November 19th, 2001

Chico Chum
By James Castwell


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.

Male Chum Salmon

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?"

Chico Creek "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.'

Chico Creek path

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 Chum Flies. Castwell's Chum Fly 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.

Chums headed for the Spawning Redds

Fly Anglers at Chico

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.

Castwell 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.
Female Chum 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 Chum salmon.

LadyFisher, Fish On

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.

Medium sized male Chum 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

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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