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Deep Trolling for Chinook

How to catch Chinook (King) salmon at depths greater than 200 feet
by Doug Harbicht

This past summer in the water fronting on Quatsino Sound (Winter Harbour) King Salmon could be caught on a daily basis at depths between 200 and 275 feet. Using standard 8 or 10 pound balls on our electric downriggers was out of the question. This was partly because of the inevitable cable/fishing line drag loop effect, and the gear tangles that result from the "balls" only being 16 feet apart at the surface. The foregoing coupled with the boat's "rock and roll" and resulting pendulum effect cause both cables to come into contact with each other and the associate twists and/or gear entanglements. (it can get real messy)


drawn to scale, 250ft deep
(click to enlarge)


(click to enlarge)


(click to enlarge)

The solution was to use 16 pound discuss weights with steering fins. The extra 6 pounds tends to overcome the drag problem (although they sure make your downrigger grunt). The weight on the right side of the boat has its fin bent so as to "steer" farther to the right and the weight on the left side of the boat is bent just the reverse. The result is to keep the weights 20 to 30 feet apart when lowered to, say a 250 foot depth. In over 300 hours of fishing at below 200 feet we never had one tangle with either cables or gear.

Two words of caution:
Repetitive downrigger retrieval from these depths puts a very heavy strain on your battery/charging system, and having two batteries with a selection/isolation switch is strongly recommended.

• When fishing at 90 degrees to either wind/waves or tide always retrieve the "downwind" side first. (again to avoid tangles as the downwind side will not "cross over" the upwind side on retrieval)


(click to enlarge)

• If you catch a fish on the upwind side, turn the boat "into the fish" before starting to retrieve that side's downrigger.


(click to enlarge)

Good fishing!

Doug Harbicht
Victoria, British Columbia
www.bcpacifica.com