How to Fish for Salmon in Piers and Harbors

How to Fish for Salmon in Piers and Harbors
Salmon are popular fish among sport and commercial fishermen. Many use a boat or charters to go for the big catches and record kings, cohos, chinooks or pinks. For those without access to fishing boats, charters or deep water, fishing for salmon from piers and harbors still provides exciting catches and full creels. Shore fishermen have several techniques they use to yield good catches and productive days.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Saltwater fishing pole and reel
  • Fishing license
  • Tackle or bait
  • Size 4 or 5 fishing hooks, barbed
  • Sinkers
  • Fishing net
  • Cooler or creel
  • Needle-nose pliers
Step 1
Decide if you are going to bait fish or use tackle. Thread the fishing pole from the reel with the fishing line and attach a barbed fishing hook to the end of the line. Select a spot along the pier where you know the water is deepest, as salmon head to the deeper waters. Look for areas where there is shade from the pilings or dock supports. Place your bait on the end of the hook if you decide to go for bait.
Step 2
Add sinkers to the end of the line when bait fishing for salmon so the hook and bait get deeper, faster. Set the pole into a static position. look along the pier for pole support cups and use one if they are available. If you are fishing the shore along a harbor, pick a section where you can stand on a rock or above the tide line. Cast your baited hook into the water.
Step 3
Use your forefinger to lift the fishing line up about one or two inches from the reel and feel for fish strikes. Feel for taughtness in the line when the salmon hits the hook. Yank the pole hard and back to set the hook into the salmon. Adjust the drag on the reel to a loose setting and allow the fish to take out line until it tires.
Step 4
Spin the handle to bring the line and fish in when you feel the fish tire and see no more line is being taken. Adjust the drag to a higher and tighter setting so the salmon cannot swim away.
Step 5
Grab the fish out of the water using the net as you reel it in close to you and the pier. Use a scoop motion under the fish and in the water with the net to ensure bringing the salmon out of the water without the line breaking.

Tips & Warnings

Check with the local harbormaster on legalities of fishing the harbor or pier where you wish to go for the salmon.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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