It always takes me awhile to re-adapt to lowland trout and salmon fishing, but once the first king salmon takes off with a fly in the lip, the blood begins to flow through every lazy muscle, and I can’t imagine what demonic energy and sense of terror pushes these great fish to escape.
Here was the problem: the tributary was lower than it usually is at mid-October and the trout and salmon run from Lake Ontario was just beginning. A timing issue. The air was cold, in the 30s to low 40s, and the wind became an issue. I covered two miles of water in four hours of fishing and saw only half a dozen fish. The ones I saw were skittish as phantoms and not yet settled on their redds. At quitting time I was feeling anything but hopeful.
Heading back to the car I came up to the final pool, a hundred feet from where I typically exit from the stream. An angler stood on the bridge, peering at the water, searching for fish. A fresh king salmon swam upstream. I tried to keep up with the fish. Several casts fell short of him. I rushed ahead, along the bank, and tried to place a Woolly Bugger at his “window” from upstream.
The fly swung down and across. Perfect. The salmon struck. A real head-shaker, and the 8-weight rod was fully tested once again! The angler on the bridge had been there at the start of this long struggle but apparently had departed like most of the others on this disappointing day.
My hands had been so cold from the inaction that I couldn’t tighten the drag on my new reel. I worked the salmon downstream to a point where I could finally beach it.
“I’ve got Woolly Buggers. I’ll try one. Want a picture with your fish?”
And here we were, four decades later. I had finally caught my salmon today (38 inches, 20-25 pounds), fresh from Lake Ontario. Although the fish are fated to die shortly after spawning, I nearly always put the fish back in the water. I offered this one to my new acquaintance, who carried a stringer to begin his day of fishing. John was eager to accept the king.
What’s the lesson here? I don’t know. This outing, which had “skunk” written all over it until the final minutes, ended happily on the stream. Two friends. One fish. Two guys just a couple of hours from home. ***
And More: Here at Rivertop Rambles, it’s always more than just about fishing, so I’ve got a few photos to share from recent days along the streams near home. The regular inland trout season in New York ended last week, so I’ve got a few reflections from the final hours of the season: a defensive porcupine, a brook trout on the water, brown trout from the final pool, the bright sumac leaves, and last but not least, a busy but inquisitive beaver.