Monday, January 28, 2013

A Weekend of Steelheading

I have not been out much lately for Steelhead.  With the closure it seems to have turned off client interest.   They closed the Methow River and Columbia River near the mouth of the Methow.  Every thing else has remained open.   Unfortunately when people hear the Methow is closed they think Easter Washington Steelhead is closed.   The other waters in our area are still open including the Columbia and Okanogan River.  Sure I would love to be out every day with clients, but having some time off to get other things done has its benefits.

One of my buddies called Wednesday to “chat”.  He says he has weekends off for a month, and tentatively asks when I might have an open day to fish.  Normally all my buddies have to wait or schedule a ways out.  I instantly reply Friday is out, but how about Saturday and Sunday?  A brief pause and then he replied back “I’ll see you Friday night!”.  He tells me I have all my own gear now, so you don’t have to bring me anything.  Ok…sure I’m still bringing two BIG EYE rods, two stock spinning rods and a troller.  

Saturday morning he doesn’t ask anything other then what color I’m going to use.   I tell him and he replies back with what he will use.   I’m thinking…well ok if you say so, but I am going to kick your butt today.  Yes, FISHING IS A CONTEST and it is not EVERYBODY GETS A RIBBON DAY.   The first two areas were blanks.  We move around some and I miss a bite or two.  Finally around 10am I hook and land the first fish.   I hook and lose one, and then hook and land a keeper.   That would be every bite and fish for Ron with buddy zippo.   Oh yeah I am reminding him, and he has tried probably 5 different set ups.   My buddy gets his one fish for the day, and we end with 3 boated, 2 keepers and 2 lost.   For me lost means it’s hooked, you get to see it, and it comes undone before it’s in the net.  Swing and a miss doesn’t count for lost. 

Sunday we start where we caught fish the day before and skip the blank holes.   My friend finally asks as we are getting ready for the first drift “What do you think I should use”.   I point it out to him telling him “That is a fish catcher for sure”.  He rigs up and BANG not 20 yards later he has a nice fish on.   Fights it all the way to the boat and it is an un-clipped so it goes back.  I get ready to net it and as he lifts to bring it to the top…BINK…there goes about a 7lb hen.  BAHAHAHAAA…he lost his fish to a line break with the best lure he had.   Yes, I am laughing out loud at him and telling him how he is an idiot.   I look at the line ask him what it is…and then tell him to cut the crap off and tie up like I was.   He re-rigs up and we have a decent day ending with 5 boated, 1 keeper, and 3 lost.  Oh..Yes I out fished him again 3 to 2, so he bought the Fireball and Apple Juice.   

-Ron Oules           

If you want to book a Steelhead fishing adventure contact Reel-Lentless Guide Service

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Salmon and Steelhead Fishing Rods

The Best Salmon/Steelhead Fishing Rod!

I have finally determined what the best Spinning or Casting rod is for Salmon or Steelhead for our area.(Columbia River)  It took a lot of trial and error with some decent expense over numerous years.   I didn’t believe it initially, but there is no question there is a “Best” fishing rod.  It really comes down what you’re fishing for, where you’re fishing, how you’re fishing, and when you are fishing.   The best fishing rod is very specific to the task at hand.   People always comment when they see my rod racks.   They forget I need at least 5 of everything for my guiding not just one of everything.  I did mean everything because even with one I would expect to have at least 10-20 different rods available.  There is no doubt one rod can be used in a multitude of situations just fine.  If you really want the full experience of hooking, fighting, and landing a fish use the correct rod for the situation. 
What is the correct rod for each situation?  It is all a matter of what you like, and you will never know what you really like until you try several.  No fishing rods are not like the opposite sex so don’t try it.   Remember we all must have Integrity, Honor, and Discipline or we are nothing more then animals.  (I know I lost focus it happens a lot..back to the task at hand.  They have Alphabet soup to describe and fix it now, but back a few years ago my dad called it “Lack of Focus” and tried to cure it with a 9 1/2 on the butt cheek.   See, I go off track in half a thought even today.)

I know it sounds kind of weird (Don’t go there!), but the correct rod greatly enhances the experience.  The most important factor is the rods “Action” the blank was designed for.  Also sensitivity (usually high modulus) is very important, but the felt difference after a certain level (+ - 38 Million)  is minimal compared to the cost increase.   Does a $500 Loomis, Sage, St. Croix, Fetha Styx, etc. have a better feel then a $100 Shimano, Okuma, Cabelas, Diawa, etc.?   Absofreakinglutely!   It is a word I promise…just sound it out.   Do they have $400 worth of better action?   Absofreakinglutely Not!   

The major thing with the high cost rods is they have a lot more action variations available in each rod.   Obviously that allows for more specific tailoring of a rod to a situation.  If you have the funds and want to spend it on $500 rods to get a specific feel then please do.   Just don’t sit there and tell me how great your particular fishing rod is because you spent $500 on it.  Spending extra money for status is not important to me.

The action is what matters.  If I can get the action I want with a little compromise I’m good.  If I had the money then no doubt I would be using the $500 fishing rods.  A quick story then I will try to give some general guidelines for what I have seen a lot of people prefer for rod actions.  Most of them have or had no idea about what the rod action was they just commented how much they liked the feel while using it both fishing and fighting fish.  A first time client called and wanted to fish for Steelhead, but “I only fish Loomis GLX or better you have any Loomis rods?”   I told him no I did not have any Loomis rods I use Cabelas for Steelhead.  He said “Well I don’t know, does anyone else use them?”  I told him I didn’t know what other guides were using but I would make him a deal.  If he would try the gear I provided, and if he did not think it was good enough quality the trip would be free.  All I asked was that he be absolutely honest with me about what he thought.  He booked the trip.  It was a $600 dollar risk but I don’t gamble.  He is a very good angler, and hooked the first Steelhead.   Before he landed it he commented on what a good rod it was.   He books 3-4 trips a year with me using my “cheap rods”, and we joke about our first conversation every fish he hooks.   I just checked and Cabelas has them on sale for $45!!!  (9’ Fish Eagle II Md Spin)   BUY THEM!

I also like a lighter weight and longer rod then most regardless of action.   I think it allows more angler input to the lure and fish.  I seldom fish with anything shorter then 8’6” and prefer a 10’+ rod if I can get it.  I also found the rod weight and action were similar for me either spinning or casting.   I have more accuracy casting a level wind with a little heavier rod with fast action.  Everyone has different terms but I will try to give a quick run down.  I also go down a weight when fishing from a boat compared to shore.  I will also use Spinning rods over casting rods with most clients.   Not as accurate for experienced casters, but extremely fewer tangles and more accurate with the average person.  I also shrink the rod length with most clients because it is easier for them to handle and control a shorter rod casting and moving around the boat.

Drifting/Bottom Bouncing Bait:  8’6” MD. weight Fast action bait caster Steelhead and MH for Salmon.  Need a lot of feel to the bounce and bite.   High modulus helps.

Casting Spoons/Spinners:   9’+  Same as above with Moderate action. A little more length for more pull on the bite/hook set.  Slower action doesn’t pull the lure instantly for more hook ups.

Drifting Bobbers: 10’+ MD to ML with a Mod. to Mod. Fast action.   Don’t need feel, but quick line pick up helps hook sets. 

Trolling Gear/Divers: 10’+ MH to HVY with Mod to Slow action.  Need some give on the bite due to no give from boat trolling.  Takes more finesse to fight fish, but gives more hook ups.

Trolling Down Riggers: 10’6”+ MD to MH Slow action.  Rod is already loaded for the bite and you need as much bend as possible for line take up.

Plunking:  8’6” ML to MH Mod. to Slow action.   They have just swallowed it to their &*%$ so all you need is a soft tip for give while they feed.  Helps to put your bait on a slider.

Jigging:  9’ MD to MH Fast or Ex Fast action.  When I move the rod I want the jig to move.

Again, just my experiences and I did not pick any brand names or models.   I can tell you I rarely spend more then $150 a rod and most are around $100 each.  Reels I am a little different about but that is another blog.