By: Joel Anderson
Today’s rain has me thinking “lake inlet fishing for landlocked salmon”. I’ve been chasing fall landlocked salmon for thirty years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much. Over that time, I have learned a trick or two and, since it’s that time of year again, I thought I would attempt to pass along one particular trick that has proven time and time again to be very successful and well worth the effort.
I love casting and stripping streamers for fall landlocks, especially at the inflows to major and minor salmon lakes. As the fish begin to stage off shore waiting for the right conditions to run the rivers, they will at times very aggressively chase streamers. The operative word here is “chase”, because sometimes it seems you’ll get ten “swirls” for every hookup. This can be both exhilarating (which is why I love it) AND maddening. These fish will often strikes at the end of your rod tip at the very end of the retrieve and , seeing the swirl, we have a tendency to pull the fly away from the fish before he actually takes it.
So here’s the trick: at the end of your retrieve, with maybe 10 of 15 feet of line out of the end of your rod tip, slowly and deliberately raise your rod tip from a position parallel to the surface to about 1 o’clock behind you. As you raise your tip, watch the “belly” of your line/leader, which is now out of the water. As hard as it might be to avoid the temptation when you see a fish swirl at your streamer, don’t strike until you see that line/leader belly ‘jump”, which telegraphs the take. Now strike… Bang! Fish on!
For some reason, that constant, steady, and deliberate movement of the fly at the end of a long retrieve induces an incredible amount of strikes.
This technique also works wonders at the inlets of trout ponds as well. A few nights ago I was fishing the inlet to a famous Rangelely pond. I was fishing a combination of a Woolly Bugger dropper, and a soft hackle wet fly on the point. At the end of the retrieve, I would raise the rod tip slowly, as described above, effectively waking the Woolly Bugger. This waking action seems to induce the trout into taking the soft hackle, which, of course, was trailing.
Oh yeah, if you see a guy wearing a stripping basket, frantically casting a cane rod, and two-handed stripping like a mad man at the inlet to a salmon lake near you, be sure to stop by to say hello.