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Thread: General king salmon advice?

  1. #1
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    Default General king salmon advice?

    So, having convinced the family that early June is peak king salmon season, we have a one week trip to Ketchikan for these fish. I'm tolerably competent with using a downrigger, flashers & other salmon gear after this past year ... Given your druthers, what is the 'go-to' lure or bait you feel is generally most productive for king salmon? Flasher & hootchie, flasher & cut-plug herring, dummy flasher & herring, j-plug, flasher & spoon, spoon only, etc? "Most productive" for me means that my mom will be catching fish ... if she happens to hook a monster, great, but the goal is to keep her catching.

    Have watched some youtube videos of commercial trollers, done some reading, and browsed posts on this forum. My guess is that a flasher & hootchie should work just fine, but I'm always ready to learn that my opinion is wrong (again!)

    Thanks guys!

  2. #2

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    Sounds like you understand the basics so you should be able to get into 'em. My favorites are spoons (naked), J-plugs/Tomic plugs (naked), and hoochies on a stiff leader behind a dodger. Not big on bait but a slow troll with a flasher and rolled herring in shallow water will usually get you something. Remember that some lures require speed to work correctly and mixing herring with say J-plugs/Tomics will only have one or the other doing it`s job...so set up lines accordingly. Most of all enjoy being able to fish with your Mom!


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    What would you consider 'stiff leader'? 50# mono? or something heavier? If I go with a spread of spoons, flasher/hootchies, or plugs and no herring, what trolling speed(s) should I be at? The rental boat we'll be using has a GPS on it, so I'll be able to set our speed pretty precisely.

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    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    I would say 1.5 to 2 kts for speed, but remember this is ground speed on the gps so it will vary based on current.

    I like Brad's artificial, and for real bait, either cut plug or whole herring rigged so that they roll nicely. I think herring catches more, but not when you account for getting stripped and not noticing it, and dragging an empty hook around for a while until you think to check it.
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  5. #5

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    SE King Salmon Fishing 101

    These are the basic rules you must live by, to stack the deck in your favor.

    3 times a day to be on the water:

    1st light. And that's early in June. The best trick up your sleeve is to find out where some kings are being caught, and be the first one there in the morning. Overnight, a few kings will have moved in, and they are there for the taking. I often run out in the dark and do my first pass in the dark to see where they are at on the sounder. Second pass I slay em when there is enough light to see. It's not rocket science, it's getting up earlier and working harder than the other guys.

    Your tide changes: Have your gear in the water, over the best spots an hour before, through, and after the tide changes. A tide change in the early morning or late evening is even better.

    Evening: Right before dark things start to happen again. When I troll locally, I often hit the water at 7:30pm in early June and fish right up till dark. They bite.

    Feed:

    Whales and birds are your friends. Birds will probably be your best indicator where the best feed will be. Don't harrass the whales, but they'll point you in the right direction. Kelp lines are also very good spots to hold the entire food chain. Lots of kings in early june hang on the kelp lines. Do a few passes with no gear down to determine any stary kelp. Downriggers and kelp aren't much fun. In Ketchikan though, you are going to have boats fishing most of the hot spots. The rental place will have tips to get you going to where some kings are being caught.

    Gear:

    I'd suggest 2 methods for a newbie. Herring with a head, and flash/hoochie. Basic, king killing methods.

    For hoochies, I have my best success with a hand tied 30# leader and 4/0 gamakatu hooks. The leaders in the store are junk. PM me your address and I'll mail a few down to you that I tied up with a few top SE colors. Some might object to a 30# leader. Here is my reasoning: Lighter line = more kings. Smaller hooks = more kings. Kinda like finess fishing. 30# maxima has pulled up more than a few 200# halibut too. It's strong line. You do have the risk of breaking a huge king off, but if you know you have a big king and ligher line, you can baby them and be fine. With that herring or hoochie, you want an 11" hot spot flasher. Red or Yellow with a mirror on the side. Heavier leaders do work though. With double hook rigs, I find it hard to get the bottom hook straight with heavier than 40# test. It causes a slight kink in the leader which causes the hoochie to do some flips in the water. Not my ideal set up. Single hooks work, but in my experience, I get a much better hook up ratio with double 4/0 hooks and more bites.

    Speed: That is very subjective. With herring, you want to often troll as slow as you possibly can as long as your flasher spins. With hoochies, 1.5-3kts. Split the difference when you have both down. Sometimes with the tidal flow or wind, you don't have a choice as to how fast you troll. If you troll 2kts into the current, you're blowback will be rediculous. Ball weight makes a huge difference too at how fast or slow you need to troll. Just keep things sane, like a 45 degree or less angle on your wire. No magic speed either.

    Depth: Again, very subjective. 11" flashers are great cause you don't have to at the perfect depth to get them to move in. I've watched kings on my sounder come off the bottom in 160ft of water and hit my trolled hoochie at 65ft. Lets say for example you are working a 60ft kelp line first thing in the morning. You know a few kings will be in there. I'd set one at 30ft, and the other at 45. One side herring, other other side hoochie. If it was 100ft of water, I'd do one at 75, the other at 45.

    Efficiency:

    Efficiency is very important to success in sport trolling. I see it all the time. Be organized. Have multiple leaders ready. Avoid having herring on both rods. When you catch a king, net it, and immediately get the other rod back down fishing. I see guys all the time catch a king, and spend 15 minutes getting back to fishing as they untangle lines, take pictures, rig herring, etc. Get that other rod back down fishing before even unhooking the first one. Meanwhile, I've caught 4 more kings. They go home with 2, I go home with 10. All because I get back down fishing immediately when the kings are biting. Also, stay in the area where the feed is. Pointing the boat in 1 direction and just trolling all day until you stumble on a few fish isn't the best way to do things. Find an area with kings, and work it to death. Don't try to fish the whole ocean.. spin around and keep hitting the best spots over and over again.

    And lastly.. Put in your time. King fishing can be pretty tough in early June. Some years tougher than others. Grind it out, stick with the basics, and you'll get your bites. You'll run into guys who say you have to be trolling at 36ft with a white hoochie at 1.6kts etc to get any bites. That's all dock talk. Highliners keep it simple and basic, and focus on finding the fish and putting them in the boat as efficiently as possible. Stay on the fish. I'm serious about the leaders too. PM me your address and I'll send you some of the good stuff.

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    Thanks for the great post. If I remember correctly, you are a guide? Where do you guide out of as I am impressed that you are willing to start before dawn.

  7. #7

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    I charter out of Craig, for a lodge. When charter fishing, my partner boat and I generally try to leave as early as I can get the clients out of bed. My partner boat and I are usually the 1st boats out there. I love that and get all bent out of shape when if I get to my spot and have a boat there. I don't run in the dark in my 31' boat though.

    In my personal 19' skiff, I run in the dark all the time. You have a lot more light on the ocean than you think, unless it's a new moon. On my days off I'll do 30-45 minute runs out to the hot bite in the dark to size things up before it's light enough for them to bite, and have 9-12 kings in the boat before the first charter boat shows up. I'm often home in time for breakfast. Not too easy on the body, but if you want to kill kings, it's a surefire way to load the boat up.

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    Check out the videos at http://www.sheltonproducts.com/FBR.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeek the Greek View Post
    What would you consider 'stiff leader'? 50# mono? or something heavier? If I go with a spread of spoons, flasher/hootchies, or plugs and no herring, what trolling speed(s) should I be at? The rental boat we'll be using has a GPS on it, so I'll be able to set our speed pretty precisely.
    270ti has you covered for answers...heck of King slayer.

    I run 40# Sufix mono leaders but as 270 mentioned, 30# Maxima is plenty stiff and is fairly bulletproof line...and virtually invisible at low light.

    Here`s a hooch/dodger fish...



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  10. #10
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    270, excellent well thought out post. Zeek - heed 270's advice, you should get into a few fish over there. If it is slow, fly over to Craig and charter. Side note, I have my most epic catches right at dark in the evening. Purple or Glow flasher and black with glo hootchie.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    Your tide changes: Have your gear in the water, over the best spots an hour before, through, and after the tide changes. A tide change in the early morning or late evening is even better.
    If it was just me and hardcore fishermen, I would do the sunrise/sunset fishing as you describe, but with my family, I kinda have to go on their routine ... meals, touristing, etc ... however, I will lay hands on a tide book when we get there and stick like glue to what you say on tides!!

  12. #12

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    I gave a very basic "100" level tutorial. VEK could provide a more advanced look at plugs, and a whole host of other good fishermen on here have their own way of doing things.

    Gooch,

    Evening fishing in May is one of my favorite things to do. Nothing like seeing the herring come to the surface right before dark and chrome kings on the end of my line. If I ever move out of here and sell the boat, I'll be up at your place renting your boat in late May on a yearly basis. Not much compares to king fishing in May/June. You've got a heck of an area up there.

  13. #13

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    I really couldn't add much to what's already been said, and especially because things are done a bit differently down around Ketchikan than we do them around here. But my all time favorite thing to use is green label herring. I used to thread my herring, but I've started experimenting with "herring hoods" with just a treble hook behind it. I've been trying various "flavors" of the Oki Tackle "Anchovy Classic" hoods and they are fantastic. They give your herring a really nice roll. I'll hook a 3/0 treble hook into the herring about an inch in front of the tail and so far it's been about 95% effective for me. The only problem I've had with them is when I've buried the hook too far forward in the herring. Almost without fail you'll end up with two of the hooks of the treble hook right in the corner of the kings mouth. I got these two yesterday with that method:
    IMG_5347.jpg

    I also "brine" my herring in ProCure Brine 'n Bite which I've found to be incredible stuff. I have used 30 lb. Seaguar fluorocarbon before and like it a lot, but lately I've switched over to Maxima "Big Game" leader in 30 lb. I run about a 4 ft. leader behind various colors of ProTroll 11" flashers.

    I've also posted before about my favorite lure---Tsunami Holographic Squid that Cabela's sells in the 6" size. My favorite is the "Glow" color, but I've also used the Natural Squid color with ProCure UV Enhancer spread on it. It's by far my favorite lure. They have a tube through the middle of them that you can run your leader through attached to a 3/0 treble hook. I've used hoochies before with varying success, but the Tsunami is by far my favorite.

    Good luck on the kings!
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  14. #14
    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    Sounds like you will be catching kings, so all I can add is change leaders after the first three fish, fish meaning rockfish, halibut, kings, etc..if you want to keep landing fish.
    Providing trips for multilpe species for over 20 yrs
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    Keep it simple, as has been posted. Flasher/hoochie or flasher/small spoon combos are very forgiving. I have my own rules of thumb, but they're not profoundly different than other folks'. I like 40# Maxima leader behind a flasher, or heavier still for hoochies as I think the large-diameter, stiff leader helps put more flasher motion into the hoochie. I've used 60# and had it work fine. Probably best to settle on 30 or 40, depending on how lucky you feel...

    I like between 3 and 3.5 flasher lengths for leader length on hoochies, and that's length of monofilament from knot to knot.

    I like 5 to 7 feet for small spoons, as they provide their own action and don't need to be piggybacking on the motion of the flasher.

    Spoons: consider "kingfisher" by silver horde. I like their solid UV white/pearl with chrome back and "cop car" with chrome back. Without more time to experiment, you could run just those two colors. Sometimes they're supplied with the cup side painted glow - that might be an interesting twist for the first and last light drags.

    Flashers: colors are as varied as everything else, but keep it simple here too. I like hot spots more than the various post-patent clones. Trick is to find them with ball bearing swivels at both ends - not just the upstream end. I like chartreuse with oldschool embossed silver mylar sides, and their "jelly crush" color with the glow stripe removed.

  16. #16

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    "Efficiency:Efficiency is very important to success in sport trolling. I see it all the time. Be organized. Have multiple leaders ready. Avoid having herring on both rods. When you catch a king, net it, and immediately get the other rod back down fishing. I see guys all the time catch a king, and spend 15 minutes getting back to fishing as they untangle lines, take pictures, rig herring, etc. Get that other rod back down fishing before even unhooking the first one. Meanwhile, I've caught 4 more kings. They go home with 2, I go home with 10. All because I get back down fishing immediately when the kings are biting. Also, stay in the area where the feed is. Pointing the boat in 1 direction and just trolling all day until you stumble on a few fish isn't the best way to do things. Find an area with kings, and work it to death. Don't try to fish the whole ocean.. spin around and keep hitting the best spots over and over again."

    THIS IS BY FAR THE SINGLE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE REGARDING SALTWATER KING TROLLING ON THIS FORUM!!! If there is one thing you take away from this post, it should be this quote. If everyone listened to this then a there would be A LOT less kings out there swimming around. Props to 270ti for posting this, although he probably shouldn't have considering how great of advise it is...

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    Not to muddy the waters anymore than they are but I'm fairly simplistic for trolling. What 270 said is right on for SE fishing. That early morning bite is key. Few years back during the Petersburg derby my wife, father-in-law, and I got out before the fleet on the last day. Made one pass through the area and had a 43 lb, 29 lb, and a 16 lb fish. About then the rest of the folks showed up and nobody caught squat.

    My favorite set-up is a 12 oz orange or pink banana weight, with an inline fish flash (in red or chartruese with silver flash) followed by a herring. If I can jig fresh herring I go with a cut plug, frozen herring are usually green label and stay whole. I haven't gotten into wrapping my own leaders so I use the gamikatsu sliding mooching rigs in 30 lb with 4/0-5/0 hooks. Essentially nobody in Petersburg uses down riggers it is almost exclusively banana weights.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

  18. #18

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    When the fishing is hot the Kings will bite on practically anything. When it is as normal (slow) spend a little extra time getting the action you are looking for from your Herring. I like a slow (once a second) 8 to 12 inch circular roll at 1.5 to 2 knot troll speed. All of the advice given is good. Do check yout leader before resetting for any nicks or kinks from the last fish. It is a **** shame to lose a nice King to gear failure. SHARP hooks pay of in spades. I was given some excellent advice on this forum to use Owner Cutting Point hooks. I like them even more than Gomagatsu hooks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LGraham View Post
    "Efficiency:Efficiency is very important to success in sport trolling.

    THIS IS BY FAR THE SINGLE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE REGARDING SALTWATER KING TROLLING ON THIS FORUM!!!
    I agree completely, as this is advice that I would give any of you who came down to Texas to fish for tuna with me. However, "efficiency" is a pretty subjective term depending on the kind of fishing one is doing, and you guys are giving me lots of information to chew on for planning this trip.

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    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1360108586.620438.jpg
    Thought this might help your planning.
    Casey
    Yamaha Dealer
    Petersburg, AK

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