From Wide-Open Kokanee To Fall Run Kings
Written By: Bill Adelman, August 15, 2012
Last time we were into a wide-open kokanee bite at Berryessa. It’s still going on, but not quite wide open anymore. How can any river angler not now be cranked up for the upcoming Sacramento River salmon season?
Yes, I know it’s already open, but the results during the first few weeks in the Sacramento area were slow to poor. Historically, the summer run has a low count.
The fall run is the one we all get hyped up for, and it’s right around the bend in the creek. The first of the fall run fish generally appear around the 3rd week of August, increasing in numbers through September. And that’s now.
Early on, consider trolling from the Rio Vista to Sacramento area. Pulling spinners, Kwikfish or magnum Wee Warts are the hot ticket. Depths can be adjusted by using in-line sinkers, not rubbercore, however. Once you get upriver past Sacramento to Colusa, trolling a Kwikfish downstream will produce.
Use your rod tip as the trolling speed indicator. As long as it is twitching with a regular and constant movement, the lure is working. Should you not be able to watch the reels 100% of the time, use a reel with a clicker.
Troll the “S” pattern. The change in lure speed will more often than not produce a strike. When the lure gets hung up, and it will, you may not notice it quickly enough and all of the line will disappear upstream until it reaches the bare spool. This does not end well.
Many anglers prefer to anchor up just prior to first light. Kwikfish or spinners are the two presentations of choice in the section of river from Freeport to Butte City. Look for the seams between flow changes, locating water in the 10-20 foot depths.
When running Kwikfish consider line in the 20 pound range, tie on a two pronged wire separator and extend a 20 pound leader about 3 feet on one prong and a 2 foot dropper leader in 10 pound test on the other. Tie the Kwikfish on the 20 pound leader and your sinker, which needs to be between 1-4 ounces depending on flow speed, on the other. We’re ready.
Drop this presentation into the creek along the side of the boat, holding it just long enough to check the action of the Kwikfish. Release the line pressure until the sinker hits bottom, stop the spool spin with your thumb, lift the rod tip and release the spool until it hits bottom again.
Repeat this until your line is at about a 45 degree angle. The rod holder should be set so that the rod is facing away from the boat and slightly downstream, raised to a point where it’s about 12-18 inches higher than the gunnel.
If the rod tip is suddenly slamming water, that’s a pretty good indication a Chinook has located and attacked your lure. When you remove the rod from the holder, don’t hold the tip up in the air while trying to determine if the fish is still there.
As soon as you grab the rod, lift and crank as fast as you can. When you feel the fish, set the hook just once and continue cranking until the salmon takes over the fight. Limit is two per angler.
There are so many salmon spinners out there that one could purchase enough of them to completely fill a separate tackle box. For many years we rigged the separators so that we could fish spinners as well as Kwikfish. The main drawback was that it was difficult to be sure that the spinner was working perfectly. We’ve solved that problem by inventing the downrigger. First, fill your reel with braid.
Second, get some black barrel swivels in 40-50 pound test. You should have some of your 20 pound leader available. Tie the swivel on your braded line, using a palomar knot.
Then tie about 3 feet of the 20 pound leader onto the swivel. Add a regular swivel, no less than 30 pound test, to the leader. The spinner is then added to the swivel. All of these swivels help to eliminate line twist when a leaf or piece of gunk grabs onto the spinner.
Now, the downrigger. Place a release about 10-15 inches above the weight. Drop the spinner back about 15 feet and set the braid in the release. Lower the weight until it hits bottom and snug the downrigger cable, locking it down.
Tighten down the rod tip until it bends against the downrigger weight. It matters not that you’re fishing the spinner so close to the boat. The grab will be vicious.
The rod tip will snap upwards and the salmon is only about 20-30 feet away. Again, crank quickly and don’t try to feel the fish. There’s a certain amount of slack you have to retrieve before feeling a salmon.
When you do, set the hook once and hang on. All too often this fish will run upstream right past your boat. Not a good idea to try turning it back downriver.
Do have to try to keep it out of the anchor rope though. Can it get any better than this? Next time we’ll more than likely stay with this salmon stuff. Seeya then and Tight Lines !!!