9-16-04 - Overcast = Awesome Fishin'
Waters Fished: Garden River
Fish Caught: 20 officially photographed, upwards of a total of 50
landed fair and tons lost!!
Outing Date: 9-16-04
Weather: Overcast almost the entire day...some stronger breezes
Air Temp: 60' for highs
Water Temp: Didn't take it, about 60F or so
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Stained and clear
Fish Species: Pink Salmon, Chinook Salmon
Pattern Fished: EGGS of all types!
Pattern Color: Natural Shades worked best
Fishing Quality: Hard to believe but it was even better than yesterday!
Can I give it 6 Stars?
OK, so let me start off that this is officially a 20 Pink Salmon
day, even though I know I landed at least another 30 or more fair...I
simply didn't photograph every last one. To put this into perspective,
I have yet to land a legal limit (5) back on my home waters during
the salmon run, and I caught more Pinks in one day than all of the
steelies I landed for the entire spring.
The weather turned decidedly cold overnight, dipping into the low
40's. No one really seemed to mind though....everyone got up with
the sun and after a quick breakfast (and coffee) folks hit the stream.
Most of us hung around the island all day.
My primary goal was to catch a ton of fish and get many more "fish
pictures" for other guys in the group. The night before I rattled
off a list of names who I had no fish pics of yet. John had offered
up some excellent scotch which was battered for the following -
"I just want some awesome pics of me fishing". I had a
feeling I wouldn't disappoint him.
There was also the matter of a bet between Chief and I. You may
recall last year's wager ($5 for the largest fish landed) which
I LOST because Chief's guide's fish counted (aka FATMAN landed the
Pinook) and I got Jim K. as my partner...which was cool except for
the fact that he had never salmon fished before in his life. Well
a few weeks prior to the trip, I went double or nothing with Chief,
$10 for the biggest fish, just the two of us. So, if I had a shot
at any of the few big Kings running around I would make my effort...but
I did keep perspective...this is a PINK SALMON trip. I can get all
the Kings I want in just a few weeks.
So I fished the gravel all morning using a modification of some
advice Jim had figured out the day prior. His success was coming
on a dual-rig of Moe Eggs. I basically just made the following changes...take
of ALL the weight (most of the time the fish were in less than 1'
of water, many times 6") and change from a dead drift "across
stream" presentation to an upstream presentation. With my eggs
spaced about 18" apart, this proved to be DEADLY. The eggs
would sink and would start to tumble on the gravel. Once on the
bottom, it was just enough tension to insure the leader was tight
to the butt of the fly line. As the line drifted back to me, I simply
picked up the slack. ANY hesitation or dead stop on the fly line
got a hook set, and I'd say about 50% of those hooksets were fish
which had taken the fly...the other 50% or so were fouls. The fish
were that thick...it was pretty much impossible NOT to foul them.
I also made some modifications to my rig...I put away the cool
custom 7' 5wt....while it was fun, these fish put up one heck of
a fight for their size. If you're familiar with trib fishing, you
also know that fouled fish often times are even harder to land.
Back home here, I'll just drop the rod tip and snap 'em off...it's
only a few glo bugs per day and that's no big deal. But on the pinks,
I would've gone through like half of my flies.
Considering all this, I upsized my tippet to 8lb fluorocarbon and
my rod to my 9' 7wt. St. Croix Avid (which is overlined with 8wt.
SA Bass Taper). The fights were still great, but if a fish was fouled
I could just horse it in and release it quickly. Sometimes if a
fish was fouled on a fin, a quick yank would simply pull it out
without even moving the fish. This new setup was much improved over
the 5wt and 4lb tippet.
Basically all morning I sat in ONE SPOT and fished...cast upstream,
watch for the line to stop, set the hook, fight a fish, release
a fish. It didn't get "boring" but it did get "easy".
I easily landed 30 or more fair fish, plus lost many more fair bites.
I also landed as many fouled as fair. Despite all this fishing on
a patch of gravel not larger than a few parking spots the fish never
thinned out...there were that many moving up to take the places
of those which were released and swam downstream. With all this
catch and release going on, I only had ONE fish that didn't simply
BOLT from my hands, but instead swam off and then floated downstream...and
that fish was a totally spawned out, crusty old male. Pretty much
most of the crusty ones never made the cut for glamor shots. Here's
all the morning ones that DID pose (briefly) for my camera.
As the morning progressed I was fishing downstream from Gerry...upstream
from him John was working the head of the riffle. A shout came down
from John...."KING HEADED YOUR WAY GERRY!".
Gerry almost immediately turned to me and shouted, "Matt,
there's a king coming down". I laid out another cast...as it
started drifting back towards me the king swam by and perhaps by
shear luck, inhaled one of my eggs.
The fight was quick and lame...I put the brakes on her, turned
her in the fast water which got her ticked...as she swam back upstream
I held tight and she pretty much swam herself right up onto the
shore. This was an old spawned out hen...barely worth a picture
this time of year (if I got her in November well then I would've
been thrilled). I think John took the pics with my camera, could've
been Gerry. I also think this fish may have been flossed or even
perhaps so lucky that she literally swam right into my flies and
inhaled them, but it was hooked fair in the mouth, it was a legal
fish. So, while not a stunning achievement and far from a pretty
fish, this one did put me firmly ahead in the bet. This was a very
lucky catch...I was really hoping for something that involved more
skill than luck.
That King pretty much ended the morning for me; shortly thereafter
it was time for lunch and just a bit of gloating around Chief (all
of you who think poorly of me for betting with and taunting a young
boy listen up...it is Chief who gave me the nickname "Dinker
King"!) More sandwiches to fuel the fire and I was ready for
Randy and Matt had disappeared somewhere, and I was personally
itching to head upstream to see what I could find. I opted to take
the long way, wading up through the riffles, getting out at the
bend (where it's practically over your head even right at shore),
crossing between the two bends (water gets about 2" below the
top of my waders if I'm on my toes) and then wading up to see what's
going on at the long slow water. I didn't kick up many Pinks on
the gravel tail...many more were downstream
I DID however find Randy and Matt, who apparently had found a path
down from the road in...darn cheaters...the missed one of the "fun"
wades! Randy had spotted a huge pod of pinks holding tight on the
bottom. Occasionally one would porpoise on the surface. Yesterday
Randy had done really well with WD40's and Zebra Midges...I seriously
thought he was going to try for a Pink on the dry.
Both Randy and Matt were rerigging when I walked up, so I kinda
just sat and watched for a while, then moved back to take some pics
of the guys fishin. After getting many good pictures, I pressed
I managed to make it almost all the way up without seeing more
than a couple fish...numbers were definitely lower upstream from
where we were camped in the morning. However it seemed there were
more Kings upstream, and the Pinks were a bit larger. As I showed
up a few anglers were pretty much getting ready to leave.
It's fast water and slippery wading upstream...I took my time and
rerigged, adding 6 #7 clamshots to get my flies into a deep pocket
where I could see a few fish holding. I was rewarded with a stunningly
handsome male Pink. Not a mark on the fish! I took it to a shallow
sandy area that was surrounded by rocks and only a couple inches
of water...this gave me plenty of time to photograph all the details
of the fish (for taxidermy color plates). After arguably 10 or more
minutes of handling, I finally returned the fish to the water no
worse for the wear...it bolted off back into the deep swift current.
I noticed that three new anglers had come up, so I didn't stay
too much longer...just long enough to land another Pink and then
vacate the run I had been pounding. A guy had been sitting below
me working the shallow riffles where virtually no fish were holding...I
offered him the spot..the green king they had been looking for was
sitting at my feet the entire time ;)
The walk home was a long one...by the time I returned to camp I
was in a desperate search for our bucket (5 gallon with the bottom
cut out and a seat on the top). That night, Gerry would regail us
with a story of how he went "ass over kettle" down the
hill, the bucket flying in the air over him as he tumbled backwards
due to a bad location of the bucket. Man, the bucket rules.
All in all, what else can I say, we went fishin' and we caught
lots of fish. Arguably the most thrilled was Duke (Dutton), Rich's
younger son. He was simply on fire. Now, to be fair, Dutton is probably
too young to be disappointed by a fouled fish; it got to the point
where EVERY fish he landed fair or foul he wanted a picture....I
did my best to only oblige him on the fairs but against Rambling
Report Policy, there may be a fouled fish or two pictured here.
Then again who are you to rain on a really young angler's parade!!!
All in all I shot many more of my fish, many more of Duke, even
got a picture of our hen/buck double. This is how a fishin' trip
is SUPPOSED TO BE!
In the later afternoon, my goal was to get more pictures of folks
with fish...I still had a pretty long list at this point. Plenty
of Pinks were landed by everyone...several doubles occurred. Newly
off my list was Fred Anderson Sr. as well as all the Browns (Rich,
Kramer and Dutton). Got more pics of Kent, Gerry, and Jim C...including
the fish that totally schooled Jim (literally swam around him in
circles...yes he has a sense of humor about it)! Yup...that's another
burst of pictures coming up right now:
If you haven't already figured it out, I liked fishin' just downstream
from where Fred and Gerry were...right behind me were Rich and the
boys, so I shot MANY more pictures of everyone's fish!
Rich was probably getting the itch for BIG FISH..he is a BIG FISH
kinda guy. Tons of Pinks are fun, but if there's a chance a King
could be landed, screw the Pinks! Just before dusk Rich seized his
opportunity and within just a few casts hooked into a REALLY NICE
The entire time FAT's older son Chief (Kramer) kept on wanting
to land the fish bear style. We did our best to keep him out of
the water (and out of the fish's way) as FAT had not even considered
that he was fishing 4lb. test and a 4wt. when he started casting
to this fish.
Amazingly the fish was brought to shore and pictures were taken!
One of the reasons you could actually pull off a such a feat is
that the are really no snags in the Garden..the bottom is all sand,
gravel, pebble, and some bigger rocks in the riffle water. All it
takes to land a big fish on truly "ultra light" fly tackle
Dinner?! Another stunning feast was laid out....BBQ Pulled Pork
personally prepared by Mrs. Brown...DELICIOUS, very SMOKY flavor.
I think I had 3! But who can forget Fat's "ULTIMATE COBBLER"
- Vanilla Apple Cherry. While I am a diehard Double Chocolate Cherry
fan, I think majority rules dictate this to be an even greater success.
Nighttime was a hoot...the sun actually set far later than we thought...the
clouds pretty much brought on nighttime early. After the actual
sunset, the cloud cover began to break along the horizon behind
us...I turned to see a strange bright glow in the clouds...turns
out it was the sky showing through as the clouds broke up. Once
the clouds had dissipated, we were left with a cool clear night..
the stars were everywhere. Gerry insisted on a picture of the Big
Dipper; Gerry that last one's for you! It's amazing what an 8 second
exposure can do if you put the camera on a tripod ;)
"Bundle Up Boys" was probably the last thing I heard
before getting into the tent; the overnight forecast was for something
like 4° Celsius and winds at 50 knots on Huron??!