Nicholas’ Salmon Fisher’s Journal
The salmon trip that was, well, let’s just say – – –
Here are a few of the memorable, mentionable events. This story is for all of the normal people who think that other non-normal people have “it” all together and simply jump in their truck to go catch a boat load of salmon while expertly fly fishing.
At approximately 11 AM, I pulled out of the drive, new truck seat nestled under my fanny, new boat in tow, off on a salmon fishing expedition to Tillamook Bay.
At approximately 11:05, a giant buck deer leapt from someone’s yard, neatly camouflaged until it was 1/2 inch from the front of my truck. Brakes screeched. Wham. Shudder. Deer skidded forward on its side along road in front of truck. Deer shook head, stood up, and hobbled off into the Christmas tree grove bordering 53rd St.
I pulled over to the side of the road, shaken seriously. I called the Corvallis Police. “Are you injured”? No. “Is your vehicle blocking traffic”? No. “Is the deer laying in the road”? No. “Thank you for calling, we will not dispatch an officer, have a nice day.”
I tried to call my insurance company via cell phone. Still shaking, I entered my Oregon Drivers License number instead of my policy member number. “Sorry, your information does not match the name you have given.” I tried several times, messing up my numbers and failing to get connected to a human being. I got into my truck and drove to Walnut Park to survey damage.
My mind was racing. Drive boat to Steve’s and park it. Sell New Koffler sled. Drive truck to repair shop. Sell truck. I tried to make a cell phone call. This message appears on the screen: “Radio is turned off. Reconnect”? I answer “yes”. The call wouldn’t go through. I tried again and got the same message, so I answered “no,” but the call still wouldn’t go through. Four attempts later, I grudgingly accepted the fact that cell phones are more of a curse than a blessing.
I was taking pictures of the truck damage, mind still racing, trying to decide my next move, when Jimmy called. Hummm. Apparently my Bluetooth radio issue had been resolved. I think the unit simply expired. I related my story to Jim. “So are you in or out for the afternoon fishing”, he asked. “I’m out,” I replied. “No, wait a minute, hang on, let me see if my radiator is leaking,” I said. “OK, I’m still in,” I said, I’ll meet you at Memaloose in two hours, maybe two-and-a-half.
Jim skippered my 16′ Koffler jet sled, which was a good thing because: a) I was still an emotional mess after my deer-collision-incident; and b) because spending time observing the way Jim handled the boat and motor in Tillamook Bay taught me a lot that I had forgotten in the 25 years since I ran a sled. Any thought of selling the boat and truck after the day’s unfortunate traffic incident evaporated while Jim guided us around the lower bay, proclaiming “Jay, you’ve got yourself the perfect fishing boat here.”
We fished over thousands of chrome silvers. Jim had one good head-shaking grab and I had one solid pull on the hang down fishing a tide-rip. We fished shallow and deep.
We fished fast and slow. We trolled and stripped. Silvers snubbed us. Kings were probably there, but in low number, we rationalized
The evening tide found us pretty much alone, people wise, with Great blue Herons fishing, likely more productively than we were.
I arrived that night at a “family” beach cabin crash-pad, only to find that I could not get the key out of the lock. Two hours past my bed time, shot from the day’s events, working on the key issue until after 11 PM. Heck with it. I found a screwdriver and extracted the door knob, neatly, of course. Stuffed a wad of paper towel in the hole. Went to sleep. Got up next morning at 5 and met Jim by 6:30 at Memaloose.
Glorious. Jim hooked a nice fat silver jack and I a nice two salt chrome Chinook. We were fishing in about four feet of water, Jim with an Intermediate line, me with an Airflo Tactical Steelhead shooting head. Not your usual salmon fly line, agreed, but at about 400 grains, it cast like a rocket on my Burkheimer 995-4. I had fished this rod four days with four grabs and no fish really hooked, so this was sweet.
The trollers were pointing and buzzing about some crazy fly fisherman who had hooked a Chinook. That’s right, a Chinook, not a coho. They were amazed. The fish was ready for the net, and then the hook pulled free. OK, I was so happy to have hooked the fish that it seemed almost better to have it swim away.
The rest of the fishing day went smoothly, with silvers rolling all around, and none seeming to give us even a sniff. I returned to the beach cabin well after 10 PM, went inside to eat to-go Chinese broccoli-chicken, when the local deputy knocked on the door.
His gun was not drawn, but he was alert and ready for me to make a bad move. I asked permission to reach for my wallet to show him my identification. He had already been in the cabin during the day, noting my sleeping pad, sleeping bag, the defunct door knob, and my shave kit in the bathroom. He asked several entirely reasonable questions, including if I had permission to be in the cabin, ran my license through his dispatcher, inspected the new door knob and dead-lock I had purchased at Fred Meyer, and wished me a good night.
Have you ever had the pleasure of installing a doorknob and dead bolt at the end of a long day? It was a challenge to figure out how all the screws and gizmos did and did not align, finding that I needed to mix and match old and new parts to make the system function well. About 1 AM and the new locks were installed and tested. Sleep. Long overdue.
I rolled out of bed the next morning at about 7 AM and wandered down the boat ramp. I learned that my 40 hp Yamaha was not nearly manly enough for Tillamook Bay.
Weekend fishing traffic was a little elevated, but I found plenty of fishing space in shallow water, out of the channel, and in the lower bay.
The view of – and from – the front casting deck was spectacular. There are apparently very few people fly fishing lower Tillamook Bay, but the salmon are there, and if you can stand watching people around you releasing hundreds of silvers in a day, it is worth putting in the time to find a king salmon that will, I am quite sure, grab my fly next trip, or the next, or – – – you know the drill. This is practically a fresh new frontier for fly anglers to prospect.
This Yamaha Jet Pump is amazing – it is quiet, it zips along when i want to get somewhere through shallow water, and it runs slooooow too, just like a 9.9 would, I think. This is a 60 hp outboard, measured as 40 hp energy output at the pump. Nice. Just right for me.
Finally, a nice silver jack rewarded my many day patience, and five (yes, five) big adult silvers followed my fly clear up to the surface at the boat, opened their mouth, and then darted away, leaving me rushing to make another cast.
I fished plenty of lines, including some of my favorites: Rio type 3 Shooting head, matched with 35# Rio Sickshooter running line; Airflo Tactical Steelhead, matched with Airflo floating ridged running line; SA 300 gr Intermediate Streamer Express; Airflo Speydicator; Airflo Sixth Sense Slow Glass, with about 12 ft of the tip cut-off to make fly delivery easier; and a Rio Outbound Intermediate integrated head line.
Finally, it was time to head home to my family. I took my sled through the Tillamook car wash, a tradition, grabbed another too-hot coffee for the road, and headed for the barn.