Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Chosen River: Day Three

With our guide Reilly manning the big outboard, Dean and I faced upstream peering into the dense morning fog. The air was cool and wet from the mist, but being hermetically sealed in rain jackets and waders made it inconsequential.

Last night, we had been "done-in", but today the desire to catch fish had been reborn… as it always is with the new day. Ready to resume the festivities, we offered today's fish a simple breakfast - we rigged an orange bead 2-3 inches above a bare hook and slapped on a few weights. This unimaginative rig was all it took. We caught either a dollie or a rainbow on almost each and every cast.

Reilly beading up!

Our non-stop hookups had Reilly dashing from the front of the boat to the back unhooking fish. After a couple hours of this, we took a deep breath, sat down and enjoyed a cup of hot coffee. I'm sure we caught scores of fish from 15-30 inches in that time span. It was simply ridiculous. As I sat sipping my coffee, I decided to give my shoulder a break and retire the bead for the day. I threw my coffee cup in the cooler, grabbed my mousing rig and prepared to pepper the seams, root balls, holes, ledges and eddies with Dan's HOOD RAT. (as promised more on this fly with tying instructions in my next entry).

Big dollie on a Hood Rat

Dean hung in with the egg a bit longer until he caught a huge pink salmon (humpy) which spelled the end of his egging too. He switched to a large flesh fly. With me on the surface skating Mickey and Dean dredging the bottom with a flesh fly, we covered all the bases. And better yet, we were able to relax a bit by targeting bigger fish and not constantly being hooked up to dollies.

                                                   Dean and Reilly with a chum salmon

Bright 'bow on a Morrish Mouse

For the rest of the day Dean vacuumed up 'bows and dollies from the depths while I tempted huge dollies in incredibly skinny water and rainbows on the current breaks. It was yet another incredible day and we arrived at camp again "done-in"!!

One interesting side note: We inadvertently caught lots of jack king salmon on our egg rigs today. We didn't take photos and we released these 18-30 inch fish as quickly as possible. The king season was closed this year and we wanted to protect the species by honoring this order as best we could. A jack is a young king salmon that has returned to spawn after only 1-3 years at sea as opposed to an adult that typically returns after 5-8 years at sea. Jacks look identical, but are considerably smaller than adults and can be anywhere from 15 inches to 30 inches. 
Having a certain percentage of the population return early as jacks is a survival strategy salmon employ to insure eggs get fertilized. Jacks never grow to full size, yet are sexually mature and capable of fertilizing eggs.