|Starting 2016 of right...small, but right nonetheless|
Last year at this time, the only fishing to be had was through the ice. Come to think of it, that was the case in January of 2014 and 2013, if I remember correctly. The 2013 season was nice and long, but on the front end. There was salmon fishing that September. The 2015-2016 season has been nice and long on the back end due to the strong El Niño. Though the water has cooled off due to snowmelt (38º), it isn't frozen yet. With warmer weather on tap for most of this week, we might dodge that bullet for a little while longer.
I was able to sneak out for a few hours yesterday between teaching and a gig. The air was a seasonably comfortable 42º, though the wind made it feel colder. The river was flowing at a good level, 366 cfs. My first stop produced nothing. I had the same result with one quick pass through the next pool.
The third pool was the right choice. This pool has been a great producer for me in the past, but not the past two seasons. The water has to be at just the right level. 366 cfs is still a little high for the pool, but it's worth a shot up to 400 cfs or so. I hooked and landed my first salmon of 2016 on my first pass, right in the bucket of the pool. It was a little guy, probably 18"-20" tops. It took the Picasse tube fly. It was my eighth straight salmon on some sort of Picasse.
I pricked one on my second pass (on a Slime marabou tube), but failed to hook up. My third pass brought a second salmon to hand, this time on a gold bodied Willie Gunn, thus ending the Picasse streak. That fish was holding next to a large rock and in fast water. I passed over him twice with plastic tubes, but it took a copper tube to get down fast enough to get the fly in front of him. It can pay to try flies of different sizes and different weights for this very reason. After landing that salmon, it was time for me to leave.
So no big (or even average sized) salmon today, but that's ok. Just being able to fish in January is good enough. Hopefully I'll have more time on my next trip. This has to end at some point, but I'm going to enjoy it while I still can.