9-22-03 - It's about TIME!
Waters Fished: Root River, Pike River
Fish Caught: 3 fairs landed
Outing Date: 9-22-03
Weather: Breezy, a bit of rain during the night
Air Temp: COLD, maybe 50's
Water Temp: Didn't take it
Water Level: low, but up from prior
Water Color: Both Root & Pike were muddy
Fish Species: Chinooks
Pattern Fished: Mostly Chartruese Wolley Buggers and ESL's
Pattern Color: Chartreuse
Fishing Quality: Finally a FIVE-STAR DAY!
So, my bro (Chris) and his buddy Phil have been
in from NJ since Saturday and have not yet gone fishing!?! What's
up with that. Time for some motivation, time for the FATMAN.
If he can't get them to fish with kindness, he'll beat 'em into
submission for me. As evening approached I informed them that I
had a treat for them, that they would be instructed by the FATMAN,
and sure enough, that got them packed up and ready to go.
After the long process of getting licences, extra
gear, whatever we needed, we FINALLY made it to the Root at about
6:30. Another half an hour getting folks geared up and we're FINALLY
ready to start fishing.
The Root totally sucked. A flow of like 7 cfs.
You couldn't get any kind of drift. Oh, and the fish? About 10 of
them, all holding in the sanctuary (big surprise there). Bottom
line, the Root still needs a good rain. Otherwise, it's a waste
So around 8:00, maybe 8:30, we finally headed to
the Pike. 9:00 rolled around by the time we got to the water...the
entire time we're wondering if there are even gonna be fish.
Well, as it turned out, the rain did bump the Pike
from like 10 to 25 cfs, and I guess that was enough, as FAT spotted
a couple chinnies. He set Phil up on it while Chris looked on and
I fished upstream. Meanwhile, a couple other intrepid night anglers
were out. Turns out they were jerks too...walked right up onto the
fish that Phil was fishing.
FAT had things to do, so rather than watch us fish
until 11:00 he called it early...there wasn't any guiding really
needed on the fishing we ended up doing. I admit it's tough when
the fish are this thread-bare. And as another tidbit, he had Phil
on the fly-rod casting just about as well as my brother and I in
only 2 hours or so of work. That is a testiment to the ability of
both the instructor and the student!
So FAT was out probably by 10:00, if not sooner,
and the three of us all end up fishing the same pool. There's a
fish or two in there. Well, 30 minutes goes by with nothing really
And then I heard it...the familiar wosh of a salmon
thrusting his way upstream. Then another. I figured the guys downstream
were spooking their fish up..cool. They'd sit in the pool, settle
down, and then we'd maybe get lucky. Then another wosh. And a few
minutes later, another. Ok, 4 woshes. There were 4 fish downstream
according to my brother.
Then, another wosh. What? I thought there were
only a few fish. A few minutes go by, and another fish goes by.
And repeat... Meanwhile, the perverbial sh*t hits the fan. Chris
hooks up GOOD! After a LONG FIGHT I finally get the fish in the
net...awesome. He beats me to the punch with the first fair-landed
chinook of the season on a Chartruese w/Orange Head ESL I tied!
I go back to fishing. Wait, what's that tug..and
then my indicator starts putting on a light show as it dances across
the pool. Before too terribly long, my brother bungles a net or
two but finally brings in my first Chinook of the season on a Size
#1 all Chartruese (with red thread) Wolley Bugger!! Meanwhile, the
wind is picking up, the clouds are moving in.
Phil does well too, although his first one came
in foul. A long revive but well worth it. Gotta land 'em fair to
keep em. Heck, that's the only downside I can think of when it comes
to night fishing; usually you can't tell if a fish is fair or foul
until it's in the net. At this point the fish running up subsided
and it rained a bit...I kept watching for lightning...at the first
bolt we'd be outta there...no need to die on the river tonight.
Thankfully, it subsided, and in the process had scared our downstream
buddies off the river. We were all alone.
And then things just kept getting hotter. Again,
another Chinook on fair. The fights defy description...simply awesome.
Over the course of the night, the fish kept coming up. More and
more fish. It comes to a point where ever cast is a hookup...sure,
I bet a lot were foul. It was so friggin dark I couldn't even guess
how many fish were there, but conservatively at least 25-50 came
upstream into the pool while we were out.
The night ended on a mixed note that goes down
like this. Chris has a fish on, and it's schooling him. He can't
do anything except hold on. Jumps are amazing, and that new 9 wt.
Justin built for me just took the abuse and kept going. I'm up by
my bro with the net when I look and see that now PHIL has one on
too. He's seen it as he got it into shore the first time; he knows
it's fair. SWEET. That was what I was waiting to hear, that Phil
would land one fair for the night, capping it of perfectly.
So here's my bro, upstream, with a fish that just
refuses to come in. Phil is downstream and seems to have things
under control. Then it happens. Phil's fish runs upstream and Chris's
fish runs downstream. The fish pass each other. Phils turns left
towards the opposite shore. Chris's also turns left to loop up and
come towards us on yet another insane dash. Lines twist, and Phil
comes up on the short end with no fish.
But meanwhile Chris is still on. His fish is a
derailed freighttrain bouncing around the pool like a billiard ball.
At one point we almost have it in and it jumps up onto shore only
2 feet away from me, then falls back and runs again. Chris is tired,
his back and arms are hurting (yeah, that's what it's all about
Baby). The fish comes up to us again; maybe this time I'll get it
in the net. I look at Chris's indicator sitting right in front of
me stationary. I look down and see a salmon.
SWOOSH, I have her in the net! FINALLY, sweet!
Total relief. The fish is thrashing hard and I'm doing my best to
Have you figured out what happened next?
Well, have you?
Are you sure?
Only if you've formulated your guess can you read
I look up at my bro, and his rod is still bent,
and it's not pointing towards the net. I look out across the water
and see his blue indicator once again dancing in the pool. I shout,
"Who's fish is this?!"
My bro glances down and goes, "Dude, that's
NOT MY FISH"!
So it turns out I've simply netted a random Chinny
that was right in front of me. Things just can't get any better
than this! But wait, I still have a fish to land. I fight with this
now royally PO'd female in the net and finally get her back into
the water. Alright, enough of this...Chris's fish is coming in now.
But now, finally, it's realized that it can escape if it leaves
the pool and starts running downriver, through the riffles.
Chris is obstructed, he can't easily follow the
fish on it's downstream run. I leap over shoreline obstacles and
find his fish now in the riffles, thrashing wildly in an attempt
to escape. "I don't think so!" and a clumsy jab of the
net get's this fish to shore. And now I can see WHY this just went
on forever...the fish is fouled in the ventral fin. In other words,
as most of you would call it, "Ass-Hooked".
I let Chris revive and release this fish...he froze
for a bit but that's the sacrifice we make as fisherman. As he's
sitting there reviving, another fish gives him a bath (to be frank,
we were ALL bathed well beforehand). Chris grabs this newcomer by
the tail, it shoots of, as does the fish that he's reviving. Neat
So we stayed out until 2:30 AM or so, and by the
time it was all done I was something like 2/1/237, Chris was like
1/1/934, and Phil was like 0/1/345. OK, so those hookup numbers
are exagerations (934 hookups just aren't possible in the timespan).
Basically, by the time we left, we really shouldn't have, it was
a hookup just about every cast.
As we hiked out with only one rod still in totally
functional condition, I looked at the two of them and said, "Guys,
it doesn't get any better than this, and in fact, this will probably
be the best day we'll have all week." So far, as I write this,
it has been just that, the best day of the season.
Oh, and I did call FAT while all this was going
on (I even managed to get the sound of one of those chinnies running
the riffles in the background)...I still can't believe he left when
he did (to go TIE FLIES!?! Well, OK, he needs thousands for all
the boneheads who break off on every fish like I used to do :).
I will say this too, if you can, hire Rich to take you and teach
you night fishing sometime, regardless of whether the fish are currently
running thick or not. After doing it twice, I HIGHLY recommend it.
Want solitude? Go fish at NIGHT!
One last tip, Ganamatsu makes AWESOME Salmon hooks,
perfect for buggers and the like. We had such good hooksets with
these; heck I'm pretty sure my #2 was hooked well into the bone
at the roof of the mouth. Check out thos hooks at Bass Pro (they
were already low last time I was there!).