I’ve caught chinook on a fly. Some really big ones. But I was a missile, pointed and guided to big beautiful chromeness. I really didn’t have much to do with it. And if you read this blog regularly, you’d think you should be pulling these giant, tasty critters into your skiff every time (or at least every other time) you put your boat in tidewater after Labor Day.
But if you’re fly fishing for chinook, you’ll always have a better day than the average dude trolling. Holy hell. After trolling several days in Tillamook County, I can personally attest to this fact. I trolled a few days with a full boat, four people stuffed into a 14-foot Boston Whaler, hooking pogies on spoons every 10 minutes at the confluence of the Tillamook, Trask, and Wilson Rivers. We were having a pretty good time, despite the mind numbing boredom. When I looked over at the dudes stacked up six-to-eight in a giant jet sled, grim looks on their faces, and I thanked God I wasn’t paying anybody to do this. In fact, I think you’ll have to pay me to troll with gear in tidewater ever again.
But I was getting my sea legs under me, running my salmon skiff for the first time on my own. On the last day, I got to go out on my own, at lunch, onto a piece of water that regularly crawls with over 100 boats. But I had it to myself, full of rolling salmon. I didn’t have an anchor (a huge mistake) but I could put myself in position to drift along a gorgeous piece of water and strafe the pilings with my comet, so I did. And then I stranded myself on a mud flat. And then I puttered around and cast to more rollers. It was way awesome. I felt the anticipation, the connection to my depth, where the fish were cruising, I could see salmon pushing wakes upstream. It was beautiful.
I didn’t catch anything, but it was a great experience. Way better than trolling. If I’d have caught a bunch of fish on gear, or even seen a bunch of other people catching fish on gear, I might have felt different, but nobody was catching anything. So the point is, for a huge percentage of the day, salmon don’t bite anything, so you might as well enjoy the time on the estuary with your fly rod, instead of dragging up pogies.