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Mooching set up


Mooching can be done with and without a motor. The idea is to get the bait down to the fish, without the big flasher or down riggers, that trollers  use. Kick the small boat motor in and out of gear to adjust line angle to the bait. This technique is will catch King salmon and Coho. 

Cut Plug Herring

The herring should be cut plugged so it has a spin.  If your herring doesn't spin you aren't going to catch fish.  A sharp knife first lays right behind the gills of a semi-frozen (thaw in bait solution) bait fish from dorsal to ventral surface. Then the knife blade rotates to establish two angles in the bait: a 45 degree toward the tail end and, as well, a 45 degree angle toward the lateral flank that rests on the cutting board. In one clean slice, cut the head  off. If the cut has been performed correctly, the angled face causes the cut plug to spin in the water. Use the  knife to n twirl the guts from the body cavity, leaving the opening skin intact. Be gentle with the bait to keep the scales intact. 

Bait Cure

Try this if your having trouble with your bait. Bait, both for whole or cut plug mooching, should be stiffened beforehand. A simple solution of pound pickling salt to 1 quart water hardens bait for easy handling. A tackle box-size jar also keeps bait fresh for up to three weeks in the fridge.


Twenty or Twenty five pound line should be used for the mainline. When your sinker gets caught on the bottom you will be glad you have the higher strength line. Leaders can be the same test as the line as snags from the hooks are far less frequent than sinker hang ups. But keep in mind that the salmon will get a good look at the bait going slowly, so lighter leaders of 15-20 lb. should be used. I prefer 20 mainline and 20 for my leaders.


Hooks should be ultra sharp at all times. Basic, I know, but people still make the mistake of using dull hooks and wonder why there fish come off. Hooks in the size of 1/0-4/0 should be used depending on the size of your herring. Keep the hooks small as the fish get a good look at your bait. Hook placement should be so that one is in the front of the bait on one side of the herring and the other is in the back of the bait on the other side. If three hooks are legal through a trailer on to catch those short strikes. The art of hook placement on the herring varies with each fishermen. 


Penn 109ms reels are the most common type of reel used to mooch. Shimano 1000 plus and the Shimano 1500lc hold plenty of line to fish properly for these fish. In Canada the moochers use a center pin reel made of graphite or the classic Winona wood reel. The ability for the reel to be in direct drive is a important feature to this style of fishing.



Rods should be 9- 10 feet in length to keep the line out of the motors. The tips should be sensitive so you can detect the lightest strike. The backbone of the rod should be strong enough to dangle  8 ounces of weight off the tip and set the hook.


Before dropping your bait make sure it spins properly next to the boat. If your bait comes back tangled frequently try putting a one ounce rubber core sinker a foot in front of your sinker on the mainline.

To mooch you should have line angle no greater than 40 degrees and no greater that 80 degrees. The bait should be dropped to the bottom and then reeled up from the bottom slowly.  When fish takes bait reel slowly until tight line and set  the hook hard.

Fish on and around bottom structure changes, clean side of tide rips or bird balls.



Mooching Salmon
by David Nutall