Ten Revelations from my 2010 Salmon Season – Number One

Salmon season in 2010 started in May, and there I was, poking around the Tillamook system, looking for a spring Chinook to show interest in one of my flies.  Salmon season seemed to stretch out for the rest of 2010, more or less, and finally came to a close for me the week before Thanksgiving, in a driving rainstorm.

The year started out with vigor, energy and anticipation.

The year ended with exhaustion, acceptance, and relief.  Days of excitement and discovery deteriorated into days of sheer determination and persistence.  I still find myself wondering where the boundary between just-right and way-too-much lies.  It should be simple, but for me it isn’t simple at all. I am lured by the many salmon seasons-gone-by that ended with a spectacular king salmon that came to my fly after a week of pure stubbornness and refusal to quit when I knew I should have.

Those final-fish-of-the-season experiences set a dangerous precedent.  They reinforce the thought that – if I only stick with it one more day I might catch an amazing salmon like that year on the River Styx when I had fished and fished and then finally ……..

Maybe you know what I mean. I’m like the guy looking for quarters on the floor of his pickup truck so he can go back into the Casino and pull the lever one more time, because he remembers the time he found a quarter on the sidewalk after he was broke and stuffed it into the slot machine, the sevens all lined up, and the quarters flowed onto the floor like a desert stream in flood.

Maybe that’s me, not smart enough to call it quits when I should.

I decided to try to figure out what, if anything, I’ve learned lately: about salmon, about salmon flies, about me, or anything related to salmon fishing obsession.

So here goes: Ten Revelations from the 2010 Salmon Season, one at a time; somewhat random thoughts that I haven’t figured out or written down yet but hope to do so as the cold winter days go on.  This is my opportunity to think about the he good, the bad, and the ambivalent aspects of my 2010 salmon season.

Who knows, there may not be ten revelations important enough to write about.  There could be more than ten.  We shall see.  But for now, that’s the title, the goal of reflecting on the year, and my effort to learn as I age.

For the record, the salmon season isn’t really over yet.  Not for my friends.  It is for me though.  Over,  really over.  And I mean it.  Period.

Salmon Season 2010 – Revelation One

The Chinook know very well when we are nearby. Further, they know just how far each of us can cast a shooting head fly line.  Yup.

This is not the first season when I have found fresh, chrome, rolling Chinook salmon just beyond the range of my best cast.  Quietly, I pull anchor, row over to a new anchor point, and find that the water where the fish were showing themselves minutes before is now vacant.

The school simply moved out of range to continue rolling and tantalizing me.  This has occurred with spring fish and fall fish.  Not sure, but I think it is a more common occurrence with very fresh salmon than with kings that have been laying in tidewater for a few weeks.  This behavior is not always evident, but it is a possibility anytime.

This behavior, this angler-avoidance-tendency has been so common, in fact, that it I’m surprised when it doesn’t occur.  The tendency to avoid me, to skulk away from us salmon fly fishers in general, no longer frustrates me.  It does contradict the times when we have  encountered fresh-from-the-ocean kings that are both  feisty and grabby.

Revelation one has a few angles to consider.  These Chinook salmon are able to detect our presence very easily, and probably always know when we are near.  That said, sometimes they care, and move away from us.  Sometimes they do not care, and stay close to us.

But they always, always know when we are nearby.


7 thoughts on “Ten Revelations from my 2010 Salmon Season – Number One

  1. Jay, try this technique when you find that the fish are just outside your casting range. When you first start fishing make your longest casts only 40 feet or so. Do this for about an hour. Eventually, the fish will gage where they are safe. Remember, their brain is the size of a pea. Then, shoot line into the pod and hang on. I’ve also found it helpful to rub your tummy, stick your tongue out while hopping on your left foot and yell GO DUCKS. You may want to substitute GO BEAVERS.

    Thanks for sharing you’re fishing experiences this past year. I always enjoy your updates and the pictures and drawings add a lot to my enjoyment.

    1. When bobber fishing in my former life, i found that reaching for a doughnut was often sufficient to entice a Chinook within casting range, or even induce a bite. Notice that kings “bite” bait but “grab” flies. Huh? JN

  2. I would submit it’s all those crazy little fish in a can you charge down on the way to the river. The whole estuary knows you re there. Now stick to a nice steak sandwich and a bowl of chili, you have total surprise.

  3. I meant to say “your fishing experiences” instead of “you’re fishing experiences” in case your grading for grammar.

    1. Never, ever will I grade on grammar or spelting. This is a blog and we are here to have fun. Then there is the Chinook versus chinook debate. Whole ‘nuther story, yes? JN

  4. Yes, Jay, thanks for all the hard work on the blog and the great work at the shop. Will have next year scouted out up here so be ready. Maybe you’ll get a case of kippers for Christmas if you re good. Arent they left over from some exchange deal after WWI with the Brits? Ha. All I know is that my dog Hank, who is now top dog at a big sheep, wouldn’t eat them. Would ewe? Merry Christmas.

    1. WW I was a good time for Kippers, I hear. Send ’em down and I’ll likely scarf on my next trip. Thanks so much for your encouragement and support. 2011 will be quite a year of adventure and I look forward to seeing some scouted water. Doesn’t even need to contain actual fish. I am good with stories about fish while exploring. Merry Merry right back atcha. JN

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