Trolling and Mooching the Coos River Bar


A Beautiful Hen Chinook Salmon Caught While Mooching Whole Herring on the Coos River Bar in Early August 2011.

Trolling and Mooching are by far the most popular and productive methods for Chinook Salmon Fishing on the Coos River Bar.  Regardless of how you decide to fish the Coos River Bar for Chinook Salmon, the result will hopefully be the same; nice, fresh Chinook Salmon for the BBQ!  Launch at the Charleston or Empire Boat Launches to troll or mooch for Chinook Salmon.  Don't forget to drop your crab traps off on the way to the bar for fresh Dungeness Crab after trolling or mooching for Chinook Salmon.


Trolling is a very effective technique for catching Chinook Salmon on the Coos River Bar.  The majority of the trolling effort takes place in Late July through September.  By the end of September most of the fishing effort has moved upriver to the Marshfield Channel where the Chinook and Coho Salmon stage in the main river's outflow channel.  Fish are usually caught trolling at, or very near, the bottom and due to high currents at peak tidal flows, large 6 ounce weights are sometimes needed to reach the bottom.  Vary your depths and tackle presentations until you locate the fish.


For terminal tackle use a wire spreader, a sliding weight system, or a diver to reach your desired fishing depth, the bottom.  Weights will vary from 2-ounce cannonball sinkers to 6-ounce cannonballs.  Sometimes the current will run so strong you simply cannot troll and must switch to mooching, see below.  Attach the weight to the spreader with a drop leader around 18 to 20 inches in length.  Attach your bait to your spreader system, or diver and troll at the slowest speed possible where the baits still have the right action on them.  Troll with the tide on incoming tide.  Troll along the Southern Jetty on the Coos River Bar.  We like to troll in near 25 feet deep and all the way out in the channel to 45 feet deep.  Most people will be mooching the deep water.  Trolling is easier in the shallower waters.


Use the freshest herring or anchovies you can find.  A smaller bait is usually better for trolling.  The smaller (medium) sized baits are easier to make spin and are better matched to the usual bait fish in Coos River Bay.  Troll plug-cut herring, whole herring, whole anchovies, anchovies with spinner-blades, blue fox lure, brad's plug-cutters, etc.  If using bait, thaw the bait in the wrapper, but cut the plastic prior to thawing to prevent scale loss.  Then, once thawed, place in a ziploc bag with rock salt and a small amount of distilled water.  This will harden the baits to make them last longer in the water.


Mooching is a style of Chinook Salmon fishing where the incoming tidal current carries the boat and the aFISHionados' bait through the strike zone, the bottom, in a slow jigging, or flutter, action.  The most important factor when mooching is to let the Chinook eat your bait prior to setting the hook.  Make sure the fish has already turned and swam off with the bait prior to setting the hook.


Mooching terminal tackled setups and techniques are relatively straight forward compared to trolling.  In-line weights and fixed-hook mooching rigs are all that is needed.  From your mainline snap swivel, snap on a 2-ounce to 6-ounce in-line weight.  Use the amount of lead appropriate to the current flow.  If the flow is strong then use a heavy lead and if the current is slow then use a light weight.  Try and keep the lines at approximately a 30 degree angle from vertical, when mooching, in order to keep your line from tangling, keep your lines taught for strike detection and hook setting assistance, as well as maintaining accurate depth of the baits.  Use your motor to keep the boat from drifting faster then the baits and to counteract any wind pushing the boat around.


Bait for mooching is very similar to trolling except that whole bait fish are used and only bait fish.  Historically, no lures have been used.  Use a 2-hook, fixed mooching leader available at any of the local tackle stores in the Coos Bay Area.  Snap your leader onto the swivel side of the in-line weight.  If you tie your own leaders then leave enough distance between the front hook and the trailer hook so that the trailer hook rides over halfway down the length of the bait.  Place the front hook of your leader under the jaw and through the top of the bait fish's head and let the second hook trail.

A non-traditional approach to mooching is to jig a very bright silver buzz bomb.  If mooching, have one person use, by jigging, a buzz bomb.  The buzz bomb catches many different types of fish and Chinook as well as Coho Salmon will aggressively strike the buzz bomb.  Use a very, very bright buzz bomb or jig and smear your favorite scent on it.  Not many people will be using this method and often a different presentation will trigger reactions in Chinook.  If the Chinook see bait all day, and are not biting it, then try jigging with buzz bombs.

Where to Fish

Next you will need to know where to go to find the fish in the area near the bar.  Check out the Team aFISHionados fishing map below for where to troll and mooch the Coos River Bay in Coos Bay Oregon.

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Mooching for Chinook Salmon on a Nice Flat Calm Day on the Coos River Bar.It is important to remember to monitor the weather and wave conditions while on the bar.  The Coos River has one of the safest bars on the Oregon Coast, but do not take that for granted.  During high ebb conditions chop and swell can build an be very dangerous on the tip of the Southern Jetty.  A sandbar is building and is not being dredged as it lies outside the shipping channel.  Waves can build on this sandbar and take you by surprise.  Keep a lookout and have your life-jackets ready or even wear your life-jackets.  The Coast Guard is always standing by on VHF channel 16.  However, the majority of the time during fishing season, the bar is flat calm.  Check the weather and the tide and get out there and enjoy the Coos River Bar Fishing Area.

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