By Larry Ellis
Fish report for November 21-27
It's that time of the year again, a transition period when the salmon season starts winding down and the steelhead season starts gearing up.
It appears as if the acrobatic chrome missiles are entering the Chetco a little early this season.
I was visiting Social Security Bar the day before Thanksgiving when three ODFW employees who were pulling the nets informed me that they had hauled in two nice steelhead in their seines.
Then on Thanksgiving I talked to a fellow who had just caught and released a nice wild steelie at Bruce Hole, what is now called Loeb State Park. So the best thing an angler can do right now is to start tying up some leaders and practicing egg loop and Palomar knots.
Today's photo is obviously not of a fish, but it represents what might be plenty of chromers in your creel in the next few months.
I chose two of my favorite drift-fishing setups for bank fishing and illustrated how they're supposed to be rigged.
I always appreciated when someone took the time to personally show me how to rig up for steelhead, so I am simply passing down the same information to you, with a few of my own twists.
Rather than illustrate four different setups, I decided to give you two choices for sinkers and two choices for lures.
These particular combos work great in low, clear water, when the Chetco is dropping from 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and is becoming gin clear.
You're going to be using either rig A or B in combination with rig C or D.Since this is a clear-water rig, you'll be using a No. 4 Gamakatsu Octopus hook.
Both rig A and B are very basic sliding sinker drift-fishing rigs.Most folks learn on rig B, which is merely passing the eye of a snap swivel up the mainline.
Unsnap the snap, put on a small piece of surgical tubing and then insert the appropriate diameter pencil lead.At the end of your line you will be tying on a No. 5 barrel swivel to stop the sinker.
The sliding sinker rigs help you feel the steelhead's sensitive bites because you have a direct connection between the lure and your rod. It's easy to see how things fit together in the photograph.
Rig A, called a Slydo, is another excellent sliding sinker rig. The gentleman who caught the steelhead on Thanksgiving was using this setup.There are generic versions of the Slydo now that only cost about a quarter a pop.
You will be using various lengths and diameters of pencil lead.Make sure you carry at least two different diameters of pencil lead and the corresponding tubing to go with them.You want your lead to fit in snugly, so you don't throw it out of the tubing on every cast.If that happens, either use smaller diameter tubing or larger diameter lead.
You'll be casting upriver, clicking the bail on your spinning reel (or engaging the spool on your baitcaster), and letting your rig bounce along the bottom.
You want to feel your lead tick the bottom about once every two or three seconds.If your lead is bouncing the bottom every second or sooner, then snip off a small piece of lead with your dikes until you get that two-to-three-second bottom-bounce.
The best color and size Corky for low, clear water is a No. 12 in pearl red.
Here's the part that gets exciting.Way back when, we used to use toothpicks or small slivers of wood to peg the corky with, to keep it from sliding up the mainline. Whenever you use wood, you always risk nicking the line ever so slightly, and when you're using 6-pound test leader, one nick can cause your line to break at 4 pounds or less.
This is where those rubber nails in the photograph come in super handy.I used to use them to peg a worm sinker when fishing for largemouth bass.Then one day the light bulb went on.The same rubber pegging nails made by Top Brass could be used for Corkies.After trying these things out you'll be a convert. In addition, you can use one nail for several cork floats.
These things are really slick.You can peg a Corky and never worry about the line being nicked.You can even slide them up and down the line without worrying about line abrasion.
What I found out was that you could also peg the Corky so it rides just slightly above the hook in case you're getting short strikes.
Of course you're tying the hook on the 3-foot leader using an egg loop knot so you can stick a tiny bit of yarn inside the loop.The yarn gets tangled in the steelhead's teeth and makes it more difficult for them to spit the hook.
Bob Schmidt from Mack's Lure, the same company that makes the Wedding Ring Spinner, turned me on to using Smile Blades ahead of a Corky.These things are deadly.You will need a 4-mm bead in between the Corky and the Smile Blade.
The blades spin like the dickens and you can adjust the speed of the spin by opening or closing the blades.
You'll want to cast these cork floats at the head of a riffle, a deep slot with a ripple on top, behind boulders and at the bottom of a riffle.
The bottomfishing outside the Port of Brookings Harbor was excellent last week.One day seemed to favor large black rockfish while another day relinquished more lings.
Special kudos go out to the City of Brookings Public Works Department who had a crew picking up some real gnarly trash at Social Security Bar and smoothing the entrance to the bar a few days before Thanksgiving so that people without 4-wheel-drives can make it in and out safely.