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​Chetco sets itself up for plunking

ast week, the Chetco River's high flows set the river up for picture perfect plunking conditions. Last Monday, the Chetco rose to 18,800 cubic feet per second.

This coming weekend, the river has been predicted to drop to 4,600 cfs. And if the river keeps dropping and clearing, it should be in perfect condition for anglers to launch their drift boats and either side-drift Puff Balls and roe or pull plugs like Mag Lip 3.5 and 3.0 later this week. But for this weekend, it is looking like plunking conditions, so what better picture to use than of a perfectly-rigged Spin-N-Glo setup. It's a relatively inexpensive rig to tie up. Here's how to rig it up and price it out.

 The author's favorite plunking setup for winter steelhead for fishing the Rogue River, Chetco River or Smith River. Photo by Larry Ellis
The author's favorite plunking setup for winter steelhead for fishing the Rogue River, Chetco River or Smith River. Photo by Larry Ellis
Start out using 25-pound test mainline coming from your reel. Thread your line through a plastic slider (50 cents) then through a 6 mm bead (a nickel) and then tie your main line off to a size 5 barrel swivel (maybe 25 cents).

From there you will want to tie a 12- to 15-pound monofilament leader ranging from 18 to 30 inches long. Tie one end to a size 1/0 Gamakatsu octopus hook (75 cents) using an egg loop knot. You will need to slide down another 6 mm bead (another nickel) onto the top of the hook to act as a bearing against the next rapidly-spinning item, a size 4 Flame Chartreuse Spin-N-Glo ($1.50).

The Spin-N-Glo in the picture shows Mylar wings but I prefer the white wings for the Chetco.

Now tie the other end of your leader to the other end of your size 5 barrel swivel.

The next item is the most expensive, a lead sinker ranging between 5 and 12 ounces (a couple of dollars). The photograph shows a pancake sinker, and these work quite well, but you can also use a pyramid sinker as well.

So far the whole rig has cost $5.10 (at the most). Not a bad deal if you ask me.

The picture also shows a small cluster of roe inside the egg loop of the hook, but if you don't have any roe, no worries -- you do not need to use roe for this setup to work. When you catch your first female steelhead of the year, you can celebrate by curing up the roe and you'll have enough bait for plenty of trips to come.

When you get to the spot of your choice, you will want to look for a current seam that is relatively close to the bank. Steelhead will be running up these current seams.

A current seam is an area of turbulent water that coincides with an area of less turbulent or even fairly calm water. Current seams are a steelhead's travel lanes, so make sure you learn to locate these gems.

Steelhead will be traveling up the sides of the river where the current is not all that strong and avoiding the turbulent water in the middle of the river.

Make sure that your hooks are nice and sharp. When you drag the hook point across your thumbnail, it should get imbedded into the nail. If the hook point slips across your thumbnail, then you will need to sharpen it.

Good diamond hook sharpeners can be bought for under $10.00.

Don't forget that counting today, you've only got 6 days left to use your 2015 license. Starting this coming Friday, anglers will have to fork up the bucks to buy a 2016 fishing license and a combined angling tag.

A lot of people are making it easier on themselves by getting their items in separate months. For example, I bought my fishing license in December of 2015. I will get my tag in January. These smaller installments make things a lot easier on the pocketbook.

Happy New Year and tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for "On the Water" for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise. Posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon.

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