Fry Flies

All Pacific salmon spawn in the fall. Their eggs hatch during late winter and early spring during March and April, and sometimes even into May. Runs of Chinooks, Chums, Pinks, Cohos, Sockeye and Kokanee salmon create egg drift and flesh drift. But what often goes unnoticed is the super hatch of fry emergence, which happens months later. Trout and steelhead spawn also creates fry emergence later in the spring and early summer. So realistically, fry emergence can occur in some rivers for up to five months each year.

Two flies that you will want to have with you when fishing for trout in the early spring is Burman's Cradle Robber Alevin and King Alevin. The alevin is the first stage after the egg. Young fish emerge from the egg with the yolk sack attached to their bellies. During this stage, many alevins stay down in the aerated gravel of the redd, but others emerge prematurely where they are helpless in the currents of the swift flowing water. Spring is also a prime time for catastrophic floods, which can erode salmon redds thus exposing young salmon to trout prematurely.

Alevin flies can be dead-drifted like a nymph or swung through the currents with a sinking tip line like a streamer. Depending on the water type, one method will prove more successful than the other. In either case, a long rod will likely prove to be more effective than a short one.

When fishing your fry fly, target areas downstream from salmon redds that were used last fall. Learn to recognize the gravel structures that these redds denote. Young fish will often collect in softer currents downstream from these redds, and so will predatory fish that feed on them.

Above: Thousands of Kokanee (land-locked sockeye salmon) spawn in the Metolius River each fall. You know that hungry trout are going to be waiting for the fry to emerge early in the spring.