So I set my alarm planning to hit the middle Kenai River. Because of that, I had my outback with me. Good thing! As I started rolling down the road, slowly but surely I convinced myself that I would drive the extra hours and hit the Kings in Homer. How could I not after yesterday's limit!
I get down late and start around 11am. A few boats are hooking up but both fish and bait are a lot sparser than yesterday. I lose one fish in the first two hours and then nothing for the next three hours except Pollock until I hook the fish I eventually land. The guys in the inflatable I mentioned yesterday were HAMMERING fish. It was an impressive show of fish catching for sure. I think the guy even said he was working on his proxy fish.
Toward the end of the day, I screw up and somehow my line wraps around the spectra downrigger line. I pull it up and its all frayed up. No problem, I always carry a spare. Except my spare is a stiff fast action jigging rod loaded with braided line. Absolutely terrible for down rigging applications. As I was switching gear out, I drifted towards shore and into 40 feet of water. All of the sudden my sonar starts beeping (fish alarm) and my screen goes black. Whaaa? I even turn it off once. Same deal. Then as I clear the bait ball, I see fish everywhere. I even switch over to non fish ID and I see a bunch of classic arches. MOTHERLOAD! So I finally rig up and make passes over the spot with my jigging rod and braided line. three or four times the line pops out of the release and NOTHING. Hmmm...last pass the line just starts screaming out. Okay, this is a fish!!!!! As I reel in my downrigger, something is wrong. I first thought the downrigger drag was loose, but somehow I lost my ball. Dang clips, I know not to trust them. That's okay, I have decided 6 pounds is too light so I am going to start using my 8 pound weights.
I get it to the boat in short order, I look down and the hook pulls out and the line goes slack...for an instant! HEART ATTACK! The trailing hook lines the fish perfectly and I am back battling it again. LUCKY BREAK #1! Finally to net, the fish is over the net but somehow screams out. I can't believe the hooks didn't catch the net! LUCKY BREAK #2. I land it and its 34 inches so probably around 25 pounds! And to add to another first...it was a white king! My first one ever!
Of course as always, things are not always as easy as they seem. I got lucky yesterday going two for two. If it was that easy, I am sure there would be an armada of boats just scooping the kings up out of the Bay. It would be selling all of the charter captain's and people who have put in their time here short if I could just waltz in and think I could just keep hammering limits. So what are the lessons I learned today?
1) Perseverance pays off more often than not! If you read my logs, you know I say it over and over again. I'm not necessarily a good fisherman..I'm just stubborn and persistent! The fish I landed came as I was typing an email to someone that one more hour and I am done...and I was already an hour past when I really wanted to get off the water but just couldn't do it.
2) Braided line does not work to well with downriggers. First the thin line doesn't stay put. Homer Dave gave me a great tip and said break a toothpick and put it in front of the line. But the other bad thing is with no stretch, you don't get the cushioning action when the line releases. So from here on out, its mono for all downrigging applications!
3) I've heard Steve the shrimp pot guy say it a lot but those longline clips don't hold all the time. I lost my downrigger ball somehow. Going to make it more permanent of an attachement.
4) 6lbs weight isn't enough. Too much blowback with big flashers and trolling 2knts plus.
5) A disadvantage of the kayak in this application is that I am trolling slower than others so I catch more pollock and cod than the power boats. Not sure what to do about this. Get in better shape or just suck it up and be happy I am catching something.
6) I definitely need to get new gear that is better suited for downrigging. Softer action, longer rod so i can take up slack better. I may use my flyrods but that means I need to get a different rod holder. Need to think about this a bit.
7) I have to figure out a lens cleaning system. I wear only wool or polypro on the water so I have nothing that can clean off water from my lens!
Met Homer Dave and Muttley Crew from the forums. It was nice meeting yo guys!