10-08-05 - "Angler Challenge" with FATMAT
Waters Fished: Pike River
Fish Caught: 0/12 Personally
Outing Date: 10-8-05
Air Temp: rising into the mid 50's
Water Temp: 55F
Water Level: 10 cfs
Water Color: stained, kinda blue, visibility < 1.5'
Fish Species: King Salmon, Coho Salmon
Pattern Fished: Small Egg Patterns, Egg Sucking Leeches
Pattern Color: Chartreuse, Red, Orange, Purple & Pink
Alrighty, this is the weekend when EVERYONE shows
up from all over the place! Well, actually, truth be told, many
folks had to back out at the last minute which is fine I guess.
Judging from all the folks who were initially coming to town vs.
how many actually did, if I extrapolate I'm guessing that many anglers
skipped this weekend, which was probably a good thing for those
that ended up chasing fish DESPITE the purported conditions.
Being a weekend and not having any guides in the
AM, that freed me up to hang out at home and wait for Renee so we
could both fish. We moseyed on up to Wisconsin in the late morning
- most everyone had been out on the Milwaukee since dawn. As we
got close, I got the call that the party had moved down to the Pike
- might as well join up. We hit the water around 11:00 AM and hiked
in to find our buddies.
It took a bit longer than I expected, but the first
person I caught glimpse of was Mitch. Matt was surely nearby. I
walked in and found Mitch (who already had a few for the day, as
did Matt) working a small plunge at the end of a riffle, complaining
that the fish were there a minute ago. I looked right out in front
of me and said, "Mitch, is THIS the fish?". A few casts
in I hooked up briefly but lost it. Another few drifts and again
my flies met with a vicious strike from a Jack Chinook. AGAIN the
fish popped off. Mitch hooked up with a larger king that flew upstream
- it busted him off and scattered the little jack to deeper water
Renee came down and there at the tailout was the
fish that Mitch had just lost. Her first drift produced nothing.
2nd drift - WHAM. The battle was on. I'll let the pictures tell
OK, so that was quite a battle! Upstream, Mitch
and I found the jack I was fishing early. I issued an "Angler
Challenge" - specifically we'd both fish the same fish, alternating
drifts, and see who would get lucky.
DAMN - I fouled it. It quickly came to shore and
was released - for a moment it settled right back and the challenge
continued. Mysteriously, not sure how, but even though two pairs
of eyes were trained on it, the Jack STILL managed to simply vanish.
Meanwhile Matt and Renee simply sat and chatted, content to watch
Mitch and myself duke it out. After "losing" the angler
challenge by fouling, I convinced Mitch that we should head upstream.
Matt and Renee followed.
We both found a few fish, but for the most part
things were slow. It's worth mentioning now that the bottom of the
pools were littered with dead kings. Even in the riffles, corpses
of STILL SILVER fish were commonplace. I did find the remains of
a very fresh COHO along the bank as well. It's clear to me now that
the 85F Wednesday we had definitely KILLED many of the fish that
had come in following the rains.
Gerry Greene showed up for a bit - he was done
for the day (also already having a fish or two from earlier on the
Milwaukee). Matt and Mitch disappeared upstream. Renee, having already
landed a fish, was content to simply drift deeper spots and every
once in a while, point out a fish that I should go after. I had
a few more fair hookups that ended in quick popoffs. We continued
to fish deeper water where there was obviously a few fish holding...no
strikes here despite at least two males who were VERY aggressive
- I watch one literally bite the tail-wrist of the other and push
it around. Whomever things Kings don't strike, let alone out of
aggression, can check that theory at the door.
Jim showed up looking for a couple of his work
buddies - I hadn't seen them but while standing there he got the
call. They decided to try further upstream, so we said goodafternoon
to Jim for now. Matt and Mitch then returned from downstream - Mitch
spied a fish tucked up to the riffles immediately behind and downed
tree. From where he stood he had virtually no chance of hooking
the fish, let alone landing it. I walked up, said something to the
affect of "This is how it's done" - took 2 drifts underneath
the log and connected with a big buck. All too quickly it popped
Mitch made his way down and another "Angler
Challenge" was issued. After several drifts I asked FatMatt
to come on over and take my camera. "Someone's gonna hook that
fish, and I think it's going to be me". Matt had barely gotten
set when I again tied into the buck. Again, I'll let the pictures
tell the rest of the story.
Shortly thereafter it was decided that we'd head
out...I voiced the notion that I was not about to leave skunked.
We had barely made it 10 yards downstream when I spied another Jack
in the riffles. After a few quick hits that were not followed with
good hooksets on my part, I found myself right back in the river
chasing this fish down.
The roars of laughter that erupted when I set the
hook on what I thought was the King, only to find myself launching
a small creekchub somewhere far downstream to land along the bank,
DID NOT distract me one bit from this fish. Like a man possessed
I moved as the fish moved, constantly adjusting my drifts. I got
several more strikes (Mitch would even shout out "MAN you missed
that one too!" from up on the bank). Matt and Mitch had to
go - Renee stuck it out for at least another 5 minutes while I continued
to present flies to this increasingly skittish Jack. Finally the
pressure sent him running for the safety of a deep pool downstream.
Now 0/8 or so, we started downstream ourselves.
It's amazing to see what a lack of angling pressure
will do for the fishing...our walk back down was punctuated by several
more sightings of fish in shallow, easily targeted. I worked my
way up to 0/12 on the walk back. Renee even suggested I check my
hooks - nope, they ARE SHARP.
The grand finale of course had to go down like
this. Literally just upstream from where we initially met up with
Matt and Mitch, I sighted 2 GIANT bucks and a third, smaller, fresher
fish. While making my way downstream, Renee stepped out just a bit
too close to the edge and spooked the 2 males into deep water. I
thought I had blown my chances. Upon closer examination, the smaller
fish had stayed behind.
On my 2nd drift, and Renee will even vouch (as
she had a birds eye view) the fish veered to the left and appeared
to hammer my flies. I slammed the hookset and the fish took off
like a bolt of lightning. In under a second at least half my flyline
had peeled off the spool, the handle slamming against my jacket
all the way. The fish then went airborne, landed in a splash, ran
still further upstream and cartwheeled counterclockwise several
feet into the air again. THAT'S HOW THEY ALL SHOULD FIGHT! YEAH!
I did all I could to bring the fish back downstream
but man, it felt like it was hooked in the tail...I simply couldn't
turn it. This still-golden king was like a runaway freighttrain...the
only thing I could do was start following it upstream and take in
some of my line (I was now only a few turns away from seeing backing...and
this is the PIKE River..there really isn't room for that kind of
run!). The fish was now all the way around a bend upstream...I basically
walked, keeping the pressure on, until finally making up most of
my ground. Once close in, the fish turned to head downstream and
was quickly swung onto the shore..I did have head control afterall.
The lack of headshakes should have given it away...the
fish was hooked just outside the lower jaw, on the "near"
side of the fish. I don't have the slightest clue how that kind
of foul hook happens..it was VERY apparent that I didn't floss the
fish, nor did I drag my flies across the fish and chin it or gill
it. Beyond physics, and with a confirmed HIT from the eyes above,
this fish remained foul hooked. Disheartened by the turn of events,
the 7-8 lb. fish was simply unhooked and turned to the pool where
it simply bolted for the deep.
Time to call it a day on the Pike...we ran into
3 CO's back by the cars. It turns out some folks had been NETTING
fish down at the bridge and unfortunately got busted. Guess the
gear confiscation will teach them a lesson? I'm glad to see the
CO's out doing their part - cracking down on snaggers and "netters"
will help leave more fish in the streams for the ethical anglers.
HUNGRY? Heck, it's 2:30 PM and we haven't even
eaten yet. For those of you who fish the Pike, it's probably a good
time to remind you all of my favorite lunch spot in the area - the
Georgetown Market which is just north on Y at the intersection of
X. Check out that HUGE Club Renee is eating - that's a $3.50 sandwich.
Can't go wrong and the QUALITY is excellent too. I LOVE drooling
over the butcher's counter too...I should bring a cooler so I can
do a bit of GROCERY SHOPPING next time!
After our late lunch Renee and I both agreed that
we'd already had a great day on the water. There are MANY more to
come and I had reconciled with the personal skunk for the day. Afterall,
I'm supposed to BE at the Root at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning for FAT
DAYS - I NEED TO GET TO BED EARLY!