So You Want To Go Fishing...
This is a complete guide to what you'll need to know in order to get ready, get there, have fun, be safe, catch lots of fish and even clean and cook your catch.  Please consider printing this entire page and taking it with you as you prepare for your fishing trip - the more you know, the more fun you'll have!
A Typical Trip Salmon Fishing Basics
What to Bring/ Rules Fishing Etiquette
Where to Go/Directions Sea Sickness
Getting On Board Cleaning your Salmon and Taking it Home
The Weather Basic Regulations


Nautical and Fishing Terms


A Typical Fishing Trip
A typical fishing trip usually starts out at dawn with everyone meeting at the boat. Exact time and location will be finalized the night before and is always subject to the weather. The captain may have arrived early to get the boat ready. After the guests arrive and the captain shoves off, he'll motor for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to arrive at the fishing grounds, most likely outside the Golden Gate along the coast near Stinson Beach. If we're going out for Tuna, the drive might be a bit longer.  The scenery is breathtaking: Ocean, GG Bridge, Stinson Beach, Marin Headlands, Ocean Freighters, Tons of birds and best of all - FISH. Its common to see porpoises, whales, and birds - shark sightings, fortunately, are extremely rare. Once at the grounds, you'll most likely be trolling at about 3 miles per hour for Salmon or 8 miles per hour for Tuna and hopefully catching fish. Anglers take turns reeling in the fish with the most experienced fishermen netting the catch and hauling it onboard.  Hopefully the weather will be calm and you'll be fishing near other boats whom are also catching fish. Monitoring the VHF radio for fishing reports and watching other boats for signs of catching fish and spotting Pelicans feeding makes even a slow day go by quickly.  Once limits are reached for all fishermen on board, or the predetermined departure time arrives, the captain will fire up both engines and head home. The fish must be cleaned before the boat gets back into the harbor, a chore we usually do in the Sausalito Channel and also left to the experienced fishermen in the group. Once back in the slip, everyone helps wash the boat and filet the fish if guests are not familiar with how to do this at home. We're usually completely done and ready to drive home by dusk but it can be much earlier if we limit out quickly. With some luck you'll be having fresh-caught Fish for dinner!


What to Bring
 There are several important things you'll really want to bring, but for the most part, please pack light! The boat is never big enough to hold every guest's unnecessary gear. Here's a quick list of must-haves:
  • fishing license (can be purchased at dock except on Tuesdays) and plastic holder - must be worn above your waist at all times
  • windbreaker (insulated if its not mid-summer!)
  • sunglasses (polarized are best)
  • jeans, sneakers or deck shoes you don't mind getting dirty
  • shorts (if it looks like its going to get hot)
  • gloves (if it looks like its going to be cold)
  • hat and sunscreen
  • sea sickness medicine (see tips below)
  • gas money
  • cell phone
  • camera
  • 2 or more large plastic bags to hold your catch - heavy duty trash bags are good, trash compactor bags are ideal
  • small backpack to hold everything
  • coffee and breakfast snack for the trip out

The following items should organized to be brought by one person on the boat for everyone:

  • lunch
  • beer and other soft drinks (water, diet coke, regular coke - good for upset stomachs)
  • bait (can be purchased at dock except on Tuesdays)
  • ice (can be purchased at dock except on Tuesdays)
  • lead weights (can be purchased at dock except on Tuesdays)

Things you don't need to bring:

  • Fishing rods (we have matched sets on the boat) unless you're a pro and have a lucky rod
  • life vests (we have excellent hi-tech ones on board)
  • fishing nets or other gear that is superfluous
  • books, laptops, radios (you'll be way too busy)
  • cigarettes, firearms, drugs or illegal substances
  • coolers (leave it in your car if you want to keep your catch cool)
  • sandals (you must wear shoes that can protect your feet from lead balls)


  • You must wear your fishing license above the waist (bad luck not to!)
  • You must wear a life preserver while fishing since our cockpit has a very low rail. Also, its easier to pull in a heavy guy when he's wearing one! We have 7 of the fancy CO2 cartridge activated ones on board to make it super comfortable.
  • Leave your ice chest in your car (stock it full of ice to hold your catch!)
  • Leave other gear (rods, nets, etc) in your car unless you're sure we need your gear - we have matched sets on board for most types of fishing.
  • Disclose any health conditions to the captain BEFORE leaving shore


Where To Go/ Directions
The Slip.Net boat is located at Clipper Yacht Harbor in Sausalito, also known as Caruso's. You'll meet the rest of the fishing party at Caruso's Deli or at the boat so park nearby. Caruso's is located at the end of Harbor Drive.

From US 101, take the Marin City, Sausalito Exit. Head south towards Sausalito on Bridgeway. Go 3 lights. Turn Left on to Harbor Drive. You'll see a Molly Stone's on the corner and drive past the Post Office and West Marine as you head towards the Bay on Harbor Drive. Drive to the end of Harbor Drive and park near the boat ramp. Fish. ,the restaurant, will be on the water on your right. Click here for a Yahoo map showing Harbor drive.

Once you've parked, please call me on your cell phone for last minute instructions and exact directions to the Slip.Net boat. My cell phone number is 415-381-9731. 

We occasionally hop rides on even nicer boats so be sure to confirm with the Captain the exact boat and location of departure the night before. Keep your cell phone on in the am and make sure we have your number just in case something happens and we have to abort the mission.

Getting on Board

Slip.Net looks like the one on the left. It's a 37' Trojan Sportsfisher.  Its a dual engine boat that will get us out fishing fast! It has a cabin below with a V-Berth, head, refrigerator, sink and dining area.  It is equipped with GPS and radar as well as an EPIRB, life raft and other safety gear.

Boats can be dangerous - keep kids away from the sides lest the get squished between the boat and the dock. Board on the far side of the boat - the port side (where we keep the wine) . You'll see steps that make getting in easy. Please notify the captain before coming onboard. If the captain hasn't arrived early, he will need a few minutes to open up the boat and its best to wait on shore unless you know what to do to help. Please do not board by jumping into the side of the boat or climbing on to the front (bow) of the boat as this is unsafe. If you're bringing a child onboard, please hold their hand until they're inside the boat and immediately put a life vest on them. Once on board, please stow your backpack down below on the seats or v-berth. Do not leave gear you're not using upstairs on-deck as it will fly off when we get underway. 

Life preservers are mandatory when you're fishing (and required by law for children under 16). Not only is the water very cold but the Slip.Net boat is  asier to fall off of than other styles of boats. We have self-inflating life preservers which are very comfortable. They must be worn outside of your jacket and your captain will show you how to put it on. 

As we're preparing to get underway, you'll learn about some of the features of the boat, including how to start and stop the engines, use of the emergency channel 16 on the VHF radio and how to put the boat into forward and reverse. Even if you don't plan to drive the boat, its important that when we get a fish on, everyone can lend a hand if necessary. 


Sea Sickness - The Unabridged Guide
One of the real bummers of fishing is motion sickness. On a calm day this will not be an issue and we try to fish only on calm days so that we all feel fine. The beginning of the season (April, May) and the end of the season (Sept., Oct) are the rough months and you have to pick your days - the rest of the season its very, very calm. The captain will always check wind and weather reports before leaving. There are very few people who don't get seasick, so don't be ashamed to admit it. Its better to be honest rather than let your ego control your thoughts and ruin your day.  The best tips for avoiding seasickness are:
  • Get a good night sleep before your trip and make sure you don't have a hangover
  • Ginger is one of the best medicines and it doesn't make you groggy. Eat al ot with sushi the night before - or make Ginger Tea by boiling ginger root in water and adding honey in your mug. We have Ginger pills on board - take as many as you like - they won't hurt you.
  • If you think you're likely to get sick, take sea sickness pills at least 1 hour before we leave. Some people recommend taking 1 dose the night before. We keep some onboard and they work great. The best is Bonine (also available cheaper at the pharmacy as Meclizine"
  • If you don't like the pills or don't think you're going to get sick, we have a secret weapon: electronic wrist bands onboard that use pressure points to reduce the symptoms should they arise. Sometimes the wrist bands work great, other times not. The trick is to make sure the gel is on your wrist properly and to ask for them as soon as you start to feel queasy.  These are approved by the FDA and FAA!
  • Kids are more susceptible. Consider leaving them home if it looks like its going to be rough.
  • Don't mention the subject or kid about it once underway. The power of suggestion sometimes is enough to ruin someone else's day. If they get sleepy all the sudden, its the first sign.
  • If you feel sick, fix your eyes on the horizon or shoreline.
  • Do NOT go below deck.
  • Keep warm and make sure you can sit or stand comfortably.
  • Get a breath of fresh air. Either open the front vent in the windshield or look out the back or side of the boat.
  • The direction of the boat has alot to do with how comfortable the ride is. If we're heading into a current or swells, you'll bounce around and feel bad. If we head the other direction for a while, and go with the current, it may be smooth enough to get you over your discomfort.  Ask the captain to turn around if possible.
  • If you are going to lose it, do it over the side, not down below in the head.
  • We don't go home from fishing on account of seasickness!


The Weather
We always check the weather before going. However, it can change on you quickly. The wind kicks up in the afternoon so getting out and back early is always more fun. Most mid-summer days its so warm and calm you'll think you're in Hawaii and its actually nicer than it is inside the Bay. If you're interested in all of the websites we check before going out, see the links on this website. We do have radar and GPS which means we can get home on instruments alone, although this is comforting, its not what we ever want to plan. Make sure not to push staying out late to catch that last fish as it takes a good 40 minutes to return to the dock plus another 10 minutes per fish to clean. 
Salmon Fishing Basics

There are a few things about fishing you want to remember. First is that if you caught something all the time, every time, they would call it "Catching". Since we're actually "Fishing", expect nothing and then its all upside. Salmon fishing is different from other types of fishing, so just because you've Bass fished, please keep reading. First item of business is to make sure you're wearing your license, visible above the waist. It saves time from having to explain to the DFG why you're not following the law. Wearing it also seems to make everyone on the boat have good luck. Next is understanding that there are 2 ways to catch Salmon: Trolling and Mooching. Mooching means sitting in your boat, with all engines off and dangling frozen bait or live bait on hooks right about where you think the fish are. This works great on days when you're sure where the fish actually are. Otherwise, Trolling is preferred. Trolling means driving around in circles (or figure eights) over known fish locations on the GPS at about 3 knots. The gear is also different. We use heavier rods, with 2.5 lb. lead weights attached to the end of the line on a releasable spring, followed by the leader with either "straight bait" - frozen anchovie or herring, or lure or combination lure and bait. If using any type of bait, you must check your lines about every 15 minutes to make sure the bait hasn't been stolen or fallen off. Occasionally we use a flasher or other type of attractor between the lead weight/spring and the hook. To be legal you must use barbless hooks when trolling and circle hooks when mooching. Hooks are made barbless by crimping down the barb before using it. One of the best lure/bait combinations is a Rotary Salmon Killer - which is a piece of plastic with a fin on it and a clamp that you insert a frozen bait into - this mimics a wounded baitfish - just what big salmon are looking for. When we start trolling we put out 1 line per angler each with a different combination of lure and depth. Depth of your line is measured by counting out the line as you peel it off behind the moving boat. Salmon can be caught anywhere from 5 to 90 feet down - and remember to take into account the angle and extra line created by the moving boat. FishFinders help you guess at what depth to fish at, although most salmon don't show up on fishfinders as they have no air bladder with which to register on the sonar of the fishfinder. 

Once the lines have been placed in the water at agreed upon depths, you try to drive towards fish. Watching other boats with nets flying is a good act to follow as Salmon swim in schools. Looking for feeding birds, watching the GPS to see where other fish have been caught and circling in a figure eight around bites or fish caught.

The drag on each rod is set loose and the "clicker" is set on so that you can hear a fish hit your line. If its a big enough fish or bite, it "zing" and the lead weight will drop to the bottom of the ocean. Its important that someone in the boat pick up the rod out of the rodholder and keep a steady amount of pressure on the line.  The boat should be slowed to a stop only after the angler is sure he has the fish under control. The angler smoothly reels the line in, always trying to keep a steady pressure on the fish. There is no need to Set the hook - doing so will rip it out of the fish's mouth. Salmon exhibit some pretty common behaviors once caught. Some will run away from the boat for a minute or two and then, in an attempt to throw the hook, run directly at the boat. When this happens, you must reel in the line as fast as possible, sometimes tightening the drag as well. Its important to get the fish tired before trying to net it. Once it runs up to the boat it may see the boat and bolt away. This is another time to make sure that the drag is not set too tight or a good size fish will break the line. On smaller fish, the lead weight may not even drop until this final run. Once the fish has sufficiently tired and you've reeled it up close to the boat, you'll know its ready to be netted when it lays over on its side near the top of the water, presenting itself to the net. the netman will slip the net under the fish, making sure the fish is headed into the net head first. Its helpful to have the angler keep their rod tip up and not look down at the fish being netted as this may introduce slack in the line and lose the fish. Some fish are easy to catch and net, others seem like they get away all day long. Don't be too discouraged if you lose a fish or two - there are plenty to catch. Once the fish has been netted, back away from the netman, keeping the rod tip up until the fish is in the boat. Once in the boat, assist the netman by handing him the bat which will be used to hit the fish right above the eyes, killing it instantly. Larger fish should be bled before throwing them into the cooler. The netman will remove the hook and its now your job as the angler to reload the hook with fresh bait (unless its a straigt lure) and get the line back in the water with a weight attached. Be sure to feel the leader for nicks and make sure the hook is still sharp - sharpen it with a file if not. During all of the chaos, be alter around you to hooks on deck, what the boat is about to run into and make sure you don't lose your footing. Occasionally you'll get two hookups at once (a "double hookup") which will require either getting the caught fish out of the net or use of a second net. This is the ultimate fun, but also a good way to lose a fish due to slack line, missed net, etc. Try to reset your line with the same lure/bait, depth and location as where you just caught the fish. Often the driver will punch in the location into the GPS for future reference. If you have a fish finder, circle around the perimeter of the bait ball if you're over one - don't drive straight thru it as there are no salmon in the middle - they hang around the edges looking for wounded fish to dine upon. Be sure to keep an eye out for other boats as often others will swarm to your area when the see your nets moving about the deck. Once you're back fishing again, help clean the deck of fish goo and blood, reload pre-made baited hooks, etc. then relax and wait for the next fish!


Fishing Etiquette
  • Follow all regulations - its not sporting to break fishing laws
  • Offer to pay for gas and share lunch expenses
  • Show up on time but not early.
  • Let the Captain know up front if you are under a time constraint for your return - the best is not to have one at all! Fishing is an all day event and dusk during the summer isn't until after 8pm. We're usually done cleaning up by 5pm but its much more fun to not have to worry.
  • Stow all unnecessary gear below as soon as you board.
  • Rotate anglers when catching fish. Everyone should get a turn to catch a fish, even if a pro is using his "lucky" rod. Once you've caught your limit of 2 fish, let those less fortunate have the remainder of the turns. Its as much fun to coach someone else as as it is to catch it!
  • Netting the fish is often best left to the most experienced netman on board as fish are lost most often while being netted. If the netman is catching a fish, he may ask you to take the rod at the end of the fight so that he can net it. Only ask to net fish if you're a novice after a few fish are safely in the "box".
  • Offer to help drive if you feel comfortable driving the boat. Make sure you understand how to work the autopilot and to stop the boat fast. The most common obstacle is crab pots, which if hit, can cause serious damage to props.
  • Split the catch if all anglers don't limit out. Give extra fish away to friends or have it smoked. Don't let fish go to waste! Fresh-caught fish can survive up to 7 days in your refrig. but freeze anything you won't be able to eat as soon as possible.
  • Don't clean fish at the dock - most harbors don't allow it anyway.
  • Don't leave the helm. If you must, make double sure the boat is in neutral before doing so!
  • Wear a life vest. Just because you fall in doesn't mean we can save you. No its not the law, but not wearing one is stupid (and rude). 
  • Nothing goes in the head that you haven't eaten first. There is marine toilet paper under the sink. 
  • We have a limited amount of fresh water in the tanks. Be sure not to waste this as we need it to clean fish at the end of the day.
  • Be careful onboard and around the dock. Many an accident has happened due to jumping off the boat, using rails not intended to be used to board, roughhousing on deck.
  • Keep practical jokes on board safe and fun. Joking around is a blast until someone gets hurt. 
Basic Regulations - Salmon and other Creatures
  • 1 rod per angler with license. Kids under 16 don't need a license. You must have a Striped Bass stamp on your license (or at least 1 person on board) if you're going to keep any Striped bass you happen to hook. 
  • Daily limits: 2 Salmon, 3 Halibut, 2 Striped Bass and 2 Ling Cod. Go for the grand-slam and limit out on all of the first three!
  • No limit on Tuna but you must have a valid fishing license
  • Barbless hooks must be used for Salmon (Crimp barbs as soon as you take them out of the packaging!). Circle hook required if mooching. Can use a 2nd hook as long as its less than 5 inches away from first hook. Treble hooks not allowed for Salmon but are legal for Halibut. Barbs okay on everything else.
  • No Silver Salmon, only Kings. Your captain can tell the difference between keeps and the endangered species.
  • No Filleting of fish until back at the dock. Its okay to clean them at sea as long as you don't cut yourself.
  • Salmon must be at least 24" long (20" long after July 1). Halibut must be at lest 22" long, Stripers must be at least 18" long. Ling Cod (aqua-blue spiny rock fish) can only be caught after July 1 and must be 26" long.
  • Must use a net to bring salmon onboard.
  • Season runs from beginning of April to early November (exact date varies each year)

Other fun rules:

  • Sea Lions are endangered species - you are not allowed to harass them.
  • Drinking and driving is allowed but if you look inebriated, same rules and penalties for DUI apply as for a car. 
  • Kids under 16 must wear life vest and are not allowed to drive the boat.
  • You must monitor Ch. 16 on VHF and answer any request from Coast Guard if you're in the area.
  • Fish and Game, Coast Guard, Local Sheriff  can board your boat without cause and search everywhere. They also use spotting. scopes from shore to watch offenders. Fines are steep. 

The Dept. of Fish and Game is often waiting for us when we get back to the docks in Sausalito and we often see some type of law enforcement boat each trip. Its common to be boarded by the Coast Guard - especially if you have a nice boat (go figure!). Its no fun to have your day ruined by the strong arm of the law.


Cleaning a Salmon - and how to take one home!

Cleaning a Salmon is not as hard as you might imagine. The first trick is to use a SHARP knife. Sharpen the blade before every cleaning. Fish are cleaned by cutting a slit along the belly, removing the intestines, cutting out the gills and occasionally shooting a strong stream of water to scale the fish (not necessary if you're going to smoke it). Fish may not be filleted at sea by law but make sure you have the cleaning all done before you arrive back in the slip. Intestines should not be thrown overboard where others are fishing as they may attract sharks. Clean off all blood from clothes, deck, carpets, etc. quickly as once it dries it stains. Use latex gloves or surgical gloves to avoid staff infections and watch your fingers! Clean and bandage any knife wounds with hydrogen peroxide immediately. If you're not experienced at cleaning, let someone else do it on your first trip out. Once back at the dock, filet or cut the meat into steaks unless you're taking a whole fish home or giving it to someone. Do not throw the skeleton, head and tail overboard. 

Use Trash compactor bags which are super-tough to cart home whole fish or use zip-lock bags to package up steaks or filets. Keep any fish you're transporting on ice or in a cooler you brought with you for just such an occasion. Freeze any fish you're in doubt of eating within seven days by filling a ziplock bag full of water and submerging the fish completely underwater so that its frozen in ice - this prevents freezer burn and the fish will taste much better when thawed. 


Nautical and Fishing Terms
  • Bow/Stern - the front/back of the boat
  • Box - the icechest or well where we store the catch.
  • Chovie - short for Anchovie, a type of frozen bait often used. They are starved, soaked in Formaldehyde and then flash frozen.
  • Drag - the tension on the reel. Too much drag and the line breaks, not enough and the fish never gets reeled in
  • Flasher - a teasing or distracting set of metal or plastic placed between the lure and the sinker (lead weight) which makes the lure look like its swimming with several other fish
  • GPS - Global Positioning System - device which pinpoints your location on earth to within several feet. Used to get home and to get to where you've previously caught fish. Often have map overlays.
  • Hog - see Pig. 
  • Horsing the line - Jerking the line to get the fish in quickly. Great way to rip the hook out of a Salmon's mouth or break the line. Only do this if its a small, well hooked fish, or if being chased by a sea lion. 
  • Leeward/Winward - Direction facing away from/facing into the wind
  • Mooch - to sit still with engines off, drifting with a lighter weight rod dangling in the water, hopefully over a school of fish
  • Pier/Dock - Pier is the wood planks you stand on. The Dock is the water the boat sits in. Meet friends on the the pier, at the dock.
  • Pig - a huge Salmon - usually a male.
  • Port/Starboard - left/right when facing towards the front of the boat. Very helpful when talking to other boats or to crew. Easy way to remember: Left has fewer letters than right as does Port than Starboard.
  • Troll - driving slowly - around 3 knots - trailing lines looking for fish.
  • Slip/Berth - same thing to indicate where a boat is kept when not at sea.
  • Skunked - going home without any catch


Books and Links

King Salmon: A guide to Salmon Fishing in California by Greg Goddard - excellent guide to the sport!

How to Catch Salmon : Advanced Techniques by Charles White

Ted's Fishing Page by Ted Glenwright