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Still Good, part two of a three part story;

Posted 06-16-2011 at 08:45 PM by Ard
Updated 06-20-2011 at 02:08 PM by Ard

Another Day Another Chance

On another morning I found myself sitting in the boat at 4:10 AM watching another bottleneck that feed into another huge pool. The regulations prohibit fishing for salmon between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM so I had elected to spend a couple hours looking for fish. It didn't take long before I spotted a wake and realized there were a bunch in the head of the pool. I cast for 2 hours and 55 minutes with the Skykomish that is tied to my line in this picture.
[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

After all that time I decided to tie on an Assassin.
[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

Within another 5 minutes I hooked a fish and the action was on. I had to take off down stream and when I finally had it subdued I found that I had a familiar problem. I was in an area that offered nothing in the way of a place to land a 28 pound fish. As I scanned the bank for a break in the alders I spotted where a Bank Beaver had his access point to the river. I waded down and saw that there was a little cove built / worn back away from the river about 4 feet long and it ended with a nice little sandy beach where old mister 'Beav' enters and exits the river. I moved back upstream and used the long rod to gently guide the fish into the cove and then I pounced! In a matter of seconds I always have a knife open and with one quick move I place the blade into the brain and sever the spine. I do not allow a fish to suffer and within seconds they appear to be dead. Another couple quick moves and the gills are cut allowing the blood to drain from the fish more so than the cutting of the brain and spine. Well, I had my first fish of the year! I had caught 7 trout while camped on the other river and had also gotten quite a few char on a float trip in the last days of May but this was 'A Fish'. Now as I made my way back up the river I realized that I had been taken at least three hundred yards downriver from where I had left the boat. The shore has no beach to walk and there is no trail in the Bush so you wade back against the current. How the hell I can almost run through three feet of water without going down I'll never know but as I worked against that current I knew that there would be leg cramps this night. When I got to my boat and the tiny gravel beach I had parked it at a fellow came drifting down the river. He ask how I was doing and between gasps for air I looked up (I was semi collapsed on the bow of the boat) I pointed at the fish laying on the gravel and he started his motor and pulled over. He had a fly rod and spinning rod also and wanted to know where and how I did that. He also took this picture for me with my camera. The fish weighed 28 pounds and I don't know the length.
[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

The next morning found me hauling the boat back to the river at 4:30 AM. I decided to leave a little later because there was a hard rain falling and I didn't fear there would be a crowd at that that hour. About 15 miles from home I realized that I had left my camera behind, drat I hate when that happens! I launched and chugged back up river to my little bottleneck and put the bow onto the little patch of gravel still not swallowed by the rising river and poured a cup of hot coffee. it would only be a half hour wait today and as the rain pelted on top of my old Filson jackets hood I was glad I hadn't arrived at 4 or before. At 6:00 Am I waded back to the spot that I knew would swing my Assassin through the sweet spot and before I made the first cast a fish breached about 40' downstream from me. After about two casts to establish my range I quartered a third up the channel landing the fly just under some over hanging alder branches and stacked on some mends. Just as quickly as I had stacked the mended line I raised the rod tip and drew back the slack line creating a downstream mend and I gave the rod tip a twitch. This is my version of the 'greased line swing' and it works almost every time that I have a fish to cast to. As soon as the fly began a cross current movement I felt the unmistakably light grab of a King Salmon! I reacted within a millisecond and the line began to zip out through the guides. The action was on again! You may think that a big fish like these would hit a fly like a sledgehammer but they feel more like a 10" rainbow trout than the King of North American game fish.

About 5 minutes into the business of handling the fish, I say handling because I was working with a leader configuration I had only developed over the last 7 days and was tipped with 15 pound test Maxima. My leader has 4 loop to loop connections and then the terminal knot to the fly so there are many points for a possible failure. So; after 5 minutes of working the fish here came the same fellow as I had met the day before (Tom) up the river with his friend Jesse. They saw what was going on and throttled down and slipped their boat in just below mine. Another ten minutes of doing my best to keep a jumping bull strong fish from leaving the run and I was gaining the upper hand. The fish was in the channel at about 5.5 foot of depth trying to wear me out. Gently as I could I kept using the length of my Spey rod to bring him to the surface so I could move him toward shore. The deep water has a strong current and as long as the fish was in it all bets were off. As I lifted and swung him toward shore I moved upstream so I might just be able to get it into the very shallow water and the gravel bar on which the bow of my boat was grounded. Tom and Jesse offered several times that they had one of those huge salmon nets and did I want them to net the fish. Every time I had him close to shore he made another run all the way back across the river and buried himself in the deep water. I told the fellows that I appreciated the offers but had always done this alone and could do it again if the hook held. The next try I slid the fish into 2" of water and within seconds had put the knife through his brain. It was over and it was over quick. Jesse took the picture and e-mailed it to me that night and although it's not like one my camera would take it beats the devil out of none, thanks Jesse
[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

I know the weights are good because the Department of Fish & Game calibrates the scales every year. A 40 pound king on 15 pound line using an unweighted fly with a Spey rod! For me it isn't going to get a whole lot better but I am gonna go tomorrow

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Thank you,

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Total Comments 4


  1. Old Comment
    flyfishwcu's Avatar
    incredible stories and even more incredible fish! love your blog, look forward to reading more!
    Posted 06-17-2011 at 12:31 PM by flyfishwcu flyfishwcu is offline
  2. Old Comment

    King of the North American Game Fish?

    The stories are great Ard and well written. I do however respectively disagree with the proclamation "king of the north american game fish".

    I don't have a contender for the title as such, because whatever I happen to be casting for on a particular day will be rated against its peers, not an entirely different species.

    Now hurry up and write some stories about your trout fishing...

    Posted 06-17-2011 at 09:30 PM by littledavid123 littledavid123 is offline
    Updated 06-17-2011 at 10:01 PM by littledavid123
  3. Old Comment
    fyshstykr's Avatar

    Big smile!

    Brotha, that smile says it all!! You've had a good King season.

    Keep a bend in that big two handed rod.
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 10:56 PM by fyshstykr fyshstykr is offline
  4. Old Comment
    mcnerney's Avatar
    Ard: Thanks again for another great story!

    Posted 09-27-2011 at 11:34 AM by mcnerney mcnerney is online now

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