|Setups for in-river Sockeye
They just opened the Columbia for retention of Sockeye for the first time in years. No one in SW Washington or NW Oregon has a clue on what the right setups are to target these fish. What do you use in the Frasier River for Sockeye??? Any help would be appreciated.
On the Fraser River, the preferred method is bottom bouncing with a long leader of about 5-8 feet in length. Hooks are usually about size 1 to 1/0 and most use green or chartruese wool and corkies or spin n' glos. For weights I like using slinkies but many people also use pencil lead and big poly weights.
Now for the big debate. Are these fish being flossed. My belief is yes and no. Sure there are a number of fish that are flossed. But there are some that do indeed bite. Some people don't believe that any sockeye could actually see the lure or bait in the muddy waters of the Fraser. I think they can. The Pink Salmon can see those pink flies down there, so why not sockeye. Well to eliminate any flossed fish, try cutting down on your leader and make it short.
You can also fly fish for sockeye. You will need haevy sink tips or shooting heads to get down to the fish. Green or chartruese bunny leech's work very well. I have taken many fish on the fly when the fly is at the end of swing and it not drifting at all anymore. By just holding it there you will feel the hit many times. These fish are not flossed especially if caught when the fly is not moving. Remember to weight your flies to get them down.
I hate to get into this debate about flossing, but I have to say that virtually every fish (sockeye in the Fraser) I, and others fishing around me, have caught using the technique of bottom bouncing with a long leader has always produced fish hooked in the mouth. How can they be hooked this way, continuously, if they are not going after the bait?
Call it flossing if you want to. But sockeye are no different from any other fish. You put a lure in front of them and they bite. Long leader, short leader, it doesn't matter. It depends on the river conditions. If it works, use it.
Sometimes when I am fishing the Vedder or the Chehalis for coho, chinook, chum. pinks, etc.., I use long leaders. Am I flossing fish then?
I think the people who say the fish are being hooked in an unfair manner are the people who can't catch the fish. Please correct me if I am wrong. Use facts, not your heart.
Greg is right. Long leaders (for the drift) and chartreuse wool work really well. I always add a small bit of blood red wool as a cap for my green. It works wonders. G'luck
I hope you're not one of those guys who measures the width of the river and then use that measurement to decide how long your leader is going to be? Why would you recommend long leaders if the fraser is mercy and this is neccessary for them to bite? The Longer the leader, the less sensitive your presentation is and thus the less you can feel it. Fish will spit your presentation right away, or almost right away in most cases (IF THEY BITE), that is why it is crucial to have a shorter leader in just about any case. I try and get away with the shortest leader possible, and thus I can feel the bites the fastest because when the weight is taken downstream with the current, it will let you feel the force of the bite and presence of a fish. If a fish Bites somethign with a long leader, it will spit it out before you can feel it, thus, any fish that is hooked on a long leader either sucked it back (which is very uncharateristic of any fish in a river out there other then maybe a Dolly), or it was flossed. I mean most fish are curious in general. Its of their nature in general as a fresh run fish to test things that come down current in them. Its part of their instinct as most will say. Of the sockeye I have taken, they have always been bites (few and far between fish on the Vedder during high water last year), and they were taken on traditional Red spring presentations on a little less than a 3 foot leader. They were all fresh run too and fought hard. The only other method I've heard where Sockeye have aggressively taken is Vic Carraos method. I think he mentioned something about dropping krill on a hook and just a split shot just out at the back of the boat, and the sockeyes will come up and hammer it. I'm not sayign that they won't bite, but I just question why you need a long leader to catch them. Something kinda fishy if you ask me.
When you think of it, most fish are caught during or after the swing. Well thats when most of my fish are hooked. Your lure is barelly drifting. Its just being held in the current. These fish definitly bite. Whether your using short or long leaders. They will bite. In rivers such as the Stamp, Somass and Vedder they bite many things. Sockeye will even hit spinners. Its true.
Most people think that sockeye cant see the lure in the dirty waters of the Fraser. I think they can. Look at the Pink Salmon fishery, the pinks can see the fly you are using. There not being flossed.
Sockeye can indeed see&bite lures,that's been proven many a time.
however most people on the Fraser don't care one way or the other,they're meat fisherman pure+simple.
that's why the long leaders any tackle store will tell you how it's done,that's how they stay in business.
snagging is what it is any fool can see that,and that new Fireline makes it that much easier,so they say.
It is my opinion that the length of the leader affects the action of the lure. It has nothing to do with how fish see the lure. They would see it anyway, regardless of the length of the leader, if it was presented before them.
With a longer leader, the lure can move more freely in the water column (i.e. up and down, side to side) and interact with the current. Thus, you can "fish" more water than with a shorter leader. I have witnessed this personally while fishing the Cable Pool at the Capilano River.
One day, while standing on the rock platform above the Cable pool I could see every rock on the bottom of the river. I tied on a long (4-5 foot) leader and cast it into the current then watched to see what would happen. I noticed that the weight and the leader sank quickly. The lure and the leader then swung away from the weight and were then carried forward into the current and proceeded downstream ahead of the weight. Both the lure and the leader threaded their way through gaps between boulders and over the rocky bottom. It was really something to see. I found that by holding back on the weight I was able to control the height and the direction of the lure's drift.
I have used this technique (long leader) on springs and steelhead in the Vedder and in the Chehalis, with great success. One day I was fishing near the limit hole on the Vedder and I was using a 5-6 foot leader and I was the only person consistently catching fish. Coincidence? I don't know, but another fisher came over and asked to see what I was using. Turns out he was using the same color pattern and size of weight but his leader was only about 14 inches long. He changed to a really long leader and then there were two of us catching all the fish.
As for whether or not you will "miss" fish because the fish takes your lure and spits it out before you feel it as Scott says, I think it is all a matter of experience. If you fish this technique often enough, you will master it and your odds of catching fish may increase because you have a new tool to use under certain conditions. The key to fishing this way is to cast a little farther upstream than you normally would and let the lure and weight "set up" properly before you begin your drift. You have to make sure that the line from your weight to your rod is as tight as is practical without pulling the weight up too high off the bottom. Believe me, when a fish hits (or even if it just nibbles), you'll feel it.
This generally seems to be a very specific, highly effective way of fishing for one particular species of fish - sockeye - in a particular body of water - the Fraser. We (when I say we, I mean most fishers that know what they are doing) usually don't use this technique when fishing for other species like chinook or coho except as an alternate tool under some conditions. Why? because it don't work for them.
How does this apply to the Fraser and to Sockeye?
Well I think it has something, if not everything, to do with the way Sockeye migrate. For some reason they swim upstream in small schools of 10-20 fish that are almost always diamond-shaped or in the shape of an inverted "V" (like geese). This "pattern" can be as much as 10-20 feet (depending on the number of fish) across in a river like the Fraser with fish spaced evenly across the formation - like you see when geese fly overhead. I have personally witnessed this countless times while doing fish counts from the air in helicopters.
Sockeye seem to be the only fish that use this formation-type of migration pattern. Steelhead and chinook and coho usually travel in pairs, side by side with one pair behind the other, thereby forming a long, narrow ribbon of fish when they school.
Therefore, by using a longer leader when fishing Sockeye, I believe the chances are greater that your lure will present in front of a fish as your drift passes across the face of the fish's formation. With a long leader, you sweep across the face of the school on the down swing presenting to several fish in the school whereas if you use a short leader, you might only present to one or two fish along your drift line.
And I will repeat. Emphatically! If you use this technique properly you will not snag fish. You can tell who the snaggers are on the river. They are the guys fish with 1/0 and 2/0 hooks and who always "set" the rod violently at, or near the end of their down swing. They pull back so hard, you can hear their line ripping through the water. They missed on the drift, so they try to snag on the retrieve. In fishing that way you will snag fish regardless of the length of your leader. You are just seeing them doing this while using long leaders (monkey see, monkey do) while fishing for sockeye. But if you pay careful attention to the way people fish out there, you will easily spot the people snagging or "flossing" fish. It has nothing to do with leader length.
I won't deny that snagging of fish occurs, but don't blame it on the fishing technique, blame it on the person at the end of the rod.
We have people on this board claiming that the method of fishing that is being used for in-river sockeye is resulting in closure of the fishery because, they claim, it is molesting fish. I happen to think they are wrong.
There is nothing wrong with a healthy debate of the merits of the technique. If not here, then where?
The issue of flossing/snagging is one of great debate here in Washington. I personally use longer leaders (up to 5 ft) for steelhead and salmon as I like to boondog and that length is what works. They are not flossed, they are fair hooked and I do not see any difference in detecting the bite due to the long leader length. I think it is all experiance, touch and feel.
Not knowing anything about the habits of sockeye in the rivers is why I was asking for some north of the border advice, I knew of the big Sockeye returns to the Frazier. We have not had a in river fishery for Sock's for a long, long time. I just wanted to pass on to people who would be fishing the Columbia what works for you.
Hi, Jeff.....in Terrace, BC, on the Skeena river, they fly fish for the sockeye quite successfully....using a sink tip line, and a bright pattern called the Ferry Island Special.
It's along the lines of a krystal bullet, in the attractor colours.... hot orange, red, blue, etc...leaning to blues. They use the 1197 Eagle Claw hook, in a 2, as it's nice and heavy.
Because they fish in waters under 3 feet, the gear loss is minimal.
If the traffic is light, they will wade out and get the fly, and get their spot back. but if the traffic is heavy, they can break off the fly and tie up again.. keeping their place in the line.
The fly gets its name from the popular spot they fish there.
The Columbia is bigger water than either the Fraser, or the Skeena, but I suspect there will be a gravel bar, or an island you can fish near.
Glad to hear you have a sport opportunity for the sockeyes.... mighty fine eaters and darned torquey, too !! cheers.
Pay close attention to your sounder!
Seriously take a Guide with you the first time out-offer him $200 cash to show you how where to run the River.
The Fraser is the d******** place to run a boat in-what looks fine is 1 foot deep what looks like a shoal is 30 feet!
The Guy I usually go with has VERY sharp eyes and we're still fooled on occasion-it's not a user-friendly place!
I've been all over and I've never been anywhere where people wear PFDs as religiously as the Fraser and for good reason.
||Setups for in-river Sockeye