Underwater egg bite vido…how many grabs can you get in one cast?
You have probably heard that the best way to convert bites to hookups when backtrolling for salmon & steelhead is to leave the rods in the holders, right? But has anyone ever explained why?
Way back in the 1980’s I was just learning to plug fish and had always been told the same thing. But it didn’t make sense!
I figured I’d ignore conventional wisdom and set the hook anytime I got so much as a sniff from a fish. After all, I reasoned, why would a fish hang onto a lure for long once it felt it was hard plastic? It just didn’t make sense!
Well, sure missed a heck of a lot of bites in those days…until I started putting the rods in the holders.
Take a look at the pix above and think about this: When you are backing plugs down a river, you and your rods are facing downriver while the fish are facing upstream.
When a fish first contacts your plug, he’s typically at the worst possible angle for getting a hook into him. If you were to set the hook when you are facing each other, there’s not a lot of good jaw there to get a point into. Plus, you’re pulling the lure straight away from him — like pulling a spoon out of a baby’s mouth.
When the rod is in the holder, however, you give the fish a chance to chomp down on the plug and then turn downstream with it. As the fish is winking away from you, the hooks have a better chance to bury in the corner of the jaw (where they often stay put).
By the time you get to the rod, the fish has usually hooked itself.
Of course, not all fish bite the same way and this is anything but a fool proof method. But, give it a shot and I’m sure you’ll see that your bites to fish in the net ratios go way up.
By the way, the same principle applies when you are fishing bait behind divers…let em eat it!
When flows are up, you just need to switch tactics and get a little “catfishy” in your approach. Plunking fits that bill nicely and will help you catch fish when the flows are up.
First, a quick look at a simple plunking rig. The idea here is to use enough weight to anchor your gear to the bottom (unlike normal steelhead fishing methods, we don’t want it to drift while plunking) and wait for the fish to come to you.
I’ll always use some sort of big and loud attractor like a Size 2-4 Spin-N-Glo or Flashing & Spinning Cheater. You can go with just this and catch steelies but it never hurts to add a little bonus bait on there — roe, sand shrimp, etc. work well.
High water steelhead will avoid the heavy flows out in the middle of the river and instead travel narrow lanes that are very close to shore.
That’s where you want to cast your rig. It depends on the size of the river, but shorter casts are always better when the water’s up. Sometimes you’ll need to toss 20 feet out and others you’ll only need to make a 5-foot lob.
Plunking is a relaxing, often social affair in which you put your rod in a holder or a forked stick and then plop down on a nice chair and shoot the breeze with your fellow anglers. Or, when it’s wet, you can hang out inside the truck.
Some anglers put a bell on their rod to signal when they get a bite. Speaking of rods, for plunking you’ll need a stouter outfit than you’d normally run for steelhead because you’ll need heavy lead to keep your gear put.
I like a 12-25 lb outfit with 40-pound braid. Spinning or casting is fine…that’s up to personal preference.
Want more info? Check out my huge 300 page eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Steelhead Bank Fishing.
If you have never fished Alaska, it should certainly be on your bucket list!
The state is rich in salmon fishing hot spots, and the incredible Togiak River has to considered as one of the best of the best. Here’s a little action from my most recent summer of guiding up there…
Looking to up your steelhead game? Well, look no further! Here’s 300 pages of in-depth how-to info that will show you everything you need to know to get into that “10 percent of anglers who catch 90 percent of the fish” category!
The info in here will save you countless hours, days, weeks of trying to learn on your own…all for under $12!