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Fishing Techniques

Fishing techniques for lakes and ponds

There are lots (and lots) of ways to fish, but three of the easiest ways to fish in lakes are:

  • bobberSuspending bait under a bobber. Start with a piece of worm or a little PowerBait or similar product on a bait hook. Attach a small lead weight just above the hook to help the bait sink, and add a bobber 1 ½ to 3 feet above the hook. Cast out to a likely spot and wait for the bobber to wiggle, dive or jerk. This is a good technique when fish are cruising nearer the surface or when you want to keep your bait and hook suspended above a weed bed.

  • Fishing with bait off the bottom. Sometimes fish are in deeper water and the bait needs to be down deep where the fish are. In this technique there is no bobber to suspend the bait. Instead the lead weight is attached about 1 ½ feet above the baited book and cast out. The lead weight will sink, but the bait will float up and hover 1 ½ feet above the bottom of the lake.

  • Retrieving a spinner or weighted fly. Spinners and weighted flies mimic small fish, leeches and other favorite fish food. When fishing a spinner or fly, cast it over “fishy” looking water. Let it sink for a minute then begin reeling it in (retrieving). Vary the amount of time you let the spinner or fly sink and the speed of the retrieve until you find the combination that catches fish.

  • Casting a dry fly. Dry flies can mimic adult aquatic insects emerging from the water, or terrestrial insects such as ants or termites that are blown off nearby vegetation into the water. Cast out a dry fly and wait. If a fish doesn’t take the fly after the first few minutes, pick it up and cast it again to a new spot.


Fishing techniques for rivers and streams

In moving water it is the current, instead of your retrieve, that will affect how your lure moves in the water. Some good fishing techniques for moving waters include:

  • River FishingCasting a spinner or spoon. Begin by casting the spinner or spoon slightly upriver and reel in any slack line. As the current carries the spinner down river, hold as much fishing line off the water as you can to achieve a natural “drift.” Once the spinner has swung toward the shore and is straight down river, begin a moderate retrieve.

  • Drifting a worm or artificial bait (PowerBait, for example) with enough split shot to get within a few inches of the bottom. Sometimes adding a bobber will help keep track of where the bait is drifting.

  • Casting a wet fly. The easiest way to fish a wet fly is the wet-fly swing. Cast downstream at a 45-degree angle and let the fly line (and fly) swing across the stream until they are directly down river from you. Count to 10 before you recast – fish are more likely to take a fly hanging above them than to chase one whizzing by in the current.

  • Casting a dry fly. Cast the fly upstream at a 45-degee angle and let it drift back with the current. Take in the slack fly line as the fly drifts toward you. Cast again when the fly begins to move faster than the current or starts to skate across the top of the water.

NOTE: Where a river slows and deepens into a pool with very little current, you can use many of the same fishing techniques you would use in a small pond or other stillwater.


Fishing techniques for steelhead and salmon

Bobber and jig/bait. A good technique for both bank and beginning steelhead anglers. A weighted jig or bait is tied below a floating bobber and drifted in the current. When the bobber dives, stops or wobbles, set the hook!

Spinners. Many anglers are familiar with the cast and retrieve method, but those that master the cast and swing presentation often have better luck with steelhead. This involves casting the spinner slightly upstream and letting if drift naturally in the current and then “swing” toward the bank.

Wherever you go, be sure to check the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for the daily bag limits, bait restrictions or other fishing guidelines for the specific lake, river or stream you’ll be fishing.


Caring for your catch

Catch and release (sometimes referred to as live release) helps to preserve a valuable resource for other anglers to enjoy in the future….

Keeping, cleaning, freezing

Clair with Rainbow TroutNot only are fish fun to catch, they are good eating too. There are many ways and hundreds of recipes to prepare fresh fish – baked, grilled or smoked; sweet, salty or spicy. Bring a cooler with ice to keep your catch as fresh as possible ‘til you get home.

Your catch should be cleaned and gutted as soon as possible. After removing the guts and gills, cut the kidney membrane along the backbone and scrape away the blood using your thumbnail or a spoon. Removing the internal organs and gills promptly helps prevent bacteria and blood clots from tainting or discoloring the meat.

If you don’t plan to eat your fish in a day or two, you’ll want to freeze it. Most freezing methods work best if you quick freeze the fish first – place uncovered fish on a sheet of aluminum foil in the freezer to freeze it as quickly as possible.

The best method for keeping fish in the freezer is to vacuum seal it, which protects the fish from freezer burn. Quick freeze the fish, then seal it in a vacuum seal bag. Vacuum sealed frozen fish should be eaten within three or four months.

Another way to protect fish from freezer burn is to freeze it in a block of ice. Quick freeze individual portions, place each in a zip lock freezer back, fill with water and freeze.

Finally, if you’re going to be eating the fishing within two weeks you can double wrap quick frozen fish tightly in plastic (squeeze out as much air as possible) and then in freezer paper.


Glossary: Key words to know

Hooks. Hooks come in an assortment of sizes and styles and must be kept sharp to be effective. If you plan to release your catch, or are helping children fish, bend down the barb to make it easier to remove. Choose the size of hook for the species of fish you are trying to catch and the type of bait you are using. Ask a seasoned angler or a bait and tackle dealer for suggestions.

Line. Fishing line comes in pound-test (the line size or strength). The larger the line size, the stronger it is. Match your fishing line to your rod and reel capacity and the species of fish you want to catch. Fly Fishing tippet is monofilament that comes on small spools and rate with the letter X, it also will show the pound test.

Sinkers. Sinkers are weights used to cast your bait, take bait to the bottom, hold bait in place, or keep your bobber upright. Sinkers are designed in several different shapes and sizes and are used for various types of fishing techniques.

Bobbers. Bobbers, floats and corks are used to keep your bait where fish are biting, keep bait off the bottom, and to indicate that you are getting a bite or strike.

To see other fishing related terms defined, please consult the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.


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