Mooching for salmon, both Chinook and coho salmon, is among the most fun an angler can have on the ocean in Alaska. Coho bag limits in Sitka are liberal, currently six fish per day, so anglers get lots of opportunities to fight coho when they come fish with us. After years of experience, we’ve decided that mooching is our favorite technique, and for good reason! Anglers get to drop their baits to targeted depths, reel them up, feel the bite, set the hook, and fight each fish with a minimum of interference from tackle. It’s a blast!
Mooching for salmon starts with a quality rod, reel and mainline. We use G Loomis SAMR 1084 salmon-mooching rods paired with Shimano Tekota 600 line-counter reels spooled with 25-pound-test Izorline monofilament. We place a slider on the mainline and attach a weight to it, typically 6 ounces. To the mainline we add a barrel swivel and then a 6-foot leader made of Seaguar 25-pound-test fluorocarbon. We’ll tie two hooks, four inches apart on the leader; 4/0 for coho, 5/0 for Chinook. Mooching for salmon requires a bit of rigging, but it’s not too complicated and then you are ready for action.
Mooching for Salmon or as we call it MOOCH MADNESS
Both coho and Chinook salmon are suckers for a wounded herring. Coho prefer a tighter, faster-spinning cut plug, while Chinook like a wider, slower spin. Our captains are experts at matching the bait swimming in the water with the right size and rigging of herring. In general, we use red and green label herring, and medium to small, firm greens are a great all-around bait for both Chinook and coho. Historically, cut-plug herring pinned properly to get the right roll for the right species produces the best for us, but sometimes they prefer a whole herring. You don’t need to worry, we’re dialed in and will give you the best shot at catching these amazing fish.
Now that your rod is rigged and hooks are baited, it’s time to see why mooching is so fun. The captain spots a school of salmon at 150 feet. He instructs you to go down to that depth, easily accomplished with the line-counter reel. You begin to reel up the bait and the rod doubles over in your hands. Your adrenaline rush is palpable to the other anglers on the boat. Standing next to you another angler has dropped their bait and they comment that all they feel is a slack line. The salmon ate the bait on the way down! Aha, the slack-line bite. Now’s the time to reel like crazy and when you feel tension, you’re fighting another salmon.
At times, mooching for salmon turns into a frenzy as multiple anglers fight fish simultaneously. Fish are being fought, others are being landed, salmon are flopping around on the deck and anglers are trying to get baited up and back in the water. When it’s really hot fishing, a boat can limit pretty darn quickly. Once you experience full-on mooching for salmon madness, then you’ll be hooked, just like us! Give us a shout if you want to join us for MOOCH MADNESS next summer.