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Land Locked King Salmon 101

Land Locked King Salmon 101

Added by Stan Kulak on November 13th, 2010

Learn about Land-Locked King Salmon fishing for the Fall season: Juveniles/Adult/Nomads.

Planer Boards for shoreline cruising.

We are going to start with Fall Kings. There are two types of Kings this time of the year, the mature spawning kings and the juveniles. By the end of November all the mature spawning Kings will have died at the boat ramp.

The question is what do you want to target? If you’re after the spawning Kings these will be the steps to take. First find out where they were stocked. Next the spawning Kings will be in the top 50’ of the water column and not far from the boat ramp they were stocked from. They could be one mile either direction of the ramp, moving back and forth in front of that ramp. The schools will be something you have never encountered on you Fish Finder screen before. Some people will think their Fish Finder is getting a false reading of the bottom, when, in all reality, you’re in the middle of a school of spawning Kings, from the surface to about 40 or 50’ down and the same width. It is an impressive sight to witness first hand if you have never seen it before. Your trolling speed should be no more than 1.2 mph surface speed to 1.5 mph. Now my top lures have been the size # 3 J-plus and Silver Streak Plugs. Never, never use a snap swivel direct to these plugs. Always use a 6 to 8’ leader and tie direct to the plug. The reason is, Mr. or Mrs. King will use that plug for leverage to get loose. When you tie direct and the lure is hit, it will slide up your line leaving the King with hooks in his mouth and nothing else. Always run these plugs clean (no dodger)and use a set back off the ball of no more than 70’ with the shortest at 50’. Another great item is the Rapala Xrap # 13 jointed in silver slashbait.

I would suggest beginning at 15 to 20’ down from the surface to start with on your down rigger settings. If you’re using in-line boards I would add, 4oz weight 6 to 8 feet above the plugs. For planner boards, I would mix it up with some 4oz and 6oz weights as well, working the shore line with your boards. The rule of thumb is 1 oz per 10’ of depth.

Patience is the next step. You most probably spend some long hours just trying to locate the big, mature fish. It is the guy with the most patience that will fill the box. Now once you locate the spawning Kings, you will have to approach that school from many different directions to get them to react and strike at your lure.


For the juveniles, which are Kings from (1) one to (3) three year old fish. Once the water temperature gets to 63 degrees they will be found in the top 40’ of water. As the surface temp. cools more they will rise as well. At 56 degrees they will be right on top to 20’ to 40’down and cruising the shore line for their dinner. Last Fall I had a couple of friends fishing with me, when one of them yelled look at those Trout jumping onto the shore. As I looked, I turned the boat around and we trolled through where they were jumping and hooked up a triple in Kings to 3lbs. Feeding Kings are not picky on their dinner choice. I know of people who have gutted Kings with Bluegill, Crappie, Bass and Trout in their stomachs. When Kings are on the surface like this I run Stick Baits and Spoons 100’ off the tow line. Try and keep your Stick Baits 2” to 5” and Spoons of magnum size are good. Now these fish are not going to be there long. You might get two or three passes and they will be gone and you will have to go back on the hunt.

Dreamweaver Spin Doctor Flasher

Further out in the lake you will have the nomads, they will be a little deeper in the water but not by much. Look for schools of bait or bait balls and start working them. The Kings will not be far away. As the lake warms on the surface in the Spring both these Kings, the nomad and the shore cruising kings will start dropping down to cooler water (42 to 48) degrees. Sometimes they will be down as much as 350 feet or more to find their comfort zone. Their feeding range will be 50 to 53 degrees. Now these fish are a little trickier to get. Most guys catch one here and there, while they're feeding on Shad or Kokanee in most lakes.

To target these deep water fish you will need a few items. One is a temperature probe to find their living room. Second is down rigger cables of 400’ or more. Tackle most people are not use to. The first thing that gets a Kings attention is vibration, so you want a dodger you can troll at 2.5 to 3 mph surface speed. My top two choices are the Spin Doctor and the Smart Fish. Now here are the baits you will need to pick from, Flies, Buck Tails, Spoons and head rigs. That call is one you will have to make, but I will cover all of them just a bit.

Howie Fly -Glitter Jade

For Flies, I use two types: the Howie fly and the A-Tom-Mix flies from New York. I use a 22” set back off the dodger when I hook them up, for best action. For Buck tails there are more on the market than one can count. The one I have relied on is the Grand Slam Buck tail out of Washington. With this Buck tail you can hit with a flash of light and it will not let you down. I tie them up on a 40 or 50lb leader at 22” as well. Now you’re saying that is over kill, but not true. The lighter the leader the more whip you will get, and for Flies and Buck tails you want a nice slow whip action or roll.

Spoons for me are like diamonds to woman. My collection is way overboard! You don’t have to go crazy on these $ 6.00 pieces of pretty painted metal. Reminder: We do not run Spoons behind a Dodger. They are always run clean, and a spoon is better run off down riggers than off a Dipsy Diver set up.

Head Rig for Herring

Now for the deadliest set up of all, the Head Rig with Herring. Most Head Rigs are pre-set to make your bait roll. Always use a 52” set back off your Dodger for Head Rig set up. Some guys will run a Teaser between their Head Rig and Dodger for best results, keeping that 52” distance. The reason behind this your Dodger is acting like a school of healthy bait fish, while your crippled herring is behind the group and easy prey for the King.

This is a key final factor for Kings: Keep your trolling speed up! I have found 2.2 to 3 mph surface speeds are the best. Many times I have heard people saying they had a take down, but the fish did not stick. The reason it did not hook up was due to too slow trolling speeds. You will find at these speeds the fish will hook up more often than not, but it can still unhook itself from the setup as this fish can swim at 30pmh plus and reacts just as fast.

That's it for now. I'll be back with more articles for your viewing pleasure at a later date. Good luck and enjoy your days out fishing for King Salmon of any age.

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