Help with Cut Plug Herring

healerf18

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I was out at Pony yesterday and while I have a fair amount of experience hootching moochies, er, I mean, mooching hootchies, I hadn't mooched cut plug herring before. We'd limited on Silvers a few days before, so I figured it was time to experiment a bit. I had brined 4 flats of Green Label herring, tied up several tandem rigs with 5/0, 6/0, and 7/0 Gamaka's (yes all hooks were kept sticky sharp), watched all the videos on YouTube, and... the cut plug herring way out-fished anything I've ever mootched, but I simply couldn't solidly hook a fish. Our hook ups with hootchies are about 90% - we rarely lose a fish. With the herring though, I landed a grand total of one fish out of roughly 15-20 "takes". To add insult to injury, the fish I landed was hooked in the eyeball by the trailer hook. I tried everything I could think of, bigger hooks, smaller hooks, hit the fish hard on the initial take, hit him hard after he's had it a bit, don't hit him at all (like with circle hooks and halibut). Nothing. Sure got tired of feeding expensive herring to the fish. Any ideas? I'm stumped. Thanks!
 

Frostbitten

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I was out at Pony yesterday and while I have a fair amount of experience hootching moochies, er, I mean, mooching hootchies, I hadn't mooched cut plug herring before. We'd limited on Silvers a few days before, so I figured it was time to experiment a bit. I had brined 4 flats of Green Label herring, tied up several tandem rigs with 5/0, 6/0, and 7/0 Gamaka's (yes all hooks were kept sticky sharp), watched all the videos on YouTube, and... the cut plug herring way out-fished anything I've ever mootched, but I simply couldn't solidly hook a fish. Our hook ups with hootchies are about 90% - we rarely lose a fish. With the herring though, I landed a grand total of one fish out of roughly 15-20 "takes". To add insult to injury, the fish I landed was hooked in the eyeball by the trailer hook. I tried everything I could think of, bigger hooks, smaller hooks, hit the fish hard on the initial take, hit him hard after he's had it a bit, don't hit him at all (like with circle hooks and halibut). Nothing. Sure got tired of feeding expensive herring to the fish. Any ideas? I'm stumped. Thanks!

Been there. My best advice is to downsize your baits. We don't cutplug for mooching any more, but rather fillet the herring, then use half a fillet on a single 4/0 hook...that gives you 5 baits per herring. My son prefers to use just the herring head, and he outfishes everyone on the boat consistantly.
 

BrownBear

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Here is the best summary I've found. I do it just like they illustrate for trolling, but for mooching I bury the trailing hook under the skin back there by the tail. Don't remember when I last snagged one with the trailer while mooching, and mooching hook-up rate is very high.

Only "trick" we've found that increases our hook-up rate comes when we feel a strike. Rather than setting the hook, drop the rod tip and wait until you feel the fish again. Then set the hook.
 

AaronP

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You HAVE to let them eat it! Let them chew on it until you feel that steady pull!
 

limon32

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I agree with a combination of the answers you've received. I'm lazy and cheap, so I usually use halibut size hearing, cut in half. Make the cut like a cutplug, but do it in the middle of the fish. I try and use the smaller halibut sized herring. Then I use big hooks, usually pre-tied 6/0-5/0. I use long leaders, like 5' so they have some line to eat the herring before you even know they are there. I let the silver pull on it until the rod starts bending over, then set the hook. Probably a 80% hookup rate for me, my wife rarely sets the hook and I think she outfishes me every time.
 

Trakn

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I too agree with most of the answers you got. My opinion is your hooks are to big 3/0 is plenty maybe a 4/0 mostly I go 4/0 front hook and 3/0 trailer and leave the back hook drag along side the tail. The problem your having is your setting the hook to soon. Let them eat it, give them the rod tip to water trick pull back if there nibbling set the hook you got him. You got to give him time. And yes it will out fish every thing else hands down. I also don't brine mine. I leave them fresh and mostly thawed silvers love fresh herring.
 

limon32

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if there nibbling set the hook you got him. You got to give him time. And yes it will out fish every thing else hands down. I also don't brine mine. I leave them fresh and mostly thawed silvers love fresh herring.

Very good advice right there!
 

Micky_Ireland

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Is it prudent not to use cut-plug herring for silvers as they are maybe a little too big ? If so , what is the best way to fish herring for them. I have read somewhere that the best way is to fillet a herring into 4-5-6 pieces or strips and place on maybe a single hook rig. Is this sufficient ? Can they seek out the smaller pieces of herring in the currents? Is it then possible to maybe fish a hoochie with a small piece of herring strip attached to the hook...I can see the appeal of the herring to the kings and indeed the silvers but I would be concerned if the herring strips ( that are quite smaller ) were seen to be inferior.....thanks
 

BrownBear

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They can be really variable with time of day, tide, stage of run, light level, and who knows what else. One day a particular technique will work better than others, and a few hours or days later it might change. I tend to use the most "conservative" approach in starting with cut plug, but if the fishing gets really hot I go simpler- whole fillets, partial fillets, even heads cut off while making cut plugs. On a bet I even caught one on an unbaited pair of hooks one day when the fish were going really nuts.
 

limon32

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Is it prudent not to use cut-plug herring for silvers as they are maybe a little too big ?

I'm not sure i understand your question, are you asking if the herring are too big? If thats your question, you can buy herring of all different sizes here, I like smaller ones for silver, but if all I have is big ones I either cut the tail ends off or fillet them, either way will work. Take me out on your boat when you get here and I'll show you the REAL secret...
 

vaaler

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Don't worry about the fish being able to see a small bait; they are often full of 1" long baitfish that are nearly transparent. A 3" long herring fillet is a big target. Matching the hatch can be important sometimes, but often not. Several times when we have had our baits wiped out by mackerel we have cut strip baits from their bellies and limited out.

Big_E
 

Micky_Ireland

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thanks guys. I was curious as to whether the herring fillets would be to small to be appetising ..Herring heads too?? wow How long do the silvers hang around the POW islands ?. Is it also correct that the average size ( of the silvers ) get larger as the season gets longer i.e into September or so as they are feeding longer in the ocean ? Thanks
 

BrownBear

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Is it also correct that the average size ( of the silvers ) get larger as the season gets longer i.e into September or so as they are feeding longer in the ocean ?

Not PWS, but that's what I've seen. We first start seeing a few silvers in the first or second week of July, but they're tiny at only 5-6#. By early Sep they are averaging well over 10#, and later in the month into October 15+# won't turn many heads. I've heard biologists say that in their last few months of ocean life their average weight gain is 1# per week.
 

Uncle Zeek

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Is it then possible to maybe fish a hoochie with a small piece of herring strip attached to the hook...I can see the appeal of the herring to the kings and indeed the silvers but I would be concerned if the herring strips ( that are quite smaller ) were seen to be inferior.....thanks
Our first couple summers up there we hired charters & their basic method was a flasher & hootchie with a small strip of herring on the hootchie. Seemed to work well enough for them.
 

Micky_Ireland

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Thanks zeek the greek. Was this done via downriggers ? if not, how is the flashers fished below the rod. Is this added below a banana sinker?
 

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