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Ocean Fishing for Dummies?


Red Skull Member
Jun 2, 2020
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The wife and I moved to Juneau, Alaska this spring, bought a boat, know nothing about ocean fishing, and our lake fishing experience is limited to throwing in a worm and catching a fish. We've tried fishing twice with 0 luck and I think it has a lot to do with where we are fishing, what we are using, and how we are using it. We need some pointers. I'd like to catch some salmon and a halibut or 2 after we get the hang of salmon fishing.

We are at the end of the king salmon run with silvers starting to show up and there's a fair amount of halibut in the area. The boat is a 17' alumaweld which gets us out to most of the local areas depending on weather. It has 2 scotty manual down riggers, lowrance 5HDI with sonar and a 7" with charts, and the boat has a kicker for trolling.

Recommendations on poles and gear? Right now we have 2 8' poles with spinning reels that were cheap combos and I'm going to look at this stuff tonight https://juneau.craigslist.org/spo/d/...163202873.html It was recommended to get them strung with 20 or 25 pound mono for salmon or 60 pound braid for halibut

Tackle, we don't have much, we had a couple spoons we donated to a kelp bed and the wife bought a bunch of "pretty stuff" at a bait shop that I think are mainly halibut jigs and didn't work at all trolling for salmon. A lot of the youtube people like flashers with various things or hearing dragged behind the flasher. What would you try using for salmon?

Techniques? Tolling, jigging, mooching I've learned the differences on youtube but that's about it. I'm thinking trolling with down riggers is our best bet and it seems like speeds should be 1-3mph depending on the bait you are using. Or should we try something besides trolling with down riggers. How do we figure out how deep to set the down riggers/ how deep we should be trolling?

I've started to watch a bunch of videos on how to do use the lowrance sonar and I'm starting to understand what's on the screen. I think that will help a lot the next time we go out

How do tides factor into fishing? We have huge tides here.

Any recommendations on some reading or you tube channels would be great. I'm just about through sonar for dummies. Any pointers would be great.
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We salmon/halibut fished out of seward a couple years ago. For salmon we were kind of jigging, but it was more drop down to 100ft and then start cranking up fast, and we would get bit on the way up. It was a jig with a trailer, kinda goofy looking, I have never used anything like it before. Got limits for the boat.

For halibut we anchored up and used these rods that were basically a 5ft broom handle and a giant reel with 130lb braid. Drop a 5 lb ball to the bottom, bring up a crank or two and wait. For bait we used the cod that we caught while salmon fishing.

You should look into getting conventional reels for trolling. Leave the spinning reels for jigging. My buddies boat has 2 downriggers and we stack 2 rods per d/r. Best cheap setup we tried was the okuma coldwater.

Also, go out on a party boat or with a guide one time. Local knowledge is key. Its a couple hundred bucks but you will get fish and learn how they do it
Also, go out on a party boat or with a guide one time. Local knowledge is key. Its a couple hundred bucks but you will get fish and learn how they do it

Yep, book a couple different guides, GPS the locations, study maps, and make it happen.
We moved out of Sitka last year.

I never paid attention to bottom fishing, I just tagged along with friends and fished where they took me.

For salmon we just found where they were schooling before going up the river and snagged them with a bigass treble hook.

Hunting is super easy too. Cruise the shore when the snow gets down to the beach. Shoot the deer that's eating seaweed at low tide. Get out of the boat first though. I heard of the fish good putting cameras up catching people shooting from the boat.

Rent a cabin and spend a weekend in the woods from the boat.

I'm jealous. I miss Alaska and can't wait to go back. The wife and I are thinking of retiring up there.
We finally had some luck yesterday after getting 2 tiny salmon we threw back the day before. The wife caught a keeper, we are pretty sure it's a pink and not a silver salmon but the jury is still out. We caught another pink that was just barely a keeper we threw back and a couple undersize flounder and salmon we threw back.

Here's what we've ended up doing in case everyone else is a dummy like me when it comes to fishing. I attached some pictures with captions below explaining what I did. Feel free to give me pointers or tell me what I'm doing wrong

We ended up buying 2 under $60 okuma trolling reels with line counters and some 8 1/2' medium heavy cheaper ugly sticks. We had the reels loaded with 30 pound mono. We went with the new reels with counters because my wife has a bad habit of putting out way too much line out so the counter helps. I rigged them with a 3/8" plastic ball and a #5 or #6 ball bearing swivel and wire clip.

For all our tackle some came with leaders and hooks attached, for those I just I tied a ball bearing or cheapie swivel to them. According to the youtube fishing gods you should throw the premade rigging away and tie your own with quality line but I figured a kid who ties the stuff in a Chinese factory all day probably does a better job than me and I left the factory rigging. For the tackle that wasn't rigged I used 40lb fluorocarbon clear mono line, hooks between 7/0 and 1/0 and everything had 2 hooks with 1 closer to the head and 1 either trailing or farther back in the skirt, some I used 3/8" balls in a random variety/ guess of colors to space out the hooks, either a gum pucky head or a little plastic head, made the leader 30-48" long just guessing on how long to make them, and then tied a ball bearing or cheapie swivel on. I attached a general picture of the tackle box and with what we brought for salmon fishing.

When we actually caught fish we used 11" pro troll flashers which came prerigged with a ball bearing swivel on 1 end and a ball bearing swivel/ wire clip on the other end.

I prerigged everything at home so all you had to do was clip on a flasher and then clip on your tackle behind it. I didn't have to tie a knot all day and the one time our lines got tangled unclipping everything made it a lot easier to untangle the ball of lures, flashers, and lines. Unless you are a pro and can tie knots easily bobbing in a boat rigging everything at home made it really easy. The only stuff that did tangle up was some stuff my buddy tied and it didn't have an additional swivel at the flasher, just a loop. According to the youtube gods they use 6 ball swivels in addition to ball bearing swivels. I couldn't find a 6 ball swivel in stock in town and we survived without them and I think we'll continue to avoid them. When we got home everything got rolled back up and organized for the next trip. There also weren't a ton of big ball bearing swivels left in sock some some of them got the cheap swivels and they held up fine.

When we actually caught fish we were in a channel to get out of the bigger waves out in the open, we weren't marking a ton of bait balls but didn't have a lot of options because of weather. We started fishing around 2PM, high tide was about 2:30PM and didn't have a bite after 4PM and decided to head back in because of the weather picking up. Not sure if the tide going out or just or luck caused the lack of bites but with the seas picking up we played it safe and headed home. Originally we found a couple bait balls on the fish finder at about 80' in close to 100' of water off the center of the channel, we set the down riggers to about 80' and had 0 luck. When we initially drove the area I had also seen some stuff at about 30' in 30-40' of water closer to shore and that's where we had good luck and action. We were using pink trolling flies and flashers in the picture to get action. 1 of the rods had a pink lead hearing on it it and after we got action on the fly we put another on. We set the down riggers to about 32' and they were marking in the mid 20's, trolling speed around 2.5-3mph seemed about right. The flashers were rolling nicely and the bait was flailing around pretty good at that speed. We just trolled back and forth over about a mile of water and had bait balls on the screen most of the time, if we got past the bait we turned around.

Unfortunately I have to head back to work for 5 weeks. Mid September we are planning on reserving a cabin for 4 nights and trying for some more salmon along with dropping some pots for dungenous crab. Not sure if we will try for some halibut or not on my next round of days off.





Cut plug herring is my go-to for salmon in salt water.
Sounds like you got a Handel on the salmon. If you don't use the belly meat in the smoker save it for halibut bait. Use a spreader bar and 2lbs weight, circle hook with a 6 to 8 inch hoochie and the salmon belly stuck on the hook. Ussually the best spots for buts have a ledge and u sit on the low or high side depending on how the tide is running. I would say salmon bellies mackerel squid or Octopus then herring is the preferred bait for them. Good luck
if you can upload a chart I can probably show you wich spots would have wich type of fish in them
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Any recommendations for cheap throwaway fishing from shore tackle? We've gone out twice with some cheap spinning rods/ reels and I think we've thrown $100 with of tackle into the ocean getting hung up on rocks. We did have good luck today catching a nice pink salmon, a couple small salmon, the wife snagged a baby flounder, and a bunch of tiny cod. We've been using a lot of stuff out of the Mepps salmon kit https://www.mepps.com/information/sa...ortment/231#CK and similar spinners with decent luck fishing from shore.
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Blue Fox Vibrax is one of my favorite lures to throw from the shore for salmon/trout. Dick Nite spoons are another super popular shore lure for humpies/coho, at least where I grew up.
Buzz bombs spinows and zingers is what I use casting from shore. Silver .white and blue .pink or the perch color. Works on salmon and bottom fish.
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