Imagine this scene: Tillamook Bay, wind gusting to 25 knots. Wind waves and salt spray flying across the boat in sheets, soaking everything – everything. The tidal flow is difficult to measure, because the wind is blowing the boat faster than the tide is running. The skies are grey, with clouds and rain, oh yes, the rain is competing with the salt spray to see which can get you wetter. Wetter? More wet? Soakeder? You get the idea.
Now insert a single hand fly rod, a nine footer, rigged with a floating shooting head and running line. Tie on a fresh from the vise popper, cobbled together less than two weeks ago at the Caddis Fly, early one Monday morning with Chris pointing a video camera at you, fumbling around with your new Gary Krebs Popper Jig, doing your imperfect best to show people how to use the tool and tie poppers.
Now Imagine wild, hot, chrome silvers boiling, chasing, bulging, and sometimes crushing this same popper, stripped across the Bay. A dream come true.
The stories about silvers on the surface in Alaska always intrigued me. I fished nearly a week last fall over good numbers of silvers here in Oregon, with only one jack and a half dozen follows to show for my best efforts. This year, I had planned to fish surface flies and see if I could coax a fish or two out of the Bay.
Well, the results exceeded my wildest dreams. One silver to a popper would have made my season. My companions and I found more than one, on more than one day. These silly poppers catch chrome coho.
They follow the dang things, swirling and boiling under and over the popper. They streak at it from 6 feet away, throwing water, dorsal fin in the air, inhaling that innocent little chugging fly/lure/popper.
A boat load of Echo 3, Edge, and Ion fly rods, rigged with floating lines from 7-10 wt, were kept busy 6 hours straight. The “bite” went on and off, but was on dependably enough to keep us on point every cast. We drifted with the wind, sometimes so fast that it was difficult to keep the popper pushing water . It was pretty difficult to cast anywhere but with the wind. A take was often preceeded by three or more swirls and boils, but sometimes a silver just rushed the popper and ate it, unceremoniously and deliberately.
These silvers are mostly wild fish, the hatchery run has principally moved up river already. They run so fast it is impossible to keep up with them, and one ran at the boat and hit the outboard, leaving scales on the pump and grease on the popper. Screaming fly reels, slack line, and adrenaline – fueled whoops of joy were the stuff of lifetime memories. Was it crowded out on the water? Ha Ha Ha Ha.
Make sure you check the regulations, The coho harvest quota season is over In T – Bay now. But by gosh, I have my sights set on luring a king to the surface this season, and if a few silvers come to Popper in the process, i will send them back on their way. (And as usual, or worse than usual, I managed to soak yet another camera with saltwater. Insert big sigh here.)
Jay Nicholas, October 6, 2011