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  1. #1

    Default Salmon - Do they eat flies?

    I've heard numerous times that Salmon don't eat when running. If this is the case, how can you explain catching them? How would you catch them on an egg pattern? Can they only be caught by swinging flies and causing irritation? I'm full of more questions than answers. I know Steelhead eat. What's the story with Lake Run salmon?

    Cheers,
    Mike.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Salmon - Do they eat flies?

    Egg patterns - From what I understand, salmon will "eat" other salmons' eggs to ensure that their own eggs are the ones to survive. I'm not sure if it is true, but there are other examples of this behavior in other parts of the animal kingdom.

    Streamers - Salmon can be caught on streamers as well.

    MP

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Salmon - Do they eat flies?

    Mike, I can't speak to 'lake run' Salmon, but given the original stocks came from my corner of the world .... some do some don't depending upon which run the 'eggs' were taken from.

    As an example we have two (well three) major runs of King Salmon (the other being a late September/October run of Coho) and the 'Spring Kings'? Only by 'dumb luck,' 95% are probably 'Flossed' whether by Gear Guys or us fluff chuckers.
    Should note that the vast majority of these fish come out of a Hatchery on the upper Rogue, so why they chose this run (for eggs, etc.,) is a bit beyond me.

    Ahhhh, the Fall Kings ... even 100 miles up river they'll take the same fly patterns as summer run Steelhead. Just a question of where you're on the river to 'legally' fish for same. But when you're chasing/casting for a 3-5 pound fish and you hook into something 30 to 30+ ..... it's a OOOOOOOOH Boy!.

    SW Oregon Rivers have (in the main) quite healthy runs of October/November (even into December as you move further up the Coast) and the closer to 'The Salt' you are the higher the probability you'll take Salmon on the fly.

    Look up the Chetco River (the Morrison Hole about 1.5 miles up from the river mouth) and you'll find 'combat fishing' at its "best."

    Had to laugh as I putted through the latest issue of Fly Fisherman magazine; the last article was about fishing the Chetco's fall run. Only 'error' is the Author calls it "Tide Rock," not true, that's another half mile up river. It's Morrison; but who cares? The rest is dead on.

    fae
    When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost. - Billy Graham"

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Salmon - Do they eat flies?

    I have caught many lake run salmon on flies with patterns ranging from an all black woolly bugger tied on #2 salmon hooks to a traditional silver doctor having married wings. I will not enter into the argument over why the fish take the fly. If you are fortunate enough to be able to present a fly to fish that have not been harassed to the point of being under great duress chances are one will grab the fly.

    I never caught a lake run salmon using an egg pattern but years ago I used the egg tie to catch silvers here in Alaska. I have seen some fresh fish that will not hit a fly (usually sockeye) but Kings and silvers (Coho) have no problem not only taking a fly but hitting them hade enough for you to know they are there.

    Whether it is an act of irritation or a latent feeding response is yet another dogma but one you need not become over concerned about. The fact that salmon are caught every day by fly fishers is enough to know. Essentially it comes down to locating a fish and showing that fish your fly. If the fish takes it the fight is on. If it does not, keep swinging until it either takes it or moves up on you. If the fish are being pursued and flogged by hundreds of anglers this does not improve your chances but I caught a bunch of them in New Yorks Salmon River and they had plenty of pressure.

    If there's a secret it is this, when you fish, stake out a good area of holding water, if it is empty don't go running off, hang around the fish are moving up the river all the time especially when there is an army after them down stream. When you see fish enter the holding area where you have positioned yourself don't start flogging them with casts right away. Let them rest and calm down, this takes around 15 minutes. Try to stay low or back far enough that you do not scare them more than they already are. Never point at fish, this is like putting up a giant sign for every fish hog on the river that there are some right in front of you. After having rested the fish for a good period of time carefully begin casting so that you can swing or drift your fly as close to the fishes mouth and eyes as you can. (this takes practice) Do not hit the fish with the fly or the leader and heres tow good reasons; the fish will be spooky and have had many people hit them with lines and lures already, they will take off if you hit them. Reason number two is that if you manage to hit one with the fly and he bolts you will in all likelyhood snag him. Trying to reel one of these in if it is hooked somewhere other than the jib (mouth) is not a fun thing and often almost impossible.

    Last bit of advice; don't bother with all of this if you plan to use light leaders. I caught every salmon I ever landed on 25 pound Maxima and most that I've beached I did not allow to get into my backing. Once one of these things gets a hundred yards away from you it is pretty much over. Furthermore if you have a good spot to fish and go running down the river chasing fish someone else will quickly have your honey hole and they will look at you like some interloper when you come trudging back up river after failing to land the fish you let run an eighth of a mile done the channel.

    If you have more questions post them, as long as this does not end up with people repeating each other I will answer whatever you ask.

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  5. #5

    Default Re: Salmon - Do they eat flies?

    Thank you for your responses. I really like the part about not leaving good holding water. I'm thinking to myself on Sunday and Monday that I'm fishing a great run, perfect actually, and I know fish are moving through because I saw a couple. The water is not clear, so I can't tell if I'm fishing over fish or not. But I know they're there or at least "passing through" on their way upstream - perhaps taking a rest. Part of the reason for my trip - knowing that it was low and that the run was/is far from in full swing due to the lack of rain this fall - I wanted to scout the river. But I plan on parking myself in that spot and one other that I liked quite a bit and see how that plays itself out.

    Cheers,
    Mike.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Salmon - Do they eat flies?

    Great answers from everyone, I would like to add fishing during the week is great for you if possible; far fewer competitors for you. The other idea I'd like to mention; fish right after sunrise if you can. The Salmon will in most cases have had all night to calm down, making them a little easier for you to fish.

    Dan

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Salmon - Do they eat flies?

    Quote Originally Posted by HuronRiverDan View Post
    Great answers from everyone, I would like to add fishing during the week is great for you if possible; far fewer competitors for you. The other idea I'd like to mention; fish right after sunrise if you can. The Salmon will in most cases have had all night to calm down, making them a little easier for you to fish.

    Dan
    That's right on Dan, both things are important and I have my best fishing right at dawn even here. Good post!

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  8. #8

    Default Re: Salmon - Do they eat flies?

    Ok... Now I understand why Salmon are the only fish my brother-in-law fishes.. Sounds like a another addiction

    I think I will need to figure out a Pacific Northwest fishing trip next year.. Great posts!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Monroe, Michigan
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    Default Re: Salmon - Do they eat flies?

    Critter, don't overlook a trip to Lake Michigan, there is some fantastic fishing for Kings there...

    Dan

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