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Fly Fishing Tip: How to Land Salmon from a Cliff

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August 14, 2013

Fly Fishing Tip: How to Land Salmon from a Cliff

By Kirk Deeter

Sometimes, you just have to make a "what the heck" cast.  I recently returned from a remarkable adventure to Iceland, where I was primarily fishing for large brown trout. I did take one day, however, to salmon fish on a beat at the mouth of the Laxà (Salmon River). There's an impressive waterfall there where fish stage as they run in from the ocean. Standing on the cliff next to the falls, guide Asgeir Steingrimsson suggested that I dangle the fly in a slick behind a rock. So I did, which was like dapping the fly from three stories above. Sure enough, it got bit. Now what?

I went for the camera and handed Asgeir the rod (admittedly in part because I didn't feel like tip-toeing around the rocks on the cliff ledge. Asgeir walked the fish around the point and through a rapid. Stew Armstrong ran down the back of the cliff, got to the beach and eventually netted the fish. It was a small grilse, but no doubt one of the most exciting fish I've ever hooked, if only for the "how it happened."

Now there are a few lessons to be learned from all this: First, I'm definitely a believer in keeping the tip or your rod high. Maybe not always that high, but you get the picture. Second, I am continually baffled by how fish will hold (and can be caught) in tiny pools and seams adjacent to what I would normally consider impossibly turbulent water. It's always worth a cast. And last, no matter what you hear or read, a very large factor in determining whether you land a fish or not is, well, dumb luck.  

Below is a view from the other side. The cliff we were on is center-right in the photo, to the right of the second waterfall. The fish ate the fly right behind the rock in the river that is closest to the falls.

Comments (5)

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from omarfishesalot wrote 35 weeks 3 days ago

when I fish for nile perch on lake nasser we usally just desiginate 2-3 guys as net men that climb down and net the fish. it can get hairy when the fish are large though.

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from buckhunter wrote 35 weeks 3 days ago

Have never seen country so beautiful it'll make you forget about fishing but this is close, very close.

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from Dangle wrote 35 weeks 2 days ago

The perfect spot for a tenkara rod! 20 lb test to the fly, point the 11 1/2 ft rod directly at the salmon when he takes, and rare back, and throw that slimy up next to you on the rocks! If you are good at it you can drop your rod, and catch it when it flies overhead like they do at the Pike Street Market in Seattle. That is beautiful country, just not good salmon runs like I like to swing flies through.

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from TheFlyFisherMan wrote 35 weeks 2 days ago

What a Beautiful place to fish. We recently fish a "flooded" stream and the best luck we had was fishing those pool and backwater seams adjacent to strong to turbulent flows of the stream. Good luck to you and look forward to reading future blogs.

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from Dangle wrote 35 weeks 2 days ago

And Buck...Happen to see your big spey rod again?

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from omarfishesalot wrote 35 weeks 3 days ago

when I fish for nile perch on lake nasser we usally just desiginate 2-3 guys as net men that climb down and net the fish. it can get hairy when the fish are large though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 35 weeks 3 days ago

Have never seen country so beautiful it'll make you forget about fishing but this is close, very close.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 35 weeks 2 days ago

The perfect spot for a tenkara rod! 20 lb test to the fly, point the 11 1/2 ft rod directly at the salmon when he takes, and rare back, and throw that slimy up next to you on the rocks! If you are good at it you can drop your rod, and catch it when it flies overhead like they do at the Pike Street Market in Seattle. That is beautiful country, just not good salmon runs like I like to swing flies through.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TheFlyFisherMan wrote 35 weeks 2 days ago

What a Beautiful place to fish. We recently fish a "flooded" stream and the best luck we had was fishing those pool and backwater seams adjacent to strong to turbulent flows of the stream. Good luck to you and look forward to reading future blogs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 35 weeks 2 days ago

And Buck...Happen to see your big spey rod again?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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