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Skunked


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Getting a bit annoyed that I can't catch a fish anytime other than the morning.

Last night we were doing the exact same thing as everyone else on the water. 60 FOW 40-50 feet down on the riggers with j-plugs spoons and flies. 3 mph SOG south troll. Didn't even have a release. Changed depths, direction, lures, speed. No luck.

After expressing frustration on the radio we found a few more people in misery with us but they at least had 1 fish or a couple releases. We had nothing.

We were marking bait balls and fish right at 40-50 feet where we had our lures all night, especially when the sun went down. According to the Holland buoy the water at that depth was still about 55 degrees. Is that too warm for them to be interested in eating? Originally I was going to go out to like 80 feet and fish 60-70 feet down, but after getting out there and seeing all the boats at 60 feet I though there must be something going on in that depth. Maybe I should have just stuck with my original plans?

I am honestly starting to think that there is some scent or vibration coming from our boat that is scaring the fish.

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Andrew, I understand your frustration, we've all been there. We went out last night and set up in 80 FOW heading north west. We made it out to 97 FOW without a bite and after talking to one of my buddies on the radio we decided to turn south and come in. We didn't get a hit for the first hour and a half of being out there. When we finally took a hit on a J-plug I loaded up the rest of the rods with them. One thing I will say is that I normally don't try to run other people's programs. Unless I really can't get fish to go I have my own go-to lures that will get put on before anything that I've read in reports. It takes time to figure out what works for you but once you do it's a lot of fun.

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Thanks to both of you. We will try to wash the boat down. It hasn't been done in a while.

Ben, I normally go on what reports are saying since we don't get out more than once a week most of the time. Are you the one on the radio with the Wonderbread J-plug? We were the ones that admitted to getting skunked. I'm sure you heard us complaining :-)

How deep did you end up getting them?

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Andrew, I was the one with the Wonderbread J-plug. The best rods of the night were a wonderbread Ace-Hi plug on a rigger at 45 and a small wonderbread J-plug on the 10 color. Both were glow. We caught fish between 58 and 62 FOW between the sliders and Saugatuck.

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Okay......this is my first post on this forum. I want to add this small disclaimer " I am not typically a whiner". That being said..... let me whine.

Salmon fishing is one of my favorite things to do. I can't even imagine how much more fun it might be if we caught some salmon.

Andrew (the thread author) is my brother and most common fishing partner. Although he did mention that we can catch fish in the morning he didn't mention a lot of details about our evening history. Let me summarize, I think that our boat has made about 10 evening fishing trips this year, and only 2 of them ended with fish in the boat, and I'm talking like 2 fish tops! We don't just have slow nights when everyone else does, we usually get a fish and a couple releases on the days that most people go 12 for 18.

We are by no means professionals, but I would like to think that we aren't just plain stupid either. (Even though it took me 20 minutes to figure out the answer to my "random question" which was required for registering on this forum) We spend a lot of time talking with other successful fishermen, reading, buying new gear, and experimenting. This is why Andrew is starting to ask about things like boat vibrations, etc. Please let us know if you have any tips or obvious things we could check or we might soon be swindled into buying a 150 dollar box that is supposed to neutralize stray voltage from our down rigger cables.( If that isn't a true sign of our desperation I don't know what is.)

BTW-- this has been going on for years!!!

Should we have fluorocarbon leaders on our line?

Thanks

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Where do you fish out of? The best thing I can suggest is have someone who knows how to catch fish come on your boat. The fact is every boat I have ever fished on fishes different Case in point 2 years ago Labor day weekend I decide to skip the combat fishing and head west for Steelhead. We found a very nice temp break in 220fow and setup on a south troll. My regular fishing partner is fishing in the combat mess with his 17ft boat so he calls me on the phone and we are slamming the fish. I gave him my exact position and spread lures speed depth everything. He could not rent a fish we turned around and took our last 2 fish right off his stern with them watching us. We were limited out and headed in he fished for 4 more hours and ended up with 5 fish I think.

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I am with Jim on this , I have been on both sides of the fence. More so on the lighter side than limiting out though.

It can be a lot of serching for the correct lures to use with your boat , colors , plugs , FF . When to run spoons or J plugs.

This has been my best year yet , no skunk this year! but there have been days that came close. I have found that my boat fishes best with 2 riggers , 2 dipsys and 2 high boards. the riggers and dipsys run Flashers and flies. 29" lead to the fly. the high lines run spoons or plugs . Sometimes those high lines are 300 coppers , and after the morning bite the riggers go quite and the long lines get action. You mentioned that your speed was 3.0 SOG. you need to know what your lures are doing . the current can really screw things up. Last week Sunday heading north all you had to due was have your kicker in gear. But heading south you really had to lay into it just to get the baits going, and the riggers and dipsys looked like you were going 30mph just to hit 1.9 on my Depth raider. there are ways to run without a probe also.

hope this helped.

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Don't feel to bad if you are catching fish in the morning then it's not your boat. It is probably your speed or the distance you have your lures from the ball. One thing to remember is that you are not a charter boat and don't have the rods they do and don't fish everyday to fine tune your presentation. I only fish once a week also and it's hard sometimes to get the truth from other fishermen on where and what lures they are using. If I were you I would become friends with one of the charter guys. But sometimes that doesn't help. I started doing my own thing the last half of this summer because I was getting bogus information and not catching fish.

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I feel your frustration. We are lucky if we get out once a month, so we try to make every trip count. We are having our best year so far with a total of 12 fish boated all year. When we first started, we maybe caught one salmon all year. What helped me was keeping a journal of what we used for lures, speed we trolled, water temps, weather, speed, and depth we fished. That at least gave us a starting point for our next trip out. Our mantra on our boat is when you don't catch too many fish, you really appreciate the ones you do catch. One more thing, for every report of someone catching their limit, there is about twenty more people who don't report they got skunked.

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I guess its easier to put up a fishing report on here when you limit rather than when you get skunked. I have noticed a lot of the time if we are trolling in close proximity to another boat, I don't usually see them reeling in fish.

That being said, I do think our boat needs a good washing after all the mechanical work it has had lately. I am sure it reeks of gas and oil right now.

Another thing I wondered about was lure scent. Do you all wash your lures every time you go out or put a cover scent on them? We just bought a bottle of THIS but I am not sure if it is helping or hurting.

Also, if anyone has something for sale that can tell us ball temps and current speed send me a PM. Thanks!

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Don't worry about washing the boat, wash your other gear and hands. The fish don't mind a lil petrol smell even on the lures. It may be the perfume you are splashing on.

There are a number of variables in any kind of fishing. If you get one or two of them off just a bit it just will not happen. I think boat control and speed are the two most important factors that a lot of fishermen don't zero in on. A tenth of a MPH sometimes can make the difference. Find the speed and never settle for close enough. A lot of little things can add up.

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Remember there are just some better fisherman than others and also some that have more luck. If you know you are on fish and not getting bit but other peoPle are you need to change speed,direction of troll and sometimes your whole spread of lures. But sometimes you just can't buy a hit. It happens to me too.

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Unless you count having the boat break down and being towed in I have not been skunked in over 3 years and that is fishing from St Joe to Manistee but mostly Muskegon. I have not made any big changes in my program in over 5 years other than switching copper for leadcore. I do have a lot of programs that I run depending on water temp and light condidtions but it is all pretty much the same as it has been for years so some of it has to do with years on the water.

For me night fishing is the reverse of morning fishing with one advantage that is if you get out early you can scout for where you want to be at sundown. This will help you more next season but find the baitfish and mark them then find the spot where the temp break gets closet to them that is where the action will be at sunset every time. Even if it is a mile from the baitfish setup your sunset troll to go from the temp break to the baitfish and put your spread at the baitfish depth or a few ft below them. If you do it right every rod on your boat will fire at sunset it has happened to me so many times I cannot begin to count them. The point however is still the same you need a fish doctor to come on your boat with you and find your problem. You can watch all the videos and listen to all the tips but untill you get your gear to work for you it will be tough fishing.

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But the temp break this time of year is deep and northers is no surface temp break. So how can you find the temp break if it is a mile from the bait? I fish the thermocline and fish the structure and there is usually bait near the structure. I did notice the last time I fished the clone started at 130 down so we fished at 130 in 150 fow because that's where the salmon were schooled was close to where the cline meet the bottom.

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We run spoons and plugs anywhere from ten to fifteen feet behind the ball. I say ball but we actually have weights that are shaped like giant lead fish. Sometimes I wonder if that might intimidate fish that come into check out the bait. Any thoughts what about our length, are we okay there?

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We run spoons and plugs anywhere from ten to fifteen feet behind the ball. I say ball but we actually have weights that are shaped like giant lead fish. Sometimes I wonder if that might intimidate fish that come into check out the bait. Any thoughts what about our length, are we okay there?

You may be too close to your balls , I run min of 2 riggers and I run my baits 35 and 45 feet back . If I am running a third it will be 50-60 feet back.

Morning bite I am lucky if I can get more than 3 rods in , most of the time the riggers are firing before I can get the divers in the water.

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I run spoons 30ft on deep riggers and 40 or more ft on high riggers. Flashers are 15-20ft on deep riggers. J-plugs 15-20ft. But sometimes when the fish are high in the water column my leads are farther if I don't get bit closer to the ball. I have run a spoon as far back as 100-150ft on a high rigger to catch steelhead that were spooking from the boat.

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Next trip out, sounds like I'll be running my lures a little further back. We have 4 down riggers, but I'm thinking about only using 2. I'd like to use my dipsy's but I usually refrain because I can't seem to get them to to steer away from the boat, any tips on dipsy control? Could my line be too thick? Would it help if I pulled them with braid instead of mono?

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Usually run your deep riggers are your 2 center riggers and the high riggers are the outside riggers. Lure behind the ball is shorter on the deep riggers and longer on the high riggers. As for dipsies, make sure you have the setting on the bottom of the dipsy to 2-3 if you want it to go away from the boat. Make sure you have the dipsy on the right side of the boat so it will go out to the side and not underneath the boat. Don't have a leader on your dipsies long than the rod so you can net the fish

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