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Old 22-08-2018, 15:04   #1
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Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

I'm soon to be living on Vancouver Island, and any trip on the water would be lacking without trying to hook a salmon or two, though admittedly a cruising sailboat isn't the ideal salmon machine.

My friends there all have motoryachts or dedicated fishing boats, but I'd like to hear from those who chase salmon from their sailboat.

It would be easy to drag a lure near the surface for Coho, but what about getting low and slow for Chinook? The typical rig is run from a 10-15lb cannonball on a downrigger at 50-150' deep, and about 1-2kts speed. Would that slow speed be difficult to hold and control under sail?
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Old 22-08-2018, 15:10   #2
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

I found that fishing under sail was pretty much a no go. I ended up drift fishing most of the time. YMMV
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Old 22-08-2018, 15:24   #3
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

Thanks JD1; your boat is one of the models on my list to look at, and I wondered how tough it would be to make way and maintain any sort of steering under sail at 1.5kts or so.
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Old 22-08-2018, 15:38   #4
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

I've caught salmon off my sailboat in Barkley Sound and the Gulfs while sailing. Rolled out enough headsail to maintain 2-3 knots, used a diver, flasher and green squid lures. It can be done....
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Old 22-08-2018, 15:48   #5
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

Can I plug the fact that I am selling my Catalina ? .....


Anyway, it is a universal rule that the wind will always be too heavy or too light to maintain speed (at whatever speed you want). Of course around Vancouver Island with all the other islands around, the wind will always be from dead ahead or from dead astearn which never helps
Maybe I am just not patient enough ????
I never did manage to set up with a downrigger either which with my limited knowledge of fishing kinda eliminates trolling. I could not reconcile 'trolling' and sail boat in my mind.
Also, under power at idle, I would be going in the 2 to 2.5 knot range which seemed a bit fast. I decided to do the next best thing and just drift and I found that to be quite enjoyable but not likely to do it for a die hard fishing kinda guy
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Old 22-08-2018, 16:32   #6
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

As mentioned above it can be done but not for a serious fishing excursion. Better to find a good anchorage and go after halibut and rockfish. If you find an anchorage with a decent current you can also set lines out back and ‘troll’ at anchor for salmon with a couple light split shot or similar to get it down a bit (divers are too heavy for this).
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Old 22-08-2018, 16:45   #7
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

We have had many successful salmon fishing trips North of the Golden Gate Bridge around Duxbury Reef on our sailboat. Admittedly when we are fishing the sails are down and we are motoring around 2.5 to 3 knots. It is way too frustrating trying to keep that steady slow speed under sail.

We have always rigged our poles with a diving plane, flasher and an anchovy in a rotary salmon killer. We have also tried a spoon in place of the anchovy, but the anchovy always wins. Make sure you bring a Big net. There is nothing more tragic than losing a nice fish because you lost him while awkwardly trying to get him into too small of a net.
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Old 22-08-2018, 18:34   #8
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

We cruised btwn Puget Sound and Alaska for three years. We found a sailboat to be a perfect platform for salmon fishing. One of the first purchases we made was a Scotty downrigger. We found that we'd do about 1-1.5 knots at idle, perfect trolling speed. When sailing or traveling at higher speeds, we'd throw a tuna hoochie with a small weight out behind the boat. With the downrigger, we could catch the kings, with the hoochie we caught the pinks and silvers. We joked about how they just liked to jump into the boat, we caught so many. One summer, my wife canned five cases of salmon in our little pressure cooker.
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Old 23-08-2018, 00:55   #9
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Souzag818 View Post
I've caught salmon off my sailboat in Barkley Sound and the Gulfs while sailing. Rolled out enough headsail to maintain 2-3 knots, used a diver, flasher and green squid lures. It can be done....
We fished in BC from the Gulf Islands to Alaska from our 38 foot ketch and caught all the salmon we could eat. All types - coho, chinook, sockeye... We used two main methods - trolling under sail (or sometimes motor) using a planer/diver with a flasher and spoon, or jigging with a lead lure when there was no wind or we wanted to sit over a good spot. Never tried a downrigger as the planer seemed to work well down to 75 feet (guess). But we could catch chinook like that. I also used casting lures with success in small bays or at anchor (a great way to reach coho that you can see jumping).

Key to success is figuring out where the fish are. That took us two years of frustration. Read books and study charts.

Then, adjust your sails (drop main, reef genoa perhaps) to fit your fishing technique (trolling, jigging, casting, etc), or adjust your fishing to match the conditions (jig if there is no wind, etc).

Be sure to have a game plan for what to do when one is hooked - we immediately heave to or tack if we are headed towards shore so my wife can help land it (they are big, feisty and we have a high freeboard). Remember you cannot muscle a fish aboard, you must tire it first. Be patient (that also took two years to learn).

Check the regs! Eg sockeye are very restricted where and when you can fish for them. BC does not make it easy to do this. You pretty much need an internet connection, which is tough when you are up north.

The most memorable catch was in Fitz Hugh Sound, when I hooked one (casting) and as I was working it in, humpback whales appeared and started getting closer and closer - maybe 30m at closest. The motor was off and there was no wind so we just sat there watching as we pulled in the salmon. It was a bit intimidating.

Try not to catch rockfish as they are under great pressure (this is not a joke!). Many species are endangered.

The $100 or so for a license is money well spent.
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Old 23-08-2018, 08:43   #10
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

Not real sporting but dragging a fish while under sail will kill fairly fast eliminating the high free board issue. The downside is that sometimes you will feed a shark.
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Old 23-08-2018, 10:13   #11
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

It generally sucks although can be done. Dealing with shrouds, freeboard and trolling speed under sail is tough. Up north you can always catch fish if they are there but down here I have found it frustrating most of the time. I will anchor and use my tender to fish.
Go ahead and throw a line out. Why not? You can get lucky.
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Old 23-08-2018, 10:47   #12
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

I fish in the Great Lakes and set up downriggers on my sailboat.I can put them on in 2 to 3 minutes each and they work well. I’ve run into more of an issue after I catch a fish with the fire drill that follows trying to get the boat stopped, fight the fish, etc.

I bolted the downriggers to a piece of 1” board then angled it to sit over a cleat. Then I bought a larger U-bolt and ran it through the cleat then up through two holes in the board then bolted it down. Works well.
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Old 23-08-2018, 14:33   #13
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

Love the input friends, keep it coming!
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Old 23-08-2018, 15:23   #14
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

We live on Texada Island British Columbia. Fishing off our Rawson 30 is about half our life on board. We have a scotty downrigger on the port side which after years of experiments was the best spot to be because Sharutika will stop nicely with the wind off the port side making landing through the port gate easy. We power troll lots or use the headsail only and furl as needed for the right speed. When there is not much wind jigging is the answer. We have caught as much fish as we need. In BC be sure to check regs for the openings as they change often. Good luck fishing! Dan & Marilyn Timms Van Anda BC
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Old 23-08-2018, 16:14   #15
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Re: Salmon fishing while sailing, or from a sailboat?

Lots of ways to fish with a Sail Boat.
I like to use the dingy where I have two rod holders mounted in the seat.
No gaff, net only from the inflatable dingy for obvious reasons.
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