5 Quick Tips for Trophy Steelhead

Rob Endsley with a Trophy Steelhead

by Jason Brooks

Big wild steelhead are starting to show in our Northwest rivers. This means it’s time to go fishing folks. Here are five quick tips to make your trip better.

Use bigger gear to fight bigger fish-Jason Brooks

  1. Upsize your gear – Once you set the hook and realize you have a big steelhead it’s nice to know you can handle that fish and fight it to the bank. Use heavier mainlines and leaders as well as a stout rod. This helps you land the fish as well as release a fish that isn’t exhausted.

Pink worms are very effective for big fish-Jason Brooks

  1. Forget the Bait –  Instead of using bait which tends to cause higher mortality, switch to other tactics such as spoons, plugs, spinners, rubber worms and beads.

Scents attract fish as well as cover unwanted smells-Jason Brooks

  1. Use Scent – Bait gets swallowed but scent attracts fish to your gear and helps cover any unwanted smells. Apply Pro-Cure Super Gel to leaders, weights, and swivels and soak yarnies in Pro-Cure bait oils. Yarnies can be just as effective as bait and wild steelhead won’t swallow them.

Bobber dogging is an great way to increase your catch rate-Jason Brooks

  1. Learn to Bobberdog – This technique allows you to fish all different kinds of water without making adjustments. It is simple, you’ll lose less gear, and it’s highly effective. Hawken Fishing makes an entire line of Aero Floats designed specifically for bobber-dogging. Spend some time learning this technique and you’ll be able to easily target trophy steelhead holding water. 

Ted Schuman admires a trophy steelhead about to be released-Jason Brooks

  1. Take a Camera – Big fish are in our rivers and if you land that “fish of a lifetime” then take the time to snap a few photographs to preserve the memories. Remember to keep the fish in the water until the camera is ready.

Jason Brooks – Outdoor Line Blogger
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Early Winter Steelhead Have Arrived!

Brenda Schuman and Katie Hovland with an early winter steelhead-Ted Schuman

Brenda Schuman and Katie Hovland with an early winter steelhead-Ted Schuman

Early Winter Steelhead – They’re Here!

by Jason Brooks

Reports of early winter run steelhead have been blowing up my phone lately. Most notably my buddy Ted Schuman of Winter Run Guide Service and has been teasing me with photos from a few recent trips. Ted has been concentrating on far away Olympic Peninsula rivers and prides himself on catching steelhead before most other anglers put away the Coho twitching rods. Not far behind Ted is Mike Ainsworth of First Light Guide Service who likes to double dip on steelhead and Coho this time of year. His son Hunter Ainsworth is often bobber dogging baits with his pops, a technique that works great for both coho and early winter runs in December.

Mike Ainsworth of First Light Guide Service and his son Hunter with a winter steelhead caught bobber dogging-Mike Ainsworth

Mike Ainsworth of First Light Guide Service and his son Hunter with a winter steelhead caught bobber dogging a few winters ago-Mike Ainsworth

This year is no exception. With the cold weather this past week it seems to have slowed the Coho bite just a bit and a perfect time to switch over to steelhead fishing. Snow in the mountains means clear water which is perfect for pulling plugs and bait divers. Ted’s hottest setup for early December winter steelhead has been backtrolling Yakima Bait’s Mag Lip 3.5’s or Luhr Jensen Jet Divers with coon shrimp. With colder water temps it’s a technique that keeps the presentation in front of steelhead longer and gets them to bite. It’s hard to argue with it’s effectiveness!

Yakima Bait's "Dr. Death" mag lip 3.5 is a top producing steelhead plug-Jason Brooks

Yakima Bait’s “Dr. Death” mag lip 3.5 is a top producing steelhead plug-Jason Brooks

A healthy dose of Pro-Cure bait oils or super sauces, especially Bloody Tuna Anise, Sandshrimp, or Anise/Krill applied to plugs and even on the bait diver helps draw steelhead in for the take down.

The author's top winter steelhead scent additives-Jason Brooks

The author’s top winter steelhead scent additives-Jason Brooks

December is just the beginning of the winter steelhead season but don’t forget that several runs of late Coho are still coming into some of the Southwest Washington rivers. It is a great time to get out and double-up, especially since several of the rivers are restricted to just one hatchery Coho a day but two hatchery steelhead.

Katie Hovland with her very first ever steelhead, an early winter run-Ted Schuman

Katie Hovland with her first steelhead, an early winter run-Ted Schuman

In the last few day’s Ted has hooked ten “metalhead’s” in just three trips down the river, including a very bright first steelhead for Katie Hovland who was fishing with Ted and his wife Brenda this weekend. Don’t wait around until the new year before breaking out the bobber-dogging or plug rods. Steelhead are showing up and it’s time to hit the water!

Jason Brooks
Outdoor Line Blogger
Northwest Outdoor Writer

Using a Side Planer with Plugs

It’s December 8th and we’re getting a steady stream of hatchery steelhead reports pouring in from around Western Washington. A handful of the big name rivers that routinely pump out hatchery brats this time of year are doing just that.

When it comes to hatchery brats we typically talk about jigs, jigs, and more jigs. Hatchery winter steelhead keg up just below the hatcheries giving bank anglers a great opportunity to don the waders and stroke some steelhead on a jig and float from the beach. It’s easy and it’s hard to argue with it’s effectiveness.

What about the fish that don’t hit a jig though? There’s more than a few fish in the river that simply don’t want to mess with a jig. They’ve been there, done that. That’s where a plug comes in handy and really the only way to fish a plug effectively from the bank is with a Luhr Jensen Side Planer.

This is a great way to come in behind the morning masses and mop up a few fish behind everyone else. And if you find some room on the river in the morning to deploy this killer system that’s fine too!

Here’s Forest Foxworthy showing how to setup the Luhr Jensen Side Planer:

Hatchery winter steelhead simply don’t see that many plugs nowadays, yet they are deadly effective. Run a Hot Shot 35 or a K-11 behind one of these bad boys in a hatchery terminal area where you just know that hatchery brats are keg’d up and you might be surprised.

Thanks for stopping by and good steelhead fishing to you this winter!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

5 Tips for Catching Trophy Steelhead

 By Jason Brooks

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With longer days and warmer weather the winter steelheader knows this is the time of year for big fish to arrive in our rivers. Those that might have not caught a truly large steelhead will learn a few lessons as soon as they hook the fish. Unfortunately this is not the time to learn those lessons. And if you have caught that magical fish of a lifetime then you might want to remember these lessons as well before you head back to the river.

The author about to release a wild steelhead, keeping it in the water at all times-Jason Brooks

The author about to release a wild steelhead, keeping it in the water at all times-Jason Brooks

Go where the big fish are.

By doing a little research or hiring a reputable guide you can find a handful of rivers that produce big steelhead. Don’t think you can just head to any old steelhead stream and catch a giant fish, even if rumors abound that a twenty pound fish came out of “hatchery brat creek”. Wild fish need wild places so head to a remote section of the Olympic Peninsula with a handful of river maps in your tackle box.

Rivers with wild fish are in wild places-Jason Brooks

Rivers with wild fish are in wild places-Jason Brooks

Leave the bait at home.

This time of year and the rivers you will target should have a run of big wild fish which means we need to protect them. By using techniques that don’t require bait you are more likely to not mortally hook one of these majestic fish. But by all means use scents when it’s legal to do so!

It might seem strange to not use bait but use scents, however it’s how you use the scent that makes the difference. I rub Pro-Cure Super Gel’s on my leaders as well as smear it on my plugs and spoons and soak my slinkies in Pro-Cure bait oils. The idea of using scents is to have it disperse downstream of your presentation so the fish is anticipating something coming and also entice the strike.

Using scents can entice a strike-Jason Brooks

Using scents can entice a strike-Jason Brooks

Knotless nets and fish stay in the water.

This is almost a no brainer with Washington’s regulations though I still see the green or blue nylon knotted nets in drift boats. Those nets literally rip the slime off of the fish which compromises the fish’s ability to fight off bacteria and infections. Along with using a soft knotless net you should keep the fish in the water at all times. Sure I see the photos of one fin in the water to “keep legal” but really the head of the fish or at least the gills plate should remain in the water. And be careful of hand placement as putting pressure under the pectoral fins can compress the steelheads heart.

Use a knotless net when practicing catch and release-Jason Brooks

Use a knotless net when practicing catch and release-Jason Brooks

Bring a camera!

A real camera, not your cell phone. You finally land a fish of a lifetime and it’s now time to preserve that memory or even use the photos to make a replica mount of the fish. Take a lot of photos from all sorts of perspectives, including close up shots and use a “fill flash” to lighten shadows of ball caps. Along with the camera make sure to take measurements of your fish so you can do the math calculations on just how big your fish really was. Here’s a formula that’s been developed by biologists to determine the weight of a wild steelhead:

Girth Squared x Length/775

Use a camera to capture the fish and angler to share the memories-Jason Brooks

Use a camera to capture the fish and angler to share the memories-Jason Brooks

Upsize your gear.

If you are still using 8 or 10 pound test leaders and 12 pound mainline you will really wish you weren’t the second you realize you have a monster steelhead up and running. Truly big fish are not as leader shy as some hatchery brats. And big fish means big gear. As soon as we get a warm spring day I switch all of my mainline to either 15 pound monofilament or 20 to 30 pound braid. My leaders are at least 12 pound test and a buddy of mine uses 20 pound test when we fish a certain river on the coast known for log jams and huge fish. I also trade my lightweight side drifting rod for my fall salmon rod. I keep a finger on my line to help feel the bite but I want the backbone of the medium to medium heavy action rod to turn that big fish away from the logs and rocks and hopefully force it in to the bank. Plus the sooner you can land a big fish the sooner you can let it rest and get it back into the stream. Fighting a steelhead to near exhaustion is no different than bonking it on the head with a stick.

Use the right gear and bring in the fish before it reaches exhaustion-Jason Brooks

Use the right gear and bring in the fish before it reaches exhaustion-Jason Brooks

Good luck and go find that steelhead of a lifetime!

Jason Brooks
Outdoor Line Blogger
Northwest Outdoor Writer

Keys to Successful Bank Steelheading

Bank angling for winter steelhead, a Northwest Tradition

by Jason Brooks

Bank bound anglers often feel they are at a hindrance to those floating buy in drift boats or having the wake of a jet sled slap the shores as they zoom by. But just because one is on foot doesn’t mean they are at a disadvantage as long as the bank angler utilizes some basic knowledge and prepares for the day of fishing. Here are a few keys to becoming a more successful bank bound steelheader.

Hooking and fighting a fish from shore can be very fun and productive

Hooking and fighting a fish from shore can be very fun and productive

Know the river and the land that surrounds it. With the internet and Google Earth as well as many other mapping systems like Hunt by “onXmaps”. A little research before you head to the water will benefit the angler on foot. Access points to some secret holes or runs can be found by simply clicking through the county auditor’s website and learning which bank areas are open to the public and who might own the private lands to ask for permission. River’s change course each winter with the heavy rains but Google earth will show you the bends and long straights with a tail out.

After you have done a search and found several access points to a river you want to fish, it’s time to put the boots on the ground. Take an entire day to explore the river and check out all potential access points and areas to fish. The first time you visit a river it should be to explore. Even if you find that secret run or deep slot, fish it for an hour and then make yourself move on and keep looking around. You will thank yourself the next time you drive to the river and find a person in your best spot and then not have to go try and find a new one as you will already know where to go.

Fishing the bank is very rewarding

Fishing the bank is very rewarding

Once you learn a river or two or three…you get the idea, then it’s time to get smart about your gear. When I bank fish, and yes, I still like the ease of hiking into a river and fishing instead of fighting the lines at the boat ramps. I usually take two rods, both are the same though. The idea is to have a back-up rod and reel outfit in case your primary one breaks, it happens, as my car door is notorious for eating rods in the parking lot. My “go to” steelhead outfit is a 9 ½ foot medium to light action spinning rod with a 3000 series reel spooled with 20 pound braid. This set-up allows me to fish multiple ways and a variety of water conditions.

Hooking a fish from the bank, nothing feels better

Hooking a fish from the bank, nothing feels better

The tackle box is where you can really get into trouble when it comes to bank angling. You need to pack just the right gear and right amount and carry it all throughout the day. This is where using a universal rod and reel like the one mentioned above really pays off. I will pack six spoons, three in ½ ounce and three in ¾ ounce so I can adjust to water speed. Since I am fishing braid I also bring along four adjustable ½ ounce floats, six or more jigs, a dozen “yarnie” pre-tied drift fishing leaders, another dozen leaders just plain, some pink worms and a few bare jig heads. I am not a big bait fishing fan when bound to the bank as you then need carry the bait and keep it fresh, but I do carry scents, such as Pro-Cure Super Gel in Anise, Sandshrimp, and Salmon Egg. By using the yarnies with scent I am essentially using a standard bait drift fish rigging. Don’t forget the swivels and weights, I prefer slinkies in various shot amounts depending on the water conditions. All of this goes into a backpack and takes up little room and is lightweight.

Grant Blinn with a shore caught steelhead about to be released

Grant Blinn with a shore caught steelhead about to be released

With the above mentioned rod and reel, and gear I can fish several methods and all water conditions. From throwing spoons, drift fishing yarnies and pink worms to float fishing jigs and “whacky” rigged worms and even a spoon under a float in a boulder garden, as well as bobber-dog a long run. I have stood at the top of a seam and bobber-dogged until my line on my spool was down to the last wrap. Now that it working the water!

The author, Jason Brooks, with his son Ryan and two winter steelhead on the bank

The author, Jason Brooks, with his son Ryan and two winter steelhead on the bank

Strap on the boots, check the river levels and head for the bank. By preparing and being armed with knowledge of the river you will be more successful. Just don’t smile too much as the boats go by, knowing they have to fight the lines at the launch.

Jason Brooks
Northwest Outdoor Writer

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

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

Any Time is a Good Time to Chase Wild Steelhead

Do you ever run into a situation where you are looking to find information on how a river is fishing? I do, and sometimes you just need to decide to make your way out to the river and get a report yourself. This is the situation that fellow Outdoor Line “Young Gun” Joseph Princen, Phantom Custom Rods owner Kris Jellesed, and I were faced with early Monday morning. Ideal conditions were all around us on many rivers but we were in search of much more than a limit of hatchery fish. It may seem a bit early for the chase of natives to begin for most but the search for a trophy with the anglers involved in this trip never stops.

After making a three hour plus drive to where I had landed a 21.5 buck last year in April, we began our journey. The area on this morning was completely void of any other anglers which makes you think “has the river changed since last year? Is it safe? I wonder if there are any obstructions I cannot navigate through safely?”

I do not recommend to anyone blindly floating a river but in the quest for being a hero risks must be taken. As we ventured out on the “steelie green” water we noticed that the water was about 500 cfs lower than our previous float, but the obstacles and sections of river where fish were caught last year were remembered.

On the right side of the river about an 1/8 of the way down the float Joseph recognized a rock shelf that had deep slow rolling water which produced a fish last year. This time was no different. With a three plug rod spread and a K-13 Kwikfish attached to all of them the slow back troll began. Right after the boat had passed a large boil and the plugs began to track straight again…..BOOM…FISH ON!!!

I took control of the oars as Joseph grabbed his rod and the fight was on. The 13-14lb chrome hen gave us a great fight that lasted about 6-8 minutes and then came to the boat as I gently netted the fish. I rowed to shore quickly to begin the revival and the snap a picture but before my camera was out of my bag the feisty native slipped out of Joe’s hands and slowly disappeared into the emerald water.

Anglers remember this! Steelhead pair up, so if a female is caught there should usually be a larger, more aggressive male nearby. Repeat the process that was used to hook fish number one and it should yield the same results.

With all of minds thinking the same thing we began to slowly back troll again with my rod on the far right closest to the rock shelf and again…..BOOM….FISH ON!!!

I had thought that the fish had come off after about thirty seconds but of course she was just running with blinding speed right at the boat. After that she took about 40 yards of line of and then I began the slow retrieve to bring her back to the net. As I lifted the head and Joe scooped her into the net the hook of course fell right out. The power of a steelhead is amazing!

Personally, I have landed many fish on plugs over the 20 pound mark and I have not until this day seen a hook bent back 30 degrees by a 14lb fish. Joe rowed to shore as before and we snapped a couple of pictures for the fish album, I revived and released the beautiful creature, then we began to move down river to another section of water that had similar features.

As we approached the long back troll slot which produced my 20 last year and gave birth to the Dubb Club it was a very slow to get a fish to take. When back trolling a section of water be sure to completely cover the water until the plugs reach the tailout and start striking bottom. Seconds away from instructing Joey and Kris to reel up, the left rod in front of Kris went off….FISH ON!

This situation was a little different due to the fact the fish came off after about 30 seconds but again in the same type of water we had already hooked fish in earlier that day. Recognizing the water you need to produce fish is very important, so when you find fish continue to work that same type of water effectively.

Knowing that time was not on our side and that a very long moped turnaround was ahead of us we decided not to run the plugs again and move down river. During our push toward the takeout Kris hooked a very nice fish on a pink worm that came off due to the speed of the boat moving down and the fish running  up.

This is a very hard situation to control but if you can gather yourself after the excitement of hooking up, dig the oars very hard and try to stop the the boat without throwing anyone off board. Going 2 for 4 is not a stellar day by any means but searching and finding wild fish on a river with no reports is a wonderful feeling. The opportunity for success is always there, all you need is the confidence in yourself and your fishing abilities to make your day memorable.

Good luck and tight lines,

Lael Paul Johnson, a.k.a. LPJ
Outdoor Line “Young Gun”
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

Northwest Outdoor Report

First Razor Dig of 2013 Scheduled

WDFW just approved the first razor clam dig of 2013, starting Tuesday (Jan. 8) at Twin Harbors and expanding to include Long Beach, Mocrocks, and Copalis beaches later in the week. Twin Harbors will be open from January 8th thru January 14th and Long Beach, Mocrocks, and Copalis Beaches will be open Thursday January 10th thru Saturday January 12th.
Commission to Consider Removing Gillnets from Columbia Mainstem
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet January 11th and 12th in Olympia to consider shifting gillnets off the mainstem of the lower Columbia River and into designated off-channel fishing areas. The plan would also shift allocation on many of the Columbia’s salmon runs over to the recreational sector. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 back on December 7th to adopt the plan and now it’s up to their counterparts in Washington to move the plan forward. The meeting will be held in the Columbia Room of the state Legislative Building starting at 8:30 a.m..

Brant Hunt Approved for Skagit County

A flight by wildlife biologists last week determined that brant numbers would support an 8 day hunt in Skagit County. At least 6,000 birds are needed to support a hunt and wildlife biologist Don Kraege counted 8,960 brant in Fidalgo, Padilla, and Samish Bays. The hunt is scheduled for January 12, 13, 16, 19, 20, 23, 26, and 27. Be sure to check out the WDFW website for more details on this special brant hunt, as there are special license requirements in place.

Wild Steelhead Showing Early in the Skagit

John Koenig of Johns Guide Service (360-708-3166) in Rockport reports catchable numbers of wild steelhead in the Skagit River right now. He’s been surprised by the number of wild fish this early in the season and thinks that the Skagit could be in store for some excellent fishing in late January and February when the wild steelhead show up in earnest. In stark contrast the hatchery steelhead return on the Skagit has been so poor that the Cascade River was recently closed down so that the Marblemount Hatchery could meet its egg take goals.

Sol Duc Fishing Well

Mike Zavadlov from Mike Z’s Guide Service (360-640-8109) in Forks has been seeing really good numbers of wild steelhead in the Sol Duc already. Mike’s caught steelhead into the low teens, as well as a few Snider Creek steelhead. One of Mike’s go-to jigs lately in the low and clear water has been a pink and purple Beau Mac 1/8th ounce jig. While the Snider Creek broodstock program was discontinued last year, anglers can still expect to catch those fish for at two more years on the Sol Duc River.

Potholes Spotty for Ducks, Good for Geese

Levi Meseberg from Mar Don Resort on Potholes Reservoir reports great goose hunting over the Christmas break with limits or near limits of geese for the last couple of weeks. He says the cold weather that’s made the goose hunting so good has pushed a lot of the ducks south though. While there’s been a few pockets of birds around he says the duck hunting hasn’t been all that great lately. With temperatures forecast into the mid-40’s for the Potholes region next week he thinks the duck hunting could be some of the best of the season. Waterfowl season will close on January 27th this year, so duck hunters have just a few more weeks to get their hunting in.

Kent Man Attacked by Coyotes

When Faron Scarberry moved to Kent two weeks ago he had no idea how dangerous going for a walk with his dogs might be. Last Friday night while he was walking his dogs three coyotes attacked him in back yard. They initially went for Scarberry’s face and he was able to block them, but one of the coyotes grabbed him by the leg. He was able to ward off the coyotes, but he still spent the night in the emergency room and got 24 rabies shots on his leg and hip. Coyotes rarely attack humans, but wildlife officials recommend keeping garbage contained and pets inside at night this time of year to reduce the chance of an encounter.

Gun Map Backfires on New York Publisher

When the Journal News in New York recently published a story called “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood” burglars and crooks immediately took notice. Along with the story was a map of every gun owner in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam Counties. While the intent of the insanely stupid article was to “out” local gun owners the article did nothing but help crooks and enrage gun owners. Burglars who needed guns now knew which homes to hit and the information also let burglars know which homes were gun-free and easy to rob. One blogger reacted by posting a map showing where key editorial staffer live. Outraged groups have called for a boycott of Gannett Publishing’s advertisers and the newspaper now has armed guards stationed outside at least one of its offices.

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