This simple little technique has helped me catch more steelhead off the bank. Give it a try!
If you’ve ever dealt with loose, soft roe that just won’t stay on the hook, this video is for you!
Making spawn sacks is a quick and easy solution for soupy eggs. Spawn sacks (aka “egg bags”) are also extremely useful when you are fishing in an area that’s loaded with bait stealers like chubs, smolt, trout and squawfish, etc.
Fishing jigs under floats is a deadly way to catch more steelhead this season. Here’s how to do it!
The Ultimate Guide to Steelhead Bank Fishing.
First off, why fish a bobber? Well, a float rig will fish in places regular gear just can’t touch. Bobbers will keep your bait above the snags and right up where the fish can see it. As an added bonus, a float allows you to fish distant seams and holding lanes both above and below your position that would be difficult or impossible to fish with other methods. You can also extend your drift with a bobber by simply letting more line off your reel. Plus, you’ve got a great built-in bite detector!
The Drag-Free Drift
Before we get too far along here, let’s cut right to the meat of this technique and discuss the number one thing you have to master to be successful: The drag-free presentation.
When fishing a float, your gear needs to travel downstream at the speed of the current. While there are times when steelies will grab a bait that’s traveling a bit slower than the current (more on that later), you generally want to keep your gear moving with the flow of the river.
To keep the proper speed going, you have to keep as much line off the water as possible. When a belly forms in your line between the rod tip and the float, the current will grab it and drag your line downstream too quickly. Similarly, a bow in the line can also occur upstream of the bobber (in eddies and calm spots behind rocks, for example) and that will make your bait slow down and lift off the bottom.
To keep the belly out of your line, you’ll have to lift and “mend” it to keep it from being influenced by grabby sections of current (using floating braided line here is a big help!). When a bow starts forming in the line on the water, gently reel towards your float and then, just as you come tight to it, lift the line in the opposite direction of the belly. Take care to avoid violently jerking the float as you mend, as that can cause your bait to drift unnaturally.
When a steelhead picks up your bait or lure, the type of “bobber down” you get depends a lot on the speed of the current. In swift water, the float goes under more quickly, while it tends to go under somewhat slowly and methodically in softer flows. Either way, remember this: Reel until you Feel. In other words, reel any slack out of the line and then, when you feel resistance, set the hook.
It’s critical that you to try to keep a reasonably tight line between your rod tip and the float when fishing so that you don’t have to reel up a bunch of slack before setting the hook.
The two basic styles of floats commonly used for river fishing are fixed and slip.
A fixed float is attached to the line via tight fitting rubber fittings that hold it in place wherever you set it. You can change the depth at which you are fishing by simply sliding the float up or down the line.The type of float you run – fixed or sliding – is part personal preference and part necessity.
Slip floats slide freely up and down your line and the depth is controlled by placing an adjustable bobber stop on the line above the float, which can be moved up or down, depending on the depth of the water.
Fixed floats are incredibly responsive and easy to rig. However, they are usually very lightweight – which makes them tougher to cast on anything but spinning gear.
Fixed floats are not infinitely adjustable depth-wise, and deeper the water you want to fish, the longer you need to make the distance between the float and the weight. Even with a 9- to 10-foot rod, the rig gets pretty cumbersome for casting once you get about 6-7 feet of line between the bobber and the business end.
The two main jig styles I use are marabou and plastic worms. I generally like the 1/8 size the most but sometimes bump that up to 1/4 in heavy water.
For general purpose steelheading, I feel the best all-around jig colors are cerise/black and cerise and white, but it’s always good to have a few other patterns on hand as well. As with most steelhead fishing, go with brighter colors when the water has reduced visibility and then tone everything down as the clarity increases. In really low, clear water, it’s hard to beat the odd-looking “Nightmare” pattern which features a white head and black and red body.
In the marabou department, I love Hawken Aero Jig and Yakima Bait Maxi Jig.
When it comes to fishing pink or nightmare worms under a float, I prefer 3- to 6-inch Mad River Worms
To learn much more, check out my book, The Ultimate Guide to Steelhead Bank Fishing:
So, you caught some hatchery hens this season and cured the eggs up for future salmon and steelhead fishing missions…But do you know how to make sure your bait is ready to go this winter or next fall?
It’s actually one of the questions I get asked most often — what’s the best way to freeze egg baits?
Well, there are a lot of ways you can go here and the short answer is: I vaccuum seal my wet cure eggs in Mason Jars. For dryer eggs I’m going to use for drifting, I’ll go with the burrito method.
Here’s how I do it:
First, you’ll need some paper towels, plastic wrap and vaccuum sealer bags…
Then, stretch out a length of plastic wrap and place the burrito on it…
Wrap the plastic around the burrito tightly, trying to squeeze as much of the air out as possible. Just be careful to not smash the eggs…
Next, get a vac bag ready. Be sure to label it with a Sharpie so you know what’s in there when you pull it out weeks or months down the road…
Now, fill the bag with as many burritos you think you’ll need in a session. I use the Oliso brand because they have a zipper end that allows you to take stuff out and then reseal the bag up to 10 times…
The next step is to place the bag in the freezer (unsealed). When the baits are frozen solid, put your vac packer on the “moist” setting if it has one and suck the air and then seal the bag shut. If you vacuum the eggs before they are frozen, they will turn to mush.
On a similar note, be sure to either open (or cut a hole) in the sealer bags when you take the burritos out to thaw. If left in the sealed bag, the eggs will expand upon thawing and you’ll end up with mushy goo (not good).
Follow these easy steps and you’ll have good eggs ready to fish when you need ‘em.
For more Steelhead fishing tips and techniques, check out my massive eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Steelhead Bank Fishing
So, your outboard motor won’t start? Before you take it in to the shop, try these 5 simple fixes…
These are simple, often easy solutions but sometimes it’s hard to think clearly and remember even the most obvious fixes when you and your motor that won’t run are clogging up the boat ramp on a busy day or drifting downstream towards the rapids.
If you can get the outboard to start and you start smelling fuel or seeing it in the water, chances are the engine is flooded. A simple fix is to disconnect the gas line where it attaches to the motor and keep trying to start it. Eventually, you’ll run the extra gas out of there and you’ll hear it fire. As soon as it does, reconnect the fuel line and then go for a boat ride before you stop again.
You know the old saying about appliances when they don’t work — well, did you check and see if it was plugged in? As dumb as that sounds, most of us have done that. Same with outboard motors — I limped several miles home on my kicker motor one day with clients years ago when I thought my big motor was dead. Turned out I had somehow knocked the kill switch out. Without it, of course, the motor will never fire.
So, if the boat will crank and crank but wont turn over, check to see if the little red kill switch is attached. If it’s not, don’t tell anybody and then make it look like you are doing something really difficult under the cowling and then sneak it back on when nobody’s looking and tell them you had to adjust the Flux Capacitor.
Ever had your motor start running rough all of a sudden? It will start to sputter and sound like it’s about to die…and eventually will quit. If you are lucky, it could be the easiest fix of all — opening the fuel vent on your gas tank.
Those red portable tanks that come with most small outboards have a little vent knob (usually on the cap) that lets air in. If you forget to loosen that knob before you start boating, it will cause the motor to quit eventually.
You may even notice this starting to happen before the engine starts running poorly — the walls and top of the gas tank will start getting sucked inward.
Simply loosen the vent and you’ll be on your way! Just remember to tighten it down once you get the boat back on the trailer.
Most new and larger outboards have overheat alarms on them that will beep if the motor is getting too hot. Lower horsepower and older models don’t always have an alarm, but if you notice the motor sputtering, along with a burning smell, there’s a good chance it’s getting overheated. Hot to the touch is another obvious sign that there’s a problem.
A lot of these situations can be avoided — or at least caught in the early stages — by simply checking to see if the motor is “peeing” out the back. These engines are water cooled…water is drawn in through a screen in the lower unit and the run up through the motor to keep everything running cool. Whenever you start the engine, simply look at the motor to see if you notice a stream of water being expelled. Some models eject the water straight out the back but most I’ve owned shoot in out at an angle from just below the cowling.
If you see that she’s not spraying water, immediately shut the motor down and let it cool. Take the cowling off and look for a (usually black) hose that attaches to the exit port. Pull it off the nipple on the inside of the motor and check for debris. Sometimes all you need to do it blow into the tube. More pesky clogs may require a small wire. Also tile the motor up and see if the intake screens are blocked with weeds or a small piece of plastic.
If you can’t find the clog and the motor wont spray, use an auxiliary motor to get home if you have one. If not, make sure its cool and then run it a short distance and then let it cool off again. Repeat that as necessary until you get back to the ramp.
When you go to start your outboard and it won’t kick over — or it will just run for a few seconds and then dies — check the hardness of the squeeze ball in the fuel line. If it is soft, squeeze it several times until it gets solid. Sometimes you just don’t have enough gas in the line to get the thing to fire but pumping some more into the motor you will be up in running in no time.
There are several other little fixes that I have learned over the years but these are the most common and easy ones. Maybe in the future, I’ll do a column on some of the other troubleshooting methods for outboards.