Saltwater Salmon General Information

The king salmon, or chinook, is the largest of the pacific salmon. Their range is from Monterey California to Point Hope Alaska. They are an anadromous species and most pacific coast rivers that provide adequate flows, temperatures and habitat suitable for ascending, spawning, and rearing young sustain king salmon runs. There may be up to three runs per year; spring, summer, and fall.

The average weight for California strains on chinook is around 18-22 pounds with the record fish weighing in at just over 50 pounds. The largest kings come from Alaska where 50 to 60 pound fish are common.

King salmon return to the river of their birth at ages from 2 to 7 years. While out to sea they have been known to migrate across the north Pacific and trips of over 7,000 miles have been recorded. The longest spawning run is the Yukon River, Alaska in which the fish must swim close to 2,000 miles up river. Salmon use a combination of smell, solar navigation, visual clues, and an awareness of length of days, light intensities, and other factors to navigate.

King salmon spawn I beds of course gravel, 1 to 3 inches in diameter. The female digs out a nest, called a redd, with her tail and body. The female then deposits her eggs while the male simultaneously fertilizes them with jets of milt. The eggs then adhere to the bottom of the nest. The eggs are covered with gravel. The female may build more than one redd over several days. Both male and females die within a few days after spawning. The decaying flesh of the dead parents provide food for organism which the fry feed upon after leaving the nest. The fry stay in the nest for 2 to 3 weeks after hatching and may remain in the river system for up to 18 months before heading out to sea.

Trolling with downriggers is usually done by rigging an anchovy 4 to 6 feet behind a flasher, setting the proper depth and moving at 3 to 5 knots. Trolling at depths up to 80 feet can be can be managed, depending on the current, by using a sinker release and a 2 to 3 pound cannonball sinker with a 4' leader rigged with anchovy or sardine. Hootchies and Rotary salmon killers are common devices used in combination with the bait.

 Mooching is done with a 2 to 3 foot leader as light a weight as possible to control the line at the desired depth. Usually weights are under one pound. The leader is threaded through the bait, anchovy, sardine, or herring with the hook being set in the head of the bait. A half hitch is tied around the tail of the bait. Best results come from slowly working the bait through the depth range of the salmon. The bait is most often taken during a slow retrieve.

Recent Saltwater Salmon Articles & Reports
Team Fish Sniffer’s Do It Yourself Golden Gate Salmon Adventure!

Team Fish Sniffer’s Do It Yourself Golden Gate Salmon Adventure!

Written By: Cal Kellogg,
September 28, 2014

The surface of the ocean was greasy calm with no swell or chop. The sound of chattering birds filled the ears. In the distance massive grey whales exposed their backs. Occasionally a porpoise would swing in close also showing some back....

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Salmon, Rockfish And Lings Keep Anglers Busy!

Written By: Cal Kellogg,
September 22, 2014

(Bodega Bay) Anglers that visit Bodega Bay are enjoying outstanding fishing. Rockfish trips are yielding limits of rockfish along with solid numbers of lings. Salmon trips are not yielding limits, but many of the fish being caught are...

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Salmon Action Up And Down As Rockfish Bite Rages

Written By: Cal Kellogg,
September 22, 2014

(Berkeley) Salmon scores are highly variable for anglers departing from East Bay ports. Some days the kings bite and anglers average over a fish per rod. Other days when the kings play hard to get the scores slump well below a fish per...

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Tips & Tactics for Saltwater Salmon
Salmon, Trout, Lingcod, Kokanee, Halibut And More: Are YOU Using Gulp! And PowerBait?

Salmon, Trout, Lingcod, Kokanee, Halibut And More: Are YOU Using Gulp! And PowerBait?

Written By: Cal Kellogg

I’m of the opinion that in most situations well-presented natural baits will outperform artificials. Following this philosophy, when the...

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How To Mooch Up A Salmon Dinner

How To Mooch Up A Salmon Dinner

Written By: Cal Kellogg

The conditions were ideal. It was late summer and a dense fog hung over the dark water. The groundswell was low and the surface was dotted...

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Deadly Salmon Trolling Techniques Using Hot Spot Flashers!

Deadly Salmon Trolling Techniques Using Hot Spot Flashers!

Written By: FishSniffer Staff

Designed and produced by successful fishermen, Hot Spot’s deadly trolling approaches have been proven to catch more and bigger salmon time...

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Saltwater Salmon Locations
Saltwater Salmon Locations


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