THREE-WORD THURSDAY: Answer. Chinook. Boom.

Welcome back to Three-Word Thursday, where Fish Hack is looking at all these storm clouds and wondering if the master plan for Southern Oregon’s Elk River this fall will be another stroke of pure fly-fishing genius or a complete waste of $4 a gallon gas.

And the answer is in the clouds.

Answer. Chinook. Boom.

The Elk, near Port Orford, is a fly-fisher’s mecca for fall chinook salmon. The big kings are best intercepted as they come flying over the beach and into the estuary, all hopped up and ready to bite chartreuse streamers.

At four hours away from Fish Hack’s Fish Shack in Medford, dialing that fishery in saves much time and expense.

Chinook tend to enter the river following fall freshets. After flows peak, water starts to drop and clear. That puts chinook on notice to head upstream for that pull-down-your-pants spawning party.

For locals, they rely on an occasional rainstorm to get chinook moving.

Fish Hack relies on that not happening.

When there are no storms, the chinook hang off the mouth itching for a freshet, even if it’s the false one Fish Hack can predict.

And that’s just what happens.

A series of very high tides occurs every year right around Veterans Day. On the morning of Nov. 14, the high tide will eclipse 9 feet, more than 3 feet higher than just a week earlier.

After high slack tide, that water flushes back into the ocean in such volume that it appears to the chinook like a freshet. And in they come.

They’ll be running into Fish Hack’s streamers en masse that day, provided it doesn’t rain too much between then and now.

A few real freshets will trump Hack’s fake one, putting most of the chinook upstream and away from Fish Hack’s fave fly waters.

So the answer to whether the Elk River mouth will be a boom or a bust rests in the clouds.



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  • Blog Author

    Mark Freeman

    I've underachieved as the Mail Tribune's Fish Hack since 1989. I can't help but find a few things to yuk about with pathetic regularity in the outdoors. My most treasured award? An OSHA citation for a messy desk -- Fire hazard. YEAH! Read Full
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