Cool, crisp air, leaves changing colors, the sound of the river that seems to have come to life with the recent rain, after
being a warm trickle just weeks earlier. Water temps have dropped and the fish are active.
Before I can even grab my gear and head down to the river I already hear fish rolling. Man I love the fall!
I can feel the adrenaline pumping as I walk down to the river. As I make my first cast I can picture my float getting yanked under
as my jig gets hammered.
Sure enough, within no time it's fish on! My float was yanked under violently! A big toothy chum salmon smashed the jig so hard I didn't even have to set the hook (though I always give a firm 'check')
I'm not sure how long I fought that fish, that part is a blur, suffice it to say he didn't just roll over. Dang those fish fight hard!
He was only 5 or 6 lbs, though before getting him in I thought for sure this fish was 15lbs.
This day was no mere coincidence.
That fish, and the many that I caught after it were the fruits of careful planning.
I had spent months researching things like run timing, fish behavior (we were near the Pacific ocean where tide affects the bite), weather, water flow, bank access points, baits / colors to use, places to stay, etc.
I honestly lost count of how many fish I hooked that day and the 2 days that followed it, but here's the thing, with a some careful planning and a little knowledge YOU can do it too!
Follow these tips and stack the deck in your favor:
Make sure you're picking dates that are optimal, that is, days that give you the best chance for success.
Here's what I mean; most people reading this are chasing Salmon, Steelhead and or Trout in the fall. Salmon and steelhead are migratory fish, their not
always in the river like a trout, so you need to know historically when they usually arrive.
Keep in mind, drought years, heavy rain and unusual weather can change things so be prepared to improvise.
Trout can be caught all year but your best shot at a trophy German brown, for instance, might be pre-spawn in the fall.
2 - Location
I hate to be Captain Obvious but here I go anyway; to catch quality fish, you need to fish where they are. My advise is to always avoid 'combat fishing' areas BUT, keep in mind, just because you have a stretch of river all to yourself doesn't mean it's a good spot...not all stretches of river hold fish.
For instance, steelhead and salmon don't hold over sand, if the spot you're fishing is sandy, keep moving until you find a stretch of water with a rocky bottom (or bedrock).
3 - Time of day
In general, low light conditions are preferred (early morning and sun down). Cloud cover can extend this time period because it gives the same effect: fish feel secure.
4 -Be prepared
Always make sure to have leaders pre-tied. I always have several boxes and leader rolls with egg clusters and soft beads on them ready to go.
even have a box with nothing but jigs pre-rigged with 3" Miracle
Worms, Shrimp Tail Teasers, egg jigs, etc. ready to fish because
every minute counts and I want to be ready to change baits or re-tie
FAST when needed.
Also, have one small box that has all the other little things in it like split shot (if you're using it), extra hooks, jigs, bobber stops, sequins and swivels. NOTHING else!
This is vital because having big tackle boxes loaded with junk you know you won't use slows you down and causes analysis paralysis.
5 - Bring 2 rods (different techniques)
This fall I'll have one rod with a float and jig and one with a
Teaser Minnow for steelhead. I might have a bobber doggin' rod but
that would replace (most likely) the float rod.
This gives me the ability to catch shy and aggressive fish.
Everything will hit one of our egg baits under a float because it's very natural.
I like to twitch and jerk the Teaser Minnow through the water to trigger a fight or flight response, especially when the bite is tough. This tactic directly targets the aggressive fish and works wonders when nothing else will.
6 - Bring a net!
I can't believe how many guys fish in the fall without a net. It's crazy! I used to be 'That Guy' and you know what? I lost a lot of fish because of it.
Some might say, "Just tire them out and they're easy to land". Try that on a skamania steelhead or a salmon 2 miles from the Pacific Ocean...not gonna happen!
Netting fish also ensures survival when you're releasing it and helps to preserve our fisheries for years to come.
7 - Bring a camera!
This one is much easier these days because you most likely have one in your pocket now or perhaps you're reading this on it. Of course, I'm talking about a cell phone.
Most smart phones these days have a pretty decent camera, use yours to capture the moment and you'll have it forever.
8 - Don't be lazy
I like to say "Don't be a road lizard" but really, there's more to it than covering water. Good fishing guides cover miles of water a day, never spending much time in one hole unless they're catching fish or see fish and are trying different things to get them to bite, go and do likewise
While I could add a few more things, I think these are the key points and while following them is no guarantee of a trophy, doing so is sure to get you closer to catching one!