Leaves/debris in the water questions + Wilson River 11/4/15 Report


Active member
Here’s a report from bank fishing the Wilson on Wednesday followed by some questions about leaves/debris in the water re: salmon fishing. If you don’t care about the report skip ahead to the leaves/debris section, I want to hear your thoughts!

11/4/15 Report

Fished from the bank near Tillamook from just before 7AM to after 4PM, went 0/1 – missed a hookset on the good old orange/silver spoon around 7:30 AM ((was experimenting with mono...never again never again!!)) Threw a mix of spoons and spinners, even tried plugs for awhile. When I knew a wave of fish was coming through, I always used what has proven to get bites there, so I don’t think it was the type of hardware I was throwing that was the problem. *Side note: it's freaking tiring to throw hardware nonstop in the same spot with no break for 9 hours! Just saying

But the fish were there, saw at least 10 landed and more hooked. I think all the fish I saw landed were on eggs/bait, mostly bobber/eggs but some bounced. Didn’t see anyone running plugs hook up. At least 75% of the fish I saw landed were at least somewhat dark, which surprised me I guess because it’s usually a more even ratio in tidewater there in my experience.

Most of the fish action (hookups + fish rolling on the surface) came at high and low slack, but there were waves of action all day. It was pretty chilly out, don’t think it got much past 50F. River was just a tad below 5’ after a big burst of rain 4 days prior and a 5+ foot spike in river level. Wasn’t too muddy but lots of leaves/debris~~~Anyway my lack of hits (just 1 sure hit in 9 hours when I KNOW those fish were in there), plus the lack of action (that I saw) for people running plugs, got me to philosophizing about what went wrong, and this is what I’m thinking:


I suspect it was mainly the leaves/debris that caused such a slow day for me. I figure so many random things in the water make it less appealing for fish to strike at one more, sort of similar, thing going by them. Plus, over half of my casts returned with leaves/debris stuck to the lure, so those don't even count as fishing. But alternatively, a big glob of eggs trailing eggy greasy goo, at the same speed as the flow of the water, might not get caught up in the debris as much, and also might entice the fish despite the debris? Is this why the people running plugs didn't get any action? Should we all fish eggs when there's debris in the water?

And how do I know when there are going to be leaves in the water? Do the tides effect this? Is the debris from the rain event, or is it just something that happens every Fall as the leaves change, or a bit of both? How many days after a rain event does it take for the debris to clear? I thought 4 would be enough. Should I go big and flashy, or small and subtle when there is debris in the water?

^^Any thoughts on any of these questions would be welcome!


Well-known member
Tie a barrel swivel ~2' from your terminal tackle with a bead above it. This way when debris hits the line and slides down, it gets stuck on the swivel and bead instead of going all the way to your terminal gear. It's not 100% foolproof but it definitely helps.

Wind is the big issue for leaves in the fall.


Well-known member
If you like looking at fall colors, big leaf maple is peaking right now and all those leaves will drop real soon. Just hope a big rain flushes them out soon. It will.


Active member
Even before the rains come you can see evidence of leaves in the water on some of the slower, smaller creeks or rivers.
Lake Creek which runs into the Siuslaw River a few miles above Mapleton, turns a beautiful golden brown color from the tannin (Tanic acid) soaked out of the leaves the wind has knocked out of the trees. The creek is loaded with crawdads that use the leaves on the bottom for hiding. Small dip net and you can fill a bucket pretty quick in the early fall.

I had a crawdad hunting Golden Retriever. She blew bubbles out of her nose as she grabbed crawdads and tossed them to the bank with one flip of her head. It was fun to watch, her lips were pulled back to keep them away from the pincers. Smart dog, very personable; she was following my lead but I used my hands to do the same. That was Max (McKenzie of Acimal) my first golden. I've had three of those wonderful partners. Acimal sounds like a location from a Harry Potter movie, but it was just my last name spelled backwards. But I digress into the memory banks of times past...

I've used an inline scent dispenser from Oregon Tackle http://anglerwesttv.com/oregontacklescentchamber.aspx or instead of a round bead try the T-bead (see photo) in front of the swivel to help keep lures free. I started using them this year. Couldn't recall the name; Combat Chuck was kind enough to tell me back in May on this forum. They worked pretty good in the Willamette to keep the floating moss away from a spinner. Even with the T-bead it didn't work well enough to keep the frustration at bay. And, that's what makes float fishing a great alternative. Float fishing is possibly my favorite large trout and steel-head technique for fall fish. Easy to learn and easy to do; everything you need can fit into a pocket sized Plano box.

Photo lifted from the River Guide Supply Website:
They are sold in many different colors including black

T-Bead River Guide Supply.JPG

Here's some interesting info about Tannins: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/ethnobotany/tannins.shtml
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Active member
Thanks for some interesting responses guys. Billamicasr- Max sounds like an awesome dog! I used to catch crawdads as a kid in PA but haven't yet in Oregon, and definitely never had a cool dog to help.

A couple responses hit on things I was already thinking about or trying, like beads, but also some things here I hadn't thought about (like T beads). Anyone else want to chime in??


Well-known member
Fished it Wednesday. In contrast to your observations, every one of our hookups came on plugs. Although I don't think I've ever had a day with that many missed takedowns on plugs. But the chum were hitting everything that moved.

The only bright fish I saw all day was the one we kept... yup, just one. Lots of limits were caught, they all had some color, and some were very large fish.

I also fished it yesterday (Friday), and wow, the water dropped fast. Very few boats (as opposed to the combat fishing on Wednesday), and pretty slow. Bobber/eggs seemed to be the hot ticket (big shocker). We landed a very large coho, and lost about 3 chinook for the oh-fer.

I'll chalk it up to a couple of unlucky days, since I've rarely had any problems keeping fish on in the past.... usually getting them hooked is the bigger problem.

Might be time to go back to the tidewater until the rivers come up again.