About this blog

This blog is all about fly fishing for native trout. On it I cover trip reports, fishing tactics, conservation, the latest news about native trout species and much more. This site provides a companion to my web page Nativetroutflyfishing.com.


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Fall Salmon Spawn

With the start of fall, the leaves are changing colors and the first major rains of the season have hit western Washington. With that rain, the salmon have started to ascend the rivers in earnest and for those that know where to look, there are a number under the radar trout fisheries that really come alive once the salmon start spawning that under the right conditions can rival fisheries in Alaska. 

I recently, Chris and I had a day free to visit one of these fisheries and it seemed that our timing was spot on. When we arrived at the river, the first thing we saw was a pair of Chum Salmon sitting on a redd, telling us that the trout should be looking for eggs. Despite several pairs of Chum Salmon spawning above the first run that we tried, we failed to find any fish. However, just upstream of this the river braided into three channels and two of these were stacked with spawning salmon. Chris took one side and I took the other side. At the top of the side channel that I choose there was a fast riffle that dropped into a nice pocket. A classic spawning season holding water, providing a steady supply of eggs from spawning fish upstream, but being too fast for salmon to want to hold in the same water. I positioned myself just upstream of this slot and on the first drift, my egg imitation had barely gone over the lip of the pool when my indicator shot under the surface. Upon setting the hook, I could tell that this trout was no push over and unfortunately for me this was not going to be an easy spot to land a fish as both sides of the pocket we brushy meaning I would have to get the fish to come upstream. This led to a series of tug of wars with a fish that I got a good look at several times and could tell was well over 20". Despite a decent hook set, I just could not get this fish up over the lip of the pool and after a few minutes the trout finally won the battle and threw the hook.

Spawning Chum Salmon

Chris's side channel had only produced one small fish and as my fish had certainly spooked anything holding in the pool we decided to continue upstream, especially as we both knew there was some great water ahead of us. Not to far upstream Chris spotted a nice Rainbow that was holding in shallow water not far from some spawners. While took a few casts, Chris was able to get a good drift and as able to bring a nice 18" Rainbow to hand.

A spawned out Chum Salmon
A nice native Coastal Rainbow Trout

The next spot upstream was a slow moving trench that screamed sea-run Cutthroat water, but instead Chris got another similarly sized Rainbow, while I got a nice Pink Salmon on a streamer.

A Pink Salmon on a black sclupin pattern

The next two runs upstream were some of the best water we saw all day, but oddly seemed to be devoid of large fish and only held a few smolt sized fish. This may have been due to the spawners here being predominately Pink Salmon, which trout seem to avoid and also appear to select against eating Pink eggs compared to other species. We did find one little riffle with a pair of Chinook spawning at the top and this was where we ran into some Coastal Cutthroat, with Chris picking up a couple of nice fish.

A particularly spotty Cutthroat

After this, we decided that it was time to head back downstream as the best luck we had so far had been right near where we started. In area where Chris had gotten his first Rainbow, both Chris and I managed to pick up a nice Coastal Cutthroat. Additionally, as the side channel I had started at had gotten a nice rest, I got another shot at it and this time was able to pick up a decent albeit much smaller Rainbow, which this time I successfully got over the lip of the pool and landed. 

An egg eating Coastal Cutthroat

A bright native Cutthroat

Downstream of here, Chris and I picked up a handful of decent fish before coming to the best looking water of the day where a tributary entered the river forming a deep trench. It was here that I again hooked into another big Rainbow. This fish took several long runs almost making it into the backing before was able to turn it and bring it to shore where Chris netted it. While not quite as big as the one that I had hooked earlier in the day this 20" Rainbow definitely made the trip for me and was a great way to finish off the day.

My big egg eating Rainbow
A fat native Coastal Rainbow Trout, a great way to end the day