It took a long time, but I finally managed to go fishing with my buddies Nick and Tony this fall. We got up at 4a.m. on a rainy morning and drove a half hour to our favorite fall salmon spot. By the time I made it down there the rain had stopped and the first light of morning revealed a river free of competing fisherman. If nothing else, at least I would have first crack at whatever was swimming around down there.
I was using a yarn fly to start out, but once it became clear that the fish surfacing were in the deep stagnant holes, I tipped my bait with a little spawn sac to give it some scent. Despite seeing plenty of kings, none of them seemed particularly interested in biting. By the time Nick and Tony arrived, I spotted maybe a dozen salmon, but only one or two that didn’t look zombified. One of the quirks of this particular spot is that even the healthiest looking salmon usually still have a rotting, white tail. It must be rough going down stream, as our other spots usually don’t have as many fish with their tails in this bad of shape.
The salmon that looked catch-able were maybe a little too aware that we were in their turf, so I never hooked up until later, when I accidentally snagged a disgusting specimen that brushed by my bait. Oftentimes even the worst looking salmon will still put up a fight, but this big girl was lethargic and seemed to just give up. Touching the tail to get the hook out was like picking up a dead body. My hand is now forever unclean.
After giving up on our first spot, we went to a different river a couple miles away. There we ran into more of the same. As far as we could see, this was a chinook-only event. That didn’t stop every other fisherman we ran into from telling us there were trout mixed in, but their fish identification prowess was suspect. The only fish I caught was a big male chinook that was fighting with another male. It was pretty cool to watch them open their jaws and gnaw on each other in battle. When they are aggressive like this, you can get reaction strikes, which is pretty much all I seem to be good for these days. The fish didn’t fight like a typical male salmon, but it still took ten minutes or so to subdue him. I’m more happy than anything that my leader held up, as I wasn’t 100% sure my knot was up to snuff. I guess I am competent after-all.
Nobody was around to take my picture, but really there was nothing to see. Once you’ve caught one fall salmon you’ve caught them all. Hopefully if I am able to get out again the cohos will be running, and unlike the drab kings, they have some color and are almost kind of beautiful in fall. What would be even nicer would be if those trout everyone thinks they are catching started showing themselves!