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Thread: Winter King Conundrum

  1. #1
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    Default Winter King Conundrum

    Help me out here someone, Kodiakcombo? I have been fishing southwest of Kodiak in the Shumigan Islands (Sand Point) pretty hard here for the last week and trying to troll up a winter king salmon. I know they are here because the Pollock boats have been dragging them up and bringing them in. They report catching Ďem mostly at night, near the bottom, and in deep water. They say they do not catch that many there in the day? I am limited to 150' on my downrigger and have been trolling everything you can imagine on the other side of a flasher, except small herring which I don't have access to, Coyotes, Apex, hootchies, Bradís Baits pack with good smellyísÖ. I have focused off prominent points and over underwater ridges and reefs next to deep water. Very mountainous and trenched bottom in this area, nothing at all like Homer. One big problem seems to be keeping the bass or Atka Mackerel off the hooks. Any thoughts anyone? Gear, location, special technique for this areaÖ? No offense, and have even fished with him before, but I am sick of seeing the Huntress reports of the last couple weeks. (kidding, Iím in awe!)
    Again, Someone hook a brother winter king fisherman up please! Literally!

  2. #2
    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Default Winter King Conundrum

    Are you finding bait? If you are the. Try trolling 10' or so under it. It may be that there are kings in with the rockfish and Atka mackerel and you just have to stay on 'em and sort fish.

    Of course the kings may just be running deep and dark in a fruitless attempt to evade the draggers......
    Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"
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    Change out the cable on your downrigger to 300-yds of 80-lb Spectra.
    Increase your weight.
    I carry 8, 10, 12 and 15lb weights for my Penn downrigger.
    When your troll go slow and in and out of gear to keep the weight deep.
    I have caught kings as deep as 350-ft doing this.

  4. #4
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Does the spectra cause any problems with downriggers? I am running scotty electrics....

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenaiclan View Post
    I am limited to 150' on my downrigger...
    I can't tell from the way you put it if you think you aren't catching any kings because you just aren't fishing deep enough. If so, WHY are you limited to 150 ft.? If it's because you only have that much cable then as Tiderunner said just put new cable on and Spectra would be a good alternative. I know Cabelas and Power-Pro make a specific Spectra "downrigger" cable, but I can't imagine it's anything different than what their regular fishing line is (and if anyone knows if it is indeed different in some way please let us know). One thing they both claim is that it doesn't make the "humming" noise you get from steel cable which, according to both of them, will scare fish away. Not sure if that's a valid concern or not because I use steel cable and don't seem to have any trouble catching fish. Though maybe if I switched to Spectra my catch rate would increase. (Hmmmmmmm....)

    Then, I'm not sure from the way you worded it, but do you think the only reason you aren't catching fish is because you're limited to just the 150 foot depth? As a lot of people here know, I am one of the biggest fans of using "natural" bait whenever possible. Do you know what the kings are feeding on primarily? "Match the hatch" as many flyfishing aficianodos like to say. That might help you catch them. Just as an example, if they're just gorging on needlefish then maybe just a "needlefish" imitator such as a streamer might be in order. If there's herring around, or similar fish, I can't imagine why they wouldn't bite a herring imitator such as what you've used, but why not try it? You say you don't have access to "small herring" but why not? If no one sells it in the area I'd think some place like The Gear Shed here in Homer, or one of the bait companies such as Alaska Bait could mail or FedEx some to you. If it's preserving them that's an issue, try some Pro-Cure "Brine 'n Bite". When used properly it keeps herring as stiff as a board in just a regfrigerated state. I have some I treated about 2 weeks ago that I left in my refrigerator unfrozen since then and it caught me that 17 lb. king yesterday.

    And please don't take this the wrong way because I'm not suggesting you don't know what you're doing, but if you know you're fishing where there are fish, and you aren't catching them at all then maybe it's something wrong with your methodology. This is just an example, but I have an underwater video system that I attach to my downrigger weight. I USED to use it all the time when fishing for winter kings. I noticed that at times I'd be fishing in areas where people were catching a lot of fish, AND I could actually see kings swimming up and looking at my offering and then just swimming away. Suddenly one day I got this inspiration that maybe the camera system that consists of a big black camera about the size of a 24 oz beer can attached to my downrigger weight, then a very thick and bright yellow cable extending out of that camera and then up my downrigger cable might just be spooking the fish. So I switched over to just a plain old downrigger system and my catch rate increased exponentially. Now I don't use my camera system for winter kings. Doesn't seem to bother silvers, but it just doesn't seem to work with kings. So maybe it's just something you are doing, or NOT doing. Are you trolling too fast? Too slow?

    Just some thoughts.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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    All good thoughts and comments and very much appreciated. I have been fishing for bottom fish my whole adult life, had two charter boats in Dutch Harbor over my twenty years there, and salmon in streams and rivers the same. Even had the still standing all tackle IGFA world record halibut caught on one of them. :O) Anyway, downrigger fishing is a new thing to me and I know I have much to learn. Sadly, right now I only have a gps, though it is loaded with decent charts. I know I need to get a decent fish finder here as well, and that having one will help immensely in locating both bait and salmon. I am not concerned about fishing at 350' really; I just want to find a place and way to catch some winter kings. I had someone bring in a few packages of herring for me, but unfortunately they are blue, which does me no good and so I ground a couple up with Mikeís blue herring jelly and made a chunky paste for the Bradís Baits, and red which I will try. Iím realizing now though that I need some brine as well to cure them up. I'll have to find someone coming out this way again or will order some. Iíll also switch over to a spectra cable too as soon as I can get a longer one here. I fished about eight hours today and caught almost nothing but halibut. Some nice ones, so I wasn't complaining too much. I'm not sure that anyone will believe me but about 75 yards from the boat a 15-20 pound king jumped out of the water five or six times. All three of us on the boat saw it because one person pointed and yelled like crazy when it started. I would not believe it if someone told me they had seen this, but I saw it for myself and there was no question at all about what it was. Has anyone else ever seen this? Canít be too common, Iím still astonished. Anyway, there's no doubt these fish are here and so I will just keep trying and switching things up until I begin to hook up. As before, however, I remain open to ideas and/or constructive criticism.

  7. #7
    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    I have caught several kings with blue label herring, though I prefer green. Salmon will jump out of the water, including kings, but I don't know how common it is among feeder kings.
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    I think your lure choices are reasonable but not having a depth sounder of some kind is a huge disadvantage. You need to find the bait to find the Kings. once you do that, you should catch them. Simrad has a little depth sounder that has a "scupper mount" transducer so there is no need to cut or drill into your boat. I use it kayak fishing and it works surprisingly well..

    good luck!!

  9. #9
    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    yep, you gotta be able to find bait, and know how deep it is. The last few days we have been trolling 60' (fairly deep for here) but yesterday i marked bait from 20-40', so i brought the gear up and made circles and hooked a nice fish. day before that our fish came from under feeding birds.
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  10. #10

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    Yeah, I'll throw my "2 cents worth" in on the fishfinder thing, too, and agree wholeheartedly on needing one to find bait, and thus to find fish. "Feeder kings" are exactly what their name implies---they're kings that are feeding. So you need to find bait to find fish. And especially if you're fishing in 350' of water. If you're trolling with your downrigger set as 50' and all the bait is hanging out at 250' you probably aren't going to catch anything. That would be my #1 suggestion if you want to find fish.

    And there's nothing wrong with "blue label" herring. If you think they're a little too big for the fish you're targeting then just "cut plug" them down to a smaller size. I've used blue labels before, but prefer green label which really isn't THAT much smaller.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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    In my opinion the most important thing you can learn about trolling for salmon is proper presentation.
    Check out the 3 web sites below. Find the videos and study them.
    My personal favorite trolling product is the Shelton Franko Bullet Rotator.
    My second choice is the Protroll Rotary Salmon Killer.
    http://sheltonproducts.com/

    http://www.protroll.com/products/bai...rotary-salmon/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUrN-NbiA7M

    Another thought about trolling deep. It is very hard to keep your line attached to the release clip, drop it slow, use a release clip that holds very tight. I would not use the same clip when trolling normal depths.
    If anyone has a good release clip for this let me know.

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    I attach a 2-3ft length of halibut leader to my downrigger weight and attach my release clip to this when using spectra.
    I do not think you will catch more fish using spectra instead of cable. But it eliminates the hum and you can go deeper easier.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiderunner View Post
    In my opinion the most important thing you can learn about trolling for salmon is proper presentation.
    I'd agree with you if you said the most important thing AFTER finding fish is presentation. But if you're not fishing where there are fish you could have the absolute best presentation going and you sure aren't going to catch anything.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muttley Crew Fishing View Post
    I'd agree with you if you said the most important thing AFTER finding fish is presentation. But if you're not fishing where there are fish you could have the absolute best presentation going and you sure aren't going to catch anything.
    Can't argue with this advice, lol
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    This thought can be argued back and forth.
    You are right about if the fish are not in the area you will not catch them.
    I have always liked to not fish in the crowds and find my own fish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiderunner View Post
    I have always liked to not fish in the crowds and find my own fish.

    Tiderunner I agree with you, I like to do the same. Sometimes you just don't have a choice for one reason or another. Fish are where you find EM

  17. #17

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    Good luck. I'd troll shallow (30ft) with an 11" flasher. Run the beach and work your way out over structure. Deepen up just enough to stay out of the rockfish. Winter kings are often fairly hungry, and it's not rocket science to find a bait/lure they'll bite. Keep at it... it's hard to establish a new king fishery in a new area, as opposed to going out in a popular area and fishing the same holes that area usually productive when kings are around.

    and get yourself a fish finder..(grin) those things come in handy.

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    I would get a reliable sounder installed ASAP and (as 270 suggested) start out in the shallows early in the day and work your way out as daylight gets brighter. Deep fishing can be very productive so the sounder will help you find concentrations of feed holding close to deep structure (or staying deep to avoid warm-blooded predators). Commercial trollers winter fishing in the Sitka area regularly fish for Kings with 50 fathoms (300 feet) of wire out to place their gear near feed. They have their leaders connected at regular intervals along the wire, but in my experience most of my fish came from the hooks that were right down by the 60-pound cannonballs. That is not to say that I didn't get Kings anywhere else in the water column, but in the dead of winter - my production was best close to the bottom. Good luck with your quest.

  19. #19
    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    All what everyone said plus look for tide lines where gulls are feeding, then with your new fish finder sounder check for temp rises, fish the warmer water area. when you score post some pictures!
    Providing trips for multilpe species for over 20 yrs
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiderunner View Post
    If anyone has a good release clip for this let me know.
    They don't look like anything you see on most boats in Alaska (except mine), but these releases are the best thing that ever hit a downrigger when a guy uses all sorts of gear from big to small, and all depths. They're fully adjustable for tension, and they can really crank it down. We used them in the tropics for trolling 9" tuna plugs at 8 knots without the slightest issue, so they will really take some tension. Yet adjust them light as you want for gentle takes in shallow water.

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