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Salmon is a very popular and sought-after fish for its taste and nutritional value. It is challenging to catch as it is a fast and powerful fish. There are a number of species of salmon, namely chinook, coho, sockeye, pink salmon, and chum salmon. To catch salmon, you have to learn their habits, develop your fishing skills, be patient, and have the right setup. In this article, we will discuss how to catch salmon to help you be more successful when fishing for this tasty fish.
Table of Contents
1. Chinook Salmon
The Chinook salmon is the largest salmon on the West coast and is called the “king salmon.” They can sometimes grow more than 40 pounds. Most Chinook spawns in gravel beds and can be found in medium-sized or larger waters. They can be found in Alaska, western Canada, Oregon, Idaho, Washington State, and northern California.
2. Coho Salmon
Coho is a popular gamefish that are common in coastal streams. They usually migrate into upper watersheds and smaller tributaries to spawn. Coho is also known for its ability to jump and likes jumping on the end of a line. Coho is found in Alaska, down to California, the Great Lakes, along the Pacific coast, and in Maine, Maryland, and Louisiana.
3. Sockeye Salmon
Sockeye is what many know as salmon. They are smaller than chinooks and coho. They can be found in northern Oregon, California, and Alaska. Sockeye has a smaller form called kokanee which is similar in size to most trout. They usually spawn in mountain lakes and large rivers.
4. Pink Salmon
Pink salmon are not as large as chinook or coho, yet will put up a good fight. They can be found in Alaska, Washington, California, and Canada. The makes feature a humpback during the spawning season.
5. Chum Salmon
Chum are found in northern Oregon up to Alaska. Chum are bigger than sockeye and pink salmon but are about the same length as coho. Chum features canine-like teeth during the spawn. Chum are not the tastiest salmon and are often fed to working dogs. Chum will put up a good fight therefore be ready for a fight. They spawn in many areas that the other salmon species spawn in, but they like to stick closer to the ocean in low-gradient rivers and streams.
How To Catch Salmon
1. Drift Fishing
Drift fishing is one of the popular fishing techniques used by anglers to fish for salmon. When drift fishing, you cast your line upstream and let it drift down through the run. As it is drifting downward, you begin to slowly reel in the line. If you don’t get a strike, the process is repeated until you get strikes. Drift fishing is usually done on land like on the shore.
With drift fishing, you want to weigh your setup so it bounces along the bottom at the speed that the current is moving. When drift fishing, you want to cover from the shore closest to you to the shore that is the furthest from you. Also, from the upstream end of the run to the downstream end of the run.
An 8 1/2- or 9-foot rod rated for a 15-30 pound line with a baitcasting reel or a spinning reel will work for drift fishing. Use a 20-25 pound line for larger fish like Chinook salmon. Use a 10-15 pound line for smaller fish like pink salmon.
When you fish from a boat, you can implement the trolling fishing technique. To implement trolling, the boat has to be constantly moving, either upstream or downstream. When salmon move with the current of a river or stream, trolling is effective in catching them. There are three main boating techniques when trolling. They are diver trolling, down rigger trolling, and motor mooching.
Plunking is similar to drift fishing with the exception that your line is cast into an area or migratory path and allowed to anchor in one spot. Plunking can be done from the shore or on an anchored boat and is a good fishing technique for beginners. The line is kept in the spot until it gets a strike or you make a setup change.
4. Bobber or Float Fishing
When water is moving very slowly or it is stationary, then bobber or float fishing is ideal. You can use rods that are 10 to 12 feet in length for float fishing. Additionally, spectra lines are ideal as they don’t stretch and they float. Use a sliding float, a swivel, and some weight to pull the line through the float. Also, use a 12-24 inches leader to bait or lure. You can use a “bobber stop” and small beads are used to set the float at the depth at which you want to fish for salmon.
Salmon Fishing Tips
1. Salmon are born in freshwater rivers and streams but move to the ocean where they live most of the time.
2. To prepare for spawning, salmon will return to freshwater rivers and streams.
3. Drift fishing is one technique used to catch salmon.
4. Trolling can also be used to fish for salmon when fishing from a boat.
5. Plunking can also be used to fish for salmon.
6. Keep your hooks sharp. Catching a salmon will be difficult if your hooks are dull because salmons have a thick and tough jawline.
7. Salmon prefer low-lighting conditions, therefore it is best for your bait to have something flashy to attract salmon that is in deeper and darker waters.
8. Use a red line. Color disappears the deeper it goes under water and the color red disappears in water at 15 feet deep. This feature of the color red makes it ideal for fishing as the red fishing line will appear invisible to fish at deeper depths and your bait will appear more lively. It must be noted that only sockeye salmon can see red.
9. Overcast days are the best days to go fishing for salmon as they like low-lighting conditions. Besides overcast days, dawn and dusk are the other best times to fish for salmon.
10. Peak fishing times are one hour before or after high or low tide.
11. The best bait for salmon fishing is roe (fish eggs).
12. Besides your regular permit to fish, you will also need an additional permit to legally fish for salmon.
13. Salmon is most active early in the morning or evening hours. Therefore, fish for salmon during these times for best results.
How To Catch Salmon In A River
1. Drift Fishing
Use the drift fishing technique when you are fishing for salmon on a river. With drift fishing, you cast your line upstream and let it drift downward. You slowly reel it in as it drifts downward. if you get no strike, you repeat the process until you get strikes.
2. Bobber or Float Fishing
If you are on a boat and the water is calm, you can use the bobber or float fishing technique to fish for salmon. Use rods that are 10 to 12 feet in length for float fishing. Also, spectra lines are good for salmon fishing as they don’t stretch and they float. Use a sliding float, a swivel, and some weight to pull the line through the float. Also, use a 12-24 inches leader to bait or lure. You can use a “bobber stop” and a small bead are used to set the float at the depth at which you want to fish for salmon.
Salmon Fishing For Beginners
1. Drift Fishing
As a beginner salmon angler, drift fishing is one of the techniques that can be used to catch salmon. It is mostly done on land and carried out by casting your line upstream and allowing it to freely drift downward. As your line is drifting, you slowly reel it in. This process is repeated until you are successful in getting a strike from a salmon. Drifting is good for beginners as it is easy to implement and after you gain some experience, you can move on to other salmon fishing methods.
Another way to fish for salmon when you are a beginner is to use the technique called trolling. When fishing for salmon on a boat, you can move the boat up and downstream instead of keeping it in one location. Trolling can help you catch salmon as usually moves with the current of a river or stream instead of staying stationary. When trolling, there are three main boating techniques that can be used to fish for salmon. They are diver trolling, down rigger trolling, and motor mooching.
Plunking is similar to drift fishing but instead of casting the line over a wide area, you cast your line in one area that may be known to inhabit salmon or cast it in a migratory path. You wait for salmon to strike once the line is cast or reel it in to change the setup. Plunking can be done from the shore or from an anchored boat.
How To Catch Salmon From The Shore
1. Drift Fishing
When you fish from the shore, you can use the drift fishing technique. This fishing technique involves casting your line upstream and letting it drift with the current downward. As your line drifts, you slowly reel it in anticipating a strike. If you get a strike, you reel it in. If you don’t get a strike, you repeat the technique until you get strikes.
Plunking is another fishing technique used to catch salmon. Plunking is very similar to drifting except that your line is stationary in one location or migratory path. It is not drifting with the current. The line remains in the same spot until a strike is registered or you change the setup.
Best Bait & Lures For Salmon
1. Salmon Eggs (Roe)
2. Cut Bait
4. Winged Bobbers
5. Kiwifish or Flatfish Lures
How To Catch Salmon In The Ocean
You can use the trolling fishing technique when you fish from the ocean. With trolling, the boat is always moving upstream or downstream. As the salmon move with the current, it is ideal to use trolling to catch salmon. There are three main boating techniques when trolling. They are diver trolling, down rigger trolling, and motor mooching.
Plunking can also be used to catch salmon in the ocean. When you are in a boat, you can implement plunking by keeping the line in one area or migratory path and allowing it to anchor in one spot. It is kept in the same area until you get a strike. Plunking is similar to drift fishing except that the line is not moving with the current.
3. Bobber or Float Fishing
The bobber of float fishing technique can also be used to fish on the ocean. When the water is barely moving or stationary, this fishing technique can be used. Use rods that are 10 to 12 feet in length for float fishing. Additionally, spectra lines are ideal as they don’t stretch and they float.
Use a sliding float, a swivel, and some weight to pull the line through the float. Also, use a 12-24 inches leader to bait or lure. You can use a “bobber stop” and a small bead are used to set the float at the depth at which you want to fish for salmon.
Salmon Fishing Setup
1. Drift Fishing
Drift fishing gear includes an 8 1/2- or 9-foot rod rated for a 15-30 pound line with a baitcasting reel or a spinning reel. Use a 20-25 pound line for larger fish like Chinook. For smaller fish like pink salmon, use a 10-15 pound line.
A standard setup for salmon usually consists of a snap swivel at the end of the mainline, a leader from 12-48 inches to a single hook with egg loop, a corky on the line above the hook, and yarn on the hook.
For plunking, use an 8 1/2- to the 9-foot extra-heavy rod. The main line should be 40-60 pound monofilament or spectra.
Use the standard drift fishing rod with a 20-25 pound line. Additionally, use a three-way swivel at the end of the mainline, a 12-36 inches dropper line and weight off the center of the three-way swivel, and a 4-8 feet foot leader with twin hooks.
4. Bobber or Float Fishing
Use rods of 10-12 inches for float fishing. Use spectra lines as they don’t stretch and they float. Use a sliding float, a swivel, some weight to pull the line through the float, and a 12 to 24 inches leader to a bait or lure.
The Bottom Line
Salmon is a fast and powerful fish. These attributes make it challenging to catch. However, with patience and using the right fishing technique, you can be successful in fishing for salmon. In this article, we discussed the techniques you can use to successfully catch salmon. If you also fish for walleye, then you can read the walleye fishing tips to learn more tips on how to catch walleye.