Autumn Salmon – Ups and Downs

The game fishing season is pretty much over for the vast majority of us, unless you are lucky enough happen to live in the south West of England. Game fishing expert, instructor and fishing tackle consultant Chris Ogborne explores the ups and downs of autumnal salmon fishing in his latest blog post.

Late season fishing in Cornwall

Late season fishing in Cornwall

As many friends and clients keep reminding me, I’m a very lucky man! Not just because I live in Cornwall, one of the loveliest counties in England, but also because I have top quality fishing available to me in pretty much every month of the year.

Sea fishing is almost year-round, brown trout on rivers and moorland lakes enjoys a long season, and our salmon fishing doesn’t end until a week before Christmas. My home River Camel closes on 15th December so in the next few weeks I’m going to be enjoying some late sport in glorious surroundings and amongst the stunning autumn colours.

Of course there are compromises to be made at this time of year. You need to accept that conditions are not the same as high summer so you need to adjust your thinking and make some sensible provisions. Here are the key tips in enjoying autumnal sport:

Clothing: as always, the key to staying comfortable is layers. I’ll be using my Airtex jacket but varying the under-layers to suit conditions. The trick is to stay warm and dry but also to avoid bulk, which impairs movement   Remember that a comfortable angler is always a more effective angler.

Clothing is the key - the Airtex jacket in action.

Clothing is the key – the Airtex jacket in action.

Be prepared:  I like to travel light when I can, but at this time of year you need to have a flask of something warm with you. My Airflo FlyDri ruck sack is a brilliant companion as it easily swallows lunch, flasks, and gear, as well as the vital extra clothing layers

Hooks:  I’m increasingly using single hooks on spinners and baits as this has many advantages. It makes it easier to release the occasional ( and inevitable) brown trout, but it’s also easier to avoid the leaves and debris that can dog autumn fishing. Single hooks are a lot kinder on the fish than trebles and it turns the catch and release process into a doddle.

A single hook meant this late season salmon went back quickly and easily

A single hook meant this late season salmon went back quickly and easily

Timing: much has been written over the years about Salmon taking times and the consensus is that there is simply no golden rule! Salmon are fickle fish in so many ways and can take a bait at any time of day but for me there’s a clear preference for mid morning in autumn   If there’s fresh water in the river I like to make sure I’m on the water between 10am and midday. It’s proved effective on too many occasions to ignore!

Fly or spin?

Fly or spin?

Fly or Spin? The eternal quandary and there’s no fixed advice. My river Camel is smaller than most and there are only a few places where fly is practical, or even possible For that reason I generally use spin as the default choice, with the bonus that it allows me to fish so much more water. On larger rivers you may have the luxury of more space so break out the fly fishing tackle when you can.

Watch the weather - a storm is brewing!

Watch the weather – a storm is brewing!

Watch the weather! For autumn fishing, weather holds the key. Fish languishing out in the estuary mouth will eagerly run in even a little fresh water, but the up- side of an autumn storm is that it will almost certainly bring some fish into the system. The river Camel is often like a cross between a spate and a free stone and the fish run long and fast. We’ve caught sea-liced fish 20 miles from the sea and given the restricted life of these parasites in fresh water this confirms that the salmon can and will run the whole river in very quick time.

Know when to stop! I love my fishing as much as anyone, but usually come mid afternoon I’ve had enough and I reckon the fish have too! Unlike summer fishing when I’ll happily fish into the gloom, at this time of year I’m generally heading home by 4pm for the early bath. Of course there could be an element of catch 22 in this advice, but I rarely hear tales from fellow anglers about success after this time.

Above all, enjoy the sport at this amazing time of year. This autumn is giving us some truly spectacular colours and surely there is no finer place to be when the sun is shining!

Tightlines, Chris Ogborne