Salmon River

Salmon River

Salmon River, Idaho Report Updated 12/2/2013

This has been an interesting year for the steelhead.  We have been experiencing a late run and now with the cold seeing a severe case of lock jaw!  Some years it just rolls that way i guess.  The flows are sitting stable at 1,050 avg cfs.  This is a slight drop from a few weeks ago at 1200-1300.  With water dropping slightly the fish movements have slowed and now fish seem to be settling in to pools for a the time being.  The air temps have dropped and this week we will see temps in the single digits around 8 degrees for the high and the low dropping below 0.

The majority of fishermen have cleared out with the late run and cold temperatures.  Those who are willing to stick it out may be able to fish a week or two more before everything socks in for winter.  On the swing, try small dark patterns, and be sure to get that mend in before the swing to get those flies down to holding fish.  With the cold it is imperative to get the flies down to the fish or you won’t find success.  Swinging Hobo’s and bunnies in blacks purples or blues in any combination should do the trick.  If the fish aren’t taking try weightless patterns with a slightly heaver sinking head to give a more lively presentation of the fly when fishing gets tough.   For the nymph boys and gals out there, stick to flashy caddis patterns.  Mix up the tying a bit by putting a white, rainbow or pink instead of the standard olives and black body then purple thorax and head with a scud case down the back to add some depth.  Also try stoneflies in smaller sizes now around 12-14.  Using the same idea for colors.  The combination of light flashy bodies with dark ice dub heads, throw in some rubber legs and shazam!  Steelhead candy!!  Be safe out there as the air and water temps drop.  Keeping warm is almost as important as catching some chrome!

Salmon River, Idaho Report Updated 11/21/2013

The Salmon River peak has come a little bit late this year.  But those of us fishing it now aren’t complaining!  The fish are now spread out from Shoup all the way to Challis.  These A run fish will start to settle in as the temps put the lock jaw effect on them.  For now though, fishing is grrrrreat!  Looking at the harvest report for the Salmon region it is tough to stay positive with numbers at 20- 40 hours per fish, but if we look at how few anglers have been checked those numbers don’t really hold up as to how many fish are in the river now.  I personally haven’t had a single creel surveyor come my way and have had some very successful days this fall.

   The Water is holding at about 1200-1300 cfs at the Salmon gage station and will probably hold near that number in the week to come.  Temps are looking to be in the 30′s for the highs and down to the low teens at night.  With stable weather conditions its unlikely we will see any major discharge changes, so big bulky patterns might be out of the question right now.

The majority of the fly-fishers are throwing small stuff on the swing or on under the corky with a nymph.  Mix up the patterns by throwing 2 patterns at once with the dropper loop setup.  Place a dark solid colored fly up front then trail with a flashy pink panty, hobo or pick yer pockets in pink or orange.  If that doesn’t work try trailing an egg or alevin(minnow with egg belly) pattern.  This method seems unorthodox but has saved me on many occasions in the fall.  The fish are here and repetition of the same patterns all day every day won’t produce.  Steelhead can get very selective at times.  These level flows and cold temps will require an added effort on the anglers part to catch the chrome.   Swing a pattern through at 4 to 5 steps between casts, then come back again with 2 new patterns moving with a similar fashion.

Try varying the swing speed and depth. Rather than casting to the same angle as we often find ourselves doing time and time again, try a great alternate method by stepping closer to the trough or slightly deeper than normal and quarter slightly further down stream with a bigger mend.  This will slow your fly down and give these fish a chance to grab and get hooked up.

Salmon River, ID Report Updated 11/5/2013

The fish are finally making their way to Challis!  Though the numbers aren’t as high as years past fishermen are finding success.  The majority of the fish are being caught on hot shot rigs for the gear guys and nymphing setups for us fly boys.

The Idaho Fish and Game harvest reports are coming down fast and in some areas are at 5 hours per fish!   Most of those reports are coming from water near the middle fork confluence below Shoup.  This means November could be a hot month for steel as the peak of the run moves towards Salmon.  I witnessed some interesting habits while out this weekend.  Many anglers were saying the fishing was quite slow.  I watched one group fish over a pod of about 20 steelhead for about 2 hours pounding the water with no takes.  They continued to try to tempt the fish with the same patterns over and over.  All of us can learn something from this.  If the rig isn’t working.  Mix it up!

We then watched 2 gentlemen step into the run and proceed to land chrome all afternoon, totaling 11 fish in one run.  If your methods aren’t turning fish this time of year keep changing flies and rigging.  Try in-line rigs and bounce rigs to get the flies fishing how you want them.  Fishing the egg isn’t always the best option.  Try fishing dark colored stonefly patterns with gold tungston heads instead of flashy orange or pink beads.  Good Luck Out there and we will see you on the River!

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