Welcome back to Fishing with David Pyle. On Sunday we skunked with three lines in the water. Smolt were aggressively biting our cut-plug herring but we weren’t able to find an adult Spring Chinook. If you watched my video, you know that we only saw one caught but heard of two others. This week, in some areas, the bite turned on and a few boats managed to land multiple fish. For this time of year, that’s a great day of fishing. The coming weekend looks like it’s going to be wet, windy, and cold. Sunday looks like the better day but fishing in windy/cold conditions is not fun. The river conditions are similar to last week in turbidity and height but the temperature is dropping slightly.
For today’s blog I’d like to talk about how salmon find your bait or lures. Like most predators, salmon have an instinct to kill easy prey. When we rig with whole or cut plug herring it rolls and looks like an injured fish; that’s exactly what’s needed to trigger their hunting instincts. Salmon generally feel the vibration of a rolling herring through their lateral line before they see or smell the bait. The vibration they sense should bring them within four or five feet of the herring which is the visual range of our river system with low turbidity. From this distance a salmon starts to use their incredible sense of smell. At this point hope whatever scent is on your bait doesn’t cause the fish to turn away.
Additional factors to consider are trolling depth, direction, and speed. Make it easier for salmon to find the bait by presenting it at the correct depth. If you’re fishing in slow moving deep water you’ll probably drop your bait between 15-25 feet. In shallower fast moving water you’ll target the fish right on the bottom. We call this “bouncing the bottom” because your lead is literally hitting the bottom every 10 to 15 seconds. Water temperature can help you determine which direction to troll. In cold water you might want to troll up river to give the salmon more time to observe your bait. As the water warms, between 50 and 60 degrees, you’ll focus on fishing with the current at the slowest possible speed while still making your herring roll. Once the temperature rises above 60 you can troll faster use hardware such as spinners and super bait.
One last thing to think about before you go fishing. When peak season is in full force there will be hundreds of lines in the water each day. Most lines will be trolling herring. If you are a fish and you see hundreds of herring in your face you might lose interest until you see something just a little different. I know of two fish, in the past couple of weeks, that were caught using hardware; even though my philosophy is to wait for higher water temperatures. I really like to see fishermen think outside of the box and get creative. The fish might like that too.