Our local salmon fishing has pretty much become
non-existant, at least in any great numbers. Our
neighbors to the North, British Columbia and
Alaska still have good runs of King and Coho
salmon, but for us living near the Puget Sound it's
pretty much Chum salmon. To our friends up
North, Chum fall into a trash-fish catagory. But
when in Rome as they say, fish for Chum.
Chum are probably the most
under rated of the salmon, at least as fighters! They
really are tough fish, and a ton of fun on a fly rod.
We have been fishing for them in
the fall for several years. And really have done better
than other fly rodders. Credit for that goes to Castwell
and his Chum Fly. But something happened that even
improved on that!
Guests from the eastcoast planned
a day of fishing Chum with us several weeks ago. We
put together a group, six of us fished - and caught a lot
of salmon. So many were lost however, we eventually
ran out of Castwell's Chum Fly. Our guest, ran through
his fly box and picked a Clouser Minnow. He fished it
very successfully, and commented that he thought the
Chum Fly should be weighted, since the fish on the top
of the water were mostly playing around. He fished the
weighted Clouser, which also rides hook up, and quit
counting how many fish he caught. That sure seemed to be
So Castwell tied up some weighted
Chum flies. Some with a little more weight and some with
less. The idea was to get the fly in the right place in the
water column. In deeper water the one with more weight
worked best. As the tide changed and the water became
more and more shallow it didn't work. Change to the lighter
weighted on and that worked, sort of.
That particular run of salmon finally
dwindled down, and another one started. Off again with
an assortment of weighted flies. (By the way, we were fishing
with a sink tip line with these flies.) The new run was in an
entirely different physical situation.
We caught an occasional fish - but
nothing like the numbers of the previous place. Back
to the drawing board. We don't mind casting all day,
but it is even better when there is more than a fish or two
connected on the fly.
What were the major differences?
Water depth. And the first place had a fairly good head
of water flowing from the stream. Now we have little flow
from the stream, and a very big, shallow estuary. We made
the decision to try floating lines, florocarbon leaders and
the "original" non-weighted Chum Fly. Bingo!
Fish on! When fish were around,
we could land 5 to 10 fish each an hour. A really big
improvement in the catching one or two fish in a whole
day, just one day before.
Notice the hand position, using the strongest grip to "tail" the fish.
The point here is this: We all work
at figuring out a particular fish, or a place. We can get it
down to almost a science. And it is rewarding too!
But change something, change
anything and those tried and tested methods may not
work. Even fishing the identical place with a change in
water levels is enough to do it. Time of year, where
the temperatures may go up enough to warm the water
can do it.
You can continue to fish the same
way, with poor results, or dope it out!
Take inventory. Be observant.
Figure out what has changed and change with it. You
will catch more fish.
~ Deanna Birkholm