Anglers everywhere realize just how critical trolling speed is
to consistently catching fish. Many lures and/or attractors have
optimum speeds which must be maintained to operate correctly,
and fish themselves react to different lure speeds under different
conditions. Luhr Jensen's Luhr-Speed ™ Trolling Speed Indicator
is the most accurate device available anywhere today. It reads both
in knots and in miles-per-hour and is accurate when attached to any
boat hull, large or small. Because the speed sensor is well below the
water surface, this unit is virtually unaffected by wind or wave
action, ensuring accurate readings time after time.
The chart on this page locates several prime fishing areas
where trolling will pay fishy dividends. On the reverse side is a
large diagram with specific instructions on how to rig various
trolling gear for salmon. Following are some guidelines that deal
specifically with Puget Sound salmon trolling.
Salmon feeding activity and fishing is best during the period
from one hour before, through and for one hour after a tide change.
A 24-hour tide cycle has two highs and two lows so there are at least
two daylight tide change periods to fish each day which provide
optimum conditions. Charting one tide period, we would have low
slack (the time of change), flood (run-in), high slack (change), ebb
(run-out) and back to low slack. If the tide fluctuation between high
and low is minimal, say 3 to 8 feet, baitfish and salmon will be active
throughout the tide cycle along rips, in eddies and many times in
open water. But, the period before slack tide, during the slack and
after, still will provide you with top angling as salmon will feed
most actively when they don't have to battle currents. You'll have
about three hours of prime fishing time around each change and it's
extremely important to fish these periods intensely.
LOW LIGHT PERIODS
Although the time period around a tide change is considered
best for fishing, two other times consistently produce salmon . . . the
low light periods of early morning and dusk. During times when
bright sunlight is not present, baitfish and salmon often will be
found in the top 30 feet of water. Combining a tide change period
with one of these low light periods will produce the absolute best
TROLL WITH THE CURRENT
Salmon, as do other fish, always face into the current, so troll
with the current rather than against it. By doing so, you will
constantly be presenting your spoon to salmon from the front where it can easily be seen, rather than from behind where they can't see it coming.
COLOR AND DEPTH
Both coho (silver) and chinook can be very fickle when it
comes to color, displaying a fondness for one color pattern at a
particular time and then changing preference completely within a
few hours or on a different day. How and what a salmon sees is
influenced by the amount of available light, water clarity and mood
of the fish.
Colors change depending on depth. Red is filtered out of the
light spectrum in about the first 30 feet, yellow and chartreuse at
about 60 feet with green and blue the last colors to turn gray. White
turns at about 60 feet and black is always black, regardless of
depth. Thus, a deep water salmon will see mostly blues, greens
and dark shapes while a salmon in shallow water will see all
colors. When prospecting for salmon, run lures having red or metallic finishes toward the surface, yellow, chartreuse or Prism-Lite
® finishes at medium depths and greens and/or blues at the
deepest level. Note that blues and greens are effective at all depths
because they imitate natural baitfish colors.
CHECK YOUR GEAR
Even if all other conditions are right, you won't catch salmon
if your lure is tangled or has picked up weeds or jellyfish. Salmon,
in particular big chinook, are very wary of anything unnatural in the
water. The best advice is to check your gear every 30 minutes (10
to 15 minutes if debris is present) to make sure it's clean and running
DODGERS vs FLASHERS
The big difference between dodgers and flashers is the way
they run through the water when being trolled. A Les Davis
Herring Dodger ® or Jensen Dodger ™ has a side-to-side swaying
action while a flasher such as the Coyote ™ or Abe & Al ® develops
full 360° rotations. These provide you with two completely different
types of attractors, each giving off specific flash and vibration
For dodgers, the correct fish-attracting speed and action is
when the attractor has that side-to-side swaying motion. With your
boat moving "dead slow", place a rigged dodger and lure setup (see
illustration above) in the water along side the boat where you can
watch it and slowly increase your speed until the dodger has
developed the desired action.
Optimum rotating flasher speed, on the other hand, is obtained
when the attractor is working in regular, full 360° rotations. With
your boat in motion, place a rigged flasher and lure setup (see
illustration) and increase your speed until the flasher develops the
desired rotation. As a rule, flashers generally work better at slightly
faster speeds than dodgers.
COHO vs CHINOOK
There are big differences between chinook and coho in their
feeding habits, lure action preference and habitat.
COHO: These silver salmon generally can be found at depths
of less than 50 feet and commonly from the surface down to 30 feet.
Coho are fast-moving and prefer lures with a fast action as well as
the increased action provided by a #0 or #00 dodger ahead of a lure.
They are wide-ranging and often can be found in open water far
away from structure.
During low light periods, coho can be found feeding within a
few feet of the surface or along rip tide lines.
CHINOOK: When compared with coho, chinook salmon
prefer deeper water, larger lures and slower action attractors. They
often are caught in water 60 to 120 feet deep or deeper, especially
during sunny, midday time periods.
There is a definite dawn bite associated with chinook and a tide
change period in association with first light is an optimum fishing
time. Chinook often will shy away from any unnatural object or
movement in the water so longer leaders and additional line out
frequently are the rule.