Fly anglers are reporting that they are meeting quite a few smolts, good news for the future. But do take care if you catch these silvery fish. Every salmon is valuable, especially these juvenile ones heading out to sea. Smolts are undergoing rapid and significant change as they prepare to leave freshwater for a the salty sea. If you hook a smolt, try to release it without removing it from the water. They will swim off none the worse for wear and hopefully we’ll see them back in the river in a year or two as an adult fish.
After you’ve released the smolt, crush the barbs on your flies if the hooks are not already barbless. If you catch a another of smolt, again release them in the water by turning the hook out of them without touching the fish at all. At this stage, consider the likelihood that the smolts are running and rest on the bank for a while to let shoal pass through unharmed or fish a different bit of water.