Salmon River SteelheadIt had been two years too many since my last Salmon River adventure, so I was checking the flow reports pretty carefully in anticipation of an overdue trip the first of November. So of course, the flow spiked just a few days before my planned departure. Not to worry though, I posted a question on Flies And Fins, got some good advice, and loaded up the car for a 10 hour drive. Whitaker’s posted that the flow was still 1800 cfs when I arrived, but it would be evaluated at noon on Tuesday – a good sign. I decided to start in the upper section of the river, and found that it was still a popular spot – with a large number of fisherman lined up at popular pools. I picked a spot that had been good to me in the past, but the high flow made it really tough. I decided a trip downriver might be a good idea, and found that folks were hooking up quite regularly. Then the water dropped to 750CFS (where it stayed the rest of the week), and hook ups were a thing of the past. End result… a first day skunk, and high hopes for the next day. Changed tactics on Wednesday and tried different sections of river. Did a lot of walking, and some pretty aggressive wading before I finally picked up a nice fish near the end of the day. Seemed that the fish weren’t yet ready to eat, at least where I was. Couldn’t find many fisherman with different experiences, so at least I didn’t feel alone. Thursday was a different story. Decided to try the upper river again, and was into fish almost immediately. First was a nice 33″ hen, measured against the rod. Ended up going 2 for 5, and felt good about it. Pale egg patterns were the ticket for me, so of course the second fish took my last pale egg. That night I tied a bunch of pale eggs in a variety of sizes and shades. I learned that Friday is the new Saturday, as the river was suddenly alive with fisherman. I know that “combat fishing” is always a possibility on the Salmon, but I was still surprised when I stepped out of the river to take a leak, and when I was returning and stopped briefly to chat with a friend just 10 feet off the water, a guided fisherman moved into my spot. Anyway, I went 2 for 7, including this nice 32″ buck (in the picture), and saw lots of hookups. Fish were tough to land (as always), but if there was ever a time that I wish I had a camcorder it was Friday. I watched a fisherman wade too far (for my taste) into some real heavy white-water to fish a hole, hookup, then fight the fish through the white-water and down into the soft water where he was able to land it. I don’t think I have ever before seen a fish landed that made it into that particular stretch of white-water! Truly one of the most amazing battles I have ever witnessed. Altogether, a great trip to the Salmon River. I’ll be back in December!