So it's a warm September day you're in an area of the river that doesn't have much current, or you're in current and not catching fish with a bobber-n-jig or a drift rigging. Well start up your boat, make sure you have a full tank of gas or if you're in a drift boat drink a Gatorade and eat a protein bar, let's try plug fishing.Some of the biggest steelhead I've seen caught have been caught pulling plugs.
Of course you never want to show up to fish with one type or color of plug. Always, always, always bring different shapes, sizes and colors of plugs. I can't count how many times, I've seen fishermen show up with one color or type of plug and they'll use it all day and not catch a single fish. If you're plug isn't working, try them all! Don't get stuck using your favorite plug all the time just because you caught a fish or many fish, if it is not working change it. So here is the plan. Male steelhead are very territorial and when the water temperature warms up even more so. When you're plug moves into that territory and is shaking and rattling, that steelhead will likely go Braveheart on it. So the following is a list of the most important things to do when pulling plugs.
Do not use a swivel when fishing with plugs,when you don't use a swivel you can reel your plug right to the tip of your rod. This will keep the plug from getting caught up on things and allows you to set it down or hand it back to someone when you need to pull in because someone has a fish on. Now let's talk about tuning. Attach your plug and let it out about 4 feet off the back of the boat and watch the action. The action should be a short vibration and the plug should move in a straight line. You do not want a large, or sweeping movement back and forth. You can tune your plug by adjusting the islet mounted in the plug. Now that we've got the plug tuned and running straight let out 20 yards with 3 foot visibility or 30 yards with clear water. If you are fishing with more than one fishing pole. Make sure that all the plugs are the same distance from the boat. A wall of plugs will aggravate any steelhead holding above the tail out area. If there is a wall of plugs the steelhead usually will slowly start backing downstream, as they don't want to go around the defensive line of plugs. When the steelhead get pushed into faster water, there's a good chance that they'll strike at the plug as they don't want to move downstream. If the plugs are varying distances very often the steelhead just go around them and yep....... game over no fish .
When I'm pulling plugs and know I'm going to use more than one fishing pole, I will use a high visibility line so that I can keep track of where everyone's lines are. Very often this is also the type of fishing line guides will use so that they know are everyone's line is on the boat. Then they can adjust the boat position to optimize fishing opportunities. Remember that the last 5 feet of line is your Maxum Ultragreen so the steelhead can't see it.
Now you have your plug in the water they're all in a line and at the correct distance and they are tuned. Do not put your poll in the rod holder this is not salmon fishing. Keep your poll in your hand and rest it against the gunnel of your boat. That way you can feel your bite and set the hook quickly. I have seen more steelhead missed by fishermen leaving their polls in their rod holders. A steelhead bite is quick and short and you need to set the hook immediately or they will spit it out and swim away. If you're worried about ware and tear your poll, put a piece of padding or tape where it's going to rest against the boat. But keep the pole in your hand and still. let the plug and water do the work.
Boat speed: its better to go slow than to fast. You want that plug just above the bottom ware the fish are holding. Some additional notes: I have some friends that will remove the treble hooks and put a single hook on with the shrimp at the end. I have some other friends that will run a 3 foot line off of the kwikfish and then put a single hook and a purple shrimp. The motion of the quick fish translates to the shrimp and they swear by it.
Don't use plugs that are broken or have paint coming off.
This B run steelhead was cought pulling glow plugs at night on the Clearwater.
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