Salmon and Trout Fishing in Low Water Flows by Jay Peck
Drought conditions from summer have continued well into fall on the Salmon River. As a result, water flows have dropped significantly and has been to 185 CFS (minimum flow for summer). While these are less than ideal conditions we have experienced this in the past.
Both anglers and fish have to adjust to uncommon conditions. Adjusting technique for angling presentations is nothing unusual -most of the changes are typical of basic fishing 101.
Here are a few tips to increase your success this fall:
1. Salmon and trout in low water flows are spookier. It’s best to back off the fish and make a longer cast -just like on the trout stream. The further away you are from the fish, the more relaxed they will be. Relaxed fish will bite more aggressively and stay in their respective holding location considerably longer when undisturbed. Keep in mind that at this stage of the salmon run, spooked fish will often react by continuously pushing upriver.
2. Given that water speed and depth has been greatly reduced, it’s important to lighten up on the weight to achieve a proper presentation -you still need a clean drift just off bottom. In many areas, all that is required isa bead headed fly and line handling skill (proper mending) to get the fly down and keep it deep enough for the fish to eat it. Leaders should be lengthened (not to be confused with a longer tippet) and consider a lighter tippet.
3. Salmon or trout can often become reluctant to bite or even shy away from the fly in low water conditions. You can address this by downsizing your fly pattern –fish can see flies easier due to the smaller volume of water and a pattern too large can easily spook fish. Another option is to fish a pattern that does not have as much flash as normal, or fish a pattern with a thinner profile.
Adjusting to water conditions and trying new fly patterns is basic trout fishing 101. The fish and conditions nearly always present some kind of challenge to anglers.
Good luck! We hope these simple techniques will improve your success streamside this fall!