The Salmon Game
The Salmon Game
As I stand here on the boat going through the routine of casting and retrieving, I start to wonder why we continue to go through those motions when it seems fruitless. The salmon appear to have shut down, and it’s been an hour since anyone’s fly has had a touch.
What is it that keeps us persisting? Is it the fact that it just feels so nice being out on the water soaking up the winter sunshine? Or maybe its the addiction to the adrenaline you feel when you do finally crack the code and hook that fish.
After hours on the water targeting salmon, changing flies, altering the retrieve and relocating to the other side of the salmon school the answer comes to me. It’s the motivation you receive when those sneaky salmon suddenly start leaping right beside the boat. Just when you feel like calling it quits the fish decide to turn it on.
With this new found motivation comes a whole new level of fishing. The casts become longer, the level of concentration intensifies, and all of a sudden, wham, strip strike and the salmon is pinned. I watch on as the salmon is battled in the fast flowing current, coming to the surface and thrashing its head from side to side before motoring off at lightning speed. As it is fought and steered to the side of the boat, I jump to my feet with the net in my hand ready to concentrate on netting duties. I stand waiting as the salmon swims in circles under the boat, knowing that the battle and hard work could all come undone with just one donk on the head with the net or an untimely scoop.
With that in mind the fish comes to the surface and is landed into the net. With the pressure now off I grab the camera and take on a whole new responsibility, the photos. After a couple of happy snaps it’s back onto the deck for some more casting and retrieving and the salmon game starts again.
The gear I use for salmon is pretty simple. I use an 8 wt rod with a matching reel which I find turns the Salmon over quickly and gives them a better chance at surviving. You can catch these guys on a 6 wt rod but with the strong flowing tides that we fish, it would take quite a while to fight that fish to the boat and let’s face it, the salmon hitting the fly and peeling drag is the best part. I choose to use a full intermediate line with a 20 pound leader at about 9 ft straight through and the fly of choice is a tungsten surf candy to get down deeper in the water column.
Keep it simple and mix it up if it’s not working for you, and soon enough, you too will be playing the salmon game 🤙