Atlantic salmon fishing in Autumn, Kola Peninsula. Tactics and ideas...
In Autumn, we always closely monitor the weather. By the end of September and October, temperature and water level largely determine the behavior of salmon and our catch statistics.
According to my observations, for the late autumn period of salmon fishing, it is typical:
- Rising water level in the river,
- Decrease in temperature of the water
- Increased number of fish in the river
- Activity of fish is up and dow
All these factors are closely related, their combination determines the duration and effectiveness of the autumn season. You can also mention such a factor as the preparation of the fisherman, but this is a separate big topic.
Using the example of the first decade of October, I will try to demonstrate to you how the conditions of fishing on the river changed, how the behavior of fish changed, and what we were forced to do in a changing situation.
First, about the water level in the river.
When looking at fishing potential, we always first pay attention to the water level. It is generally accepted that rising levels stimulate salmon to move from the sea to the river. A large mass of fresh water in the sea facilitates the search for an entrance to the estuary and signals that the river is ready for salmon movement. Therefore, we always fear low water levels and are happy with heavy autumn rains. In any case, the river in the autumn carries much less water than at the beginning of the season and remains fully accessible for fishing. This is the case in theory.
Chavanga is a medium-sized river and usually responds to rain in the fall with rising water levels. This summer was rainy enough, the tundra in the river basin is saturated with water. Therefore, each ordinary even a little rain added another 1-2 cm of water.
On different pools, raising water level affects the results of fishing in different ways. Here you can highlight several options. Let us first consider the most typical places of fresh salmon in the fall - places on the main stream suitable for long-term staying. These are usually deep ditches and typical shelters among boulders. Here salmon with rising water get more space and time for reaction to the fly. The moment when the tops of the stones disappear under the water is usually very productive. Fish boldly emerge from shelters, react more aggressively to surface flies. It should be noted right away that fishing at the surface may remain the best way of fishing throughout the fall, despite a significant increase in water level and a drop in temperature. In the vast majority of productive pools, even a high water level by autumn does not exceed 1.5 meter. If you do not have a proven fishing technique at the bottom, then a floating line and light flies will be the best choice. Such tackle makes it possible to correctly catch at small distances and fish small spots among stones and channels. The performance of various flies varies from year to year. It is important to understand or find the best combination of size and color of the fly and its presentation.
Moreover, fish of different sizes and different ages occupy different places on the pool and differently relate to our fly. In our first version, the small-sized Cascades (its many varieties) worked well in combination with their very slow presentation. Often the most productive way was when the fly stopped its presentation in the intended location of the salmon. It was the stop of the fly and its delicate movement against the current that caused the reaction of the fish. It was a surprise for many anglers that the fish were taking the fly on the dangle or when they decide to smoke a quick cigarette and keep their fly in the water. When such bites became more and more frequent, it was no longer difficult for us to convince our guests to create such stops intentionally.
Perhaps this is the main difference between the generally accepted aggressive presentation of flies at the beginning of the season and now famously slow presentation of flies in the fall. Particular attention should be paid to fishermen who goes fishing in the fall for the first time. The rapid movement of the salmon fly across the stream, and even more so downstream, gave the result only in isolated cases. There are, of course, some exceptions and special techniques, but we can talk about this later.
In the meantime, we advised to take position in the river just above (upstream) of the fish, to narrow the casting sector, simplify the technique and feed the fly to the fish very delicately and slowly. In most cases, such tactics gave much better results. If you feel confident in the middle of the river and are able to control the fly on a short line, then you are free to choose the place and direction of casting. The classic wet fly method is the basis for salmon fishing in the Autumn.
The second effective technique in the pools of this type will be a more active game of the fly such as Sunray Shadow. In principle, a combination of these two fishing techniques will be enough to properly fish salmon pools among the stones along the main current of the river. Raising the water level only increases the effectiveness of fishing. But this technique is sensitive to water temperature and optimal at 5-8 degrees. This is the topic for the next article. In the meantime, it’s important to choose the right size of the fly, the direction and speed of the presentation. It’s hard to say something specific about size, since there is always some kind of average size advantage. But the direction of movement of the fly in my opinion played an important role. The transverse movement of the fly often provokes active fish. Medium-sized fish attacks the fly 3-4 times, while most bites are false. Often, with a decrease in activity or in the absence of salmon bites, the fly movement upstream was more effective. This is not the first time I have noticed the effectiveness of a rather slow, but continuous movement of the fly upstream. Strips and jerks in the fall gradually give way to a smoother and more even pulling of the fly with a line or the tip of a fishing rod. In this case, it is only important to understand well where the fly is located and how it moves. It is possible to process the same territory several times if you saw salmon coming to the fly or you are sure that there are fish there. If not, it is better at the end of the presentation just to limit pulling the fly to 15-30 cm, no more, but each time choose a new territory. Therefore, the tactics step-by-step in any form of performance is very useful.
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