Richey: Hit Folsom Lake for low water king salmon

By: J.D. Richey Journal Outdoors Columnist
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Well, there’s not a whole heck of a lot of red hot fishing prospects to tell ya about, but while I was at the International Sportsmen’s Expo last week, I heard from several sources that there’s been a decent landlocked king salmon bite at Folsom Lake. Of course, launching is the big question. Folsom is a puddle at the moment but I have heard that you can get in at Granite Bay if you’re careful. And speaking of being careful, watch out for rocks out there — rocks that are normally 100 feet below the surface! Anyway, if you can get out on the water, there are some kings in the 20- to 23-inch range available. Here’s how to catch ‘em: Trolling Probably the most productive way to put kings in the boat is to troll. Chinooks are open water roamers and it can sometimes take a while to find where they are holding on a given day. The upside to the low water, of course, is the fish are more concentrated. By trolling, you can cover lots of ground and find the schools more quickly. Keep a keen eye on you electronics and watch for schools of threadfin shad or pond smelt, two of the king’s favorite menu items. I’ve found that rolling shad is extremely deadly for salmon on Folsom. Fresh bait is the best choice, but fresh-frozen will also work. Take a whole shad and clip its nose into a small bait harness like the minnow-sized Rotary Salmon Killer. When trolled, the harness will give the bait a rolling action. For kings, I like a fairly tight spin, but it doesn’t hurt to play with different rotation rates if you’re not getting bit. It’s also not a bad plan to smear or dunk your shad in scent like Pautzke’s Liquid Krill just to give a little extra zest. Eighteen to 24 inches above the bait, I will run a set of the small Dee’s Diamond Flashers to help the fish hone in on my hook a little better. If I can’t obtain good shad, small anchovies are my backup plan. There have also been days out on Folsom over the past several weeks that hootchies tipped with a strip of anchovy have been working better than everything else — especially when fished behind a silver Sep’s Dodger. Trolling speed should be anywhere from 1 mph to 2.5 mph. Again, play around with your throttle settings until you figure out what the fish want. Drifting If you find a good concentration of salmon, you may want to switch over to drifting live minnows. Simply run a ¼-ounce slip sinker onto your main line, tie off to a barrel swivel and then run a 4-foot section of 8-pound fluorocarbon leader down to a No. 4 light wire octopus hook. Nose-hook your minnow and then set up a drift that starts upwind of the fish. Count off 1-foot “pulls” of line from your reel until you get into the depth range that you’ve been marking fish and then hang on. Locations Stick to the main body of the lake — that’s the only place you’re going to find any water. J.D. Richey is a 1986 Placer High graduate, and his outdoors pieces have been published nationally. He can be found on the Web at