Are river salmon fisheries good for other species?

Are river salmon fishermen good for catching other species? That request came from an angler who was moving from a northern to a southern state, wondering if there was any other application for the equipment he used to catch river salmon and steelhead that there wasn’t in the warmer waters of the southern states gives.

The answer is a qualified yes, which maybe really maybe is.

The first thing to know about river salmon fishing facilities is that they are mostly freshwater fishing facilities that are used to give deep presentations. Deep doesn’t necessarily mean great depth, but it does mean giving a presentation at or very close to the bottom – whether in 4 feet of water or 12 feet. That’s because salmon and steelhead hug the bottom as the water flows, often in long runs or pools. River water flows at different speeds so some weight is required to keep your supply where the fish are, as supply moves with the river but doesn’t move much slower or faster than that river. The weight of this weight varies with depth and current speed.

This needs to be emphasized as you must always keep in mind that you must put your offerings before salmon (and steelhead) to have a chance of catching them. In rivers they do not hunt prey as some other species might. If your offering isn’t drifting right in front of them and moving towards them with the current and at a natural pace, they are ignoring it.

Thus, river salmon fishing systems include a variety of bait-bait weight assemblies designed for drifting and anchored fishing. Trolling is also possible with slightly different oil rigs, although it generally occurs in much deeper waters, such as at the bottom of rivers and in lakes or coastal waters.

Many of these salmon fishing rigs have the main fishing line attached to one arm of a triple swivel with a short drip line on one of the swing arms leading to a weight and a leader from the third swing arm leading to a lure or hook with some type of bait. Some of these rigs have the main line attached to a swivel, with a pencil lead on the other end of the swivel, and a leader that extends down to a light fly or hook bait (like a salmon egg). Weight styles are designed to make drifting over rocky (blunt) floors easier and to minimize drooping, provided an appropriate size weight is used.

As mentioned earlier, salmon fishermen are freshwater fishermen for rivers. But these are certainly adaptable to coastal rivers and bays where tides flow and there are bottom-dwelling species such as flounder, drum, spot, croak, and others, and sometimes wandering species such as striped bass and bluefish. What changes is the amount of weight used (due to more current and greater depth) to get deep and the type of lure or bait used (due to the preference of local species). Drift fishing and anchoring with anchored boats with bait on or directly on the bottom are common in salt water, so salmon rigs with some modifications are suitable.

In freshwater, some rivers lend themselves to similar presentations when fishing for certain species. Catfish are mainly ground-oriented and the number one quarry, but inland strips and pikeperch are also possible. All three exist in major rivers and some impoundments, and freshwater fishing facilities are commonly used.

Again, the size and style of the weight can change (depending on the depth and whether you are in a lake or a river), as can the bait used for catfish in particular. Again, drifting is practiced, usually with a current or wind and possibly assisted by an electric motor, as well as anchoring, especially in lakes, which makes a variation of salmon drilling rigs suitable.


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