5 Tips To Better Salmon Fishing From A Kayak

Rob Wendel giving his seminar on salmon fishing.
     Last spring I decided I'd finally had enough and it was time to get serious about trying to catch a salmon from my kayak.  I figured that the best way to shorten the learning curve would be to learn from somebody that already knew what they were doing.  I drove to Illinois and sat through a great presentation on kayak salmon fishing put on by Hobie Pro-staffer Rob Wendel.  He covered everything and I took almost three pages of notes by the time the event at Lake Michigan Angler was over.  Unfortunately by the time salmon season came back around this fall I had all but forgotten about those notes.  So I decided to just do some of the things that I remembered and then just "Guess" on the rest of it.  As you can see from the photo below, I was doing it wrong.
That's me in the front doing it all wrong.  At least I was out on the water giving it a go.  Photo Credit: Colin Belle
     Although the kayak and rod and reel were setup to go trolling, they were not setup correctly.  I also failed to put some of the mechanics into place while I was out on the water.  Since that time I've been out on some subsequent trips.  I've lost a couple more fish and have learned a lot about trolling for salmon.  

Here's 5 tips to help you catch more salmon:

     First thing you have to do is get your rod placement right.  I was running my rods behind the seat on my Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13.  This caused issues with my ability to grab the rod quickly.  If you can't get your rod into your hands fast enough to set the hook then what's the point of fishing anyways.  So I recently started using Ram Mount Tubes mounted to the seat rails of my kayak.  This has resulted in a few more broken off fish.  I know that doesn't sound impressive, but at least I got the hook set!

     Second tip is get your rod tips level with the water.  It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it has some advantages.  With your rod tips level with the waters surface you don't need as much line out to get your lure to the right depth.  This is huge because the less line you have out the better the chance you have of getting the fish reeled in before it can get off the hook.  Also having the rod tips low makes it easier for you to see the rod tips vibrating.  This will tell you if your lure is running free or if it's caught up in some weeds.  So keep the rod tips low, trust me on this one.

     Third piece of advice is to run a swivel between your mainline and the leader.  The amount of line twist you get from trolling with a spinning reel is INSANE.  All line twist is good for is tangles and knots.  Both of which will piss you off when you're trying to get your lines set.  

     Fourth thing to keep in mind is your speed.  This as I've learned in my last few attempts is a huge deal.  Go to fast and the fish won't chase.  Move to slow and your Flicker Shad won't wiggle properly.  Ideally you want to be between 1.8 and 2.2ish mph.  It's brain numbingly boring, but really important.  Keep a constant eye on your GPS and make sure you adjust the speed accordingly.

     Fifth and final thing is to make sure you upgrade the hooks on your lures.  It doesn't mater if you're trolling with a Reef Runner, an Echotail, or a Flicker Shad change your hooks!  Rob recommends going with a hook with a 4x shank.  I'd do what he says because those fish fight hard and will open up any treble hook that isn't up to the challenge.

     Since integrating these tips from other anglers I've finally started to hook up with a few fish.  Trolling for Great Lakes salmon is definitely a process that comes with a bit of a learning curve.  Using these tips should help you move through the curve a lot quicker than I have.  If you need anymore advice make sure you give Lake Michigan Angler a call at (224) 789-7627.  I'm sure they'll be happy to get you setup to catch your first Great Lakes King Salmon.
Adam Howarth with a nice Lake Michigan King Salmon.   Photo Credit: Randall Moe
     Tight Lines.

EP:26 Fishing Clubs

EP:26 Fishing Clubs















     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast we talk about Fishing Clubs.  Joining a local, regional, or national club is a great way to get more involved in the angling scene.  Many of these clubs offer meetings, outings, and group fishing trips for their members.  One big perk of joining clubs like Muskies Inc. or Trout Unlimited is the ability to make one payment to belong at both the national and local level.  This allows your funds and input to be used not only locally for the bodies of water you fish, but also to fund larger projects that can improve every one's fishing nation wide!  So make sure to join a fishing club when the opportunity presents itself.  You won't regret the difference you'll make.
Crystal Meth Steelhead Pattern as promised.
     Thank you for listening to Episode 26 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe take 30 seconds to leave a review.  The reviews are essential for getting the podcast recommended in the search results of our fellow anglers.  Before you leave please take a second to sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  It comes out on the 15th of each month and only on the 15th.  It's full of tips, tricks, some discounts, and of course subscriber only content.  So make sure you get yourself signed up today!
     Tight Lines.

To Many Fishing Poles? Is That Even Possible?


     I've seen this guy multiple times.  The guy on the bank with so much gear you would think he's a professional angler.  A 50 pound tackle box, huge net, a bunch of rods.  He can barely walk ten feet without dropping something.  You'll know you've spotted one of these guys because he is either stuck in one spot or is making so much noise moving his gear that he maybe scaring the fish.  You don't need half gear you take each time you hit the water.  In fact once you take a look at what you actually do need for each particular trip you'll find that downsizing makes a lot of sense.   
     So how many rods to take?  Well most of us have two arms, some of us have less.  Logic says I can take 2-3 rods and fish with 1.  I used to carry 4 rods fully rigged.  So when I arrived at my fishing spot I sat down my gear, picked up a rod and started to cast.  If I moved along the bank I could only move 20 yards or so, and then hustle back.  Why hustle?  Well a decent rod, reel, and lure costs about $200ish.  That meant every time I left them unattended I had the potential to lose a minimum of $600.  Now I carry 1 rod, it's always in my hands and I never have to worry about it getting lost or wandering off without me.  Sometimes I tuck an extra rod into the straps of my backpack.  This lets me rig up with a different bait and again the rod stays with me.  I generally only take the rods that work for where I'm fishing.  If I am going somewhere with heavy weed cover then I know that I won't be throwing crankbaits and inline spinners so I don't need those rods.  If I am going somewhere the structure is scattered or if I need to cover a lot of shoreline fast to find the fish then I don't need to take a finesse worm setup.  Thinking about where I'm going to fish before heading out the door allows me to take only what I need.  Also by limiting the amount of options, my lure spends more time in the water.  That alone will help you catch more fish.
       Tight Lines.





Kayak Angler Choice Awards (We Got Nominated)

     Each year Yakangler.com hosts The Annual Kayak Angler's Choice Awards.  This year ShoreboundHero.com has been nominated for kayak fishing blog of the year!  It's an amazing honor to have these pages nominated by my readers and my peers.  Still to even have a chance at winning I need your help.  These awards are given based on votes throughout a series of rounds.  If nobody votes then their isn't any competition.  You can cast your vote by following the link here.  The blog category is the last question you're asked in the survey.  All you have to do is check the box next to ShoreboundHero.com.  Thanks in advance for taking the time to vote.
     Tight Lines.

EP:25 Dealing With The Skunk

EP:25 Dealing With The Skunk








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    In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast I gave some of my personal insights into Dealing With The Skunk.  Sooner or later everybody blanks when on the water.  If it keeps happening it can affect your thought process and even your confidence.  I talked about some of the things that help me when I get stuck in a rut.  Also discussed is the use of a log book. A log book is an easy thing to implement that will improve your fishing.  We talked about how it can help you discover patterns that will limit those fish-less days when out and about.  What do you do when get skunked on the water?  Leave a comment below.
     Thank you for listening to Episode 25 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe take 30 seconds to leave a review.  The reviews are essential for getting the podcast recommended in the search results of our fellow anglers.  Before you leave please take a second to sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  It comes out on the 15th of each month and only on the 15th.  It's full of tips, tricks, some discounts, and of course subscriber only content.  So make sure you get yourself signed up today!
     Tight Lines.

EP:24 Fighting Big Fish

EP24: Fighting Big Fish















     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast we discussed a few tactics to help you successfully fight bigger fish.  We talked about the importance of keeping your gear in top condition.  Spent some time going over why line tension is so important and talked about how to steer a fish by controlling its head.  Employing these tactics when you hook your next trophy will surely help stack the odds in your favor.
     Thank you for listening to Episode 24 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe take 30 seconds to leave a review.  The reviews are essential for getting the podcast recommended in the search results of our fellow anglers.  Before you leave please take a second to sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  It comes out on the 15th of each month and only on the 15th.  It's full of tips, tricks, some discounts, and of course subscriber only content.  So make sure you get yourself signed up today!
     Tight Lines.

How To Borax Cure Great Lakes Salmon Skein

     One of the best baits you can use this fall to catch Great Lakes salmon and brown trout from shore is egg skein.  However you have to preserve or "cure" skein in order to store it for use throughout the season.  The best method I've used to cure skein is commonly known as the Borax Method.  All you need is paper towels, a spoon, a box of Borax, and some Ziploc Freezer Bags.
     Actually the first thing you'll need is obviously a female King Salmon that's still full of eggs.  Luckily for me I've got a few buddies that are getting really good at catching these magnificent fish from their kayaks so getting my hands on the skein is actually the easiest part.  If you're not so lucky then check out my post on salmon rigs that you can use from shore.  Then go catch a fish and get the eggs.  Take your time...I'll wait for you.
     Got the fish?  Good, once you have the egg skein rinse it off really good and set it out to dry on old newspaper or paper towel for a bit.  Make sure the sections are clean and free of blood.  Blood left in the veins will ruin the cure as it rots so really take your time and make sure ALL the blood is gone.  After an hour or so the eggs should set up and will look clean (not milky) and should have a tacky (not sticky) feel to the touch.  
SBH Tip: Remove any clotted blood in the veins of the skein by cutting a small opening at one end of the vein and gently rubbing the vein with the back of a spoon to work the blood out of the opening.  A dry folded paper towel will also help draw the blood from the veins.
     After the eggs have setup and are blood free cut the skein into user friendly golf ball size chunks.  This size is what you want when baiting up on the shoreline so taking the time to cut them up now will make it easier when your hands are frozen on those cold October mornings.  The smaller size will also make coating the skein evenly in the Borax much easier.
     The next step is bagging up the skein and adding the Borax.  I use 1 quart freezer bags because they fit easier in my backpack.  Most of the other guys I know like to use the 1 gallon size freezer bags.  Doesn't really matter just load them up.  Over the last few years I've learned that 10-12 chunks is what I normally use over the course of a morning when I'm out fishing by myself so that's how many I put in the bag.  After you get all the chunks in the bag add Borax and start shaking the bags up.  This goes pretty fast if you can get some buddies or in my case the kiddos involved.
     The final step is to check each bag carefully after shaking it up.  You shouldn't see any eggs that look wet when you're done shaking the bag.  If you see wet eggs or shiny skein add more Borax to the bag.  Trust me you'll use way more Borax than you expect.  Borax is cheap and you can't really over do it so error on the safe side when bagging up.  Make sure you allow the bags to sit for at least an hour or as many as 6 hours before you freeze them for future use.
     Using this method to cure the eggs is almost foolproof if you take your time.  I ended up with 10 bags of cured skein from the 6 salmon skeins that my buddies gave me after the kayak fishing trip.  Throw them in the freezer and they'll keep for about a year.  To use all I have to do is let them thaw out then toss them in my backpack.  Simple, cheap, and extremely effective.
     Tight Lines.



How To Rig A Swimbait

     This past weekend I was in Manitowoc, WI for the final stop of the Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Series.  As most people know I hate trolling for fish.  I get especially board trolling for salmon on the Great Lakes.  I decided to switch up tactics and cast and jig swimbaits for most of the day.  I was able to hook into a couple salmon as the event progressed and it occurred to me that I haven't mentioned much about how to rig or fish swimbaits on the blog.
     So here's a quick video (not really quick) I made up to explain some of the basic rigging I use to effectively work swimbaits all year.  They're probably the most versatile baits you can have in your arsenal.  I prefer to use swimbaits by Bog Baits and Berkley.  I like the Bog Baits brand when dealing with warm water species and the Berkley Gulp when chasing coldwater species.
     Next time you're out on the water try throwing a swimbait.  Walleyes chase them in the river, bass destroy them on drop offs, pike and musky follow them through the shallows, and salmon crush them in open water.
     Tight Lines.

Reel Handle Swapping

     Did you know that you can change your reel handle to suit your fishing situation?  Handles on freshwater baitcasters are usually one of 2 types, either swayback or standard.  Swayback handles allow for a more compact feel keeping the center of gravity closer to the rod.  Standard reel handles extend farther out from the reel and apply more twisting pressure when cranking in a lure or bait.  Using different handle combinations on the same reels can change the performance and feel.

     The reasons to change are simple:
  • Increased comfort
  • Ramp up your cranking power
  • Make a reel lighter
  • Change the look of the reel

     Lets briefly take a look at each.  Swapping handles can increase comfort by moving the handle closer or farther away from the reel center.  Also by adding a handle with bigger paddles your comfort while reeling improves especially on days when you are covering a lot of water.  By switching up to a power handle with only one large oversized knob, your cranking power for larger lures increases due the extended length of the handle.  On larger reels like the Revo Toro Winch by Abu Garcia switching to a smaller drilled or carbon fiber handle you can take almost 2 ounces off the overall weight of the reel.  That small amount of weight can make a huge difference over 8-10 hours of guided fishing.  Using a handle swap to change the look of your reel can be a fun way to increase your enjoyment of the reel.  If you like the look of something you'll use it more.  It sounds petty, but it's true.
     You can also swap handles by different reel manufacturers.  The most common and easily swapped handles are between Daiwa and Abu Garcia.  Most handles are able to bolt up directly with no modifications necessary.  I have included a YouTube video I made a while back to show the basics of handle swapping that covers removal and fitment.
     Tight Lines.

EP:23 Shorefishing For Salmon

EP:23 Shorefishing For Salmon















     In this episode of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast we went over everything you need to know about catching Great Lakes salmon from the shoreline.  We covered the history, species, and where to find them all over Wisconsin.  I also outlined my tackle choices such as the use of salmon specific rods, baitfeeder reels, and line preferences.  After a quick discussion on salmon rigs we went over my favorite lure choices and I gave a quick run down on why the Echotail, Flicker Shad, and Berkley Gulp/Powerbait are the go to baits all over the Lake Michigan coast.  So take these tactics to the shoreline this fall and load up your fridge with some delicious king and coho salmon.
     Thank you for listening to Episode 23 of the Bluegills to Bull Sharks Podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes and Podcast Garden.  If you do choose to subscribe take 30 seconds to leave a review.  The reviews are essential for getting the podcast recommended in the search results of our fellow anglers.  Before you leave please take a second to sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  It comes out on the 15th of each month and only on the 15th.  It's full of tips, tricks, some discounts, and of course subscriber only content.  So make sure you get yourself signed up today!
     Tight Lines.

The Power Of A Positive Attitude

     It was the third day of a trip we'd been waiting a lifetime to take.  For the last 5 years my buddy and I had talked about how awesome it would be to get to fish in Canada.  After a lot of planning and saving we had finally made it.  I had just hit the point in each day where I started to complain about the lack luster events that had so far transpired on this trip.  This was the first and maybe only time we'd be on the Lake of the Woods, and we hadn't seen a single fish all week.  In my defense the only stories I had ever heard about this lake involved huge fish.  Nobody ever mentioned the fact that it was still fishing.  I was expecting a fish every other cast.  Each of course over the 50 inch mark and that wasn't happening.  This trip was supposed to be a story about how I caught my new personal best musky.  Instead it was a turning into a great way to waste two thousand dollars.  Between the cold front and heavy east winds we could have just stayed home and probably caught more fish.
     Through it all though my buddy stayed positive.  Sure he would joke about the lack of giant muskies, but he was fired up to finally be here.  He kept casting (I was bitching), kept asking questions of the guides each night (I was pouting), and kept bringing up all the things we were doing right each day (I just sat on the cooler).  His enthusiasm for each day was normally just enough to snap me out of the negative mindset that crept in each afternoon.  While I would get stuck in a bad place mentally, he would just keep casting, and it was about to pay in huge way.  It was a lesson on the water I'll never forget.
     We had just worked our way around yet another fish-less island.  He was casting towards the bank near a couple of free standing reed patches when his eyes lit up.  "Here's one!" he hollered from the front of the boat.  He made a quick figure 8 and was instantly hooked up.  I grabbed the net and soon that 40 inch pike was resting calming inside the bag.  You couldn't have wiped the smile off his face.  It was a beautiful fish and he only caught it because he kept a positive attitude.
     The ability to keep a positive attitude when pursuing trophy fish is of up most importance.  It can be extremely hard to stay focused and upbeat after days, weeks, or even months without a brag worthy fish.  There's many ways to maintain a positive attitude when out on the water.  For a few great tips follow the link here.  For me I've found that a positive attitude on the water will at the very least keep you casting.  Which is of course the easiest way to land more fish.  Since you need a lure in the water to even have a chance at a trophy.
     Tight Lines.