By Todd Daniels | 06/03/2013
The summer salmon opener here in Northwest Washington passed on Saturday, which means river kings are back on the menu. Over the years I’ve tossed eggs, shrimp and many other baits at them. Meanwhile, one technique that’s stuck with me recently is a cocktail, in which I use shrimp and eggs.
While steelhead will grab the cocktail, I use it primarily for kings. The kings are scent oriented and by merging the shrimp and eggs, you are dispersing more scent. The shrimp flavor is something salmon are accustomed to, as they naturally eat them in the ocean. Meanwhile, the eggs emit a different scent.
The cocktail provides the best of both worlds. You are triggering two different instincts, each scent driven, yet both for different reasons. The eggs are being smashed to kill, and the shrimp is trigging a feeding instinct. Regardless, using the cocktail can help entice more fish to bite.
Not every cocktail is created equal. Water clarity will dictate the size of the egg. For example, with three feet of visibility, I’ll use a quarter-size glob of eggs. For the shrimp, it’s best to use a piece that’s half the size of the diameter of the eggs. Place them both in the egg loop.
Note: When water visibility is fewer than three feet, I’ll increase those sizes. However, it is greater than three feet, it’s time to downsize further.
Making The Cocktail
Part 1: Eggs
When fishing for summer kings I mix pink and red FireCure. The recipe is pretty straightforward. Generally, it’s a half and half; half pink and half red FireCure, with 25 percent sugar added. The result is an egg that’s a lighter shade of red.
This isn’t the egg I use everyday of the year, but during the summer I’ve found it’s worked well. When you fish everyday on the river, for a month or two, you start doing some weird things. And, a subtle change can make all the difference in the world. This tweak helped my success last summer, and I’ll be turning to it again this year.
Mixing red and pink is fairly normal. The red cure is meant for the kings because the kings hone in on the red egg. Red triggers an anger strike and is one of the colors that pisses them off. Keep in mind, they are biting these eggs because they are trying to smash them to protect their own young. They aren’t eating it for food. That’s Salmon Biology 101. The shrimp, however, they’ll eat.
Part 2: Shrimp
When it comes to the shrimp I don’t mix cures. I’ll either use red or pink FireCure on them. In fact, I always have red and pink shrimp on the boat.
The cocktail it’s an easy, but effective method for targeting migrating salmon as they move upstream. It can be used anywhere salmon are found in rivers. This is one of several types of baits we use on a daily basis. Sometimes the fish will take just eggs and others they’ll grab the shrimp. The fish will tell you what they want.
Editor’s Note: Pautzke pro staffer Todd Daniels operates Tall Tails Guide Service. To learn more about his trips please visit talltailsguideservice.com