By: Toby Wyatt
Although upriver stocks of spring salmon (those headed to Eastern Washington and Idaho) are struggling, Drano and the Wind River still have good runs of springers. Because of these two fisheries a lot of us fishing guides were able to salvage a season. These are two places that are thriving now and still fishing well today.
Drano Lake will fish a few more weeks and then it will be done. The good news is the Drano/Wind River Hatchery has both achieved escapement. The fish that are there can’t get in the hatchery. In other words, they are piling up in Drano and the Wind River and fishing is pretty good.
Meanwhile, salmon are keying on in certain baits. It seems like in certain areas salmon key in on shrimp, and this season at Drano Lake and the Wind River that’s what they were biting. These are both clear water tributaries where you can see down 10 feet. The fish can get spooky. A plug can be too obnoxious. And, a herring might be too big. Brined shrimp have a favorable presentation in these systems. It’s what these salmon want.
On the other hand, I found that you need a certain color shrimp for the salmon to key in on it. We used red shrimp daily. Here’s exactly what I do to give these springers the perfect bait.
The Brine for Drano/Wind River Springers
Step 1: Got Shrimp?
There are a lot of options out there, but coon shrimp or prawns are best. A two-inch coon shrimp or prawn is ideal. You can buy them at any tackle shop. They are readily available. This year coon shrimp has been better, but in years past prawns were better. I’d bring both and see what they are hitting that particular day.
Step 2: Mix Brine
Place shrimp into a quart jar. Add the following contents: a half-cup of Red Fire Cure, tablespoon of Liquid Krill and a quarter cup of Red Pautzke Nectar. Then fill remaining level with bottled water (because it doesn’t have chlorine).
Step: Let Brine
Leave the shrimp in the jar two to three days, rotating the jar a few times a day. I let it sit that long to allow the shrimp to soak up the color and the scent. If you pull them out too soon, they won’t hold the color and smell as good to the salmon.
Depending on time of day and light conditions I’ll rig shrimp two days. In lowlight (early in the morning) I like to rig the shrimp to spin. In lowlight you want the action of the shrimp to attract the fish. On cloudy days we’ll use this as well.
However, when the sun is high I go to drifting shrimp. This is where it doesn’t spin. There’s so much sunlight they can see it from a long ways. If there’s too much action they’ll actually shy away. This year we fished the shrimp on size 2.5 to 3.5 Colorado blades. Small smile blades also work well.
Editor’s Note: Toby Wyatt operates Reel Time Fishing. For more information on his Drano Lake and Wind River springer trips please visit http://reeltimefishing.com.