We fish and fish, and sometimes we hook a fish. If that fish happens to be a spring chinook, it is a dear prize and we then proceed to do our best to land the fish. We may release the fish or we may kill it, depending on the regulations, location, personal preferences, and all of those issues, but we would normally like to be able to make a conscious decision regarding the kill or release – at least I like to make the choice.
Sometimes, though, the fish, or fate, or circumstances, or our own actions results in the fish’s early release.
Usually, we don’t know why, unless it was some ridiculously dumb mistake that we recognize. More often, fish lost are a mystery. After a short or long period in play, the fish simply comes un-buttoned, and we do not know why.
Recently, I netted a hatchery spring chinook and was able to see just how close I had come to not netting said fish. The springer was held by a slim thread of skin, after running around the pool for many minutes, being well into my backing, being tangled up in kelp, with my fly line so fouled with the green stuff that I was forced to lay my rod down and let the fish swim free under the boat while I picked kelp off the line and out of the rod tip.
How many times do we loose good fish because they were hooked like this one, and the hook either fell loose from the skin or the skin broke. We can’t be sure, but this is just food for thought, and perhaps reason to not feel like it is necessarily anyone’s fault when the fish says adios before we want it to.
If a fish is hooked like this one, (well into the bone of the maxillary) we are far more likely to land it than if hooked like the other noted. Just sayin’.
And while on the topic of chance encounters, the photo above is of the smallest Bullhead I have ever caught on a Clouser or on any hait or lure for that matter.
And on the topic of close calls – Kerry Burkheimer please note – I was backing down at the ramp recently with my two favorite short two hand Burkies on the rack, when i heard some undefinable noise. I got out to find that the leader on one rod had caught on a tree and I was about 6 inches short from breaking one of my precious rods. Normally I would have backed down another several feet until the sickening sound of shattering graphite caused me to stop. Not this time, thankfully.
Hope you found a smile or a glimmer of recognition in these photos.
And – I hope to see you on the river soon, or the ocean or estuary, or in the coffee shop or whatever. Be well.
Jay Nicholas – July 2014