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Thread: How to catch Silvers in salt from shore or a boat

  1. #1
    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Lightbulb How to catch Silvers in salt from shore or a boat

    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).

    THE GEAR

    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.

    THE SETUP

    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.

    THE TECHNIQUE

    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!!

    Good Luck!!

  2. #2

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    Real good post. My technique is slightly different. I use a modified Mooching Technique, where as before cranking, I lift the rod tip and let the bait fall. Do this twice, before cranking any distance. After cranking ten to fifteen feet, I raise the rod tip again and repeat the process all the way to the boat or shore. You might be suprised to see how often they hit it right at the shore or the boat. Reps your way on the lesson. On edit, says I gotta spread the luv, so a rain check is in the mail.
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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    Real good post. My technique is slightly different. I use a modified Mooching Technique, where as before cranking, I lift the rod tip and let the bait fall. Do this twice, before cranking any distance. After cranking ten to fifteen feet, I raise the rod tip again and repeat the process all the way to the boat or shore. You might be suprised to see how often they hit it right at the shore or the boat. Reps your way on the lesson. On edit, says I gotta spread the luv, so a rain check is in the mail.
    Thanks.

    Yeah, there are couple of ways to do this, and frankly when they are on the bite there is no wrong way...lol. I love when they follow it to the boat, you see them, and then wham! they decide to hit. I really enjoy that strike. I was fishing in the Whittier harbor a few years ago, and they would follow it up to the rip-rap and then turn and nail it all in one motion. So cool to watch in crystal-clear water.

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    Default Ya

    The tug is the drug

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    Talking Thanks for the lesson

    Never had too much luck with herring, but will definitely try this techinque later this fall. Usually use sinkers or floaters to get the bait out further with little success. So okay, "free drift."

  6. #6

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    I cast or jig 1ounce white or green tube jigs no bait simple and effective

  7. #7
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I've caught silvers quite a few different ways, I'm far from an expert. I've found that mostly I use a mooching rig, which consists of a 2-3 oz bannana sinker, 24-30" leader, hootchie skirt, and a 2 hook rig. I fillet herring and cut into 1" strips. The strip is put on one of the hooks. I've also used berkley 3" herring gulp which works at least as well as herring, and one will land multiple fish. We just drop them down and jig them adjusting depth depending on where the fish the holding. We were out of Seward the Friday before last and didn't seem to have much trouble landing 15 fish, and having a few jump the hook while we were waiting the clear the net to bring another fish on board.

    The other techniques I've used is casting out a buzz bomb jig and alternating realing it in and letting it drop while retrieving line. Don't let the line go slack while it drops as you won't feel the hit. This is lots of fun on a medium or even light spinning outfit. And then there is just dropping a point wilson dart or crippled herring 2-3 oz jig down to whereever the fish are holding and jigging.

    Next time out I'll have to compare how the metal jigs catch vs. the mooching rigs. Last time out the mooching rigs were working well enough that I didn't feel the need to try something different. And a few years back we were fishing in ~60' of water and instead of a silver a co-worker hooked and landed a nice 30# halibut.

    Silvers really aren't that hard to catch if they are there, and many does everyone have a good time watching them race around the boat and jumping out of the water. Can't wait to get back out after them.

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    Yes, when there are a lot of them around, it's just craziness and fun. And I agree, a lot of the time, you could probably catch them on about anything. The thing with my technique is that even when others aren't catching anything, I seem to. I've mostly used it from shore, and had people casting everything from bobbers with bait, the usual array of spinners and spoons, and herring with weight sitting on the bottom and outfished them all significantly. I think there's just something about that mostly free-floating bait that makes otherwise hesitant to bite silvers kind of go, "ok, what the heck..."

    From a boat, I've had success using pretty much every technique, but last fall we anchored in Valdez while the rest of the fleet trolled by us, back and forth, and we killed the fish. It was a gas-saver, and out-produced for us by far the trolling (which we'd spent the first half of the day doing with only a couple of fish to show for it).

    I'm not saying it's the only way or the best way, just that it has been really, really successful for my family and I when nothing else was, and it's easy enough for anyone to do, especially from shore where your options are a little more limited.

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    Default Are We Talking Salt Water Exclusively?

    I've tried numerously to catch silvers, but no luck. I've used roe and spinners in ship creek, eklutna tailrace, and homer lagoon. Will the herring work at these locations also? Thanks for the great advice.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodk View Post
    I've tried numerously to catch silvers, but no luck. I've used roe and spinners in ship creek, eklutna tailrace, and homer lagoon. Will the herring work at these locations also? Thanks for the great advice.
    In fresh water, roe and vibrax are the medicine. I never fish for them when the sun is on the water. Right at dark and again right at daybreak is the best time for Silvers in streams.
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    thank's for the post I think in salt water the only thing better than a weightless dead bait is a weightless live bait allthough if you can get into silvers on the salt an active lure is very effective. I have taken my proven lake trout tactics and a few simple jigs of different sizes and have been amazingly succesful on multiple species of fish in many different areas of warm and cold water on my first cast last year for silvers I got a 40# king, have had a ball with the silvers and it is way more fun then trolling I will only troll when trying to locate schools.

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    I'm still really wanting to get my hands on some live herring to try live-baiting out...I think that has potential to be extremely fun and effective. I haven't figured out a way or place to get them live without a boat, though.

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    Default Don't forget the best!!

    Kodiak Custom Tackle where designed, developed, and tested in salt water for salmon. Best part is there are made right here in AK!!!

    Did I mention they catch fish too!!

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by coho slayer View Post
    I'm still really wanting to get my hands on some live herring to try live-baiting out...I think that has potential to be extremely fun and effective. I haven't figured out a way or place to get them live without a boat, though.
    go grab a sabiki rig and cast out towards the jetties in triangle business park in whittier if you want some live bait size herring. weed through the cod and you'll have tons of herring

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Awesome, thanks. I'll have to try that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redleader View Post
    thank's for the post I think in salt water the only thing better than a weightless dead bait is a weightless live bait allthough if you can get into silvers on the salt an active lure is very effective. I have taken my proven lake trout tactics and a few simple jigs of different sizes and have been amazingly succesful on multiple species of fish in many different areas of warm and cold water on my first cast last year for silvers I got a 40# king, have had a ball with the silvers and it is way more fun then trolling I will only troll when trying to locate schools.

    One thing I've never really tried for salmon is jigs...got any suggestions where to start? How do you even fish them? I think jig I think bass....and I've never really bass fished, so I'm a bit clueless on that one.

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    I am going to try the technique that coho uses and see if it produces for me. I have had little success out in seward the last 2 times I went. I will post sunday on how I did on saturday. I hope I limit out or i will be done with salt and go back to fresh where i'm more productive and always catch fish. Good luck this weekend and enjoy the weather.

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    Default Salmon jigs

    I have used them for silvers two different ways. first just casting and bouncing them along the bottom like you do fishing for bass. The other casting them using a slip float. The float keeps the jig off the bottom so you don't get hung up as much. My favorite color is the notorious pink and purple. I have had much better success with a jig than a vibrax spinner.

    Give it a try.

  19. #19

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    Silver fishing is rather easy, once you get the hang of it..


    The key to silver fishing is to not chase jumping salmon. Every silver bite you'll get into will have a "sweet spot". It's usually a ball of bait tucked in one particular area. Coho's come and go from that bait, but the best fishing will be over the bait. You'll notice the highliners consisting visiting one particular area, over and over again to get limits. Learn to use your electronics to find that sweet spot, and you'll consistently experience wide open fishing.

    Another key to silver fishing is to be out there very early. Coho's bite very well early, and then can shut off. Just a few days ago my clients limited out on a point (36 cohos) early in the morning. At 8 am I heard another boat on the radio telling his partner boat that he had dead fishing at that same spot. Had he been on that spot 3 hours earlier he could have limited his boat out in an hour.

    Mooching is one of the most effective techniques when it comes to salmon fishing. It does require some skill in boat handling and a person to be proficient with a rod though. To gain an appreciation and understanding for mooching, read "salmon on my mind", by Francis Caldwell. He has a few chapters devoted to the "kelpers" from Neets Bay who showed up and shook things up with the mooching technique.

    Good luck guys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redleader View Post
    thank's for the post I think in salt water the only thing better than a weightless dead bait is a weightless live bait
    I always take along an ultralight rod and a few of those multi-hook herring jig setups (the ones with a bunch of little bare hooks or fish skin "feathers") and try to jig up some fresh herring to use for salmon. In Valdez when the cannery was working the herring seemed pretty easy to pick up from the dock. In Whittier you can usually jig them up over near the commercial dock, especially if they have a processor set up over there. If you're out on the water and you're mooching or drifting bait, it's not a bad idea to have someone on board try jigging up some fresh bait while the boat is idling.

    I actually caught a small salmon on my herring rig last year, so you never know. Lots of fun on an ultralight, especially since the herring hooks are unbarbed.

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