When are they running?
On most rivers these 5-25lb Silvers start to enter around the 1st of September as the first big fall rains hit. They continue to flood in in good numbers through November when they start to die off. As they die off, they provide a generous supply of nutrients for Smoltz feeding on their carcasses.
Where can they be harvested?
With most Western Washington rivers and streams seeing runs of Silvers, some of the more boastful runs are the Skykomish, Skagit, Snohomish, Cowlitz and Chehalis rivers, just to name a few. As far as the number of fish you can keep, check your regulation pamphlet or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishcorn.htm. In most cases the limit is 2 to 4 adult’s hatchery or native, depending on where and when you are fishing.
Now that we know when and where, how we catch Silvers?
Most northwest salmon fisherman associate Silvers with lock-jaw. Meaning they are tough biters and ery temperamental. Lucky for you we have a few ideas from the doctor’s office to get these chromers to bite! Most, if not all, of these techniques can be used from bank or by boat.
Let’s start off with discussing what rod/reel’s to use. I prefer a light to moderate action spinning rod in the 8’6′-10′ range with a line rating between 4 and 15lbs. The light action of a rod like this will allow you to fish a variety of lures/baits from small to large sizes. I spool up my reels with 10lb hi-vis mono Izor Line to give me a better idea of where my lines are so I can cast into cover and not get snagged as much, (this also helps the captain of the boat see where everyone’s lines are for more effective fishing.) For bait casters, I use a 8’6” rod rated 8-15lbs. I then run hi-vis 50lb Power Pro with the addition of a 12lb mono bumper, mainly fishing these rods while pulling plugs or trolling.
Techniques: First things first – find the fish then throw the kitchen sink at em til they bite!
1. Casting Small Spoon: slow swirly water 3-15 ft deep, current seams, structured drop offs
I start out most of my days by throwing small spoons, generally dick nites www.dicknite.com, in the #1 and wee sizes in a variety of colors, my favorite being the 50/50 and chrome with green tip. To rig this, use 10lb mainline to a snap swivel or triple swivel. When using a snap swivel, I like to use small slinkys or pencil lead. If using a triple swivel you will need a mono dropper from 6-18”. The amount of weight you use really depends on the current speed and depth of the water – less for slower and more for faster. After rigging your weight system, tie on a 4 to 8ft piece of 8lb Maxima ultra green. Again, leader length depends on water clarity – the clearer the water the longer the leader. Now that you’re rigged up, start by casting up and out at a 45 degree angle reeling back to the boat at a deathly slow pace just keeping your offering above the bottom. The bite with this can often feel like a leaf, twig or river debris on the end of your line. STOP if this happens! SET the HOOK! Other times, you will get the vicious, take-the-rod-out-of-your-hand hit!
2. Drift Fishing/Side Drifting: bait-current seams, back eddies, medium to slow moving water
Sometimes the only thing Silvers will hit is fresh bait, creating lots of rod-bending action. To start you need to get yourself some fresh salmon roe. If you don’t already have some from previous trips you can surely pick up fresh bait at your local Joes. To maximize your time on the water pre-tie a row of 4ft leaders using #1 red Gamikastu hooks. For the set up you will need to tie on a medium sized snap swivel. To this, attach a piece of lead or slinky to match the water speed and depth. From there, tie on your leader, adding color and floatation like a corky, puff ball or Spin-n-Glow are also good ideas. Now cut off a piece of bait around the size of a thumbnail or so. In super clear water use less, in dirty use more, but in most cases a thumb-nail size piece will do the job.
For the cast you will want to make sure to cast up stream at about 9 o’clock, letting your bait drift slowing along the bottom with your weight hitting every 7-10 feet. The bite will be a tap, tap, WAMMMO! Be sure not to set the hook too hard or you could tear the hook through its mouth and possibly miss a fish!
3. Trolling and Casting Plugs
Generally, using small plugs like Wiggle Warts, Fat Fish, and Kwikfish plugs in the chrome/orange/green/pink colors can be deadly and produce banner days. Start off by rigging your bait caster with a 12lb mono bumper to add a little give to your set up. After that make sure your plugs are tuned properly and are clean. To tune them, let the plug out a few feet and watch it work in the current, sliding too far to one side means it’s out of tune. To get it to run true, bend the eye of the plug the opposite direction of the way it’s pulling – start with slight adjustments and check it each time. Once you have the plug running true, let them out 70-120 feet depending on the clarity and how the fish are acting. When the bite gets tough, I let out a little more line to get them away from the boat. (Adding scent like shrimp or sardine can sometimes make the difference also.)
As for casting plugs cast them out and retrieve at a fairly erratic pace, the bite is either a stop or in most cases a vicious slam! Hold on tight!
Other Tips and Tricks!
There are definitely more techniques and tricks then listed above, however, these are three very effective techniques that should leave you with more B-B-Q material!!!
Always check your hooks – keep em sharp
Good bait-call to see when fresh bait comes in and be first in line to get yours, better yet make your own
Start early and fish late as with most fish the most productive times can be first light and right before dark
Don’t get discouraged-work hard and stay on them and good things will happen