Sudden Chrome Explosion Leaves Two Anglers Breathless

The intrepid Chris Daughters, Eugene’s favorite fly guy and renowned river runner, took on the kings of spring last weekend. The day ended in a tie: one for Chris and one for the salmon.

We met at a rainforest campground Friday evening, just before dark. Chris made a fire, I popped a couple of dark beers, grilled some chicken and we sipped on a fancy bottle of Blanton’s Kentucky Burbon. The forest quietly dripped around us, the trees overhead keeping us mostly dry. Chris told me a couple of juicy old stories about my boss, his childhood friend Mark Koenig. Nothing too surprising, but good ammo all the same.

Around 11:30pm I noticed a slight slur to my speech. So before it slipped my mind for good, I set the alarm for 3:45am. Springer season gets really tough in the long days of June! But the chance of seeing big groups of bright fish moving through the shallows in pre-dawn make it all worthwhile.

I awoke to the loud song of an American robin, which was all wrong. Robins don’t get going until the first threads of light lace through the trees. I looked at the clock. It was 5:15am. Nice going, bonehead. Every local angler in the county is already a mile downriver! I cursed myself gently, then took a deep breath and got my act together.

We drove both rigs down to the takeout in lower tidewater, left Chris’s truck there, then buzzed back up into the river canyon. Steady drizzle soaked everything. It was a nice change from the hot sunny days of the prior week. We dropped the drift boat off a small cliff and into the river, then ferried our gear down the hill. The boat had to be walked through a couple of tight corners in the river. The water was too low for conventional boating, but by dragging it down the first mile of water, we were able to access a great piece of fly water. We retrieved flies through the pool for twenty minutes or so without a roller or a biter. Time to go.

Bankies tied up the next two good holes. As we passed in front of the usual army of dudes at the big money hole (all of whom are friends of mine), one blurted out “Rob, you’re the first boat down!” Yeah, right, I thought. “Nobody put in this morning,” my friend assured me. Wow. That changed everything. “And Rob, we caught a LOT of fish here this morning.” I looked behind the anglers on the bank and saw shiny salmon tails hiding in the willows. My heart picked up its pace and I patted Chris on the back with a smile. As we passed out of the pool and into the next shallow run, Chris pointed at two chrome salmon just off the gunwhale. They shot upriver and we started fishing.

The long run that followed didn’t produce a fish, but as we reeled in and floated over the tailout a nice group of fresh fish scattered. Cloudy weather, nobody else on the river, and proof of moving fish. “This could be a great day of fishing!”

Two hours of nothing followed. No sign of fish, no grabs, nothing. As we approached one of my favorite pools, a bank angler walked in. Dang. I slowed down, planning to row by him and give him the hole. “I’ll bet you want to fish here,” the fellow said. “Nah, you go ahead,” I said. “You were here first.”

“I’ve been here for a while,” he said. “Let me make a few casts, then you guys can show me how it’s done.”

Chris and I agreed it was time for a sandwich anyway, so we pulled over and watched the nice bankie (who I had cursed repeatedly under my breath as we approached) float a bobber through the hole. After a few minutes he reeled in and waved us down. Game on. About ten seconds later Chris was fighting a heavy fish. I pulled over and watched the battle, salivating over the promise of ocean fresh salmon. In fact I’m salivating just remembering it. Sorry.

The fish was gorgeous, of hatchery origin. We thanked the fish and the fish gods for the amazing blessing, and soon the beast rested in the fish box with a light smattering of ice. There was a high five and a swig of the Blanton’s.


Two pools down, we were in another likely spot. Chris was retrieving a small plug on one of my little bass rods. I was blathering on about something. Then, in a split second, I heard the sound of strained drag and line peeling off the reel. At the same moment a big chromer breached in front of the boat, and a shot rang out. It was the crack of breaking monofilament. And as the fish came back to the earth, it shook violently and sent the little blue plug flying. Splash! And it was gone. I looked over at Chris and was impressed to see him grinning from ear to ear. “Wow,” he said, “What the hell was that?” We laughed out loud and agreed that it was the perfect compliment to the day. With one in the box, we could afford to lose all the rest.

This entry was posted in Fishing Reports, Oregon Salmon fly fishing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Sudden Chrome Explosion Leaves Two Anglers Breathless

  1. fryin' bacon says:

    after one, the rest is all gravy, fella. nice work.

  2. Joe says:

    Absolutely *splendid* fish and great report!

  3. Rob R says:

    Thanks to Jay Nicholas for the fine photo. And congrats to Jay for his success in tidewater Monday morning!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *