Barfishing Made Simple
Chinook are considered the big game fish of the salmon species. This is true, these fish can get huge! Now since the springs are the first salmon to enter the Fraser River and its tributaries, it is usual to see many folks barfishing on the Fraser River early on. Now Chinook are said to be hard to catch by many, and you see a lot of people out on the river confused on what to do. Thus, they do not catch any fish for a long period of time. Until one can figure it out, they will find that it is very easy to BAR FISH! This is the method that most anglers are familiar with, and pretty soon will be one of the mandatory techniques to target Chinook with. Seems to be getting more and more popular as the years roll on.
Now, bar fishing is very easy, and simple. Not a lot of equipment is needed. Here is a list of what you need.
Rods: You need a good sturdy rod in the 10-12 foot length range. The rod should have a 15-30lb line rating, and be able to cast 12-22oz weights with ease. Now there are many brands and models to choose from. It all depends on your budget. You got your spinning, mooching, and casting rods.
Bar rods are made by Trophy XL, Shimano, Ugly Stick, Diawa, Quantum, and many more. They range in price from 40-175 bucks. So you have a wide range in quality and price. We own 3 Trophy rods, and love them. But others like the Diawa, Ugly stick of shimano. Its all about personal preference and cost. I think that the Quantum Cold water heavy casting rod is probably the best rod for the budgeted. They range from 79-89 dollars a piece. You don’t want a rod that is too big that your killing the fish before it gets to shore, or a rod that’s too light and will put too much stress on the fish.
Reels: You need a big strong reel that will allow you to cast big chunks of lead with ease. It should be able to hold a large amount of line (min 200yds) and have a Gear ratio of 4.1-5.0. This is what I recommend. Now since you have your mooching, spinning, and level wind variety I will only mention the spinning & level winds, as I do not know a lot about mooching set ups. Now for reels you got brands from Penn, Abu, Shimano, Quantum, and Okuma, plus many others out there that I have not mentioned. All of these reels have different characteristics. The Abu Garcia 7000 is probably the most versatile level wind reel out there. You can chuck lead a mile out there with ease, and it has a good drag system. I have one and love it. A little bit of money though as they range from 175-219 dollars. Penn is a more affordable reel, I really enjoy my 310, but the 320’s have a little more power for fighting those big fish, and can hold a ton of line. Not that you’ll use it all anyways. The Penn GT2 Series reels run from 120-150 bucks a piece. But I find them a little hard to cast long distances with. Now for spinning I will recommend the biggest size Okuma reel you can find, such as the avenger 80 etc. Okuma puts out some high quality reels. The avenger series runs from about 50-130 dollars depending on model. Remember you get what you pay for!
Line: I would recommend running 50-80lb braided line, whether it’s Power Pro, or Tuf Line XP etc.
Now that I’ve covered the terminal tackle needed, you will also need a good bar rod holder. These can be easily made. Just take some bar metal cut a V at one end and tape on a piece of PVC pipe big enough to fit your rod in securely. This is the most basic way to make them, and the cheapest. The holder should/could be anywhere between 3 to 5 feet long/tall. Use a hitting tool like a sludge hammer to hit it into the ground. Other good choices for holders are the ones that are completely made of metal, and can normally be found in your tackle shop for 20 bucks, or make one yourself. I do not have any plans, as I have not finished drawing out how I’m going to build mine yet.
Pretty basic, consists of a spreader bar, leader, spin n’ glow, hook.
Spreader Bars: Tackle shops have these in many sizes I like to use the 8-10 inch ones, tie on about 4 inches of 50lb test line on the bottom of the spreader bar, attach a clip here, this is for the weight to be connected.
Leader: I like to use very thick and non flexible line for my leaders. I normally run Maxima Chameleon line in the 60lb variety. Very thick and strong, which lets the spin n’ glow truly spin, as a limp line will often flexes in the water, and due to the Chinooks sharp teeth is easily sliced or frayed. The average leader length is normally between 12-50 inches. Depends on depth and what kind of water you’re fishing.
Spin n’ Glows: Now there is many different shapes, sizes, and colors of spin n’ glows. Spin n’ glows used are in the single O and double OO variety. They come in many colors and are completed with 1 of two different styled wings. Mylar or Rubber crap. The Mylar is you want no rubber ones work, well for me anyways. Colors to use, well this is the hard part when decided on color. There are so many different combinations and colors out there. The most productive ones that I have found are red top chrome body, green top chrome body, yellow top chrome body, and orange top chrome body. Other good colors are the clown colors (yellow body with red or orange spots), metallic blue, green with black stripes, and red or orange top with a green body. All have produced fish. Depending on what water I fish and visibility, will say what size or color I will use. In dirty water I use the OO due to the fact that it makes a lot of racket and vibrates like the world is coming to an end. Knocks the fish out before they can bite the hook! Another trick is to poke holes in the wings of the spin n’ glows with a hole puncher. Or drill the center of the spin n’ glow on a lopsided angle. These tricks, allow the spin n’ glow to flop around causing vibration.
Hooks: I like to keep my hook big. The sizes that work best are the 6/0-7/0 types. Gamakatzu hooks are the best for bar fishing. Remember to pinch off those barbs! On the hook many people will add roe, or another bait to help attract springers.
Scents: There are some scents out there that work well as attractants. It’s a matter of opinion and what works.
Complete Rig: So you now know what to use for tackle. So the completed set up should be: Spreader bar off mainline with weight off the bottom of the bar. Off of the mid section of the bar clip on your leader which should be 12-50 inches long. Spin n’ Glow should be on top of 2-3 beads before the hook. Add scent or bait as needed.
Weights: Depending on the speed, heaviness of the water and bottom structure of the water you have chosen to fish, you will need to have weights sized accordingly. Fast heavy water could use a 18-22oz weight (be careful casting the huge weights as if your finger gets caught in your reel/line, you could need stitches) slower water could use a 14-16oz, if the bottom consists of big rocks than use 14-16oz as you will not need as much weight to hold as it will get hung up in a rock.
Bells, where to start. There are many types and brands of bells on the market. You got the true genuine bell shaped ones, that make a light dinging noise. You got round ones, and many more. These types I find are too sensitive and the easiest breeze can make it seem like a fished just attacked your spin n’ glo. The best ones in my mind are the small version of the cow bell. Very Loud, and the noise just makes you want to jump up and yell yahoo as you run to the rod thinking the big ones on, as they are so viciously loud. These ones get the thumbs up, as they are not too sensitive.
Now to place your bell on correctly, you will want a good sturdy clip on the end. These clips come with the bell most of the time. Clip the bell on the 3rd or 4th eye up from the reel on the rod (if you can reach that high). Tie on a good 6-12 inches of flagging tape in a bright color onto the bell. This is so when your bell flies off when you set the hook, you can find it easily. Unless it goes flying 20 feet out into the water, in that case you just lost a bell. Which is a good reason to carry spares.
Picking Your Spot
You will want to find a spot that gradually slopes, or is a trough or hole where springs travel or hold. The water should be at least 5 feet deep. You don’t want your water to be moving too fast, nor too slow. A fast brisk walking speed is excellent water. This will let the spin n’ glow spin freely and perfectly, too fast and it just spins on overkill, and in slow water it is not affective as it will barely be spinning.
Prime Times to fish
Mid June – Mid September produces great numbers of both red and white
Late September – Late October produces mostly nice whites and a few reds, below the Harrison, above the Harrison is very spotty.
A list of things you will need besides tackle
- Sun Glasses
- Lawn Chair
- Cooler full of refreshments
- Thermos of coffee or hot coco for the morning
- Cooler with lunch
- Matches for fire, if you chose to weenie roast!
- Water, its hot sitting there all day, I normally drink 4 gallons of water
- A good attitude
Remember that bar fishing is almost a social event! You’ll be amazed by the kinds and or types of people you’ll meet out there. Some guys are true class acts, and remember that the old timers, who have been bar fishing for decades, are full of tips and advice. A great time to relax and take in the scenery.
Good Luck to all this upcoming Bar Fishing Season!