Drift fishing gets its name from the fact that you are just drifting along in your boat; there is no motor, no need to get to one point or another, just you, the waves, and hopefully a school of salmon below you somewhere. Drift fishing will often mean both mooching and casting, depending on where you think the fish are. This means that you should have both an open face casting reel and line set up in case you spot salmon on the rise for a school of herring away from the boat as well as the usual gear and products for depth fishing.
The bait used in drift fishing is designed to give the impression of a wounded baitfish. This bait tempts salmon on several levels. Visually, flashes of light will catch the attention of the big carnivorous fish and lead them to the area. Of even more significance are the sound vibrations set off by the bait, which give them their colloquial term “bottom bouncers”. These vibrations attract fish from all over the area, who want to get a look at what’s in distress.
Both the movement and the sound created by the bait in drift fishing are designed to trigger a predatory response in salmon. All predators, both terrestrial and marine, are drawn to the easy meal that a wounded prey species represents. An animal wounded can’t get away as easily, and will trigger a “eat NOW” instinct in the brain of the predator. Easy meals are difficult to come by in any wild setting, and the fish want to snap it up before someone else does.
Because of the still water nature of drift fishing, it is important that the line used is lighter and won’t be spotted by an approaching salmon, especially the leader portions. Good leader will be lighter than twenty pound test.
Finally, the rods used in drift fishing are different from the ones that you will have success on while mooching. Mooching rods have soft tips, which allow a watching fisherman to see when the salmon takes the bait. Drift fishing is about the instant grab and then the fight, so a rod with a semi stiff tip is required to set the hook in the mouth of the salmon. If the rod is too stiff, however, you run the risk of tearing the hook right out of the salmon and losing the fish altogether because they don’t have as much play.
In drift fishing, you want to be moving the rod up and down, causing the vibrations which cause the salmon to go nuts. This up and down motion can be tiring on the wrists, so it is important that the rod has a good foot or so of butt length which will support your forearms. This length will also allow you some extra leverage against your stomach to help when reeling a fish in.
Drift fishing and mooching are peaceful, stationary ways to catch salmon out on the ocean, and both require quite a bit of patience and set up skill. Trolling, on the other hand, will allow you to take in a lot of scenery and try out a few different spots, and will be the subject of the next article in this series.
If you’re an avid fisherman, you may find this Largemouth Bass Extreme Fishing Guide! interesting.