Salmon techniques for shore fisherman

By on September 18, 2017

At the risk of repeating myself … we anglers here in Western New York should wake-up clog dancing that we live literally surrounded by great fishing water. Added to that, I am personally lucky to have so many great fishermen in the area who are willing to pass on their hard-earned knowledge. One of those experts is veteran trout and salmon fisherman Eric Crosby. Eric specializes in shore fishing these prized gamefish.

I reached out to Eric for some tips on how to catch these big fish without a boat during their fall spawning run. Here is what he revealed:

Michael Hendrick applied Eric Crosby’s salmon fishing tactics to land this behemoth king. Provided photo

Michael Hendrick applied Eric Crosby’s salmon fishing tactics to land this behemoth king. Provided photo

“The salmon spawn begins in late August/early September. Anglers have the chance to fish for them from the piers as the salmon stage before heading up rivers and streams to spawn. Once they enter the streams and rivers toward the end of September is when the action really begins. This is the best opportunity for anglers to catch their limits each day.

“As far as equipment goes, I like a sturdy medium heavy fishing rod. Longer rods are better for casting and float fishing. I prefer 8’6” Fenwick rods HMX86MH-FS-2, have used them for years and have been very pleased with their performance. For my reels, I like a Pfleuger Supreme SUPSP35X spinning reel. The performance has been excellent and has held up to the hard-fighting kings that can burn out the drag on many other reels. My fishing line size is 20-pound braid or mono. That pound test is needed as these fish are powerful and you need the ability to apply pressure and turn them once they run. If using braid, always use a two to three-foot long mono leader because the braid is much more visible to the fish than mono and the braid may fray and break as salmon have very sharp teeth. A large, strong fishing net is mandatory as these fish can run up to 30 pounds with a length of 36” or longer.

“My go-to lures when fishing the piers are large inline spinners (Blue Fox Vibrax blade size 6 5/8oz weight) or similar. For casting spoons I like Little Cleo’s in various colors ¾ oz. They have been great performers for me over the years. Moonshine casting spoons in various colors and sizes all seem to work well. Don’t be afraid to throw on a crankbait or Kwik fish to mix things up.

“At times, the fishing can be better after dark. For the evening bite, glow spoons are preferred as they add flash. A light source is needed to enhance the glow; I use a flashlight pointed directly at the glow spoon for twenty seconds or so to charge the lure and brighten the glow. Don’t be afraid to try lures with no glow in the evenings, these also work well as the fish may want something different. These same lures will also work in streams and rivers, but you may need to downsize depending on the size of the river or stream.

“If I had only one bait to use while fishing in the rivers and streams it would be salmon skein. Skein is the membrane that holds the salmon or trout eggs together inside the fish. The egg skein can be collected from large female fish or purchased at local bait shops. If it is not available, you should be able to find egg sacks which work but are not as effective. I cure my own skein using Pautzkes fire cure. It is not difficult to do and it works very well. It takes me around three hours to cure them and 24 hours in the refrigerator for the final product.  For a great instructional video on curing eggs visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5hnkamp-9c.

“When using skein as bait I fish it under a float. I always use a slip float, as river depths may vary. A slip float will give you the ability to modify lengths as needed according to the depth of water you are fishing. For an instruction video on float rig setup, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RTxP5bix84.

“I pre-tie mono leaders using Maxima Ultra green fishing line and Gamakatsu octopus hook size 2/0 and use an egg loop knot. The egg loop knot is important as this is used to hold the eggs. Simply hooking the eggs does not work well.

“Some of the better shore hotspots are streams or rivers where the salmon were originally stocked as fingerlings such as Sandy Creek. Parking is available at Sandy Creek boat launch in Hamlin, right off of the Lake Ontario Parkway. Get there early if possible, the fishing is great but it can get crowded fast. The Lower Falls on the Genesee River can be great as well. There is parking at 250 Maplewood Avenue in Rochester and you can follow the trail leading down to the river. If unfamiliar, ask or follow a fisherman down. Linear Park is another spot on the Genesee; parking is available at 1 Linear Park Drive, Penfield. Again, get there early if possible. Fishing is great but it can get crowded as well. Pier fishing is best on Charlotte Pier or Webster Park Pier.

“When the leaves turn and the weather begins to cool, these are all signs that the great salmon migration is in full swing. Don’t put that gear away yet, a new season is just beginning. “Tight lines to all!” and may this season be your best season!”

Thanks to Eric for giving up his specialized tactics on where and how to latch into one of these world-class gamefish. King salmon are one of the top sportfish in fresh water and anglers come here from far and wide to tangle with these spawning kings every fall.  Take a look at the license plates in the parking lot of any of these fishing hot spots and you will see plates from all over the northeast.

It is a fabulous time of year to be in the outdoors. If nothing else, take a drive and watch the salmon anglers battle these behemoths. You may decide to give it a try.

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