So close, but yet so far... What gives?!


Windy day down in the South Sound yesterday. Learned that Penrose is closed, and will be for a while until they install a new sewage system. So headed over to my favorite SRC spot on Case Inlet. Caught a few nice 14" cutts on the outgoing tide. A nice confidence booster, so headed over to a park in on Hood Canal at low tide to see if I could try my luck with some silvers. Note: I have yet to catch a sizable silver on my fly rod, so I'm an undrafted rookie when it comes to salmon fishing. This is a shallow muddy beach just outside where the creek runs into the Canal. As soon as I get there, I see huge fish launching themselves into the air like dolphins in water that looks at most 5 feet deep. Every 5 minutes or so, SPLASH! My hearts pounding, and I could have sworn, I made eye contact with one of the fish while it flew into the air. If it could, it would have winked at me.

For the next hour and a half, I went through my fly box. Pink and Chartreuse Clousers, some long, some short. Then tried my bigger SRC flies: Atomic Prawns, Crazy Charlies,Woolly Buggers, Glass Minnows, Sandlance, Sculpin. I tried all kinds of stripping techniques: hyper fast strips to slow with pauses. Tried long strips, to short. Smooth and herky jerky. At one point, I even tried to dead drift. The slower the strips, the more sculpin I caught. The fish just kept on jumping, and I didn't get a single bite. It was maddening. And the gale force winds just added to the tragic drama. Every now and then, I'd see a big shadow fly by my feet like a jet. I could have done better with a harpoon than my fly rod.

I'm not a biologist, but I've read these salmon are waiting for the rivers to get some water before heading up and are biding some time. I've heard they are very finicky at this stage. Not attracted to food, and it's more about getting a reaction. Well I've tried to attract salmon to my flies before with little results and this was no exception. They certainly were active, and why they were jumping, was a mystery.

Would love to hear any advice, theories. I haven't yet given up on this historic season. Maybe I'll get lucky when the chum roll in...


5X Celebrity Jeopardy Champion
Yup, catching staging silvers can be very tough. Just keep trying different patterns and stripping speeds until you find something they like. You will have a better chance catching a beach silver in an area where they are still actively feeding on baitfish. Sometimes it's best to just let the silvers that have reached their home waters get on with spawning.


WFF Moderator
It's reeeeealy hard to catch staging silvers. I think they become more lock-jawed then any of the migratory salmon in the PNW. I've only caught a couple in their estuaries, and it was on very small, sparse flies, stripped very very slow.

SeaRun Fanatic

Active Member
Sounds possibly like early chum...? How close of a look did you get. I fished over large numbers of early chum in freshwater last weekend... Just sayin...


Thanks guys. I just assumed they were Silvers given the timing and reports. I'm not experienced enough to be able to tell whether they were Silvers or Chum, but there sure were a lot of them. I was just amazed at how active they were, especially the jumping behavior, instead of conserving their energy. Maybe they were just getting impatient. Will have to tie up some soft pink hackles for next time. Cheers, ybs


from my personal experience the salmon are jumping for one reason is that they like to tease they like to jump in the air as high as they can look at you straight in the eye and just grin and swim off leaving you in nothing but your own tears


Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
Salmon jump for just one reason: because they don't have a middle finger!

How true.
I remember as a kid back in the 60's the old guys telling me the fish were jumping to loosen their eggs and milt. How true this theory is I have no idea?
Maybe Smalma can way in on this as to what makes the fish jump so much when they are staging.


Active Member
I talked to a fisheries biologist at stream system that has been studied for a long time. I asked her this question and she basically said that no one really knows. She mentioned quite a few of the classic explanations (like loosening the eggs) but said none of them were true. I have no idea how they would really know, but that's what she said. All I know is it's pretty cool to watch, although very frustrating at times when you aren't hooking up and they're dancing all around you!

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