Monday, August 18, 2008

Fishing for Early-Run Salmon

The month of September is my personal favorite time to fish for Chinook salmon. What I enjoy about fishing for salmon in September is that the salmon are silver & fresh from the lake. September salmon have just recently stopped feeding. What this means is that their predatory instinct is still working. This makes the salmon more prone to chasing flies presented on the swing. The big runs have not started yet. However there are always a few salmon poking around somewhere along the river. The best part of this is that the big crowds have not started to show up yet. This is a good time to fish for salmon and not have to deal with the potential fishing pressure.
On labor day weekend the minimum water flow on the salmon river goes from 185 CFS too 355 CFS. This increase in water flow will often trigger a run of salmon. The size of the run will vary from 20 fish to 2000 fish. There are several factors from river to lake conditions that will determine the size of the run. Regardless of the number fish that are available, I always find this to be a good time to get reacquainted with the river. For the fist two weeks the salmon runs are unpredictable. Most years there is at least a few small runs of salmon to make the fishing interesting. [This is why I do not like to make advance bookings for the first two weeks of September. I prefer to do this as a last minute thing. Call and talk to me and we will discuss what is happening on the River at the time.]
By mid September this is the time you want be at the Salmon River if you are interested in experiencing a run of Coho salmon. The timing of the Coho run is almost impossible to predict. The best I can say is that over the years, some time between mid to late September, Coho salmon will make their run. Coho salmon are a lot of fun to fish for. The biggest challenge is trying to time their runs. The Chinook salmon runs are starting to show up on a daily basis and there's salmon spread out through the entire river system. {Now is when I feel comfortable with making advanced planning. From September 15th on we can count on salmon spread out through out in the river} Morning will find us fishing the Douglaston Salmon Run for fresh run salmon. These salmon are just entering the river and have not been exposed to fishing pressure. The salmon are generally in the best mood for taking a fly. Most days, by noon the fishing has started to wind down. This is always a good time to take a break. Some days, for what ever reason, only known to the fish themselves we can experience a steady flow of fish that could last until mid afternoon. When this happens, obviously we will take full advantage. When salmon entering the rivers in September they are in a run and rest mode, thinking they have several hundred miles to go. Salmon prefer to run during lowlight periods. This means late afternoon will be prime time to fish. The technique that we use is to locate a pool full of resting salmon, fish the head of the pool and the run immediately upstream of this pool. As salmon start their evening run they start to get aggressive and take flies once again as they work their way up river. This fishing pattern will usually hold up in until the salmon start to spawn.

I still have plenty of prime days available for September and early October if you are interested or have any questions, feel free to either send me an e-mail at or contact me at the fly shop and 585-352-4575.

What is going on now? Oatka Creek water flow is back down to 2.57 this is an excellent level for fishing the trico hatch. This hatch should continue for a few more weeks, well into September. Just remember with the water flow back down to where it is now the trout are going to be tough to approach. For flies, stay with the standard stuff trico spinners, red variants, ants and beetles.
For those of you who are starting to get a little twitchy for some big fish. There has been some reports of a few Chinook salmon in the Salmon River last week. The Salmon River had high water flows, around a 1000 CFS all last week. The wind pushed cold water to the east end of the Lake, this allowed the salmon to come close to the shoreline. As a result a few Chinook salmon entered the Salmon River. There is a few Chinook salmon in the fish ladder at the hatchery. Douglaston salmon run also reported a few Chinook salmon being caught.

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