Cali-Oregon Border Salmon Action On Fire!

By Paul LeFebvre | 07/17/2013

With PFMC estimates of off shore salmon abundance near last years estimates this year is stacking up to be another banner season offshore on the Southern Oregon and Northern California coastlines.  This year the fish from the Sacramento River /Klamath River recovery efforts are one year older and the catches have been an outstanding grade of salmon.

We have ventured out on big blue four times so far this season with limits each trip.  You better look out Scott Fiest they are on the way up to you buddy…and they are one year older. Polish up your tackle my friend!

This year we began our efforts where we left off last fall. As discussed in previous blogs, we focused on Cut Plug techniques combined with sure spin helmets and Pautzke’s Fire Brined herring. 

Our initial trip yielded fine results with a 6 fish limit of kings to 32#.  But there were boats doing better than we were. While we were getting our limit that day some boats were done within 45 minutes and headed back to port.

A bit puzzled we began a bit of networking at the cleaning station and found that those using smaller baits seemed to be consistently producing a bit better than our cut plug rigs.

As most anglers would do we shifted our efforts in that direction using old tricks we had learned in Bodega Bay years ago….we began using the rotary salmon killer with whole Green label Anchovies or Green Label Herring.

Below is a shot of our modified arsenal for this year’s offshore action.  It is my belief that we never have a pat answer when it comes to terminal gear …we have to adjust to what the fish want and in the words of a close friend “the fish will dictate the methods.”

We learned the hard way from earlier experiences in the Bodega Bay Ca. fishery that the single barbless hook supplied with the rotary killer have poor catch to land ratios… We build on that experience.  As shown, we tie the rotary head to 2/0 – 3/0 – 4/0 combinations with special spacing to match the length of the baits. Vision Tackle Company has recently come up to speed with this idea and is supplying rigs for specific bait “labels”.

Next, in addition to fresh baits, we are brining the baits in marine colors like Fire Brine Blue and the new Fire Brine Green, while still testing other colors for effectiveness.

The terminal rig is easy…just insert the head of the bait into the rotary killer head after selecting the appropriate hook spacing such that the back hook hangs just beyond the tail. Slip a petite rubber band over the shank of the back hook to hold the hooks close to the bait and start trolling.

So what happened after all of the adjustments? Here are a few shots of the numerous salmon we caught.

I consider our first rip as a learning experience and our best day after the adjustments included an eight fish limit and over 20 hookups. The Blue Fire Brine baits were taking the show that day

Somehow I am beginning to believe that the Blue color may work best in clearer water and the Green Fire Brined baits may outperform in brackish or plankton filled water. Time will teach us as we continue to learn about the qualities of Pautzke’s new line of Fire Brines… Here is a shot taken of a triple of which we landed 2 of 3 fish. In the midst of the Blue Bait extravaganza was a triple on the Green Fire Brine…so it is not clear…once again…that we have the answers and we will need to keep fishing to find out.

In the mean time “tight lines” from offshore near the California Oregon border.