Fly fishing for silver salmon in local rivers gearing up

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2010

Fishermen, the silvers are in, and there's more on the way.

That's the message from local fly fishing gurus who are reporting a strong, early run of healthy silver salmon this year in local freshwater creeks and rivers.

Local fly fisherman look forward to the Southeast silver salmon season. It's like a "last hurrah" before fall weather and the accompanying lack of daylight tightens it's grip on the region. Hence, many salivate over hooking into a "Southeast toad" - a stockily-built shadow of the average-sized predecessors who, when hooked, give anglers a serious dose of adrenaline. They'll ride the flooding high tides up into Cowee and Montana Creeks, and with this new shot of rain, longtime fly fisherman Michael Cole said the fishing is bound to only get better.

"A couple weeks ago we had an early push of fish," Cole said. "But the last few days the water has been getting really low. Now, with the rain, we should get some bright fish moving in."

He said the combination of weather, water levels, tides and run-timing could make for some great fishing.

Hopes came in high this year, as sport fishermen reported catching good-sized silver salmon in salt water and state Department of Fish and Game creel surveys tallied lower-than-average harvest times for this hard-fighting salmon.

But it's not just cohos that are good targets this time of year. Cole said the dolly varden fishing can also be a fun fight.

"They're really beautiful this time of year," he said. "You'll want to look for deeper pools and log jams."

For the dollys, Cole said to look for spawning salmon and to fish small flesh patterns, spent egg patterns in light pink, light orange. Anglers could even try a white, lead-eye string leech.

For the silvers, key flies this time of year are the jig spanker in pink, chartreuse, and purple/pink, along with the dolly llama fly in pink/white, black/white and pink/purple.

"A fly that gets down quickly and has a lot of action is your best bet," Juneau Fly Fishing Goods Owner Brad Elfers said.

But silvers can also be targeted in Gastineau Channel. It's best to fish during slack tide and look for roving pods of fish. The best flies for this application are clouser minnows in a color combination such as chartreuse/white, pink/white and tutti fruiti.

In general, Cole said the season has been good.

"We're seeing a lot of fish in the 10-12 pound range, and heard of a few 14- to 15-pounders," he said. "But typically the bigger fish show up a bit later."

Judging by the upcoming forecast and based on the upcoming large tides, Elfers guesses those big fish may not be too far off.

"This is an unscientific guess," he said. "(This year,) it looks like it's a bigger run, so if you think of it like a bell curve, then they come in a little early, stay a little later and then the prime time is good producer."

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