The main issue of the second week of October was salmon activity. We believed that if water temperature will continue to decrease, a likewise decrease in salmon activity should be expected. This is such a direct relationship between temperature and fish activity, it is not always indisputable, but it is difficult for us to rely on something else in our forecasts.
Indeed, with a sufficiently large amount of salmon in the river, our results could be assessed as average. We were no longer interested in fish, which appeared in the river a month and a half ago. These were relatively small purple fish weighing from 2.5 to 3.5 kg. Salmon of this weight category remained active at a water temperature of 2-3 degrees. Larger individuals gradually disappeared from our catches. Apparently, decrease in water temperature affect large fish the most. We were primarily interested in fresh silver fish, especially sea-lice ones. Typically, these fish are particularly strong and playful. During the previous weeks we could not find a consistently effective way to catch them.
I have already mentioned several tactics and several effective flies for fresh fish. It is surprising that even in the period of morning frosts and very low water temperatures of 1.5 -2 degrees Celsius, the most effective and stable tactics were from our guide Geroge. Surprisingly, he suggested fishing on the surface of the water. For such approach, he chose areas with calm slow water where in his opinion most fish would stay in such cold conditions. There are a lot of such places on Chavanga, although they worked very unevenly. George used a fly on a plastic tube, casting out, disturbing calm surface and immediately began to pull the fly against the current. Such an instant, but very neat and constant animation on shallow and slow water led to salmon attacks. At the same time, we hooked decent size fish using this method, fish averaging 5 and 6 kg. This is a good result in harsh conditions of almost 0 water temperature. Fishermen, who used George’s technique, have done relatively well. Standard wet fly technology with typical drift was catching us fewer and fewer fish. Therefore, the weekly results of anglers of one team could be much different from anglers from another team, those ones who could adapt to conditons have done well. You understand how difficult for us is the question of the average catch per fishing rod or the team that is usually asked when choosing a river and planning a fishing trip. And here we are not talking about the experience of the angler or his technical equipment. The ability of the angler to adapt to new conditions is important. That is why the catches in these weeks were so strikingly different, from 2 fish to 45 salmon for the same 6 days of fishing.
At the end of the week, a group of anglers returned to Chavanga, who spent 4 days on the Strelna River. The situation there was very similar to the situation on the Chavanga. The relatively high level of water combined with low temperature, which dropped to 1.5 degrees. On Strelna, the main catch was fresh sea fish, but they fished them differently. I have previously noticed that fishing on the Strelna river requires a different tactic and technique of fishing compared to Chavanga. These are very different rivers in nature, different fishes, different fishing. So, our guide Junior described to us a technique that worked on Strelna most successfully. This is a very slow and deep presentation of the flies. This is literally tapping the bottom of the main pool bed in search of a salmon position. Strelna on the lower part of the river has many deep holes and shelters in waterfalls and rocks. Probably, therefore, it was very useful such a technique using heavy flies ad sinking leaders. Of course, this is not an easy way of fishing and requires special control over the fly.
This technique, brought from Strelna, also worked on Chavanga. It is difficult to say which of them was more effective. As always, much depends on the specific place and specific situation. In any case, we learned another lesson, another version of a successful method of fishing added to our luggage. I will not mention the flies, different flies worked of medium and large sizes, only common character was their decent weight.
The last days of the season were particularly pleasant. On October 14-15 th it has become warmer. I was happy to look at the thermometer, the bar showed 5.5 degrees Celsius. Here is the long-awaited autumn bingo! My concerns over salmon activity were gone from my mind. Usually, Autumn warming leading to activation of salmon takes. Especially after a long period of low temperatures. The rise and stabilization in the region of 5-6 degrees leads to the explosive activity of salmon. This applies also to the run of salmon from the sea into the river, and the response of salmon to our flies. This fall season, high water levels contributed to the spread of fresh salmon along the entire length of the river. It was nice to see in these last days of our season a lot of fish jumping and showing their backs and fins out of the water. These days, our guest Chuck from Usa landed another fish of the season of 96 cm. Absolutely stunning fresh beauty. It gave hell of a fight and a long lasting memory.
The last week of the season, usually in the middle of October, is very dependent on weather conditions. A week can be extremely productive, but it can be extremely difficult due to early frosts and low water levels. We have not yet learned how to forecast the situation on the river for the year ahead. Sometimes you just have to repeat that this is salmon fishing. BUT it happens that this week is the best in the whole season!
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