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Salmon in the rivers have a very keen sense of smell to go with there eye sight. To take advantage of this you should use oils, sand shrimp, roe or sardine wraps to take advantage of this ability. Salmon fishing with bait is the same as drift fishing for steelhead except you should target the pools and deep channels in the river.  

Change your bait often since the smell of the bait will fade with use.

When using bait on a jig try using a rubber band (dental braces rubber) to hold the bait on. When using bait below a float it can be rigged up like drift fishing or put in a small colored nylon bag. This works well when shrimp tails are the preferred bait. Tuna balls are a favorite of California Salmon anglers. Canned tuna in oil or water will work when placed in mesh bag and tied shut. Chopped herring or Sardines make excellent bagged baits too.

Shrimp bags

  1. cut shrimp into small pieces
  2. place in bag
  3. wrap with thread

Roe bags

Cocktail shrimp

There are several types of shrimp at the fresh fish counter. Prawn tails fished behind a spin glow are effective for both salmon and steelhead. You may even try bagging some of the cocktail shrimp up . These can be soaked in Oils overnight and readily accept coloring.


Curing Roe for cluster eggs

When removing roe from a fish keep away from water. (Do not rinse) Never freeze eggs in water for later use. Always cure roe as soon as possible. Roe will keep in refrigerator in Ziploc bag for up to a week before curing.

  1. Place roe  in paper towels over night to drain
  2. Unwrap and place on news paper in skeins
  3. Cover with borax (get in to seams of skeins) 
  4. To have colored eggs mix in  a small package of sugar free Jell-O (Optional step) or buy Procure instead of borax
  5. Cut Into bait size pieces
  6. Cover in borax 
  7. Spread out individual baits on newspaper
  8. Let air dry until crust has appeared on one side
  9. Flip over baits until the form crust on top side again
  10. Place in container and cover with fresh borax
  11. Freeze

To  thaw roe place in microwave for one minute (No longer or you will cook your eggs)

Your ready to fish

Sand shrimp

Sand shrimp must be refrigerated at all times during your transport and fishing trip. They deteriorate rapidly with out a ice cooler.

When fishing sand shrimp I use a double hook set up that allows one hook on the head and another in the tail area. They must be cast gently or it will rip off during cast. You can also clip tail off and place in egg loop after putting hook down middle exiting though the tail. Place the egg loop around a shell section for strength. 

Hook size on this set up is 2/0 or 3/0 to expose the hook for the bite.

To catch sand shrimp go to the beach at low tide and dig for clams. The sand shrimp swim into the holes left by the clam gun or shovel. Scoop them out and put in bucket.

Vaseline Balls

This is a old time bait substitute. 

  1. In coffee can melt Vaseline (unscented) on low heat.
  2. take leftovers from egg clusters and sand shrimp heads and add to melted Vaseline or use a commercial bait oil
  3. stir until smooth as possible 
  4. add more Vaseline if it gets to thick
  5. Add  sponge balls 
  6. squeeze balls until they are saturated with the mixture.
  7. remove and place balls in Ziploc baggie
  8. freeze for freshness