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Discussion Starter #1
For folks living in the Salmon/N. Fork area, how has the river handled the cold temps the past week. Is it starting to ice over? Thinking about coming over this weekend but am wondering about the conditions. Thanks in advance.
 

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Don't waste your time

Ditto the above. Inversion has set in. Sub zero temps at night. Ice flows in the river. Water temps in the low 30's. Your closest fishable water will be the two tailwaters out of Lewiston.
 

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Hey I bet I could find an open run to fish now LOL, they were all full of boats and fisherman a couple of weeks ago. I went upstream a ways (above Challis) and found fish without the crowds.
 

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Thanks guys. Guess we had better bring the old ice auger. If the ice smooths out, anyone up for a game of pond hockey?
 

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Winter came too damn early. I was fishing the Salmon this time last year,
think it's over with for 2014.:mad:

Fishing came to an abrupt halt, with slush ice in the river on November 12. Most days since then have seen lows below zero, with the exception of the past two. I drove down to Panther Creek along the Salmon two days ago to do a little wildlife photography. The Deadwater ice jam was then downstream of 4th of July Creek, but is now reportedly upstream!!

It would be a bit hard to swing a fly out there now:



It's too bad cause the fishing was good and the fish were big!!
 

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So what do you think, do the fish hunker down under this cover for the winter or do they move back downriver for open water? It seems like summer runners don't really like having a lot of water over them, and this cover might be a bit much. But then again they are protected from predators (gauntlets of treble hooks LOL)!
 

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Grandpa Howard
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Nov. 7. It got cold the last day of our trip. Fishing was on fire. Out of all the places I get to steelhead each year, Nov on the Salmon is my favorite.
 

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Update:

I just went upstream from Salmon snooping around, and there's no slush ice just now (2:45 PM), but there are big chunks of shelf ice floating down:




We got above freezing yesterday, barely, and today it might make it to freezing. Tomorrow it's supposed to get up to 42 degrees (heat wave), but with a very good chance of rain, turning to snow on Saturday night through Sunday. If one can deal with the shelf ice, it's probably fishable, in spots, right now. I did see 3 gear guys fishing above Salmon this afternoon.
 

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Think hibernation

So what do you think, do the fish hunker down under this cover for the winter or do they move back downriver for open water? It seems like summer runners don't really like having a lot of water over them, and this cover might be a bit much.
Middlecalf: This is a layman's version of what happens...At about a water temp of 38 degrees the fish quit migrating and just hang out in the deep holes all winter. Their calorie needs are reduced by the cold water so they just congregate in slow water that requires little to no energy expenditures and just wait for spring. When the water temp increases to around 38 in March they resume their migration to their spawning grounds. The fish that winter around Salmon entered the Columbia in June and July and will spawn between Challis and Galena in April. (dates, times and locations are approximate as each wild fish is an individual and will behave differently than its neighbor; hatchery fish tend to exhibit less individual deveation from the mean than do wild fish).

Mark
 

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Thanks Mark. But do they hang out in the deeper holes under the ice, or do they move to uncovered deeper holes? (Because of the way I fish - not very deep - I've picked up fish between Challis and the East Fork in pretty thin water - a few feet deep - that's at/near freezing temp and air temps well below freezing - the coldest was 8-deg, could only swing for about 15 minutes, but long enough to hook up a fish - briefly LOL) I just have this notion that summer-run steelhead don't like stuff over their heads, including sometimes a lot of water, but especially solid ice.
 

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Interesting

What an intriguing question. I have no idea.

Since we have the only place in the nation where the fish spawn at 5000'-7000', I don't know if there are any biologists that could answer that question. I also find it unlikely that there is anyone crazy enough to have floated a run/runs in a dry suit in sub 40 degree water, though I have done it many times in 50+. Maybe one of our brothers from the far north has an answer. I know places like the Inklin will freeze over completely in the winter and they have a "summer" run, but that doesn't answer your question as to preference.

I always assumed it was a water speed/structure thing. A couple of reasons for this:

1. I know that fish will hold in shallower water with overhead cover (riffled water mainly) though I don’t know if they see a riffle as the same as ice.
2. In one of the Snake River trib's I have fished for 40+ years you catch most of your fish in the dump in/riffle and low in the tail outs (more oxygen) in 60 degree water, in slightly slower and smoother flows in 50 degree water and in what is almost frog water with little flows in 38-40 degree water. I always just assumed that the fish congregated in the frog water during the winter.

Good question. Hopefully someone else has some input.
 

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How's the fishing been up there lately? I'm thinking about making a road trip if it's going to stay warm like this.
 

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The river was blown out as of Tuesday. I'm fishing in WY right now and will return to Salmon tomorrow. Could update then, or you could call the Salmon River Fly Box for an update.
 

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The river was blown out as of Tuesday. I'm fishing in WY right now and will return to Salmon tomorrow. Could update then, or you could call the Salmon River Fly Box for an update.
During my drive home I traveled along the Salmon River from North Fork to Salmon, the river looked back in shape, and I saw several fishermen. Not sure how they're doing though!
 

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Time to let them spawn

The fish are pretty dark and snakey by this time of year. They haven't eaten anything for 7-8 months and are a month or two from being dead. They've lost 25%-50% of their body weight and don't fight worth a crap. They are a far different fish than they were in October.

I could care less about the hatchery fish but the energy that a wild fish spends during the fight, even when released, could very well be the energy that they need to successfully spawn. I'd leave them be.

Respectfully,

Mark
 

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The fish are pretty dark and snakey by this time of year. They haven't eaten anything for 7-8 months and are a month or two from being dead. They've lost 25%-50% of their body weight and don't fight worth a crap. They are a far different fish than they were in October.

I could care less about the hatchery fish but the energy that a wild fish spends during the fight, even when released, could very well be the energy that they need to successfully spawn. I'd leave them be.

Respectfully,

Mark
Here's one of those dark and snakey fish, we caught on the Salmon River today. 31 inches long, and fought very well. Even though they haven't eaten anything for 7 - 8 months, they do still try to eat swinging flies. And even though they "fight like crap", this one took about 10 - 15 minutes to land.

The photo that appeared here was of a guy who briefly held up a male steelhead with an adipose fin. Although the fish was quickly released, this photo has offended some of the forum members and has been removed

Here's another that took a swinging fly last month, and as you can see very snake like, and this one hammered a HOH Bo Spey. BTW, my wading boots are size 14 and you can see how poor this fish looks compared to my big feet!!

The photo that appeared here was of a fish that was being tailed before release by a guy (me), who had gloves on. Handling a fish like this will potentially offend some forum members so it has been removed

Anyway, for those who care, today we only fished for about 4 hours and we hooked 4 and landed one. Two of the 3 we lost came flying out of the water, several times, even though they don't fight "worth a crap" and are only a month from being dead!!

Considering the above, I certainly agree with the previous poster and would suggest that fellow forum members should "leave them be".

Respectfully

Bob
 
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