|No luck at the new intersection of Ward and Spencer this season|
I hooked up with my friend Bob later that afternoon. Bob has become a devotee of multi-density Scandi heads and a slow presentation. For Atlantic salmon, it seems excruciatingly slow to me, especially when the water temps aren't too cold. With the water low and the air temp high, I was sure I could get a fish to show for a hitched tube. No dice. Bob went at it with his slow swing and plastic tube fly and nailed two salmon that afternoon. I blanked.
I went home and thought about what I saw. It seemed so odd to me that the fish were taking what I would consider large flies, fished so slowly, in such low water. I kept telling myself, "small flies fished slowly or large flies fishing quickly." Though I wanted to go back to my old tried and true methods, I knew they weren't working at the moment, so I decided to replicate Bob's methods as best I could on December 13.
I used my Ross Reach 11'9" 7wt. rod paired with a 380 gr. Vision Ace floating/intermediate Scandi head. I added a 10', 2.6 ips Versileader and 3'-4' of 12 lb. test Maxima. I decided to fish flies with as much built-in mobility as possible. The goal was to hang the flies just over the salmon's heads for as long as possible and to let the action of the fly draw the fish into striking.
December 13 was quite an amazing weather day. The water topped out at 52º and the air reached a remarkable 61º! The water was still quite low (125 cfs), but it didn't seem to bother the fish much, especially in the afternoon.
|The start of a good day|
Switching to Bob's method was definitely the right move. I got on the board very quickly with an Undertaker tied on a 1" plastic tube. The next three salmon came to hand on a Grape (1.25" aluminum tube), which turned out to be the fly of the day. The second fish was a hot 8 pounder. The salmon didn't jump, but made some very strong runs, which made my Abel Switch reel growl. I kept alternating between marabou tubes and spey-type flies. There was action in almost every pass through the pool. If I didn't hook up, I at least had a pull or had a fish on for a moment. I counted three fish which grabbed a fly, but fell off a few seconds later. One took a Canary and the other two took a sz. 5 Picasse.
|The Grape tied on a 1.25" aluminum tube|
The best fish of the day was the last one. He nailed a #5 Catch-A-Me-Lodge and immediately ran upstream. His back was out of the water and he ran right up into the fast, shallow water at the top of the run. Before I knew it, he doubled back, jumped, then sulked. After sulking, he tore off downstream. It was a pattern which repeated itself several times. Jump, sulk, then big run. I managed to steer him away from a large snag in the middle of the pool and land him well downstream from where he was hooked. It was a fat salmon which I estimate was between 10-12 lbs. He was a very strong fish and I felt lucky to land him. The tough guy came unbuttoned when I bent down to remove the hook from his mouth so, unfortunately, no pic. He swam off like a shot and will be there for someone to catch another day.
The final tally was five hooked, landed, and safely released, three others on for a few seconds, and several other pulls. It was a great day for any month, but especially for December. Note to self...often times, it pays to shut up and listen.