Fall King Salmon Run
The cool nights and falling water temps have once again brought the King Salmon into the harbors on the shore of Lake Michigan, in the greatest city in the world, Chicago! Today let’s talk about the Tackle we need to catch these fish on Spoons and Crankbaits. Next month we will discuss tips, tricks and tactics for fishing spawn for the Kings. Salmon rods are very unique. They’re nothing like rods we use for bass, walleye, pike, and Muskie. They’re very long in length, 8 – 9 feet long for most spoon/crank rods in MH action and 9 – 11 feet in L - UL for spawn rods. There are a couple reasons for the long rods, the first is casting distance. At times we need to bomb a bait as far as we can in order to cover more water giving us more of an opportunity to have our baits come in contact with a King. The other reason is due to the mouth structure of a King. They have very hard bone and cartilage in their mouths and many times we will not get our hooks to penetrate completely through that. The long rods have a soft tip to keep the fish hooked and not rip a hook out but enough backbone to turn a fish when we have to. I am a big fan of the Browning 6 Rivers Salmon rods. Many options to choose from and good durability to these rods! As always there is a HUGE debate on what type of line to run. The greatest debates between Braid and Mono runs wild here! Here are some pros and cons to running Braid;
No stretch – better feel, however runs a lighter drag so we don’t pull hooks out of the fish’s mouth. There’s no forgiveness to Braid like there is in mono.
Thin diameter – Farther casting cause it so thin. However it’s a solid line so at times in clear water can be visible. Most of the time we are fishing Kings is at night so the visibility of the line doesn’t really factor in here. However something to keep in mind for all you sunrise and sunset fishermen who are chasing Kings in the day time.
To me, if you chose a Braided line, there are two that really stand out as far as castability and thin diameter. Sufix 832 and the new Seaguar Kanzen Braid in either the 20 or 30 pound test. If you guys are looking for a great mono, definitely check out P-Line CX in either the 10 or 12 pound test. Smooth casting, low memory, good tensile strength and good abrasion resistance.
Salmon rods are available in Spinning and Baitcasting models, so whichever set up you prefer is fine. Most baitcasters have good line capacities to them but I am particularly fond of our Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Baitcast Reels for this job. 6.3:1 Gear ratio. High performance bearings, smooth drag and a duel brake system making throwing baits all night a breeze. For spinning reels it’s hard to top our Johnny Morris Signature Wide Spool Models in either the size 40 or 50.
Now comes the fun part, choosing the right bait to catch these Kings. Keep in mind the Kings that are shallow are only here to Spawn and then die. They only live 4 years and they are very focused on spawning to keep the species going. They will not actually eat at this time…but they will strike to kill out of anger or frustration. So we have to use baits that will trigger a reaction strike.
Since Kings live most of their short lives in deep water they are most active at night or low light periods in the shallow water. (however they still can be caught during the day while shallow) This is where our glow spoons play a huge role in our arsenal. K.O. Wobblers, Moonshine, Little Cleo and Flashy Times spoons all come in glow in the dark pain jobs. We run the 3/4oz size so we get the maximum casting distance and also help keep the spoon lower in the water column during the retrieve. Slow retrieves are best. Cast the spoon out and start to count to 5, then retrieve, if nothing, cast and count to 8 then retrieve and then 10 and so on and so on, so you can cover all levels of the water column. Remember what count you used on a spoon as it falls if you get a bump or catch a fish and continue on that level since you now know where about in the water level the Kings are.Noisy crankbaits are good too! 3/4 oz Rattle Traps, Storm Mag Warts, Deep ThunderSticks, Deep Reef Runners, Bomber Fat Free Shads, all work great. Bright colors work best and some models even have glow patterns to them. If the Kings won’t react to the spoon you can usually get them to react to a crankbait.Get out there and get some Kings! If you get a female save the Eggs and we’ll talk next month how to fish that spawn. Take some pics and send them in or stop by the shop with them.
Tight Lines Everybody!
Team Lead Fishing Bolingbrook