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Another short day;

Rating: 5 votes, 4.80 average.
When you catch and harvest / kill a king salmon there are a couple rules you must comply with right away to avoid problems. First thing before you forget is dry your hands and get out your license. Fill out the harvest information on the back and date it, then remove your fly from the leader and break down the rod. Breaking down the tackle isn't the law but it serves to remove all doubt whether you are done fishing. I think I mentioned this before but you may not fish in 'any' flowing water on the same day you take a king. So catching fish early means you're done.

One more time................ The alarm woke me at 3:00 AM and I did the salmon fishing robot, you put your feet on the floor and act like you're awake. After you shuffle into the kitchen you put on a pot of coffee but you only have one cup. I learned a long time ago that guzzling coffee before donning waders and jackets is a mistake. It never fails that as soon as you find some fish (remember these things are moving and don't just sit and wait till you're ready) you absolutely have to get to shore and on do everything you just did up. Adhering to my own rules, after the 'one cup' I got dressed and left. I took my time driving because there were no cars on the road and no trucks pulling jet boats either. If there are people pulling boats they always pass me but I am conditioned and I know that catching salmon is up to me and trying to beat everyone else to the river usually makes no difference. Just a few days back a few guys passed me on a really bumpy dirt road that leads to a launch site. i seldom drive over 10 - 15 mph on this road because of how rough it is and never understood people beating the poop out of their trucks & boats by doing 35 -- 40 on a road like that. So about a couple miles out the road I come round a turn and there is the back of a boat on the ground and the road is all torn up for about 30 yards. I put on my 4 way flashers and pulled over behind the wreck. It seemed to me that I had seen this boat before when it went sailing past me but I tried not to think about that. The owner looked pretty bummed out and his axle had snapped and dropped the stern end of his boat on the road. I ask if he was alright and whether he had a phone and he answered affirmative on both. I told him that given the situation there was nothing I could do and he said he had called for a 'rollback' to come get the rig. So where and when was it that I had heard 'haste makes waste' or was it slow & steady wins the race? I thought of both and was thankful that I'm the careful sort when it comes to driving.

This morning I drove up the river going fast over the shallow riffs' and slowing right down as soon as I had some water under me. Looking, always looking, knowing that the sign must be positive or stopping to cast may be just that, casting. I fish several rivers enough that I know where the fish travel and where they stop to hang and rest. This knowledge keeps me on the correct side of the river so that I don't run right over top of a pod of fish. i can't stop every other boat on the river from doing it but I don't. I am amazed by how many and I mean 100% of the boats I see are running about 3/4 throttle and right over the fish lanes. This is why I catch fish. I stop and fish where everyone else just rams through as if they are giving away Sage rods up river.

As soon as I pulled into the tail of a pool I know well I saw a fish break water about 150 yards above me. I hugged the right bank and crept to a place to put the bow ashore. The river was about a foot higher than on Wednesday due to the rain over the past 72 hours. Amazingly the clarity of the water was good and thats good for the chance for a fish to spot that fly from some distance. 6:00 AM came and I tossed a cast. I moved up and down the run and by 7:05 I was thinking that the Assassin had ran its course.

I even went so far as to make a cast and then with the rod handle clamped under my right arm, remove my little Wheatley box and look over the roster to see who might be going on the line next. I figured a few more swings and perhaps to wait until I could target a fish before deciding that the fly was not going to produce. Like a bolt from the blue a nice fish rolled and sloshed the water about 15 - 20 yards down stream. I adjusted the length of the cast and shot the fly across the river pulling back on the rod just in time before it landed on shore. Getting snagged on the other side would mean breaking off for sure, this was some deep water. As the fly hit the surface I had three upstream mends on the line already and I made a short one for good measure as the fly and line began its course, A few twitches of the tip and I had downstream mends and it was beginning the cross current swing. I hadn't even bumped the fly when there was a good solid grab and with the tip pointed right down the line I pulled on my running line and felt the pull of some weight. When I raised the rod and tightened the line to the reel it took a leap and began traveling down current. I took a quick glance at my watch, 7:15 AM. The fish was good to me and stayed within 100 feet at all times, I never saw the backing and this is a good thing. As suddenly and fatefully as it had begun, 19 minutes after I had started this thing, the fish lay dead at my feet.

There is something inherently sad about success. I used to hunt wild turkeys and white tail deer and always felt the same thing pulling at my mind. Such a glorious chase and so tragic that it ends in death. I shook off the blues and thought of the food the fish will provide for Nancy and I and got the boat ready to leave. When I clean a salmon there is no waste. The only thing I could do to further this would be to bring the skeletons home and boil them for salmon chowder stock. I did my usual job of processing the fish and chopped the skeleton into small pieces and sent the remains flowing along with the current. I've taken three of the Kings this week, the greatest game fish that swims in North American waters and now I am done. I will continue to fish but will release all that are caught. I guess that sadness I mentioned comes to you when you realize your efficiency. While you are young and trying to figure out how to catch the fish the catch is a terrific high. When you come to realize that you can target them and actually take them whenever they are present, well that's another set of emotions entirely.

When I reached the boat launch I found a nice lady who took a picture for me (had that Nikon this time) Next entry here will be about trout fishing this weekend.

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Thank you,


Updated 06-21-2011 at 03:09 PM by Ard



  1. milt spawn's Avatar
    Another great day in AK! I have an IV drip of coffee inserted in my arm, and waders with a zipper. Love the zipper! milt.
  2. Davo's Avatar

    Always enjoy reading your stories!! Do keep on sharing!!
  3. milt spawn's Avatar
    Ard, if you go to a zippered wader, best not go commando! milt.
  4. gt05254's Avatar
    Nice, nice log of the day's event, Ard. Isn't it interesting to think about the stages a fisher or hunter goes through over the years? I enjoy that facet of our sports as well.
  5. Vans's Avatar
    Great reading Ard. Keep it up.
  6. cattech89's Avatar
    I always love to hear your wisdom Ard.
    Of all the stories that you share I think the trips that you take to go trout fishing are my favorite. I can't wait to read your next post.
  7. mcnerney's Avatar
    Ard: As the others have stated, another great story and photo! I too really enjoy reading about your adventures in AK, keep them coming!