The fall season of 2022 was nothing special. Except we had 100 percent change in our customer base. Whether it's good or bad, it's not for me to judge, But it's a pity that another catastrophe served as the reason for this. And that such events in the world go on continuously one after another.
We usually characterize the autumn season with several features or processes that are visible to our eyes. They concern the condition of the river and the behavior of the salmon.
- Water level in the river. For autumn, low water levels are common here during September, followed by an increase after rains.
- Water temperature. With the end of summer and the approach of winter, we observe a gradual decrease in water temperature in the river with a minimum at the very end of our fishing season
- Presence of fish in the river. Usual predominance of resident salmon in catches in the first half of September. And the increase in the number of sea fish in the river by October.
-Salmon activity. Decline in the activity of resident fish in October due to spawning and noticeable fluctuations in the course and activity of silver salmon.
All these processes one way or another, they are repeated from year to year.
But we must understand that each of them is prone to significant changes and in the aggregate we always, every year, have an unpredictable overall picture. It is clear that we are not always able to understand and adapt to the changing conditions and behavior of salmon.
Now in order.
In September we saw the legacy of a rather dry summer period. The lack of rain in August led to a gradual drop in the water level in the river. This was especially noticeable on the reaches, where the movement of water practically stopped, and on the rocky sections of the river, where the tops of the stones sticking out above the water spoke of the narrowing of places for fishing. Therefore, many pools have dropped out of our list for visits. But on the other hand, a low level always helps to accurately read the river and find salmon concentrations. Often in such conditions we have new landmarks for fishing, new clues for localizing parking lots or fish movement.
The water level in the first half of September was very stable. This is probably due to the extraordinary transparency of the river. I have not seen such pure and absolutely colorless water here for more than 10 years. It was interesting to look into the most inaccessible places, to see the bottom and other details of the channel. It was a useful opportunity.
But in general, the water level was too low for comfortable fishing. Not catastrophically small, but still not optimal from our point of view. But we assumed that the coming rains could raise the level and revive the salmon from the sea into the river, as it usually happened in past seasons.
It really rained in early October. However, their intensity exceeded all propriety, and the water literally rose by 20 cm in 2-3 days. At the same time, transparency dropped noticeably. It happened that such cataclysms were accompanied by a sharp increase in salmon activity and even the appearance of "sleeping" giants in the catches.
In addition, heavy rains disrupted the traditional gradual decrease in water temperature. In September the water cools down from 10 to 8 degrees, then to 6-5-4 in October. Now, at the beginning of October, we suddenly received an increase in temperature again to 7-8 degrees.
All together this led to some chaos in our fishing. Consistent catches have been replaced by a rather erratic search for new fishing spots and gear scavenging in an attempt to find effective equipment and working flies.
Perhaps the only thing that was common this season was the distribution of resident and marine salmon in the river and in our catches.
In the beginning and middle of September, resident fish dominated both in the river and in our catches. Then, by the end of September, the spawning salmon, as usual, went to the shallows, where it was more interesting to watch them than to catch them.
We noticed the first spawning grounds immediately above the waterfall, already 300-400 meters from the mouth. It was nice to watch and think that there are a lot of fish in the river. Later, after the rains, the water rose, and observations had to be abandoned. In general, the maximum activity of resident fish occurred in mid-September, and with the start of spawning, their activity gradually decreased and in October only occasional fish were hooked.
Usually, with the advent of cold weather and the start of spawning, a decrease in the activity of resident fish is accompanied by an increase in the biting of fresh fish. We traditionally expect an increase in the movement of salmon from the sea to the river with an increase in the water level and the first frosts. This year the situation is different. The silver fish were biting steadily from the beginning to the end of September. Its quantity was not impressive, but each pool gave us several fish. You could see fresh fish rising up the river, and salmon with a slight purple color were also active. The distribution of silverfish across the territory can also be considered traditional. The higher up the river we climbed, the fewer silverfish could be found. There was even a pool above which we did not catch a single fresh fish throughout the autumn. Although it is impossible to say that the silver fish have not risen above a certain line. The upper sections of the river always remain difficult to observe and understand.
This season was also remembered for the fact that salmon willingly pecked at surface baits. Perhaps this was due to high transparency and low water levels, but nevertheless, all month, until the October rains, surface flies gave results in each pool.
So, with the onset of October and a rather sharp change in the state of the river, the behavior of the fish also changed. We could no longer track the entry of fish from the sea and could not reliably navigate the movement of salmon up the river. The reaction of salmon to flies became sluggish, and although it was still possible to catch fish in each pool, it was no longer possible to catch it from a swoop in 2-3 casts as before. It is possible that the rise in water level led to the dispersal of fish over a large area, and it is possible that the decrease in visibility led to a decrease in the aggressiveness of fish.
The angler's nightmare of jumping over the line while ignoring the fly has become a daily reality. This is of course a joke, but really, we had to change floating lines to sinking ones and vice versa, aggressive flies to small ones, and so on. Sometimes it seemed that we found the right color combination of the details of the fly or the method of fishing, but there was still no pattern observed. Fresh sea salmon with bugs came across, but completely haphazardly. Although we can say that it was the systematic and careful work on the pool that gave the result. It was impossible to guess where the active fish was or where it would react to a fly. Therefore, it was necessary to fish very carefully, meter by meter, each interesting site.
On the effect of water temperature. According to my observations, a uniform decrease in temperature in September from 10 to 5-6 degrees led to the revival of salmon with a purple tint and These fish began to be caught more often in catches. But such temperature dynamics did not affect the fish coming from the sea. But the unplanned warming of water from 4 to 7 degrees associated with rains led to the attenuation of the bite. Perhaps, along with an anomalous increase in temperature and water level and a decrease in transparency, a large mass of rainwater that rolled into the river from the surrounding dried-up swamps played a role.
Usually October is different. A temporary warming of the weather means the activation of the fish and the improvement of the bite. By mid-October, we always expect warm days, when the water temperature rises from the usual 1-2 degrees to 4-5. Sometimes these days become the most successful days of the whole season. It is a pity that in late autumn such days are short, and they do not happen every year.
As for the tackle we used this fall, I can say that in the first half it was most convenient to catch the switch with rods and floating lines. Fishing in low water conditions means delicate casting and accurate fly presentation. Moreover, for the first time we have clearly seen that salmon reacts to the appearance of a person on the shore. Many pools, due to the low and extremely clear water, were visible to the very bottom. For me, it was some surprise that the actual size of the familiar pits or ditches turned out to be more modest than I had previously imagined. When the angler approached, the fish left its place and it was not clear whether it would return to its old place. Perhaps that is why we had to change the usual and available pools more often than usual.
I have already noted that in the first half of the season, salmon responded well to surface and sub-surface flies. I managed to catch the green butt variant with a wool wing on a plastic tube. The fish readily responded to movement near the surface. Out of pure curiosity, I used it for 3 weeks and on various parts of the river. It could be argued that this fly was the hit of the season for me. But as the water level rose, her performance dropped almost to the point of being boring.
In passing, I note that many of the "hits" of previous seasons did not work at all. Previously, super-efficient flies did not arouse interest among fish, perhaps precisely because of their marginality, which for some reason brought them success in past years .. therefore, experiments are good and extremely exciting, but a set of “average flies” should always be in the box .
I already mentioned that after the past rains we had to look for new fishing options, we tried to fish closer to the bottom, increased the size of the flies and so on, that is, we used the usual fishing technique in such conditions. But according to the results of fishing, we decided to return to the original delicate fishing with a slow and careful presentation of flies. The most effective even in conditions of relatively high (by autumn standards) and muddy water were the Cascade variants on the 10th hook number.
Discussing the tactics and technique of fishing in the evening, we came to the conclusion that the rise in the water level had no effect on the behavior of the salmon and we overestimated its importance. Apparently, the initial low level misled us about the total mass of water in the river. Still, it is autumn and the river carries an order of magnitude less water than in May-June.
To some extent, the confirmation of the correctness of our return to light tackle and fishing near the surface was the effectiveness of demonstrative fishing with light one-handed rods. The fight with a silver fish on a 4th grade rod brought a lot of already forgotten emotions. the weather favored us, until the very end of the season it was warm, there were no night frosts and the water temperature was 5-6 degrees Celsius.
Assessing our catches, I can say that the average size of silver fish turned out to be small, within 65 -72 cm. The maximum size of silver salmon caught by us was 84 cm. This time the giants ignored our efforts (maybe we should have fished deeper))). But on the other hand, resident fish pleased us again, males 92 and 90 cm were caught in September and early October. Moreover, one of these fish was caught 300 meters from the mouth. It is noteworthy that salmon in spawning coloration were regularly observed visually in the very mouth at the height of the spawning period. This may indicate that the spawning areas begin almost from the sea and the spawning area on the Chavanga River is quite extensive.
Let's hope that the wild salmon population of the river is safe and fishing pressure and pink salmon invasion have not yet caused irreversible consequences.
We look forward to the new season 2023, the new Atlantic salmon fishing season!