As is often the case in salmon fishing, there are no hard and fast rules as to what works and what doesn’t at any given time. Sure it helps to have a good idea of what works for you in certain conditions but if you asked ten anglers what their preferences were at this time of year you’d get a real good mixture of answers which will probably leave you more confused than before.
So, do you keep at it with the sinking lines and heavy tube flies for Salmon, or do you break out the floating line, light density poly leaders and the box double or treble hook salmon flies? This is what my friend calls the “no man’s land” time of year and I have to agree with him! Unless you find yourself having the luxury of a ghillie to inform you of what has worked and what hasn’t, these decisions can often lead to you questioning your choices when things do work quickly enough.
Over the past few weeks, the river temperatures have slowly been rising and the fish are beginning to creep upstream just that little bit quicker now. As a result of this, they are becoming a bit more active and any fresh fish residing in the pools should readily take a fly or spinner if you get the tactics rights for the conditions faced. This is where salmon fishing at this time of year can sometimes be a bit of a conundrum. Particularly when the water is high due to snowmelt running off the hills but the river temperatures are just hovering above that magical 40f mark. Just what tactics should you deploy to maximise your chances of success? Here are a few top tips which might just help you make these all important decisions that little bit easier.
To maximise my chances on any given day, I follow a few simple guidelines. These guidelines determine what tactics I will deploy and when. It also at least gives me a good starting point which I can make tweaks to if things aren’t going my way.
- Carry a small thermometer with you. Taking the water temperature will give you a rough indication as to how big your fly/lure needs to and how deep it needs to be fishing at. I use the common presumption that any reading under in the 30f range, you fish as deep as possible and with big or heavy tube flies. As the temperature rises above 40f and levels drop away, I tend to put the heavy sinkers away and use a floating line with tips and lightweight tubes or doubles. However, just to throw a spanner in the works, when the water temperature gets too warm ie midsummer days etc, I revert back to fishing deep but using small flies as you would with a floating set up. Dropping your fly right in front of the salmon’s nose in an attempt to induce a take can be just what’s required.
- Trust your instinct. When you get that niggling feeling telling you not to do something or vice versa – go with it. If one method isn’t working, try something else. Get down deeper or fish higher up in water column. Once you find something that works – stick with it and keep a note of the water height and temperature for future reference when conditions are similar.
- Last, but certainly not least and probably most importantly; keep at it! This, for me, is key to success when salmon fishing. I’ve lost count just how many fish I’ve caught at last knockings when I thought my day was going to end in another blank. You need to keep that fly in the water for as long as possible as you just never know when a salmon might decide he wants it.
One certainty in salmon fishing is that nobody ever caught a fish sitting in the hut!