By: Fishing With Rod
Fall is an interesting time for anglers in Southwestern British Columbia. For more two months salmon enthusiasts can enjoy catching a good abundance of Chinook, coho and chum salmon. All three species have their own appealing features. Chinook are robust and put up an enduring fight. Coho can be finicky and are acrobats when hooked. Chum are usually plentiful and easy to entice. Many different fishing techniques can be used to target these species, but one method, float fishing with freshly Fire Cured roe, seems to consistently produce.
Any type of salmon roe can be good bait, as long as it is fresh and unfrozen. Once the roe skeins are removed from a fish, snip the membranes on one side so it spreads out. This allows the cure to work through all the eggs. I like to place the skeins in a container and sprinkle a few tablespoons of Fire Cure. Red is my favourite colour as it stands out in most water conditions. The purpose of this dry cure is to make the eggs firm by drawing water out. In addition, Fire Cure’s krill attractant provides extra scent, which salmon cannot resist.
Once the roe skeins sit in the cure for an hour or two, they should be submerged in an excess amount of liquid. Some like to leave it in there until the next fishing trip. I like to remove the liquid and dry the roe skeins on a rack until the eggs are firmer, yet moist. Once the right texture is achieved, they can be packed in borax (or Natural BorX O Fire) and kept frozen, or in the fridge if your next fishing trip is soon. Another option is to cut the skeins into sizes which you want to use on your hook prior to packaging, so no cutting is needed while you fish.
To see how Fishing with Rod cures salmon roe, please watch his video, which more than 140,000 people have learned from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS6nZvzWlwQ
The float fishing setup for salmon is simple, and should be kept as simple as possible. A foam or clear plastic float, sliding weights or split shots, swivels, line for leaders and octopus hooks are all you need. I like to use the smallest floats, which the river current allows me to, to maximize sensitivity. A float, which needs 15g to 25g of weight to balance is best. Fix the float onto the line with rubber float stoppers. I use one single sliding weight to balance the float, but some prefer to use split shots.
The leader length from the weight to the hook does not need to be longer than 12 inches. Because your bait will always travel faster than the weight, it is the first thing the fish will see and your weight will not spook them even though most suggest otherwise. A longer leader will simply suspend your bait even more and delay the time for the bites being detected by the float. The strength of your leader should be at least 6 to 8lb test for coho salmon, up to 15lb test for Chinook salmon. Fluorocarbon can be helpful in clear water conditions if stronger line is being used.
Setting your float depth correctly is critical and often dictates the outcome of your fishing trip. Because salmon mostly travel and rest close to the river bed, it is important to set your depth so your bait is drifting at least one foot off the bottom. This stops you from getting snags or accidentally foul hooking any fish. When the bait travels across salmon, just above their eyes, they will instinctively strike at your bait.
Timing is another important factor when fishing for anadromous salmon in rivers. Typically, fish will bite repeatedly throughout the day if the river is void of anglers. A heavily fished river can become rather challenging. Fishing is generally much better at first light and near the end of the day. Always pay attention to the changes in the river level. Too often anglers focus only on specific (crowded) spots where fishing is believed to be good. The reality is that productive spots change as the river rises and falls. A routine in writing journal entries and studying the river level can only lead to better success.
There you have it, hopefully by using Pautzke Fire Cured roe and applying these tips to your outing, you can find plenty of salmon this fall at your local rivers!
Editor’s Note: Rodney Hsu is the founder of Fishing with Rod one of Canada’s most popular fishing internet channels. To see his videos please visit https://www.youtube.com/user/fishingwithrod.