Fishing the Frontier

By on May 29, 2015

Each week one of the Salmon University experts answers reader questions in our “Ask a Pro” feature. This week’s questions are answered by Tom Nelson. Submit your own question here.

Q: I’m going to purchase a downrigger for my Arima boat soon, but I’m not sure what to buy, and would like some advice from you. A friend of mine uses a Cannon mini mag that has power up and power down option. He said he tried to use a Scotty that has a brake/clutch system for lowering down the ball and felt like the ball was going to go down to fast to be able to control it effectively. Do you agree with him that the brake system is hard to control while freespooling your line on your reel at the same time? Would you recomend that I purchase a power up/power down system? If so, do you have any suggestions. I plan on using 15 lb. balls. Sincerely – Denny

A: Perhaps your friend is a little mechanically disadvantaged. It’s easy to control the rate of the drop with a Scotty Downrigger. I could have any model of downrigger available on my boat and have chosen Scotty as the best on the market.

The advantages to Scotty Downriggers are:

1) local repair shops if something does go wrong

2) lifetime warranty on everything except the snap and the cable

3) one of the fastest retrieves on the market

4) the ability to pull a 15 lb ball with no strain on the motor.

Some downriggers that power down not only are creating a draw on your battery but on both retrieval and drop are creating a negative charge on your boat. Negative charges repel salmon.

If you do purchase another downrigger, be sure to read your downrigger operating manual before using, because most downriggers will not pull a 15 lb ball without damaging the motor.

Q: For the past 4-5 years we’ve been going up to Roche Harbor with a bunch of guys and 2-3 boats, renting a cabin, and filling our freezers. This is at the last weekend of Sept or first weekend of October. The regular routine is to drop some crab pots on the way out, make a beeline to Pile Pt, troll the morning bite then go back to the Lime Kiln or the south end of Henry Island in the afternoons. I’d love to know if there’s a more productive spot or two at that time of year. We do get our limits and get to watch the orcas, but I would like to try something else. Thanks, Eric

A: The areas you identified (Pile Pt. & Lime Kilm Pt.) are the best spots to fish without crossing into Canadian waters. If you just want a change of scenery, after September 30th Decatur Island and Rosario Strait open up. If you are fishing before then, the northwest shore of Orcas Island will produce fish. However, your regular places are the two prime spots in all of the San Juan Islands.

image of Roche Harbor courtesy David Hwang (CC BY 2.0)

Tom Nelson
Tom Nelson is the publisher of Known throughout the Pacific Northwest as the “Dean of Saltwater Fishing,” he has helped develop and test tackle and gear for Scotty, Pro-Troll and Silver Horde, is a regular speaker at area sports shows, has taught more than 5,000 students how to fish during his classes at western Washington community colleges, and is the co-founder of the Puget Sound Anglers.