Catch more fish: Become a 2 percenter

By Larry Ellis, fishing columnist January 04, 2014 10:37 am

It was guide’s day off a week ago when local fishing guides Dave Castellanos, right, and Andy Martin, enjoyed some back-to-basics fun on the water off the Brookings coast.
 

Last week, Mother Nature delved out some pretty humongous high and low tides, which I believe put the kibosh on the ocean fishing a little. But still, just about everyone fishing in the ocean out of the Port of Brookings Harbor managed to catch a few rockfish and lingcod. Some folks however, managed to get limits, while others scraped to get a few bites.

So why is it that some people seem to limit out more than others? Is it that they are fishing in a better spot? Possibly. If you’re not fishing in a fish’s home, you’re not going to get any bites. But I think there is another answer.

There’s an old adage that says, “10 percent of the fishermen catch 90 percent of the fish.” They call these people, oddly enough, “10 percenters.”

However, I go even one step further. Over the years I’ve noticed that of the 10 percent of the fishermen doing the catching, about 2 percent catch them even more frequently and more consistently. On a bad day of fishing, they can go out and fish over a rockpile where their fish finder is metering tons of fish, and catch them, while the other 8 percent get skunked.

Everyone knows who these 2 percenters are and, as the old saying goes, if you have to wonder who they are, you ain’t one of ’em. But if you want to become a 2 percenter, there are certain things you can do to bring you closer to that figure. The answer is getting back to basics and paying attention to detail.

For example, the week before last, the rockfish and lingcod were full of krill. Last week they were full of smelt. Call it “match the hatch” if you must, but the guys who got bit the most were using things that looked more like smelt.

One of the things a person should always have on hand are those Zoom Flukes; you know, the ones with a split tail. And there are plenty of companies that make copies of them that are not too shabby. Whether you use the original merchandise or a copy, paying attention to detail is the name of the game.

Smelt come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s why companies like Zoom make different sizes of Flukes. Here’s a quick rundown on Fluke sizes.

First there’s the standard run-of-the-mill Fluke, the original enchilada that’s 4.25-inches long. Zoom just calls that bait, oddly enough, The Fluke.

Then there’s the Tiny Fluke, which is 3-inches long. From there you’ve got the Super Fluke Junior, which is 3.75-inches long; the Super Fluke (5 inches), and the Magnum Super Fluke, which is a whopping 7-inches long.

Now am I saying that a person has to carry all 5 sizes of flukes, or Scampis, or single-tail plastics? Well, not necessarily — not if the fish are biting anything and everything. But if the fish are off-the-bite, and you want to become a 2 percenter, a person might want to consider carrying all five sizes. It all depends on how badly you want to get bit.

So if your rockfish are puking up smelt, measure the size of the things they are eating and then match the size Fluke (or whatever you’re using) to the same size baitfish.

As a general rule, I like the standard Zoom Fluke a lot. That 4.25-incher can really be the ticket on slow days when used on a standard shrimp fly rig. Or you can single-fish rockfish (my favorite style of fishing) by putting one on a 2-ounce jig head.

But when the going gets tough, you might consider downsizing or upsizing your plastics to match the size lure to the size of the baitfish. If you’re using a shrimp fly rig, just take off the shrimp flies and replace it with either a single hook or a snelled leader (inexpensive stuff), attach the Fluke and you’re good to go.

Then there’s color to consider. When the rockfish are gorging on smelt, you can’t go wrong with the color baby bass. Watermelon and green pumpkin are two other hot colors that work great in any plastic line of lures.

Another thing to consider is line size. The old saying is, if you aren’t getting bit on heavy line, downsize to lighter line. And if the water is very clear, definitely downsize to lighter line. Again, we’re going back to basics.

I don’t like to throw monofilament heavier than 25-pound test. But if the fish are being finicky, become a light-tackle fisherman. You can have an absolute blast using a spinning reel loaded with 15- or even 12-pound test. And if you’re single-fishing a plastic, that might mean you’ll be going down in jig size to one-quarter ounce. But all this stuff matters.

With this season’s extra-dry weather, there should be a few days left this month where you can experiment with line size, plastic size and color. Experiment enough, and before long you’ll become a 2 percenter.

Tight lines!