Catch More Kokanee with these Useful Tips

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

by Jason Brooks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason Brooks
The Outdoor Line – Blogger
710 ESPN Seattle

www.jasonbrooksphotography.com

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

Do you have “The NAK” for fishing

I’m often asked which scents I use. And, while there are many options available, most of the time, I use three: Pautzke Nectar, anise and krill. These scents, when combined and mixed properly, make a difference. Nectar, Anise, Krill or “NAK”, as I call it, is the additive I rely on for Northwest salmon and steelhead fishing.

Let me explain how to use these scents to your benefit. Nectar is only found in the Pautzke line up. For those who are not familiar with this product, you’re missing out. Nectar is created when the factory is cooking Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs. In essence, it’s the run-off of all that egg juice, salts, sugar and additives, which are drained into large vats and bottled.

Bottled salmon egg juice is your friend. It comes in five colors. However, for fall salmon red is my favorite. I also invest in krill, the liquid form (Liquid Krill) and powder form (Fire Power).
To create “NAK” for steelhead the first thing I do is pour a small amount of Nectar out of the bottle to make room for the krill and anise. (Only pour a little out, keeping the level to the top of the label). Then pour half a bottle of Liquid Krill and one heaping tablespoon of Fire Power.

With Nectar and krill mixed in, it’s time to add anise. I purchase 100% pure anise and add 10-15 drops. That’s it: simple and effective. With this mixture it’s best to pour some in a small container and dip your baits in it every few casts.

For salmon it’s important to add a half-teaspoon of sodium sulfite. However, when fishing an area where salmon respond better to a higher percentage of sulfites I add a full teaspoon.

Normally, I carry three bottles of NAK: one of the basic mixture (the steelhead version), one with a half teaspoon of sodium sulfite and one with a full teaspoon. It’s best to let the fish tell me what they want.

To dress up my eggs by giving them extra scent and milking ability I cut pieces of roe and place them in a separate tray adding a shot of NAK on some of them. Traditionally, I won’t do a whole skein if I think there is a chance that the fish may not respond. Once I add it, the skein has the scent/additives and if it doesn’t work I’m stuck fishing eggs that the fish don’t want.

One other tip; don’t be afraid to give your sand-shrimp a quick squirt. You’ll be surprised with the results. Give NAK a try. You’ll be glad you put in the extra effort.

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

 

Hunting Products that are on my Wish List for 2011

After a long and successful charter fishing season in Southeast Alaska you’d think my mind would still be awash with visions of salmon, halibut, ling cod, and every other saltwater critter that’ll bite a cut plug herring. Oh contraire mon frere!

The sight of a small Sitka blacktail buck on a beach in early August was all it took to jump start the hunting bug and it all came rushing back. The memories of last years epic fail were saved conveniently on my minds desk top. Like it or not, the visual’s played of the big mule deer buck that I just couldn’t pull the trigger on, the legal bucks I passed up, and the three point blacktail that I missed in the torrential monsoon rain in the closing moments of the Washington late hunt.

“Hey Rob? What kind of deer is that over there on the beach?”, one of my guests inquired. “That’s a Sitka blacktail. Small, but man are they tastey,” I responded as I snapped back from Okanogan County to the wheel of the charter boat.

I’ve always been an old school, lunch-pale type deer hunter, choosing to keep my gear simple and rely on extremely hard work, some strategic planning, and extended time in the field to bag my Washington buck. My approach has always been fine-and-dandy until I glassed that mule deer with a drop tine last fall that was juuuuust out of my comfortable shooting range.

He stared at me from his perch 400 to 500 yards away for not less than five minutes and then vanished. Rolling onto my back and gazing into the sky I raised the white flag. It was time for me to come out of the dark ages of hunting and at least purchase a range finder. A raven flew overhead and laughed at me. Yes, it was time!
Bushnell Fusion ARC 1600 Binocular/Rangefinder

My summer long search for a combination binocular/rangefinder led me to the Bushnell Fusion 1600 ARC. These binoc’s seem to possess every feature that I’m looking for and at a reasonable price of around $800. The Fusion ARC’s come in both 10X42 and 12X50 field of view and are equipped with anti-fog lenses and a fully waterproof housing for those soggy days in the blacktail woods of western Washington. A simple push of a button activates the range finder, which effectively displays target range from 10 to 1,600 yards. The Fusion ARC’s can be programmed for rifle sight-in of 100, 150, 200, and 300 yards and come pre-programmed with 19 different ballistic charts. They are a long ways from my twenty plus years of stubborn-ness, but with all these features I’m not sure I can resist this product.

I’ve also done some digging around on the interwebs and found some very positive reviews of the Bushnell Fusion ARC’s, including this one over at LongRangeHunting.com.

Next on my wish list are some trail cam’s to help root out the blacktails that live in the Amazon-like jungle of tangled-up underbrush here in western Washington. There’s something alluring about these creatures. Perhaps it’s because they’re so hard to hunt that I’m drawn to them. If they aren’t fouled up by the rut when they seem to appear under every rhododendron bush in the Seattle suburbs they simply don’t exist. At least not the big ones anways. Ah, but with a trail camera I can tune into your sneaky ways Mr. Blacktail!

Moultrie GameSpy M80 Trail Camera

My search for a trail camera led me to the guys at TrailCamPro.com and eventually to the new Moultrie GameSpy M80. If you’re searching for a trail camera this website has a plethora of information.

In terms of field testing the Moultrie GameSpy M80 ended up somewhere in the middle of the pack. It was the price point of $139 that attracted me, which is a solid price for a trail cam with this many features.  It features 3 different operational modes including infrared, a time lapse plot cam, and infrared by night and time lapse plot cam by night.

It’s night camera has been rated best-in-class, which is exactly what I want for nocturnal blacktails. It’s powered by 8 rechargable AA batteries and while battery life is only 2-4 weeks I don’t want to pay another $100 at this time for a camera with extended battery life. My blacktail haunts are relatively close to home and this will give me yet another excuse to keep a close eye on these areas.

Last but not least is the new Scent-A-Way aerosol spray from Hunter’s Specialties. Scent-A-Way’s been on the market for a while, but the aerosol spray is a new delivery system that provides a much finer mist and better coverage than the previous pump bottle. I’ve used Scent-A-Away products forScent-A-Way Aerosol Spray several years now and also acquired the new TEK-4 odor control clothing last winter for an additional leg up in the field. With a short, very short, modern firearm deer hunting season here in Washington I think it’s critical to give yourself every advantage you can possibly get in the field. I’m a big guy, not exactly sneaky in the woods, and I need all the help I can get. A friend was kind of enough to point this out.

There’s a lot more hunting products that I’d sure like to have for this fall, but with baby Endsley on the way the likelihood of going hog-wild aquiring a mess of new hunting gear is highly unlikely. Unless, of course, I could do it without the wife finding out!

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