Creek Chub

Skunked last two attempts at Lake Sakakawea salmon

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Hey all,

About two weeks ago we tried for salmon along the face of Garrison Dam and along the Riverdale bluffs to Government Bay. No takers. This past weekend I was up there again on Friday evening and Saturday morning and evenings and again got no takers. What am I doing wrong? I tried everything I had behind the downrigger and there wasn't even a bite.

Am I reading the sonar display correctly? In the screen grabs below are those smelt at the 100+ foot range with salmon loitering slightly above them? The horizontal line in some of the images is my downrigger ball. I lowered a Faux Pro camera down with the downrigger for awhile but didn't manager to capture any fish in the videos. Whatever they were they were not biting.

-Creek Chub

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Updated 09-12-2017 at 05:12 PM by Creek Chub

Lake Sakakawea


  1. sig357's Avatar

    I labled how it appears to me anyways and hope this helps. Maybe someone knows better then I do.
    One side note and just trying to help ya out. All those little blue specs on the screen, you should try lowering your sensitivity till they are about gone. I has them all over my screen when I first started using my new fish finder also. I ended up watching a bunch of youtube vids and went to 2 sonar classes this last year to help. Went thru more settings then I will remember but both classes the instructors both hit on that same subject.

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    Updated 09-12-2017 at 06:05 PM by sig357
  2. eliminator's Avatar
    I believe what you are seeing is not fish but the thermocline---on my lowrance it appears to look like a lot of fish but I firmly believe that is the thermocline---I have been catching some salmon just about every time out but it has been very slow since last sunday---we had about 3 days of wind and it seemed to shut the bite down big time. There are some fish being caught yet but most are not getting big numbers of them---there are also some being caught shallow but not big numbers there either from what I am hearing from my friends that are trying that also. All you can do is keep trying. The fish I-- am catching are still very nice and silver and have been down from 86-107---I see some movement on the surface also but have not been trying for shallow ones.

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  3. Robert W. Ackerman's Avatar
    Well, don't feel bad! I've been in the same spot as you for the last three times out and when we were hooking up we set the hook and I mean hard only to get most close to the boat and they managed to get off! Was there again today and watched several connect and a few nets out. Seen one person reel in one about 50' from his boat and it rolled and was gone. So it's not just me either!! On a another note, 4 guys were casting cranks right by the dock and catching Salmon from shore. I didn't bring anything to do this with but next time!! Good Luck to all and see you on the water.

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  4. Up Y'oars's Avatar
    Same here. We've been starting the mornings at 85'-100' and moving lower as the sun progresses in the sky to 86'-106' and only bumps here and there for the past few weekends on squid and herring with flashers. I think the overall harvest is low for everyone. It's just one of those years, or they have yet to turn on and go gangbusters.

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  5. Olsonra4's Avatar
    What kind rigs do they use to catch salmon from the shore?

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  6. Robert W. Ackerman's Avatar
    From what I could see they were using just smaller cranks and spinning rods. I would imagine that one would want something heavy enough to handle the fight but light enough to cast.

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  7. RustyTackleBox's Avatar
    I'm with sig here, lower your sensitivity until you get rid of the blue dots all over, it will actually allow you to pick out the bigger fish, right now your sensitivity is so high that you are making a small fish look bigger than it actually is. It does look like you are probably in the right area but your running depth is probably off, my experience is feeding fish usually strike bait above them not below (the way their eyes are positioned it makes more sense) if you were to target 100-105 fow there I think you would probably have more success (if that is actually your cannonball at 75&90 and not the thermocline) with your sensitivity turned up so high you will pick up the thermocline (that's how you find it) you could also try and target the bottom of the bait cloud too like 120-130

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  8. Green19's Avatar
    That's similar view on my graph as well. On Monday I went out and ended up with 6. We went 6 for 6 so gotta like those numbers. All were from 85 to 105. There were a few fish up more shallow. Had one rigger set at 70 to 75 and it never got a bump all day. Male fish are small and full of sperm but the females are also small and the egg development seems to be a little behind schedule of my memory of previous years. Four of the fish were still very silver and were of the spawning class of fish. Flesh looked very good yet too. This was my best day so far this year and my new electric riggers are a nice addition to the battlefront. I hope the upcoming weather/wind don't mess things up too bad and can replicate things again. The big female spawners are just not there yet for some reason as far as I can see.

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  9. Theadmiral's Avatar
    I tried it out first time last Thursday. Had one release in 86ft lure set at 76 down. Fished 8-2pm. Seen about 50 boats one boat lost one at the boat and seen one other net go down. Was a VERY slow day for most i spoke with. We tried 120-70ft of water focusing on 75-115 down with squids and flashers. Hope to hear some sucess stories as I would like to try it again.

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  10. eliminator's Avatar
    Was out on wednesday and caught 8 and lost more than that---down 100-105 with herring. I hear of some caught on long lines but I am still doing good deep so will continue that way until it doesn't work for me. The fish I am catching are still nice and silver and in good shape but no big ones at all. Mostly from 4-8 lbs with some small jacks also mixed in.

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