Understand the Spawning Runs

The spawning runs can be different depending on the area.  In some places, it starts in the summer while in others, it’s going to be a fall run.  Make sure you do your research on the area that you’re planning on fishing because if you time it wrong, the fishing can be flat out terrible.  Time it right and you’ll have memories that may last a lifetime.  When the fishing come into the river, it is said that salmon do not feed, however, you can still catch them on a variety of baits.  Flies and egg patterns become the norm over the bigger spoons, spinners and crankbaits that most anglers would troll in the open waters.

How the Stream Flow Affects the Fishing

The river or stream flow can have a huge impact on the fishing.  For some places, if you don’t get a heavy rain, these fish have no way up the river, so the better fishing will be near the mouth of the river or at the lower end of the river near the mouth.  A big rain on some rivers will allow these fish quick and easy passage all the way to a dam or some other stopping point.  These areas can be so thick at times with fish with high waters.  Every river and stream is different, but the river flow and height will dictate where the fish may be and how you are going to be fishing for them.

Clear Water

In clear water, the fishing can be a lot tougher.  The fish see your baits easier, which makes it easier for them to eat them and it also makes it a lot easier to sight fish for them.  However, they can be very spooky, so you have to be stealthy to catch more fish.  Going with fluorocarbon leaders will help as well.

Murky Water

Murky water presents some challenges.  It is harder to see the fish and much harder to sight fish for them.  However, if you know some areas that are holding fish, these fish will usually not be as spooky and you can usually get them to bite a variety of baits still.  You may want to brighten up your presentations though to help them find your baits.

What Flies Work Best

The egg sucking leech pattern is a popular pattern for targeting salmon and steelhead when they enter the rivers and streams to spawn.

Egg flies are great for when salmon enter the rivers.  When the salmon start dropping their eggs, this pattern becomes even better.

A single egg is the best way to imitate a salmon egg.  It’s not always the best way to catch a salmon in the rivers, but it’s a very good way to fish for them.  Once the salmon start dropping their eggs, this single egg will work very well.

Streamers work well in the rivers and streams.  You can drift them in the current or work them in.  Most anglers feel that these work to irritate the salmon and then they bite out of instinct.  Present these flies in front of their face and you will get some bites.

What Hard Baits Work Best

You may find it very difficult to get a fish to hit a hard bait once they enter the rivers to spawn.  If that is the case, switch over to some soft baits, natural baits or flies.

Crankbaits are one of the better lures for open water fishing.  Cast them when the salmon are in the shallows and troll them out in deeper water.  Some anglers report some success with them in the rivers, too, however, flies and eggs work better in the rivers.

Spinners can be very effective for salmon especially when salmon are in the shallows.  Some anglers will troll deeper water with spinners and they report some success too.  Some anglers report some success with them in the rivers, too, however, flies and eggs work better in the rivers.

Spoons are great for casting or trolling.  They are probably one of the more common lures to fish in open water.  Once salmon enter the rivers, you won’t see too many people casting spoons due to the fact that in the smaller rivers, it’s just going to be a snag fest.  In larger, deeper rivers, some anglers do report some success with spoons though, so it may be an option for you if you are in the right situation, however, flies and eggs work better in the rivers.

What Soft Baits Work Best

Curly tail grubs work well for pretty much any fish that eats a live fish.  Salmon will eat them too.  The bigger 5 and 6 inch grubs work better out in open water.  In the rivers, some anglers report good success jigging these baits in the deeper pools.  Flies and eggs work better in the rivers, but don’t rule out a curly tail grub.

Some anglers use soft plastic minnows and jerkbaits and they report good success in open water for salmon.  However, you need a situation where a lot of fish are in a specific area.  This is usually when these fish move back into the shallows to spawn or to the mouths of the rivers that they are getting ready to run up and spawn.  Some anglers do report some success with these in the rivers too, but you will have better success with flies and eggs.

The bigger swimbaits can work well in the open water.  You can cast or troll them.  When salmon move into the rivers, some anglers do report some success with using the smaller swimbaits.  They jig them or wind them in with a steady retrieve in the deeper pools.  You will most likely do better with flies and eggs, but don’t rule these baits out in some of the deeper rivers.

What Live or Natural Baits Work Best

Salmon eggs are probably the most popular bait for salmon when they move into the rivers and streams to spawn.  You can catch them in open water too, so don’t limit them to just the rivers and streams.

Some anglers swear by sand shrimp as the best bait for salmon and some anglers have never heard of using these as a bait.  They definitely work and if you can get your hands on some, they are worth trying.