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Go to the bare hook

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Go to the bare hook

Postby Salty » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:40 am

I am in a story telling mood so here is another one. One year in the mid 90's the boys weren't available for the fall coho opening in late August so I hired a local guy who had a handtroller on my dock and who had mentioned he would like to go with me sometime. This was a great older guy, well respected in the community, and a great cook. He had also occasionally crewed with some of the high liners power trolling so I figured he would be great, and he was, but his newness to my operation and own experiences as a fisherman led to a couple of humorous situations which I will report here.
We traveled out to one of my favorite fishing areas through some pretty tough weather which reduced the competition and the coho were there. I had been fishing chums and had just got a new "bug" to try from my gear guru at that time, Fred Gamwell, at Redden Net. So, instead of running my usual combination of spoons and flashers I just swapped out the blued hooks I was using for chums that year with the new bugs and added some spoons. It was pretty tough fishing with a big lump and a left over SE gone to SW about 25 and my crew member was sick all morning. I was busy pulling and cleaning as fast as I could as the coho kept loading the lines with the new "bug". Pretty soon I noticed that the coho on the flashers and bugs were all pretty pooped and could easily be gaffed and I was getting a fish on board on nearly every hook on the flashers while the spoons, even though I am sure were all being bit, either had the coho shake the hook or the darn nice coho about 7 -8 pounds were still feisty when I got to them and took longer to land or managed to spit the hook while I was working on them in the slop. So, my production on the spoons was less than from the flashers.
My crew guy finally recovered in the afternoon and started cleaning and working his side. I almost always let crew both pull and clean as it is pretty tedious just cleaning and in those days cleaning next to me always seemed to stimulate faster and higher quality cleaning than working by themselves. He was a bit unused to the standards I have for both cleaning speed and quality. For example we had both sides of the cleaning blade sharp in those days, did not cut the throat latch, and pumped the veins on every coho. To his credit he quickly adapted. The bite slowed in the afternoon and I sent the crew into fix lunch which he did a great job at. In the evening I noticed the gulls circling a couple miles in toward the Anchorage and I tacked in that way. The coho started climbing on again and for the last two hours we just ran gear. We pulled into the harbor in the dark and cleaned and slushed fish by the deck lights. The crew had put dinner in the oven and when we were done we had a great feast. It remains one of my best memories of a coho bite.
The next morning a fleet had arrived and the bite was mostly off. One of my partners who had stayed in chum patch called me and reported no boats in chum patch, lots of jumps, and four lines hammering. I immediately pulled the gear which had about 20 coho on it and told the crew guy, who I had let sleep in, we were headed for chum patch. He couldn't believe it, but didn't complain.
We arrived in chum patch with only a couple of other boats and dozens of jumps. I slowed the boat down and we climbed into the pit to set the gear. I started ripping the "new" bugs off the hooks to set bare hooks and instructed the crew guy to do the same. He finally was exasperated enough to complain. "But, you just used these one day?"
It was toward the end of chum season and I had not tied up a bunch of new bare hook tail leaders before the opening and I had slept for a good part of the run in to chum patch so the quickest way to set the gear I knew was working that year was to strip the darn "coho" bugs off of the gear. It did seem kind of crazy. I had about 5 spreads out on my side, had just stripped a bug off, thrown the flasher and leader in. and snapped a spread on the wire. I stopped the gurdie to think it over. Just then a nice chum hit the bare hook on the surface of the water as the flasher was still planing. I didn't say anything to crew guy who saw this happen. I flung the nice chum aboard and quickly pulled five more off the line without saying a word. By the time I started to set the line again, without saying a word, crew guy was busy stripping bugs off the bare hooks and setting his side.

I thought about ending the story here and in a way it does; but there is an epilogue that is interesting. Over the years I ended up using that bug Fred sent me to probably catch more salmon, coho, pinks, and "chums" on it than any other single lure, bug, Michael Bait, or bare hook I have used. it became the bug of choice for many years of some of the highline humpy trolllers in Elfin Cove. The next season I ordered 200 pieces or 20 packs, but Fred "misunderstood" and sent me 200 packages, 20 boxes. I started the season with 2,000 of that bug and by the end of the season between supplying my partners and my own use I had to re-order. Needless to say, "crew guy" made sure he got a few packs.
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