Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Upper Salmon River
We will start with the steehead and then discuss the trout. Again, provided the steelhead are
in the river, when you are fishing the spawning run in the spring, the best time is usually
during April. There are many things that can affect the fishing, most importantly is the
condition of the water. At that time of the year the feeder streams can be muddy for melting
snow. When the Salmon River gets muddy, it is difficult to catch the steelhead because they
don't tend to stay in their normal resting places. Everything is left to blind casting. Fly anglers
want be the only ones fishing for them. Most of the guys and gals will be using hardware.
When they start to catch steelhead, you should be able to catch them on the fly. Otherwise
you may want to stick to trout fishing. The steelhead season ends April 30.
When conditions are perfect, the water is clear and you can see the steelhead, most of the
fish caught are actually caught when they are spawning or on the redds. The fish are caught
using sight fishing techniques. That would normally be a terrible thing except in this case, the
steelhead are hatchery raised steelhead that don't produce eggs that hatch. I guess you
could say they fake the spawning process. They are released as smolts. They return from
the ocean as partially wild steelhead. A true wild steelhead is a rare fish and should be
handled with care. They should be released quickly when caught. They do not have their
adipose fin clipped. All hatchery steelhead do. The adipose fin is the fin on the top back of
the fish behind the dorsal fin about half way to the caudal fin or tail fin of the fish.
A-run steelhead are at sea one year before they return to their spawning grounds. B-run
steelhead are at sea for two years prior to spawning. Of course, they are much larger. The
A-run steelhead, which are mostly all of what you may catch, average about 5 or 6 pounds.
The B-run steelhead probably average 12 to 15 pounds but get even larger. They come into
the Upper Salmon River only rarely.
You need full sink lines although sink tip lines work in some cases. The fly needs to get down
to the bottom. You can fish with a strike indicator, but it is usually better to fish down and
across. We will cover the tackle and flies in our gear section.
The rainbow and cutthroat trout in the Salmon River are not necessarily in every pocket, run
and riffle in the river. Unless you know some likely holding spots, you will have to do a little
searching. It usually doesn't take long to find them, just don't expect one to be in every nice
looking place you come across.
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Upper Salmon River