1. Anchor in a classic mooching location. Ie. Epsom Point, Young Point, Point Upwood, The Gap.
2. Use a minimum 10’ leader. This is so that the herring is able to swim freely and appear more natural to the approaching salmon. Use #12, #10 or # 8 debarbed treble hooks and 2oz or 3oz max mooching sinkers. This is “Sports Fishing” not “Meat Fishing”!
3. Must make sure your hands are wet prior to touching each herring to avoid scale loss. Cradle the herring in your less dominant hand while pressing your fingertips gently onto the herring to minimize movement. With your dominant hand fingertips, grip the top hook of your leader, insert one barb into the herrings mouth and push it up through the middle area or cartilage of its nose. This hard material is best for locking the hook. The 2nd or trailing hook is embedded lightly under the skin just behind the dorsal fin. Take care to make sure internal organs are not compromised.
3. Send lines to varying depths initially until contact is made with a Chinook or Coho salmon. All lines will Then go to the depth of the first hit. Typical depths I fish are: Bottom depth of 130’ to 150’. Running 3 lines I’ll have one at 75’, one at 90’ and 0ne at 105’ to 110’
4. Change herring often. If the bait is at all sluggish they won’t be as effective. Every 15 minutes Or sooner depending on the effect the current and hooks are having on each herring you send down. You want your herring to be darting vigorously and aggressively back and forth all the time.
5. If you encounter dogfish pull lines and send your bait to a slightly different depth. 10’-15’ deeper or shallower can make a big difference sometimes.
6. The rod tip is your best guide to the entire mooching experience. When the herring is being stalked by alarger predator fish he will start to get agitated. This will be exhibited by having the rods tip “start to dance” a little. When this happens don’t do anything. With Chinook, you will usually notice the rod tip go slack, hence the term “slack line”. Let the fish ingest the herring as far as it can. Slide the rod out of the holder without raising or lowering the tip. Wait 5 to 10 seconds and with the rod tip pointed down, start reeling as fast as you can. As you’re quickly reeling in the line, briskly bring the rod tip upwards to a high position. This will create tension and adequately set the hooks in the Salmons mouth. Do not jerk the rod tip up to try and set the hooks or you will likely rip them right out of the salmon’s mouth.
6. Minimize “Herring” scale loss. The scales are what attract the salmon in the first place. Herring that have lost scales swim more sluggishly and irregularly particularly if one side has more scale loss than the other.
7. If you notice a large bait ball on your fishfinder, make sure your lines are above or below the school. Never place your bait in the middle of the ball. You always want the Salmon to notice your herring all by itself Instead of swimming with 50000 of its’ buddies. Additionally, if there are massive amounts of continuous bait in your immediate area MOVE to a new location where there aren’t quite as many bait for the same reason.
8. Make sure you change your leaders regularly, especially if you’ve had a few hits and are still using the same one. Always change your leader after catching a dogfish, and check it after every time you catch any fish. One slight nick in the line can easily cause the line to break while reeling in even the smallest fish.
9. Don’t muscle your salmon. Let them run as far as they want to. If you win the battle it’s because you earned it. An 8 lb Chinook can break off 12 to 20lb leader in a heartbeat. On average a 10 or 12 pound chinook will take me 12 to 15 minutes to land. I use approximately 1200’ of 20lb test Monofilament and last Summer I was spooled 3 times. “Spooling” is a term used when the Salmon runs away with all of the line on your reel.
10.When a salmon starts to take out line make sure you keep your fingers away from the knobs on your reel to avoid a nasty knuckle buster. Palm the bottom of the reel to regulate the speed of delivery to the salmon.
11.In rougher waters make sure your rod tips aren’t moving up or down significantly with the rolling action of the waves. You can counter act this by adjusting the direction the rod is facing in the rod holder. The reason for doing this is to avoid “spooking” an already timid salmon that may already be worried of the weight or line dancing around so much making things look and seem more unnatural.
12. Mooching etiquette. Never anchor too close to another vessel. Always stay at least 250’ feet from any boats anchored in the general area. You and other folks fishing in the area must be able to fight salmon and let them run without fear of getting hooked on anchors or other lines in the water.
By Bob Mercer
March 12, 2021