“Fishin’ for bluebacks?”
“Well…what are you doing?”
Same as everybody else in this estuary. I’m fishing for chinook. Adult chinook. Is that so bizarre? Apparently so, given the twisted looks from passing boaters. Is flyfishing for chinook more bizarre than hucking fist-sized gobs of poison guck under a ball of lead and a giant bobber? Think about that one for a minute.
It’s taking the local salmon fishermen some getting used to, but I think they are starting to understand that chinook eat flies. Not just smolts and jacks, but actual adult chinook. And for the unlucky few who have been out-fished by my little non-motorized bug-flinging drift boat, the impression has been profound. Maybe a bit unsettling.
“You made a believer out of me!” said one eyewitness. “That was the coolest thing I’ve seen this season!” said another guy.
I hope the light goes on for other people. I hope more and more fly guys come down and give it a shot. While I would hate to see our rivers and estuaries overrun by hoards of prams like the Chetco and Rogue, we do need more fly anglers on the water. Chinook ask the same level of commitment as steelhead: some days you get a fish, some days you don’t. But every day you learn volumes. Every day you are surrounded by the insane beauty of coastal rivers. And if you play your cards right, you’ll be surrounded by big salmon. The anticipation that builds as you strip flies over rolling kings is electric. Staring at the fish finder forces confidence. And every hook-up pumps you so full of adrenaline, you could run all the way home.
Fly anglers needed. And we’re fishing for adults, thank you very much.