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Casting into Fall: An Angler's Guide to Salmon Fishing the Olympic Peninsula

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

Are you an angler looking for an unforgettable fishing experience this fall? Look no further than the Olympic Peninsula! From early September through November, the rivers of the OP come alive with the thrilling runs of wild King and Coho Salmon, attracting anglers from all over the world. As a professional fishing guide with 19 years of experience, I've had the privilege of trying various techniques to catch these magnificent creatures. In this guide we'll explore the best options for fall salmon fishing on the Olympic Peninsula, covering everything from types of gear and fishing techniques to the prime fishing spots.

Fishing Guide Larry Ford with angler and huge salmon

Salmon Fishing Techniques

Of the many ways to fish for fall salmon, following are the primary techniques I use:

  • Fly Fishing - Two Hand/Spey Rods: My personal favorite way to pursue King and Coho Salmon is to use an 8 or 9 weight Spey rod. They offer the power to turn a large salmon and the ability to cast heavy sinking lines and large flies the distances needed to reach the fish and their length makes it easy to mend your line in order to control the speed and depth of your fly. Moreover, the backing capacity of the large Spey reels ensures you can handle those hard-charging fish that often take long runs.

  • Fly Fishing - Single Hand Rods: For Salmon fishing, we recommend 8 or 9 weight rods, 9 1/2 to 10 feet in length. When equipped with full sinking shooting heads or floating lines with sink tips, they are effective tools for both King and Coho Salmon.

  • Gear Fishing - Spinning Rods: When gear fishing, I prefer to use spinning rods. My lures of choice are spinners, spoons and twitching jigs. These artificial lures are very effective and have proven to be successful in attracting fall Salmon. Plus, using artificial lures helps conserve the fish populations by lowering the mortality rate when compared to bait fishing.

Exploring the Rivers

Now that we have a basic understanding of fishing techniques, let's explore the rivers. Olympic Peninsula rivers in the Forks area offer fantastic fall salmon fishing opportunities:

  • Sol Duc River: Known for its high gradient rapids, the Sol Duc is home to large wild Kings and Coho. Additionally, it receives a substantial plant of 600,000 hatchery Coho, making it a highly productive fishery from September through November. The deep pools and boulder filled flats are perfect for twitching jigs, offering a thrilling angling experience.

  • Bogachiel River: This broad river boasts good runs of wild King and Coho Salmon throughout the season. Its relatively obstacle-free structure allows for easy fishing. The Bogachiel River is suitable for both fly fishing and using spin gear with spinners or jigs.

  • Calawah River: With its Class 2 & 3 rapids, the Calawah River is a technically challenging river to row. This river rewards anglers with a solid wild King and Coho fishery in the fall, and is an excellent choice for experienced anglers looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure!

  • Hoh River: The Hoh River is a versatile destination that accommodates all fishing techniques. With good runs of both wild Kings and Coho throughout the fall, this river is a fly angler's paradise. The stunning glacier-colored water provides an ideal setting for swinging flies and targeting these majestic fish.

The Magic of Fall Fishing

The Olympic Peninsula is a haven for fall salmon fishing enthusiasts. With its pristine rivers and abundant runs of wild King and Coho Salmon, this region offers a one-of-a-kind angling experience. Whether you prefer the grace of two hand Spey rods, the versatility of single hand rods, or the efficiency of spinning rods, the OP has something to suit every angler's taste.

The fall season on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is truly magical for salmon fishing, affording anglers a chance to catch large fish in breathtaking surroundings. The changing foliage adds a vibrant touch to the already spectacular scenery, making it a feast for the eyes as well as the soul. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner seeking an adventure, fall salmon fishing on the OP is an experience you'll cherish.

So check your calendar, book your trip and look forward to gearing up for an unforgettable fishing experience on the Olympic Peninsula! As a long time local guide, I can assure you the thrill of hooking a powerful King or Coho Salmon amidst the breathtaking fall foliage will be etched in your memory forever. Get in touch with me today for available fall dates and get ready to reel in the adventure of a lifetime. Tight Lines!


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