How to Fish for Salmon in Saltwater

Fishing for saltwater salmon is different from river fishing because of the vast areas you may need to cover in your quest to fill your creel. The most popular and successful technique for catching ocean salmon is trolling, which is more time consuming and expensive than the techniques used in stationary river or lake fishing. Using the right technique, tackle and bait will help you maximize your chances for success and decrease your chances of having to tell your friends about the one that got away.

Trolling is your best technique for catching saltwater salmon

Nature Signs & Clues

Use some angler tricks to find areas where salmon are likely to be. Salmon often jump and splash near the surface of the water, so look for this type of feeding activity. Also, look for flocks of birds congregating to feed on bait fish, which salmon may also be seeking. Salmon may also school in deeper water offshore, about a maximum of 60 ft. below the surface. Wherever you are, try to fish between 30 to 60 feet of the surface of the water.

Fish during periods of low light, and from one hour before, during and after a change in the tide.

 Trolling Speed

Troll the area slowly, where you believe the salmon are schooling. Trolling is moving a line through the water at a consistent speed, either dragging it behind a boat or casting out from a bridge, pier or boat and reeling the line in using a steady motion. If you are in a boat, try to keep a consistent speed so your bait doesn’t jerk. If you are fishing from a stationary position, make sure you will not tangle with other anglers.

Trolling Depth

Keep your trolling depth consistent. Moving your line up and down decreases the realism of a bait fish swimming through the water and decreases your lure’s appeal to a predator salmon.

Bait and Lures

Use the right bait and lures. Salmon are attracted to herring closer to their spawning areas, while farther out, artificial lures are more effective, with green, purple and hot pink mini sardines or Michael bait your first choice. Add dodgers or flashers to your lines to attract more strikes, using a green lure. Dodgers and flashers simulate a “wounded” bait fish, like herring, and attract feeding salmon. Dodgers are made for slow trolling, while flashers provide a 360 degree rotating action if the troll creates enough speed. For very slow trolling, then, dodgers will outperform flashers.