Just like riding a bike: 9/11/09

We all have friends and today a college buddy and groomsman of mine came out to visit, as it had been over a year since our wedding. I’ve been encouraging Mike R. to come out to Seattle once he was finished up with graduate school and join me for some salmon fishing fun. Mike has been in school pretty much all his adult life, and back in the day, when we did spend some time together in Colorado, we enjoyed trout fishing on small streams and rivers. I taught Mike the basics of fly casting, but its been years since we fished together and likely ages since he casted a fly rod.

Mike had a big learning curve ahead of him because the dinky trout that we once caught were about to pail in comparison to the pull of a Pink Salmon. I set Mike up with a medium fast action St. Croix 9′ 5 wt. Imperial graphite fly rod, mated with Galvan T-5 and full clear intermediate Orvis wonderline in a 6 wt. category. I tied on my lucky Chenille Pink Turd conehead and off we went. The weather and the conditions were near perfect, clear skies, sunny day, but some wind on the motor out to my ‘secret’ spot on the Duwamish.

We left the launch around 11:30 am, and was surprised to find the spot void of any fisherman, but still many salmon jumping and porpoising in the area. I told Mike to take the wheel as I readied the anchor to que on the drop site. Not more than 10 minutes later I was into my first fish, then we were joined by our ‘friends’ in the ERC service boat. Im not sure what these guys do, but evidently they were being paid for ‘working’ and fishing. There were several other dock workers poised high on the platform that were throwing buzz bombs and I witnessed one snagging a fish by the tail, net it and walk away. As soon as we approached he turned his back and acted like he was invisible. The nerve of some people! There was a recent KOMO article on ‘Pink Fever’, how this run has turned many folks into poachers. I feel strongly about this and to have told everyone on my boat that there will be absolutely no foul hooked fish kept on board.

The day prior I’d taken my dad and one of his friends out to fish for Pinks. His friend is of the old school, and was probably used to keeping everything he hooked in the day, but he was alarmed by all the fished I netted and released. Saying that we should ‘save’ that one. I shook my head and won’t probably invite him back for another trip. I learned that you have to be selective on who you decide to share the company of your boat with, it could make for a real LONG day on the water. Wanting to not spend more time than I needed to on the water the day prior, I nabbed 4 fish for the fish box for dad’s friend, we didn’t keep any btw… and said we’re done and motored back to the launch after a couple hours on the water.

What I like about Mike is his laid back attitude and ability to take enjoyment from the little things in life. We kicked back after periods of hot fishing for a beer and smoked salmon break, we caught up with talk on life, future, careers, family. It was all good to have a close friend fishing with me again. Now, I still have my cousin that Im working on to get out and do the same, but I guess three kids will do that to any person.

Enough reminiscent talk, back to the report: After a little casting instruction, Mike was throwing about 30′ feet casts, nothing stellar for the beach but just enough for where we were fishing. I told him how to strip, how to hold the rod, setting, playing and landing the fish. His eyes bugged out when that first pull took the lines from his fingers, the rod bent and his first salmon on the fly rod, and probably ever was ON! As time went on, be both hooked more fish, at one point in time there were 5 other boats within our close proximity. I don’t mind that, since we’re able to space ourselves out, but for some reason these three gents in a yellow banana waterski boat showed up. I could tell they were Korean, but had no clue of what they were doing. They’d probably heard of the fever, and decided to take their Lake Sammamish boat out to the salt to give it a try.

First mistake, no anchor or rope. Second mistake, they had no etiquette for personal fishing space. They figured since there were other fishing boats around, they’d free drift with the tide into everyone elses lines. Third mistake, when they couldn’t effectively hook fish, and they saw Mike and I bring in fish after fish to hand they motored over thinking that we had a honey hole. In reality, there were fish about everywhere. It wasn’t the location, it was their poor technique and method of fishing that they weren’t able to hook fish. With their free drifting they came too close for my comfort and I laid into them. I said, “We’re anchored up here! There are fish all over the place, why do you have to be HERE???@?@@@@!!!!” The gent said, “sorry, we have to anchor”. I replied, then go to a place where you can tie up or stay away from our casting range!!!! I think they understood, but still had that envious look on their eyes as we continued on with the slaying. Mike and I were tired and sunburnt into the afternoon, we stopped took breaks and waiting until the schools came within close range of us. We threw more casts, caught more fish and when we decided to pack up the banana ski boat motored over and said: “You’re fly fishing?” I said.. “Yes”, and the driver said, “you did pretty good”, and I said “uh-huh” with a smirk on my face. I think they were hoping for a free handout of the limit we kept. Although I am pretty tired of the whole process, cleaning, filleting, brining, smoking I should’ve given my fish to those guys, but just because they were clueless to the whole matter of etiquette, I decided to give them to my parents instead as they have many friends in their church that appreciates fresh salmon.

We pulled out of the water by 5 pm, got home, ate some Dungees that I’d caught last week, washed everything down, cleaned fish and went out to dinner. Our plan was to fish on the Oly Penn tomorrow, but we were pretty wiped out, so we may sleep in a bit and get out on Sunday to do that instead, as the tide change is more favorable for a Sunday outing.

Going back to fishing and riding a bike, while it may have been a long time since Mike picked up a fly rod, once he did, it was like riding a bike, you might be rusty, but you will never forget.

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