Medium sized river.
From around mid-June onwards the river is periodically running with a medium sized flow. This is apparently nice fishing conditions. It’s just so nice to get down to the river to have a few days of fishing, and to then see that the water level is good, it always gives me a tingling feeling. But I don’t only have positive experiences with this water level. It’s always like this, the different areas on the river affects the running pattern of the salmon in various ways. And in these conditions, many areas become areas in which the salmon will just rush past.
As you have probably figured out, I believe that strong local knowledge about the river is one of the most important factors when it comes to catching salmon, when faced with all the different conditions during a season. There are some points one should be on top of. The salmon run pattern of the river, and which water levels are stopping the salmon’s further journey upstream at the beat you are fishing. With this knowledge in place you can calculate when the salmon will stop at your beat with more certainty, and this will increase your chances of catching it. Lots of areas become transport stages for the salmon when the water levels are at a “medium” level. When I say transport stages I refer to stretches of the river with an even flow, not creating too much hassle for the salmon’s upstream run, so that it can swim through these areas without using much energy. When several salmon swim upriver together it can be difficult to get them to take your fly. It is easier when it stops to rest. I’m not saying that it is impossible to make it take the fly when running, but it will depend on how fast it is swimming, and this speed is influenced by the time of year when the river is medium sized.
Medium water levels following the spring floods.
At this time the temperature of the river will be warmer, around 9-12 °C. Both the water levels and the nice temperature will make the salmon run upriver. This early in the season it will mostly be large salmon, but the mid-sized salmon will also start to run the river now, which always lifts expectations with us fishermen. Not many salmon have yet reached their “childhood pools” at this stage, so it will be on the move constantly. The water colour is normally clear when the river level is like this. These are facts telling us what kind of equipment we should use. In terms of fly choice I choose to use fairly big flies, normally the same patterns I use during the spring floods. The difference is that they are normally a bit smaller, employing a bit less flash in the wing, and the length of the wing is now around 6-10 cm. During spring flood fishing the wings can be as long as 12-16 cm, see the article “The fly box for fishing spring floods” in the menu “Flies”. I like big flies as the salmon’s behavioural pattern mean sit will be focused on its way upriver, thus getting its attention is easier with bigger flies. I will swap the Flomtuben tube fly for the Granbokohrva, this one always fishes well. Otherwise I will now pick out many of the summer patterns, but in the sizes mentioned above. Red Butt tube fly is a clear favourite now and in he weeks ahead. I also have another fly that is effective on days wit a low-hanging cloud cover and clear waters, this is my own pattern and is called “Volden flua” (“the Volden fly”), it got its name after I first used it at a beat on the River Orkla called Volden. Already on the first round I caught a nice medium sized salmon on this fly, and have had many more since then. The fly lines I choose are still sinking shooting head lines, but not as heavy as the ones I use during spring floods. Now it’s mostly intermediate to sink 2 lines I use. One of my favourite lines is the floating/sink 3 line from guideline. The length of the leader is now longer due to increased water clarity, lower water levels and increased water temperature. You can use your favourite rod, regardless of whether you prefer a single-handed or a double-handed rod. I enjoy using a 10 feet class 9 single-hander when the river is like this.
Medium water levels prior to a summer flood.
Later in the season, when the river is periodically low, every now and then we’ll get summer floods. At this stage many salmon has found their spawning grounds, which increase our opportunities as we now can take advantage of the change in salmon behaviour (affected by weather conditions) in different ways. When the summer floods are occurring will matter in terms of where on the river you fish. Remember that medium water levels prior to when the summer floods reach their peak means a bit of colour to the water due to the rain. This is very beneficial to us fishermen, as the salmon are less spooky when the river is coloured. It is important that the river rises slowly, this makes for the best fishing, if the rain and the rise in water levels are sudden the fishing is not as good. That is why a medium river after a summer flood is the safest bet. Choice of gear will be pretty similar to what I outlined earlier, the main difference is that the water temperature now has increased, allowing for the use of lighter gear and smaller flies, hen the river is coloured the flood flies are again very attractive, in colours such as he ones used in Phatagorva, Allys Shrimp and GP. I use lines such as intermediate, floating/sink 1 and floating/sink 3. Floating lines are mostly used during low summer river conditions. I always plan my fishing strategy around the theory that the salmon are running or resting, and this tells me everything in terms of finding the spots I should fish. I will explain this more in detail further down.
Salmon that is running.
In general we can say that in pools containing a lot of salmon, there will be lots of salmon that are going further upstream. If the “resting spot” before your pool is a far way downstream, some time will pass before new salmon enters the pool. Then it will often be wiser to drive upstream to the next resting spot, especially if the distance to his spot is shorter than to the one downstream of your beat. You can then face this situation very effectively, firstly you can fish for the salmon that you know ran upstream from your pool, then you can go back downstream and fish for the new salmon that has entered the pool. If the river is rising slowly you will have a bit more time, then the chances of hooking the salmon about to continue their upstream journey increase too. The salmon now rises towards the surface from the depths of the pools, and as the river rises it will go further up in the current, getting ready for another swim. It will wit until there is enough water, and then speed ahead. At this moment it might be wise to fish using a Riffling Hitch tube, or some other dry fly creating surface disturbance.
Salmon that is resting.
Those salmon that have already reached their spawning grounds prior to the summer floods will often grab a fly when fresh salmon enter “their” pool. Another magical moment is when the move from the pool is starting, where some salmon will change resting places, and others prepare for the upstream journey. I have had lots of great experiences when fishing these moments, as the salmon has increased adrenaline levels and is already provoked by everything going on around it. It knows that soon new fresh salmon will arrive, and it does not like that at all. But in my experience it is the new salmon that are the easiest to fool. This is also noticeable as the hot-spots are moved further towards the tail of the pool.
Medium water levels following a summer flood.
This is normally one of the safest periods in terms of catching salmon. From our point of view, lots of positive changes occur now, many salmon find new resting spots, and new salmon arrive in the pools. The water temperature is good, a bit of colour to the water, now it should take!! This will last for a few days until the river again drops, and the salmon once again are hard to catch. Go fishing after the summer flood has passed its peak, I can highly recommend it. I often use the same strategies and equipment now as before the floods. Remember to try a black-winged, medium sized tube fly before going home. Another technique I often use during these conditions is a floating/sink 3 fly line and a small Ally’s variant on a triple hook size 12 or 14.
General fishing tips.
I mentioned that many areas on a river become transport stages for salmon when the river is medium sized. If you think about it, you have probably experienced many a time that the conditions have been good, supposedly, but fishing is poor. It is just so easy to stay where you are when this happens, as the river looks great and a salmon could take the fly any second now. We look at the calendar and the water temperature, and think that this must be summer conditions, and choose fishing equipment accordingly. Often this is wrong. After a few days with no salmon, the excuses normally follows; “no, no salmon were running”, or “the guys downstream and upstream of us caught fish”. The likelihood of salmon running during these days is bigger than you might think. You might have fished a typical transport stage area, in these places the only thing to do is to fish deeper and with bigger flies. The other thing is to move. Remember that when considering a salmon beat or pool, you can’t just look at the pool itself, it is just as important to know what the river is like below and above this beat, this will tell you a lot in term s of how salmon will behave on your beat. I sometimes fish using “summer gear” during medium sized water conditions, meaning smaller flies and lighter lines, but in general I fish “light flood river” gear 70% and “summer river” gear 30%, depending on where on the river I fish. Remember the fishing theory of “deep and fast” when the river is mid-sized.
For fly choices for medium sized rivers see the menu “Flies” and the fly box for “medium sized river”.