Now is the time to perform all the little tasks on your boat. Do them now and all the big things will fall into place so you don’t miss any of the outstanding NW salmon fishing opportunities available this summer.
Attention to detail, a well-organized boat and the ability to repeat a successful tackle presentation to the fish again and again is how top anglers consistently produce fish.
By adopting a few of these tactics and performing proper equipment maintenance before the summer season can dramatically improve your results.
Boat and Trailer:
I’m a strong believer in redundant systems and having spare parts on hand.
For instance, I use a Lowrance HDS-10 for sonar and another one for a GPS and radar, however should one fail either unit can perform both functions. The same principle applies to my VHF radios. I run two 880 VHF Radios for buddy tracking and redundancy but I also keep a handheld Lowrance Endura GPS and Lowrance handheld VHF on the boat as a triple backup.
Check all your electrical connections and insure that they’re tight and that the terminals are corrosion and rust free. Ensure your batteries are charged and will hold a full days charge, if not then it’s time to replace them.
Trailers require a yearly tune up. Check bearings don’t just grease them. Take them apart and check the inner and outer bearings for rust and wear. You might consider upgrading to an oil bath for your trailer bearings as this really cuts down on the odds of bearing failures.
Check your trailer bolts as they rust and will break over time. Replace the bad ones each year.
Last look over your tires; check that the air pressure is filled to the correct maximum pressure. Most folks believe that trailer tires never wear out. Actually most of us assume that since we don’t see the tread wearing that they’re okay when what is actually happening is that they’re rotting away internally. The combination of sun and saltwater cause them to rot out long before the tread ever wears out. There’s nothing worse than having a tire separate while towing on a busy freeway. By the way the new LED trailer lights last much longer and save lots of grief looking for shorts on rusted bulbs on those road trips to the coast.
I always keep spare props, fuses, spark plugs, fuel filters and the tools needed to change them onboard.
There’s no good excuse for missed fishing time because of equipment failure.
It’s nothing but pure pleasure to fish on a well-outfitted and organized boat. All fishing rods pre-rigged in the rocket launchers before the start of the trip, spare tackle organized in water proof tackle trays, leaders pre-tied on foam rolls ready to deploy with any size hook from 1/0-6/0 depending on the size of the bait.
One thing I found that works very well on my boat is a tackle rigging station. I have a Miller Marine cutting board set up for bait prep. It holds knives, leaders, scent bottles and hooks all instantly ready if needed. It’s built out of Marine Starboard and comes in various sizes to fit any boat and even comes with a built in fish cleaning tray that can be adjusted for gutting salmon or filleting fish.
I keep all my flashers pre-rigged in Silver Horde flasher bags. These are separated by type of tackle. One bag holds squids and flashers another contains Silver Horde spoons all pre tied to the flashers. No time is ever wasted retying gear when the salmon bite is hot.
The landing net should be ready for easy deployment when a hot fish nears the boat, not tucked away in the cabin
Imagine you just landed a 25-pound salmon on a Silver Horde Kingfisher Lite, tied with 42 inches of leader behind an 11 inch ProChip flasher, 14 feet behind the release clip weighed down with a 15 lb. downrigger ball, at 70 feet in 100 feet of water while trolling at 2.8 MPH with the current over a large ball of bait with fish arches showing up just under the bait ball on your sonar…whew, what would you do?
Could you turn around, deploy three more identical tackle setups over the same water having noted the GPS location and repeat the entire procedure to produce fish again while the bite is still on? A top angler would. Maybe you’re able to repeat the process with only one setup but the same principle still applies.
If you don’t know what you did then you can’t repeat it! Pay attention to what works and try it again.
Attention to detail is the critical link when it comes to out fishing the rest of the fleet.
I tie all my leaders on fluorocarbon leaders. Fluorocarbon is nearly invisible in the water compared to normal monofilament leader. Over the past few years I have seen it out fish regular leader 4-1. My setups are retired frequently and I always take the time to change out the Mustad hooks to ensure that they’re always extremely sharp.
Pautzke’s scent is used on all my lures as both an attractant and a cover scent.
Ensure you take the time to regularly clean all used tackle in soap and water before putting it up at the end of each fishing day. This removes old scent and keeps the tackle from acquiring a rotten smell.
One of the most important things you can do is keep a log of all your fish caught. It should include date, location, depth caught, boat speed, time of the tide, tackle used, weather conditions, Black Box setting, fish type and size. After you start keeping your own records you will start to see patterns develop. It’s these patterns that you can use year after year to boat more fish.
Again it’s all the little things that put fish in the boat again and again.
Taking care of the “little things” before leaving the dock will increase your fishing efficiency. At the very least it will help you get your gear back in action faster and help convert those unexpected opportunities into more fish.
Capt John Keizer