I've gotten a lot of tips and strategies from others on this forum in the past, so I'm going to share with you all my technique for catching silvers from shore, as we're heading into that season quickly. This has never failed me, and I've always outfished everyone around me. It is also KISS simple, and it works from a boat just as well. It is dependent on the fact that there are silvers around, though. It's important to find a school (watch for jumpers concentrated in one spot if you can't see them or don't have a boat with a fish-finder).
1. A good casting rod with adequate line. It doesn't matter if it's a spinning rod, bait-caster, whatever. You just need to be able to get your bait out to the fish.
2. For line I use a braided line, but you can use whatever you like. I like the braid because it casts further with less wind drag. It's also important to make sure it's strong enough. I prefer the 20lb test range. That is more then is needed in most cases, but silvers are hard-fighting fish and can exceed 20lbs (especially in some areas like Valdez where the average size is considerably larger then most places).
3. Troll herring. Green or Blue packages seem to both work fine. (You could also try Berkley Powerbait type scented imitations...I'll be experimenting with those this year). I have also had success with plug-cut herring. I imagine just a chunk of herring in the right conditions would work fine, but sometimes silvers get picky.
4. Leader and hook set-ups: This is largely a matter of preference, as I've had luck with a lot of varieties. I hugely prefer Gamakatsu 2-hook mooching leaders. Typically I get the 3/0-4/0 one with a sliding trailing hook. (Hooks can range between 3/0-5/0 and all seem to be effective.) You can also use 2 fixed-hook rigs, make your own or use a single-hook leader effectively as well. If you are fishing with braided line it is VERY IMPORTANT to use monofilament leaders. The salmon teeth and/or gillplates will cut right through braided line.
5. You will need some high-quality swivels. Fishing this rig will twist your line if you don't, and eventually that will cause you serioius problems. I generally use some of the bigger snap swivels, so I can put new leaders on quickly, but if you'd rather tie them on they don't have to have the snap and are more sturdy.
This is the easy part. Use an 18"-24" leader. If using a two-hook setup, stick the top hook straight through the herring gillplate, about centered on the fish laterally. Push it all the way through so the tip of the hook is pointing back up-line toward the herring's nose on the opposite side of the fish. This is the pulling-hook, so it needs to be well-placed. Loop the line over the herring's back and stick the second hook through the herring's spine about 2/3 of the way to the tail so the tip is on the opposite side of the herring from the first hook. If using a sliding 2nd hook, snug the line up so there is a slight curve to the herring.
If you are using a single-hook leader, you can hook through the gills as above or what I prefer is to put the hook through the jaws starting on the bottom, so the hook point is on the top of the herring pointing back up the leader.
That sounds like more then it is when written, but it's about a ten second process at most once you get it down.
Locate the fish, or close to you where you think they may be, and cast your line to them. Reel in only the slack. Notice I have not made any mention of weights. That is because the key to my technique is free-drifting the bait. Your herring will sink slowly on it's own, so weight is not needed. The herring weighs enough to cast good distances. Essentially, the process is this: Cast, reel in slack, let sink. If nothing has eaten it yet, very slowly reel 2-4 times. Then let it sink, drift, do whatever it's doing underwater. Reel in some more, vary speed, but never reel more then a few cranks at a time. This is very similar to mooching from a boat, only instead of working the water column vertically, you are more or less doing it horizontally.
About 80% of your hits will happen when you are doing nothing and the bait is re-settling after being reeled. Each time you reel, the bait moves back up the water column, so there is basically constant movement to the bait, although it may not seem like it to you. Most of the time, silvers hit like a freight-train, so there is no guessing and it makes things exciting in a big hurry.
WHY DO I DO THIS??
I could give you lots of reasons, it saves gas and money, blah blah blah....most of which are true as well. BUT, the real reason is that I do this on a boat as well as shore for one reason:
I like the rod in my hand when a fish hits. I like to feel that strike. I like to set the hook myself.
Trolling to me isn't that fun, because it does all of that for you. All you have to do is reel them in.
Comments or questions are welcome, and I hope this helps some of you shore-bound anglers get some of those silvers (and if you're in a boat, find a school of silvers, stop, and give this a try). They are a blast to catch!!