Salmon fishing is a popular activity among recreational anglers in the United States. In general, salmon fish can inhabit both freshwater and saltwater habitats. However, the most popular salmon fishing spots in the country are within the northern Pacific coastline.


A salmon fishing season varies by location, as do the salmon species available. For instance, anglers in Washington can only catch Chinook salmon from June 23 to September 3. Additionally, the best salmon fishing gear to use on a trip includes spinning or fly fishing rods. Read the sections below to get salmon fishing tips regarding equipment and locations.

What are the best fishing rods for catching salmon?

The best salmon fishing gear to catch fish with depends on the fishing style employed. In general, anglers should consider the following types of rods:

  • Spinning rods – Salmon fish can put up a fight when hooked. Thus, spinning rods must be about nine feet in length and allow for medium or heavy action to be effective.
  • Fly fishing rods – Fly fishing rods can also be helpful when catching salmon. However, these rods typically take some practice to adjust to. Thus, fly fishing is not generally recommended for beginning fishermen, especially when it comes to salmon fishing.

What are the best fishing reels for catching salmon?

The best reel for salmon fishing varies according to the rod being used by an angler. For instance, spin-casting reels work best when they are paired with spinning rods. Conversely, fly casting reels are well-suited for fly fishing rods.

What are the best fishing lures for catching salmon?

Different salmon fishing lures are best suited for different fishing techniques and habitats. For instance, consider the following lures to catch salmon fish:

  • Jigs – Jigs are well-suited for general drift fishing, which is a technique that involves a boat drifting with the current. When using a jig, it is also important to keep the line from twisting. Thus, anglers must use a swivel between the mainline and the leader, which is an extension of the line.
  • Active lures – Lures such as winged spinners, bobbers and spoons are also great for salmon fishing.
  • Artificial flies – Fly fishers looking for salmon fishing lures must choose flies with large heads and eyes, which are deemed more attractive. For instance, a Coho fly is a popular lure for catching Coho salmon. This type of fly has large eyes and is blue-green and white in color.

What are the best fishing baits for catching salmon?

Salmon fishing bait is similar to the live bait used to catch trout. Thus, these types of bait can be used in both fresh and saltwater. Consider the following examples of popular salmon fishing live bait:

  • Insects
  • Mollusks
  • Plankton
  • Salmon roe
  • Sand shrimp
  • Small crustaceans
  • Small fish
  • Squid

What are the best fishing hooks for catching salmon?

The proper salmon fishing gear set is incomplete without hooks. In general, a size eight hook can meet the needs of anglers in most salmon fishing situations. Conversely, double hooks well-suited for fly fishing, as they go deeper than single hooks of the same size. In addition, smaller hooks can suffice for catching salmon, but they must match the size of the species.

An angler must also consider the salmon fishing location regulations before choosing a hook. For example, if a region has a catch-and-release policy in effect, it is best to choose hooks without barbs. Generally, barbless hooks are less likely to damage fish.

What are the best fishing lines for catching salmon?

The best salmon fishing lines vary according to the size of each species. However, monofilament lines are generally considered the best lines for catching salmon fish. For instance, a monofilament line between 10 and 20 pounds is optimal for catching most fish. However, a 20 to 25-pound line is best-suited for catching larger types of salmon fish, such as a Chinook.

Is it easy to catch salmon?

Salmon fishing descriptions are different according to each angler. However, these fish are relatively difficult to catch, especially for inexperienced anglers. Salmon fish are generally aggressive fish who have a forceful pull when being reeled in. Larger and heavier species, like the Chinook and Chum salmon, tend to be harder to catch than other types. Moreover, Atlantic salmon are known for leaping out of the water when hooked. Thus, they are considered some of the hardest fish to catch in the world.

What should you wear to go salmon fishing?

Salmon fish naturally inhabit cold regions due to the fact that they require cool bodies of water to survive. Most salmon fishing locations have warm to cool weather in the summer, when the majority of salmon fishing occurs. Thus, anglers must prepare by acquiring the proper apparel for all weather conditions. Some important apparel to add to your salmon fishing gear include:

  • Jackets – Keeping a jacket on hand is important. In most salmon fishing spots, temperatures are likely to be cool even in the summer.
  • Suits and bibs – In the case of a weather change, a suit or bib can keep anglers insulated on cold or rainy days.
  • Fishing vest – A fishing vest or other flotation device is important to wear when saltwater fishing off shore.
  • Wading boots – Fishing for salmon in freshwater habitats often requires wading boots. Wearing the proper footwear when fishing c remain warm and dry.

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Where can I catch salmon?

There are salmon fishing locations throughout the world, but wild salmon fishing only exists in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The U.S. does not offer salmon fishing spots in the Atlantic, but countries such as Canada, Sweden and Norway do. The best states for anglers to catch wild Pacific salmon species in the United States include:

  • Alaska
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • California

As an example, anglers in Alaska must fish for Chinook salmon in the state’s South Central region. Specifically, saltwater environments in Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound and Resurrection Bay are optimal for this species.

Which types of habitats can I find salmon in?

Wild salmon fish are generally a migratory species. Thus, these fish can be found in both fresh and saltwater bodies. In general, salmon species spend some time in streams and rivers and then move on to the sea to mature. When adult types of salmon fish reach spawning age, they return to their birth streams. With that in mind, anglers can find salmon populations in the following habitats:

  • Open oceans
  • Lakes
  • Streams
  • Rivers

Are there different types of salmon?

Most salmon fish are native to either the Pacific or the Atlantic oceans. In addition, species such as the Atlantic salmon are farmed around the world for human consumption. Popular types of salmon fish found in North America include:

  • Atlantic salmon – Atlantic salmon fishing is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Thus, this activity is prohibited in the United States for recreational and commercial anglers. Unlike their Pacific cousins who die after spawning, Atlantic salmon can breed more than once.
  • Coho salmon – Also called silver salmon, Coho have backs that are a shiny blue or green and are silver on the side. Moreover, the fish gain a distinct reddish color when spawning in freshwater.
  • Sockeye salmon – Native to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, sockeye are a favorite among recreational fishermen. Despite the fact that this species is typically migratory, certain populations remain in the same habitat.
  • Chinook salmon – Chinook salmon are also native to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. These fish look similar to Coho and sockeye species while in saltwater, but they have darker blue-gray backs. Moreover, a Chinook salmon has a black mouth and gums.
  • Pink salmon – Male pink salmon develop a distinct hump on their backs during spawning. In addition, pink salmon have a two-year life cycle, which is unique to the species.
  • Chum salmon – Smaller than Chinook salmon, chum are the second largest species of Pacific salmon. In general, they are also called keta or dog salmon.

What do salmon look like?

All salmon fish species have distinguishable physical characteristics that make their identification relatively simple. Anglers who go salmon fishing must be mindful of the following identifiable traits:

  • Atlantic salmon – Mature Atlantic salmon are predominantly silver, but have brown or blueish-green backs when in the sea. Moreover, this salmon species also has large black spots on the gill cover.
  • Coho salmon – Coho salmon turn a bright reddish-maroon color during spawning. Additionally, these fish are distinguishable by their white gum line and the absence of black spots on their tail fin. This species’ average weight is between six and 12 pounds, and specimens can reach up to 38 inches in length.
  • Chinook salmon – Chinook salmon weigh an average of 30 pounds and measure about three feet. Thus, they are the largest types of Pacific salmon. Unlike Coho, the Chinook species has black mouths and gums.
  • Sockeye salmon – Sockeye salmon have bright red bodies and green-olive heads, as well as black snouts. Moreover, the fish have very few teeth and glassy gold-colored eyes. In general, a Sockeye weighs between four and 15 pounds and measures between 18 and 31 inches.
  • Pink salmon – During spawning, pink salmon males gain a dark brown-black color on their backs and grow a hump on their backs. Conversely, females turn an olive green color. In general, these fish weigh between three and five pounds and measure between 20 and 25 inches. Thus, this the smallest salmon species on the Pacific.
  • Chum salmon – Spawning chum salmon males become olive or brown and develop purplish-red vertical bars or stripes. Females gain the same vertical bars as males do, but they turn brownish-grey in color. On average, these fish can weigh up to about 30 pounds and grow up to about three feet.

What do salmon eat?

What salmon fish eat changes depending on the life-stage of the fish, because their diets adjust during migration. Moreover, migrating salmon fish cannot eat in the ocean what they ate in freshwater habitats. The types of salmon fish who inhabit freshwater environments typically feed on:

  • Insects
  • Plankton

Adult salmon fish species eat a wider variety of food items in the ocean. Some of their preferred foods are:

  • Crustaceans
  • Mollusks
  • Small fish
  • Squid

Are there regulations for catching salmon?

Salmon fishing in the United States is a heavily regulated activity in order to combat overfishing practices. Regulations for Pacific salmon fishing locations differ from the rules for in-land Atlantic salmon fishing and vary by state. Additionally, special salmon fishing permits may be required in certain states in the Pacific coastline. For instance, Oregon and Washington require fishermen in the Colombia River Basin to hold a special endorsement to fish legally.



In California, anglers fishing for salmon in the Klamath, Trinity and Smith Rivers must acquire a North Coast Salmon Report Card in addition to a recreational fishing license. Moreover, Alaska only allows nonresidents to catch one Chinook salmon per day.

When is salmon season?

Salmon fishing season varies between different regions or even within the same state. As an example, anglers can only catch salmon fish on the northern California coast between June and September. On the other hand, the southern California region between Pigeon Point and the U.S.-Mexico border only allows salmon fishing from April to July. In addition, Chinook types of salmon fish in Washington can only be caught between June 23 and September 3.

Can you eat salmon?

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Salmon fish is a popular seafood choice that is often healthy and delicious. The most common types of salmon fish eaten in the U.S. are the Atlantic and pink salmon. In general, these fish are farmed and thus widely available. Moreover, pink salmon are usually sold in cans. Because Atlantic salmon are protected and cannot be caught in the U.S., they are only available from farming.

Generally, all Pacific salmon species are great seafood choices due to the fact that they are sustainably managed. In the culinary world, Chinook salmon is a highly prized fish for its rich, buttery flavor and flaky meat. Sockeye salmon rivals Chinook in flavor, but has firmer, bright-red flesh. Chum and pink salmon are both mild in flavor and have a lower oil content.

What are the nutrition facts for salmon?

Nutrition facts for salmon fish are different for every species. However, all types of salmon are considered healthy seafood options that are high in protein. Below are the nutrition facts for a 100-gram serving of Coho salmon:

  • 146 Calories
  • 5.9 grams of Total Fat
  • 1.2 grams of Saturated Fat
  • 45 milligrams of Cholesterol
  • 46 milligrams of Sodium
  • 21 grams of Protein

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Nutrition Facts
Amount Per 100g
7.1% of Daily Value*
Total Fat 6.34g
Saturated Fat 0.98g
less than 5% of Daily Value
Cholesterol 55mg
Sodium 44mg
Selenium 36.5mcg
Protein 19.84g
* The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


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