This was first solo venture into the saltwater of Sekiu. I had the great teachers of Juro and Brian (DoubleSpey) last week, but today I was on my own. Let me just say that everything is a little tougher when you have the whole boat to yourself, especially when faced with large swells and constant chops that pounded me all day long.
When I got in last night, the general consensus was that the fishing was very good and many big fish were to be had (2, 20+ weighed at the Clallam Bay grocery). But due to the nasty storm that rolled through with torrential rains and gusting winds, everyone was pleased to get their two fish and make it back in one piece yesterday.
When I first looked out the window this morning, I was pleased to see clear skies and just a light breeze. I hurried as fast as I could, grabbed my boat and headed first for Slip Point, as my cabin neighbors advised me that the fishing was very good there the past couple days.
The fishing started off slow for me at least, as I bucktailed my way towards Slip Point. An hour into the day and many nets flying around me, I was becoming discouraged.
The water was not glass calm as what with Juro and Brian last week. In fact, it was the exact opposite! As the sun came up the breeze picked up and made the water very choppy-as I believe the Straight had yet to recover from yesterdays howling winds. I had to trouble keeping the boat straight at first and was a little anxious about heading into deeper water.
A little north and a little west of Slip Point, I hit my first fish. A nice little coho about 5-6 pounds. Whew...finally off the snide. Maybe today was not going to be so bad...
As I headed North, working my way into deeper water, following diving birds and congregations of boats, I saw even more nets flying around me.
I began to head West. Not a short while later, line was peeling off my reel. I popped the boat into neutral and managed to gain my footing in the rocking, spinning, and dancing boat. Among one of the swells, I saw the heavy spray of a large coho somersaulting across the surface. The fish dived and the rod doubled. And in a matter of seconds the heavy pulsating of the rod stopped, the rod unload and dryline popped to the surface. I sulked for a quick moment but shook it off...
The fish had to be 10#'s...hopefully this was a sign off what was to come.
What was to come was a day of a few large fish and one that epitomized hooknose!!
A near repeat of the first fish followed except the second one was faster, took more line, dived deeper and doubled the rod even more. And like the first big coho, this fish just popped off. The rod was bent to butt and I was putting lots of pressure on him and the road just unloaded. My heart sank and I reeled as fast as I could, just hoping, JUST HOPING, the fish was running at me. But after taking up about a good amount of backing and my whole flyline, there was no fish. This fish was a teener but sadly I never say him.
I managed another small coho as I worked cautiously worked my way into deep water, bucktailing east-west then west-east.
Now the first two large coho can be debated about how large they were and if you would classify them as hooknoses. I never saw them up close and they fought like large teener coho. Juro, Brian and myself caught some nice coho but nothing LARGE and these two previous fish made the coho we encountered last week seem like planter trout.
I was trolling west-east, head held down out of the sun as I left my shades in my truck. I was also heading into the wind and into the chop. I was doing everything I could to keep the boat straight as well as reassuring myself that the large swells were now match for the boat.
And like the first couple hooks, this fish took off like off like a bat outta Hell but this fish was faster, ALOT faster then the second which was faster then the first. I popped the kicker into neutral, stood up and waited for the run to stop.
This run was not as long as the second but had more authority. It was not a quick burst but that slow, authoritarian way in which large fish take line. I slowly worked the fish, gave it a couple of extra sets and was putting as much pressure on this fish as possible. Then the fish ran at me and cleared the water in one of those forever etched in your mind leaps that dreams are made out of. VERTICAL was the best way to describe this leap...if only you could have been there to see it.
I have fought lots of steelhead, large high-teen Alaskan coho and those infamous Alaskan rainbows. All 3 of these races are known for awe inspiring jumps and I have seen all three of these races throw awe inspiring leaps but none have compared to what Mr. Hooknose pulled off in front of me today.
As the fish ran some more, I regained focus at the task at hand. But just as soon as I keyed back in on landing this large hooknose, I felt pop, then slack. A few moments earlier, I was literally yelling outloud 'Whoa...sh*t!" but now I was screaming "f***, F***, F***!!" I stripped in line as fast as I could in a futile effort, in hopes that he was still there but today was not my day to bring a monster hooknose into the boat.
I stood in the spinning boat, head dropped in despair and all that I could was slap my rod against the water and scream "F***!!" as loud as I could in hopes that the world would find out about the monster coho I had just hooked on the surface, on the fly, on a #7 bugrod. All that I saw, was a lone moocher in a boat not far off staring at me and my foul mouth. I am not kidding you, when I say that we looked at each other for a good minute. I purposely bucktailed by him as close as I could, because I needed a condolences. He looked at me and I looked at him..."WHOA!!...NICE!!! fish." All that I could muster was a short reply-"Yep."
I fished for another few hours but I had been beaten to oblivion. I wanted to head for the shipping lanes but the water conditions just would not allow and as the sun came high over head, I could not buy another fish.
I headed back for Sekiu. The lower Elwha was calling my name but so was my new found love-Bonny's Bakery in PA. I chose Bonny's as I was beat and starving.
So the fishing all in all was slow, nothing compared to the action I saw last week with Juro and Brian. But the few fish I hit were BIG, STRONG and ELUVISE to say the least.
I couldn't have hooked the fish I did today with Juro and Brian's lessons on Sekiu Coho last week. Thanks guys!!
Ryan S. Petzold
aka Sparkey and/or Special