Friday, July 6, 2012

Lunker Smallmouth Bass, Brown Trout or Atlantic Salmon, in View but Off Limits

The Salmon River's flow level is adjusted by hydroelectric dam release. When we arrived yesterday, the river flowed low and invitingly. Late last night the level rose and today remained higher. We began fishing at the Black Hole this morning at about 8:30, 60 feet deep with beautiful shallower currents, ledges, and eddies. Turbidity turned me off, but I did get a few hits from something on a Mepp's #1. I figured maybe the risen water level had stirred up the river to reduce clarity, but felt relieved to later find clearer water upstream.

We made a whole day outside except for lunch at a sub shop. We caught a dozen bass on plugs and shiners, fly fished for hours, Matt catching a couple of rock bass on a big, brown Wooly Bugger, while a couple of fallfish fell for my large stonefly beadhead. Snorkeling at Altmar in the fly fishing section afforded us views of great fish we couldn't attempt since it's closed from May until September 14th  We spotted in this section about half a dozen smallmouth bass around four pounds, one five- pounder, and either a brown trout or Atlantic salmon of about eight pounds. I also noticed a number of rainbow trout six to nine-inches long spawned from thousands of steelhead.

We got around. More than half a dozen spots got our attention. Compared to yesterday, today felt different. With limited time to fish, I felt driven to make every cast count last evening and the two good bass we caught rewarded the effort. Today never fell into sync as strictly a fishing effort. Taking time out to swim and snorkel, to practice fly casting, and to just slow down and enjoy being outside took precedence over trying to score. It made a difference in my life to slow down and just let my physical senses reign for many hours.

Matt sighted a smallmouth of about five pounds with just enough daylight left to see, last evening, and I spotted it today, which explains the shiners. This bass was not at all eager to take the Strike King worm as others had been. We trie for this bass today by scheme, making sure to have half a dozen large shiners for sunset. But it didn't cooperate.

More elusive than five-pound smallmouth bass in the Salmon River this time of year perhaps, Atlantic salmon are a thrilling possibility. I came upon no one targeting them singularly, but what a reward one of these most valued gamefish would be!

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