What is mooching?

By on February 26, 2016

Each week one of the Salmon University experts answers reader questions in our “Ask a Pro” feature. This week’s questions are answered by Tom Nelson. Submit your own question here.

Q: What is mooching? – Tony


This man, identified in a caption as a recent Chinese immigrant, is not literally mooching but rather protesting the muddy condition of Seattle streets at 1st and Virginia in 1903. (photo from University of Washington Archives)

Hi Tony – mooching is just the act of using herring and a sinker and drifting with the tide or fishing off the dock for salmon. The name mooching came about because in the early days, when the first railroads were built to Seattle. Many of the laborers were Chinese and Japanese immigrants and fished off the docks using herring they had caught themselves. When the locals saw how successful they were they would come along and ask if they could get some herring from them.  The Chinese and Japanese referred to them as “moochers” and so became the local name for those who fished with herring. Tom Pollock, one of the Salmon University staffers, teaches mooching at our annual Saltwater Seminar in April. If you are interested in learning this technique, Tom is often referred to as “Mr. Moocher” and will be available not only at his “on-stage” presentations, but also available throughout the seminar for one-on-one guidance.

Q: Is there a preferred heading to get from Neah Bay to Swiftsure, and what are the GPS coordinates where the salmon are found from June to October? – Brian

Hi Brian – the preferred heading is North – Northwest. Since it seems you have a GPS, it shouldn’t be a problem by looking at your mapping hardware to find Swiftsure Bank.   The problem is that most of Swiftsure Bank is in Canadian waters and you must have a Canadian fishing license to fish there. It is monitored by Canadian Fisheries.   For that particular area you cannot purchase a license online, but must travel into Canada to purchase it. To further complicate things, if you haven’t checked into Canadian customs prior to returning to Neah Bay, you must abide by the Washington State limits, not the Canadian limits. As far as GPS coordinates for salmon, the salmon will be moving through the area and won’t be in just one place. Once you are on Swiftsure, fish along drop-offs and shelves and you should not have a problem finding salmon all over the area. In October, you might like fishing Sooke, BC (just outside of Victoria) as you are more protected from the weather and October is the prime time for big Coho in the Sooke area.   One last thing, when you are fishing Swiftsure, you are fishing open ocean conditions, so be prepared.

Q: What are the main lure selection factors (light, temp, location, etc.) for fishing Puget Sound? – Joe

Hi Joe- the selection of your lure depends on the location, so try to match the size of the bait in the area with your lure (“match the hatch”).   Secondly, your lure selection depends on the kind of salmon you are fishing for. For instance, humpies, coho and chum can be fished with any color in the top 50 feet of water, but as you go deeper, Chinook and the above mentioned fish respond better to Glo In the Dark, UV and green, purple and black lures. Temperature varies very little in Puget Sound waters. Last year we saw exceptionally high temperatures but that was an oddity.   The main factor is location, location, location as salmon do hit a wide variety of lures.   If there are no salmon in the area, no lure will help you.


Salmon University Staff
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