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More Tips on Fishing Reds
Posted by Michael Strahan on May 17 2005
Charlie,

Here's some more info for you-

The strongest knot I know for tying on coho flies (in fact I use this knot for most of my salmon fishing) is the Palomar Knot.  If you don't know how to tie it, it's very simple.  Here's a link to a good illustration of it < http://www.fish4fun.com/palomarknot.htm >.

What I like about this knot is that you get TWO passes of line through the hook eye.  In my experience, when you're fishing close to the bottom, the knot takes a beating on the rocks.  Having that extra strand of line through the hook eye has saved me many a fish that would have been lost because of a small nick in the knot.

If you're fishing the Russian River itself, the clear water, together with polarized glasses, will allow you to sight cast to the fish themselves.  The Kenai River, on the other hand, is full of glacial silt.  You will not usually be able to see the fish, but will have to concentrate your efforts on the right sort of habitat.  Be patient, and take a few minutes to talk with other folks who are catching fish.  That's a great way to learn.  It's been my experience that most successful fishermen are pretty free with "how to" information.

Bring a Coleman cooler full of ice with you.  You want to get those fish on ice ASAP.  I'd also kill the fish right away, so they don't bruise themselves flopping around on the rocks.  Some folks cut the gill rakers, or stab the heart (insert the point of your knife in the "belly" of the fish, just aft of the pectoral fins.  Bleeding your fish is supposed to make it taste better, but to be completely honest, I've never noticed a difference and I eat a lot of sockeye.

You might consider bringing along a two-gallon ziplock bag with some Yoshida's sauce inside.  Fillet one of your reds and drop the fillet into the ziplock bag to marinate.  On river trips (we float the upper Kenai a lot during the summer), I'll let a fillet marinate in the cooler all day like this, then make a small fire (I use match-light charcoal) and grill the fillet over the coals.  Make a small tent over it with foil, to reflect heat down on the fish.  The skin will stick to the grill, but that's okay.  Just serve it off the grill.  Delicious!

If you have access to a vacuum packer, bring it!  Your fish will keep much better in the freezer that way.

Sinkers; I already mentioned split shot.  Another cheap alternative is to use surgical tubing and lead wire.  Cut a piece of tubing about an inch long, and slide it onto your line.  Then cut a section of lead of the proper length, wet the end of it and insert it into the tubing, making sure it doesn't protrude out the other end.  If it sticks out on the upstream end, it will catch weeds, etc.  A setup like this allows you to trim the lead if need be, and to move the whole weight setup up or down the line to respond to changing conditions.  An old steelhead fisherman showed me this trick many years ago and it works very well.

I would avoid using leaders, swivels, or anything else that requires more knots.  Knots are the bane of fisherman, and the less knots you have, the less chances of a breakoff of occuring.  The other downside of leaders, is that you're stuck with what you have.  As you break flies off, or they become too dull to sharpen, your leader gets shorter and shorter.  This isn't a problem with split shot or the tubing rig.  With those, you just slide your sinkers up and keep casting.  This keeps my line in the water more hours and increases my chances of catching a fish.

Don't cast out for reds.  Just flip your rig about ten or fifteen feet quartering upstream, and hand-strip the line to keep the slack out.  Essentially, you're slowly dragging the fly across the bottom.  It works.

Hope this helps!

-Mike

Previous: What tackle do I need? CharlieM May 16 2005
Next: On the cheap... Michael Strahan May 17 2005

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