tooth-pick is pushed all the way in on the bottom so it’s not in the way when setting your wrapped meat on your smoking rack. It’s OK if it sticks out of the top a bit. For the goose thighs I basically spiral wrap the bacon around the thigh from top to bottom.

Because duck and goose meat is so dense, it’s not like smoking fish. I find that you really do need to smoke at higher temperatures. I use a Little Chief and put it in an insulated box that I built. This works great in getting my smoker up to the temps that I need. Something else I do to get my smoker up in temperature is a combination of chips and pucks.

I like to use the Peterson Smoke Pucks, as they really aid in getting the smoker to the higher temps that I need. I also use smoking chips for flavor. When smoking fish or fowl fruit chips are always a great choice. For this recipe I use apple chips as it complements the apple cider brine very nicely.

The overall smoking time will vary. I usually keep the smoker between 140 and 160 for six to seven hours. As the meat in the smoker warms up I eventually get it up to about 180 for at least the last hour to hour and a half.

Overall smoking time tends to be about eight hours depending on your temps. I want the bacon on the outside of the duck done but not burned.
Because of the bones in the goose thigh meat it actually takes a bit longer to smoke. Once I removed the duck from the smoker the goose thighs were left in the smoker for another hour and a half. Total smoke time for the goose was about nine and a half to ten hours. Again, total time will depend on your smoker temperature control.

Goose thighs on the top rack and the duck strips on the other three racks.

A good look at what the bacon wrapped pieces look like right out of the smoker. Again, the bacon is done but not burned.

Finally I simply unwrap the bacon and prepare the meat for serving. With the duck, I like to cut it into strips. You can see how the meat ends up medium rare and moist. You will not believe the amount of smoke flavor on this fowl, it’s amazing. For the goose thighs, I strip as much meat off the bone as I can. You will find that the goose tends to be just a bit tougher then the duck, however it’s still very flavorful.

Give this smoke duck or goose recipe a try, I think you’ll find a new favorite to serve to your friends and family around the holidays.

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

How to Make a Durable Yarnie for Steelhead

There is obviously more then one way to tie a yarnie. When it comes to creating Steelhead lures I want to be certain of two things. One, what I am using needs to look and perform as I envisioned it and two, I want to make sure it’s durable.

Having confidence in what you are offering and not having to worry if it looks good or is fishing right takes some of the guess work out of it. Something as simple as a yarnie is no different.

The easiest way to create a yarnie, or as my buddies in Idaho refer to it “fishin fuzz”, is to simply put two or three colors of yarn in your egg loop. This actually works pretty good, but eventually it seems to always come out of the loop.

I like to take a few extra steps to create a yarnie that has great color and will fish well. To do this I first select three or four colors of yarn. To make it easier to work with and keep the yarn together I pull it through something. I usually use an old slinky-shot bottle cap, but an oversize straw also works well.

I hold the cap in my hand and with a couple of inches of yarn pulled out I use some of Altlas Mikes Miracle Thread and do a simple multi-wrap. I go at least 10 to 12 times around the yarn and then just simply pull it tight and break it off. Theres no need to tie or half-hitch with this stuff. This stretchy thread works great and stays in place once it’s pulled tight.

The next step is simple, just cut it off. I usually will cut it at least ½ to ¾ of an inch on each side of the thread.

By pulling the strands of yarn and flatening out the circle I basically form it into a flat disc of yarn. Next I cut and trim it to the size I want.

Once trimmed up I have a flat disc of multi-color yarn that I need to now form into a ball. By pulling on the yarn, as if to separate it, I basically turn it into a ball. Finally I place it in the palm of my hand and roll it around between my two palms as if I was making a mud-ball. You’ll be surprised at how well this works.

Depending on how large I make the yarn-ball or perhaps where I might be fishing helps me decide which size hook to select. I usually will tie on either a double hook rig with Mustad #4’s or a single or double hook rig with size #2’s. Either way it’s on Mustad hooks and between the yarn and those hooks the fish are not coming off.

The bonus you have when tying yarnies with the magic thread is the solid center. The tight center of the yarn-ball makes it so that once its on your leader its not coming off.

When tying double hook rigs I’ll tie on the bottom hook first. Then I will use a sewing needle and thread the leader through the tight center of the yarnie. Slide the yarn all the way down to the top of your first hook. Then simply tie on your second hook, much like tying a dual hook cheater rig for side drifting.

That’s it, a durable yarnie on a double hook rig, “Deeadly”. I usually leave the yarnies a little big. If I want to use them on a river that’s a little high and off color I have a larger profile. Once I trim them small, that’s it, I can’t make them bigger. I can always trim them on the river.

Don’t forget to take a little extra time and mix yourself up some NAK; Nectar, Anise, Krill. If you aren’t sure how to make it, follow this link to my NAK blog and you’ll be set. Yarnies fish good on their own, but they are deadly effective with a little scent on them.

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Every-Body, Needs a Buddy

Every-body needs a Buddy, as in “Portable Buddy”. Mr. Heater has been making portable heaters for years.

A couple years ago when I sold my aluminum drift boat I left the attached heating system that I installed in the boat. It worked great for that boat, as I had multiple Mr. Heater heating elements mounted in three locations. I also had a propane tank secured in the back of the boat and several hoses secured under the left gunnel tray that went from the tank to the heating elements.

I would remove part of the system in the spring as I didn’t need it until fall rolled around again. The hoses and some of the brackets I would leave in the boat. To be honest, at times, that extra crap was kind of in the way. In the bow of the boat up under the dash I had a bracket that I left in place because it was screwed in. This minimized some storage room up front and was kind of a pain.

The bottom line is that I spend many days on the water each year, some of which I don’t need a heater, and some I do. Let’s face it, heaters are nice to have, but we don’t always need them.

When I sold my aluminum boat and purchased my RivTech driftboat I spent a little time looking around for exactly what type of system I could put in my new boat. I had several ideas but was really trying to make it so that when I needed the heaters…they were there. When I don’t need heaters I didn’t want extra components in the boat cluttering things up.

I finally settled on the Mr. Heater “Portable Buddy”.

For me, now in my glass boat, it was a no brainer. Truly a heating system that was actually portable and safe. Here are some of the manufacturing specs that make these little heaters so great.

  •   4,000- to 9,000-BTU radiant heater for spaces up to 200 square feet
  •   Approved for indoor/outdoor use;   clean-burning; nearly 100-percent efficient
  •   Auto shut-off if tipped over, if pilot light goes out, or if detects low oxygen levels
  •   Fold-down handle; swivel-out regulator;  connects to propane tank (not included)
  •   Measures 9 by 14-1/5 by 14-2/5 inches; 1-year   limited warranty

It actually can run off of a 1 lb. screw in cylinder or off of a larger tank connected by a hose.

With a glass boat safety from an accidental fire was kind of on my mind. Perhaps it’s thefFiremen in me or just common sense. Either way the fact that these little portable heaters have “auto shut-off tip-over protection”, pretty much sealed the deal. for me

Did I mention that they will heat up to 200 square feet…”BONUS”!

I did the math, and here is what I came up with!

“NOT 200 SQUARE FEET”

 The view from my oarsman seat, again “NOT 200 SQUARE FEET”.

Finally, the view form the rear seat, I think you get the idea. The bottom line is, these things are compact, portable and crank out the heat. With three of them in the boat, every seat gets the heat. When the day finally warms up they are compact enough to tuck away in the back of the boat, and well out of the way.

I don’t know about you but usually the first thing to get cold for most folks in the boat are their feet. These Portable Buddy heaters are perfect for getting the feet warm and throwing out enough heat to keep everyone happy. A single one pound cylinder on the medium heat setting will last about 6 hrs. Throw a couple of extra cylinder’s under the seat for those long cold winter steelhead days and you’re good to go.

Sportco and Outdoor Emporium usually have these in stock and on-sale for as low as $69.99.

Do yourself, and your friends in your boat a favor and pick up a couple of these Portable Buddies. It may not turn one of those non-fish days into an epic one, but at least you’ll be warm which is far better then No Fish, COLD and Miserable!

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steelhead Egg Candy in a Wet Brine

I recently received a small cooler with 24 fresh Steelhead skeins in it from a good buddy of mine. “Thank You Andy”. The timing is perfect as I was hoping to get some more eggs and get them cured up in one of my favorite and easiest Steelhead cures, that I have been using the past couple seasons.

As with any eggs, to create great baits you have to start with great eggs. These eggs are fantastic, however even really good eggs won’t fish well, if you leave the blood in them.

Getting the blood out is really pretty simple. I just take the flat long blade of my scissors and lightly drag it against the skein, pushing all the blood from the smaller veins, into the large vein at the lower inside base the skein. Then I make a couple small cuts with my scissors and run them along the vein, pushing all the blood out of the small snip, into a paper towel. The paper towel should actually wick the blood away from the skein.

If you take your time, you will not tear the skein and all the blood should be removed.

Once you get all the blood out and the skeins are clean, you are ready to cure.

You have several choices, for me it’s a matter of a wet or dry cure. My “Go-To” cure for Steelies anymore is my wet-cure. It’s so simple and truly creates a bait that is exactly how I want my Steelhead baits to be; “Nice and Gummy”.

In my opinion, you will be hard-pressed to find a better egg cure for creating Steelhead baits, that will out fish BorX O Fire, by Pautzke’s bait company. It works great right out of the bottle. Of course with my bait lab, I can never just cure baits as everyone else does. I could, but where is the fun in that?
One thing that I usually do with my BorX O Fire is a little mixing. I also like to add sugar, as Steelhead do crave sweets. The best combination that I have come up with is mixing the dark red with pink. Or, pink with the orange. I will mix two brand new jars together and to that, I will add one full cup of refined white sugar. If I don’t mix two bottles together and want to add the sweetness, I’ll simply mix a ½ cup of sugar to one full bottle of BorX O Fire.
After my two bottles of BorX O Fire are mixed with one cup of sugar, I am ready to go.

This ratio works great as a sprinkle on dry cure and I will usually pour some into an old sprinkle bottle to ease the application and to not over-apply. Both my combination colors are proven and work very well.

Now here comes the ultimate tweak; “Ya ready”?

2 cups Red Fire Brine, into a gallon Zip-Lock Bag.
½ cup of my pre-mixed double color and sugar BorX O Fire (red/pink)
1 teaspoon krill powder.

Shake the bag with all the contents to mix and then add your egg skeins.

I will usually place at least six skeins in the bag and then seal up. This is about a six hour soak rolling the bag around every fifteen minutes or so, for the first two hours. Then I simply flip the bag over about every hour, until I hit the six hour mark.

Once they are soaked, they are cured. I have also left the eggs soaking in the wet cure for up to 10 hours and they do just fine. After the eggs are cured, I dump them out into a strainer and leave them there for about ten minutes.

After they have dripped for about 10 minutes, I place the eggs into containers, lined with a couple layers of paper towels. I make sure I place the skeins into the containers, egg side down, skin side up. This is to allow the excess cure to drain-out of the eggs. I then place them in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight and they are ready to fish by morning.
You’ll notice that I have four trays with slightly different colors.

The different colors are created by simply mixing and matching. I can choose to use dark red BorX O Fire, with the sugar added and which goes into red Fire Brine. This will create a very dark red egg. If it is the combo red/pink BorX O Fire into the red Fire Brine, will creat a slightly different red.

The pink/orange BorX O fire into orange Fire Brine, creates a very nice orange egg, however the pink/orange BorX O fire combo into clear Fire Brine,, creates an amaxing peach egg.

It’s really up to you to mix and match the colors of BorX O Fire with the Fire Brine.

Give it a try, it’s a great and simple wet brine that flat out produces…

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com