British Columbia

Online lessons
12 Rules of salmon fishing
Flasher fishing
Deep trolling for Chinook
Taking care of your fish
How to brine herring
How to rig cutplug herring
How to fillet salmon
How to smoke salmon
How to tie strong knots
Saltwater Chum salmon fishing
Classroom courses
Courses overview
Classroom courses

Online Resources
Tide predictor
Weather forecasts
Online charts/maps
Fishing derby schedule
Fishing reports
Ask the pros

Photo gallery
Species Info


Smoked Salmon Recipe #1

Contact Us
Contact emails and info
Advertising rates and info
How to rig cutplug herring
How to smoke salmon
Smoked salmon recipe #1
Ilwaco & the ocean
Barkley Sound, BC
Deep trolling for Chinook
How to brine herring
How to fillet salmon

New Salmon Scenter™
Fishing reports
Win FREE tackle!!

Ask the Pros
click here to go back to the Ask the Pros main page
Bait and scent questions

Q: John, Having never brined herring before (fairly new to salmon fishing), I found your web site and followed the directions to a "T". After brining, I divided up the herring in Zip lock bags, 1/2 doz. per bag as I fish with small strips on the top hook of hootchies. The instructions failed to mention that one should keep the herring in the solution while being refrigerated. Since I already dumped out the solution, will the herring last very long in the frig in the zip locks with no solution? After reviewing your Q&A page, I see that it is preferred to keep them in solution. My neighbor and I (he is totally new to salmon fishing), used thawed herring our first couple of trips out, but had a hell of a time keeping the strips on the hook as the meat is so soft. This is why we are trying brining. Thank You ... Ron

PS: Great web site you guys have. Very informative and helpful to us "greenhorns"

A: Yep, Keep it in the brine. Capt. John
Q: John, does it really make a difference whether you use fresh herring or a well brined herring? I plan on fishing for some kings out of Sekiu, last year we didn't do very well fishing for kings but I now know some of the things I did wrong. My plan this year is to troll a cut plug herring with a flasher with the tide or motor mooch off the kelp beds. Thank you for such a great educational resource. Craig
A: Craig, Both will work, I would rather have a well brined frozen herring then a soft fresh one. I'm sure Olson's Resort will have both on hand for the summer fishery. Good Luck nail a slab. John.

Q: John, First off, thanks for taking the time to answer my previous questions! You have made reference to using "smelly jelly" on artificial lures to add scent. Do you find it as affective as Herring strips? I have heard of fisherman soaking herring in rock salt and brown sugar before cutting into strips. Talked to another that claims to spray WD-40 on his lures?! And yet another that swore by dipping everything into cod liver oil! What IS the straight scoop on all of this? Thanks again!! Marv
A: Marv, WD-40 is good for cleaning the lures, but gives it no scent, Smelly Jelly is the way to go and is much easier then using herring strips. John

Q: Ray from Tacoma here. I like to mooch the dropoff directly in front of the Pt Defiance boathouse at first light for an hour and a half or so before going out in front of the slag pile to troll with a flasher and hootchie for an
hour or so and i'm done for the day. I rarely use all my herring. Can I keep/cure my herring in kosher or rock salt and water and use them the next day. I don't want to waste my time if the herring would be tainted. Have you heard of this practice? I know guides on the columbia and tributaries prepare their herring like this the night before. Supposedly it stiffens them and helps the scales to stay intact. Should i be putting them in this brine as soon as i buy them for freshness that day. What ratio of salt and water should be used? Would this even be okay for keeping herring bought the night before to save time in the morning. Also for summer/fall kings in front of the slag troll 50-60ft right? or do i need to stay below 60 ft. thanks. Ray
A: Ray, you can use a cup of picking salt with a cup of powered milk and that will keep your herring firm if the mixture is kept cold over night. The powdered milk really helps set the scales on the herring. The other things you can try are to fillet your extra herring and salt them, cut them into strips and use them as teaser baits on your squids while trolling after your AM mooch session. Or what a lot guys do at Narrows Marina Tackle shop is to just buy 1/2 dozen herring. I troll for the summer fish at 50-60ft which should be happening anytime now! See you out there. Capt. John Keizer

Q: Planning on going to Sekiu in Sept. Where can we buy good/fresh bait?? Coming in from the East side of the state, go thru Tacoma & Bremerton. Any help appreciated. Pat
A: Pat, Sorry for the late answer we have been testing new lures in Canada and running day and evening charters for week now. Narrows Marina in Tacoma 253-564-4222 has live herring.

Q: John, First of all, great web site!! I came across it by accident, and I'm very happy I did--lots of excellent detailed info that F&H just doesn't give. Over the years, I've fished out on the sound with different people, and it seems to me each one has his own "special" way of rigging cut-plug herring. I've recently bought my own boat, and am ready to host my own excursions. Is there a textbook way to rig herring? What do you recommend, slip tie or solid tie hooks? Flasher (type?) or no flasher?  Hope to hear from you. Derrek
A: Derrek, There is no great book on herring rigging, it's a hands-on kind of deal. I will be putting some photos on herring rigging on the SU page pretty soon. The best thing I can tell you for now is hook up with someone who fishes the area and see how he does it. We will also be hosting seminars this winter which cover herring rigging. We run herring solo and behind a flasher depending on the time of the year. Capt. John
A: Derrek, You are right! There are hundreds of ways to rig herring. They probably all work. The most important thing to remember is to make sure that your herring doesn't suffer from tail flop. Once you have rigged your herring, put it in the water, give it a pull and watch the action. If the tail is flopping, so that it resembles a prop going through the water, no self respecting salmon is going to touch it. You want your herring to turn in a tight spiral like a drill bit. One thing that will help you get that action is after inserting the hooks slide a toothpick alongside the backbone to hold that bend. If you have tail flop, straighten your herring slightly and re-insert the toothpick. By all means, use solid tie hooks. Slip tie hooks will loose you a lot of fish, as the top hook will slide down and cut off the tail hook. Flashers will catch more fish but are probably less fun to use. If you are trolling herring with a flasher, you should use a plastic herring head holder of one type or another. Fish your herring at least 55 inches behind a flasher. A herring fished by itself will still catch fish, but you lose the sound attraction of a flasher. Tom

Q: John, You mentioned several times in answers to questions the use of Smelly Jelly. What flavor is you favorite, or which one seems to work best for coho? Would the use of Smelly Jelly be a effective on gear that is used to fish from the beach such as a buzz bomb or a crocodile spoon? Thanks Jim
A: Jim, all the flavors of Smelly Jelly work well, if I had to pick one it would be anchovy followed by the shrimp. I would and do use it on spoons and Buzz Bombs. Good fishing, Capt. John

Q: Hi John, I have many hundreds of dollars tied up in tackle, and much of it in spoons, plugs, squid, flashers and bucktails. I've read that certain scents need to be washed off after use or they will turn rancid and ruin the bait. Is that the case with Smelly Jelly? Can you provide a breakdown of which scents we should or shouldn't worry about. Lots of $$ on the line here. Thanks - Dave
A: Dave, as you, do I have many thousands of dollars tied up in tackle. The preferred method of taking care of tackle regardless of what scents you use is to at the end of the days' fishing place it all in a bucket of fresh water. Add a couple drops of detergent like Joy etc., and give it a good washing. Then rinse it clean and dry with a towel before putting it away. If you put it away in a tackle box wet you can get the creepy crud growing on the tackle. One of things that I use that help speed up the operation is the X-Stream flasher bags 206-762-6170 to store my tackle. They're clear on one side allowing me to find the setups I'm looking for quickly and ventilated on the other allowing good air flow for drying. I use one bag for spoons, one for plugs, one for bait setups etc. On the subject of Smell Jelly it's by far the best scent I have ever used. It outlasts all the others and will not go rancid. Good fishing. Capt. John

Q: John, you mention Smelly Jelly in your fishing notes. Do you recommend a certain color or scent? I have just recently found your site and look forward to great fishing this coming year. Don
A: Don, they all work well, I guess if I had to pick just one it would be anchovy. Capt. John

Q: Hi John, Great site. I fish on Lake Michigan. I was in Port Angeles this spring and seen then big flashers used. I bought a hotspot and a B and B flasher, and some smell gel in the special mix. I used the flasher with good results. What do you think about the bait rigs for this inland fishing? Is the special mix smell Gel good for this water? Would the black box be good for here with fresh water vs. salt water . I plan on using the bait holders with a 11 inch  glow hot spot with a 55 inch lead to bait. Then a 11  inch b and b with a 32 inch to fly. Russ
A: Russ, I think the bait rigs would work well in the Great Lakes for Salmon & Trout. You might try the new Roto Chip bait holder with the e-chip in it made by Pro-Troll you can see it at www.protroll.com I'll bet it would work well for you. Pro-Troll also produces the Black Box and I can confirm it works quite well in the fresh water for trolling. As far a Smell Jelly it works great as a cover scent, you will soon see on our SU web page a new product later this month called the Salmon Scenter, it kicks butt on salmon & trout here and we have some great test reports from the Great Lakes anglers who have orders pending. On a large 11 inch Hot Spot I would start at 42" inches for a bait rig and then add more leader depending on if I was getting any short strikes. Tight lines, Capt. John Keizer

Q: There has been times when frozen bait is all there is. I heard somewhere that if you take fresh bait and cure it in 1/2 pound pickling salt to 1 quart water, it will stay firm when fridgerated for up to 3 weeks. Is this true? Also I'm planning to fish south sound on the 18th any suggestions on where and the best method would appreciated. Thanks
A: Phil, Picking salt in a quart of water works pretty well, you can make it last a little longer by adding about a cup of powered milk. As far as length of time I normally would only use if for about 2-3 days max. I have been hitting most of my fish the past 3 weeks off the Clay Banks by Pt. Defiance with a mini B-2 squid 37in. behind a large HotSpot flasher right on the bottom. Good Luck, Capt. John

Q: I just got back from the Lewis River where I picked up 20 pounds of smelt. I have vacuum packaged them and am thinking of trying them in lieu of herring for salmon fishing. Have you ever tried this? Can you think of any reason why this wouldn't work? Dave
A: Dave, I have used smelt before for ocean silver fishing when I could not get herring and it worked fine. I don't have much experience other then that one time. Let me know how it works for you. Capt. John

Q: Tom, I got your presentation at the January PSA SnoKing meeting and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought your idea of smearing Smelly Jelly on lures to attract fish was excellent.... but then I got thinking and here's my question. Anglers have been promoting the use of lures for salmon as a way of avoiding dogfish as dogfish are attracted to smells and not the visual attraction of the lure. It would seem somewhat counterproductive to add a scent to lures as it would attract doggies. Have you found an increase in catching dogfish after putting Smelly Jelly or some other attractant on lures, or has the use of your new bait tube increased the doggie catch rate? Or is it trolled lures are too hard for them to catch compared to mooched herring? I got burned out checking everything at the Puyallup Sportsman show and forgot to get a bait tube system from your booth while there. Hopefully you'll have some at the March show in Seattle. Paul
A: Paul, because I only use artificial lures, I haven't caught a dogfish in the past 8 years. We may have the Salmon Scenters at the Seattle Sportsmans Show. Tom

Q: John: Great site, I heard about a year ago that quite a few guides use a dishwashing detergent to clean thier hands before touching any fishing gear, I cannot remember the brand name, When I went to the store about a year ago most soaps arte orange or lemon scented and I am sure they would not work. Do you have any recommendations? Thank You, Rick
A: Rick, I know the river guides are big on this, however I just use Smelly Jelly on my lures as a cover scent. For tackle clean up I use a small drop of Ivory soap in a bucket to wash the gear. I think my hands have been imprinted with herring smell for many years now! Capt. John

Q: John, Keep up the good work on the site! I saw you mentioned the Salmon Scenter in your last article for F&H News. The guys at Outdoor Emporium say its not on the market yet. Can you tell me what it is and who I can call about it to get info? Is it anything more than a PVC tube filled with chum? Thanks - Dave
A: Dave the Salmon Scenters are on back order they are made special for Salmon University. Keep watching the SU web site for availability. Capt. John

Q: John this is Kris at Holiday Sports we get about ten calls a day or more for salmon scenters. What are they, what do they look like, and how does someone get a hold of a couple of them? How has your fishing been did you hit the opener ? Lots of fish taken up here Lopez pass was good, Thatcher pass was hot, and a lot of fish were taken around Camano is the report we have.Lopez guys were using Kingfishers and other small spoons they were feeding on needlefish I guess. good fishin Crash
A: Kris, there should be a link on the Salmon University web page today about the Salmon Scenter (click here) However they are on back order at the present time. Fishing in Tacoma has been steady for keepers up to 8 pounds. Mid Channel opener was very slow. Take care. Capt. John

Q: Hi John. I was wondering if you keep the Herring in the brine when storing? If not, what is the best way to store them? Thanks for all the great information. I plan on hitting the Columbia on Sunday near Kalama to nail a Springer or two. Dale
A: Dale, I keep them in the brine and in a refrigerator. Good luck on the springer trip. Capt. John

click here to go back to the Ask the Pros main page