Jay Nicholas’ Salmon Fisher’s Journal: Just another day on the Elk River

November 23, 2009 — It is barely light enough to see, and I am sitting in my drift boat anchored at the Hatchery launch site. I’m sitting here because I’m nervous about running the drop immediately below the tailout of the pool.

Jay Nicholas' Salmon Fishers Journal

I watched several boats go over the drop yesterday afternoon, and, well, they just disappeared when they went over. So, being cautious, I wanted to see a few boats line up and go, taking time to build my confidence. A few fish were rolling mid-pool, so I fished while watching others push downriver

Jay Nicholas' Salmon Fishers Journal

By the time the sun hit the water, my nerves had eased enough, so I pulled anchor to run the slot.

I take the far-right approach, pretty obvious, not quite on the right bank, then pull slightly to the left into the main flow. I’m standing; it is easy to slow the boat. I take a big breath and let the boat slide over.

Wow! No problem. No hard contact. I make mental note that the Elk Hatchery gage is about 4.5 feet this morning. No navigation issues at this flow

I fished my way downriver, with boats ahead and behind me. There is only one public launch site and one public take out, but plenty of guides and friends of homeowners have access to gravel bars between the two, so I had no way of knowing how many people were fishing ahead of me.

Jay Nicholas' Salmon Fishers Journal

Several fishless hours later, I found a place that was, most likely, holding chinook. Duh.

I anchored two hundred yards above the main flotilla and began to fish. First cast, and I got grabbed. A good pull and a strong head shake, then nothing. Dang.

I continued fishing. I had just executed a sixty-foot cast when a salmon rolled on my fly line within ten feet of the boat. I could feel the line feeding through the fish’s jaws and, soon enough, my line came tight to the fish, surely not a genuine take. Drat.

More casting followed more casting. Different leaders, different flies, different anchor points, cast angles and lines. Eventually, I got grabbed fairly on a Baby Boss and was elated. The fish was a chrome three-year-old female, a hatchery fish, and I released her with gratitude.

Jay Nicholas' Salmon Fishers Journal

Jay Nicholas' Salmon Fishers Journal

Jay Nicholas' Salmon Fishers Journal

I was a long way from Ironhead take-out near HWY 101, and I broke a sweat rowing hard to make the gravel bar at dark. Two ODFW fish checkers were standing there, recording people’s catch and hours-fished. I reported my one fish released. They told me they checked ten fish that day. I wonder how many went home from private gravel bars upriver.

Jay Nicholas' Salmon Fishers Journal

November 24, 2009 — I meet the new boss, he’s the same as the old boss. Except I’m not nervous about running the hatchery drop and I know where I want to fish. Same hog-line of guides to mark the spot. Same results for my long day, too: two genuine grabs, one fish brought to hand and released, this fish a big bronze hen.

Jay Nicholas' Salmon Fishers Journal

One nasty passenger in a boat that drifted by more or less accused me of being a snagger. Actually, he was emphatically clear. Guess he has all us fly fishers figured out. I chose to not respond. His face was contorted in an angry sneer. I rowed alongside Mr. Mean Man’s boat later in the afternoon. The scent of marijuana hung heavy in the air as I passed, but he didn’t utter a word. His attitude about me or fly fishers in general probably hadn’t changed, but was most likely much mellowed by his meds.

Paying five bucks at the RV Park shaved twenty-minutes off my evening row-out.

Jay Nicholas' Salmon Fishers Journal

Tomorrow? Don’t know. People who have gravel bar put-in and take-out access all along the drift and who know the water a lot better than I do will be pounding the river pretty hard. Maybe I’ll hike south from Cape Blanco.


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2 Responses to Jay Nicholas’ Salmon Fisher’s Journal: Just another day on the Elk River

  1. Rob R says:

    so beautiful…you are my hero.

  2. Jay Nicholas says:

    Thanks Rob.

    BTW, your post on the egg cure issue is timely and VERY thought provoking.

    It boggles the mind.

    In the days of the dinosaur, I fished eggs cured with salt, sugar, or Borax and never found juveniles flocking to consume them.

    But I never did a controlled experiment,either, so don’t know ….

    Please keep us posted on the latest goings on.


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