Salmon Fishing: the truth for public consumption…11-15-2011

So here it is – November 15th, 2011 been salmon fishing a lot this year; really a lot want to know what the fishing has been like lately sure you do we all want to know how the fishing has been not that fishing reports are our only interest in life but why on earth would any of us visit a sort of fishing blog if we were totally disinterested in learning a little about how fishing has been or how it is going to be or what sort of flies to use or leaders or lines and fly rods and fly reels and fly lines and all sorts of salmon fishing related equipment and tactics and techniques and salmon fishing strategies and how do any of these vary anyway like how do salmon fishing tactics differ if at all from salmon fishing strategies well I never was too good at those like remembering in grad school about goals and objectives and some people make their whole life about this sort of what I consider trivia but to them the organization charts for their business or government agency is the entire universe but guess what once you are retired or semi-retired or reach a certain stage in life you realize that most of that stuff is bullshit anyway and thank god you are out of it but how could you have suffered through it and even remained blind to it and defended it too but what the hey that is past and today is today so let’s get on to the business at hand like reporting how the fishing has been lately well you can see by the accompanying photos this is what I have to report like for one I have an anchor on my pram and was fascinated by its reflection the other day when there was not a single fish in the entire water body where I was fishing and that also I own several fly rods wow big deal this is commercialism at its finest but at least I won’t mention the brand names but will just say that I would feel underequipped if I could not have at least four fly rods in my boat when I am salmon fishing because I am obsessed with this stuff and have manufactured all sorts of justifications for each rod and reel and line and by the way in years past I stuffed the boat with high end rods and reels but of late I have sold the fancy fly rods and reels except for my Burkies and a few old Abels that aren’t worth a dime anyway and just fish mid-price-point fly rods and some beat up fly reels and never ever rinse this tackle off after fishing in salt water and dirt and estuary mud and cow poop effluent in the places where I fish and heck if a drag gets nasty I just dunk the rod and reel in the water fresh or salt and presto it is back in service besides the old timers who fished for salmon with fly rods and cheap leaders and such never had fancy fly reels anyway so I have found that even though I love the esthetics man on man if it were not for spell checkers I would surely have choked on that fancy word but what a thrill it sent down my spine to say I mean write esthetics even it the context is wrong it might pass me off as a certified smart person unless you happen to know me and laugh and mutter that I am really not all that smart and oh yes the fishing well take a look at the photo of the grass sprouting in my jet sled wow I feel like I have arrived for real in Tillamook County if I can grow a crop in my boat but I actually washed out my pram a few weeks ago and it looks practically clean on the inside and then check out the photo of the anchor and reflection and you will get it I hope that some days there is nothing at all going on with actual salmon so I get bored and take photos of weird things but there is always the fish finder that marks virtual pretend salmon but I thing they are really pogies and if you ever fish tidewater you will know what a pogie is but if you don’t you will have to read my fly fishing glossary which will be published as soon as a few years after I secure a book contract so don’t hold your breath even though I have already written a good ninety count ‘em nine zero plus pages of factual sarcastic twisted definitions of fly fishing related words like chuck and bouncing betty and gink and poo goo and slickshooter and mend and the like but OK the salmon fishing has been a tad on the slow side which is good because it is sort of like a gambling addict who needs to run into a brick wall and go broke or else he or she might never cease and desist from spending every waking minute obsessing about the next hand or round or what ever goes on at a casino and for me it is like being a rat pushing a button go get a food pellet because I remember one time getting a food pellet and so I keep on pushing the button and pretend that there is some skill involved but trying to forget all the times when I catch a fish and it is painfully obvious that it was pure luck and then I jump back into the self serving belief system that my years of experience have in any way accumulated an advantage or an increased catch rate and then I laugh at myself of course it has like an increase of maybe three percent at best and who cares because oh forget it you wouldn’t believe or understand the way my mind works because it is a little vague and maybe scary and I surprised Lisa lately when I said that I wanted to play scrabble and taught my youngest son to play 21 and previously having no interest whatsoever with card or other games and she looked at me and asked who are you and now that I think of it I have really been neglecting my old son not that he is old but since I have two sons I refer to my young and old son and I am so proud of them both and they are twenty years apart but Jackson the young one really loves David the old one and David really loves Jackson and I do wish we lived a little closer so they could spend more time together and even though Portland is only really two hours away David and Heather are young professionals both working for food like I still do in retirement and they have their own pressures and friends and obligations and time is never adequate to do even half of the want to dos and in my case I have been salmon fishing obsessed plus working and wah wah wah you can see that I am really making excuses for not calling my big boy and by boy I know that is only an age thing because he and Jackson are now both taking to advising on my behavior which is to say that they both think that they know more about life than I do or maybe they just don’t trust that I will make good decisions and sometimes they are probably right and I do try to listen  to each of them and I love my boys so much and wonder if they know it what with me being so busy and fishing obsessed and such but god I do love them and my family like who would I be without them I would be fishing more and missing them terribly because they Lisa and Jackson and David are part of my life and I sure wish I could get to know Heather David’s wife better but sometimes I think I barely know my big boy David really and I hope someday he will help me get to know him and does he really know me either or do any of us know ourselves or do we really know the façade and oops better not get into that now and dang nab it wasn’t this supposed to have something about fishing in the content yes it was and so OK again, this has been the most amazing salmon year for me and I love these fish and may they always be wild and healthy on our coast and in my home waters and my trip to the Dean as nice as it was truly left a little to be wanting simply because I was a guest and an interloper a non-native up there and it was clear that I was welcome to the extent that I never said anything to make the Dean attractive to people from the Lower 48 or even Alaska or wherever rent a helicopter and float the river in rafts because that would represent unwanted and I really mean unwanted with a capital U competition on the river and so I have kept a pretty low profile about that trip but maybe I will throw in just one teeny tiny photo from the Dean and redact wow now that is a cool word I learned from watching Eureka and have been waiting to use it and here is my chance to say redact as in I am going to redact any thought of where was I heading oh yeah my camera got dunked up in BC to the tune of another five hundred bucks but no pain no whatever and then the next camera got splashed again and again with saltwater in the Bay oh forget where it was it could have been anywhere there are silvers in saltwater in Oregon and I fished poppers for the very first time after shooting a popper fly tying video for Chris Daughters and the Caddis Fly oops blatant commercialism creeping buy fly fishing gear now please Ok just kidding but the popper thing really blew my mind because up to this point I was a little disdainful of coho in Oregon cuz I have generally been unable to catch the silly things on flies when spinner fishers around me were getting doubles and such as if it was easy but when I for the very first time fished a popper in the Bay the silvers romped on  and on and on and it was soooooooooo much fun and I was whooping and hollerin’ like a kid because partly I could not believe that I was actually catching soho coho on a fly rod consistently and partly because the fish were hotter than hot for their size and making me blubber and blabber to myself and shake and get all flustered and blistered hands and line cut fingers and still wanting more and more because when you see them wakes a-comin’ behind your popper it makes your adrenaline dump and your heart pound like a hammer and sputter and stammer and get all hot get the idea or do I have to get more elucent now that sure ain’t a word is it now but even though I got boiled and splooshed way more times than my popper got ate it was worth every second of it and I am already making plans on being in the bay popping my arms off instead of foolin’ around in BC next year that is the situation and ya know one evening a dear friend of mine got a good solid head shaking grab and then nuthin’ and when he checked his hook guess what he had the point of a crab claw on the point of his hook making it cleanly impossible for him to hook the fish which could very well have been a fifty pounder because those Chinook are so rare that you are about as likely go get a fifty pounder if you catch one king a year or a hundred same as buying a hundred lottery tickets sure your odds go up but so little that it hardly matters right and then there was the day when I hooked a nice salmon and played it and was about to slide it onto the grass for a quick photo and the hook came loose and it was a one in a zillion that my hook had penetrated the jaw in such a way as to enter the underside perfect dead center of a tooth near the corner of the jaw and just at that proverbial last minute it pulled the tooth out and Mr. Chinook swam off like leaving the dentist and if I was to make an analogy with my friends crab claw experience I might have to refer to it as “safe” fishing wouldn’t you agree and then there was the evening when I hooked a big king just before last light and everything was going fine on that big initial run when my reel stopped dead and I looked down at the spool as I held on to the rod for dear life and saw one heck of a birds nest in my running line and so I held on and prayed a little prayer but all my years of fishing on Sunday and poop no I really mean “pop” went my leader and away went my twilight salmon probably no for sure a sixty pounder and who is to say it wasn’t anyway and there were magic days when I caught salmon and they lay in the water beside me and I was able to look closely at their sea lice and seal scars and hook scars and see the little patterns and irregularities in their silvery scales and sometimes hook scars from where they were shakers off the coast of BC or Alaska and I wonder really since I see so many hook scarred Chinook if the exploitation rates I see published by PST and PFMC are even close to reality and then I leave it and just admire how beautiful and wondrous and mysterious these salmon are and say a little prayer this time of thanks that I was able to catch one and place my hand on it and release it and know that when Jackson asks if I let the salmon go I will be able to say yes and he will say good and you know last week he asked me if I could ever resolve to never ever kill a fish again and I said yes mostly except for the times when a fish is hooked in a gill and it bleeding and he just looks at me and here at our family cabin there are several wild cats that the lady who lived here fed and loved and they come around even though they are being fed by volunteers at a home nearby they must miss the love they received from the cat lady  and wonder where she is and if we will love them and I just resist but Jackson gave one of the cats an orange fluffy one some lovies and oh man here we go with two cats at our valley home and do I have any more fishing stuff to share no really except that this fishing is really the stuff that keeps mental institutions full and salmon fly fishing maybe more than any other kind of fly fishing can be a tricky thing because it can generate unintended consequences and some people start counting how many fish they caught as if anyone cares and some people get all secretive as if anyone cares and some people fish a lot and some people fish a little and some people are able to enjoy their time on the water with or without fish and some can only enjoy the days when they catch fish and the more the better but that is crap because my most memorable days weeks months are when I finally caught a fish after days and days and days of trying and failing and I have become sort of reclusive in my salmon fishing of late and have found myself avoiding fishing around other people even friends and just going off in different places and such because I don’t like the eventuality of people asking how the fishing has been and where did I fish and what lines were the best and what fly size and what tide and how many and how big and darn that sort of stuff can kill the enjoyment and then too I got on the wrong side of a dear friend for mentioning something or other and it will be all fine in short order because because  because it will but it caused me to rethink and overthink and step back and just go off photographing anchor reflections and grass growing in my boat and not talking to any of my fishing buddies for awhile and today it is raining and blowing and I am working for food and writing this catch-up that is a little on the long-winded side and barely mentions my wife Lisa who I adore and miss and do deserve but barely and she does deserve me but how does she put up with my fishing craziness and she does love me and wow that makes everything good and when the rivers go up and down again as they will do in the next few days I will be chasing kings for another two weeks and then I will be good and not go into a salmon trance until May when the springers show up I sure hope they do in 2012.

Jay Nicholas

November 15, 2011