Salmon are similar to animals in many ways. Thinking of them in this way can help you become a better angler. Understanding this behavior and thinking like they do will narrow down large river systems into likely places you can find them. Perhaps, this will make your job of catching them a little easier.
They desire a comfortable place to rest.
Many of the most productive fishing spots are such places. Usually, a spot where the current has a break from the higher flows of the main current are utilized. If you had to swim against the current, you would want to take a break once in while too! Tail outs, the inside of a bend in a river, behind a hump, or any other structure creating a soft spot out of the main flow are a few of those comfortable resting spots.
This is especially true during big tide swings or after a high water event. You want to look for “soft water” or any slower moving water on occasions like these.
Salmon are territorial.
Surprises are just as disagreeable to salmon as they are to us. When salmon are holding in their resting spots, the smallest of intruders can upset them. They do not want to share their space and attack the unwanted visitor.
When you place your bait or lure in front of these resting fish they tend to snap.
These are reaction bites and are some of the most violent. Many animals choose to travel along the same paths year after year and season after season.
Any deer or elk hunter will tell you there are beaten down trails running all over the woods. They use those paths for the same reason salmon choose the same paths year after year. Those paths are the easiest way to get from point A to point B. They want to expend the least amount of energy to accomplish their goal. Once you have found these places, chances are they will be there again unless the river changes.
Salmon want to avoid predators.
Looking at the top of salmon they have a darker green back with spots transitioning to a silver side and white belly. By staying close to the bottom seals and sea lions have a harder time seeing them. It has also been discovered that salmon cannot see down, only forward and up.
Another reason they prefer resting on the bottom to avoid predators. Salmon are in a lot of ways predictable if you learn some of their behaviors and locate the places they frequent you will discover they are creatures of habit.
This is just one tool in my toolbox that has helped me increase my success. Although I applied this to salmon the same can be said of steelhead. These wonderful fish have patterns and learning them will help you put more fish on the line.