The Japanese invented the “mooching” method of fishing in Seattle’s Elliott Bay in the 1920s—not to be confused with smooching. Essentially, the goal of mooching is to use a natural presentation to deliver the bait—a sliced plug herring—down to the salmon.
Coastwide Mooching is Effective
Mooching is a tried-and-true method for catching salmon throughout all of their saltwater habitat. They swim deep into every bay, sound, and passage from California to Alaska. It is the most popular light-tackle method for fishing for salmon while holding a rod. It is by far my preferred method of fishing. I’ll go through all the details of mooching in this article, and maybe you’ll be convinced to use it on your next salmon fishing trip.
Shimano Tekota’s Great Salmon Mooching Reels
Crescent and cannonball sinkers are the two types of mooching sinkers available. Crescent sinkers are advantageous in that they prevent your mainline from oscillating and maintain the alignment of the entire rig. To sink your bait, you will need a stronger crescent sinker, though, as they have a tendency to plane and swim in the water because of their form. A tiny amount of intricacy is added, but cannonball sinkers, which will be attached to a sinker slide above your swivel, may be lighter than crescent sinkers. Again, it’s your decision, but I like cannonballs on sinker slides more.
Weight-wise, you should aim for between 4 and 8 oz, depending on the depth, weather, herring size, style of sinker, etc. A couple different sizes should always be carried to accommodate any adjustments.
I will occasionally suggest using a pre-tied leader when fishing. One time, though, it’s acceptable. You should ideally make your own because you may choose the line type, line weight, hook brand, hook size, hook style, knot style, hook spacing, and hook orientation. However, you will need a lot of them, and it will take some practice to make them until you are proficient. If you get high-quality pre-tied leaders, there shouldn’t be a problem (most guides will use pre-tied).
A leader line with two hooks attached at the end makes up a mooching leader. The front hook is either firm tied or slip knotted, while the last hook is usually hard tied. Adjustment is possible with slip-tied hooks, which can be useful. The drawback is that using a sliding hook to set the hook puts you at a major disadvantage. I strongly advise you to utilize fixed-fixed leaders just for this reason. Each pre-tied leader will state whether it is a fixed (also known as solid) or slip rig.
Therefore, the following is what you need, whether you intend to buy them or tie your own:
- maybe 4/0-5/0 for very large herring with a 3/0-4/0 hook size.
- monofilament of 25 to 30 lb test (If you tie your own, feel free to splurge and use fluorocarbon leader material).
- Static hooks (also called Solid Tie)
- Check your local laws since barbless hooks may be necessary in some places. Either buy hooks without barbs or severely tighten the barbs down.
- When purchasing, stick with renowned brands like Gamakatsu and Owner. Keep in mind that you’re relying on the knots in your fish.
Depending on how long you plan to fish, I would advise having at least 6 or 7 spare leads per rod, as you should always tie on a new leader whenever a salmon is hooked, the line snags the bottom, a dogfish is hooked, the line twists severely, or any other circumstance that could weaken the leader. Avoid the temptation to fish with a leader that has chips or is tangled; you will probably lose your next catch. So, once you perform the math, you may understand why purchasing pre-tied leads might be advantageous.
So that’s all there is in terms of equipment. This terminal tackle is affordable. Really nice, no?
deciding where to motor mooch
Finding a place to mooch off of a motor is actually rather simple. Let me specify it for you: You’re searching for water close to the beach!
The best motor-mooching locations are frequently found near to popular deep water locations. These deeper water locations are useful because they frequently have steep drop-offs and shelves that have currents pushing bait up against them. The same bait is likewise pushed into the nearby shallower, steeply sloping water.
This map was included in my July 2020 fishing report on Sekiu. One of the most well-known places to motor mooch in the entire PNW is here. We witnessed a man land a 36-pound hatchery king on the same trip! The large fish reside in the kelp. Pay attention to the bath lines that are closer together along the beach in the accompanying map since they indicate a deeper depth drop. Typically, this occurs in 20 to 50 feet of water.
There are other locations like this. Another choice is the shallower water near points. It can also be effective to use shallower bays that accumulate bait before dropping off to deeper water. I spent some time this morning with a guy who regularly catches king salmon in the summer on a random beach on Puget Sound. Why? Kingfishers enjoy feeding and pursuing bait in the shallows. Dragging 15 lb downrigger balls in 20 ft of water off the shore is not a reliable way to catch fish.
How can you catch salmon via mooch fishing?
We only use hands-on techniques when fishing for salmon. You won’t wait for the rod tip to pop while staring at a downrigger. The skipper won’t be the one to give you the rod and signal that it’s your turn. Our approach is mooching because it’s more enjoyable, more productive, and provides you with the sense of mastery and education that can only come from hooking your own.
Mooching seems simple to the uninitiated. A plug-cut herring is simply attached to a pair of tandem hooks on an 8 or 7 foot leader. Tie the leader to a four to eight ounce mooching sinker, then cast it all out into the water and wait for a salmon to ring your bell.
When you fish beside an accomplished angler, this seeming no-brainer mirage is immediately dispelled. I’ve gone fishing all over, from Alaska to San Francisco. I’ve saw an elite group of four or five fishermen capture fish while the rest of the fleet returns home with the skunk on numerous occasions. Although the equipment may be basic, the method is absolute delicacy.
We’ve been scrounging for a while. Cutting and rigging the bait to spin tight and quickly, just like salmon would when being fed, is where the magic begins. The greatest small level wind reels we’ve seen so far, the Shimano Tekota 500LC, and the best mooching rods made from G. Loomis should also be included. This reel boasts a quick rate of retrieve, a smooth drag, and a line counter so you can always keep track of where you’re casting. You can arrive there right soon when the captain announces “fish at 120 feet.” in a booming voice. The leads are strung with razor-sharp Gamagatsu hooks, and the reels are spooled with 20-pound line. To assist the skipper in finding the fish, our boats are outfitted with the best depth sounders and GPS. The skippers of AU are skilled and committed to what they do.
A little peck at your bait signals the beginning of the magic. You’ll be persuaded that it must be something minor if you’re new to mooching. The temptation to either do nothing in the hopes that
While fish are being landed, everyone can continue fishing by mooching. The challenge and excitement are increased with light tackle!
Something more significant appears. Perhaps you should jerk to set the hooks. Your captain will instruct you to wait a moment, make sure you’re getting a bite, and then reel quickly to set the hooks. It is not a good idea to place the hooks immediately, and it takes some practice to get the hang of mooching. However, soon you’ll be noticing those subtle strikes, waiting a split second to make sure the fish has the bait, and reeling frantically to catch up to a salmon that is rising. A fish that can burn through your reel’s line at an alarming rate is what generated the light pecking sensation you felt on your bait while you were tight. You will then fully understand why we mooch at that point.
What does mooch mean in terms of fishing?
The Japanese invented the “mooching” method of fishing in Seattle’s Elliott Bay in the 1920s—not to be confused with smooching. In essence, mooching’s goal is to use a natural presentation to deliver the bait—a sliced plug herring—down to the salmon.
How does mooch work?
1. Mooching is the practice of using a fish that has previously been hooked as bait for another fish. Only an HQ fish or a NQ fish may be used for this, and only after spending 100 GP to employ Mooch II. While Mooch has no cooldown at all, Mooch II has a 3 minute cooldown.
Are salmon safe on octopus hooks?
A 2/0 Matzuo sickle hook is the ideal finishing touch for the business end of a Coho Killer and a variety of other potent salmon lures from the Northwest. (Image by Terry Rudnick)
I spent a lot more time fishing our Northwest Rivers than I did on the sea during the peak of the steelhead fishing in the early 1970s. Because of my addiction to winter steelhead fishing, I occasionally left my job with a nearby forestry company right after Thanksgiving, fished every day the rivers were in good condition for the following four months, and then started seeking for work again in April.
Even though my life was fantastic, I did, of course, go through hot and cold patches throughout each season. When I lost ten fish in a row (on bait) during one of those chilly streaks, I was about to lose my mind trying to find out why. I shifted from one type of hook to another out of desperation. Although they first appeared to be almost identical and to be the same size, the gap and point lengths of the two were slightly different. I caught 12 more fish after that, and 11 of them were caught, according to my winter steelhead notebook.
Choosing the best hook for the situation can sometimes be the difference between fishing success and failure. The hook-changing event from more than 40 years ago may be an extreme example, and there were undoubtedly other elements that contributed to my dramatic shift in fishing fortune.
When I was shopping for a new steelhead hook in the 1970s, there weren’t many options, but the one I chose—92553 Mustad’s octopus hook—is still my preferred bait hook for the majority of my river steelhead and ocean salmon fishing. However, that does not imply that I utilize the same type, size, and quantity of hooks for each circumstance or fishing technique I use throughout the course of a day on the water.