There's something about a salmonid in the ocean. Perhaps it's because the concept of these streamlined and beautifully marked fish enter our minds as freshwater animals, lacking in spines and sharp edges, as pleasing as to see as hold. Then, as our angling knowledge grows, we come to realize that trout and their kin aren't always the feathery-finned spotted stream dwellers we are conditioned to think. Soon the concept of "salmon" enters the young anglers mind and corrupts it with thoughts of boldly flanked yard-long bodies with powerful fins, laced with streaks of mercuric silver from the exotic iodide rich diets in pelagic seas. Spots fade into an armour of blues, emeralds, and gun-metal grays with nickel bright scales plating the broad sides from tail to gill plates that demark the beginning of a head unlike that of the soft-rounded stream fish. This head is all business. The finely scaled skin-like texture of the crown is flanked by irridescent gill plates whose subtly cut edges overlap and converge to form the corner of a powerful mouth responsible for the demise of countless herring, candlefish and squid over often thousands of miles of bluewater on a roundtrip between natal gravel beds and far away seas to return home as a warrior of the seas.
Or maybe it's the places where they are found feeding, where the ocean's rich currents flow with a hint of glacial green as the sun pierces between giant kelp strands into the north pacific coastline, swayed by the tide change amidst orcas and sea lions. The herring suddenly part from the water, spraying like quicksilver thrown from a pail across the calm evening surface. With a single false cast, a fly is cast ahead of the herring. With a moments pause to sink the fly, then strip- strip,strip... strip,strip >WHAM!<
Seldom do coho hit softly. I've watched as they would appear as ghosts from the emerald depths, surge to come alongside the fly, then sidewsipe it with a whiplashing take that could pull the rod from the hands. The fight that ensues is truly spectacular, although many do not provide the endurance of a chinook or a steelhead, they do give all to the cause and leap acrobatically.
All this talk is making me want to go dig up my photo collection and scan some of the hooknoses up to 16 pounds we found moving along the northside Olympic Peninsula coastline in late summer and fall...
more to come
This fish was "rising" like a large trout off Slip Point, the east edge of Clallam Bay in Sekiu Washington. The large herring mass was huddled in fear along the kelp bed, and small coho were ripping through their glimmering bodies. Larger hooknoses like this hen were working the perimeter, but wouldn't come into the kelp edge where our boat drifted. I started the motor and repositioned far uptide, then shut the motor off. We drifted silently along, then found ourselves drifting in the middle of the large hooknoses which were boiling all around us. I watched a sequence work along, then led the fish like a tarpon. After a bit to let the fly sink, I stripped th tease the fly and the fight was on!
I can not begin to tell you how hard this silver fought, and how high it leaped. Dr. VanSlyke didn't see fit to include my face in the picture when he took it, but since the fish was so beautiful who could blame him? http://22.214.171.124/images/flytalk/Wilk.gif
He landed one of similar size, and we retained our limit of two legal salmon that day. We released at least 20 of various sizes. The rest of the 'clavers did well too. I'd have to say that was one of the best conclaves I had ever had the pleasure of instigating!
BUT then again there was the <!--http--><a href="http://stripers101.com/journal.htm" target="_blank">Boneclave</a><!--url-->...
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