Californian Salmon by Troll

U.S. West Coast — California


King Chinook


May 01 - Sep 30

Hook and Line Troll

Fishermen use hooks and lines, trailed behind their vessels at low speed, to catch salmon. The hooks are attached to lures that imitate the salmon’s food, such as herring and squid. Salmon are individually hooked and the lines are pulled in with a hydraulic winch. However, fishermen must haul in each salmon by hand for the last 20 to 60 feet (6 to 18 metres). 

Harvesting Method

Hook and Line Troll

Trolling is a slow and selective method of harvesting salmon. Vessels average 40 feet (12 metres) in length and have a small crew who are often family members. Some captains even fish alone. Trollers usually fish offshore and can stay at sea for a week at a time, searching for areas where salmon school or feed. The most distinct feature of a salmon troller is its long poles secured to its mast by a crosstree. When fishing, the poles are spread apart forming a v-shape. The poles and four floats prevent the many fishing lines and lures from tangling while trolling at about three knots (5.6 km/h). Fish harvesters can have as many as 120 lures in the water at once, at depths of 10 to 360 feet (3 to 110 metres).

Hook and Line Troll

In California, trollers mostly target King Chinook salmon that are swimming back to their natal rivers, including the Sacramento, Klamath, Eel, Mattole, Mad and Swath Rivers.

Conservation Measures

Trolling has a low impact on marine habitats and a low rate of bycatch (unwanted fish). A number of measures address conservation in the salmon troll fishery. These include:

  • strict annual catch limits;
  • limitation on number of licensed fishing vessels;
  • a minimum size limit to reduce the catching of small fish;
  • seasonal and area closures for conservation purposes;
  • recording of catch in logbooks;
  • restrictions on the number of fishing days per week
  • limits on the number of Chinook caught each day per vessel
  • requirement to use single shank barbless hooks to reduce mortality on unwanted fish (bycatch)
  • restrictions on the number of lines used for trolling

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks

U.S. West Coast


Seafood Watch - Good Alternative

FishWatch - Click for status


May 01 - Sep 30


The Pacific Fisheries Management Council manages salmon in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Pacific Salmon Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Visit the Council’s homepage on salmon management.


The Pacific Fisheries Management Council has a Salmon Technical Team that published stock assessments each season.

Quality and Handling

Troll-caught salmon are known for their high quality and freshness. The slow-paced and selective nature of trolling means that each salmon is individually hauled aboard by hand, cleaned, washed and either iced or frozen at sea. Troll-caught salmon also tend to have little or no scarring. For this reason, quality—rather than quantity—is the hallmark of troll-caught wild salmon.

Some trollers freeze their catch at sea. The salmon are dipped in a saltwater glaze and flash-frozen to a core temperature of -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). The glaze prevents dehydration and locks in freshness. Freezing happens within only hours of the salmon being caught so that when the fish is thawed it has the quality of being freshly caught. That’s why fishermen refer to their catch as “fresh-frozen” and why frozen-at-sea salmon are highly sought after by sushi chefs.


Food Info King Chinook


  • Colour: deep red to pale pink or even “ivory” or “winter” white
    Texture: large, soft-textured flakes with a velvety feel
  • Flavour: succulent and full-flavored with high fish oil content that’s almost buttery
  • Perfect serve: Grilled on a soaked cedar plank and seasoned with nothing more than coarse sea salt, ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon to offset the buttery richness.