"POOR MAN'S NEEDLEFISH"
Hook: Eagle Claw L67 or L1197N
Imagine a cool crisp fall morning, with mist gently floating over the river while you cast and cast and cast to jumping and rolling coho without a strike. The fish seem to be taunting and smiling at you as they leap from the water, some only feet from where you are standing. Frustrated.....@!, you feel like peeling off your waders and jumping in after the slippery buggers. But you won't .The water is too cold.
If you are an avid coho fisherman you have probably had this scenario play out to you dozens of times. Although usually aggressive, there are times when the best spoon presentation or float fisherman cannot scare up a strike. Well, I believe I have the answer and if you read on and do as a few others and myself have, you might not fish with any other method for silver salmon again.
All we have done is take a page right out of the bass fisherman's bible and apply it to salmon fishing. Usually reserved for Coho we have started to be quite successful fishing for steelhead and king salmon with this method. The two largest steelhead we landed were both hooked on the almighty 'Jig'. That's right a bass jig.
Only we don't use pig and porks or plastic lizards, just plain old marabou tied on a 3/8 or 1/4 oz lead head jig. The method is almost too simple, which is why some people won't believe me when I tell them about it. But after an afternoon on the Kitimat River with a jig, they have all been turned into believers.
The gear needed is a 6-7 ft fast action spinning rod coupled with a coffee grinder spooled up with 10- 15 lb test. Fenwick has an inexpensive 6 ft 6 medium action rod called a lunker stick that I like to use. The stiffer rod combined with a low stretch monofilament such as Stren's "sensor" line will allow you greater control over your jig while also increasing your ability to detect the slightest touches, whether from the river bottom or from a fish.
When fishing a jig, color may or may not play a significant role (my favorite color is pink or pink and white), while presentation is of utmost importance. My partner Gill and myself have guided many an angler using different colors and while some persons have their own theory, we and our guests, have found that to catch coho in any numbers the technique is what catches fish.
To fish the jig properly just follow these few basic steps and with a little patience and practice you will be flipping jigs just like the bass pros in no time.
Cast the jig to a likely coho lie.
Start by keeping your rod tip pointed towards 9 o'clock.
Using only your wrist, snap your rod tip up to a little past 10 o'clock (don't be gentle).
Lower your rod tip back down to 9 o'clock and be careful to reel up any slack line.
The speed of your retrieve will vary depending on the flow and the depth water you are fishing.
Repeat this action until successful Remember to fish the jig close to the bottom, as this is where the majority of the coho will be found.
This system when done properly will catch more silvers for you in one day than most anglers will catch during the entire coho season. We have had guests who were actually afraid to make other cast because their arms were too sore from reeling-in so many fish. And for a little proof to show you that this is not just another fish story ask Mark Pendlington from the Sportsfishing B.C Show . We did 3 or 4 shows with Mark and his cameraman Brian Quock this past September and they were absolutely blown away by how effective the jigs were.
Not only will this system catch you more fish, it will catch your buddies' lost fish for them as well. This past October while fishing on the Kitmat River my friend, Brad Neufeld busted off a prime silver while floatfishing with roe. Fifteen minutes later, Gill spotted Brad's float about 80ft up river from where we were fishing. I promptly wadded up river to where Brad's float was gently bobbing in the current and cast to it with my jig, hooked his broken line and proceeded to reel in what was to be Brad's only hook-up of the day. The result was a nice 13-14lb silver that we released.
After all this, if you still think this is a fish story then try the jig for yourself and you be the judge.