With Area 9 opening on Saturday 16th January, here's what I just might be fishing myself. Downrigger fishing is without a doubt the single most popular technique of fishing salmon in this popular and productive area. First off I would be focusing my attention to fishing the areas I mentioned yesterday and presenting my offerings along the bar contours and drop offs in waters 90 - 150 feet deep. I would also make sure that I would be fishing within 10 feet of the bottom. I was told many years ago by an old timer that it is best to fish winter blackmouth two feet below the mud. In other words fish close to the bottom!
As far as the type of gear, there are many productive and varied choices. However, for productivity it is had to beat a flasher / squid combination. My choice would be an 11" Hot Spot Flasher in either Glow/Green or Glow/White with a trailing Yamashita/Golden Bait squid also in "Glow" colors. Some of the day and day out productive colors are OG140R (Swede's Awesome, OG142 (Green Hornet), OG161R (Mother of Pearl), 055R (Glow White) and OG174R (Apple Core). Another great color, though not a "Glow" color is the OAL12R (Purple Haze). I generally fish these with a clear mylar twinkle skirt insert not only to fill out the head of the squid but to provide some additional flash. I would rig the squid with the hook arrangement that you have had the most success with, as over the 40 plus years that I have been in the business I have seen everything from soup to nuts as far as different leader/hook arrangements. The leader test should be a minimum of 25 pound with many anglers fishing up to 50. There is a lots of ideas on what is best! Personally, there are lots of different factors that determine what is best. The leader length I would fish for blackmouth would be in the 32 - 42 inch range, making sure that the squid has lots of snappy side to side action when towed behind your flasher. Blackmouth are active feeding fish and will aggressively go after a very lively bait. I generally would go shorter than longer on the leader length. I would then sweeten your offering with a small strip of herring on the front hook of your squid or at least a squirt of your favorite scent to aid in covering up the odor that you imparted on the lure while handling it.
Another popular set up is a flasher/spoon combination. Once again I would fish an 11 inch Hot Spot in Glow/Green or Glow/White and I would more than likely reach for a Gold Star Coho Killer spoon in a "Glow" finish with a color accent in lime green or chartreuse or perhaps the UV White Lighting finish. I will generally go for the "Glow" finishes on the dark, overcast, and low light condition days and the UV on bright and sunny days. Another good choice in spoons is the Gold Star 4 Light Kingfisher! Also in the same finishes. The Coho Killers would be fished on a 32 - 36 inch leader in 25 - 40 pound test and the 4 Light Kingfishers on a 42 - 60 inch leader. Longer on the Kingfishers as they have considerably more action on their own than the Coho Killers and you do not want to have the Hot Spot and the Kingfishers working against each other. There are other spoons that are also good choices such as the Luhr Jensen Coyote Spoons in the 3.5 and 4 sizes. (Though many of the popular Northwest colors have now gone to the wayside with Normark cutting back their color selection.) As with the squids, a drop of your favorite scent on the spoon and you are ready to go.
One of my favorite methods is to fish a spoon by itself (with out a flasher). I like a broader width spoon such as the 4 Light Kingfisher as they have a better swimming action and simply tie a small #3 Sampo Ball Bearing swivel at the end of my line and a 5 - 6 foot length of 15 - 20 pound leader to the swivel and then directly to the spoon. This a fun simple method that really puts you and the fish on a one on one personal basis. This allows you to fish some very sporting light gear as you do not have the additional resistance of the flasher which requires heavier gear to control it. Any good spoon works well for this technique, other choices would be Canadian Wonders or Coyote Spoons.
My last method would be fishing a Silver Horde or Tomic plug in the 4 - 5 inch range. Just like the spoons method above I would fish them by their self and would tie directly to the plug with my 15 or 20 pound mainline. Color choice would have to be a "Glow" body in either Mother of Pearl or something with a lime green or chartreuse coloration.
That's a fairly quick run down on things. If you have any additional questions don't hesitate to stop by or give me a call and I'll be glad to fill you in a little more or clarify some of my ramblings.