Archive for May 24th, 2007


Small Stream Success

May 24, 2007


Offer the old lady who lives at the stream’s access point a ride home from work one day. Tell her how much you’d like to fish that section of the stream. Accept her offer to let you use her yard to launch your raft any time you like. Launch your raft. Express surprise and excitement at the high number of salmon smolt migrating down stream. Marvel at how skinny the stream gets and how the overhanging brush makes it nearly impossible to row. Hop out of your raft when the river gets too narrow to pass. Almost break your fishing pole on a tree. Thank the Good Lord that nobody is around to witness your struggle (you really look like you don’t know what you’re doing). Do you drag the boat back to the old lady’s house, or do you try to figure out a way over the unmovable old board that must have hung up in the trees during last year’s flood? Observe flashing and darting of silvery forms under tannin stained water. Forget the boat. Tie on a smolt pattern. Wiggle the fly like your palsied old eighth grade keyboarding instructor who just figured out what you typed with her typewriter. Hook a small dolly varden. Lose it in the brush. Hook another. Lose it. Grumble lightly but don’t lose your cool. There are lots of fish in there. Was that a big one? Hook and land your next fish: a small dolly*. The trick is keeping the fish in the middle of the current. Land a few more. This many small fish in one spot can mean only one thing: this is not the best spot to grab outmigrating smolt. It’s close, but it’s not here. The small fish always take the second best spot to hunt. The big dollies are nearby. Magically move your boat through the smallest part of the stream (also the deepest and the fastest). Observe that the fish are larger downstream of the old board. Hook a significantly larger fish. About fourteen inches. Try to ignore the river otter who looks as surprised as you are. Land the dolly, release him, and keep fishing. Exclaim out loud, “O wow,” as a massive dolly smacks your unraveling fly. Hook him and then worry about the choked stream. Too much underwater brush for a fish this size. 20 inches? No. This guy is two feet long. The creek is only four feet wide and two feet deep right here. In a couple of months, the creek will be teeming with salmon, a few of which will top thirty pounds. Right now, this ocean run char runs the river. He gets a half wrap around a black, rotten stick. He’s still on the line, but you have a choice. Grab the fish, or grab the stick. You grab the stick. Wrong choice. The line breaks with the stick, and the tired fish slides under the cut bank.

That’s basically how it’s done.

Now, break down your rod, and enjoy the float downriver to where the creek meets the sea.

*Now would be a good time for your camera battery to expire.