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Sockeye Fishing Techniques for the Alberni InletBy Marilyn Murphy ,
Technique: Fish as many rods as you can, as close together as possible, but without getting tangled up. And troll is long straight tacks. Use a sounder to locate the depth and locations of the main schools. Then position your gear ABOVE the fish, as much as 20 feet or more. The fish that break away from the school and follow your gear are the ones we are after. Usually after one or two strikes, keep trolling, don't stop completely to play your fish, keep trolling slowly because more than likely the rest of the gear may load up with the following fish. We usually troll our gear using downriggers (a must) fishing 35-95 feet deep; the preferred depth may change year to year depending on the depth of the thermocline.
Where: If you were to look at a chart of the Alberni Inlet you will notice a series of narrows, the fish generally stack up and hold on either side of the narrows, about quarter channel to the shoreline. When deciding where to fish, let your eyes to the work. Start at the top of the inlet, run down (south) and look for groups of boats with action. The sockeye are attracted to "groups" of gear, so don't be discouraged by large groups of vessels fishing, this is a good thing.
Gear: The well known pink hootchie is your best way to go, there are various version of the same from manufactured to homemade using surveyor's tape. Here are my favourites:
Lure: MP16, MP44 (MP stands for "mini-plankton, and the number is the colour code). There are a many colours that are similar to, which are equally as effective. Local shops will have the "hot ticket".
Hook: Just as important as the lure is the hook you choose, single is by far the best. Sockeye twist and spin, so using trebles often works against you. The idea is to get a good solid hook set (let the virtues of a very sharp hook do this, since physically setting the hooks on sockeye result in pulling gear out of their soft mouths.) A single tied Gamagatsu or Eagle Claw LASER SHARP or ACCUPOINT hook is recommended, and many prefer red or black over Chrome. Tandem hooks work too, but these often get tangled up in your net and are not entirely necessary unless the bite is slow and you want to make every strike count.
Leader: It is very important to choose a dense enough leader that will transmit the action of the flasher to the lure, although 25-30 pound seems over test, this is ideal for getting the desired performance to the lure. We prefer an ultragreen or clear line. (Not brown or Chameleon)
Flasher: Hot Spot or Oki Flasher are the ones to use, in colours red or chartreuse, but usually red. Avoid the imitation flashers, their swivels are usually poor quality, I prefer the Hot Spot Commercial version which has Ball bearing swivels on both ends. Nothing worse than trolling around for half and hour to check your gear and find they are all tangled up in a spinned cluster of what now has to be re tied and re rigged. If you have flashers with regular barrel swivels, cut them off and attach good ball bearing swivels at both ends using large split rings.
When: Over the years its pretty much proven that the big action is early in the morning before the full sun comes over the hills of the Alberni Inlet and hits the water. These are tall hills so there are hours of morning action before this may happen. Usually once the wind picks up and we start side tracking, we become ineffective. If the weather says calm, some days the bite just goes on and on.
Sounds exciting? Well it is, so have fun!
Murphy's Sportfishing Guide Service