The Ultimate Steelhead Rag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

Clam Dig Next Weekend
WDFW just announced another razor clam dig next week. Twin Harbors beach will be open Tuesday thru Saturday, and on Thursday Long Beach will open up and over the weekend Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks beaches will all be open for razor clamming. Clamming generally starts two hours before the low tide in the evening.

Black Friday Trout Fishing Special
If you’d rather go fishing than shopping the day after Thanksgiving then WDFW has the deal for you. They’ll be planting Battleground Lake and Klineline Pond in Clark County, Kress Lake in Cowlitz County, Fort Borst Park Pond and South Lewis County Park Pond in Lewis County, and Rowland Lake in Klickitat County with 2,000 rainbows apiece. Chris Donley from WDFW called the Black Friday fishery an experiment that could lead to similar events in other parts of the state.

Southwest Washington Elk Opener Toughest in Years
Mike Jenkins from Upfront Outfitters (360-560-7620) said that fog descended on his camps in Southwest Washington just in time for the elk opener. He said the fog spotting elk nearly impossible and that the success rate for the entire area hit an all time low. The upside is that the last part of the season could be very good for elk hunters, since there’s a bunch of bulls still out there and hunter numbers are generally low the latter part of the season. Jenkins thinks the drop in temperature this week could make hunting very good!

Silvers Piling into the Humptulips
Scott Sypher from Canyon Man’s Guide Service (206-518-4982) is reporting wide open coho fishing out on the Humptulips the last few days. He limited out his customers quickly Thursday morning throwing #4 and #5 hoochie spinners into the lumber. Sypher says that gold and copper spinners seemed to be the best color. The Humptulips has a 3 fish daily limit for silvers this fall, only one of which can be a wild coho.

Ranker Digging into Wolf Pack Removal
Senator Kevin Ranker from Friday Harbor, who chairs a committee that oversees WDFW, says he’s going to hold a hearing about the department’s decision to remove the Wedge wolf pack in Northeast Washington last month. The wedge wolf pack had killed two cattle and injured 15 others on the Diamond M ranch north of Colville before the department made the decision to remove the pack. He thinks officials and the rancher could have done more to deter the wolves from attacking cattle. While he won’t be asking for resignations or reprimands, he will be using the hearing to more clearly clarify the states position on wolf removal and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Pikeminnow Angler earns 77,000
Portland angler Nikolay Zaremskiy earned $77, 238 last year catching pikeminnows from the Columbia River. The state has a bounty on the pikeminnow in the Columbia, which has a voracious appetite for salmon and steelhead smolts. It’s the second year in a row that Zaremskiy has earned over $70,000 dollars catching pikeminnows. Last year he earned over $71,000 dollars. Eric Winther, who manages the program, called him the Michael Jordan of pikeminnow fishing. The bounty program starts in early May and runs thru September and last year it dished out over one million in rewards.

Rob Endsley
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

 

Save Da’ Waders (wader repair made easy)

It’s mid-September and the morning chill in the air reminds you that fall is actually here. For those who have enjoyed the hot Summer months, fishing your favorite river or stream wearing nothing but shorts, times-are-a-changing…..

The cooler morning air has most of us reaching for our waders. Something about staying dry in the morning, or for that matter the whole day, tends to make the whole experience a bit more enjoyable.

So here’s the deal. You are getting ready to finally get back on the river in a few days. You are gathering your gear and taking inventory. As you hold your old waders in your hand, you suddenly remember that towards the end of last winter, they leaked.

I had mentioned that staying dry was the point of wearing waders and now you are thinking, this is going to suck. “I need new waders, but my daughter also needs braces”.

Then you begin to rationalize it in your head. “Her teeth really aren’t that bad, she’ll be fine for another year”. Now reality hits, there is no way in hell you will ever convince the wife, so just stop right now if you value your marriage at all.

Before you get all balled-up thinking you’ll need to spend another season in leaky waders, I have something that may just make your day, or for that matter even your year. “Plasti Dip”. Never heard of it? Or perhaps you have. Either way you will see that this is so easy, it’s borderline stupid.

Ever since I found that they put Plasti-Dip in an aerosol can, I had to give it a try. I first used it about 8 years ago. I stood there in the hardware store thinking to myself, “spray-on rubber in a can, how could this not work”?

Well, not only did it work, but it worked great.

Fixing a leak with most other items or kits offered by manufactures, never seem to do a very good job. I always seemed to have patches that would peel lose, or just flat out continue to leak no matter what I did.

Any and all wader repairs start with one thing, finding the leak. This is made simple by using a trick my Dad taught me when I was young. “Light”, use a flashlight or what I prefer, a drop-light.

By using a drop-light, I can slowly lower it down into my waders, each leg if I need and look for it to shine through the small hole or tear I perhaps cannot find. You may need to do this in a room with minimal light to actually see the light shining through a pin hole.

Once I have located the hole, I like to mark it with a pen so I know exactly where it is.

Seams are notorious for leaking and you will see how well Plasti-Dip works in these tough-to-patch areas.

The seam tape area on the neoprene foot is also another common area that may develop leaks. Spraying Plasti-Dip along the seam tape will patch the seam. Sometimes the tape will actually peel off as the Plasti-Dip begins to dry. I simply remove the seam tape and then continue to apply more spray-on Plasti-Dip were the seam tape was.

For small holes or tears I sometimes will just spray the immediate area and not worry about how it looks.

More times than not I will take the time to tape the area off around the leak so as to do a nice clean job.

I will usually apply 3 to 5 coats of spray, allowing dry time between each coat. Once the Plasti-Dip is dry, I’ll peel the tape and presto, instant patch.

Plasti-Dip works so well because it’s pliable, flexible, and will adhere to any surface. It works on both neoprene and breathable waders.

Pick yourself up a can and give it a try, your marriage will remain strong and your daughters smile will be worth your efforts.

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com
Owner/Operator-Strong Arm Guide Service

 

Going Green & How to Get There

In the last few months I’ve fielded many questions from fellow anglers spending time in The Bait Lab. One of the most common revolves around turning baits green. I’ve been going green a lot this season, but unfortunately you can’t buy green Nectar or Fire Brine. Pautzke doesn’t make those colors. Going green requires a little work. Rest assured, though, creating green herring is easier than you’d expect. It doesn’t take a Mixologist to do so.

The green craze has evolved over the past few years. Historically, we’ve had good success on chartreuse herring and anchovies. Knowing that, I really wanted to fish green herring. I knew by simply mixing blue and chartreuse Fire Brine I could create green. I just wasn’t sure on the ratios. Fortunately, I did my homework in The Bait Lab and figured it out.

I’ve conducted many experiments in the last few months and believe that exact measurements aren’t vital when it comes to getting the green color we all want. It’s more important to mix blue and green until you achieve the exact color you’re looking for. Through trial and error I learned that I could create several shades of green depending upon the amount of blue and chartreuse used. Nonetheless, I always start with chartreuse in the bag (or container) and watch the color change by slowing adding blue. Doing so allows me to get any darkness of green I want.

There are many different ratios that work, however, for this blog I wanted to provide many points of reference, which should aid your efforts to create green herring/alewives/sardines/anchovies.

Here’s my published study:

The following are the four comparisons. All four containers started with ½ bottle of chartreuse Fire Brine. I left some herring chartreuse so we have a base comparison (C). The three levels of green created were as follows.

G-1: ½ bottle chartreuse Fire Brine, 2 tbl sp. blue Fire Brine
G-2: ½ bottle chartreuse Fire Brine, 4 tbl sp. blue Fire Brine
G-3: ½ bottle chartreuse Fire Brine, 2 tbl sp. blue Nectar

After a 20-hour soak time I compared the darkness of green achieved.


When I compare the different shades of green the color I’ve seen the most success with is G-1.

When compared closely it’s apparent: the more blue added the bluer the herring is. On the other hand, if you are wondering how adding the blue may affect the UV the results are positive. The UV properties in chartreuse Fire Brine are so strong that it maintains the UV level regardless of how green you make the herring.

Here’s a recap of what I do to make the perfect green:

I start by filling a gallon Ziploc bag with a ½ to full bottle of chartreuse Fire Brine. Then, it’s time to blend chartreuse and blue Fire Brine. After pouring them in the bag, add the herring and let it sit for 18-24 hours. Sometimes I add 1 teaspoon of Fire Power (krill powder) for additional scent.

Bonus Plan: Adding Bite Stimulants To The Brine

If I plan on adding Nectar to my Fire Brine as a scent additive/bite stimulant on my herring, I can also use that as my color change. Pour chartreuse Fire Brine into the Ziploc and add the blue Nectar to achieve green. Keep in mind that the dye properties in the blue Nectar are every bit as strong as the Fire Brine. So your ratio may be the same, more or less, based on the previous information.

Give this a try and “Go Green” I think you will like the results.

Duane Inglin
Strong Arm Guide Service
The Outdoor Line, 710

Area 9 & The Outdoor Line (1) Sea Lion (0)

One of the benefits of being a team member that makes up the Outdoor Line crew, is that we get to take folks out from time to time, doing what we love. We don’t just show up every Saturday and talk about it, we put our time in on the water or in the woods. Some of our days are more successful than others, that’s just the way it goes. That being said it’s all about gettin’ out and doin’.

Today was one of those opportunities to get a couple of our show sponsors out on the water for an anticipated Area 9 assault. We had Jim Spane of Spane Buildings, and Anders Gidlund of Truck Vault with us on Big Red.

Nelly and I met the guys in the Port of Everett, climbed aboard Big Red and we were off and runnin’. That would be about 50 minutes of runnin’ on over to Mid Channel. The morning started out nice a calm and pretty much stayed that way all day.

This was also a great opportunity for Nelly and I to get out and put the new Lamiglas Keni Kwik 10’6″ 15-30 rods to work. And work they did, especially if you consider a battle with a 400lb. Sea Lion giving a fishing rod a quantifiable test drive. More on that later….

The morning progressed along at a great pace, hooking up consistently on just about every pass. Jim and Anders, were having a great time, catching a few and losing a few “right Anders”… Just kidding, Anders actually boated the largest Nook of the morning,which was great as it was his first Salmon ever.

We ended the day going 5 for 9. One was lost during a double, or more accurately a double cluster. The others just came unbuttoned because it’s Salmon fishing and that’s what happens when your fishing salmon… Doh..  The most exciting and exhausting fish of the day, hands down, was the victory over the Sea Lion. Anders had the fish on and doing the best he could to get it in. The Sea Lion came out of no where and grabbed Anders fish. This motivated Nelly to start screaming orders. Which prompted everyone to begin doing what needed to be done.  I got the other rod and down rigger stowed, Nelly was on the motor, he handed me the rod as he said, “we will not lose this fish to a Sea Lion”. The long and short of it was, due to ten minutes of complete mayhem, we won. When the battle was over, the seal, basically had a look of surprise and confusion on his face.

The battle was epic and went on for at least ten minutes. We managed to get the fish, undamaged by the way. You’ll need to tune into www.theoutdoorline.com on 710 ESPN AM, Saturday morning 6:00-8:00am to here the whole story. Find out how to win the battle against our number one salmon thief.

It was a great day to be on the water. Anytime we, at The OUTDOOR LINE , get out and do our thing, life is good. The reward for the effort isn’t half bad either.

And when I’m fishing with Nelly, I always seem to go home with a nice bounty…

Thanks Boss, we’ll do it again soon….

 

Duane Inglin 710 ESPN

theoutdoorline.com

Four Techniques for Schwacking Chum Salmon

Rob Endsley of the Outdoor Line with a huge Skagit River chum salmon caught on a twitched jig

I was talking to guide Phil Stephens of Mystical Legends Guide Service last week about how the fishing had been recently on the Humptulips River and he exclaimed, "There's plenty of kings and silvers in there but you can't get past the infestation of chums to get to them!" Eeek…tough duty Phil!

I'm still chuckling about his comment, as I know what its like to have every single piece of tackle in the boat thrashed to pieces by these gory critters. What they lack in sexiness, however, they more than make up for with fighting ability.  

Chum dawgy's usually start to trickle into the rivers in Western Washington around late October and by the middle of November many rivers, as Phil would say, become "infested" with them. While the North Puget Sound chum runs have been down considerably in recent years that's still a great place to tear up some tackle on these fish. The Nisqually, the Chehalis system rivers, the Humptulips, and the rivers of the Hood Canal all provide excellent chum fishing. 

As with any other fish species there's a handful of techniques that consistently puts fish on the bank. Here's my top four techniques for targetting chum salmon after they enter the rivers of Western Washington:

Curtis Meyers of BC Fly Fishing Charters with a Chehalis River chum salmon

Kwikfish
Backtrolling Kwiky's is by far the most lethal technique for schwacking chums. The plugs that reign supreme in this category are the "Funky Chicken" 3132 and the Silver/Cerise/Purple model 0745. Wrap these plugs with a sardine fillet and they will get tatered all day long. There are several sizes to choose from, but I prefer the K-15 because it's easy to tune with a large sardine fillet and they'll dive as deep as 15 feet flat-lined. Don't be surprised if you catch a Chinook, silver, or even an early winter run steelhead doing this!

Floatfishing
Chums simply go goony-goo-goo for a large pink or cerise jig under a float. Fish jigs for chums the same way you would for steelhead except you'll want to use a jig with a much larger profile for chums. I like to use rabbit zonker strips and marabou in my jigs so that they have a lot of action underwater. They will definitely hit a naked jig, but tip the jig with some prawn meat or an 18 count shrimp tail and hang on. The advantage of using this technique for chums is that you also limit the number of foul hooked fish.

Twitching Jigs
Chums will pounce on a twitched jig with authority. The best jig colors for chums are pink, cerise, and purple and marabou jigs work better on the Puget Sound rivers and hoochie jigs dominate the action on the coastal rivers. If you're not familiar with this technique here's a great VIDEO with Forks area guide Bob Kratzer on how to twitch jigs for fall salmon. 

Flyfishing
Chums hold over deeper gravel bars and in a lot of the steelhead travel lanes making them super accessible to fly fisherman. A good day of landing scrappy chums on the fly can be a total blast! My favorite way to fish chums on the bug rod is to use a floating line with a strike indicator and a heavily weighted pink, cerise, or purple zonker strip or marabou fly. This presents the fly in a way that reduces the amount of foul hooked fish. If chums are holed up in a deep back eddy a sinking tip with a purple/pink egg sucking leach is another great way to approach them. Cast the leach into the pool, let it sink a few feet, and then strip it back to the rod with short, sharp strips. We caught a lot of smoking hot chums doing this in my guiding days.

You'll notice that I left drift fishing off this list. I did that because the number of foul hooked fish using this technique usually out-weighs the number of legit hookups. Sure, there are days when chums will pound a corky and yarn, but the majority of the time you'll end up dragging them in the by the tail and that just ain't cool.

Chum fishing just got really hot in the last week on a few west side rivers, as was evidenced by my conversation with Phil, and the action will continue to be good well into early December. Take a turn at landing some chum salmon this fall and don't be afraid to post your photos and fishing reports over on the Outdoor Line forums. Ciao…for now!

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

Pull Out the Hardware for Early Season Silvers

It's September 6th here in Seattle, Washington and guess what…it's raining!

For those of us nut-cakes that grew up in the soggy Northwest this early rain means one thing, that salmon will be hitting the rivers pronto. It actually means more than that, but for the purpose of this blog and to keep my A.D.D. in check I'll stick with salmon and specifically, early silvers.

Early silvers headed for North Puget Sound rivers like the Snohomish, Stilliguamish, and Skagit systems are programmed to hammer hardware once they get their first sniff of freshwater. Vibrax and Mepp spinners in size 4’s and 5’s, Dick Nite spoons, and Wiggle Warts will all get the attention of an aggressive silver that just hit the river. These fish are still agressive and the flash, buzz, and rattle of hardware is what they're lookin' for.

It's pretty obvious what this 19 pound Skagit silver fell for.

Cover Water
Early silvers are usually on the move, especially if the water is up, so it’s sometimes necessary to cover a ton of water to find schools heading upstream. I usually do this by casting Vibrax or Mepps spinners from a drifting jet sled or driftboat, pitching into any water that is deep and slow moving with woody cover nearby. The second water I look for when using this run-and-gun technique is large gravel bars with deeper water over them that silvers will use as a travel lane as they make their way upstream.  

Holding the boat away from the area I want to fish so I don't spook the fish, I’ll use the kicker motor or oars to control the drift and slow the boat down and cast large spinners, usually number 5’s, at a forty five degree angle upstream. Let the spinner sink into the fish-holding zone and then give the rod a slight pop to get the blade rotating, reeling just fast enough to keep the blade rotating as slowly as possible near the bottom on the retrieve. The nice thing about using big spinners early in the season is that they can be seen and heard from a distance. It's an awesome way to cover a lot of water when fish are scattered.

Most strikes will occur just after the spinner starts rotating, but it’s surprising how many fish will follow the spinner all the way to the boat before crushing it. Moral to the story…don't give up until the spinner is out of the water.

Kegged Up Silvers
If silvers are rolling in an area, especially in a deep pool, it’s usually because they’ve stopped to hold before moving upstream. While casting spinners can sometimes get a bite from these fish, it’s usually best to anchor up away from the fish and cast Dick Nite spoons, Wiggle Warts, or Jigs into the zone where the silvers are holding.

Dick Nite spoons are deadly in low and clear water and are sometimes about all that these fickle silvers will hit when the water gets gin-clear during long periods with little or no rain in the fall. The Half and Half is the most popular spoon in the fall, but don't overlook the glow, frog pattern and silver/chartruese and silver/red. In super low water you'd be surprised how many fish will hit the Wee Dick Nite and in medium to high flows the size #1 and #2's get the job done.  

Here's a rigging diagram for fishing a Dick Nite spoon. Weight, leader length, and colors vary.
 
Wiggle Warts can draw strikes from holding fish and come in a variety of colors, with my favorites being fire tiger, cerise, flame orange, silver/chartreuse, and blue herring bone. Cast the plugs at a forty five degree angle downstream from the boat and crank them thru the holding fish and back to the boat or bank. Just like fishing spinners, coho will sometimes chase the plug right to the boat or bank before hammering the lure and I’ve had them gobble a plug as I’m getting ready to lift it out of the water.

Wiggle Warts or Brads Wigglers can also be backtrolled from a boat. Fish them just like you would for steelhead, backtrolling them downstream thru a salmon-holding run and then, if there's a lot of fish in the run, row or use the kicker motor to troll the plugs all the way back to the top of the run. You'd be surprised how many silvers will ONLY hit the plugs when they're going back upstream.

High Water Haunts
I can actually write about one of my favorite coho haunts now because it no longer exists. A large lake would form in a backwater area on the lower Skagit in the fall when the flows would come up and essentially blow the river out. My customers would always question my judgment as we launched the boat onto a swollen, muddy river, and I would have to reassure them that they could go home for free if the fishing didn’t pan out.  

This area was a guarded secret of mine for several years and we would often be home for breakfast with easy limits of silver salmon from this huge backwater area. The action was phenomenal, but only on extremely high water when schools of moving silvers would get flushed out of the main river channel and into this protected area.
    
This “lake” was actually an old oxbow that would stack the silvers up when the river would get extremely high with early fall rains. We would fish this area exactly like we were fishing for bass, puttering around on the kicker motor and launching Wiggle Warts every which way but loose. This provided white hot coho action for three years until a big flood eventually filled in the big oxbow with silt, but for those few years it was some of the best silver fishing I’ve ever seen in the freshwater.

Even though most of the North Sound rivers are hardened with rock walls and dikes there's still plenty of these backwater areas that hold up big numbers of coho in high water. When the rivers get jacked up in the fall after a big rain the fish pour into these areas to get away from silt, debris, and the high flows that reach from bank to bank.

Low Water Haunts
The "frog" water is where you'll find most of the coho's piled up in the fall. Those big back eddy's that go around in slow circles that never seem to hold any steelhead…yup, that's one place to look. And as I mentioned earlier, carpet-bomb any deep, slow area that's got a bunch of woody debris in it. Downed trees, root wads, and backwater areas behind log jams are excellent places to find silver salmon.

Conversely, also look at the very top of fast, deep chutes when the water gets super low and vodka clear. Areas like this can act like a fish trap, stacking up fish reluctant to head upstream.

If you find the mother-lode of silver salmon rolling in a deep hole in low water hunker down and stay for a while. Throw the book at'em and if they don't bite get there at the crack of dawn the next day and give'em a go early in the day. Silvers can be finnicky as all get out and sometimes they "go" early in the morning and then lock down for the rest of the day.  

I've been back from Alaska for exactly 6 days and I'm already tuned up to hammer salmon on our Northwest rivers this fall. After a tuna trip with Tobeck and a couple of sneaky summer steelhead jams it'll be time to dust off the spinners and crack open that ol' box of Dick Nite's.