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Fighting Big Kings


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Last week a fish got me thinking quite a bit about how to manage hooking up with a big king that is really screaming.

Rod setup was a fly (50# mono leader) to spin dr, spin dr to snubber was 36" of 30# big game, snubber to dipsey, dipsey connected to 50 lb power pro (600 feet) with 100 feet of 20# mono backing.

Fish hit hard and ran as good as I've seen, ripping 300+ feet off FAST. Knowing the lines and snubber involved I had the person fighting the fish tighten the drag down as I noticed it was getting close to the backing and the fish wasn't even showing a sign of letting up. Drag was nearly maxed and thumb pressure applied to the spool as it got close to the backing. Finally just as the backing was coming off the spool the fish decided it's first run was over. I went from slowing the boat mid fight to stopping the boat to try and keep some line on the reel. After fighting for another minute the fish got off and at the end of the line I found a very minor tangle up with a 300 CU setup that I had been trying to keep clear and/or get in the boat to avoid tangles with. During all this I pulled in a full core, 2 rigger lines and was just getting to the 300 CU.

Instantly I started playing back through to see if I did something wrong or what I could do different in the future.

Part of me thinks the fish might have caught the copper and it backed the hook out. Another part of me wonders if how hard we tried to stop the fish opened up the hook set and allowed it to come free on a head shake. Or perhaps the hard pressure on the drag was causing the fish to run and if I would have had them keep it lighter it might have turned earlier (eliminating the need to slow down boat, pull lines, etc). The other part of me wondered if we hooked submarine from shark week and it simply knew how to get off the hook :cool:.

With all that said, what do you do when you get a real screamer on?

- Back off on the boat throttle, or keep it going to keep lines from sinking?

- Loosen the drag vs. tightening down?

- Pull other lines vs. leave them in?

- Other suggestions?

Gotta love the big one that gets away! I'll be thinking of it all the way through until next spring.

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not much you can do when the spool gets low..

i let fish run them selfs out and only 1 has ever spooled a reel on me. 29.2 lbs. ran 960' of steel line out. I just cranked down on the drag figuring it was now or never.. i cleared all the lines on the left side of the boat and circled wide back around. took the guy 30 min to get that guy in.

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First I need to say that all of my rods have at least 900 feet of line on them as a minimum. The larger fish we have over in Lake Ontario love to run more than 600 feet.

That being said, when I have a fish on of the caliber that you are talking we generally start a turn and start clearing line. This does two things. First it puts a different angle on the fish which tends to change its direction of travel and second you will either gain line or find the amount he/she is taking will slow to a stop.

Not all fish are the same, and not all circumstances are the same. Other boats and depth change may dictate another action. Some may agree and some may disagree but this is what has worked for me every time I have a true screamer on that is approaching the 600 foot run mark.

Good luck and tight lines.

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I had one fish while I was mating rip out 810 feet of line and I told the client lock the drag so he did and he busted off the mix veggie on a five color. When you get one on that's hot you just have to hope the fish will eventually cowaperate!!!

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I would not pull lines, you might get other fish on them for a double or triple. I have fish under or over long lines all the time and most of the time you can bring them right back over or under them. Once in a while, it is tangle, cut and retie time but it is not very frequent. Move your rigger rods to side rod holders set like divers to get them out of the way. If you don't have extras, add some for this reason. I hate to change the throttle on a troll taking bites and use sea bags to slow the boat when fighting a really big fish. Just throw them over to slow down, pull in and you return to the speed you hit on. I only slow down when a reel is close to getting spooled. I keep a lot of backing on all reels to avoid this. Instead of pulling lines, watch and coach the angler, I hate to see them pumping a rod if not needed on smaller fish. When you have to on bigger fish, make sure they are reeling before they lower the rod. Most people with less experience will pull the rod back and drop it a foot before reeling in. This gives the fish slack to get off and a big reason for lost fish. I see no problem with a tight drag if it did not break off. If the hook is in a good spot, it won't get off. Sometimes the hook is not in a good spot and the fish will be lost due to that more than anything.

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On a big fish my main goal is to wear them out. That means making them run against a drag and not letting them rest by always being ready to pump up and reel back down. NO SLACK in the line! The drag is usually tightened a little after the initial run. To keep the slack out I coach those on my boat to lift the rod to the 12 o'clock high position and reel down to no lower than 10:30 (45*). Any lower and you unload the rod and risk slack in the line. The other thing that I have to break of many who don't fish the big lake a lot is to reel whenever they feel a little slack. Often this is the fish running at the boat but the angler thinks the fish is gone. You will hear me screaming "REEL, REEL, REEL". :)

I steer to keep them centered out the rear of the boat away from the board rods and 100'+ off the boat until they are pretty much done with the big runs. To shorten up the amount of line between me and the fish, and if boat traffic permits, I'll start a slow turn -- still keeping the fish pretty much strait off the stern.

Getting other lines out of the road depends on what is happening on each fish.

* For board rods it is either get them in and out of the road OR let them further out to make a wider landing strip.

* For divers, I almost always let them out further -- high/outside ones first. This moves them down and away from where I want to fight the big one.

* For riggers they are usually not a problem but if I have any higher than 40' then it is either put them deeper or pull them. In deep water I'm more inclined to put them deeper. Main thing is to get the lures away from the fighting area and most fish will come up and not go down much once they are close enough to the boat for riggers to be an issue.

Wjhen the fish is worn out and we start bringing it near the boat expect at least one or two more relatively short runs. At that point attention moves to maneuvering the boat to keep the fish out of the other lines (riggers & divers) plus being on the throttle to keep it out ~20' until it can be controlled or is spent and ready to net. Typically my stern riggers have the rods in the inside rod holders when trolling. At some time before bringing the fish in for netting, I move the rods to the outside Some fish never get to the "spent" category, but you don't want to net one with a lot of energy left.

Back when I had a boats center engines (outboards or I/O) and had to net off a corner, the stern rigger on that corner was usually pulled to make room to net a big fish.

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Very interesting post... I say let's just start dragging nets it will be so much easier 100ft back 60 feet down oh and we're fishing for white fish..... Easier than fighting the big ones

Have never fished that way, but I can't really imagine it being very much fun... and at least for me that's why I go fishing.

Heck, I know I'd catch more walleye if I trolled for them, but the fun of fishing to me is the fight or the strike and you don't get either when you troll for walleye. So I cast for them.

If I want it easy I'll just go to the Meijer "fresh" fish counter.

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I assume you run the V configuration for your set up, that would put the Coppers in close and the other presentations further out. When you fight remember that you control the fish not the fish you. Apply pressure side ways to turn the fish. In addition if you pull the inside presentations first if necessary. I have never had to pull my long presentations for a Dipsy or rigger fish. On the Silverking we always tell people to let the fish fight, don't pump and try to get line that way. Everytime you lower the rod tip you give the fish some slack you can't help it. Most of the reels used on the lake are from 3.8 to 5.0 retrieve, the pro's on the Saltwater use multipliers, and they are a lot faster. So you did nothing wrong, we all lose fish.

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Have to agree with supertramp. I fish with a lot of newbies and even some seasoned big lakers that want to pump the rod! IMHO its a bad habbit to get into with big fish on the big lake, I try to have them keep the rod back and gain line by reeling keeping the most pressure possible against that fish. Most commonly I see guys (especially seasoned) that want to horse them to the boat bringing them in way to hot. YOu have got to wear them out with pressure and drag. On my boat you will hear me say often "you got all day dont rush it! I have rarely run into another line fishing the V formation. Salmon and steel run to the top they dont sound (run deep) like some salt water fish now nothing is always but almost always they run to the surface. So the only time they tangle other lines is on the way up and usually a quick slip of the rod under or over sets them free of the tangle. I do on occasion clear a rod or two but more often than not move their respective position to another holder for a clearer lane. I also will turn the boat slowly to gain line, stop a long run, change angle and to help manage the really big fish but its a catch 22 with out a great reel man you get slack so there is a lot of coaching and the driver really has to pay attention. Its a dance between fish, fishermen and driver and a art form when it all comes together. We all loose fish, period! the biggest thing is rod up let him take drag (adjust up or down as needed) don't reel when he's taking drag keep line tight and pressure on!! Read the fish to best position boat, other lines, netter, and fishermen. Managing an exhausted fish at the side or back of the boat is far easier than a "hot one" so remember "you got all day take it easy wear em out" as already said you manage the fish not the other way around!!

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Have to agree with supertramp. I fish with a lot of newbies and even some seasoned big lakers that want to pump the rod! IMHO its a bad habbit to get into with big fish on the big lake, I try to have them keep the rod back and gain line by reeling keeping the most pressure possible against that fish. Most commonly I see guys (especially seasoned) that want to horse them to the boat bringing them in way to hot. YOu have got to wear them out with pressure and drag. On my boat you will hear me say often "you got all day dont rush it! I have rarely run into another line fishing the V formation. Salmon and steel run to the top they dont sound (run deep) like some salt water fish now nothing is always but almost always they run to the surface. So the only time they tangle other lines is on the way up and usually a quick slip of the rod under or over sets them free of the tangle. I do on occasion clear a rod or two but more often than not move their respective position to another holder for a clearer lane. I also will turn the boat slowly to gain line, stop a long run, change angle and to help manage the really big fish but its a catch 22 with out a great reel man you get slack so there is a lot of coaching and the driver really has to pay attention. Its a dance between fish, fishermen and driver and a art form when it all comes together. We all loose fish, period! the biggest thing is rod up let him take drag (adjust up or down as needed) don't reel when he's taking drag keep line tight and pressure on!! Read the fish to best position boat, other lines, netter, and fishermen. Managing an exhausted fish at the side or back of the boat is far easier than a "hot one" so remember "you got all day take it easy wear em out" as already said you manage the fish not the other way around!!

Exactly Jeff;

I tell em its not bass fishing, its KING SALMON, if it takes 30 minutes so what? Also how many times have u slowed up and slowly turned and had another fish hit an outside rigger or board? Have fun if u lose em so what, just give yourself a chance. Our last trip Sunday we were 8 for 8 with 4 Steelhead 3 Kings and 1 coho. It can be done if u r patient.

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Have never fished that way, but I can't really imagine it being very much fun... and at least for me that's why I go fishing.

Heck, I know I'd catch more walleye if I trolled for them, but the fun of fishing to me is the fight or the strike and you don't get either when you troll for walleye. So I cast for them.

If I want it easy I'll just go to the Meijer "fresh" fish counter.

If that's the case, why do you troll for salmon?

Don't get me wrong, netting fish doesn't strike me as much fun either.

As for walleyes not fighting when caught trolling, I don't know where you're fishing, but you need to go some place where the walleyes are bigger. Like Green Bay maybe.

If you use the right trolling rods for walleye, the fight is no different than if you had caught the same fish on a spinning rod.

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Here's another story from about 15 years back if you guys will allow me. Turned out a full day trip produced among 12 other fish in the box, a 36# salmon for us about 12:30pm out of Ludington. This fish wrapped itself around the head with 25# Big Game line and wasn't coming in at all after 15 minutes. HE was Big Moe. And we had a slight chop of 3'-4' roller waves. We pulled all lines and went from neutral to drive on one engine after 25 minutes. The fish didn't like it, and decided he was making some new run, after it had made 3 others earlier. Now it's 30 full minutes into the fight, and the angler and salmon are still fighting well. That's when I decided enough is enough. We had turned on that fish several times too already. And still the Fish wanted to keep it up. I finally decided this must be a triploid, hybrid steroid type, 50# or more:?and wasn't going to lose him. I backed down the boat, as if we were catching a Marlin or monster fish. The fish finally tired down after the 40 minute fight, thank God! We had to double-net him, the first net being slightly worn, having a bent handle trying to land him, and a weaker older net that was well worn with the past seasons. That fish ended up in a 128 qt. cooler, and he alone, took up the entire cooler for a while. Master Angler award was in the works, and that's my story. Thanks.

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Nice big king story , one day soon , I had a 25 pound king ... Avatar pick took 45 minutes to bring in he had just had wheaties for breakfast and fought the whole time I think it's Ludington they exercise in that water, doesn't compare to 36lbs though

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