Salmon Fishing Tips From TV Host Babe Winkelman

Having trouble bringing in that monster salmon? Babe Winkelman brings his wealth of experience and knowledge to E-NATION to help you catch ’em like a pro. Some of these tips are more conventional than others, but all of them will help keep those lines tight.


Find Forage

Salmon are driven by hunger. Their food dictates their patterns. So simply put: where there is forage, there are fish. This is where your sonar unit is so critical. As you cruise searching for active fish, look for abundant pods of baitfish and pay special attention to the depth of the forage and their relation to sub-surface structure and the thermocline. Stay with the bait, monitor their movements and the salmon won’t be far away.


Non-Linear Trolling

Trolling is the absolute best


way to cover a lot of water and intercept active salmon. You’ll see a lot of guys get on a depth and troll in straight lines all day long. Mix it up a little and work S-curves into your trolling pattern. This changes not only the line of baits but also their speed. They’ll burst on the outside of the S-curve and lag on the inside turn, and that change in speed can often trigger strikes that wouldn’t happen on a straight run.


Pre-Set Your Drag

Before you put a bait in the water, test the drag on each and every reel. Make sure they’re set firm. Many a salmon has won its freedom by stripping drag from a reel that’s set too light. And if you give ‘em a moment of slack, they can come unbuttoned. So pre-set those drags firm to keep you in control of each fight. If you’re using spinning reels, you can always resort to back-reeling off the anti-reverse if you have to some fast boat-side runs.


Mix Up Those Baits

Let’s say you’re starting the day running six trolling lines. Rig six completely different baits. Mix up the bait styles (plugs, spoons, spinners, etc.), select different colors, profiles, degrees of vibration, etc. If you hit some fish and they keeping popping one or two of those baits while leaving the others alone, then you’ve determined some bait preferences for those fish on that day. Then switch the “dud” baits over to the colors and styles that are producing – until all six rods are getting the same level of action.


Precise Trolling Speed

A fraction of a mile per hour can make a world of difference when it comes to filling the cooler. So pay close attention to what your exact trolling speed is when strikes occur. If you’re not getting bit at a particular speed, ramp it up or dial it back until you hit the velocity the salmon want. Having power on your boat that consistently runs like a Swiss watch is absolutely critical, which is one of the reasons I love my Evinrude E-TEC. Whether I’m trolling fast or barely creeping along, it always keeps me consistent.




Make Great Baits Better

Everyone has their go-to salmon baits. To add even more fish-attracting realism to your proven lures, add some accents of color with UV-reflective paint. Salmon can see in the UV spectrum, and UV-reflective paint sends out a beacon to their specialized eyes (even though it just looks like regular paint to our human eyes). I use paint called “Fish Vision” which is available online.


Old Fisherman’s Secret

I fished for salmon once with an old fella. After we landed the first fish, he cut it open to see what was in its stomach. Small Alewives. The rest of the day we fished with spoons that matched the size and color of that baitfish, and oh man did we catch salmon!


-Babe Winkelman


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Be sure to find Babe on E-NATION and ask him any questions you may have. Here are some current conversations with Babe:







Babe uses his trusty Evinrude E-TEC to get him to and from those salmon. Click here to find out why he chose Evinrude.