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By Pete Rosko
Several years ago, Angler West TV featured the Sonic BaitFish™ (SBF) in one of its shows titled "Port Angeles Coho Fishing." It's versatility was featured, as it caught salmon by trolling, vertically jigging and casting the Sonic BaitFish Glow Chartreuse.
I like to add a Colorado, or Indiana, spinner blade to the tail of the Sonic BaitFish when I cast or troll. It adds to the flash, harmonics (sound of the blade striking the shank of the hook) and vibration of the lure. When I designed the Crippled Herring back in the early 1980s, it was the very first metal jig to add an attractor metal blade to its tail.
When I vertical jig, it's the injured baitfish action of the lure on the fall that triggers the strike. I find that adding a blade has no dramatic benefit when vertical jigging. Trolling and casting are horizontal presentations that result in a swimming action with the SBF. This is basically imitating the swimming action of a normal baitfish. Adding a tail attractor blade, especially a nickel or silver-plated blade, emits extra flash. Unlike conventional trolling, where a rotating flasher or dodger is placed ahead of the lure, the SBF "flasher" is placed directly on the lure.
As so often mentioned in my past articles, the action of a falling lure creates more strikes than one that swims horizontally. Even after making a long cast from a boat and working the lure along bottom and back towards me, most of the strikes will occur right at the boat as the line and lure become vertical instead of horizontal. In this scenario, the swimming action was changed from a normal-appearing baitfish to an injured one by the change in line angle.
Predators of any kind are opportunistic. They key on an easy meal and do not waste energy on chasing healthy prey. The fall of a SBF is that easy meal — it mimics an injured, helpless baitfish. It is the best action in all of sport fishing that triggers fish to strike! The Crippled Herring name was created specifically for its ability to imitate the action of an injured Pacific herring.
In hindsight, if I was smart enough, I would have been more descriptive with all of my lure inventions by prefixing every lure with the word "Crippled."
At a very early age, I learned to work the rod when I trolled for walleyes in Lake Erie and Ohio's inland reservoirs. The forward pump of my rod, followed by dropping it back toward the water, produced most of the strikes. Whether fishing with spinner worm harnesses, a "June Bug" spinner or a "Flatfish," one of those "falling" presentations always out-fished a rod mounted in a rod holder. However, a trolling rod holder still likes to catch fish if it is mounted on the inside turn to affect the fall of the presentation. And, both port and starboard rod holders can work when trolling the "S" pattern.
In Washington state, September is my favorite month for Coho (silver) salmon and kokanee. My favorite Sonic BaitFish finish for Coho is Glow Chartreuse and when fishing for Kokanee, I prefer Glow Orange, which I strongly recommend for Lake Sutherland kokanee.
The same Sonic BaitFish in the photo above has worked for a large variety of fresh and saltwater species over the years following the techniques mentioned here. A Chartreuse/Pearl White finish can be fished worldwide since it duplicates the pattern of many baitfish.
Then there are kokanee, which will bite on all of the different SBF color patterns. At Lake Sutherland, however, they especially love Sonic BaitFish Glow Orange, as mentioned, during the month of September.
If anyone is serious about kokanee anywhere, four items are critical — a line-counter reel, a Sonic BaitFish, a fish finder and the ability to vertically jig. Fishing to suspended fish, though, is the most difficult task in sport fishing! Without the line-counter reel, you cannot place the SBF precisely to the kokanee mark that shows up on the fish finder screen.
However, by mid-September, the kokanee will be mainly layered along the bottom and along the buoy line near Falls Creek on the southwest end of Lake Sutherland. Locate the kokanee on your fish finder, then just bottom bounce a Sonic BaitFish 1/2 oz. or 3/4 oz. and hold on. This has been their main staging area for spawning for the forty plus years that I have fished on this lake. Usually, by the middle of the first week of October, it's all over. By that time, I'll be catching walleyes on the western basin of Lake Erie.
Thank you for subscribing to the monthly issue of the Mack Attack Magazine. We appreciate your time in reading our monthly issues. In turn, we strive to bring you valuable tips and techniques to make your, and your family's, day on the water more productive and enjoyable. All the best. — Capt. Pete