Fishing is more than just a sport. It’s an exercise for the mind, body, and spirit. It’s an opportunity to spend time in nature, reunite with old friends, and even challenge yourself. While the activity itself is always enjoyable, fishing comes alive even more with the mooching method. Less passive than trolling, it can make your trip both fun and challenging for you and your companions. So what exactly do you need to mooch? Let’s find out.

What Is Mooching?

It’s hard to know what you need when you don’t know what it is. For those unfamiliar, mooching (or drift-mooching) is done in slow motion, hence the title “drifting,” and you just move in your boat according to the current or the wind. You use a cut plug or whole anchovy or herring as bait, and it is a productive method when the fish congregate in large numbers in small places. You drop the bait, and just let it sway lazily beneath the boat, where salmon can pick it up as wounded prey, and then they bite!

What You’ll Need For Mooching:

Conditions: The determining factor about when to mooch is how far down the fish are. If they are extremely deep, say 100 to 200 feet below, mooching is a good method. July tends to be a good time of year for mooching as well, as the anchovies, herring, and sardines are out in full supply, so the salmon will be gathered for feeding.

Location: As mentioned above, smaller and more densely packed spaces are the best for mooching fish. Use any area that prevents the amount of space that the fish can spread out, such as the back eddies of islands, reefs, kelp beds, or passes. Tide lines are also a good option.

Bait: Mooching uses live bait and cut plugs to attract the feeding salmon.

Hook: Formerly, the most popular hook for mooching was the barbless J-hook, however they were banned due to a biological study. This study found that half the salmon released from barbless J-hooks died, however it also found that the mortality rate was quite low for barbless circle hooks. Now they are the common hooks used for drift-mooching. These hooks can be tricky to use however, and you need to abandon some of your basic fishing instincts in order to handle them.

Unlike other hooks, you do not set them, and you just have to wait for the salmon to take the bait. What you can do to speed along the process is reel slowly if the fish is hesitant about taking the bait, so that it may think that it’s meal is escaping. Keep reeling until the fish is turned and pulling line off your reel. After that point you can carefully lift the rod and play the fish.

Rod: Use a lighter rod for drift-mooching. As the tackle is very light, there’s no need for heavier equipment.

Weights: Weights of six to eight ounces are usually used for mooching, lighter than for trolling, as the boat is moving neither fast nor far.

Leader: You should be using a leader that is approximately six feet long and 15-25 pounds. You can then use a long bait-threader needle and push it through the eye socket of the bait and thread it all the way down the backbone. After that, you catch the loop in the eye of the needle and pull the leader back through the bait until it’s pulled against the eye socket again. Flip a half hitch around the tail, use the weight mentioned above, and then snap it to the leader.

Rigging: There are several options, though one of the more popular uses a bait harness hook. You put it through the bait so that the hook is just below the anal fin of the bait. The two “eyes” of the hook will hold the bait in position with its mouth shut, and the other will clip to the leader.

Number of people: While trolling, it’s better to have less people so you can follow your fish and have fewer tangled lines, however with mooching you’ll be more likely to catch fish with multiple lines in the water. The more baits there are, the more likely it will trigger the feeding instinct in the salmon.

Boat: In relation to the number of people, fishing from a party boat is usually a good way to go to ensure that you have enough lines in the water to attract the fish.

Whether you’re an experienced fisherman or new to the game, mooching is a fun and active way to try out your fishing skills. If you’re unsure of how to do it, or simply want to be guided to the best spots, you can always ask for some help! Book a Seattle fishing trip with Captain Keith Robbins, and by the time you leave, you’ll be a skilled moocher.

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