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