My husband, JC/Castwell, and I are looking
forward to the Salmon season here in the great
The Chum salmon run usually starts around Halloween
and runs into December. There will be fish around
long after we've decided it's just too bloody cold
to fish for them anymore.
I was talking to a friend about fishing the salt
up here (he is a Florida fisherman) and mentioned
our huge tide swings. We can have, especially on
a full moon, as much as a 13 foot tide change.
That gives real meaning to fish coming in on the tide!
Fishing for Chum; they mill around in the estuary,
usually in large schools or smaller pods. Once they
head for their natal stream, their numbers are such
that you can see the wake caused by the mass of
fish - many of which will have their dorsal fins
out of the water. It is exciting to see, especially
if you are in a position to cast ahead of the fish
as they approach.
Sometimes there are too many spin fishermen aiming
their big, heavy 'buzz bombs' at them as they
approach and the fish will veer off away from
the stream. Almost always the fish will circle,
clockwise, and make another run at the stream.
These fish are really tough fighters and if they
have room to run, they will exit the estuary heading
for open water. They can empty your reel very quickly.
I've been 'spooled' more than one time by the same
fish before I landed it. I should mention these fish
run from 10 to 30 pounds.
One of the places we fish changes quite a bit from
year to year. The freshwater stream cuts a new
channel to the estuary, or several over the course
of the year. It pays to make a scouting trip before
the season to figure out where it's safe to wade
(or not). You do this on a low tide of course.
I have a personal problem fishing here, especially
on an incoming tide. For some reason I want to take
a forward step each time I deliver the final cast.
More than one time Castwell has either grabbed my
wader straps and suggested I take a couple of steps
back - or at least mentioned it out loud. I've been
so involved in the fishing I just didn't pay attention
to how deep I was actually getting. It's called water
over the top of your waders. Considering the temperature
of the local saltwater is generally 52 degrees or less,
one gets pretty cold, fast!
One of the funnier things I've seen over the Chum seasons
is a friend who knew there was a bad hole in the estuary,
but because he was so tuned in to the fishing, he simply
walked right into it. That didn't even slow him down,
much less faze him. He walked out the other side,
pulled off his hat and sweater, rang them out by hand,
put them back on and continued to fish! Trust me, it
was not a warm day!
Besides being aware of how much the tide may change
while you are fishing (also so you don't get stranded
somewhere either) there are other problems. With the
huge tide change, a very large portion of the 'bottom'
is exposed for many hours. The exposed bottom might
be sand, shells, rock, gravel, covered with eel grass
or a very slippery coating of green slime. Really
slippery. Now you have to make a decision of what
kind of soles for either wading booting or waders.
Felt? Cleat? Either one is going to wrong at some
time. Careful is the word.
If the weather is really bad we'll probably fish
anyway - we have rain gear and will stay reasonably
dry - but big waves caused by container ships or
tugs hauling big loads - can knock you off your feet.
We kid about watching for a dark line that suddenly
appears - but it isn't anything to laugh about. It
means head for the beach, fast. I've seen several
guys knocked off their feet and 'swim' under that
situation. Gratefully it hasn't happened to me yet.
I did take a swim a couple of years ago, but it was
at least in part my fault. Some little kid came
running up behind me just as I was going to make
the final cast, and instead of taking a chance on
hooking her with a big fly, I dropped the cast
behind me - as I did, turned to check on her and a
big dark line appeared and I was swimming. No harm
done, at least that was a somewhat warm day.
There are some things you just can't avoid - you
can try, but sooner or later you going to go for
a swim in the salt. ~ DLB
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