Secrets Of River Salmon Trolling Revealed
Written By: Bill Adelman, August 29, 2013 Species: River Salmon,
Last time we considered a kokanee column, however by now it’s pretty much over, and guess what is just getting in gear…SALMON!
So, here we go. Two predominant approaches are trolling and anchoring. Then trolling has two different approaches. Let’s just pick a spot, ie: Rio Vista. Trolling here will commence heading upstream and continuing as far as you choose to go, depending on fuel capacity.
The basic approach in these areas is trolling a spinner. River depth will vary greatly, so having someone manning the rods and another manning the LCR, closely watching the depth, is extremely critical. You’ll encounter mid river obstructions such as sunken trees or humps of unknown origin.
The angler manning the rods must be able to instantly tell the difference between a striking salmon and a hang up, then instantly notify the skipper. The drag system must be set tight enough to hook a fish but not so tight as to snap the rod when you get hung.
When you are positive it’s a salmon, the rod guy must get the fish under control & notify the skipper, who then must put the engine in neutral and bring in the other rod. At this point, it’s up to the skipper to maintain control of the boat by keeping it upstream of the hooked fish.
If the boat gets downstream of the fish, and the fish runs under the boat…guess what happens next. You’re right! You especially want to net the salmon on the downstream side of the boat. After slipping the net completely under the fish, not just over the head, turn the net handle straight up, towards the sky.
Grab the hoop on either side of the handle, have the angler pull some line off the reel so that there’s at least 5-6 feet of loose line, and lift. Call home and prep the barbie.
As you troll upstream, you’ll encounter water from 5 -25 feet deep. The set up might look like this. You’ll need sinkers from ½ to 3 ounces. There is a trolling sinker available and it looks like a banana, sometimes with a short bead chain on one end.
The correct size to use is determined by the depth, as you’ll want to be about 3 to 6 feet off the bottom. Sometimes salmon will run shallower, and it doesn’t hurt to experiment. Generally speaking, troll about 70 – 80 feet behind the boat and utilize the ever-popular “S” system.
If you have two anglers on board, and run four rods, being an outsider watching the fire drill as they try to maneuver the fish and retrieve three lines, can be a tad humorous. Not for them however, just you.
The spinner should be on a 3 - 4 foot leader, as you’ll need to get the salmon close enough to the drifting boat to net it. Just a suggestion, the leader should be at least 20# test and have a hardier composition, ie: Berkley Big Game, P-Line X-tra Strong or Trilene XT. A clip of at least 50# test can be used at the end of the leader in order to quickly change a spinner.
When running spinners, almost always you’ll be trolling upstream at a speed to properly activate the spinner. You can determine the proper speed by dropping the spinner in the water about 10 feet off the tip of the rod and watch the action. Check the RPMs and then run the boat at that speed. This technique will work all the way up to Sacramento.
However, near Freeport, the system will change. Now you can anchor or troll Kwikfish, but when trolling, run downstream. No weight is necessary when trolling Kwikfish as the speed of the boat and the much shallower depths will dictate your decisions. Drop the directly tied lure about 80 feet behind the boat; troll the “S” pattern downstream at a speed where the wiggle of the rod tip dictates the proper speed.
When anchoring, use a spreader with an 18 inch dropper and 36 inch leader, tying the lure directly without the use of a clip. When anchoring a spinner, the dropper and the leader should both be 36 inches. You’ll need sinkers in the 1 to 4 ounce range, using the size that holds the bottom without slipping. The swifter the water, the heavier the sinker.
Next time we’ll stay with this salmon biz. Seeya then and Tight Lines!