Monday, July 13, 2009

on a Sunday

We are crazy fun people. Sunday we woke up (voluntarily) at 0315 to drive out to Herring Cove and hike 3 miles to Medevici Hatchery. The kings were in, maybe, and we needed some fish. It was an amazing morning, there was some sort of Foehn wind warming the air. (You know, like a Santa Anna or Chinook wind.) We made a pot of coffee and waited for it to get a bit lighter. We knew high tide was at 0408, but the chances of encountering a bear in the predawn were pretty high. We opted to go when it was a little lighter, thus improving our mental state in the chance we would see a bear.

I packed my waders and shiny-new wading boots in a pack with assorted snacks, flies, and bear spray. The Dirty Fisherman had two spinning rods strapped to his pack, and assortment of megabaits and other heavy metal lures. We trudged along the worn road, marveling at how people only picked the red salmonberries but left the yellow (better ones) on the bush. We counted bear turds (3) and tried to figure out where the bears were spending their time.

I think we got to the estuary at about 0445. We were fishing by 0500. It's a sight, those 30 pound fish leaping from the water. A jumper doesn't always indicate a school of fish but if there are a lot of jumpers, the chances are that the area is plugged with fish. We started on the northern shore of the estuary, but moved to the southern part after tDF said he never caught fish on the northern shore.

My catch on the southern shore: four (4) pycnopodia, 3 little king smolt, and one 8 inch teenage king. TDF caught a sea cucumber. I decided we needed to move back to the northern shore because there were actually fish jumping there.

There, I waded into the frigid butt-deep water and tried to entice the schooling kings with about 15 different flies. No dice. But it was really neat watching a clump of 20-40 pound fish school around me. Every time they got close my adrenaline would take over and I would stop being cold. I don't know if my waders leaked or what but I was soaked from the knees down. I finally left the water when my hands were shaking so bad I couldn't tie a knot anymore. I wish I caught a fish on a fly. tDF caught one, I didn't. I need some better flies and a lesson on casting (me not so good).
That's me looking better than I actually was. I am standing on a little shelf and the blue-y water is where the kings were schooling. I tried pink flies, Purple flies, purple egg sucking bunny leaches, adams, sparkly red ones, sparkly orange ones, blue one. Nothing.

It's not exactly a wilderness experience, this. Catching fish at their terminal hatchery is sort of cheating but this is the source of our King salmon--even those caught in outside waters. Those are the rearing pens right behind me.

We're smoking the bellies and collars. I think I'll try Salmon tartare too. Mostly it's just good to have a bunch of fresh fish again. It feels like it's been ages.

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