After fishing cut bait for three years with very limited success, I am not sure what made me decide to try it again. Maybe it was the wintertime seminars and hearing how well everyone else seemed to be doing with it. Maybe it was because I knew it was a presentation that worked all over and I just couldn’t get it to work. Whatever the reasons, when I set up my new boat with only two riggers I really wanted to figure it out and get it to work for me.
To start out I bought a couple of meat rigs and I caught a few fish using them. Shortly thereafter, I went to Kenosha to fish for Coho and everything was working except for the riggers. I thought “what the heck” and threw a meat rig out on one; they weren’t doing anything up to that point anyway. I don’t think I even had it down all the way and I was hooked up! This became our hottest rod along with a dipsey I set a meat rig out on after the rigger success; unfortunately those were the only meat rigs I had with me that day. This is when I gained the biggest part in fishing meat, CONFIDENCE. This confidence was further enhanced as I spent a day fishing lakers using meat. It out fished the old reliable stuff, don’t get me wrong you still had to work for your fish but meat really worked. I had proven to myself, I could catch fish with meat, and not only that I could be productive fishing herring!
Here is what I came up with for fishing meat.
I wanted it really dummy proof, because I didn’t know much about fishing it or what to look for when I committed to it. To start I bought Opti Triple Threat teaser rigs along with the Pro-Troll Rotary Salmon Killers so I wouldn’t have to tune them. I experimented with different flashers and colors but what worked for me best was sticking with natural colors. Blues, greens, and whites were colors I normally ran. My thinking was if it took the scent of the meat or the reality of the flash to draw fish into the spread, I didn’t want some odd colors driving them away.
I ran a mix of Inticers, Spin Doctors, and EChip flashers, all of which worked for me. I bought my herring strips from a local place in Green Bay and threw them in the freezer. I know everyone says to brine them, but I wanted this dummy proofed so I just threw them in the freezer and took a couple packs out when going fishing. By the time I put them in the water, they were thawed.
I typically go out in the morning and run a normal spread of mixed baits without any cut bait presentations. An hour or two after the sun comes up and fishing slows, out comes the herring strips. During daylight hours I would run one diver per side on wire, each one would have cut bait, one on a plain head and the other on a teaser rig. I would vary colors for each side and stagger the depths till I found a combination that produced.
Normally, I would have the depth that worked and would stagger the unproductive one deeper. I would then set a meat and teaser rig on one of my riggers, keeping that the higher of my two riggers. The other rigger typically had a SWR rig on it with either a J-plug or a spoon. That is my simple herring spread; I keep it clutter free near the boat when I’m running cut bait. I add lead core, copper, and flat lines on boards away from the boat to target steelhead and kings using mostly spoons or plugs.
This is a very simple spread; use it as the basis to develop your confidence in a cut bait program that will catch fish for you. As always you need to remember you must locate fish, target the right depth, and give it some time to develop your technique. However, in my experience fishing cut bait can catch fish all day long when other presentations have gone to sleep.