How to Fish for Salmon in Rivers

How to Fish for Salmon in RiversSalmon fishing in rivers is a tradition and way of life as old as fishing itself. Catching any species of this delicious fish is the mark of a seasoned angler who not only understands the sport but also has acquired some knowledge of the migratory salmon that swims upstream to spawn and die.


Difficulty: Moderate

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Medium-action rod and reel
  • Fly fishing outfit
  • Tackle
  • Bait
  • Dry and wet flies, and streamers
  • Portable fly-tying kit
  • Waders
  • Landing net
Step 1
Try plunking (bottom fishing) along the river banks. This technique works best in pools and slow-moving areas of water where salmon gather to rest. Baited hooks with salmon eggs (where legal) should be rigged with a spinner blade and a few pink or chartreuse (yellow-green) plastic beads about 1 foot up the leader from the hook. Spinner blades agitate the water and may annoy a big salmon into a strike.
Step 2
Cast into the upstream edge of pools and ebbs in the river when plunking for salmon. As the bait bounces along the bottom across the slow-moving water, it will be the first thing a salmon encounters as it swims into the pool.
Step 3
Wade into shallow rivers with a flyrod and pale pink or chartreuse dry flies when the salmon are surface feeding. Watch for the telltale splashes of a salmon rising to the spot where an insect was hovering only seconds earlier, then cast your own fly nearby.
Step 4
Cast from shore with a flyrod or lightweight spinning rod and reel combo to cover broad areas of the river. Salmon eggs and spoons and spinners that resemble bait fish are popular options for the end of your line. The fly fisherman can use surface plugs and dry flies when the salmon are rising to the surface to feed.
Step 5
Go "flipping" for salmon, using a short piece of chartreuse yarn tied to a bare 6/0 hook. Flipping is the same as drift fishing, which involves paying out enough line to flip your bait or lure about 15 to 20 feet onto the water upstream, then letting the bait drift past you.
Step 6
Tighten the slack in your line by retrieving slowly and pointing your rod tip at the line as it drifts past your position.

Tips & Warnings

Combine your love of salmon fishing with amateur marine biology by opening a fresh salmon catch along the belly and examining the contents of the stomach. Salmon digesgtive systems are relatively slow, so you may be able to identify the types of insects the fish has eaten recently, then tie a few flies in matching designs and colors right on the river using a portable fly-tying kit.

Article Written By James Clark

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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