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

Three Top Gear Combo’s for Puget Sound Winter Blackmouth

By Rob Endsley

Winter blackmouth season is upon us here in Puget Sound and it’s time to talk about a few lethal rigs to catch these immature king salmon. In the winter months the bait size in Puget Sound is generally a lot smaller than during the summer months and “matching the hatch” can be critical to getting them to snap. Small herring, sand lance, and hooligans make up the bulk of the baitfish in the sound during the winter blackmouth season.

Green Crush/Ace Hi Needlefish Combo

This is a go-to rig anytime there’s candlefish around. I’m a big fan of Luhr Jensen’s “Green Crush” and “Blue Crush” flashers because they have UV on one side and full glow on the other. No matter what the lighting conditions these flashers will give you some “pop” down below in the blackmouth zone. The “Blue Crush” works just as well as the “Green Crush” for me. Pick a winner!

Any time I’m fishing Ace Hi’s or hoochie’s I run a minimum of 50 pound fluorocarbon leader. Flourocarbon is a lot stiffer than monofilament and the combination of that stiffness and the heavier line transmits a lot of action from the flasher back to the Ace Hi. The short 30 inch leader helps with that also. These lures don’t impart their own action so you’ve got to get them shake’n and bake’n with the flasher. Don’t worry about spooking fish with the heavier leader. If the flasher doesn’t spook ’em, the leader sure as heck isn’t going to.Luhr Jensen Coyote "Green Crush" Flasher - Ace Hi Fly Combo

I tie two 3/0 Mustad Ultrapoint hooks back-to-back and very close together for this rig. Next I’ll run four Silver Horde glow beads as spacers to push the hooks toward the back of the Ace Hi “Needlefish”. I like these particular beads because they’re football shaped and it’s takes fewer of them to get the job done. Plus they glow for days.

Ace Hi "Needlefish" Rigged with 3/0 Mustad Ultrapoint Hooks - Photo by Rob Endsley

The best needlefish colors I’ve found so far have been green splatterback and blue splatterback. The chartreuse, purple, black, and white Ace Hi “Needlefish” patterns work great also though. And if you ever get into a situation where there’s squid around run the orange splatterback pattern. I’ve terrorized the kings on that pattern when they’re gorging on squid!

San Juan Islands Blackmouth with a "Blue Crush" flasher - Photo by Rob Endsley

Blue Crush/Coho Killer Combo

Tom Nelson and I refer to the Coho Killer spoon as the “fish detector”. Like the needlefish pattern mentioned above the Coho Killer is also an excellent candlefish imitation and it imitates small winter herring too. Don’t let the name fool you though. This spoon will flat-out murder the blackmouth in the winter months and summer Chinook will hammer this spoon also.

I run a longer 42 inch, 30 pound monofilament leader for this rig because the spoon has it’s own action and doesn’t need any help from the flasher. The flasher brings ’em in for a look and the action of the spoon seals the deal. Monofilament is much more limber than fluorocarbon and lets the spoon dance around freely behind the flasher.

Coyote Flasher and Coho Killer Combo - Figure by Rob Endsley

Like most lures the Coho Killer works pretty good right out of the package. A few minor tweaks to this nasty little lure will turn it into a freak show down on the bottom though. The first thing you want to do is accentuate the bends in the lure. By increasing the lures two bends the Coho Killer turns into a blur at trolling speeds and this tweak also makes it switch direction every so often.

Adding Custom Bends to a Coho Killer - photo by Rob Endsley

Next you’ll want to remove the hook from the tail of the Coho Killer and add a split ring to the rear hook ring. Then add a swivel and a 2/0 Mustad Open Eye Siwash hook to the split ring. This setup allows a hooked salmon to twist and turn when it’s hooked without applying a bunch of torque to the back of the spoon. These spoons are exceptionally lightweight and the addition of the swivel reduces the chance of seriously damaging the spoon every time a fish is hooked.

Coho Killer Spoon - photo by Rob Endsley

The top Coho Killer colors for winter blackmouth are Irish Cream, Cookies and Cream, White Lightning, Mexican Flag, and the green, blue, and purple splatter back patterns. The glow and UV patterns work best in the winter months when blackmouth are hugging the bottom in deep water and the chrome plated patterns seem to work better in the summer when salmon are suspended.

Coho Killer spoon with small herring - photo by Rob Endsley

Coyote Flasher/Kingfisher Lite Spoon

This is the same rig as above but with a Kingfisher Lite spoon. As I mentioned earlier both the “Green Crush” and “Blue Crush” flashers work excellent as attractors. Run blue on one downrigger and green on the other and see which one is performing better. I started running blue quite a few years ago after noticing that everyone else was running traditional green. Guess what? It worked!

The smaller 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 Kingfisher Lite spoons do a great job of matching the size of small herring and hooligans in the winter months in Puget Sound. Small herring abound in the sound itself and hooligans can be plentiful in the San Juan Islands in the winter time. Hooligans are small smelt that are between 2 and 4 inches long in the winter and blackmouth love them.

Coyote Flasher/Kingfisher spoon combo - photo by Rob Endsley

The Kingfisher Lite spoons that seem to get bit the most are Cookies and Cream, Irish Cream, Mexican Flag, Kitchen Sink, Herring Aid, Resurrection, and Yellowtail. Yellowtail doesn’t look remotely like anything you’d find in Puget Sound but the blackmouth don’t seem to care. That’s definitely one of our top spoons for blackmouth year-in, year out. Nelly’s got a couple of these spoons on his boat that have little to no paint left on them.

The Kingfisher Lite spoon also swims a little better by accentuating the bends. Here’s a video from Tom Nelson that shows how to give a little bend to these great spoons to make them fish better.

The Attraction of Scent

John Martinis with a 16 pound blackmouth caught opening day 2016 on Possession Bar - Photo by Les Jacober

John Martinis caught this 16 pound blackmouth on Possession Bar on November 1st, 2016. A 3 inch “Herring Aid” spoon did the trick!

I like to add Pro Cure gel scents to all these lures to help seal the deal. The new Outdoor Line Downrigger Dynamite gel scent is a proven winner for saltwater salmon and includes UV attractant, herring, anchovy, sardine, and bite stimulants in the form of amino acids.

If I’m putting scent on a flasher I will always apply it to the bottom end of the flasher on the glow side. There’s no sense in dulling down the shiny side of the flasher with a bunch of gel. Herring scent is the name-of-the-game in most situations unless I’m trolling around rocky structure that might hold shrimp. In that case I’ll go with a shrimp-based scent like Pro Cure Shrimp/Krill or Shrimp/Anise. Another scent that works great is Pro Cure’s Bloody Tuna Anise. On occasion I’ll cut a small herring strip and add it to the top hook of my hoochie or Ace Hi Fly to make it a little more enticing.

A Note on Shakers

These three rigs will catch blackmouth throughout the Puget Sound and that can include undersize blackmouth, as well. If you continue encountering these small blackmouth either leave the area or switch to bigger gear. 4 inch spoons, whole herring, and even 4 and 5 inch plugs will greatly reduce the number of shaker encounters. Not only are we responsible for taking care of the resource but you’re not fishing effectively if you’re towing around a small shaker on your gear all day.

Fish any of these rigs near the bottom where there’s bait and blackmouth around and you’ll catch fish. These are time-tested rigs that have filled plenty of punch cards for both myself and Tom “Nelly” Nelson.

Good luck to you this winter blackmouth season and don’t be afraid to share your fish pics and stories with us over on the Outdoor Line forums. And if you’ve got any other blackmouth fishing tips I’m all ears!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

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

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

 

Green Sinkers’n Cut Plug Herring

All that dad and I brought with us blackmouth fishing on Puget Sound today were our mooching rods, some sinkers, and a couple dozen fresh herring from Narrows Marina.

Reports of rock solid winter blackmouth fishing in Area 10 have been trickling in to the Outdoor Line for the last couple of weeks and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew that if fishing was that good I could get’em to bite a cut plug herring served up old-school style.

Yesterday I bolted on my new Lowrance HDS 7 Touch to the sled and hollered at dad to make a couple of lunchs…we were going mooching.

State of the art electronics make a world of difference when you’re mooching for salmon. I know this first hand, as the Lowrance gear I have on my charter boat in Alaska has put a lot, and I mean a lot of fish in the boat. You can spend a lot of time straining empty water or you can fish the high percentage areas that are full of bait and fish.

Part of using a good sonar is understanding what you’re looking at though. There’s a salmon center stage in the photo below and another one on the right side of the screen, right on the bottom, chowing down on bait. I was licking my chops when I saw this.

Dad and I dropped our baits into this mess and were immediately rewarded with a double header. A double header on mooched cut plug herring…we were laughing!

Dad was fishing with an orange kidney sinker, a standard in Southeast Alaska, and I was using a green 4 ouncer. His rod went cold immediately after the first hookup while my green weight just kept getting bit.

We gave it a while just to make sure it was the lead and sho’nuf, it was his orange lead. For some reason these fish weren’t digging the orange, so I switched dad over to a green 4 ouncer and he was on a fish almost immediately.

By the time we went thru two dozen herring we had landed three nice keeper blackmouth, released half a dozen shakers, and missed quite a few more bites. Dad even took home a nice, fat sole to fry up for dinner tonight.

How did we find these blackmouth? Basically, I would putter around on the kicker motor until we found a large school of bait and then we would stop and work our baits up and down close to the bottom around the bait. This is when having great electronics gives you the ultimate edge.

One key point to mooching is to always keep some line angle and keep working your baits. We were constantly dropping our baits to the bottom and reeling them back up 15 to 20 feet, right in the blackmouth zone. The bites came both on the drop and reeling up. The Lamiglas Salmon Moocher rods that I use telegraph everything. You can detect a bite from even the smallest shaker.

I tied up some 7 foot leaders with 15 pound Maxima Ultragreen and two 3/0 fine wire Mustad hooks that are soooo perfect for mooching. Flourocarbon would also work great for this. In the winter I would keep it light and keep it limber though. Frozen herring will work, but fresh herring from Narrows Marina is da bomb and it works a LOT better.

Blackmouth fishing has been outstanding on Puget Sound this winter and one would expect Area 9 to be quite productive when it opens up on January 16th.

There’s a lot more productive ways to catch blackmouth, but anytime I can get them mooching I’m a happy man. If you’ve got a spot that you suspect has some blackmouth I recommend you give this technique a try. I know you’ll like it!

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

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.

 

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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