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Shore-Based Salmon Fishing: Catching Salmon without a Boat

Salmon are probably our favorite species of fish to catch. They put up a great fight and taste delicious cooked in many different ways. But most salmon fishing techniques require the use of a salmon fishing boat. You have to be able to catch salmon from shore too right? Let’s talk about how to fish for salmon from shore!

That’s right, you definitely do not need a boat to catch salmon! And on top of that, depending on the season and where salmon are in their spawning process, fishing for them from shore may be the only option you have!

So let’s get into how to fish for salmon from shore.

How to Fish for Salmon from Shore: Three Main Techniques

When we fish for salmon without a boat, there are three main techniques we like to use. You can either cast an artificial salmon lure out into the river or ocean, float salmon roe with a bobber, or cast a jig and retrieve with several large jerks. 

We’ll cover all three in this article!

Casting an Artificial Lure for Salmon

fishing for salmon

Casting an artificial lure for salmon from shore is probably the most common technique and an all-time classic. It requires the least amount of setup, you don’t need bait, and it’s a simple technique to learn. Here are the steps for casting a lure from shore.

Equipment Needed

  • Salmon rod
  • Salmon/saltwater spinning reel
  • 10 to 30 lb monofilament or braided line with a monofilament leader
  • An artificial lure of your choice!
  • Rubber coated salmon net


  1. The first step is to tie your artificial lure onto your mainline or leader if you are using braided fishing line. As far as lures go, our top choices are Blue Fox Vibrax Spinners, silver or gold spoons, and Kastmasters. When picking out your lure, focus on using silver, gold, green, or blue-colored lures. We’ve seen the most success with these colors.
  2. Cast your lure as far out into the river or ocean as you can. If you are fishing from the shore of a river, make sure not to cast your lure to the other side of the river! We also recommend casting your lure slightly upstream so that as you retrieve it it will arch back down to where you are standing.
  3. Start by retrieving your lure at a constant pace. Don’t reel it in super fast! We like to begin by reeling it in at a leisurely pace and increase speed if we don’t see any action.
  4. You can also vary the speed of your retrieval and add little jerks to it if you aren’t getting any bites. The key here is to try different things if you aren’t getting any bites.
  5. When you do get a bite, don’t aggressively try and set the hook! Salmon will typically strike lure plenty hard to hook themselves if you just continue to reel in your lure.

Floating Salmon Roe from Shore

King Salmon fishing

Floating salmon roe from with a bobber setup is another very common way to catch salmon from shore. This technique works best later in the salmon season when salmon are beginning to swim up river to spawn. Large 20 to 30 lb king salmon will congregate in mass numbers to swim through small rivers, and can be a blast to catch. If you want a more in depth article, check out our guide on using salmon roe as bait.

Equipment Needed

  • Salmon rod
  • Salmon/saltwater spinning reel
  • 10 to 30 lb monofilament or braided line with a monofilament leader
  • 4/0 to 3/0 circle hook
  • Salmon roe
  • Floating bobber
  • ½ oz egg weights
  • Rubber coated salmon net


  1. First we need to add the bobber. We like to tie the bobber Six to eight feet up the mainline (less or more depending on how deep the river is. You want your bait to be a foot or two off the bottom).
  2. Thread your 1 oz bobber on next followed by two ½ oz egg weights.
  3. Cut a two to three-foot-long leader out of your 20 lb test monofilament and tie it onto the other end of the snap swivel.
  4. At the end of the leader, tie a 3/0 or 4/0 hook. 
  5. Add a good-sized chunk of eggs to the hook and you’re ready to fish!

Focus on casting your rig into a deeper part of the river where you think the salmon are resting. You want your roe to basically hit them in the face and annoy them enough that they bite. 

Top Tip: When your bobber goes down, do not jerk your rod to set the hook! You need to let the salmon chew on the eggs and close its mouth. Wait a second then begin reeling firmly to set the hook. 

This setup works well for both king salmon, coho salmon, and pink salmon.

Jigging for Salmon from Shore

The last technique we will cover in this article is jigging for salmon from shore. This technique is very similar to casting from shore, except that you jig your lure back to you. We like using this technique when fish for salmon in the ocean or from a pier. It also works in rivers, they just need to be deep enough (at least 15 feet deep). Let’s dive in!

Equipment Needed

  • Salmon rod
  • Salmon/saltwater spinning reel
  • 10 to 30 lb monofilament or braided line with a monofilament leader
  • Buzz Bomb or candlefish lure
  • Rubber coated salmon net


  1. Cast your Buzz Bomb out as far as you can into the ocean or river. Similar to above, if you are fishing in a river you’ll want to cast the lure a bit upstream so it drifts back down to you.
  2. Let the lure sink for at least 3 seconds. If you’re fishing in the ocean, we like to wait at least 5 seconds. 
  3. Begin retrieving the lure by pulling the rod upward quickly (like jigging) then let it back down and reel in several times.
  4. Continue the motion until you bring your lure back to you, then repeat.

How to Land a Salmon from Shore

Fishermen pulling fishing net with chum salmon

You’ve managed to hook a salmon fishing from the shore – congrats! Now here’s how you’re going to land it. We listed it above, but make sure to bring a rubber-coated net with you when fishing for salmon from shore. This type of net minimizes the amount of damage done to the fish when you pull it out of the water. 

Why does this matter if you are going to keep the fish? Because in most salmon fishing regions if you catch a wild salmon, you can’t keep it! You’ll need to let it go, and preferably with the least amount of damage done to the fish. If you use a regular net with salmon, there is a decent chance you will kill the fish by landing it. So use rubber-coated nets.


  1. Fight the salmon until it gets close to shore and has stopped running away from where you are standing. A good way to tell if a salmon is tired enough to land is that it will begin to swim on its side and its silver scales will flash in the sun. This is because it’s too tire to swim upright.
  2. If you have another person with you, instruct them to use the net. If this is your first time salmon fishing, we really recommend bringing another person along with you! If you are alone, you’ll need to hold the net in one hand and your fishing rod in the other. This makes landing the fish more difficult, but definitely still doable.
  3. Aim the net so the fish will naturally swim into it when you put it into the water. You want “scoop” the fish out of the water. Wait until the salmon is swimming towards you are to one side, then smoothly swing the net down into the water the opposite direction the fish is swimming and lift it out of the water. It should be one smooth movement.
  4. Once the fish is out of the water, quickly remov the hook from its mouth and check if it is a wild or farm fish. We recommend using a pair of saltwater pliers to remove the hook. This will help you avoid hooking yourself if the fish thrashes. We’ve made this mistake before and ended up with a hook through our index finger!
  5. If you aren’t sure how to check if a salmon is wild or not, check out this resource. Farmed salmon have a clipped adipose fin.


Learning how to fish for salmon from shore is a great skill to have. If you get off work early and don’t have access to a boat you can use the above techniques and still catch fish. We love fishing from shore for a quick thirty minutes or an hour when we have the time.

We hope you enjoyed this article on how to fish for salmon from shore. If you have more questions about the specific techniques, feel free to drop us a note in the comments below. 

Happy Hunting!


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