Ocean & River Salmon Fishing Tips & Tricks Part 1

Trolling for Salmon Series of Blogs

There has always been and seems to be a growing demographic in the fishing world. New anglers or seasoned anglers whom are searching for more hookups with a hard fighting salmon. Maybe we are fishing a new body of water or the same in cut on the bottom at 140 feet that we have fished for years. Among fisherman there always seems to be an overwhelming desire to feel that tug more often, as we all love a screaming reel and a rod doubled over.

If you talk to 20 different fishermen fishing the same stretch, it is very possible to hear 20 different ways that they believe is the secret way to fish it. Then you watch them and typically will see all of them hookup maybe a few more then others, but there will be fish caught. Then inevitably you will see a boat trolling through that can’t seem to hook a fish if their life depended on it. Are they doing everything wrong? Yes, no, maybe, but probably not. The next time, that same boat is catching fish and no one else is. “So”, what is the key or the secret to catching more salmon on a consistent basis? Below I talk about some of things we do to try keep in the fish.

I’m going to talk about fishing salmon all over the Pacific Northwest, up the coast through BC and up to Southeast Alaska. From Northern California to Alaska there are opportunities to get in on some good salmon fishing. That said, numbers are in turmoil, so it is even more important that we make the most out of our time on the water. But never forget the joy of fishing is the time on the water, not just the tug on the other end of the line.

So for a first tip or trick that I want to talk is the equipment that we fish with that gets us to the fish. Now in the Puget sound and a few other areas around the PNW, if you want steady hookups and consistent fishing throughout the different fishing seasons. Then learning how to fish with downriggers is a must so you can stay at a consistent depth. Now if we go north through BC and up through SE Alaska downriggers can and do become less of a necessary tool to catch Salmon. Mostly because fish run higher in the water column up there, then they do for comparison in the Puget Sound where you can be hooking salmon consistently even up to 250 feet of water. Do you have to fish that deep, no, but I will say that the consistent depth that we like to fish is 80-150 feet of water. This depends on structure, tide, bait and which salmon that we are chasing.

Downriggers can be a challenge, and I will admit that. I fight, and have fought using them for years. Why? They can be one of the most frustrating things to get good at, letting down, trolling, even losing gear, as anything out there. Lets just make it quick in the fact that there are the big names out there for them, Cannon, Scotty, Penn. Which is right for you?

  1. Power down/Free spool/Manual
  2. Slow up/Speed up/Manual
  3. Auto stops
  4. Ion consideration

If you are new to downriggers, then sometimes simpler is better. All of these come into play when figuring out how you want to fish. But that is another huge blog.

Let’s talk about why downriggers, will keep you on fish more in the Puget sound. Fish like to run deep, simple as that. Bait is deep, structure produces great holding areas for bait. The currents can really get moving around the sound, so finding that structure that gives bait a place to hold, will produce hot spots for salmon. Also making it a little easier to stay on a depth line trolling and keep on fish. Downriggers allow you to fish the bottom or set a depth that bait is holding and hit right through the middle, top or bottom of the bait. We hook a lot of fish bouncing the bottom with our downrigger ball but the consistent thing we will always look for is bait and structure that will hold fish or give them a break from the open channels.

Next blog, lets visit about how we setup our downriggers. Some folks love to set tuna cord droppers, Straighteners, the list can go on. I’ll tell you now though, we can and will set them up different for whichever lures that we want to fish because that setup will affect the action or presentation. Also getting into Cable or Mono or Braid. So many things to think about, but it will help you get your gear in front of more salmon and that is the biggest key to catching fish. Getting your gear in front of fish and keeping it there as much as possible, will help you feel the tug on the end of the line maybe a bit more this next season.

After downrigger setups the next few blogs, we will talk about electronics, gear setups, finding fish, and more. Stay tuned in and maybe something we do will help you.



by Rebecca Trenkins

email: rtrenkins@gotfishing.com phone: 425-238-0971

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