I am very excited to jump on here and remind everyone... that Salmon season is almost upon us! (well, at least for the majority of us that don't own a boat that allows us to chase these beasts in the depths of the great lakes).
This is one of my favorite times of the year – it's beautiful 'sweater weather' (you guessed it; Jordy runs at a high temp and sweats easily...), the bugs aren't so bad, and this time of year also gives shore anglers the opportunity to land the fish of a lifetime.
Just as this article is titled – I will be discussing the simple (but effective) way to cast spoons for fall salmon.
When testing your luck at catching yourself a salmon from the pier/shoreline, there is one major factor that will increase your chances of hooking one of these beasts – your chances will significantly increase when you fish during the darker/cooler parts of the day (preferably just before first light, and last light). The reason for this being that these fish will generally come in during the night to feed for their exhausting journey upstream to spawn, and during the day they will push back out (outside of casting distance) into the lake to cooler waters.
The most favored lures among anglers to catch these tanks from the piers/shorelines, would have to be the simple Glow Spoon. This lure paired with a decent snap swivel (such as a Torpedo Snap Swivel... I recommend spending the extra couple bucks and getting solid terminal tackle to fight these beasts), creates an irresistible wobbling action that the salmon (and sometimes early steelhead/brown trout) cannot resist – the glow on the spoon also acts as the perfect visual attractor to 'call-in' these fish from a distance. I'll often suggest to anglers to also utilize the 'invisibility' of a fluorocarbon leader on the end of your mainline to ensure that you don't deter any spooked/wary fish from biting your lure. I will go more into detail on specific lures/tackle I like to use for these fish, but before I get into that I would like to discuss the equipment (rods/reels/mainline) that you should use when chasing these fish.
Don't forget to check out the Salmon/Pier combos we've got on sale!
When targeting salmon from the shorelines/pier, you'll generally want to use a longer, medium action rod. I like to use an 8'6" to 10ft rod – the reason for this being, because the longer rod will not only give you much more castability/distance, but it will also help absorb the shock from the fish... helping save your line from snapping, and also providing a little relief for your hands/wrists. For a reel, I personally use a 3000 size Shimano Stradic - anything within the 3000-4000 size spool will work fine for pier/shoreline salmon. The favored line among anglers these days is generally braided line... such as PowerPro or 4orce Tufline (in 15-20lbs test). Many anglers (such as myself) prefer braided line because of its smaller diameter (which allows anglers to cast significantly further, and load much more line onto your spool than you would if you were using traditional monofilament line). Some anglers also like to use very light line, such as 6-8lbs monofilament, because it is a much more challenging task. For anglers choosing to go this route, I always suggest going with nothing under a 4000 size reel, to ensure that you have enough line capacity to fight one of these tanks – setting your drag very low is key to landing salmon on light line.
Now that we've discussed the equipment necessary or catching pier/shoreline salmon, let's talk lures. Like mentioned above, the most favored lure among anglers that cast for pier/shoreline salmon is the simple (but deadly) spoon. There are many reasons that anglers love to use spoons for salmon, such as the ability to cast them like a bullet, and the slow/steady wobble presentation (at any depth) of the water. Below are a few of my favorite spoons :
Among the lineup of spoons these days, my absolute favorite spoon to cast for pier/salmon would have to be the lineup of Glow spoons by Moonshine Lures. I pick these spoons over others because Moonshine spoons glow about twice as bright as the competitor, and they last much longer than most other glow spoons (averaging about 10 casts, as opposed to the usual 3-5). My favourite Moonshine glow spoon to toss is what I like to call the 'gum drop' shape, which is a 3/4oz spoon (it casts like a cruise missile and looks like a shooting star when you cast it in the dark). My favorite color to toss in this spoon is Wonderbread, Watermelon, anything striped, and anything bright orange - I like these bceause they have a spotted pattern, which I find works best for salmon/trout. The use of a spoon is simple – cast out, and wait for the lure to drop to your desired depth (usually drops 1 ft per second), and retrieve. I try to retrieve as slow as possible – generally about 1.5-3mph.
The second spoon I like to toss would be the old and faithful Little Cleo. I like to toss this spoon in once again, a 2/5oz. I really like the tight wobble that the Little Cleo, and this spoon also has a glow option as well. The only pattern I toss in the Little Cleo is the Glow Green, with Black spots, or a 'hammered' green/silver.
Green/Silver 'hammered, and a new 'super glow' spoon
Any glow spoon you use can be charged with a regular flashlight, but there are also 'flashers' or other devices that are specifically for charging up spoons (some even utilize the use of a black light).
Another lure that is not necessarily a spoon, but gets on honorable mention on this post – is the Rapala J-13. This lure absolutely drives salmon crazy! The J-13 is a jointed lure that has a massive kick/erratic action on the tail of the lure. Most strikes on a J-13 are out of aggression, so it will feel like a pickup truck hammering your lure! I like to use the J-13 in firetiger, and chartreuse. When fishing these lures, I like to 'burn' them back (reel them back extremely fast), which forces the fish to often make a 'reaction strike'.
I've caught most fish salmon on Firetiger... and I've caught multiple early steelhead/rainbow trout on the Chartreuse.
This Rainbow hammered the chartreuse J-13!
As I mentioned before, I like to use a leader attached to the end of all my lures. I will use a fluorocarbon leader (usually about 6ft long) to ensure that the fish don't get spooked by my line. I use a 'uni to uni knot' to attach my mainline to my fluorocarbon.
Among all the different kinds of leader lines to use for this application, my favorite is the Seagar STS fluorocarbon, in 30lbs test. I've found that this line works best for me because it is extremely tough/rugged; which is what you need for these fish.
Before I close out this post, I'd like to just briefly take a moment and mention a few other pieces of equipment to make for a much better trip to the pier/shorelines for salmon...
The first piece of equipment I'd like to note, would be a headlamp or reliable flashlight. This piece of equipment is a no-brainer, and not only makes it easier to find/sort through your tackle and land your fish, but it is also a piece of safety equipment to ensure that you can see while you're out in the dark.
The second piece of equipment, would have to be a proper-sized net for catching these monstrous fish. I've seen guys (and done it myself...) trying to land salmon in small bass/walleye nets – generally you will end up breaking your net, harming the fish, or even losing your fish trying to net a salmon with one of these tiny nets. I highly recommend that if you don't have a proper salmon-sized fishing net, that you spend the extra couple bucks and get one. I personally like to use a Ranger Fishing net, but at the shop we've currently got some phenomenal fold-up Frabill nets for $99 (marked down from $149.99).
Fully collapsable Frabill Net. Extends long enough for the pier!
So that just about concludes everything you need to know to fish for salmon from the pier/shorelines!... The rest you will figure out through trial and error (the best part of fishing).
Hopefully this helps shed some light on which lures to try – I understand that it can be pretty intimidating walking into a shop and trying to pick the right lure from a wall covered in thousands of lures!
Good luck, stay safe, and Happy Fishing!