Chinook Report–Low Water, Stale Fish

This weekend I camped on a favorite small Oregon coastal river on word that decent fish were in.  If they were, they had scooted through by the time of my arrival.  The water was really low and there was good number of bashful chinook and wary coho.  After the first day of fishing it was clear the fish had the common and rarely fatal disease “lock jaw.”  That aside, I wasn’t seeing any salmon that could be described as table fare even in the most generous sense of the word.

So, I adjusted my expectations downward and hoped that overnight a couple of fresh fish would move into the holding pools. Hitting the river first thing in the morning,  I shortened my leader about 18″ to minimize the risk of “flossing” or worse and swung a chartreuse and black clouser through the run that I hoped held some fresher fish. Instead, on my fourth or fifth cast the fly was hammered by a bronze hen chinook.  She fought as well as a bronze fish can but was brought to hand and released after having completely trashed my fly:

Clouser Minnow, Post-Salmon

I gave up hope of finding chrome and decided to quit fishing, break camp and head for tidewater to find something fresh just about the time Matt strolled out onto the bedrock ledge. I gave him the run down but he needed to run his fly through a few of the fishy looking spots before completely bagging the trip. Fair enough.  In short order he was rewarded with a coho which was also released:

Matt Battles a Coho Salmon

Fly Caught Coho

That was it for the fish and we left soon after Matt caught the coho. On the bright side, the weather was good if you like sunshine, the chanterelles were pushing up the duff, I spotted a bunch of redds, tested some gear, the coho were thick and I had a good camping trip.

Now to traffic in rumors: I hear that there are big schools of chinook hanging near the jaws of several area rivers and maybe they are late but on the way.  This next rain will probably tell us a lot about how the rest of the season will go.  I’m doing the rain dance.–KM

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