While we do catch salmon from shore, right at camp in Alaska, most of the king salmon we catch on the Nushagak River are from a boat. Because king salmon often travel and hold in schools, when the bite turns on, multiple hookups can occur in a very short time. For this reason we take great care in organizing our boats in order to optimize the overall efficiency.
From all of us at Alaska King Salmon Adventures on Alaska’s Nushagak River, and everyone at Three Rivers Marine in Washington state, here are some tips that have helped us when it comes to boat organization. Keeping your gear clean organized will maximize the number of king salmon we catch. These setups work well for us wherever we fish for salmon, be it in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho or elsewhere.
Many of the specialized accessories mentioned below that allow for optimal boat organization are available at www.3riversmarine.com. Good luck out there!
Loading Up The Boat
Before hitting the river, take time to properly load your boat. What’s meant by this is that all the gear is safely stored, easily accessible and properly balanced. Balance is important in smaller sleds and drift boats.
Make sure tackle boxes are in a place that, when the boat moves, they won’t be upended. Rods, nets and coolers should be out of the way of anchor ropes. Bow lines should not be covered by clothes or tackle. Lifejackets should be in easy reach. Everything should be simple to access by both the boat operator and those who are fishing.
If you know specific techniques will be applied that day, set up the boat
accordingly to make certain there is nothing in the way to inhibit anglers. The last thing you want is people stepping over the extra oar, tackle boxes, coolers and other bulky items, as sudden shifts in weight can turn a normal day on the river into potential disaster, especially in a drift boat.
Once the boat is loaded with all the essential gear, hop in and make sure it’s what you envision. Sit or stand at each person’s spot and confirm that all is in order. Then, as soon as you hit the water, do the same. A boat balances much differently on water than on the trailer, and it may be necessary to make a few quick changes before everyone loads into the boat.
By taking the time to ensure balanced, safe loading of a boat before hitting the river, you’ll spend less time jostling things around throughout the day, less time looking for needed gear and more time fishing.
There are a variety of bait box contraptions and separate leader dispensers out there, but finding a setup that includes both can be a real time-saver. One that features an easy-to-access bait box where the lid flips open and closed, to keep water and sunlight out, and holds leaders, below, is ideal.
By pre-cutting a number of baits directly into the box, re-baiting is quick and easy. On the bottom of the tray, upwards of three dozen pre-tied hooks can be wrapped around the insulation; they can even be pre-rigged with desired drift bobbers.
By having the leader pre-tied and ready to go, all you have to do when a leader is lost–or it becomes frayed and needs replacing–is spool off a leader, tie it on
and re-bait. Because the bait is so close to the leader, the changeout is fast.
The variety of scent-based products that have been developed for salmon anglers has never been greater. From gels to sprays, liquids to pastes, companies are providing fishermen with what they need to catch more fish.
Whether you choose to apply scents to eggs, shrimp or other baits, lures, plugs or drift bobbers, there’s no doubting the effectiveness of adding odor. Scents can be applied to baits during the curing or brining process, or once on the river.
It’s a good idea to bring several types of scents along. Placing them all in a single container, one that fits easily in the boat and can be readily accessed, will increase the likelihood of their being used and will ensure cleanliness.
Having a storage system whereby sinkers can be easily accessed, without making too much of a clutter in the boat, will increase your fishing time. Such a system can take on many forms, and what you desire comes down to personal preference and fishing styles.
One approach is to take a few small, plastic containers and fill them with what weights I’ll need for that day. Position these in the gunnel trays, on the bow, in drink holder slots or wherever they need to be for easy access.
If room is not a concern, use larger containers. Shallow, slotted boxes or trays can also hold weights. These make for quick and easy access, as weights are in plain sight and simple to identify. Don’t use these if running rough water.
Another approach is to color-code your sinkers. If you have a range of sinkers you’ll be using, you may want color the numbers of the 1-ouncers red, the 2-ouncers blue, the 3-ouncers black, and so on. This means you can put them all in one container and simply look at the colors to quickly identify what you need. A stainless box with multiple compartments is another clean, easy option.
One of the biggest time savers when on the water is having easy access to knives, scissors, pliers and a file. If you have to dig through your tackle box every time you need one of these tools, or take time out from your fishing to pass an item to a buddy, you’re loosing valuable time. Make an effort to have them handy and within reach at a moment’s notice.
A great, simple setup is a rack that bolts to the transom, or anywhere you wish. The rack is made from UHMW, a thick plastic material. Carved into the four-inch wide, ten-inch long (or whatever size you like) piece are six to eight slots. Each slot is sized to specifically fit the aforementioned tools.
These racks can be screwed on virtually anywhere you desire, be it in a sled or drift boat, and their size can vary to meet your personal needs. To maximize the efficiency for everyone in the boat, consider mounting two or three racks so everyone has quick, easy access to these tools.
When it comes to catching more king salmon, organizing your gear is a good place to start. After all, the more time we spend with our lines in the water, the better the chance of latching in to that prized king salmon.