A.J. Cwiok’s learning curve: Just in time for the comeback of big Chinook


A.J. Cwiok had a very fruitful stretch last week as Chinook came on shore at Waukegan. | Provided

A.J Cwiok has put in the time and experimentation to learn how to catch returning Chinook in the fall and it pays off in a year when Chinook are making a comeback.

In the wee hours Friday, A.J. Cwiok messaged, “Kings are in Waukegan hot and heavy! Fished solo today from the rocks and hit my limit in four hours!!”

This year has been remarkable for a rebound in big Chinook, not in numbers but size. The fall shore return was much anticipated, especially by Cwiok, who honed shoreline king fishing to a science.

Cwiok, a senior at Grand Valley State University majoring in marketing and logistics, grew up in Naperville.

His real major might be fishing. He also works as a first mate around Illinois and Grand Haven: Storm Warning Charters, School Of Fish Charters, KingFisher Charters and Danel Sportfishing.

“There is one particular part of the fishing season that excites me the most: The fall Chinook run creates sleep deprivation for countless boat and shore anglers alike who have to score while the gettin’ is good,” he emailed.

True this year more than in decades.

“I started fishing the Chinook run from the south rocks out of Waukegan about six years ago,” he emailed. “Each year I’ve switched up tactics and fine-tuned a few baits to where I feel like I’ve really dialed everything in with my program this year.”

So far he has night fished for Chinook five times, usually with three others.

“We have landed 25 Chinook,” he emailed. “Personally, I have landed 11 out of the 25. The largest this year was 27.43 pounds, caught by my brother Tommy Cwiok and my largest this season was just over 23 pounds.”

Here’s a condensed version of how.

“The most important factor and what I pay attention to the most when casting are the angles that I’m casting at,” he emailed. “You can be throwing the hottest bait on the market but if your presentation isn’t angled with the right flow of the current then your hookup rates will plummet greatly.

“The second most important factor when fishing for kings is the speed of your retrieval. Slow, slow, slow and if you think you’re going slow enough, bring it down a notch. The kings aren’t in there to feed, they are there to spawn and die. The slow presentation is meant to keep the bait in front of their face for as long as possible to create a reaction bite out of aggravation from a rattle in a body bait or from a slow wobble of spoon being teased in front of their face.

He found two consistent baits: No. 9 Berkley Flicker Shad in white and chartreuse and Moonshine casting spoons. He switches the treble hooks on Flicker Shads for fishing kings to No. 2 double-strength Gamakatsu hooks. He adds an extra split ring because it “prevents the fish from getting leverage on the bait” and “enhances the …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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