This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
November 7th, 2005

I Can Hope

I try not to pretend I am something I'm not. I am not patient. I've been told I really am patient, but believe me, when I am waiting for something to happen I can get pretty antsy.

Well, I'm antsy. JC and I drove out to Chico Creek on Saturday, November 5th to see what was happening. A Saturday, it is a work-day for me. I do not usually go out and about on work days. We hit the creek at about 2:00 pm., the tide was low but was still going out.

On a low tide there is quite a drop from the floor of the culvert to the deep pool below it. We did see a salmon or two, but no real numbers. They would not be able to make the leap upstream until high tide. We put on our 'gummy boots' and walked out to the estuary. The No Trespassing signs which were supposed to be removed were still there in their ugliness. Since the landowner has an agreement for use of the trail, it would seem he should have had them removed. And to be technical about it, I'm reasonably sure the signs are not on his property...they are on County Right-of-Way. But I'm not an attorney or a surveyor, so I can't really get too involved in it - unless the signs don't disappear. My so-called patience is wearing a little thin on that one.

It's about a quarter mile walk from the road to the end of the land shown in the photos below. You can see the creek channel clearly, but at high tide, trust me, it can be very difficult to see where you are going. This year doesn't seem to be too bad, we have been in drought through the late spring and summer, but there have been years when high spring water has caused multiple channels and deep holes.

We watched in horror a couple of years ago when people walked into one hole over six feet deep. It didn't seem to phase our friend Nils, who took off some of his upper clothing, wrung it out, put it back on and went fishing. I got caught on the other side of a deep channel one year and a friend literally carried me back through it. Gratefully he was a lot taller than I.

At high tide (remember we have severe tides here, as much as 13 feet in the winter) all of what you see the photos is underwater. At low tide it is mud. A few oyster shells some aquatic plants and a rock here and there.

We've had a couple days of rain, good for the fish - more will be heading on into the creek. Chum prefer overcast, crummy days - fine by us, we have appropriate gear. I am trying something different this year, I have a pair of purple surgical gloves I obtained from my healthcare provider, and I'll see if they will keep my hands warmer. I will wear them under other gloves too.

Our experience on the salmon is they prefer to come in on an incoming or slack tide at the beginning of the season - but as the season wears on, they will come in any time. Something about biological clocks I suspect. It has been a strange and wonderful experience fishing for the Chum - you can see the pods of fish moving in. The will form a 'push' where the water looks like a moving lump. Sometimes the dorsal fins will be out of the water, or the fish will 'porpoise' as they near the creek. From a distance you can see a "V" as the fish move toward the creek.

There were only a few anglers there on Saturday. Just five I think as we walked out there. Four were fishing and the fifth appeared to be a guide with an older couple. We didn't stop to visit with them as they both seemed to be having severe casting problems which the guide wasn't addressing. I thought it was a shame he wasn't helping them, and there were occasional small pods of fish coming in - they could have had a chance at them if they could get the fly out there, (and it wasn't a long cast, 30 feet would have done it.) Perhaps the 'guide' didn't know how to help his clients - in which case, what a shame (not to mention a rip-off).

The last two fishing were also fly fishers. One, Steve, was really scouting it out so he could let his brother in California know when to come up. The brother tries to make it every year, and Steve didn't want to have him come up too early. I'm guessing the run this year is about 2 weeks late. Our friend SeaRun was out at the creek today and he didn't see much change either.

So as impatient as I am becoming, I can't just will the fish to show up in numbers. We plan on making a run back down there on Wednesday - and we'll take our rods. This is the biggest salmon run we have in the region, and it is only about 20 minutes from our house.

I'm sure if the fish really show up before then I'll get a phone call. Or two. I can hope. ~ DLB

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