I checked the Doppler on my computer, it showed it
was raining, raining hard and looked like it would
stick around all day and then some. Today was Tuesday
and it's like a Sunday for us here, we sometimes get
the day off. I asked the Ladyfisher if she would like
to go back to Chico and pester some salmon again. I
wasn't sure she would as we had just gone yesterday
and gave them heck for the latter part of the afternoon,
educating quite a few in the process.
We are of course on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington
state, USA and this is mid November, prime Chum salmon
season. The males have big, ugly, canine teeth like a
German Shepard (called locally 'dog' salmon) these fish
have a tail that would make a beaver jealous. When hooked
these twelve to twenty-five pounders can slap your hip
pockets together in a heartbeat, and keep them that way
for a spell as well.
The decision was an easy one for her, "You bet, what time
do ya want to go?"
"We should leave about two o'clock, that will get us there
at the top of the tide and we can fish the out-going till
dark." I figured as it was a bit after noon this would give
her time to check whatever on the website and be able to
be ready then. I was right. It rained hard enough to keep
the wipers on our Buick going steady the thirteen miles
to the estuary of Chico Creek, near Silverdale where the
fish make their spawning run, rain or shine, but, better
in the rain. It takes a good amount of rain to flush out
the streams and trigger the things to make a run up these
seemingly very small streams. Streams that the rest of the
year are very fitting of the name of 'creek.'
There is no parking lot and to fish there you just park with
two wheels on the gravel shoulder and two on the pavement,
no one seems to care that half of your car is on the road.
Opening the trunk allows some rain to fall directly into
the back of it, right where we had plopped our waders and
other gear yesterday. As it was getting us rather damp,
we slithered into our neo-waders with little wasted time
and after stuffing pockets with leader, tippet spools,
nippers, little flash lights, and of course 'Castwell's
We walked the short path to the waters edge,
paralleling the creek itself along the way. It fascinates
me every time I see the thousands of big salmon, fighting
their way upstream for the big party. Nature at it's purest.
We were among maybe fifteen other brave souls, all of us
trying to keep somewhat dry and cast for fish in the process.
We were pleased to see most flinging flies, only a
couple using spinning rods. Those using the
long rod were fairly accomplished at the game and it looked
like we would not have the sometime problem of 'combat-fishing'
which comes from too many guys fishing with far too little
experience and no real sense of ethics. Most guys with fly
rods will pull their lines up and honor the fellow with the
fish on. It is nearly impossible to exert much control on
the things during the first few minutes, they pretty much
swim where ever they want to.
A big guy on my right soon had one on and after a bit of
thrashing, jumping, cart-wheeling and sashaying around the
fish decided my boots were a great place to hide. I asked
if he wanted me to give him a bit of help, he readily agreed
that if he could grab the leader, could I take the hook out
and release the fish.
Most of the fly-guys do release there
and that came as no surprise to me. I reached out and got
the leader for him and handing it to him, reached down with
my pliers and took out the hook. He was using barbless, as
were we, but with all those teeth, it is just a smart thing
to use pliers. Nearly every season I end up with some nasty
scar on one of my hands from some stupid involvement with
During the next two hours, the Ladyfisher and I hooked, landed
and released many fish. We didn't land all we had on, but most
of them. She broke off a hook on one releasing it and I gave
her my rod so she could keep right on fishing while I re-rigged
her rod. Actually there is no difference in the rods, we fish
'twins' for Chum; nine foot, four piece Lamiglas rods, Loomis
reels, floating fly lines and always the same fly. That makes
it a lot less complicated.
Darkness chased us off the water and after un-gearing and
stuffing the trunk, we were back on the road home. She poured
us a cup of coffee from the thermos and by the time it was gone
we were off the road and pulling into our driveway. I brought
in the two jackets, the two rain-shells and the two hats to dry.
The rest is still in the trunk, tomorrow it is supposed to rain,
hard. Each of the jackets are draped over one of the chair-backs
in the kitchen, one hat hangs from one of the prongs of the light
fixture over the kitchen table, and the other is now part of a
floor lamp in the living room.
They should be dry by tomorrow. Life is good.
~ James Castwell