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Port Credit: Salmon “pier” fishing tips for noobs


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#1 openfire

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 01:27 PM

Most of the recent talk here at OFF has been focused on salmon fishing and there seems to be an influx of new fishermen searching the forum for salmon info. So, I thought that I would take this opportunity to share some of the basics I’ve learned over the years while fishing for salmon at Port Credit.

The following info is geared towards fishermen who are new to salmon fishing and should serve as a quick primer/reference that will get a “noob” catching salmon in the least amount of time (hopefully). This info may be useful to some, but redundant for other more experienced anglers. So, noobs keep reading and salmon pros click the back button :)

I should point out that while this is written about Port Credit, most of the basics covered should also apply to other pier fishing scenarios, whether it’s Bronte, Port Hope, etc… Additionally, the following guide is based on my years of fishing Port Credit from mid July to early/mid September.

The largest salmon run in Ontario enters the Credit River through Port Credit in Mississauga, and there’s no better way to get ‘em while they’re fresh than “pier fishing” AKA “spoon chucking” at the mouth of the river... There are other techniques, but none as fun, exhilarating or rewarding as hooking up via the spoon in open water in my humble opinion…

So let’s begin. The first consideration people usually have when they get into salmon fishing is what gear to buy. There is no one right answer, so rather than getting into a drawn out explanation, I’ll just quickly tell you what I use, as it has worked nicely for me. Mileage may vary.

My Gear:

Rod - I have 3 rods that I use for this type of fishing, a 9’, 10’.6” and an 11’.6” (which also doubles as my river rod for steelhead).
Reel – Spinning reel with a spool capacity of 8 – 240 (the spool can hold 240 yards of 8 lb test diameter line)
Line – I load my reel up with 20 lb Power Pro braid (6lb diameter)
Lures - My “spoon chucking” arsenal includes 3 basic lures: Little Cleos, Krocodiles and Rapala J-13’s in various colours and finishes, all tested and proven at Port Credit. More about this later…
So now that you know what I’m packing, I’ll tell you what you need to know about catching salmon at Port Credit, spoon chuckin’ style:

Rule 1) Timing is everything.

If you take anything away from this guide, this should be it. I don’t care how skilled an angler you are, if you don’t fish when the salmon are within casting distance, you obviously won’t catch any fish. Remember, this is shore fishing, so unlike those with a boat, we must wait for the salmon to come to us.

Not to beat this point to death, but I’ve read posts from people who say that they didn’t see any fish being caught. Well, the reality is that if you were there at 1:00PM on a sunny day in clear water in the middle of August, it’s usually a foregone conclusion that you’re in for a good old fashion skunking… A savvy salmon fisherman may have caught 2 or 3 fish just 7 hours earlier and you would be none-the-wiser. I used to feel bad when I would run into guys at Port Credit while I was on a Sunday afternoon jog, seeing them casting cleos in the middle of the day… I would ask, “Any luck?” and they would say “No, nothing… I think it’s still too early in the year… Maybe anther 2 weeks”. It would be the 3rd week of August and I had already landed well over 2 dozen in the past month.

Here’s the deal, when it comes to casting lures from shore at the mouth of the Credit, to have any reasonable expectation of actually catching salmon, you have to time it right. So, when it comes to “timing it right”, you have 4 basic options, listed from best to worst:

a) Crack of Dawn.


This in my opinion is the very best time. When I say “crack of dawn”, I mean you should arrive at Port Credit while it is still pitch black and stay until the sun has risen.

At this time, the salmon are tight into the shore, actively and aggressively feeding. You will often see large boils on the surface of the water… these are salmon. When you see that happen, immediately cast past the boil and retrieve through the spot.

You have about a 2 hour window (depending on when you arrive) to hook as many salmon during this time before the sun gets too high in the sky and the salmon retreat back into deeper water, out of casting range. The window can be extended by an hour or so if it is overcast, but by 8:00 am, it’s usually game over, time to go home.

I usually show up well before dawn, at around 4:30 AM or so, and start with my glow in the dark cleo and stick with this lure until it is completely light outside, when I’ll then switch over to my other standard (non glow) lures.

b ) Fishing during overcast / inclement weather OR when a well defined mud-line exists within casting range.


If there’s a well defined mud-line, you can catch salmon all day long by casting right to the mud-line edges as illustrated in the image below:
Posted Image


Mud-lines form during and after a significant rain event. Salmon can often be found at the edges of the mud-line. If the edge of the mud-line is within casting range, work the edges and you may have a very good day 8)

c) Night Fishing.

Beginning in mid to late July, the salmon begin to stage at the mouth of the Credit. During the day, they are in deep water, way out of casting range. However, at night they move into the river mouth… within casting distance.

What you need is a “glow in the dark” spoon, such as the standard ¾ ounce green/white glow cleo and a camera flash to charge the lure. I usually flash the lure every 5 casts or so.

This is pretty straight forward. Cast, cast, cast, cast, cast, charge… and so on. Put in your hours and you will eventually hook up. Yes, I said hours. Be patient and you will be rewarded. This type of fishing can be hit and miss. Some nights you’ll have multiple hook ups, other nights, nadda.

d) Dusk.

This can be hit and miss, but occasionally the salmon will creep to within casting distance while feeding anywhere from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Signs to look for are birds (terns?)diving into schools of alewives and seagulls grabbing fish off the surface. Chances are the birds are not the only creatures actively feeding on them. Cast right into or preferably past where you see the birds diving, and reel your lure right through the school of Alewives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hooked into salmon doing this. The birds can be your best friends… Aerial fish finders.

I don’t waste my time chucking spoons at Port Credit unless it is during one of the above 4 times. I guess that about wraps up rule 1)

So, this brings us to

Rule 2) Replace the dull treble hooks that came with your spoons.

Ditch those trebles and replace them with super-sharp Owner siwash hooks, or at the very least, Gamakatsu siwash hooks if you want to save a few bucks. The bottom line is to get rid of the trebles and replace with siwash hooks. You will get much better hook penetration, and I’ve never had a siwash-hooked salmon get off unless my line snapped.

A pack of Owner siwash hooks will run you about $9 for a 6 pack, but given all the time, energy and expense you’ve already invested, is it really worth skimping out on the one single most important piece of fishing tackle?

Rule 3) Have confidence.

If you strictly follow rule 1) and 2) above, you are maximizing your chances at hooking up with Mr. Chinook Salmon. A good fisherman is a confident fisherman.

A final note about lure selection:


The reason that shore fishermen use spoons is primarily because they are heavy. This allows you to launch your presentation as far as possible, which is vitally important when shore fishing at Port Credit. For this reason, I recommend a ¾ ounce Little Cleo, as opposed to the 2/5 and 1/3 ounce models.

Similarly, Krocodiles come in a couple of sizes. Again, you want the largest size.

Lure color: I’ve found that the best colours are yellow/silver, blue/silver, green/silver both regular and hammered finish (cleo) and fire-tiger.

For visual reference, here is my Port Credit salmon line-up:

My Cleos:

Posted Image

edit to add a pic of the yellow/silver cleo... This is probably the best colour of them all. You may have noticed that it's missing from my collection. That's only because I lost it the last time I went salmon fishing, and I haven't got around to replacing it yet. Here is what it looks like:
Posted Image


My Luhr-Jenson Krocodiles:

Posted Image
My Rapala J-13s:

Posted Image

I think I've pretty much covered the basics, but in case I've missed anything, members with knowledge of this subject should feel free to add to this if you have any additional info.

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#2 Rapala Boy

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 02:33 PM

I would also like to add that my record of catches at river mouths shows they are all from LATE SEPTEMBER to EARLY OCTOBER, except for an atlantic I hooked up in the middle of july fishing for bass and pike lol.

At the humber mouth in october everyone was hooking up with chinooks at 4PM, my dad too caught his first salmon at that time.

So I guess there`s a big difference between fishing in august and fishing in october. Thats my point.
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#3 desi

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 02:50 PM

Good info. Thanks for sharing.
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It's not the size of your rod, it's how you wiggle the worm...

#4 openfire

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 02:56 PM

I would also like to add that my record of catches at river mouths shows they are all from LATE SEPTEMBER to EARLY OCTOBER, except for an atlantic I hooked up in the middle of july fishing for bass and pike lol.

At the humber mouth in october everyone was hooking up with chinooks at 4PM, my dad too caught his first salmon at that time.

So I guess there`s a big difference between fishing in august and fishing in october. Thats my point.


Ah, yes I forgot to add that my post applies to pier fishing early in the salmon season. My observations above are from mid-July to early/mid-September.

I've never fished the mouth of the Credit in October... Come October I'm either done fishing for salmon altogether, or I'm fishing the rivers upstream.

Very good observation.

I will edit the original post to specify the time-frame.
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#5 MikeyMikey

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 06:59 PM

Excellent informations.

My personal experience tells me that J13's usually catch larger fish.

Also, glow in dark cleos are the weakest glow there is, therefore I found that it does not require a camera flash or anything fancy. Simple flash light (brighter led is still preffered) supply more than enough lights to glow those cleos.
Also, don't forget that you are charging the glow in dark lures with light, not zapping them instantly with lights. So give it a 5~10seconds of charge.

Also, once the sun light is out using a fluro~ leader may help. (I've caught with direct braid line but leader may! help).

Finally, maybe you can edit the original post regarding your rod selections with informations on rod power rating & action rating? I see a lot of people with noodle rods trying to cast lure weight that is out of range for rod in use.

Final, finally~ PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN LARGE ENOUGH, LONG ENOUGH HANDLED NET! I seee some bring a net that is won't even fit a fish in the net + handle that is like 2ft long only. Come on, are you serious? Do you not understand that you can not safely net a fish from most of the piers? Especially like Credit where it's all rocks? It's not easy even on calm water but with waves.... I hope you never hook up a fish because I don't want to see anyone fall into the water and/or get injured.
Now to those that don't even bother bringing a net. WHY? Do you have a issue with carrying a net? Are you too cheap? Can't afford to spend $40 for a net? Seriously, why do you not have a net?!!!
I used to not have a problem with lending my net to net a fish but after seeing some random bad manner idiots that would grab my net first than ask if they can use it... I would really have loved to say #(%*&#)( NO! to them but... wouldn't really want to look like a cheap bastard like them too. Oh yeah, even more worse is those that do not understand that you can not lift a fish horizontally with a net... or some not heavy duty nets will bend/break.
Also, if you do use others net, please wash the damned slime off the netting and bring it back?

So one habit I develped is that, I do not actively try to help and net a fish for those without net anyore. I just ignore them but those #()%$*#) always tries to land a fish next to those with nets. Not cool. very not cool.

Please, don't be a cheap bastard and bring your own net. (One of a must have fishing gear!, please add to original post). Phew~ I feel better now.
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#6 Rapala Boy

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 07:17 PM

Oh and a rubber net makes it a gazzilion times easier for removing hooks and doesn't hurt the fish. Prefferebly an extendable net like the basket net from lucky strike. Hope this helps.
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#7 openfire

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 10:56 PM

Excellent informations.
Also, glow in dark cleos are the weakest glow there is, therefore I found that it does not require a camera flash or anything fancy. Simple flash light (brighter led is still preffered) supply more than enough lights to glow those cleos.
Also, don't forget that you are charging the glow in dark lures with light, not zapping them instantly with lights. So give it a 5~10seconds of charge.


Yes, you can charge your cleos with a flashlight, quite right... Like MikeyMikey said, you need to hold your cleos against the flashlight for a while to get them charged.

Also, once the sun light is out using a fluro~ leader may help. (I've caught with direct braid line but leader may! help).


I've thought about this in the past, and I've come to the conclusion that in general, (I think) the flashy movement from the lures action and finish is what the fish focus and zone in on, so that a fluorocarbon leader may not be necessary... I could be wrong, but I've never tried it. I know that a fluorocarbon leader definitely can't hurt your chances (unless you're using a very light leader that may snap off)

Finally, maybe you can edit the original post regarding your rod selections with informations on rod power rating & action rating? I see a lot of people with noodle rods trying to cast lure weight that is out of range for rod in use.


The 9' is a med action 10-25 line wt, 3/8 lure weight.
The 11'6" is an ultralight, 4-8 line wt, 1/4 - 3/8 lure wt, BUT this particular rod is built to withstand way more than that... A lot of guys on the US side of Lake O use it for pier fishing and swear by it. You can "put the boots to it, no problem at all"
The 10'6", I'll have to check, it's in my car right now... I'll update the original post when I get the specs for the 10'6".

I agree with everything you said about the net!

+1 :)
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#8 frozenfire

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 11:51 AM

Fantastic post!
All hail our administator openfire!!!!
(There should be a "bow down" emoticon!)
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#9 Mykester

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 12:05 PM

Great advice with reasons why it works.

EDIT: Hey openfire, would bottom fishing with roe also work as you cast out, since the salmon are feeding?
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#10 openfire

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 12:38 PM

Thanks frozenfire! I just figured that laying it out like that will definitely help some novice salmon fishermen get some fish... I know how confusing it can be when you're new and trying to figure everything out. 8)

Great advice with reasons why it works.

EDIT: Hey openfire, would bottom fishing with roe also work as you cast out, since the salmon are feeding?


You may have noticed that I said that there are "other techniques"...The reason I didn't mention any type bottom fishing is because you end up foul-hooking way too many fish this way. You may have heard of "lining" salmon... When the salmon are concentrated in an area, they inevitably swim into your line, you see your rod bounce and set the hook and more often than not the fish gets snagged in the tail or fin, etc... You can catch lots of fish this way, but the majority of fish are caught by "accident". Will they actually take your roe? Well, in the scenarios I mentioned, they are feeding on baitfish, so it's unlikely IMO. A lot of guys do this at night, but it's not my thing... I used to do this as a teenager before I realized that the salmon weren't actually eating my marshmallows!!! :)
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#11 Mykester

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 12:49 PM

Thanks frozenfire! I just figured that laying it out like that will definitely help some novice salmon fishermen get some fish... I know how confusing it can be when you're new and trying to figure everything out. 8)

Great advice with reasons why it works.

EDIT: Hey openfire, would bottom fishing with roe also work as you cast out, since the salmon are feeding?


You may have noticed that I said that there are "other techniques"...The reason I didn't mention any type bottom fishing is because you end up foul-hooking way too many fish this way. You may have heard of "lining" salmon... When the salmon are concentrated in an area, they inevitably swim into your line, you see your rod bounce and set the hook and more often than not the fish gets snagged in the tail or fin, etc... You can catch lots of fish this way, but the majority of fish are caught by "accident". Will they actually take your roe? Well, in the scenarios I mentioned, they are feeding on baitfish, so it's unlikely IMO. A lot of guys do this at night, but it's not my thing... I used to do this as a teenager before I realized that the salmon weren't actually eating my marshmallows!!! :)


If they're feeding on baitfish, I may just give it a shot with minnows under a bobber.
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#12 openfire

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 12:57 PM

If they're feeding on baitfish, I may just give it a shot with minnows under a bobber.


I hope you can cast that bobber pretty darn far!
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#13 MikeyMikey

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 02:50 PM

My personal thought...

Yes you are free to fish anywhere you want but I couldn't bottom fishers just go little bit up to the river and fish there? and not let out a line from the pier and seat back? I am not saying you can't catch anything but do you not think that you'll have a higher chance of hook up by the river than a wide open area?

But like I've said, you are welcome to fish any where you wish.
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#14 MikeyMikey

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 02:55 PM

I personally am gonna trying something different(lure/bait) and see how it works.
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#15 frozenfire

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 07:25 PM

As was mentioned earlier, bottom fishing with roe and marshmallows is considered lining. The fish aren't chasing your bait and eating it, they are simply swimming into it by accident. Yes, you may get a few hooked in the mouth this way, but majority of the time, they will be foul hooked else where.
If a CO sees you snag a fish and fight it until you get it on shore, then keep it, you'll get fined. Once you figure out that a fish is snagged, you must break it off as with all fish.

Stick to tossing lures and spoons on the piers. The fish are actively feeding and smash your presentation! It's what fishing is all about! Best way to get into salmon fishing without all the hassle of what's right and wrong.
Trust me, it's much more satisfying catching them with the way openfire outlined in the original post. :)

All this talk has got me wanting to check out Ashbridges! I know it's a "later in the season" spot, but you never know!
As openfire has suggested, there are no guarantees with this.
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#16 MikeyMikey

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 12:12 PM

Ok now, let's keep this one to pier fishing now.

I think when there is a heavy rain and muddy water flows down, Bronte has the most clear line between mud water and clear water. Humber too...
Where as Credit just goes all muddy.
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#17 openfire

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 12:40 PM

Just to add to the topic of brown water/mudlines... I stumbled across a post by Dilligaf0220 from last year that I found very interesting. He said:

If there's been strong offshore winds (North for Bronte & Credit) and the lake is cold (under 60), a brown harbour can be gangbusters. The warm brown river water will stratify and give cover to salmon in cold clear water underneath. If it's all warm bath water the fishing will generally blow off the piers when it's flowing chocolate.


http://www.ontariofi...s30.html#p20153
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#18 Rapala Boy

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 12:47 PM

Just to add to the topic of brown water/mudlines... I stumbled across a post by Dilligaf0220 from last year that I found very interesting. He said:

If there's been strong offshore winds (North for Bronte & Credit) and the lake is cold (under 60), a brown harbour can be gangbusters. The warm brown river water will stratify and give cover to salmon in cold clear water underneath. If it's all warm bath water the fishing will generally blow off the piers when it's flowing chocolate.


http://www.ontariofi...s30.html#p20153


Yes this makes perfect sense. It explains a lot of things. Right now the lake is a bathtub so shore fishing during the day can be a waste IMO. Things will heat up at the end of september for the GTA. You can bet on it!
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#19 openfire

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 01:27 PM

Another thing that I noticed with Port Credit is that once the overnight temps start dropping to about 12 degrees or so, the fishing really starts to pick up. This is not a "for sure" indicator to go by, just my general observation.
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#20 dodomember

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Posted 02 September 2010 - 03:00 PM

Hello everybody,
excellent post from Openfire and all the contributors. It answers most of the questions I was about to ask. It still have a few open questions though! The post only covered fishing from the shore line and I hope some of the regular or new contributors who also fish from small boats or fishing kayaks (As I read in a previous post from Rapala Boy) will bring me some answers. I am asking this as I've just bought a really nice inflatable boat. Do you think fishing from my inflatable would give me better odds to landing a Salmon? Openfire mentioned, that fishing from shore, you wait for the fish to come to you; may be with a boat (inflatable in my case) one could go to the fish!!! In the case I fish from a boat, can I do it at Port Credit? If not, where can I go and what should I think of?
My other concern is: I almost could never land a fish with lures (spoons or plastic worms or similar). Is it just a matter of casting and retrieving the line? Or are there some movements I should be doing while retrieving the line to have the fish to strike? Hope I am not asking dumb questions.
When salmon are in casting range; in how deep of water would they swim? If not too deep, wouldn't it then make sense to use a floater to prevent the spoon or the hook to be caught in the rocks or weeds? And btw how weedy is it at port credit? I've never been there before, but am planning to go there at least twice during this long week-end.

happy Labour day

Dodo
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