September 11th, 2000

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

King Salmon
or Where Have All the Chironomids Gone?

By Willie Toth, Port Orchard, WA USA

It was about 9 P.M. when the phone rang, it was my friend Danny wondering if we shouldn't go out to Hoodsport that next morning to test our skill and daring against some King Salmon. "Hey, sounds good to me," thinking this would be a great way to break in my new 8wt. Then I said, "Bring your freshwater gear also just in case Hoodsport is a bust, "Plan B" we can head up to Cady Lake, been doing pretty good there as of late." You always need an alternate plan don't you think? We made arrangements on what time and where to meet and said our good-byes. After hanging up the phone I looked at the bird, (Logan, my Yellow Napped Amazon Parrot), "Oh boy King Salmon!" Then Logan, standing on one foot, beak tucked back under his left wing, just groans as if to say, "right Dad just bring me some Salmon Sushi, but till then; hey how bout sleep."

I fell in and out of sleep that night, thinking about fly patterns finally getting up about 3 A.M. and headed straight for the tying bench. Logan just grumbles something about sleep and sushi as I pass by his perch. If there is one thing I do know for sure about most fly fisherman, it's that we tie and tote about two pounds of flies more then we need or could use at any one time. I am certainly no exception. Knowing by the time Danny does the great ferry crossing from Edmonds, WA,. I would have had at least a minimum of 4 hours before his phone call, so with the vision of King Salmon firmly imprinted in my brain I started tying, Pink Green, Blue, I left no color untouched! Finally the long awaited phone call, "Willie, I'm in Silverdale and will meet you at Highway 3 and 16 in about 15."

"Cool, see you then." Saying good-bye to the bird, the bird looking back with that look in his eye, "whatever, just don't forget the sushi," so with kick boat mounted firmly to the roof of my truck and enough fishing gear to outfit a small fly shop, I set off knowing that a fish was waiting somewhere out there for me.

This being both our first times, I was in the lead as we found our way to the coveted spot, the Salmon hatchery in Hoodsport. We suited up, and as we did we compared flies, rods, and talked of glorious times fishing, you could feel the electricity in the air. We went to fish the outgoing tide.

After a couple of hours doing my best text-book casting, a 20 pounder jumped over my flyline just ten foot out from my rod tip as if to say, "aren't I beautiful and wouldn't you just love to feel me on the end of your line?" That convinced me it was time for, "TA DA," plan "B."

"Danny, how does Cady Lake sound?"

"Sounds good to me, let's get some lunch and do it." The thought of having to deal with Logan, coming home with no Salmon Sushi didn't appeal to me, but hey, that's fishing!

Lunch was good, fish and chips, and more glorious stories of fishing. Getting our fill of food, but never the glorious stories, we made our way back to Belfair and out to Cady Lake. For those of you who aren't familiar with this water, it's a small, deep, catch and release, fly fishing only lake in Mason County. It's privately owned, but opened to the public, and will humble the best of fisherman. The fish can be huge, my personal best was an eight pounder, caught on my 2 wt. One more thing, every fish caught and landed there is an earned fish, there is no such thing as an accidental catch at Cady.

I had just fished the lake the day before and had done fairly well on #14 chironomids being fished at 28 feet. Since the surface temp was somewhere around 70 degrees, I knew the fish would be hanging deep at one, or all of the 3 springs that feed the lake. Kicking out, plan "B" was firmly in place.

The one thing about Chironomid fishing is in our float tubes the fly needs to stay vertical for proper presentation, yet have some movement up and down. This is generally accomplished by a gentle ripple on the water set in motion by a breeze that is usually present at Cady, however, on this particular occasion there was no breeze, so I decided to do a very slow kick and twitch to animate my fly a bit.

About 10 to 15 minutes into this my strike indicator disappeared with a splash accompanied by the sounds of my reel singing. "Fish on!" I found myself yelling as if Danny didn't already know and what a fish it was! It took me and my 2 wt a good 3 or 4 minutes to get close enough to pull the tooth pick out of my strike indicator.

Now for any of you who have not tried fishing this method, this particular maneuver, in itself, can be a challenge even for the experienced Chironomid fisherman. With a less then happy trout 28 feet below me, doing it's best to go back down to the peace and tranquility at the bottom of the lake, I have to somehow grab my strike indicator, remove the tooth pick, without dropping my rod or giving the fish enough slack to free itself, all the time trying to look graceful and at least have the appearance that I know what the heck I'm doing. Danny, standing by with camera in hand ready to record this momentous occasion.

There I was, pulling the rod back with my right hand to get the strike indicator close enough to grab with my left, at the same time back kicking to keep slack out of my line till I can pull the pick out with my teeth.

As it turns out I accomplish the maneuver with a small amount of grace all the time not losing said fish, and after a few more minutes I landed a nice 4 pound Kamloops Rainbow. Picture taken, fish successfully released, we go back to the kick and twitch, Danny deciding he would like one of what I had on.

Mike Croft Art

The next couple of hours were filled with glorious tales of fishing. This is when I made a conscious decision that in retrospect I could have gone for the next few years never making, I decided to change the color of my Chironomid. Now here's where the problem comes into play.

Only having two hands, I hold my box of about 100 Chironomids open in the same hand as my fly rod, as I diligently search for a color I think will better my luck. I need to tell you how I pride myself on my "no thinking, fast as lighting, setting the hook at the least little indication of a strike" ability. (Can you see where the story is heading? Just in case it isn't clear to you let me get back to the action).

So here I am trying to decide between 3 different shades of green or maybe black when it happened. It is said the surest way to get a strike is to look away and do anything else other then concentrating on your gear. I got banged and before you could say "fish on" I was in the midst of the biggest hatch of Chironomids I had ever witnessed. I had just returned from Canada the week before where Chironomid hatches are world renown, but the likes of this hatch, let me assure you, was a once in a lifetime experience, I can, with all honesty say it was as multi ethnic as it could get with Chironamids in every size, color, and variation possible raining down around me. I can only imagine what it looked like to the fish below me. It certainly would qualify as "The Great Traveling and Extravaganza Chironamid Show."

The end result was the recovery of about 25 flies, and for all of you wondering, yes, I landed the fish, a whopping 12 incher. It wasn't long after that Danny and I put plan "B" to rest.

Making my way home my thoughts now focused on the bird, hearing that sweet gentle voice say, "what, no Sushi!" A perfect end to a not so perfect day, but another glorious fishing story to thrill and delight all who would take the time to listen.

Good fishing to you all! ~ Willie Toth


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