It was a quick change of tackle which enabled Dave Auman and me to convert locating salmon marks on the sonar into catches. We were downrigger trolling and fishing Silver Horde Kingfisher spoons for king salmon and whatever else was biting off Westport WA. In around 50 feet of water, a respectable school of baitfish on appeared the Lowrance sonar, along with a few large fish markings; these obviously weren’t shakers. We took note of the position of the fish on the Side Scan feature of Structure San, and repositioned ourselves for another troll over the same spot.
During the transition, I went into my tackle bag, opened a plastic compartment, selected a couple of Coho Killer Spoons and replaced the Kingfishes we had been using in less than a couple minutes. Dave repositioned the boat, and we both proceeded to drop our Scotty downriggers. I’m reasonably sure those salmon would have engulfed the larger spoons but I noted the bait was running small that morning after seeing some birds feeding. The Coho Killer matched the hatch size and produced some radically action and we hooked up on a double on ocean bright chinook.
The point here is my ability to quickly access my lure of choice and put it into service when fish suddenly appeared is the direct result of having my boat organized. When a quality fish or situation arises that requires a tackle modification to score, loss of time and confusion over locating that correct lure, hook, sinker, swivel, net etc. can have a steep price equating to a missed opportunity. Many times anglers need to react to a tackle change as rapidly as an pit crew servicing their race car. And in the fishing world, that quickness and efficiency depends upon how well you organize your boat.
Many years ago when I was deckhand on a Westport charter boat the captain used to tell me “Do all the little things on the boat right, and the big things will fall into place”. That has been great guidance throughout the years, and a regular saying on my boat Salt Patrol during countless days of salmon and tuna angling here in the Pacific Northwest.
This one philosophy is the same winning formula you will find in common from all top charter captains and successful river guides.
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 professional anglers consistently produce fish.
By adopting a few of these tactics and adding them to your repertoire you to can dramatically improve your own results.
It’s nothing but pure pleasure to fish on a well-outfitted and organized boat.
All fishing rods pre-rigged in rock launchers before the start of the trip, spare tackle organized in water proof tackle trays, leaders pre-tied on foam rolls ready 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. It has a cutting board lid for bait prep and tackle storage under it. The lower section holds storage for bulk tackle and downrigger cable repair items all ready instantly if needed. Rigging stations can be purchases or built out of marine Starboard or aluminum in various sizes to fit most boats.
I keep all my flashers pre-rigged in Silver Horde flasher bags. These are separated by type of tackle. One would bag would hold squid/hootchie setups another with Silver Horde spoons all pre-tied to the flashers. No time is wasted ever retying gear during a hot salmon bite. I ‘m many times asked how many on one color spoon or hootchie to buy? My answer is figure you need one and a spare in case you lose the one you’re using. Then add your fishing buddy who see’s you catch a fish on that color spoon and wants to use your spare. A course he will lose his loaner! You can see where this is going. Figure on spares, it’s also good to stock up early is the season as the top tackle colors are hard to come by when fishing is in full swing.
Landing nets should be at the ready for easy deployment when a hot fish nears the boat, not tuck away in a collapsed position in the cabin.
I’m a strong believer in redundant systems and spare parts. For instance I use a Lowrance unit for sonar and another one for a GPS, however should one ever fail either unit can perform both functions. I also carry a handheld GPS as a backup. There’s no excuse for missed fishing time because of equipment failure.
Attention to detail is the critical link when it comes to out fishing the rest of the fleet.
I tie all my leaders on Seaguar Fluorocarbon leader material, the stuff is totally invisible in the water compared to normal monofilament leader. Over the past few years I have seen it out fish regular leader 4-1.
I use scents on all my lures as both an attractant and a cover scent. Replace your scent every year, they lose potency.
I also regularly clean all my tackle in soap and water and dry it before putting it up at the end of the fishing day.
I buy cases of bait earlier in the season so I have enough to last the season. Don’t rely on crap bait or worse no bait available at all during the peak of the fishing season. Get it early and store it.
A good set of binoculars can be a game saver out on the water. Spot birds feeding, or watching for nets on other boats.
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 the little things that put fish in the boat.
Keeping a boat maintenance log is also a great way to track all required boat and motor maintenance requirements and makes sure you don’t over look a crucial component.
If you just caught a 20-pound salmon on a Coho Killer smeared with anchovy scent tied 40 inches of leader behind a 11 inch Pro-Troll flasher. This is 12 feet behind the release clip. This is setup is being trolled on the 15 lb. downrigger ball running at 127 feet measured by the Scotty Downrigger counter fishing in 100 ft. of water trolling at 2.8 MPH with the current. You are over large ball of bait with fish arches showing up just under the bait ball on your Lowrance sonar. Could you turn your boat around, deploy three more identical tackle setups over the same water having noted the GPS location and repeat entire procedure to produce fish again while the bite is still on? A top charter captains like my good friend Rob Endsley at Prince of Wales Sportfishing can. You may only be interested in repeating the positive results with one setup on your boat but the all the same required information still applies.
If you don’t what you did then you can’t repeat it! Pay attention to what works so you can repeat the procedure and have your tackle tired and ready to deploy.
Taking care of the little “things” before leaving the dock. This will increase your fishing efficiency. At the very least you will help you get your gear back in to action faster and help convert those unexpected opportunities into more fish on your boat.