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Five Tips to Catch More Sockeye This Summer

Five Tips to Catch More Sockeye This Summer

By Jason Brooks

With the summer heat setting in and water temperatures rising, the Okanogan River is too warm for the Lake Osoyoos Sockeye to migrate. This means that as the fish stack up in the Columbia River at the famed Brewster Pool, you can easily catch these tasty fish.

Here are a five tips to be more successful at catching sockeye salmon bound for the Maple Leaf to the north.

Use short leaders when targeting Sockeye

The number on “must” is to keep your leader short between the dodger and the lure. Imparting action onto a lure is hard to do at slow speeds and this is where the short and stiff leader makes the difference. Tie your leaders with 20- to 25-lb. monofilament between 9- and 12-inches in length. Any longer than that will not allow the lure to “whip” around, which is needed to get these fish to bite.

Be sure to troll at slow speeds for Sockeye

Troll as slow as you can while still allowing the dodger to work back-and-forth, which imparts action on to the lure. One reason why you want to troll slow is that these fish are tired and won’t chase down your gear. For Brewster, specifically, the ideal speed is between 0.7 mph and 1.2 mph. Use a drift sock to slow you down, if needed.

Target the shadowed water when fishing for sockeye

Once the sun hits the water you will notice a distinctive shadow near the shoreline. The fish will move into the shadows and you will need to move there. A “bite” will occur as the sun hits the water and it will seem that for about a half an hour just about everyone will be fighting a fish. Then, however, it all goes dead in a matter of an instant. In reality, the fish just moved to stay out of the sunlight.

Five Tips to Catch More Sockeye This Summer

Use the correct gear to target sockeye

Light action rods that are long, such as noodle rods or lightweight steelhead rods will help you land more fish. The Mack’s Lure Double D Dodger (in 5.8 or 7.6) trailing a Cha Cha Sockeye Squidder or Smile Blade Sockeye Pro is hard to beat. Mack’s Lure does extensive testing on sockeye gear for this fishery, specifically. If you use a dropper weight, make sure you use a three foot buffer between your slider and the dodger to allow the dodger to work properly.

Scent and bait will help you land more sockeye

This is a must as it will cause hesitant fish to bite. Use Pro-Cure shrimp, krill or kokanee Super Gels liberally on your gear. Also, tip the front hook with a cured coonstripe shrimp or just the tail if the shrimp size is too large. If you buy your bait, look at the jar and see the size of the shrimp and try to purchase a jar that has a lot of smaller-sized baits.

Five Tips to Catch More Sockeye This Summer

These fish don’t fight hard — until they see the boat, that is. Expect to lose a few and be ready with a long-handled net. Get there early, as the summer heat will drive you aoff the water by mid-morning. Hardly anyone is fishing after 10 o’clock because it is too hot out to enjoy the day. Fish at first light, then go enjoy a day in the shade. There is a lot to do in the surrounding area and be sure to take the time to visit and help out the local economy.

One of the best-tasting salmon of the Pacific Northwest. Even with the fish that have traveled hundreds of miles up the Columbia River, the Sockeye caught near Brewster cut very fine. The are a great fish for baking or smoking. Enjoy summer’s bounty and catch some sockeye!

This article by Jason Brooks, an award-winning outdoor writer and photographer, was first published on

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