Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Salmon on the fly tackle.
The weather forecast suggested that it was likely to be a pleasant, if windy, afternoon so I rang Nigel and suggested that we spent an hour or so on a local river. It's 'fly only' on the rivers down here at the moment and although we are both experienced in catching mullet, bass, mackerel and the like on fly tackle neither of us regards himself as skilled in the 'art' of casting a fly. Anyway, my pal was keen to give it a go so at one o'clock we were getting our gear out of the cars and tramping over to the river.
We started at the upstream end of the stretch and were both armed with 10ft #8wt rods and floating lines. There was little sign of any fish rising so we were both using wet flies. Nigel's was a smallish shimp pattern and mine was (as always) big and fishy in the hope of tempting something larger. Our last couple of brief attempts with the fly tackle had failed to produce a fish although we'd had a few encouraging attacks, probably from trout.
As usual things were slow and for an hour or so neither of us managed a bite of any description. I suggested to Nigel that we might try a bit further down the river - more for a change of scenery than in hopes of better fortune. Nigel had left his fly box behind so I gave him a small goldhead to try while I stuck to my larger creation. After about ten minutes we'd wandered down to a nice looking riffle and I heard a muffled curse from my pal. He'd missed a bite - better! I could see that he was going to give the riffle where he'd had the bite a bit of a flogging so I moved on downstream, casting and retrieving as I went. My approach was simply to drop the fly as near to the far bank as possible, let it swing round and then draw it back for another cast.
I reached a deeper, wider pool with a steady flow and began to work my way down. After half a dozen casts I was almost at the tail end so I cast down and across into the relatively shallow water. The fly began to swing round and then it stopped. Before I knew it I was into something heavy and the little fly rod was well bent. Straight away the fish dropped back a few metres into the really fast run below the pool and then wouldn't shift. By now I was shouting for Nigel who was still fishing for trout some distance upstream. Eventually he heard me and it took him a while to trot down. There was no rush because when he arrived I told him that I still hadn't seen the fish but thought it was a salmon. For twenty minutes (Nigel checked his watch) it hung in the very fast water making only the occasional sortie downstream, and crashing about on the surface before swimming back up to where we were. I was hoping that I might be able to bring it ashore into the slack, shallow water where we stood. Then, all of a sudden it clearly felt the strain and took off downstream like a rocket. Once it had taken twenty or thirty metres of backing off the reel it was clear that I would have to get back out of the water to follow.
Nigel waded back upstream and clambered out, I handed him the rod 'til I could follow and he wound in the backing as I scrambled up the bank. He gave me the rod back and we followed the fish down for about half a kilometre. At one point it refused to swim out from a grassy projection of the bank where I stood and I couldn't shift it. Every time I pulled downstream it simply tucked further into the bank. Nigel plunged into the river and splashed about to scare it out (this took five minutes) before I could get it moving down again. Our target area to land it was some gently sloping muddy shallows where, after another bout of give and take, I was able to walk the fish into the shallow water and beach it. My pal heaved it ashore, I unhooked it and we took a few quick pictures. My shoulder was buggered and it took at least five more minutes for the fish to recover before I let it slip away.
The salmon weighed 19.5lb (93cm long) and as you'll gather it fought with astonishing power although perhaps more dogged than violent in its tactics. The fish was beautifully hooked in the scissors and wouldn't have come off. It was a memorable event of 2016, second only to the big snook I caught in January. Now I'd like to catch a decent seatrout on the fly. It's two weeks until we are allowed to spin so perhaps there's still a chance? Oh! I forgot to say that Nigel did catch a trout on the goldhead before coming to help me.
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40 minutes later and it's still on.
93cm, 19lb with sea lice.
Am I pleased? - I'd say so.
Back it goes, fit and well.