The Chinook Salmon Run: Rattle Their Chains

The Chinook Salmon Run: Rattle Their Chains

 

kam-and-fish

Well here we are. As I write this, the fall equinox is upon us as we wave goodbye to summer. It is a bittersweet time as we trade our shorts and flip flops for sweaters and jeans. That is the bitter, but what is sweet you ask? This transition into fall means that tributaries and staging grounds along the Great Lakes fill up with aggressive, mature Chinook Salmon.

The Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

The Chinook Salmon, otherwise known as Spring, King, Tyee and Quinnat are the largest species in the Pacific Salmon genus. These fish reach maturity in three to seven years and ultimately return to the very same areas in tributaries where they were hatched. The Chinook run/spawn takes place during fall between about mid-September to mid-November in a temperature range of approximately 10 to 3 degrees Celsius.

As Chinook begin this migration to their spawning grounds, they make a stop at what is described as “staging grounds”. Some examples include rocky piers and break walls adjacent to the tributaries and river mouths they will relate to and thus, run to spawn sites. This is a perfect opportunity to target them as they will be easy to find and predict and will be but a casting distance from urban shoreline structures and harbors near preferred habitat for procreation.

Presentation

This is a fascinating time for any angler as giant Chinook are within reach for an, albeit short but very exciting period of time. If you have chased Chinook during this time period you know the staple presentations such as skein (eggs), spoons (my favorite being Little Cleo), jerkbaits and various flies. These are obvious choices that these fish see on a daily basis, so what really stands out? Lipless crankbaits/rattlebaits are truly an overlooked choice for sure. So let’s cultivate shall we?

President and founder of Kamooki Lures Ltd. Kam Sheikh certainly has some insights into this particular approach to targeting Chinook. You see, Kam cut his teeth chasing these fish along the rockyother-guys-and-fish otyher-gusy-and-fish-close-upshorelines and breakwalls in and around the well-known Port Credit area with his father. Recently he returned to his beloved old stomping grounds with his childhood fishing buddy Darrell Smith and his, now famous, 3”-4” 1/2oz-1oz Kamooki Smartfish in tow. The results were nothing short of amazing.

Kam explains “Retrieves are usually quick and steady to keep the bait high in the water column, even at night”. This rings true to me as a quick steady retrieve can create an aggressive reaction bite as Salmon seem to be very competitive for forage.

As far as color selection goes, it is very simple. During daylight hours Kam favors the gaudy “Green Tiger” and the flashy yet neutral “Natural Shad”. Both can be very effective as “Green Tiger” mimics a variety of forage while “Natural Shad” represents one of the most prolific baitfish in the Great Lakes, in this case, Lake Ontario. Once dusk falls Kam snaps on a 4” “Glow Tiger” which was literally designed with Great Lakes Salmon in mind. Darrell Smith (pro guide) explains “It’s a pier fisherman’s dream and a Chinook’s worst nightmare. Big long casts, super loud rattles, all in an extremely snag resistant glow in the dark package”.

 

 

 firetigersmeltwhite-tiger

 

 

Gearing up

“Your gear selection is very important” Kam explains “Rod/reel/line combos should be both super tough, yet comfortable enough to cast and retrieve all day and night. Pier fishing can be rough on your line as rocks are abrasive so checking for frays is of the utmost importance. Better to find a fray than lose a fish”. He continues “On this trip my gear was a (baitcasting outfit) 10’ med/heavy Daiwa Heartland paired with a Shimano Calcutta 251 loaded with 20lb power Pro (braid). I also had my Dad’s 9’ heavy Eagle Claw spinning rod dressed with a Shimano Stradic 5000, also spooled with 20lb Power Pro”. One thing to note is that Kam tied the braided line directly to a heavy snap swivel without a fluorocarbon leader, which is something I have observed many times myself while walking the piers.

This style of fishing is what I describe as a simple pleasure. It is walking the banks with friends, old and new, your son, and maybe even the fond memories (of the good old days) when your greatest friend, your Dad, netted your first King along those rocky banks. A rod in hand, a backpack with a small assortment of rattlebaits, the inevitable sound of a screaming drag and the subsequent slaps of  high five and loud hearty laughs. As Kam said “Get out there and get crankin’ as the run doesn’t last long”. Will do, my friend,

See you out there.

 

jamie1

Jamie Wilson- Exist To Fish Canada Lead Writer Editor

Late Autumn to Ice‐Up Fishing

Late Autumn to Ice‐Up Fishing

Late Autumn to Ice‐Up Fishing

Fall fishing in the Kawartha’s Northumberland Region is one of my favorite times of the season. Not only is the fishing spectacular, but the sheer beauty and fall colors have made their appearance in full. The leaves have turned and begun to fall. The nights are cooler, the air is crisp and the fish are feeding up in preparation for winter.

For myself personally, this is the time to focus my efforts on trophy Muskies and Smallmouth Bass. These two species are without question my favorite target from mid-September right through to ice up. Why you might ask? Well the answer is this. Not only are they aggressively feeding during this time, but they are much more likely to be susceptible to simple angling techniques in areas that are much more obvious and easier to access. I keep my techniques very simple during this time and the results are always very good.

When targeting Smallmouth Bass from late September through November my approach is simple. During this period the fish within the region tend to school up on shallow rocky points extending out from the shoreline. Points close to deep water. Fall equals BIG smallies. Fish at this time of year feed heavily on crayfish and minnows in preparation for the cold winter months. I always start my search right on the bank in as little as a foot of water. Early morning “walk the dog” style topwater baits are a great option. I will fish them very slowly and in a color pattern resembling the local forage. In most cases white will do the trick. When the water is really starting to get 60°F or lower, nothing beats the steady cadence of a suspending jerk bait. I will allow for very long pauses between jerks to allow enough time for the fish to commit to the bait. The pause is the key. This is a great time for the shore angler to take advantage of some great accessible shallow water fish! Check out the “Fish From Shore” fishing locations on the Kawartha’s Northumberland website and catch the fish of a lifetime! Below are a few lake recommendations and examples of baits I suggest you try.

Chris Huskilson holding a bass

Lake Recommendations
  1. Dalrymple
  2. Rice Lake
  3. Stony Lake
Tackle Recommendations

A White Jerkbait is a great minnow imitator. Remember to allow for long pauses between jerks to trigger strikes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your cadence though! The fish’s reaction will dictate the amount of time between twitches.

White Jerkbait Fishing Lure
White Jerkbait

A walk the dog style topwater bait in shallow water first thing in the morning can be a great way to trigger big fish to strike. The same rule applies during this time of the year. Slow and steady wins the race.

Topwwater Bait Fishing Lure
Topwwater Bait Fishing Lure

When targeting Muskies from late September right through until Ice-Up, my approach is even more simplified. They are packing on pounds before winter as well and quite literally can be found in the same areas as the Smallmouth–Rock and/or weed points with close proximity to deep water. While I will shy away from top water presentations during this period, I will lean heavily towards a suspending/neutral buoyancy type bait that will allow me to impart a jerkbait type presentation triggering bites in the exact same manner as I would with the Smallmouth. It is during this period that I lean heavily on large profile soft plastic baits. Large swimbaits and water dwelling rodent imitators are a favorite for me as well as large Tube style baits that have been rigged weightless so that I can fish it in the upper portion of the water column instead of the bottom. Long pauses are key! Fish slowly and the fish will come. The Muskies within the region this time of year are feeding heavily! They are opportunistic, meaning no bait is too big. This is the time to increase in size and hang on for the fish of a lifetime! Below are a few lake recommendations and examples of baits I suggest you try.

Chris Huskilson catching a muskie

Lake Recommendations
  1. Balsam Lake
  2. Pigeon Lake
  3. Cameron Lake
Tackle Recommendations

A heavy leader is an absolute must and will ensure you land your fish of a lifetime. I prefer Fluorocarbon leaders made from only the finest and strongest components.

Heavy Leader fishing lure

Large swimbaits slow rolled are a great local forage imitator and trigger big bites!

Large Swimbait Fishing Lure

Water dwelling rodent type baits are exceptional this time of the year as they present a big meal to big opportunistic fish!

Rodent Bait Fishing Lure

Large profile casting tubes are an absolute staple for me during the cold water periods. Fished like a jerkbait with grewat hang time and long pauses trigger some of my biggest bites of the year!

Large Profile Casting Tube Bait

Late fall right through to ice up presents some of the greatest Muskie and Smallmouth bass fishing of the year in the Kawartha’s Northumberland region of Ontario. Your opportunity to truly catch a legend awaits right here. Come see for yourself!

 

 

muskie

Chris Huskilson- Exist To Fish Canada Writer

 

ALL FISH IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHAS NORTHUMBERLAND REGION OF ONTARIO! COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!!

Product Review: Smith Dover Sunglasses

Product Review: Smith Dover Sunglasses

Date: 9/14/16
Product type: Sunglasses
Manufacturer: Smith Optics
Reviewer: Jamie Wilson

 

smith-dover

 

 

 

 

 

I remember the first time that I looked into the water through a pair of polarized sunglasses. I couldn’t believe just how much I was seeing and more importantly, what I wasn’t seeing until that day. I went through countless pairs of cheap shades thinking I had it all figured out, until I finally made the leap to a high-end quality pair of lenses/frames. This game changer came in the form of Smith Optics “Dover” Rx with the industry leading polarized lens technology, ChromaPop. These lenses make me feel as if I am an eagle in the sky spotting fish and their hiding spots while protecting my eyes and looking super stylish to boot.

 

 

 

(Smith Optics Dover Rx) Specifications
Type Polarized prescription sunglasses
Colors Black, Havana (tortoise shell)
Origin USA
MSRP $499 CDN

 

 

Quality is so important. I mean really, would you want 10 pairs of shades in as many years? I know I want a product to stand the test of time and continue to hold up to the rigors of the outdoors for as long as I take care of them. Spending the money on quality will never backfire on anyone, which I say with obvious confidence when I speak of my Smith Optics Dover Rx polarized sunglasses.

Finish(1-5) Hardware(1-5) Craftsmanship(1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 5 5 15 15 9.5

 

 

The first thing that I noticed was how ultra-lightweight Smith Optics truly are. When I picked up the protective case I thought that the lenses weren’t even in there. I then opened the case and proceeded to placed them on and I was beyond impressed just how feather light they felt. Honestly, I don’t notice that I’m even wearing them at all aside from the fact that my vision is so greatly enhanced on and off the water. ChromaPop makes colors more vivid while clarity, sharpness and contrast become heightened with little to no eye fatigue. Another great feature is unparalleled anti-fog, even on the hottest days on the water. Wearing this technology creates an experience that can be compared to the highest HD quality, which keeps me going all day long.

 

 

Performance Ratings (Smith Optics Dover Rx)
Comfort(1-5) Anti-fog(1-5) Clarity(1-5) Vibrancy and contrast (1-5) Durability (1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
4 5 5 5 5 24 25 9.5

 

 

The things I’ve seen while chasing trophy fish have been just astounding. Weedlines, openings and pockets on weed flats, changes in water clarity, rocky outcroppings and schools of minnows and so on seem closer, bigger and easier to spot. I can find targets to pitch at with ease which simply adds confidence and purpose and thus, efficiency to my outings. I still can’t believe what I’ve been missing all these years. My next move will be to add a couple different color lenses to my repertoire. The green ChromaPop polarized lenses have been a great overall color but I feel I should utilize an amber lens to brighten up darker days and dusk periods and a blue mirror for very bright, blue bird conditions. I digress, all in due time.

 

 

(Smith Optics Dover Rx) Collective Final Rating
Construction/Quality   10
Performance   10
Price   9
Features   9
Design (Ergonomics)   10
Application   10
Total Score 58
Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = MUST HAVE  

 

What can I say? Picking up a pair of Smith Optics shades upped my game. In a sport such as sportfishing where any small to large advantage is of the utmost importance, I’d say eyesight is at the top of the list. I mean really? Would you want to play darts with a bag over your head? No, you’d want to put a spotlight on that dart board and hit that bullseye. That’s how I view the difference between $20 knock offs and my trusty Smith Optics polarized ChromaPop shades. No more low-end, low-definition vision for this guy, I’ve got fish to chase and they can no longer hide in plain sight. Quality rules the day and that’s that. #SmithIsFishing

 

 

jamie-smith

Jamie Wilson- Lead Writer Editor Exist To Fish Canada

 

Product Review: Lake Fork Tackle HYPER STICK

Product Review: Lake Fork Tackle HYPER STICK

Date: 9/13/16
Product type: Stick worm
Manufacturer: Lake Fork Trophy Lures
Reviewer: Jamie Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that one of the best fish catching baits over the last 10-15 years has been the mighty stick worm. In this day in age, there are seemingly hundreds of companies that produce good quality stick worms so what sets a particular manufacturer apart? Well, in the case of Lake Fork Trophy Lures “Hyper Sticks” one design feature definitely stands out, and that is their very unique segmented body (“swim slots” patent pending). This feature makes the Hyper Stick versatile as they can be fished as a weightless presentation, wacky rigged, Texas rig, Carolina rig or a perfect drop shot worm. 21 colors to choose from at a great price and what you have is a viable bass tempting option for sure.

 

 

(Lake Fork Trophy Lures “Hyper Stick”) Specifications
Type Soft plastic stick worm
Length 5”
Weight N/A
Material Plastic
Colors 21 colors
Origin Texas, USA
MSRP $5.49 U.S per pack(9)

 

 

As I mentioned, Lake Fork Trophy Lures offers a fantastic color selection which covers just about every variation you need for your favorite body of water. Besides the colors, the fine detail and craftsmanship the “Hyper Stick” offers up is high end all the way. It is apparent that a lot of time, effort and thought went into the end product that only benefits the angler and not just the pocket books of the manufacturer. Obviously these worms were designed for anglers by anglers and that’s that.

 

Colors(1-5) Level of Detail(1-5) Craftsmanship(1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 4 5 14 15 9

 

 

The overall performance gets top marks here for sure. The unique action, which is due to the segmented body cannot really be matched by other stick worms. The “Hyper Stick” comes alive with a weightless jerk-pause presentation while their subtle life-like action will tempt finicky bass on weighted rigs as well. Any current will set the “Hyper Stick” into motion on a drop shot or Carolina rig. Beyond these presentations, a Texas rigged “Hyper Stick” can be one of the most deadly flipping/punch baits. The slender action laden profile is perfect for sliding into heavy cover and you can bet that once inside these tight little pockets, the life-like action adds realism. Bass candy indeed.

 

 

Castability(1-5) Ease of Use(1-5) Quality of Action (1-5) Durability (1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
4 5 5 4 18 20 9

 

 

  Consistency(1-5) Realism (1-5) Range of sizes (1-3) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 5 1 11 13 8

 

 

As I mentioned the variety of ways the “Hyper Stick” can be rigged, it becomes pretty clear that smallmouth and largemouth alike can be targeted in just about any situation with the “Hyper Stick”. Suspended smallmouth/largemouth can’t resist a drop shot while bass under docks/trees/laydowns fall victim to a weightless stick, skipped in front of their noses. Largemouth in shallow matted vegetation won’t say no to a “Hyper Stick” invading their shaded lairs while bottom oriented bass slurp up a tasty morsel bouncing and slithering on bottom (Carolina rig). Also, as a cold front passes through a subtle presentation is usually the right choice and these worms are perfect for this conditional situation.

 

(Insert Product Name) Collective Final Rating
Construction/Quality 9  
Performance 9  
Price 10
Features 9
Design (Ergonomics) 9
Application 10  
Total Score 56
Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = MUST HAVE  

 

Versatility, price point, a wide variety of colors to choose from along with durability and a unique subtle action and what you have is a fine addition to your arsenal. It’s all about being confident and these particular stick worms deliver on all fronts. Top marks all the way for the “Hyper Stick” from me, give them a try yourself folks.

 

Jamie WIlson

Jamie Wilson- Exist To Fish Canada Lead Writer/Editor

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