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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, a 3 Part Tale;

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
Ive decided to write in larger text to see how I like the look of it. It has been an interesting time for the past seven days here. I have fished six of the seven and was off for a day while I broke a camp and changed rivers. My first camp and river afforded beautiful scenery and good weather.

The river had a good number of fish but they were spread over many miles of channels and pools so finding one to cast to was not as easy as you may think.

My method of fishing for salmon has one primary rule to follow; do not try to get lucky. I very seldom just wade into a river and start casting without seeing some evidence of the presence of fish. Sometimes the tell may be hard to spot; like the gathering of seagulls up to a certain height on the river but none to be seen upstream of them. I believe the gulls follow the fish, I know they can see them from their vantage point as they soar above the water and wherever there are gulls, there will be some salmon. Where there are gulls I pay close attention. Never take your eyes off of the surface of the water, sometimes the only clue you'll get is a bulge or wake created by a fish who swims close to the surface while other times it will be one who completely breaches the water 300 yards away and you spot the fish and the splash it makes. In the end it is knowing just where to swing that submerged wet fly that gets you a fish not luck.

Choosing a good spot is also important. In the picture below you can see how the entire river is narrowed down to a 50 - 60 foot channel and then feeds into the huge pool down current.

These are the places you'll always find me. Those fish will come up that pool and usually before they take the channel and move into the fast water you will get that tell tail sign you have been waiting for. Even when you know they are there you can make 500 casts and come up dry. I have taken to doing sets of casts and then having a seat or just standing at the edge of the water watching for them until my shoulders and back ache so bad I have to sit down. Then when they give a sign I come alive and get my fly into the current. On day two in the spot pictured I did get a nice big and bright fish to grab my swinging fly. I did everything right until the moment of truth. I made a poor choice on landing him because I had followed the fish about 75 yards downstream and the bank offered only an eroded bluff with a small shelf between dry land and deep water. I tuckered him out and swung him to the ledge and then took hold of my leader and tried to pull him over the ledge from the deep into about 2" of water. I almost got away with it but in the end the fly popped lose from his jaw and my big King salmon slowly sunk into the history of lessons learned. All I had to do was calm down and gently pull him up along the bank about 45 - 50 yards and the beautiful little gravel peninsula you can see in the picture would have offered that back cove to lead the fish into still water then onto shore. I can't begin to explain how beaten I felt. I like to think I know what I'm doing and what I'm talking about but after doing that I was a wreak. I spent the rest of that day and all of the next but didn't hook another fish there. I took one last look back as I left for home.

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Thank you,


Updated 06-20-2011 at 02:10 PM by Ard



  1. fyshstykr's Avatar
    I found myself laughing just as hard reading this, as I did listening to you tell it over the phone!
  2. Ard's Avatar
    I hear you John,

    It seems funny now but at the time I was not smiling. Funny thing, I just got home late last night and during the time I was gone I put on 220 river miles according to my GPS. I did not run aground but misjudged depth on 4 occasions to the extent that I nearly stuck it in the muck twice and had to pick creek cobble and debris from the intake twice. Until you run on these Glacier flows with a small jet you may not understand how this happens. Having only a Honda 35 Hydro Jet I must run shallow in order to stay out of the 5 - 6.5 mph currents that I am running against. With the glacial silt making the rivers look muddy as a flooded river down in the lower 48 it is possible to get a bit too shallow and you don't know you're in trouble until you are.
  3. mcnerney's Avatar
    Ard: Another great story, I feel your pain on getting the boat stuck twice in the same day! That had to be exhausting work to get it floating again!