Generally, salmon seek out temperatures averaging around 55°F, usually in deeper water away from shore. While this makes trolling a more likely method for fishing for salmon, they can still be caught from shore, particularly at certain times of the year. Piers providing access to deep water, as well as rivers and streams where salmon migrate are prime locations for catching these large and impressive fish.
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One of the most effective techniques for catching salmon from shore is drift fishing. A weight is attached to a dropper line between 12 and 36 inches long, which is tied to a snap swivel, The swivel is hooked to the main fishing line. Several beads are then threaded onto the main line and a swivel is attached to its end. A 4- to 6-foot leader is attached to the swivel and the lure or baited hook is tied to the end of the leader. This rig can then be cast upstream into the water and allowed to drift downstream with the current, bumping along the bottom. Make your first cast short and allow the rig to drift. If no strike occurs, reel in and cast a little farther. Follow this pattern all the way across the river.
Natural baits are very effective in landing salmon. Bait fish such as alewives, smelt and especially herring are the most popular. These baits are frequently prepared in a style known as cut plugging in which the head of the bait is cut off at a diagonal and then attached to a two-hook fishing rig. Fresh fish eggs can also be used, and they can be worked as a single egg or a cluster of several eggs.
Salmon can also be taken on artificial lures and respond best to flashy lures with a lot of action. Choose larger brightly-colored spoons, spinners, marabou and yarn jigs to attract the attention of salmon in the area. When fishing with cut bait, you can also incorporate an in-line flasher. This device will rotate in front of the cut bait, providing an added attraction to your rig.
Early Summer Fishing
One of the best times to go fishing for salmon is in the early summer just before spawning begins. Salmon will begin to congregate near stream and river mouths in preparation for migration. At this time, salmon will still be feeding and will take lures or bait more easily.
Pier fishing is an excellent way to reach deeper water where salmon are holding. Look for piers especially around stream and river mouths to attract salmon year round. As the migration begins, salmon will begin to move upstream. During the migration and throughout spawning, salmon feed very little, but they can still be taken if they strike on instinct.
Early morning or late evening tend to be the most productive times when fishing for salmon prior to or after spawning migration. During the day, the fish retreat to deeper waters. You can also try night fishing.