Fish Blades for Early Potholes Walleye

Potholes Reservoir is currently locked up with more ice than the lakes seen in quite a few years. It’s been awful chilly in Eastern Washington since early December and that bout of cold weather continues to this day. So why are we talking about walleye then?

The second the ice comes off Washington’s Potholes Reservoir and the boat launches are finally useable again you’ll find a group of hardcore anglers hitting the reservoir in search of walleye. It could be another month or so before that happens but when it does it pays to be ready.

One of those anglers is longtime walleye guide Shelby Ross of PotholesFishing.com. Shelby lives on Potholes Reservoir and has guided for walleye and waterfowl on the lake for years.

When the ice burns off and you’re itchin’ to hit the lake here’s a few tips from the master himself that will put some early season walleye in your frying pan this spring.

Find the Bait, Find the Walleye

There’s no shortage of drop-off’s and humps in Potholes Reservoir and Shelby will hit as many as twenty of them in a day until he finds one loaded up with bait. He targets humps and ledges in 25 to 50 feet of water until he finds one that’s holding a bunch of bait. If the sonar screen looks promising he’ll toss a marker bouy out and keep cruising to see if there’s anything else in the vicinity.

Some of the areas that he’ll scope out first are the rock shelves around Goose Island, the north shoreline just west of Linn Coulee and the deep humps near the mouth of Crab Creek. These are all staging areas for the spawn and walleye are usually feeding in these areas in the months and weeks leading up to the spawn.

Once he’s got a good handle on exactly where the bait is he’ll stop the boat and start casting blade baits into the shallow water and work them out into deeper water. He say’s he’ll know instantly how good it is if they start catching perch right away. Find the perch and you’ve found the walleye.

The technique is somewhat simple to master but of course it does have it’s nuances. Shelby uses 1/2 ounce blades eighty percent of the time and has a few 3/8 and 3/4 ounce blades on board if he needs to switch up. If the walleye are just rattling the blades and they are missing a lot of hookups he’ll switch to a lighter 3/8 ounce blade first to give the lure a little slower fall. That usually produces a more aggressive strike and if that doesn’t work he’ll try the 3/4 ounce blade.

Position the boat on the deep end of the drop off and cast the blades up onto the shallow end of the ledge or hump. The lure should fall into about 25 to 30 feet of water. Once they hit the bottom start working them down the face of the ledge. He likes to work the jig up about a foot and then let it fall back to the bottom with the strikes always occurring on the drop. If you feel anything subtle or different about the action of the blade set the hook!

Make Your Own Blade Baits

Snagging up on the bottom is inevitable with this technique, so bring plenty of blades with you. Shelby spends some time in the winter months making up his own blade baits to cut the cost down a bit. He buys 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4 ounce nickel plated blades from Jann’s Netcraft and then adds the prism tape and hooks to finish them. His favorite prism tape colors are chartreuse, red, and silver and on any given day one can be hotter than the other.

He prefers to run Mustad split shank treble hooks on his blades because they greatly reduce the number of tangles. Blade baits with split rings are a tangle waiting to happen. Mustad split shank trebles are extremely sharp and they are easy to install on the blades.

Rig up for Success

Shelby likes a spinning rod in the eight foot range with a fast action. The sensitive tip allows him to feel the action of the blade and the backbone slams the hook home when a walleye picks up the blade. They can be surprisingly subtle and a sensitive rod tip definitely helps feel the bite.

He uses a Daiwa Excelor 2500 series reel spooled with 10 pound Power Pro braid. 10 pound Power Pro has the diameter of 2 pound test monofilament and it’s great for casting blade baits a country mile. The extremely small diameter line allows his guests to feel the action of the blade and contact with the bottom in water as deep as 50 to 60 feet.

He’ll attach a barrel swivel to the end of the braid and then he runs a bumper of six inches of 15 pound fluorocarbon between the swivel and the blade bait. The short section of flourocarbon is easy to cast, reduces tangles, and has some abrasion resistance against the blade bait and treble hooks.

Walleye don’t fair well when they’re caught out of deep water and it’s usually not possible to “high grade” fish when they’re caught in excess of twenty feet of water. If you land on the walleye in deep water keep your limit and head for the barn.

This has been one of the coldest winters in Eastern Washington in nearly a decade and Potholes has been locked up with ice since mid-December. When the ice finally comes off the lake though you can bet there will be walleye willing to jump all over a blade bait. Give some of Shelby’s tips a try and with any luck you’ll go home with some fresh walleye.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Northwest Outdoor Report

Last Clam Dig of 2012 Scheduled
The tradition of digging razor clams on New Year’s Eve continues as WDFW just tentatively scheduled the last razor clam dig of 2012 for December 28th thru the 31st on the Washington Coast. Twin Harbors Beach will open on the 28th and then Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, and Long Beach will open up on Saturday. On Sunday and Monday Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, and Copalis Beaches will be open to razor clam digging. As many as 20,000 people typically descend on the Washington coast for razor clam openers providing a huge economic boost to small coastal communities.

Dismal Spring Chinook Run Forecast for Columbia River
State, federal, and tribal biologists completed their forecast for Columbia River spring Chinook last week and things don’t look all that rosy for 2013. They forecast a run of just 141,000 upriver springers for the Columbia, the poorest in 6 years. While slightly down from 2012 the Willamatte forecast came in at 59,845 spring Chinook, which is down slightly from last year’s run of just over 65,000. Last year’s spring Chinook run forecast was 314,000 fish and the actual run came in well under escapement at just 203,100 fish. Anglers flock to the Columbia every year starting in early March for a chance to catch what many consider to be the best eating fish on the West Coast.

San Juan Blackmouth Still Good, Brant Numbers Looking Good
Kevin John at Holiday Sports (360-757-4361) in Burlington reports good numbers of blackmouth being caught in the islands when anglers can get out. He says high winds have kept most boats off the water, but when the wind lay’s down the fishing has been very good. Kevin said the Rosario Strait has been the most productive area and the average size has been 8 to 12 pounds. Small spoons like Coho Killers and Kingfisher Lite’s in green or purple with UV on them have been the go-to lure so far. He also reported that biologists will make another flight next week to determine whether the brant season will open in mid-January. He seems to think it will, since brant numbers appear to be up overall over last year.

Puget Sound Shrimpers Get Quota Boost in 2013
The state Fish and Wildlife Commission voted last Saturday to increase the recreational spot shrimp quota to 70% of the overall non-tribal catch in Puget Sound. The increase translates to more days on the water for prawners in 2013. Sport shrimpers in south-central Puget Sound had just two days on the water last season compared to 51 days in 2003. This year, the season will increase to five days in south-central Puget Sound. In the San Juan Islands the spot shrimp season will increase from 6 days last season to 32 days. Shrimpers should check out the WDFW website for a full rundown of the upcoming Puget Sound shrimp season.

Sky and Snoqualmie Steelhead Showing in Flurries
The fishing counter at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville is reporting steelhead showing up at the hatchery areas on both the Skykomish and the Snoqualmie in flurries and that no big numbers of steelhead have really showed up yet. Most of the fish have been taken later in the morning and they recommend covering as much water from the bank as possible. Three Rivers Marine custom jigs have been taking a lot of fish and they also recommend using a new product called Hevi-Beads, which seems to be working well in very high pressure areas like Reiter Ponds.

Lewis and Elochoman Kicking out Steelhead
Chase Sick from Bob’s Sporting Goods (360-425-3870) in Longview is reporting good steelhead fishing on the East Fork of the Lewis River and also over on the Elochoman River near Cathlamet. Chase says the go-to rig so far this winter has been jigs in either peach or pink under a float. He says any jig with a shrimp color seems to be getting the job done. The best jigs so far have been John’s Jigs and AeroJigs. He expects good fishing to continue for hatchery fish until the wild steelhead show up in February.

Riding the Cowlitz Roller Coaster
Todd Daniels from Tall Tails Guide Service (206-437-8766) said he’s been getting close to his limit of steelhead every day on the Cowlitz River this past week and the fish have been big so far this winter. He’s been working hard to get his clients into fish though and says the bite has been far from spectacular. He said the majority of the fish are being caught very close to the Blue Creek Hatchery and that boaters should bring both yarnies and eggs along. Daniels said bank anglers have been scoring steelhead off and on with jigs under a float, but again nothing spectacular.

IGFA Certifies New World Record Yellowfin Tuna
The IGFA has officially approved the 427 pound yellowfin tuna caught by Guy Yocum on September 28th as the new all tackle world record and the 130 pound line class record. Guy was fishing aboard the El Suertudo (“The Lucky One”) about 100 miles from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when the big tuna hooked up. It took Yocum approximately 50 minutes to land the huge yellowfin, which was hooked on a Mustad Demon circle hook. Yocum’s world record catch previously belonged to Mike Livingston, who caught a 405 pound yellowfin in 2010 fishing out of Magdalena Bay, Mexico. Since Yocum’s tuna was hooked using a Mustad hook it will qualify him for $1 million in the Mustad Hook-a-Million contest.

Chad Belding at Holiday Sports Next Week
Chad Belding of the popular and entertaining hunting show The Fowl Life on the Sportsman’s Channel will be at Holiday Sports in Burlington on December 29th from 2 to 4 p.m. to sign autographs and talk waterfowl hunting with fans of the show.

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

Tackle Review: Mustad Open Eye Siwash Hooks

I’d like to say Mustad’s open eye siwash hooks are new, but they’ve actually been on the market for a few years now. I’ve tested them extensively the last two years on my salmon fishing trips and I can vouch for the sharpness and holding power of these hooks. They are float out wicked!

Mustad’s 10848 open eye siwash hook is in fact a true straight-shanked siwash hook that is manufactured with the bend of an octopus hook. There’s no need to put an offset in these hooks to increase your hook up ratio…the lethal bend is built right in.

I use 2/0 Mustad open eye siwash’s for my Vibrax spinners and 5/0’s on my Kwikfish and I’ve been very happy with the performance of these hooks.

When river flows are right I run a lot of K-15’s for king and silver salmon in the fall and most of the rivers in Washington have single hook regulations in place nowadays. That used to mean a lot of take downs and very few fish to the boat. A standard siwash hook with a plug pushing against it pushes out of a salmons jaw far too easily and no matter how well a big king salmon seemed to be hooked up, well, they’d almost always find a way to shake loose. You had to bend and tweak your hooks to make them work and half the time you’d break or weaken them in the process. Not any more!

Once you get a solid hookup with one of these hooks you’re going to end up with a salmon in the net. They are sharp as heck and the octopus style offset attached to the split ring with a heavy rolling swivel makes them hold very, very well in a thrashing salmon’s jaw.

Another advantage to these hooks is that they are manufactured with an eye that’s quite a bit larger than any other hook I’ve seen on the market. You can see the over sized eye in the first photo…it’s huge.

The big eye is perfect for making hoochie spinners because it helps to hold the mini-hoochie over the top of the hook so it doesn’t slide down. It makes rigging up hoochie spinners quick and easy.

I’m not sure if Mustad intended this, but the eye is also a lot easier to crimp.

Several saltwater charter captain friends in the Puget Sound also use these hooks exclusively on their trolling spoons and they swear by them.

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again…these are wicked hooks that have already been tested on the proving grounds by savvy fisherman.

If you need another weapon in your fall salmon arsenal this fall I suggest you give these hooks a try. Mustad’s open eye siwash hooks are a proven winner!

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

 

Catch a Big Fish and Win a Million!!

My boys and I always talk about catching record fish and how cool that would be.  Mustad has now come up with a million reasons to go out and do more than talk.  Mustad is having their Hook A Million contest.  Catch an IGFA all tackle world record on a Mustad hook and you could win $1,000,000.  Catch a state record and it could mean $100,000 in your pocket.  All you have to do is register at www.mustad.no and go fish.  The contest runs from October 1, 2011 thru September 30, 2012.

The eligible species for this contest are largemouth bass, white crappie, walleye, and channel catfish in the freshwater, calico bass, redfish, speckled trout,and yellowfin tuna in the saltwater and coho salmon and striped bass in either.  This gives NW anglers 5 different  species that swim on our waters to choose from, coho, largemouth bass, white crappie, walleye, and channel catfish.

The opportunity to catch a world or state record and make money doing it got me curious about what I would be up against.  There’s no question that the anglers in Washington State have made this no easy task.  The state saltwater record for coho salmon is 25.34 lbs caught by Martin Cooper fishing out of Seiku September 28, 2001.  For freshwater coho it’s 25.27 lbs caught by Brad Wilson fishing on the Quinalt River on November 11, 2001.  For Walleye, the record was set February 5th, 2007 by Mike Hepper.  His monster Walleye weighed in at 19.3 lbs and was caught on the Columbia neat Walla Walla.  The largest of the state records eligible for this contest is the 36.20 channel catfish caught by Ross Kincaid September 6, 1999.  He caught his fish while fishing the I-82 pond #6 in Yakima County.  From the largest to the smallest, we drop down to the 2.80 lb white crappie state record.  This fish was caught by Don J Benson on July 21, 1988 while fishing the Burbank Slough in Walla Walla County.  Last but certainly not least is the longest standing state record eligible for this contest.  The largemouth bass record has been standing since 1977.  The 11.57 lb bass was caught by Carl Pruitt fishing Banks Lake.

Other notable state record fish are smallmouth bass at 8.75 lbs, halibut at 288 lbs, chinook (saltwater) at 70.50 lbs, chinook (freshwater) at 68.26 lbs, Steelhead (summer) at 35.06, steelhead (winter) at 32.75, striped marlin 134 lbs, and most importantly, albacore at 52 lbs.

For the IGFA world records go to www.igfa.com.

Potential state record yellowtail.

As I sat down to write this I received news of a pending state yellowtail record.  This fish was caught during the 2011 Washington Tuna Classic and doubled the 10.72 lb size of the previous record set by Dane Ledbetter fishing out of Westport in August of last year.

 

Choosing the Right Bait Hook

Are you tired of wondering if you still have bait after every microscopic bite or even worse, losing fish after fish because your may have selected the wrong bait hook. Check out these hook designs for a little help on selecting the correct bait hook the next time you go fishing.

Circle Hook
Circle hooks nearly always hook fish in the corner of the mouth, which is exactly what they’re designed to do.  The key to hooking fish with a circle hook is to let the fish eat the bait and as they swim away they hook themselves.  The circle hook lends itself well to both bait fishing on the bottom or suspended baits.  The best hookset with a circle hook is to not set the hook at all.

Baitholder
Baitholder hooks work great for night crawlers and have small barbs on the shaft of the hook to hold slippery baits on the hook.  These hooks are strong and once set into a fish’s mouth they won’t shake out easily.

Ringed
Ringed hooks have been used for fishing live baits in the saltwater for years and they have recently become popular with freshwater anglers using live bait.  The welded ring attached to the eye of these hooks allows bait to swing freely.

Kahle
The Kahle’s wide gap and long shank puts the hook far back in a fish’s mouth when it takes a bait.  With a wide gap and an offset it typically won’t shake loose once set.   These hooks work great for live baiting minnows, chubs, worms and leeches.

Aberdeen
These hooks are typically made of light wire and will bend before they break.  They work great for fishing minnows and their long shank makes this hook a great choice for stacking nightcrawlers.  The light wire construction of the Aberdeen makesfor excellent hook penetration.

Octopus
Octopus hooks are used widely by salmon, steelhead, and walleye fisherman.  These hooks are sharp and strong and will usually break before they bend.  The short shank of the octopus hook makes it easy to conceal within salmon roe, single eggs, herring, and small leeches.

Live Bait
This hook has a very short shank and is very strong.  It used widely in the saltwater for live bait because its small size makes it easy to conceal.  This hook is used throughout the world by big game anglers using live bait.

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

Prepping for the Trout Opener

Approximately 300,000 anglers will swarm the lowland lakes of Western Washington for "opening day" on April 30th, the largest attendance of any opening day here in Washington.

Hundreds of thousands of rainbow trout ranging from pan-fryer sized eight to twelve inchers to the coveted and beefy triploids are pumped into over a hundred lakes west of the mountains. This bounty of trout is opportunity galore for both young and old alike!

After a long and brutal winter here in Washington it's time to dust off the ol' fishing gear and pull the lake boat out of storage for the big fiesta. Opening day is a little over two weeks away and there's no better time than the present to start getting things in order.

Get started early with this opening day check list: 

-Purchase a new fishing license from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Last years fishing license expired on March 31st. Kids under 14 fish for free and kids over 15 need to purchase a license for $8.25. Click HERE for more information regarding fishing license requirements for opening day.

-Check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Catchable Trout Plant Report to see how many trout were planted in your local lake.  

-If you forget to add fuel stabilizer to the gasoline in your small outboard tank before it was put in storage last fall it's more than likely bad and will need to be disposed of at an approved facility. The ethanol contained in todays fuel blends can cause phase separation when it sits for more than a couple months. This occurs when the ethanol in blended fuel absorbs water and seperates, dropping to the bottom of the tank where the fuel pick up line is located. Fuel that has been stabilized should be good to go.    

-Place "rabbit ears" that are connected to a garden hose over the water intake vents on the lower unit of the outboard to test the motor. A large 60 gallon garbage can filled with water will also work. After the motor warms up shift the engine into forward and reverse several times to ensure that the shifting cables are working. Also check that the tell tale is spraying a steady stream of water. If there is no water coming from the tell tale port on the side of the engine push a small piece of wire into the end of it to break loose any build up that may have occurred over the winter. If water still isn't present the water impeller could be damaged and it should be taken to a service shop immediately for repair. 

-Unhook the batteries in the boat and place them on a charger so that they are at full charge when it's time to hit the water on the opener. It's especially important to unhook the batteries if they are attached to an electric trolling motor before you begin charging, as damage can occur to the motor.

-Check the propeller on the electric trolling motor to make sure no fishing line is wrapped around the hub. If fishing line is present remove the propellor and cut it away.

-Check all the life jackets to make sure the squirrels haven't used them for a nest over the winter or even worse, a bunch of hornets haven't taken up shop in the life jackets. Clean them and make sure they all still fit the individuals that will be wearing them. In Washington kids under 12 years of age need to wear a life jacket at all times when underway in a vessel less than 19 feet. 

-Plug the trailer lights into the tow vehicle and test them to make sure they are working properly.

-Check the trailer winch assembly, the winch cable, and the stern tie-downs for wear and tear. Spray the trailer winch gears with WD-40 or teflon spray.

-Inspect the oars, oar stops, and oar locks for damage and replace if needed.

-Check the boat plug for damage and purchase a spare if you don't already have one.

-Grease the trailer bearings and check the brakes on the trailer if it has them. 

-Take a quick look in the tackle box for rusty hooks that will be used on the opener. Replace any rusty hooks on trolling lures and either sharpen bait hooks or purchase new ones. 

-Replace old fishing line with fresh new line. Eight to ten pound test main line is great for opening day trout.

-Make sure the bail mechanisms and bail releases work on all the fishing reels and that the fishing rods are all in good working condition. 

-Get the kids out for some casting practice prior to opening day. Heck, you might even need some casting practice too. It's a fun way to spend the afternoon with the kids.

-Take a couple of practice runs backing the boat into the driveway or even better, at the boat launch you'll be using. You don't want to be "that guy" that takes an hour to launch the boat on opening morning.

I'll never forget some of the great memories I have of fishing on opening day with my family in Kitsap County. Those great memories definitely helped to get me hooked on fishing and the outdoors at a very early age. It's a great way to get kids, friends, and family outdoors to experience one of our countries great pastimes…Fishing!

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

      

Hookin’ up on the “Hoochie Hook”!

Marine Area 9 opened up on Sunday January 16th and the weather forecast was calling for south winds 10-20kts. Instead of pushing the forecast I decided to stay home and watch the Seahawks playoff game.

In retrospect, it would have been less painful to ride whitecaps in a cartopper.

Monday was a national holiday and I had the family on stand-by, ready to hit the water. Gale warnings….killin me.

Finally, I had a chance to head out Wednesday and the weather was flat calm and sunny and clear. I just wish I could have said the same about the water!

Brown river water clear out to Whidbey Island, completely covering Possession Bar. Check out the downrigger cable disappearing in the first 4 inches of water!

 

My friend Nick Kester of All Star Charters had gear in the water for all of five minutes before his "Secret Weapon" got ripped off the clip!

This chunky blackmouth hit the deck and was well fed despite the fact that we marked very little bait during our afternoon trip.

"Secret Weapon" ? Well, that deserves an explanation. The practice of rigging spoons with swivels and split rings to increase hooking effiency and reduce the leverage the fish can use to throw the hook is just plain smart. Good fishermen have been doing it for years and it also reduces stress on your spoons while the fish thrashes around in the net. Once I get a "hot spoon" I like to keep it fishing and the less it gets bent in a big king's mouth, the longer I can fish it!

We've all been fishing spoons and squid or hoochies for quite some time and thanks to the "Mad Salmon Scientist" Kelly Morrison of Silver Horde we now can fish both at once!

 

While it's not rocket science to put these together, here's a step by step so you can avoid the common mistakes. First, cut the welded ring on the hook end of the Kingfisher spoon.

 

Give the ring a twist and the hook is free!

 

Snip the end of the hoochie to allow a #5 barrel swivel to easily slide through and allow rotation of the swivel.

 

Slide the swivel up the bottom of the hoochie,

 

…and pop the swivels eye out the top of the hoochie. Make sure that you don't cut too large a hole in the hooch since you want it to stay riding high on the swivel.

Open up a #4 split ring and slide it on the spoon which will help keep the ring open to accept the "hoochified" swivel.

 

Grab a 3/0 open eye siwash hook and pinch it on the back end of the swivel and you're good to go… once you pinch the barb of the hook that is…!

 

You can assemble all sorts of color combinations and the hoochie also allows you to use scent like Lunker Lotion with your spoons!

 

Our winter chinook or "Blackmouth" fishery is just getting underway and will be open in Area 9 until April 15. The wind can't blow forever so get out there and good luck!

Mustad Surestrike Scent Capsule

I've ran magnum hoochies on some of my meat rigs for halibut fishing for a number of years and they work great. The problem with these big hoochies is that they are big enough to totally cover the hook, so spacers in the form of big, glow-in-the-dark Corky's are necessary to put some distance between the hoochie and the hook. When I saw Mustad's Surestrike capsule for the first time this past spring, however, I knew I had the ultimate spacer for this purpose. 

The Surestrike scent capsule is designed to hold a lot of your favorite scent, which on the halibut grounds can mean the difference between quick limits and bouncing around all day to find enough biters to fill the box. 

I've been adding a mixture of herring oil and Pautzke's Nectar to the capsule pictured below and then setting the opening so the scent trickles out slowly over the course of a drift. I just began using the Surestrike capsules a couple of weeks ago and I'm happy with the results thus far. What I like about them is that they are tough as nails and will hold up to the abuse we put on our gear here in Alaska. They come in 2", 3", and 4" inch, with the latter being my favorite for bottomfishing. 

Here's what the hoochie rig and the Surestrike capsule look like before they head to the ocean floor. Add a chunk of salmon belly meat and fill the capsule with your favorite scent and it's hammer time baby! 

Here's how the capsules work. 


Rob Endsley

www.princeofwalessportfishing.com

Droppin’ the “Hammer”!

When we're not mooching for ocean fresh salmon here in Craig, Alaska we're banging the ocean floor for halibut, ling cod, yelloweye, and whatever else happens to climb on. Jigging is by far my favorite technique for catching halibut and bottomfish because it creates a commotion down below that fish can't resist.

One of the jigs that I had Papa Endsley build for me this winter is a pipe jig we call the "Hammer" because it clangs, bangs, and rattles every time it hits the ocean floor. Pipe jigs have been around for years and after some discussion with top Washington charter captain Mike Jamboretz, owner of Jambo's Sportfishing, and several other saltwater captains we decided to proceed with construction of some new jigs in dads shop.

In addition to the noise factor pipe jigs also emit a slight positive electrical charge that has been proven to attract fish. Add a salmon belly strip, a little halibut skin soaked in Pautzke Nectar, or any other bait strip to this jig and you've got a lethal combination for hammering bottomfish and halibut.

Here's a recipe for making these jigs yourself:

Jambo's 2 Pound Pipe Jig

9 1/2" 3/4" ID Copper Pipe

Lead and melting pot

1 inch long 1/8" cotter pins

#10 split rings

250 lb swivels

10/0 to 12/0 Mustad treble hooks

Delta Tackle Giant Skirts

Building the "Hammer"

Once the pipe is cut to length press approximately 3/4 of an inch of one end closed and drill a 1/4" hole for the heavy split ring and swivel that will go on top of the jig later. Fill a bucket with sand and press the jigs into the sand so that just the end of the jig is showing above the sand with the open end up. Fill the jigs with lead from the melting pot and once they are cool remove them and add another batch if needed.  

After the jigs are cooled drill a 1/8th inch hole approximately 4 inches down from the top. This placement will allow the hook to swing both up and down on the jig without catching on the mainline or onto the bottom of the jig. Add #10 split rings to both ends of 250 pound swivel and place the hook on one split ring and add the cotter pin to the other. Next pull a hoochie skirt over the first split ring above the hook. The Delta giant hoochie skirts come as a double skirt and we pull the skirts apart to get four skirts out of each package of two. Slide the cotter pin thru the hole that was drilled in the pipe and bend the ends over to hold the pin and hook in place. Add a #10 split ring and swivel to the top of the jig and it's "Hammer" time!

To build a lighter 16 ounce jig use 8 1/2 inches of 1/2 inch ID copper pipe and use the same formula to build the jig, using 10/0 Mustad treble hooks. In Southeast, where it's common to release numerous chicken halibut in a days fishing, I've gone to a 10/0 Mustad siwash hook that makes releasing fish much easier. These lighter jigs work excellent in water as deep as 350 plus feet. Any deeper than that and a heavier jig is the way to go. 

If giant hoochies aren't available add some glow tape to the "Hammer" to give it added visibility on the ocean floor. I've experimented with jigs that have a swivel attached to the hook and ones that don't and prefer the swivel, as ling cod and sometimes halibut will twist after they are hooked. One other trick is to sand or use a wire brush on the surface of the jigs occasionally to get rid of any surface oxidation. These jigs are a killer for both bottomfish and halibut!

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

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