IT OLD SCHOOL
Plug fishing is a quiet day on the river interrupted by one of the most heart stopping displays to
be found anywhere in the outdoors, and my clients today were about to experience that first hand.
The plan of the day was to slowly back troll plugs through likely looking steelhead holding
water. As we shoved off, Stacy and John were ready and so was I.
After giving brief instructions, we let out the plugs. I picked up the
anchor, and started rowing. It didn’t take long; halfway through the first hole the outside rod took a strike. It was so fast and so hard I feared the rod may snap right in the rod
holder. Stacy had quite a time getting it out of the holder. The whole time the big buck steelhead was cart wheeling across the river and making powerful runs. After a little bit of coaching and encouragement a beautiful male steelhead was brought to net, photographed and released. The rest of our day brought similar results from almost every hole we fished. We caught some we lost some, but in the end it was a wonderful day on the water with some great people.
Plug fishing at its core is backing a wall of plugs through a hole, trying to elicit a fight or
flight response from the salmon or steelhead resting there. Plug fishing can either be done out of a jet boat or a driftboat. The biggest difference is speed and mobility. Let me explain, out of a jet boat plugging is accomplished by letting the plugs out to a predetermined distance and lowering the anchor to just on the bottom enough to drag but not stop the boat. This allows the boat to slowly drift through the hole and gives the plugs enough current to start wobbling and dive to the bottom. While on some days this presentation is all that is needed to elicit bone jarring strikes from
agitated fish, most of the time the best way to present the lures is with a drift boat. A drift boat with a skilled oarsman on the“sticks” is as deadly a presentation as anything on the river. Pulling plugs out of a driftboat is the same basic concept with one subtle difference. Instead of using the anchor to slip downstream, the guide rows. This allows the plugs to move in a more erratic way which at the end of the day will draw more strikes. At Hulst Outfitters we “cut our teeth”pulling plugs, its what we like to do and we are good at it.
The gear needed to fish plugs is very basic: rods, reels, and plugs. Our personal
favorites are 9 foot rods paired with level wind reels.
The reels are spooled with 12 lb monofilament line to a swivel where we
attach a fluorocarbon leader for those picky “clear water” fish.
The debate about what plugs to run is as endless as the color choices
available. We have a HUGE
selection of plugs that cover whatever season or water clarity Mother Nature
sees fit to throw at us.
When is the best time
to pull plugs? Anytime! If there are salmon or steelhead in the
rivers they will seek and destroy plugs with reckless abandon.
Be it in the fall with a kaleidoscope of deep reds and burnt oranges,
chasing brutish kings or floating through a winter wonderland seeking double
striped monster buck steelhead or drifting past a tom turkey in full strut amid
a lush green backdrop in search of mint chrome spring steelhead.
Pulling plugs out of
a drift boat is an experience no true fisherman should miss.
The strike alone is what keeps most people coming back.
It is breathtaking, leaving even the most seasoned fisherman shaking
their head in disbelief. Come join
me if you dare for a day on the water filled with laughter, good cheer and
SCREAMING DRAGS……FISH ON!!!