By Larry Ellis

Pilot staff writer

If you listen hard enough, somewhere in the distance you can hear solstice bells ringing, marking the start of winter. From this point forward, days are going to grow steadily longer and the nights are going to gradually get shorter. And that's all right with me. That only means one thing to a fisherman - more hours to fish.

No more onesey-twosey action on the Chetco. It looks like some actual runs are finally crossing the bar, and they couldn't have come at a better time. With lesser hours of daylight a thing of the past now, in between storms, full-blown runs of mint-green steelies in the 10- to 14-pound class have arrived to put a little pep in a fisher's step. Steelhead are Mother Nature's natural pick-me-ups. Yes sir, there's nothing like a perky metalhead to beat the winter blues.

There were some nice days on the Chetco and Christmas day was one of them. About 20 fish were landed at Social Security Bar by plunkers. For such a large amount of fish to be caught at SSB means the river is plugged with fish.

It was a classic plunking scenario. Water levels were dropping from 6,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 5,500 cfs. The hot rig was a sherbet colored (Tequila Sunrise) Spin-N-Glo.

On December 22, Monty Moncrief was alongside Brookings resident Fred Williams when Williams caught a beautiful 20-pound steelhead at the Willows from shore.

andquot;The battle took the two of them one-quarter mile down river,andquot; said Moncrief.

Way to go Fred! That's a trophy in any Oregon or California stream.

The rest of the week was either hit and miss, or a light's out, wide-open bite. Some boaters reported between 8 and 12 fish days.

On Thursday Bill Dunster was fishing with his two sons when they both caught gorgeous steelhead while plunking from the bank. They were using Tequila Sunrise colored Spin-N-Glos.

It's great to see the Chetco River in such great shape for both bank fishermen and boaters. It's a far cry from the drought situation we were experiencing only a few years ago!

If you were to carry only three color Spin-N-Glos with you, make them, Flame Tiger Stripe with white wings, Sherbet (Tequila Sunrise) with either white or Mylar wings and Flame Chartreuse (stop-and-go) with Mylar wings.

I got into an interesting discussion regarding which sizes work the best. It seems when I put in a big order from Yakima Bait Company, a size 6 winged bobber one day might not measure up to the same size 6 float they sell you another month.

If you want to measure your SNG at your local tackle store, the ones that are exactly 7/8 inches long are good all around sizes. I also like them 1 inch long as well, which means those are supposed to be No. 4s, but as I said, sometimes the batches are not equal.

So to cover your bases, carry No. 2, 4, 6 and 8, just in case one size seems to be working better one day than the other. I carry all my SNGs in two opaque Plano snap-lock adjustable compartment boxes.


Steelheaders forms

Brookings chapter

A new chapter of the Northwest Steelheaders was recently formed in Brookings. Already more than 50 anglers have become members.

Dave Pitts, a local businessman and fisherman is President and Wayne Barker, who is well known in the fishing industry, is Vice President.

Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at the V.F.W. Hall, located at the cross streets of Pioneer Road and Pacific Avenue in Brookings.

Because Tuesday falls on New Year's Day, John Ward, the guest speaker will be giving a Power Point demonstration on January 8 at 6 p.m. John has been President of the Southwestern Oregon Chapter in Charelston (Coos Bay) for many years. I heartily urge anyone who is interested salmon and steelhead to attend. You will not be disappointed in John's presentation.

In addition, executive directors Marc Davis, who is the President of the Northwest Steelheaders, and Greg Harlow, the Development Director will also be in attendance.

Pitts emphasized that getting the sources of the Northwest Steelheaders down here was critical so people could get their questions answered first-hand with no middle man.

andquot;Stan Easley and myself wanted to form a Northwest Steelheader chapter down here because we saw that they were heavily involved with STEP,andquot; said Pitts.

andquot;We're trying to surround ourselves with people who are business oriented, business minded and retirement minded to enjoy a resource, and they know what it takes to get from point 'A' to point 'B', noted Pitts. andquot;We want to draw people to us, including ODFW because we want to work with them. If they need help, we want to help.andquot;

The presentation is free of charge. The cost to join the Northwest Steelheaders is $10.00 for new members.

Use double rigs for

fun and enjoyment

Practically everyone who plunks on the lower Rogue uses double outfits and you can use them on the Chetco as well. I found a terrific way of rigging the top outfit so it doesn't tangle your bottom rig.

First, thread a large Corky (any color) up your main line, then rig up your plunking outfit as you normally would.

You will have to peg the Corky so it doesn't slide up or down your main line. Don't use a toothpick because the wood will nick the line.

Top Brass makes a product called The Peg-It System (,) which are small pieces of tapered rubber. You simply put your Corky where you want it to stay and pull the Peg-It through the Corky.

Cast your rig out on the far side of a current seam. Using a snap on one end, slide a 20-inch leader down your main line with a cop car colored Hot Shot tied on the other end. The Corky stops your leader at the proper distance.

Tight Lines!