My recent drought of blog posts has to say the least also been accompanied with an equal drought of fishing for me. Oddly enough this is despite being stationed on one of Washington's better steelhead and salmon streams. However during the month of May the only open water on this particular river was the lower two miles and it was only open two days a week while I was there. So between gale force winds, high flows and working late I only managed to fish the lower river once during my time there. However that one time will go down as one of the most memorable outings of my life. With only a few hours of daylight left after work I made the hour drive down to the river only to find that of the two miles of open water only about a 1/4 mile was actually accessible due to the rugged terrain.
However that 1/4 mile was some pretty enticing water, being situated between a rapid and a series of falls, it was clearly a place that migratory fish would keg up. There a couple fisherman working the upper part of the run, who said that fishing had been decent and a few salmon and steelhead had been caught earlier in the day. With that I headed downstream to the tailout. It didn't take long once I started fishing to see signs of fish. These included rising trout, a school of suckers holding on the bottom and every now and again the tell tail roll of a spring Chinook.
The lower river
With steelhead around and I rigged up my nymph rod and started working the near seam. Within a few casts I started to see results too as I had a few good takes and a brief hook up, before solidly locking into a fish. While it wasn't a steelhead like I was hoping for it was a nice sized sucker fish and I was just happy to catch something.
The sucker fish
I hooked into a few more sucker fish, before deciding to head downstream to try out the next run down. The water was quite a bit faster in this section of river, but the fastest water was on the far side and the near water looked like great traveling water and the type of place that I would expect an anadromous fish to hold. My fish cast was in a little too close and it resulted in my indicator going down me snagging up with the bottom. I put the next cast a few feet further out and once again my indicator went down in just about the same spot, however the take down was followed by a couple good head shakes, the line peeling off my reel. I didn't realize how big the fish was at first, but as my line got into the backing a huge spring Chinook breached on the opposite side of the river. This was easily the biggest fish that I have ever hooked and my conservative estimate was 30lbs. The fish held in the run for a couple of minutes, with me doing my best to try to control it. During this time it jumped a few more times giving me a rather good look at it. However before long it started to work its way into the rapid below me and I knew that I was in trouble. I held the fish on the edge of a back eddy for a short bit before I could tell that he was going to make a run for it. To counter this I gave just a couple more turns to my drag in hopes of tiring him quick, however this turned out to be my undoing. As the fish turned downstream he came up and did on more slash on the surface and in so doing snapped my 20lb tippet like it was nothing, leaving shaken and in awe of what had just happened.
The springer run
After a few minutes to collect my wits again I went back to fishing the run again and although I spotted a few rolling fish I wasn't able to hook into another monster. I left as the sunset with hopes of returning on the next open day, however with the wetter than average spring the flows just didn't allow it again.
However there was plenty to explore in the area and hiking around and scouting out the watershed kept me pretty occupied in the evenings...