Resident silvers and krill/amphipod activity

A few days ago my fishing buddy and I were checking out some locations and stumbled across a couple of spots where there were some large schools of resident silvers which were feeding on amphipods and krill. At all locations there was little/no current. The tip off that there were amphipods and krill in the area was that there were large groups of gulls sitting on water feeding/picking at the water surface as they ate them. We kept two fish for the dinner table. One fish had quite a few white/transparent krill((3/8") in it's stomach while the other fiish was absolutely stuffed with a mix of reddish-brown/white amphipods(1/8") and krill.

The type of activity which the resident silvers exhibit on the water surface can probably tell you whether they are feeding on amphipods vs krill.

If schools of resident silvers are make dippling/sipping swirls on the surface, they are most likely feeding on amphipods. The amphipods are not very mobile and usually just spin on the water surface and are easy "picking" for the resident silvers as they don't have to be in a hurry to eat them.

If there are resident silvers feeding on krill on the water surface or just below, there will usually be groups of fish ocassionally slashing on the water surface as the fish chase these critters. It looks almost like they are chasing baitfish but you will not see any baitfish flying out of the water. Krill are capable of short/quick bursts of speed so the resident silvers have to chase them a little bit. Thus, there will be surface slashing when they happen to drive some krill up to the surface. Sometimes the krill can be seen flying out of the water if you have good eyes and are close enough. It looks like rain drops hitting the water surface except in reverse if that makes sense.

Krill are light sensitive while amphipods are not as light sensitive. Thus, it is usually more common to see resident silvers feeding(on the surface) during the day on amphipods than krill. Krill will be more likely near the water surface at day break and low light conditions.

We have found that the resident silvers appear to be usually more willing to take a fly pattern(even the "old standby" olive/white clouser minnow) when they are feeding on krill. When the resident silvers are feeding on amphipods, they seem to be more selective, spooky, and difficult to hook.

These are my thoughts, opinions, and observations which are hopefully true and not "apparent" truths.:confused:



Active Member
Nice report.
Gives me hope for next year's early coho fishing. How do you feel the winter numbers compare to the recent years?



Active Member

Excellent observations. I appreciate this kind of info because I have been experimenting with krill patterns for adult coho and steelhead in freshwater for several years now, and - obviously, I do not have real krill present to match flies to or observe swimming behavior.

With that in mind what retrieves do you use to imitate krill/amphipods, and what materials, and hooks sizes do you tie with?

In freshwater, it may well be that these flies are not taken because they resemble krill, amphipods, or anything else. I'm assuming they are, because I keep coming back to small, translucent/sparkly patterns in the reddish to rusty-orange color range when other flies don't work at these locations.

Also, I would love to see some krill/amphipod pics with a size reference, or fly patterns if possible.


Thanks Roger, for a great post. So many times I go out to the salt, I just take a cast and hope approach. It's fun, and I'm often successful (at least by my standards), but I'm always looking for better and more information to be more educated. Your post fits the bill. :beer2:

From what I have seen in the areas that I have been fishing for resident silvers from mid-Nov. to today, the numbers of resident silvers appear to be not as numerous in comparison to previous years. It seems like they are more scattered and the schools of resident silvers don't appear to be as large. One saving grace is that the size of the fish caught are as large or larger than previous years. From Summer to Fall I didn't seen "hide nor hair" of the small resident silvers(7-8") anywhere except at Robinson Pt. on the westside of Maury Is. when fishing for pink salmon in late-Aug. The general area was absolutely crawl with the little "buggers". My "gut feeling" is that many of the resident silvers which were released in early Summer have headed North. But who knows.:confused:

I have some information from the Dept. of Fisheries about the resident silvers program(Andy Appleby) and from my fishing journal about distribution and abundence of the resident silvers. I will pull it together sometime this week and start a thread to see what thougths other individuals might have.


Most of the information that you wanted to know can be found in a post made by "Preston" on 12/12/05 under "Resident Silver So. Sound" topic. He gives picture of the patterns(amphipod and krill), hook size, and description of how to tie and retrieve them. I use similar patterns and retrieve.

"Fly Fishing for Pacific Salmon" by Bruce Ferguson, Les Johnson, and Pat Trotter has excellent pictures of an amphipod and krill at the end of the color fly pattern section(before page 73). The book was printed in 1985 and reprinted a few years ago. If you don't have a copy, it would be well worth getting but may be hard to find. Les is revising the book and it should be out sometime this year. If Les or one of his friends reads this maybe they could update us on when it might be available. I can hardly wait to buy a copy of it!



Active Member
Thanks Roger. I will check out the post and look forward to getting a copy that book. I should have added that the locations where I primarily use these patterns are stillwater fisheries which is why the retrieve is so important.

One other observation I have made that may be of interest. While I also fish "standard" patterns (i.e. buggers, leeches etc..) I have had several instances of fish inhaling only the krill patterns and getting throat hooked, and has happened enough that I started tying them on circle hooks. This has occurred mostly with steelhead, but also with silvers, and one chinook. Have you also found that fish take krill patterns deeply or "differently" in the salt ?



Active Member
This is great stuff! Thanks for posting all of this info. I'm just curious if you are fishing from a boat or from shore?


Active Member
Not sure who your asking DT. In my case yes I'm fishing from a boat, but I'm talking about freshwater so probably not much relevance to what you want to know.

But yes, it's great info indeed. I checked out the post Roger suggested and it was full of good info, especially because it referred me to which had all the pics and info I was looking for :thumb: .



Sculpin Enterprises
Hi Roger,

Are you using the term "krill" in a generic sense or have you identified these white/transparent crustaceans as euphausids? It has been my experience that true krill (Euphasia pacifica and possible other species) tend to be clear to rosy with red undersides in the thorax and abdomen. Mysids (same as the "opossum shrimp" found in freshwater lakes - several species in local marine waters) tend to be white/transparent, although some species have darker markings, including a more olive hue. Krill tend to hold their bodies straight, while mysids often have a broken-back appearance. While diving/conducting research in the San Juan Islands, I often encountered large aggregations of mysids, especially near the bottom at depths of 10-40 ft. Off the west side of San Juan, they can become some abundant in late summer that they obscure the bottom. While it was not unusual to see a few krill at the night light at Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan, they were usually single individuals or small groups. It seemed to me that krill were more common when we had big tidal exchanges, perhaps indicating that they were being sucked in / sucked up by the currents. Of course, just what is abundant in the San Juans may be quite different in the Sound.

On a practical level, if I were tying something that I wanted to be a good match for krill, I would emphasize large dark eyes, and a clear body with red along the bottom. For mysids (like the estuarine/seagrass species, Neomysis), I would keep the body clear with a small black eye. I think that you can see the difference if you search on the internet for a euphausid versus a mysid (all bets off for deepsea species that all tend to be bright red).

I'll have to whip up a few more mysids while the rivers are so high. Searuns and silvers in the sound may be only realistic game for the next several weeks if this rainy pattern continues.


Great information in your post! I am using the word "krill" in the generic sense and could not say for sure what species of euphuasid that they are. Over the years, I have not noticed any slight/faint rosy or reddish coloration to the undersides of "krill" in resident silvers stomachs. In the future, I will make it a point to look more closely. But I would assume that they are "Euphausid pacifica" due to their milky-white translucent coloration overall. Could the slight/faint rosy or reddish coloration been removed while in a fish's stomach?

Have noticed the same phenomenon that "krill" seem to more abundant during big tide exchanges.