Tips for beginners: Wait, watch, learn

The trick is to be there and ready when they start biting.

Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2001

The following tips should take some of the frustration out of catching that first salmon.

Rods and Reels

When selecting a salmon outfit, match your rod and reel to the fish.

If you'll be doing a lot of casting, consider a spinning outfit. Even experts sometimes have problems with bait-casting reels, but a spinning reel is almost trouble-free.

Your reel should have a heavy-duty drag system and hold at least 150 yards of line. An 8 1/2-foot, graphite-composition rod is a good choice. Some rods, such as the popular Lamiglas "Kenai Special," work well in most fishing situations.

Lines

Line is the most important item of fishing equipment. Many anglers prefer monofilament line for salmon fishing, because its stretch provides an extra margin for error.

As a general rule, use 15-pound-test for silvers, 20-pound for reds and 25-pound for kings.

Knots

Many salmon are lost due to poorly tied knots. Before going fishing, learn to tie two -- the "Palomar" and the "Trilene." Instructions for tying these knots usually come with a package of new line.

Sharp hooks

A needle-sharp hook will catch more fish than a dull one. Check every hook for sharpness by running the point along your thumbnail. If it doesn't scratch the nail, sharpen the point on three sides with a stone or file. Check hooks often while fishing.

Turf, tackle, technique

The quickest way to learn a lot about salmon fishing is to go fishing with a guide. Another way to learn is by watching successful anglers and asking questions. Local tackle shops can be helpful. Free brochures are available at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road.

Fish the bottom

Salmon, whether resting or migrating upstream, are nearly always on the bottom. If your bait or lure isn't near the bottom, add weight until it is. In a stream, you should feel your sinker or lure occasionally touch bottom as the current moves it along.

Be patient

Salmon may be present and biting for only a short time during a day. The trick is to be there and ready when they start biting.



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