Tackle and Equipment
No matter which approach you use, you should have a large cooler with ice, fish club or hammer, needle-nose pliers and a large landing net.
For trolling with a diving plane or weight you’ll need a medium to medium heavy boat rod with roller tip (about 6 feet) and a saltwater trolling or casting reel that can hold 300 yards of 25 pound test monofilament line. Spinning reels or level wind reels are not generally used.
The diving plane terminal shackle includes a dodger to attract salmon. Vibration put out by the dodger is especially important when water clarity is poor in the spring.
For trolling with a downrigger you’ll need the downrigger, bait casting or spinning rod of 6-8 feet and a bait casting or spinning reel that can hold 200 yards of 10-20 pound monofilament line. For mooching you’ll need about the same types of rod/reel combinations used for downrigging. Specialized downrigger and mooching rods are made by leading rod manufacturers. Levelwind bait casting reels are popular.
Best Lures and Baits to Catch Salmon
The most popular bait for ocean salmon are anchovies. They are purchased frozen, laying flat on a plastic tray, from bait shops. For trolling, the anchovy is either rigged on a crowbar hook or on a plastic bait holding rig.
When trolled, it’s crucial that the anchovies roll or wobble like a wounded bait fish. Without practice or specific experience, this is difficult when using the crowbar hook. But with the plastic bait holding rig (common brand names Rotary Salmon Killer, Herring Aid), a rolling action is guaranteed because of the fin shape molded into the plastic. Also, putting the anchovy into either of these rigs takes only a few seconds. Commercial salmon fishermen typically rig crowbar hooks in advance because it requires patience and a steady hand.
Some Silver Spoons and lures that imitate squid can also be effective. These include Krocodile and Hopkins (1 and 2 ounce), McMahon (#4), and Apex (4 1/2 – 5 1/2 inches). Hoochies (a hula skirt jig) of about 3-4 inches in assorted colors are also popular.
Where to Fish
See the Pacific Ocean Fishing and San Fransisco Bay Fishing sections. It’s always best to call the day before you intend to go fishing. Ocean-oriented bait and tackle shops know exactly where the salmon are and how deep to fish them.
Cleaning and Cooking
Scale salmon with the jet of a water hose nozzle. Salmon are usually filleted. Large ones are steaked. Fresh salmon and properly frozen salmon, as anyone knows who has eaten it, is out of this world. Many anglers prefer to barbecue this rich, relatively fatty meat. It is also very good poached (served hot with a sauce or chilled), broiled, baked or smoked.