Make sure you’re ready for the season of a lifetime, the fall salmon run.
The fall chinook runs are upon us, and this is already turning out to be a boom year. Biologists knew back in February that this was going to be a big run, but the early reports from out west are showing greater numbers than expected. Some seasons have even opened early in response to the rush of salmon into the rivers.
With that kind of forecast, this is definitely a good year to head to the river. And while you’ve got rod in hand, it’s a good time to check out the fall trout season, too. It’s not the most prolific, but that also means fewer anglers. With the right tactics there’s still a good shot at browns and rainbows.
Either way, here’s a few things it can’t hurt to have in your kit.
Fall chinook are usually less active than spring runners, and the favored tactics for catching them are pretty crude. Gaudy, bottom-scraping streamers are widely considered the best bet. But this relatively new twist on streamers have become extremely popular for big trout and salmon.
Most are tied by adding extra hooks to the back of your first. Besides the advantage of more hooks in the water, the daisy-chained fly gets a little extra wiggle. Many are adapted from traditional designs, like this sculpin from Orvis. These colorful flies from Catch Fly Fishing are great at getting the attention of lethargic fall-run chinook.
Terrestrials are an opportunistic fly in the spring and summer, but in the fall they get a little more use. Most of the big hatches are over, though a warm day could see a may fly hatch. The land-dwelling insects imitated by terrestrial patterns become a bigger part of the trout’s diet.
Hoppers and beetles are standard artillery this time of year, and it’s also important to keep a few flying ant patterns around. This time of year often sees local swarms of winged ants. It pays out with the excitement of a visible strike and the fun of using a fly that takes some skilled handling.
My dad taught me never to go to the river without polarized glasses. I’ve since learned that you can do without, but why would you want to? Catching sight of the fish is half the fun, and for that glasses can help substantially.
For me this has always presented a conflict of form and function. I just plain don’t love the look of Oakley’s and the other too-sleek designs common among sporting brands. But for those of us whose ideal look is a woodsy James Dean, there’s always Ray Ban’s iconic Wayfarer design. The colors are limited, and I imagine they’re a little less durable than other designs. See above for why it’s still worth it.
Do you already have these in your tackle box? Comment below.