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Fly Fishing

Chum Salmon on the Fly

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On a cold Saturday in mid November, a day after the first snow of the season, my good friend Sam and I headed out to the upper reaches of one of our local rivers to look for salmon and trout with our fly rods. The idea was to first head to the river to try egg patterns below spawning salmon in the hopes of finding some opportunistically feeding trout and then go search for chum salmon that weren’t spawning if we had time. After arriving at our destination we noticed that the river had a distinctly muddier look that we would have liked. We geared up our six weight rods anyways with different egg patterns and headed down the path to the river  to try our luck.

Iced up guides on the fly rod

Iced up guides on the fly rod

The rig I was fishing was a glo-bug yarn egg tied with a small amount of flash in the tail and heavy dumbbell eyes as the first fly with a small crystal egg tied behind it as a dropper. A thingamabobber strike indicator 5-7 feet up the leader would let me detect the strikes on my dead drifted floating line.  The spawning salmon were present and in force, but unfortunately the flows were a little higher than what would allow a good drift of our egg patterns and there was a little too much color to the water. With the cold weather we expected the water level have dropped down and cleared up but apparently the rains from earlier in the week were still working their way down through the tributaries and coloring up the river.

Chum salmon on the fly

Chum salmon on the fly

Thirty minutes later we were back in the car and headed for another spot on the river to look for chum salmon. After rigging up our eight weight rods with sinking tip lines and large marabou flies we headed down to the river bank. The spot we ended up at consisted of a riffle followed by a medium sized run of deeper water that worked itself into a large backeddy and swirling pool. All along this section of river a second branch of the river dumped in on the other side directly across from us causing a strong current running along the far bank that would no doubt pose problems for us when playing large fish. There were four gear fishermen casting drift gear with yarn and corkies into the lower back-eddy so we headed up to the riffle at the top of the run. Not five minutes later Sam had a fish on and it looked to be a good one. After a 10 minutes fight he had a nice buck chum salmon grasped by the tail and ready for release.

Chum salmon on the fly

A good size chum salmon taken on the fly

The ticket to hooking the strong chum salmon on this day was casting across and slightly downstream so our large marabou flies in pink and purple  could drift down and then swing right in front of their noses. The flies were were using were a take on the popular chum candy fly. Basically, just a pink marabou feather palmered at the head of the fly with a purple schlappen or hackle feather wrapped over it. Tied in slight variations with different combinations of flash and colors the flies are deadly. Sam’s fly of the day was a variation using pink barred marabou that he dubbed the “Flygirl”. Whether it was the slightly denser sink tip he was using or his custom tied “Flygirl” pattern, he ended up hooking a lot more fish than me this day.

The fish were stacked up in the shallow water of the riffle at the head of the pool and as we drifted or swung our flies through them we were able to hook up to quite a few nice fish. Our eight weight rods were slightly underpowered for these large chum salmon so we invariably lost quite a few in the fast water. Nonetheless, we were able to play a few nice fish and even land a couple. A few of the larger fish made strong runs straight into the current and once in the fast water there wasn’t much chance of working them back out again.

After Sam played one of the fish he hooked for a few minutes the hook appeared to pop out, and after pulling in his fly to inspect the hook he noticed something odd. The point of his fly had actually gone straight through the barrel swivel of another anglers drift gear that was hooked into the fish and had broken off. He pocketed the lead weight and complete drift gear and was glad to know that it wasn’t left in the fish any longer. In the end we got to play a few nice fish but before long the bitter cold drove us back to the truck with numb fingers and toes. It was back to the house to retie some leaders and tie up a few more flies.

Sam hooked this drift gear that was snapped off in a fish.

Sam hooked this drift gear that was snapped off in a fish.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Yos Gladstone and Nick Satushek, Nick Satushek. Nick Satushek said: A cold day of fly fishing for chum salmon http://ht.ly/3elot […]

  2. […] the past year and a half of owning this reel, I have personally caught Silver salmon, Chum salmon, Steelhead, Bull trout (Dolly Varden), Bonefish, Barracuda, Ladyfish, Tarpon, Striped bass, […]

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