I don’t know why I bother to set a 2 A.M. alarm when I have never been able to sleep the night before a south coast salmon fishing trip. After a late afternoon phone call from Greg Roberts confirming the river conditions, a plan was formulated to round up my troops and get down there fast.
Rob Russell’s post on going fishing despite the foul weather predictions, helped to leverage my brain’s mistrust of Oregon’s notorious deluges on the south coast. My friend Rob showed up at my house a little after 3 am. We trailered up the Koffler and ran across town to pick up Don. Three short hours later we arrived at the ramp only to see that at least 4 other boats including Ethan, Kyle and Nate had beat us to the water and were already fishing.
I thought ,” oh well, I hope those infamous chrome magnets leave us a fish or two”. We rowed up to the break above the ramp and set up in the bucket. On Rob’s first or second cast his line came tight and he lifted at the tug only to come up short. Don repeats the process with a short strike. The wind began to howl and holding the boat in the current became increasingly difficult even with the 20 lb bow anchor.
Moving on, we dropped down through the shoot and put a nice big dent in the right side of the boat (by the way, there is a big rock in the lower right side of that drop). Moving down stream slowly, we hunted for fish with both our flies and our eyes. We rounded a corner and saw a motherload of fish hovering in a living wave of chrome that was 40 feet long, 5 feet across and 5 feet deep.
With a stiff current it was necessary to get the flies down in a hurry , so we opted for lead eye flies on a type three head. Rob again hooks up with a nice jack of around 4 lbs. In the net and with high five all around we released the slightly colored jack to join back up with his herd.
A hook up and release,on my boat, means that I get a chance to fish and in short order Don and I both hookup and both lose our fish. With no scales on the hooks we deem the hook ups as bites and not foulings. This action seems to spoil the hole so we poke on down the ditch.
As is typical with this sort of fishing, we share the water with the other anglers and often times don’t get to fish the water we want. Several of the “great holes” are occupied with guides and clients so we push past and can see the hordes of ghostly ,chrome shapes moving about against the currents.
With high hopes we scan and search the waters and find another hole filled with fish. This group appears differant then the previous fish in that its members are floating high and happy in much the same manner as “eater” groups of tarpon. Don’s first cast is intercepted by a gorgeous mint bright hatchery buck. The fish comes to net after a expertly waged battle. Of course Rob and I want to know what the magic fly is and Don replies “I don’t know some damned chartreuse thing Jay Nicholas gave me at his guru lecture”.
I row back out into the leaf swept water and drop the anchor just upstream of the bucket. “Hey Don”, I say, ” your turn to stare at butts”. He begrudgingly relented the angler position and again I resume my optimistic vigil. Seconds later Rob is hooked up with another beautiful chromed out hatchery buck that puts up an impressive fight against his bent 8 wt. rod and heated drag. Again, high fives and hero shots.
The boat is rowed out and the bucket is again covered with graceful shooting head presentations. On the forth strip of my first cast I am covered up with an obviously large chrome bright monster that promptly rips the chartruese clouser from its jaws with some ultra aggressive head shakes. I am pretty disappointed that I blew what easily could be the only shot that I might get this afternoon. With shoulders slightly sunk I resume my cast and strip routine which is promptly interrupted again by another obviously large fish.
Don quickly rows us bankside and I jump out in a hurry to give chase.After several tours of the pool the large bright buck comes to the net.
The fish stopped biting after the 3rd member of the tribe was extricated from their ranks. The hours had passed too quickly, as they always do, and we had some serious pushing to do if we wanted to get off the river by dark. The shallower holes of the lower river seemed void of fish which helped our war-torn spirits pass by all the gorgeous water without a cast. To say the day was a success would be the grossest understatement imaginable. Another mind boggling day of good friends ,great fishing and magnificient fish with the promise of another day.