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.
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:
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
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.
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:
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:
My Luhr-Jenson Krocodiles:
My Rapala J-13s:
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.
This post has been promoted to an article