sardine wrapped plug

Fall Salmon

I’ve been slacking on blogging, right? Yes! I have actually been out fishing doing more than just studying – well, sometimes both LOL.

A few weeks ago we headed back to the Hump before we got all that rain and we were still fishing down low. It was one of those days that I was contemplating staying home to study and sleep but figured one more time before the rain was coming. This year with all the pressure that came along with studying I sadly find myself regretting being on the water if I’m not actually going to catch a fish. This never used to be the case – I was a “bad day on the water is better than a good day of work” kind of gal and the river is where I went to escape real life. But I can’t seem to escape the guilt that creeps up inside of me when I do ANYTHING except study – even cook dinner. So, if I don’t catch anything, I feel horrible.

This was one of those days. The weekend before I was on fire in the same exact hole, although I couldn’t quite get to the same spot which makes a big difference in the river. So, I watched float after float go down and the few times mine would go down, I’d be a bad position and set the hook too late. I was ready to leave. It was afternoon and this was more of a grind than I would choose to partake in knowing I should be studying. We headed down river and fished a few holes on the way out and I FINALLY got one to make it to the net! All of a sudden, my day was made and the regret and guilt were gone….just like that. I just need one fish every time.

After all the rain we headed out for a half day – because I needed to be home to study. We got skunked and were happy to call it in early. So, I took a weekend off not really by choice but forced by the rain but I really wasn’t complaining – no guilt this time! We headed back to the coast last weekend with the water still a bit high but just dropping into shape. We did get a few coho to the boat caught on twitching jigs and spinners but I really had a blast with the chum! We pulled wrapped K15′s searching for any willing biter and I got to study while waiting for the bites. I didn’t get much study time in since we were getting hit after just a few minutes, but I had a great day!

I took another exam last week (that was number 4 and I have zero passed) but I won’t find out for another month. So, in the meantime I’m moving back to exam number 1 and hopefully some more fishing this weekend!

Wrapping plugs

We never fish a ‘naked’ plug for salmon, ever. Sure, salmon will hit a naked plug, but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a naked plug outifsh a wrapped plug. Here’s a few tips and pointers when wrapping plugs and fishing wrapped plugs for salmon:

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  • You can use just plain sardine, but fillet the fish when it’s halfway frozen. Completely frozen is really difficult and completely thawed is too mushy. Either cure in Borax-O-Fire or just use plain borax. Let it sit for at least 24 hours if possible. We’ve had the best sardine in plain borax that sat for 48 hours, in the refrigerator.
  • Cut the piece a little bigger than what you want on the plug, you can always trim it down and you’ll lose some chunks in the wrapping processing.
  • Put the sardine half with the slit towards the bill of the plug. That’s the harder half to wrap and it’s easier if you get that half wrapped first.
  • If you don’t already have your hooks on the plug, wrap it without hooks. It’s a hundred times easier
  • If you do have hooks, always start the wrap on the bill half of the plug. It’s much easier to hold the hooks out of the way.
  • Keep your sardine piece on the center of the plug and the edges clean and blunt
  • Wrap tight so the sardine doesn’t slide around. And cross your wraps so they go at different angles. Try to really wrap over large pieces that look like they might fall off.
  • Wear tight gloves. It’s nearly impossible to wrap plugs with gloves that are falling off you
  • At least 3 half hitches when tying it off. I just cut my line with about a foot left and do half hitches until I run out of line
  • Scent it up! You can apply scent right before you send the plug out, let it soak if you have time to wrap them the night before fishing, use Smelly Jelly to smear on the bill/butt, use an injector to get scent in the sardine piece, when possible, use scent. Your plugs are usually in the water for long periods of time without being checked and if your wrap stays good, you can use it several times. Just resent and resend it out!
  • Tune your plugs after you wrap them. Your plugs don’t come ready to fish right out of the package and you should always tune your plugs no matter what, but your sardine may be slightly skewed  so you want to tune it after you wrap it.
  • Save your sardine pieces for other methods! If you have fairly large chunks leftover from cutting the fillets and you’ll be out fishing again soon, you can use those pieces to pair with eggs for float fishing or drift fishing. You can add them to tuna balls, or make a paste! We don’t usually keep sardine for more than a week if it’s in borax and 2 weeks if it’s cured. It starts to get mushy again and difficult to use on a hook or plug.

How I Get Revenge

The plan this weekend was to take Jeff’s aunt Karen and uncle Jerry from Montana out. They just wanted to fish with their nephew, catch a big one, and bring home a bunch of fish to can. Friday morning I get a call from a “sheriff” at about 11:30AM. Having two younger brothers (that have called me to get them out of trouble before), I was trying to figure out what in the world they did so early in the morning to be getting in so much trouble that they had to call big sister to help.

He was actually calling to ask me about my supposed snagging on the river; And I don’t feel bad for assuming it was my brothers. :)  Apparently, Chief [something tribal sounding] called him to report me and my friends’ snagging problem on the Nisqually. I was very surprised and told him that perhaps someone didn’t like one of my recent blogs and thought they would try to get me in trouble. He was very persistent on wanting to meet me but I said I was fishing the next day. He was asking about who I was taking, if I was running  guided or charter trip, and where I was. Sounding very official and educated on his questions, I answered truthfully with Jeff’s family, no, we aren’t guides, and the military launch on the Nisqually.

He was closing the conversation by setting up a meeting in the morning at the boat launch so that he could discuss in person. When I asked what his name was again, he replied with “uncle Jerry”. I GOT PUNKED!! I feel that I was warned Jeff’s uncle is a whole lot of fun and that I would love him. Everyone was absolutely right! After offering to bring the beer and gas the boat, I couldn’t wait to meet this man!

I left work early and headed home to make sure everything was perfect only to find out that Jeff got called into work Saturday. We were pretty bummed because his aunt and uncle had to go back to Montana Saturday afternoon. He got some extra work done while in town and last minute decided he would stay if he could fish on Sunday! Back to the game plan! We unfortunately had to bail on some other friends, but we couldn’t give up another opportunity to take him fishing! the fishing started out decent and we released a few dark fish assuming the fishing would be great all day and we could be picky. They just wanted fish to can so they didn’t care if they were dark, pinks, anything! We really just wanted nice kings!

The terrible thunder storm rolled in around 9 AM and we had Jeff’s dad, uncle, and aunt all fishing without rain gear, in a Washington thunder storm. They pulled out that beer and fished their way through it! The bad weather really turned off the bite and we struggled to put anything else in the boat. We had just one 10 lb coho which was a great fish, but not quite what we intended to send them home with.

After a very fun day of fishing, tons of picking on ME (uncle Jerry says “you seem like the kind of girl that’s easy to pick on”), beer drinking, and great stories, we called it quits before the next forecasted storm headed in. I mistakenly decided to clean the fish on the boat and was getting the last little bit of blood out when the fish slipped right off the side of the boat! GONE, JUST LIKE THAT! The only fish we had and the only fish that they could send home!

They joked about buying whole salmon from Johnny’s Dock and I PROMISED that we would have fish for them when they came up again in a few weeks and they were more than welcome to come back out. Uncle Jerry said he’d only come out if Jeff could get them out while I was at work or something. I was not welcome back with them and he told Jeff to find another girlfriend because he didn’t approve of me! They really did buy salmon on their way home and even sent the eggs back to us, but I’m still saving all the next fish we catch for them. They were wonderful people and I can’t wait to see them again if they’ll allow it. Uncle Jerry was a riot and Aunt Karen might love fishing more than me…

Well, I Jeff keeps telling me he was joking and that they liked me and surely hope so! He pulled a fast one over on me before I even met him and that my friends, is how I get even :)

Pluggin’ it….

This weekend had much better fishing for me than the last :)

However, the fishing wasn’t as good in general. With all the rain we got on Thursday and Friday, the Puget Sound rivers got pretty blown out. The Puyallup was too high and unsafe for anglers, and the only other river in the area with pinks is of course, the Nisqually. We got there early to launch the boat only to find that everyone in the entire lower Puget Sound must have had the same idea. Not many boats, but there were so many anglers that we barely were able to launch the boat and I almost got stuck at the launch because there were so many cars parked in the way of the entrance/exit.

Once daylight hit, we really saw the water clarity and height and were immediately disappointed. The water had about 6 inches of visibility and we knew that there wouldn’t be much of an egg bite today. We did fish bait under a float in the first hole for about an hour and oddly enough, got a big pink! We tried twitching jigs and spinners and couldn’t find a fish. There weren’t many kings rolling around in the upper river so we headed down to see if the clarity was better in the tidal water.

Not much better down river and we still didn’t see any kings rolling. We fished for a few more hours before coming to the realization that the river was entirely too murky but were optimistic about Sunday. The river was dropping about 50 CFS/hour and it had to be in better shape the next day. Maybe less people with it being Sunday and football day too!

We were right about it being better on Sunday. Clarity started off about a foot which is still less than ideal, but we could work with it! We started off with our usual float and eggs and couldn’t find a biter so we found some plug water and was blessed with some biters! Even the pinks wanted in on those big, stinky K-15’s! They didn’t stick about 80% of the time they hit, but it was exciting to have some action and even more fun when we hit a king!

All in all, we went home with 3 kings and 2 pinks. I got probably the last tan of the year and I actually got to catch fish this weekend :)

Only 2 more weeks until Gray’s Harbor!!!!!!