Late season salmon tactics
Most of back at the office but some lucky ones are still in ”out of office” mode and chasing silver somewhere. Here’s few advice and tricks for late season fishing.
Fresh fish or resident fish
Majority of larger runs of fresh fish occur in July or early August on most northern rivers, but lot of rivers in Scandinavia have smaller runs of fresh salmon in late August or even September. Famous Kola rivers such as Umba and Ponoi are prime examples of rivers with massive late fall runs. I haven't been lucky enough to fish on either one of those, so this is written based on my experiences from few rivers with mixed amount of fresh and resident salmon.
Targeting late season fresh fish doesn’t differ that much from earlier season fishing. There’s few things you might want to consider. On average late season fishing occurs in low water conditions. Use caution when approaching pools and use small enough flies. Late season chromers eagerly take really small flies from size 10 to 14. Dark nights and lower air temperatures cool the water quickly so relatively slow swings work many time well.
Resident fish are a whole different game. These big males or mamas have seen thousands of flies this late in the season and are not the easiest to catch. Try surprising them with something they haven’t seen. The dark nights produce two magic light windows just after the sun set and in the early morning before the sun rise. These short windows many time make salmon lower their guards and eat a fly willingly. You might find similar windows during the day but the activity periods of large resident might be as short as 15 minutes.
Stay on the surface or go deep, really deep
Late season fishing has drawn me to a conclusion that you should fish close to the surface or go deep where the fish are. Especially the low light conditions are great for fishing from the surface. Black flies with enough silhouette work well for both salmon and sea trout. Use your imagination and tie something that skates or wakes on the surface.
Don’t forget the dry flies. Late season resident fish can be fooled with dried inside the short active periods. Many times the dry flies fish better than regular swung flies. Try skating them if you don’t get any action with dead-drifting.
The harder the fishing pressure is and the more passive the fish are, the deeper you need to go. Skagit lines equipped with t-tips are a great tool. (Check your local regulations if they allow sinking lines in the late season) Adjust your leader length and fly weight to touch the bottoms stones every once in a while.
Switch your casting angles and try out-of-the-box approaches. As most anglers like to swing flies, a dead-drifted wet fly might do the trick.
Few flies for late season fishing
It's not often that salmon anglers are faced with high, warm water conditions in the latter part of the season.
I have experienced this twice now in Norway, and this situation is most common on rivers with a lake above their system that has a big enough catchment to collect localized rainfall, and or rivers that are fed via glacial melt water.