Late summer and early fall, when the water temperatures begin to plummet and the rains
swell the rivers, is when I get excited for fishing. I know the salmon are starting to move up river, and it is just the start of a chain of fishing events that I wait all year for. Show up on the right day, and the river just seems to have an endless supply of salmon that move thru in waves, so timing is critical.
I constantly hear “It’s only August, it is too early for the salmon to be in the rivers!” I didn’t realize that salmon have watches…The salmon wait for the water temperatures to drop and the rivers to swell and they are off to the races. The key to timing a fresh run is water temperature and flow, using a website like the water office site to see the current and historical water levels is a great way to see the rivers conditions. See a spike in water levels and its time to get out there! The best salmon fishing often happens right after or during a rain fall, it does not always have to be a big rain fall, often a few millimetres of rain is enough to get the water flowing just a bit more and the salmon moving.
The common misconception is that salmon do not eat once they are in the river, and I suppose compared to when they are eating machines in the lake this is true, but salmon in the rivers, especially fresh run salmon, eat. The most common bait used for salmon is roe, and although drifting roe is an effective way to hook into fresh run salmon it is probably the most passive way to do it.
I prefer to play on the aggressive nature of salmon and try to get them to lash out towards my bait. My favourite bait is a trout worm, like the ones from Berkley and Raven. Rigging them on a size six, eight or ten octopus hook about ⅛ of the way back from the front of the worm makes the worm wave side to side. This rig is easy to set up and gives me a few fishing options and is an easy change to roe or beads when the worm is not working.
When I can see the salmon I can hold the worm in front of them and work on that aggressive strike. When fishing a deeper pool I dead drift the same rig and try for a more passive strike. Doing this has also helped me land the early rainbows, brown trout and coho salmon that seem to follow the chinooks in.
Fishing for these fresh run salmon is not for the faint of heart, they are in the river with two things on the mind; to get upstream and to spawn. Fresh run salmon are full of energy and often very aggressive! More times than not you have days where you are loosing the majority of the fish you hook because you simply cann’t keep up with them as they make powerful runs up and downstream. For some people salmon fishing is all about trolling around the great lakes, my outlook on trolling, I prefer to take my naps at home! On the river is where you will find me!