Summer is over, and salmon fishing in the ocean may be coming to an end. But fall is the best time to catch large king salmon from the shoreline close to home.

You don't need a party boat or a professional guide. You don't need to troll, and you don't need to drive five hours into Northern California. All you need is a good spinning reel, a 6- or 7-foot rod for casting, maybe 15-pound test power-pro line (with leader) and some knowledge of where migrating salmon move close to the shoreline in their inexorable migration to their natal rivers and streams.

When you catch a salmon, be sure to look inside the mouth. If it's black, it's a king. But if it's white, it's a coho, an endangered species, and must be thrown back.

Here's the scoop. Salmon migrations through the Carquinez Strait, past Benicia, through Suisun Bay, up the old Sacramento River and past Isleton provide great opportunities for shoreline fishing. Migrating salmon do not feed, so you don't even need bait. They hit spinners out of aggression, defense and instinct. Use a Flying C spinner, or a custom-made spinner from Benicia Bait and Tackle. (Talk with Pam, she's a font of information.) You're looking for a "reaction bite," to use a common term from bass fishermen's lexicon.

Here are some of my favorite shoreline salmon spots:

  • Dillon Point at the end of the Benicia State Recreation Area. You cast off the rocks near the point. The salmon follow the currents but come into Southampton Bay to rest or mill about.


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  • The end of First Street in Benicia. Two hours before high tide (low tide is too shallow) is the best time to cast off the rocks -- along with dozens of other gamblers. You can just park and fish.

  • Suisun City, right there in the harbor.

  • Pittsburg rock wall, right off from the PG&E plant.

  • Isleton. You can cast into the channel right off the pier. Drop into Bob's Bait and Tackle for spinners and good updated reports.

  • Walnut Grove. You can't fish from the pier. But there is great fishing from the shoreline just below the pier.

    And there is an added bonus to low-budget fishing from the shoreline: the camaraderie of local braggarts. Good luck and tight lines.

    Paul Rockwell, of Montclair, is the former children's librarian with the Albany Library. He is parent coordinator of Gone Tubin', a float tube fishing club for youth. For more information, contact gonetubin2.org.