Oh yes. The chinook salmon. Also called the king salmon by many, this is one fish that you would love to hook into at least three or four times in your life. They are a very special fish in many parts of the world. This is not only because of how big they get. They put up a great fight for anglers when the hook is set. The chinook is also very popular as a seafood dish because of its soft and flavorful meat. If you want to know how to catch chinook salmon before dinner tonight, your in luck. Almost anybody can do it as long as they understand the process.

There are a few certain things that you need to make sure to do so you can be successful on your trip. Try following all of the tips presented and you should be hooked up with one of the most coveted game fish in no time. The main thing to realize when you are out fishing for any salmon or salmonoid is that you need to be at the right at the right place at the right time while also throwing the right lures. This may sound complicated but to be honest, this is fishing.

King Salmon Fishing Location Guide 101 – The Big Ones

As is true with any species of fish, the best way to begin your day is to first find out where to find the fish. You can find the chinook in a variety of different places and even more in the Pacific Northwest. They also inhabit rivers and streams when it hits the spawning season. They are primarily saltwater dwellers but if you go at the right time of year, they can be found migrating through freshwater streams to lay their eggs. This window of opportunity usually happens around mid-July all the way through August. During this time, they will be in deep water ready to deposit eggs in deep gravel before they return back to their homes in the great sea.

They are primarily found in the colder parts of the northern Pacific Ocean. This includes areas of stretches in Alaska, Canada, and California’s north. Look for the great king in open water where they do most of their feeding. Normally, the best way to locate them is to find the bait they forage on. They normally prefer to feed heavily on alewives for most of their lives which are related to saltwater herring. Avoid the structure and cover for now and make sure to hit the deep channels that run off of main rivers. They are also a schooling fish so make sure to stay put.

Using The Right Tackle Is The Best Way To Catch Them

Big black baitcasting fishing rods with bobbers on the back of a wooden boat in the water.

Tackle selection is certainly a very important factor to determine your success. Generally, we do not recommend going light to catch king salmon unless your sure that you set the drag correctly. Instead, the better way is to use specific tackle that is made for the species or you can even try a surf fishing rod or big catfish stick. The right tackle is usually a baitcasting setup that can generate around fifteen to twenty pounds of drag. For bigger chinook, try using twenty to thirty pound test fishing line. Make sure the line is either fluorocarbon or braid.

Try to resist the urge to spool your rod up with monofilament or copolymer line because these feisty behemoths have very needle like teeth in their mouth. They will slice through that nylon like butter. Fluorocarbon has great abrasion resistance which will be needed when those teeth go to work. Braid may fray a little easier but it will certainly provide all of the insurance that you need when the fishing line is under strain. Also, for the love of landing legends, sharpen your hooks! You want the hook you use to stick the fish with to be sharp enough to get past that thick and bony mouth. Don’t go salmon fishing with a dull hook. You will never get a fish in.

Lure Selection And Bait Options That Work Everywhere

By far, the most common way to reel in some nice fish is to use natural bait on your hooks. Some of the most effective natural baits you can use are believe it or not, salmon eggs and sacks. You can keep eggs on your hook by wrapping it in the egg loop knot which is how the knot got its name. You can also try using circle hooks if you want a better chance of hooking one. Since they have bony mouths, a stout rod will help drive those hooks in deep enough to land it. The top choice is always going to be salmon eggs but if they are not available for whatever reason, you can always use sand shrimp that work especially good for kings.

Man's hand grabbing a hook out of a tackle box next to another tackle box with spoons and a bobber on a wooden table.

They can also be taken on minnows as well as live or cut alewives. Despite natural baits being the most popular, they can also be targeted very successfully on a number of lures and other artificial fishing baits. With marabou jigs being one of the most popular choices, you can also find success on crankbaits, artificial egg sacks, swimbaits, and spoon lures. They are also intrigued by very bright colors so stick with the neon, green, orange, yellow and red. You can even throw in a little chrome and flash to keep things interesting when your fishing faster.

Techniques That Are Popular For The Chinook Salmon

Float Fishing

The main choice for most people and arguably the most effective is float fishing. A bobber and a thick sack of juicy salmon eggs held onto a circle hook with an egg loop knot has probably caught more fish than every other single technique. It just works! Try to select the appropriate sized bobber or float and also make sure that it is the right shape. This will provide the most sensitivity so you can feel bites much easier. Make sure that you also have enough bait on your hook so that the fish takes notice. Select from salmon egg sacks, live or cut bait such as alewives and minnows, artificial eggs such as beads, or use sand shrimp. Float fishing is the top producer.


No fishing trip is complete unless you try some jigging out first. While it originally was a great technique for crappie and largemouth bass, eventually salmon anglers took notice. Today, jigging is an exceptionally effective producer for producing numbers of fish year round. It even works in very clear water. The most popular jigs are marabou jigs which can be used to mimic almost anything. Try white to imitate minnow and alewife patterns and try red, pink, or bright colors to imitate egg sacks or other forage. Jigging can also be done with spoons although it is not as common. Use a proper jigging or casting spoon in the right color on the right day.


Trolling is a method you can use if you normally take your boat out to fish. The only problem with trolling is that it takes a boat and a trolling motor to start with. If you had these already, trolling a few different baits can really let you max out on your limits on certain days. To troll properly, try using a strong fluorocarbon fishing line on your reels so that your lures work properly. Fluorocarbon sinks so it allows your baits to get down to the depth they need to be much quicker. It is also very abrasion resistant which is exactly what you need when your baits are bumping rocks and other submerged cover. Try trolling with a spoon, crankbait, or a plug.

Fly Fishing

Many anglers have fallen head over heels for the beauty that is the fly rod. Although a hugely popular choice for rainbow trout and char, it is actually an incredible way to get some of the most heart pounding strikes on the surface or submerged if your a salmon angler. Fly fishing is popular but many people will choose to use the more advanced rigging techniques and opt for casting and spinning tackle instead. Try fly fishing next time if you are into it because it is very fun. Try using a strong enough rod that is flexible enough too. Make sure you use a fluorocarbon leader always. Never forget to match the hatch of the forage in the area with your fly lure.

To Sum Everything Up – Many Ways To Catch Chinook

If you were ever asking the question of how to catch chinook salmon, you probably have done a little research already. The great news is that there really is no best way to catch them. There are many tried and true methods that have been continually exploited by those with years of experience. Catching fish is really about what works best for you and the fish in your area. You can catch them by locating them first as well as using the right tackle all while emulating the very same techniques that have caught this fish for many years. This takes some experimenting.

To do it right, it will take practice. The main thing that you need to understand is that you need to get out on the water and wet a line. Try some of these tips and techniques and tell us how they worked for you! What are your thoughts on this fish species? What do you use to hook them and reel them in? What works for you? Let us know in a comment below this post!

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  1. Barbara Reed says:

    This is super cool Id love to see a post about other kinds of salmon!

    1. David Moore says:

      We appreciate your kind feedback! Do not worry. It is coming!

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