Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer Steel and Landlocked Salmon

Spey casting to a pod of salmonids in the Salmon River's Trestle Hole.

Last Tuesday I called Salmon River Program Coordinator Fran Verdoliva to find out if significant numbers of Skamania or landlocked Atlantic salmon rode upstream in the wake of this year’s first whitewater release on June 21-22. (Water is released five times each summer for whitewater kayaking and tubing.)

“A few fish came in,” he replied. “A nice steelhead was caught in the Schoolhouse Pool, and anglers reported seeing a few fish in other spots. But it’s still a bit too early for meaningful numbers.”

So I went up Saturday to try my luck. Using my Cabela’s Spey Combo, I worked one of my own creations (a white, cone-headed, rabbit strip streamer tied on a 1/0 hook) through a hole in the upper fly-fishing only, catch and release section of the river, about 200 yards downstream of the end of the Lighthouse Hill Reservoir tailrace.

A Skamania of about 10 pounds came out of the depths, nailed it, jumped clear out of the water when it felt the hook, looked at me with murder in its eye, and spit the fly back at me like it was bad meat. Shaken, I kept casting but my efforts were fruitless.

So I switched to an all purpose white nymph, on a #8 hook and caught a 12 inch brown and a couple fingerling landlocks—but didn’t see any more trophies.

Verdoliva says “the next three releases (July 5-6, July 19-20, and August 2-3) should draw good numbers of large Skamania and Landlocked salmon into the river.”

(An additional release will occur on August 30-31, but by then some kings will be running and the landlocked salmon normally beat fins back to the lake.)

“The Salmon River in July offers fly-fishing at its best,” claims Verdoliva. “The stream isn’t crowded, the fish aren’t spooked, and trophy steelhead and landlocked salmon will actually chase your fly.”

Summer is also your best bet for catching one of these bruisers on a dry fly.

After a rain, especially if the water gets a little murky, both species will hit worms.

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