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Thursday, April 7, 2011

The secret lure

Secret lure? I'll never tell. 

If I said it once I said it a million times, I need another secret lure like I need a hole in the head. 
Don't get me wrong. Secret lures can be the secret to good fishing. 
Trouble is the effectiveness of  a secret lure can be time sensitive, depending upon run timing, clarity of the water and the number of people using the secret lure, that can make it not a secret anymore.  
Typically, about the time you find a secret lure it'll stop catching fish and you have to find another one.
It can be a very frustrating experience to shop for a secret lure in a tackle store. That's because in any display of fishing lures there are the empty spaces that indicate certain items have sold out. Those were the lures that caught fish, the ones you wanted to buy. The ones that aren't there. 
You can go ahead and ask if they'll sell you the lures that aren't there but chances are all you'll get is attitude.
The best way to get a secret lure is to find one on the water where it was fished. 
One day I noticed a funny colored plug floating down the middle of a smooth stretch of river. Then I saw a large boil and a silver flash of a steelhead just underneath the plug! 
If a fish would bite at a plug floating on the surface I wondered if it would work on the bottom of the river. It did.
That plug caught fish until the paint was eaten off it. It kept catching fish, even after it was chewed down to bare plastic. It didn't matter what color the plug was. 
It must have been the action or the shape of it the fish liked. Sometimes the secret of a secret lure remains unknown. I will mourn the day that plug is lost.   
The secret lures you find generally share several identifying features such as bent hooks, scratched paint and maybe some broken line still tied on. These are clues the lure was badly abused. It's the one you're looking for. 
Plugs and bobbers can be found where they washed into back eddies with the flotsam. Sinking lures are generally on the bottom of the river, which can make them tougher to get. 
The rewards can be great. 
A root-wad stuck in a good fishing hole can snag enough lures to start a tackle store. 
Retrieving this treasure trove is not without its' hazards. Just ask the guy who hooked the winch on the front of his pickup to the small end of a gear-grabbing snag in the Hoh River. This was back before this sort of thing was illegal. 
Things went OK at first. Then the big end of the snag caught the current and started dragging the truck toward the setting sun, sideways.  
It might be safer to look for secret lures in some of the tree branches overhanging our more popular fishing holes. There's are so many spinners, spoons, jigs, floats and colored lines in the trees it looks like they were decorated for Christmas. 
Folks suggested I prune the limbs to get the lures back. Forgetting, I do all my tree pruning with a shotgun and with the price of shells these days, no way.   
No doubt the best way to find a new secret lure is get it out of the mouth of a fish that you caught.  You may have to catch many hundreds of steelhead to find a secret lure with this method but nobody said it was easy.

This column is part of a study guide for “Fishing The Olympic Peninsula,” a course held this spring quarter as a Port Angeles Community Class at Peninsula College. The PA Community Classes will be discontinued as of summer quarter. I warned PDN garden columnist Andrew May I would ruin it for everyone.  

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