Lessons learned on the Elk River: Matt 0, Salmon 2

Yesterday marked my second trip to the Elk River this year for Chinook salmon. The river was low and clear, its characteristic green coloration. The Mule and his buddy Dan and I drifted the run from the Elk River Hatchery to the pullout before the 101 bridge and it took forever. At least, that’s how it felt after playing bumper boats all day with dozens of guides, bouncing and hauling over exposed gravel bars and watching a few other people catch fish.

Lessons learned:

  • When the river is really low, the salmon (and coincidentally all of the guides) hunker down in deep holes. Dropping big weights with eggs is the only way to fish. Forget the K14s.
  • With three guys in the boat and two trolling lines out the bow, it’s probably not a great time to cast the 9-weight with the high density sink tip.
  • Don’t handle the salmon bait scent. Ever.
  • Bring more food and booze than you think you’ll need, in case shit gets boring. When was the last time you actually had too much food or booze on a fishing trip? I usually just grab whatever I can on the way out the door, but really, if the fishing goes south what else do you have to look forward to?
  • Elk River

    The Mule lamented that we hadn’t tried The Sixes River — a little more water, cloudier — the salmon would be less wary. But the Mule was on a scouting mission for an Elk River vacation and couldn’t deviate from the plan. I don’t think we’d have had much more fun on the Sixes. There were a lot more boats on the Sixes and we were practically combat fishing as it was. The thin layer of civility on the river was tenuous at best — you could see everybody just gritting their teeth, trying not to scream “EAT SHIT” at every other person they saw. So we’d have probably ended up in a fight to the death on the Sixes.

    Highlight of the day: About ¾ of the way through the drift, we hung up on a gravel bar. Instead of getting out and being swept away into the hole below the bar, Dan and I started synchronized humping on the front of the Mule’s boat, eventually breaking us loose of the bar and sending us downstream. Where a group of dudes happened to be watching the whole thing and told us the boat was probably pregnant now.


    About mstansberry

    Matt Stansberry currently lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and son.
    This entry was posted in Oregon Fishing, salmon and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    2 Responses to Lessons learned on the Elk River: Matt 0, Salmon 2

    1. Tony Blaszak says:

      Tell me it aint so. I just read ” lesson learned on the Elk river”. My friend Dave tells me what a great river the Elk is and he’s fished it reqular around Thanksgiving. He’s invited me to go and up until I read your article I have been pumped to go.
      Is it really that crowded down there ? OR if it is, is there still plenty of room to fish ? We’ll fish with conventional gear but I want to bring my brand new 10 wt. and give it a fishy smell.
      Your trip sounds like a disaster !

      Tony Blaszak
      Milwaukie Oregon

    2. I think the Elk is always like that. Too many guides from California ,and Washington because there is nothing going on in their state.
      this is my first time to see your sight ,looks good will visit it more . Thanks

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