How to Fish for Salmon

How to Fish for SalmonSalmon fishing in the cold waters of North American lakes and rivers challenges the most seasoned angler. Popular species of this delicious gamefish include sockeye, coho and the enormous king salmon of Alaska. Trolling, bank fishing and fly fishing are productive methods of catching salmon. Learn about these methods and techniques for landing your limit of salmon by following these steps. (Pictured: Salmon spawning in a forest stream)


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Troll for salmon on large lakes from a motorboat, using 4/0 hooks rigged with salmon eggs (where legal) and small baitfish, or bucktail jigs and spinners if you prefer artificial lures. Large spoons trolled on open water can be effective on the Great Lakes.
Step 2
Wade into rivers, shallows in lakes, or cast from shore with a fly rod or lightweight spinning rod and reel. Salmon eggs and spoons and spinners resembling bait fish are effective lures. Anglers equipped with fly rods can enjoy exciting action by casting surface plugs and dry flies when the salmon are rising to the surface to feed.
Step 3
Practice plunking (bottom fishing) along the banks of rivers, streams and lakes. This technique works well in pools and slow-moving areas of water where salmon gather to rest during their upstream migration. Use salmon eggs (where legal) rigged with a spinner blade and pink or chartreuse (yellow-green) plastic beads installed a foot up the leader from the hook. Spinner blades agitate the water and draw attention to your bait.
Cast into the upstream edge of pools and ebbs in the river when plunking for salmon. As the bait drifts through the slow-moving water toward the edge of the pool, entering salmon will see your bait and hopefully move in for a strike.
Step 4
Try "flipping" for salmon, using a 3-inch length of chartreuse (yellow-green) yarn tied to a 6/0 hook. Flipping is essentially drift fishing, which involves stripping off enough line to flip your bait or lure about 15-20 feet onto the water upstream, then letting the bait drift past you. Keep the rod tip pointed at the bait as it drifts downstream. Vary the distance with each cast, moving your bait either closer to shore or farther onto the river. The goal is to cover broad areas of water until you locate fish.

Tips & Warnings

Salmon fishing regulations are extensive in some areas and may change month to month depending on fishing pressure on the resource, so know the laws in your area before you head out on the water.

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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