Winter Steelhead – Salmon Fisher’s Journal, 27 February, 2020

Journal Entry:  27 February 2010

My mom died last October.  I was fishing on her birthday, February 27th.  Funny thing happened last week..  I had some good news and I had the thought, “I’m going to give mom a call and tell her……”

Oh yeah, she’s gone.  In fact, her condition had deteriorated to the point where I could’t have a phone conversation for the last six or so years.  She pretty much didn’t know who I was for the last two.  But there I was, all of a sudden, wanting to give her a call.

I had a great weekend fishing with friends on Mom’s birthday weekend.  The photo above shows where we fished.  Time being in demand like it is, I just wanted to  briefly share a few highlights and insights from the weekend – not necessarily in order.

Coffee is good.  Cut-it-with-a-chainsaw coffee is better.

100-plus pound Chinook salmon are not necessarily twelve years old.  They may be seven.  One problem is that there are no data (yes sports fans, the word data refers to plural) I am aware of to document the age of hundred-pounders.  In retrospect, we probably have no stinkin’ idea how long these magnificent fish would live if they were not fished in the ocean.  Consider this:  a Chinook salmon that is genetically predisposed to mature at age-6 must elude commercial and recreational fishers at ages 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 before entering its home stream.  How on earth do any of them ever survive that long?  Luck?  Fishing pressure could well have selected for younger age at maturity.  Bet it has.

The 60+ and 70+ kings that I saw age data for in Oregon during the late 1980s were 6 year olds.  So maybe my buddies were right about the twelve-year-old hundred pounders.  I might concede on this one.  It makes my sad to think about the years of pressure a late-maturing Chinook has to endure, and the odds against making it that long without getting caught.

Lamprey.  Can anyone say aestivation?

Spey Rods make really crappy wading staffs.  Spey rods do, however, make an attention-getting Ka-pow sound when they are used in a futile attempt to avid taking yet another swim with a camera.

Can you say #!!%##@**? Don’t try.

Yes, one could actually drown as a consequence of tumbling downstream if a sufficient number of wraps are made around said person with a 540 gr Skagit Compact.  Along this line of thought, it is good to have friends poised downriver standing ready to snag you out of the river before you sail through the tailout.

Electric fences are not friendly to man or beast.

Boys will be boys.

Burger king meat smells good

When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

Older gentlemen deserve first water

Two-hundred-buck Diesel truck tires spring mystical leaks.

A shot of Jack Daniels after a swim does not forestall the onset of hypothermia.

One should probably not attempt to engage in thoughtful conversation while wearing one’s underwear at 11PM, no matter how drunk one’s fishing companions are.

Fly fishers are a quirky, secretive lot.

There are as many variations of the Grab, tug, pull, pluck, bump, yank, rub, bite, jerk, thwap, and so on as there are beaver sticks, willow branches, smolts, cutthroat, newts, kelts, and so on.  Steelhead fly fishers have vivid imaginations and a correspondingly vivid and weird way of communicating lunatic thoughts.

“Put the meat to ‘em” means different things to different people.

It is best to ignore the advice of one’s companions who say “you’ve fished down far enough, let’s move on to the next run.

Contrary to rumors otherwise, Kelts can not possibly, we decided,  “eat good,” no matter how much they have silvered-up.

Leeches do not look like sea lice.  Not even close.  Sort of creepy, we agreed.

Nobody trusts nobody, really.

Hatchery fish can show up about anywhere.

Seals do play catch-and-release. (see golden arches in above photo)

I am grateful for another day on this earth with friends and family.


5 thoughts on “Winter Steelhead – Salmon Fisher’s Journal, 27 February, 2020

  1. Jay, I remember reading about a year ago(Caddis blog) that you always wanted to own a CF Burkheimer. That sure looks like one in the top picture…………Did you get one?

    1. Cory – thanks. Burkies are, however, addictive. Started with the 7127. Awesome indeed. Needed to throw heavier tips in winter flows. Added the 7134 for a 540 gr Skagit Compact. Oh my. Oh my. Sense trouble ahead. What next? Salmon. Kings.

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