California: Angler Numbers Down, Fishing License Costs Up

CA SignSo, here’s a sad statistic: California is dead last in the union in terms of angler participation in recreational fishing and yet has the second highest fishing license fees (only behind Washington State).

Is the decline in anglers because of the high costs of the licenses? Or is it the whole “pay more, get less” scenario in which California anglers simply don’t feel they are getting the enough bang for their buck? Or is it something else entirely?

Use the comments section to let us know what you think…

You can read more about this story HERE

The Ultimate Guide to Catching Rockfish with Light Tackle

Giant Rockfish
Rockfishing is all about the meat, right? After all, there’s not much thrill in dragging a fish that fights like a wet sack up from the depths on heavy tackle. It’s more of a means to an end – several varieties of rockfish are extremely tasty, so we endure the undignified labors of the process to get to the fruit.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to fish in the abyss for rock cod. There are tons of completely untapped near-shore shallow reefs al up and down the West Coast that produce incredible action and, since the fish aren’t coming up from deep water with their eyes bulging and their stomachs hanging out of their mouths, the can actually be…dare I say…sporty.

By working the shallows, you don’t need the 16- or even 24-ounce jigs favored by the deepwater crowd. Lures in the 1- to 3-ounce range usually do the trick and that allows you to fish with light, bass style tackle – which is a total blast.

The rod-bending fun is only part of the appeal, though. The variety you’re likely to encounter is also a gas and you just never know what sort of wildly colored critter you’re going to hook next. This style of rockfishing can also be a real day saver when the glamour species like salmon or halibut aren’t on the chew. [Read more…]

How to Video: Light Tackle Surf Perch Techniques

Here are all the basics you need to get you catching more surf perch off the beach with light gear! We shot this vid in beautiful 4K, so if you have the internet speed, crank this baby up to full resolution!

If you’re ready to take your surf perch fishing to the next level, check out my Guidebook: Light Tackle Surf Perch, available today at Amazon!

Light Tackle Surf Perch ebook cover

10 of the World’s Biggest King Salmon

King Salmon are awesome…and the truly giant ones are unbelievably special creatures. Here’s a list of 10 massive kings that will make you weak in the knees…

Close to 80 Pounds!

Kenai River King
The Kenai River in Alaska has pumped out more monster Chinook than anywhere. This massive 53.5″ x 34″ buck weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 to 80 pounds!

Potential Record…Released!

Reel Adventures Salmon
On July 15, 2009, angler Joel Atchison caught this massive Chinook on the Kenai River in Alaska. Guide John Whitlatch of Reel Adventures says he’s not sure if the fish was a world record or not…because he and Aitchison decided to forgo their own glory and instead let the big beast go and make babies. Very, very cool!

The King of Kings

Anchorage Daily News Photo

Anchorage Daily News Photo

No list of massive king salmon would be complete without the current All-Tackle IGFA All-Tackle World Record 97-pound, 4-ounce king caught by Les Anderson in the Kenai River back in May of 1985. The record fish measured a mind blowing 58.5″ x 37″ and was probably a 100 pounder considering it wasn’t weighed for several hours after it was caught.

You can read the whole story HERE

Sacramento Monster

Giant Sac Salmon
Imagine the surprise of California Department of Fish & game biologists when they found this Godzilla-sized Chinook carcass in Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, nearly 300 miles upstream, from the ocean!  The fish was almost 51 inches long and estimated to weigh 88 pounds… dead! In his prime, out in the salt, the fish could have been pushing 100 pounds!

See more photos HERE

83-Pound BC Beast (Released!)

83 Pound BC King
Deborah Whitman-Perry of Newmarket, Ont., caught & released this huge king that weighed 83 pounds, three ounces in August 2012 at River’s Inlet, BC while fishing with guide Tyler Mills of Good Hope Cannery. Again, I’m loving the fact that people are letting these hogs go! Read the whole story HERE

The Good Ol’ Days: Columbia River June Hogs

Astoria Giant, 100 pound kings
Before all the dams royally messed the Columbia River up for good, it had some monster Chinook! Bound for the upper end of the watershed, “June Hogs” sometimes topped 100 pounds. The construction of Grand Coulee Dam, which has no fish passage, ultimately did these massive beasts in for good. :(

Saltwater Slab

Photo: John L. Beath

Photo: John L. Beath

So, considering I’ve never caught a king remotely as big as this 80-pounder from River’s Inlet, BC… I can only imagine how ridiculously massive the fillets off a fish like this are! Kudos to the netter too… I’m thinking I’d have a sudden case of the shakes when this bad dude came to the surface!

85-Pound June Hog

Photo: Columbia River Maritime Museum.

Photo: Columbia River Maritime Museum.

Here’s another one from the “wish I had a time machine jet sled” files… An 85-pound Columbia River June Hog caught in 1925 at Astoria by Tony Canessa. Man, those fish were soon awesome!

 99 Pounder…Released!

Wolfgang Voelker,  owner/operator of Kermode Bear Fishing Lodge in Terrace, BC writes:

Mrs. Ingrid Oeder, her husband Bernhard and their daughter arrived at Terrace Airport on August 6, 2001.

We went out fishing by boat the very next day. Fortunately, John Wright, the Kermode Bear Lodge Assistant Guide, joined us that day. We cast anchor right across the mouth of the Lakelse River. Suddenly, around 11 a.m., there was action on Ingrid’s rod. Bernhard hooked the fish and handed the rod back to her. Initially, there was no reaction on the other end of the line for about 10-15 seconds. All of a sudden, like an explosion, the fish headed toward the main current of the Skeena River.

At this point, I realized that this must be a really big one. We were lucky having John with us since we have been well-coordinated team for years. John released the anchor chain and started the boat engine. Now we’re prepared for the fight. I advised Ingrid to hold the rod up and to keep the line tight. In spite of her excitement she did everything right. We drifted downstream while Bernhard was operating the video camera. I would guess that we were fighting about 30 to 40 minutes with the fish, of course, Ingrid had to do most part of it. At last, the fish showed the first signs of tiredness and therefore the escape attempts lessened. Then it was my turn. After Ingrid finally managed to get the fish alongside the boat, I was able to net it. John and I lifted the salmon into the boat. Ingrid, meanwhile completely exhausted could not believe her luck. We drove back at full speed, since we did not want to set the fish back in the torrential current. I explained to Ingrid that we usually release all “the really big ones” to preserve the gene pool. She and her husband agreed to it without hesitation.

At this point, I want to thank them again for their understanding.

We took the measurements (136 cm x 98 cm) of the Salmon two times because could not believe it the first time. John and I put the giant back into the river approximately 10 minutes later, it swam into the deep water under its own steam.

There was a devout silence on the boat for a few seconds.

In the afternoon Bernhard caught his own smaller Chinook. This one, however, we took with us. Certainly, we will never forget this fishing day on the Skeena River.

The monster fish with a length of 53.5 inches and a girth of 38.5 using a formula (endorsed by FOC) of Length x Girth squared divided by 800 would weigh 99.125-pounds… clearly the largest Chinook (Kings as the Americans refer to them) ever landed. Along with witnesses a video was taken and a photograph made from the video.

Are you a steelhead junkie?
10 Mind Blowing Giant Steelhead

How To Rig a Side Planer for Steelhead Plug Fishing

Hot Shot side planer wide angle
Back trolling plugs is one of my favorite ways to fish for steelhead. The way a big steelie tries to atomize a plug that comes wobbling into its lair is so awesome!

It’s a technique that can really yield results – and plugs often attract the biggest fish in the creek: The giant males that are super territorial and all hopped up on hormones.

But you can’t back troll plugs without a boat right? What about the bank angler? Well… good news! With the help of a Luhr Jensen Hot Shot Side Planer (or similar device), you can fish plugs right off the shore. It’s a super fun and productive way to fish, too!

Hot Shot Side Planer
Recently, I’ve met a lot of anglers who are a bit confused as to how to rig a side planer… truth is the instructions on the package are more than just a little hard to follow. So, for those of you like me for whom pictures are better than words, here’s a nice, clear step-by-step look at how to rig one of these handy little steelhead catching tools.

Step 1

Run your main line from the rod tip down through the wire eye at the front of the planer. I like colored braid for planer fishing so I can see where my rig is.

Step 2

Next, the line goes down through the hole on the top side of the side planer.

Step 3

Now, flip the planer over and run the line out through the screw eye on the back end of the unit.

Step 4

Slide a bead up your main line and then tie a barrel swivel to the end. Your leader goes on the other eye of the swivel. Generally, I’ll run 3 to 6 feet of leader…but for the photo I kept it short, Finish it off with your favorite lure, in this case the super hot Yakima Bait MagLip. On larger waters, I love the 3.5 size. The new smaller 3.0 is awesome on smaller streams or when you have really clear water.

Step 5

Now, you’re going to want to let out some line. With your reel in freespool, hold the planer in one hand and pull several feet of line through (and out the back of) the side planer. How much line you pull through is going to set the distance behind the planer your plug will be fishing. In clear or deep water, longer is better. I typically set my plug 15-30 feet behind the planer.

Step 6

Okay, now you are about ready to get this baby wet! The next step to to ensure you have proper orientation of the planer. The wire rod at the front of the planer should always be pointed towards you and the “outrigger” arm should always face away from you. The arm easily attaches to either side of the planer and the wire will swing either direction. You have to adjust these two things depending on the side of the river you are on and which direction the current is running. Anyway, lock the wire eye into the notch of the planer as shown here.

Step 7

Once the wire is snapped into place facing you, wrap your mainline 4-5 times around the tab at the front of the planer, keeping it tight between the wire eye and the tab. This keeps the planer where you set it (as I mentioned before, usually 15 to 30 feet ahead of the plug). When you start reeling in, the planer will slide back down to your swivel so you can fight the fish without having it well up the line.

Fishing the Side Planer

Okay, now it’s time to fish! In this case, the river is flowing from right to left, so we have to reverse the sides that the wire and outrigger arm from the ones in the rigging pix. Set the plug in the water and then ease the planer in as well, keeping tension on the line so it doesn’t unravel off the nose tab. You have to put the rig in water with some current, otherwise it won’t go anywhere!

With the reel in free spool, use your thumb to let line slip off the reel under tension. You need the tension on the rod side to help to get he planer to pull away from you.

It can take a while to work the planer out into the current, but it should eventually start pulling down and across from your position. The Luhr Jensen Hot Shot Side Planer comes with two different sized fins to run on the outrigger arm. Use the large one in slow water and the smaller one in fast water.

hot-shot-side-planer-wide-2Continue to let line out at a controlled rate with your thumb until you get the plug and planer where you want them. As you can see, I have the planer working here near the opposite bank of a smaller river. Once in place, you can just hang out and wait for a fish to come to you or you can slowly walk downstream, back trolling like you would from a boat.

As I mentioned earlier, strikes are often savage! Resist the temptation to set the hook immediately and instead let the fish turn downstream with the plug first.