Catching salmon can be done from a boat or from the shore near rivers and creeks. Catching salmon is very fun because they are hard fighting fish that are great to keep and eat. The west coast of the united state is full of wild salmon that run from the San Joaquin river system in Californian near San Fransisco up to the northern regions of Alaska. There are five types of salmon that each have two names. The salmon types are kings or chinook, coho or silver, sockeye or red, pink or humpy and chum or dog salmon. There are also steelhead that can be caught in freshwater streams and lakes that look like salmon. Salmon run up streams to spawn at different times of year depending on the species and geographic location. Salmon runs start in early summer and continue entering streams into the late fall. Peak salmon activity is normally in the summer and you can use guide charts to help determine when salmon are running.
I have ran salmon charter boats in Alaska and fished for salmon in steams and creeks. Before fishing in Alaska I fished for freshwater salmon in the great lakes. The techniques are similar in both locations. From boats the most used technique is to troll with down riggers and use a hoochie rig with or without herring. In streams the techniques vary widely from flies to heavy spoons and spinners. Below I will discuss the best lures and baits to use for a boat and from shore for different types of salmon. It is also important to note there are lots of different rules and regulations about when, where and how you are allowed to fish for salmon so make user you read the local regulation books before going fishing.
Flasher with a Hoochie
Silver and chrome flashers and black and white flashers work are typically run lines below 50 feet. This is an 11 inch pro troll flasher with an EChip.
Green, orange and blue flashers are typically run on lines about 50 feet of water. The large size is a 11 inch hotspot flasher.
Hoochie skirts are run 18 to 36 inches behind a flasher. The hoochies can be used with or without herring as extra bait. A 4 3/4 inch hoochie is the size typically used.
An open eye hook is used so a barrel swivel can be added on the hoochie rig. This makes it so plug cut herring can spin and not tangle the line.
A double hook hoochie rig is a great idea when running herring on the rig. This makes it so the salmon is much more likely to get hooked on a short strike.
Several beads can be used to space the hoochie on the hook. Typically green beads are used.
A barrel or crane swivel should be used between the hook and the line to allow plug bait to spin without the line getting twisted.
Cork screw swivels size 2# connect the line on the pole to the flasher rig. A bead is typically placed before the swivel so it does not damage the eye of the fishing pole. This make taking the gear on and off much easier and can be done without having to cut lines. A snap swivel could server the same purpose but a corkscrew swivel is typically stronger.
Orang and pink Mepps #5 single hook spinners work amazing for catching salmon. Most people I see catching salmon near the mouths of rivers and streams are using one of these spinners. These are typically had to find with single hooks which is required for most salmon streams.
Blue fox spinners are also known for catching salmon. Personally I had more luck with the mepps spinners. These spinners typically come with treble hooks but also come with an open eye single hook. The treble hook can be cut off and the single hook can be put on with a pair of pliers.
Black and white dolly llama fly works good for coho salmon, pink, purple and green also work good. Make sure that weighted flies are allowed in the area that is being fished.
This fly is similar to a coho fly or Russian fly. These are known to be good at catching sockeye salmon.
Fly box comes with Sculpin flies, flesh flies and green MOAL leech flies. These can all work on silver salmon. The flesh fly is suppose to look like a piece of salmon flesh that broke off a rotting salmon that other salmon eat as it drifts down the stream.
Trout beads work great to catch rainbow trout and silver salmon.
Size 6 hook is a good hook size for salmon and trout.
Toothpicks work to hold the trout bead in place. Rubber bands can also be used as well but toothpicks are the easier method.
Spoons and Plugs
A pink Blue Fox Pixee spoon is great spoon for casting from the shore near the mouth of a river or stream. This is a heavy 7/8 ounce spoon and can cast further than spinners which is a huge advantage if the fish are breaking the surface far from shore.
Coho killer spoons work great when trolling. This spoon works with a short leader. The leader should be about 18 inches off the back of a flasher.
An orange J-9 or J-11 jointed rapala works great for trolling on a flat line without weight 100 or more yards behind the boat. This lure swims about 12 feet blow the surface and works great at catching coho salmon that are swimming near the surface.
Snagging treble hooks are typically allowed in salt water. Once salmon start to turn they can stop biting hooks. Using a snagging hook can then be a productive way to catch fish that you intend to keep and eat.
Other Salmon Gear.
When watching people use fish clubs it looks brutal and mean. It was not until I was salmon fishing that I realized it was in the fishes best interest when keeping a salmon. This fish can live a long time out of the water and a good hit on the head knocks the fish out for the bleeding process. It also make it much safer to handle the fish and remove the hook.
Yellow plastic fish club. This is a 16 inch 1.1 pound club.
Black AFTCO fish bat. This is a 19 inch 1.3 pound club.
Wood fish club with a gaff hook. This is useful if you do not have a net because the gaff can be used bring the fish to land in a stream. Obviously this is only done when keeping the fish. This is a 32 inch 1.4 pound club and gaff.
Scotty electric downrigger. This is what is typically used on charter boats.
Scotty hand crank downrigger. These work well and have a less chance of breaking or having problems than electric downriggers.
Stacker clip. This allows a second pole to be set on one downrigger. The metal clip is placed on the rigger wire typically 20 feet or more above the first rig.
A 12 pound downrigger is typically used for salmon fishing. A 15 pound ball is useful when the fishing depth is more than 100 feet. This is typically the case when fishing for king salmon.
The dipsy diver is a way to get lines down deep and to the side of the boat. A spoon or flasher with a hoochie can be used on the dipsy diver.
Types of Salmon
Female silver salmon with eggs caught on a spoon. Coho salmon typically live four years. One year in freshwater as baby fish and three years in salt water before returning to spawn.
Male silver salmon starting to turn. The kype is the hook structure of the lower jaw. The color change means that the salmon is starting to turn and is not a bright silver anymore. This salmon is just starting to turn and the meat would still be great to eat.
This is also a male silver salmon that is starting to turn pink. This fish is also still good to eat.
Chum or dog salmon that is still bright silver and was caught in the intercostal of Alaska before the salmon reached the stream. Chum salmon live three to five years.
Female sockeye salmon that is bright red. This fish has turned to much and is no longer good to eat. Sockeye salmon usually live four years. Spending one or two years in fresh water are young salmon and two or three years in saltwater before returning to spawn.
Female pink or humpy salmon. This salmon is very turned and if it were a male salmon it would have a large hump on its back. Pink salmon only live for two years.
This is a male king salmon. King salmon live up to eight years but on average live three to four years.
Here is a identification chart showing how to tell the difference between all the types of salmon.
Thanks for visiting Global Fishing Reports. I hope these suggestions help you catch more salmon!
If you have any suggestions for top salmon lures and baits, leave a comment below!