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Best Bait for River Salmon Fishing

Going fishing is a terrific way to reconnect with nature. Being on or near the water offers a tranquility that’s hard to replicate in today’s fast-paced world. While patiently waiting for fish to bite is its own reward, it would be nice to get a few bites while you’re out there.

One key to salmon fishing is using the correct bait. If you’ve never been river salmon fishing before, you might not know about the best salmon bait. This article will discuss the best bait to use while river salmon fishing.

Salmon eggs

Also called salmon roe, salmon eggs are widely considered the best salmon bait for salmon fishing. This is because the scent of the eggs attracts salmon, especially during the middle of the spawn season. You can use single salmon eggs or spawn bags which are a cluster of salmon eggs grouped together. A drifting or bobbing technique is an effective way to deploy salmon eggs as bait.

Dough baits

When salmon fishing in rivers, dough bait can be a successful baiting strategy. Berkley makes a product designed to smell and taste like salmon eggs, and it’s a viable alternative to using genuine salmon eggs when river fishing. For the truly adventurous, you could even try making your own dough bait from one of the many recipes available online.

Sand shrimp

When searching for the best salmon bait, it’s wise to look for food that the salmon naturally eat. Sand shrimp fits that bill. This type of bait is ideal for Chinook salmon. You can cut this bait and simply use the tail portion of the sand shrimp to fish for river salmon. Many fishermen like to use a drifting technique when employing sand shrimp as bait, and you can even use it in conjunction with other bait as well.


We’ve covered salmon eggs and sand shrimp, but what about real fish? Herring works well for salmon bait, mainly due to its strong smell, which can attract salmon from a distance away. Fishermen have used canned, cut or frozen herring to fish for salmon, sometimes in concert with lures. If you cut the head off of a herring at an angle and attach it to the hook, it will create a spiral or rolling effect that is quite attractive to both Coho and Chinook salmon.


Although probably not the first choice of many salmon fishermen, minnows can work as bait as well. Often, they will be used if herring is not available, but the fisherman wants to use live fish as bait. They don’t produce as strong of an odor as herring do, so you might want to use some scent attractants to make them more appealing to salmon when river fishing.

Call for your chartered fishing trip today

Now that you know some of the best salmon bait for salmon fishing, give us a call at Phantom Tri-River Charters. We’ve been awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for five straight years, and we’d be happy to discuss a potential fishing trip with you today.