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Written By: Steve ‘Hippo’ Lau, November 30, 2012
2012 will go down as one of the better salmon fishing years we have experienced in many, many years. In terms of numbers, it was an above average year, but the quality for most of the year was outstanding.
The main reason for the outstanding quality to the salmon was that this was an extraordinary year for krill. These small, shrimp-like critters swarmed the salmon feeding grounds. This, in addition to maintaining a healthy supply of salmon, also attracted hoards of krill munchers.
Watching an episode of Blue Planet a couple of months ago, it was revealed in the trailer that the team was photographing another subject when they ran across a blue whale. Filming for the other subject stopped immediately and the team decided to follow the blue whale because "sightings of blue whales are so rare that we had to abandon our other project to follow the whale."
Imagine how rich the feeding grounds were this year when it was reported to me that as many as twelve blue whales were sighted in a single day!
The presence of all this krill does wonders for making the salmon's flesh take on that deep dark red color that gourmets prize. On the other hand, because the primary feed was krill instead of some sort of baitfish, mooching didn't work out very well as a fishing technique. Trolling was the way to go.
Trolling this year took a few big turns from trolling as we have practiced it for decades. Traditionally, trolling tackle for salmon consisted of a stout but flexible rod, a reel capable of holding 300 yds. or so of 25 lb. test monofilament (such as a Penn 112), and a 2.5 lb. lead ball for a sinker.
While this outfit can comfortably fish down to the 50' - 60' depth, going below that depth can be problematic. This year, getting down to the 60' - 80' depth was key to getting the bigger salmon. The simple solution was trading that monofilament line for some of the new fangled superbraid.
The use of 40 - 50 lb. test superbraid not only reached the deeper depths easily, but did so with less weight. Instead of the usual 2.5 lb. balls, these depths were reached using only one or 1.5 lb. balls. This represented a big savings when it came to purchasing weights, in light of how much lead has gone up in price.
Small two speed lever drag reels like Daiwa's Saltist 2 speed and Shimano's Talica 10 II hold more than enough line for this kind of work. Using a two speed reel may seem like overkill, but then again, have you tried lately to find a low gear ratio reel??
Low speed geared reels (slower than 3.5:1) are now rarer than hen's teeth, and the only easy place to find one is on the low gear of a two speed reel. It doesn't hurt, either, to have the high speed gear ration when you have a fish on. The high speed gear ratio does wonders in helping keep lines tight when a salmon decides to go streaking across the briny deep.
One other key to fishing success this year was the use of spinning flashers such as Big Al's Fish Flasher and the KoneZone. When these spinning flashers first came out a few years back, they were rigged just like traditional dodgers and flashers, placed somewhere near a bait behind a length of leader tied to a sinker release.
Some rather clever person decided to change things up a bit and placed the flasher directly behind the sinker release, then added a six foot leader connected to a plain rigged anchovy. This rig proved deadly for countless big salmon this year.
Well, there you have it. It was a very good year for a lot of salmon fishermen, and a great year for those who tried something a little differently.
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