The Norwegian salmon season is coming to a close, so I’ll round things off in this blog, covering a few tips and tricks on how to fool the sometimes very difficult, late summer salmon. The river holds more salmon now. It’s usually a good mix between the now old salmon that entered the river early in the season and the late runners, which are usually the so-called grilse. Grilse are small, male atlantic salmon, still bright silver, but smaller. There are different opinions when a grilse can be called a salmon – some say over 5kg. I say three, because then I catch more salmon.
The grilse are great sport on lighter tackle and fresh in the river, they are usually easier to provoke a take from. They can be nippers, though. It’s common (and good) practice to wait a few seconds before setting the hook on a salmon, but when you repeatedly feel bites in the fly, sometimes a fast strike hooks a grilse.
But it’s not all grilse – the big, early salmon are still in the river, but they are settled into their pools and it takes all the tricks in the book to get them to take the fly. But sometimes when the river gets an influx of grilse, the newly entered salmon also try to find a spot in the same pools and the old ones try and chase them away. When the pool is stirred up that way it’s easier to get the old ones to take.
The old ones have seen all the flies and all the hardware, so it’s important – as I’ve mentioned several times before – to be different. Being different can make all the difference! In my experience, grilse like a very fast fly, the older salmon like a slower fly, sometimes even dangled in front of them in the pool. If allowed try fishing deep as well as shallow. By all means, try dries and skaters.
Or… Try something new and different. My friend, Michael, has been fishing pink flies the last few seasons and have had good success on old salmon. He likes Cascade-style flies, but it hardly makes a difference. It took some persuasion to get me to tie pink flies for salmon! Pink is quite an unusual colour in salmon and off the top of my head, only the Silver Wilkinson sports a little pink. Which of course means that it’s… Yes, you guessed it – different!