Tips & Techniques
Anchor Fishing for Salmon on the California Delta
Chinook salmon make their way up the California Delta in large
numbers between August and November of each year. They
eventually spawn in the upper regions of the Sacramento, American,
Feather, Mokelumne and Cosumnes Rivers. A relaxing way to target
these large game fish is anchor fishing.
On this page I'm going to share some of my
own personal methods. This isn't the only way to fish, so
keep in mind that using other methods will also catch fish. Following the techniques from this site will give you a head start
towards dialing in your own fishing methods.
Practice catch and release, and good luck!
You'll want to use about a 6.5' to 8.5' medium
heavy rod rated for 10-30 lb test. A fairly soft tip is needed
to detect the action of your lure.
|Any mid sized
casting reel will work just fine.
Spinning reels can also be used.
I like to use Abu-Garcia Ambassedeur model 5500 reels.
|For my main
line, I like to use 20 pound test Maxima Ultragreen monofilament. The nice thing about monofilament line is that is stretches.
This will help to absorb the violent head shakes that salmon
produce. If you use
braided line, be sure to use a long limber rod that will help to
absorb the shaking action of a fighting salmon.
Use the biggest net you can find, as long as it
fits within the current regulations.
Most people use a "V" shaped metal wire called a
spreader to separate their lures and sinkers. The advantage to
using a spreader is that keeps the lure up in the strike zone while
the sinker remains near the bottom.
On the top end of the spreader I tie a 4' to 6' leader to a
Kwikfish or Flatfish. The K-14 Kwikfish is the standard that
most people use. In slower water you will need to go smaller
and in faster water you will need to go bigger. You are
looking for a nice steady wobbling motion. Adjust the size of
lure to match the current where you are fishing. I use 20 lb test Maxima leader material as
On the bottom end of the spreader I typically use about an
18" leader tied to a 2 to 4 oz. sinker. I use a
light line like 10 lb test on this leader in case I get
snagged. That way, the bottom leader breaks and I still get my
spreader and lure back.
is best where the current is constantly moving out towards the
sea. The lower stretches of the delta where the tides reverse
direction are not very good for anchor fishing. Most anchor
fishing is done on the Sacramento River above Clarksburg.
stretch of the Sacramento River between Freeport and Discovery
downstream of the mouth of the Feather River by the Verona
recreation area. Fish along the color line and downstream
above the wing dams.
You need to find an area that is between 12'
and 25' deep. This is the best depth for catching salmon in
the river. You also need to find an area where there is enough
current to give your lure sufficient wiggling action.
Once you find a good location, anchor and get
your rig set up. Add some scent to your lure before putting it
into the water. Use scents to mask your human odors.
The amino acid L-Lysine that is found on your hands is also
produced by salmon predators like sea lions. Salmon are
going to shy away from anything that reminds them of a predator.
This is why I always wash my hand with scent-free sportsman's
soap before handling my tackle. It's the little things
that can make the difference between a good outing and getting
add a sardine fillet to their lures. This method is commonly
referred to as a "Sardine Wrap". There are also
scent pads and scent pastes that you can add to your lure. The
Pro-Cure web site has some cool tips on wrapping your lure:
Slowly let your lure down until you feel a soft
thud that indicates that your sinker has hit the bottom. Set
your rod in the back of the boat or put it into a rod holder.
If you don't have a rod holder pay close attention to your
rod. I've seen rods shoot out of boats like javelins when
salmon grab the lure.
salmon will slam the lure hard. The
fish will basically hook itself on the treble barbed hooks. Be sure to
give it a really hard hook set after you pick up the rod, just to
If you decide
to keep the fish, knock it out with a club.
Bleed the fish by cutting the gills.
This will remove unwanted blood from the meat and roe.
Now put it on ice for the remainder of the trip.
Following these simple steps will ensure that you will have
good quality meat and roe.
If you decide
to practice catch and release, don't fight the fish too long.
Salmon and steelhead build up lactic acid which can kill them in a
long battle. If I plan on practicing catch and release, I
purposely use heavier gear and hooks so that I can get the fish in
quickly. Try to keep the fish in the water at all times and
always revive the fish by moving it back and forth in the water
until it swims off.
Here is a good
link for catch and release guidelines:
Late morning and late afternoons seem to be
the best times to catch salmon. I've found that between 8:00
am and 10:00 am is a good time to find a bite window.
Another good time to fish is between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm.
The tides also play a role in finding
aggressive salmon. In general, the outgoing tides seem to
make fish more active and prone to biting. The times around
tide changes also seem to be good times to catch fish.
Times that salmon will bite are very
unpredictable. They tend to bite during stretches that last
about 20 minutes. Salmon will bite like crazy for about 20 minutes,
and then without warning will stop biting all together. You
need to take advantage of the times when they are biting! After the bite shuts off it can take several
hours before the fish start biting again.