the Tailout July 2020 - Page 22

Prawns: The ‘Swiss Army Knife’of Baits THE VERSATILITY OF PRAWNS, AND EASE OF CURING THEM, MAKES THEM ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR SALMON BAITS AROUND. STORY AND PHOTOS BY ERIC MARTIN WHILE SALMON ARE CURRENTLY FLOODING waters all up and down the West Coast, anglers everywhere are searching for the best bait options to help fill their freezers with prime fillets. But don’t start hoarding herring or counting your eggs jars just yet. Those oil-laden red fillets hint at yet another highly effective bait option for targeting salmon and steelhead alike. The highly soughtafter, rich, red-orange pigmentation of salmon and steelhead flesh is caused by a diet of organisms rich in carotenoids such as krill, shrimp and prawns. Given this obvious affinity for shellfish, it only makes sense to use them as bait. Prawns are the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of baits, and what makes them so absolutely deadly on both salmon and steelhead is that they offer unmatched versatility, durability, availability and scent, while also proving to be extremely cost effective. Unlike herring or eggs, which can have a very narrow range of usage applications, prawns can quite literally be fished with all popular methods used to chase salmon and steelhead from bank or boat. When water conditions favor bait, prawns can be trolled, plunked, drift fished, back-bounced, fished with divers or suspended under bobbers. But when tactics change over to hardware such as spinners or plugs, don’t put those prawns away just yet! By sliding a few beads, a quick change clevis and spinner blade on your leader above the prawn, you now have a trolling rigging featuring the powerful scent of a quality bait, with the attention grabbing thump and flash of a spinner. Do you like to run plugs with sardine wraps? Give prawn tails a try. Simply take a tail, split lengthwise about half the distance from the fat end to the tip of the tail, center around the belly eyelet on a plug and secure with a few wraps of stretchy thread. They won’t get bit, they’ll get eaten. Prawns are without question one of the most versatile baits I have ever fished. Durability is another key feature of a well-cured or brined prawn that can be lacking with other baits. Strong current and warm water temperatures wreak havoc on herring and eggs, requiring you to spend more time re-baiting, less time actually fishing, and more money at the end of 20 SALMON THE TAILOUT & STEELHEAD JOURNAL 38