It was about 9 P.M. when the phone rang, it was my friend Danny wondering if
we shouldn't go out to Hoodsport that next morning to test our skill and
daring against some King Salmon. "Hey, sounds good to me," thinking this would
be a great way to break in my new 8wt. Then I said, "Bring your freshwater
gear also just in case Hoodsport is a bust, "Plan B" we can head up to Cady Lake,
been doing pretty good there as of late." You always need an alternate plan
don't you think? We made arrangements on what time and where to meet and said
our good-byes. After hanging up the phone I looked at the bird, (Logan, my
Yellow Napped Amazon Parrot), "Oh boy King Salmon!" Then Logan, standing on
one foot, beak tucked back under his left wing, just groans as if to say,
"right Dad just bring me some Salmon Sushi, but till then; hey how bout
I fell in and out of sleep that night, thinking about fly patterns finally
getting up about 3 A.M. and headed straight for the tying bench. Logan just
grumbles something about sleep and sushi as I pass by his perch. If there is
one thing I do know for sure about most fly fisherman, it's that we tie and
tote about two pounds of flies more then we need or could use at any one
time. I am certainly no exception. Knowing by the time Danny does the great
ferry crossing from Edmonds, WA,. I would have had at least a minimum of 4 hours before
his phone call, so with the vision of King Salmon firmly imprinted in my
brain I started tying, Pink Green, Blue, I left no color untouched! Finally
the long awaited phone call, "Willie, I'm in Silverdale and will meet you at
Highway 3 and 16 in about 15."
"Cool, see you then." Saying good-bye to the bird, the bird looking back with that
look in his eye, "whatever, just don't forget the sushi," so with kick boat mounted firmly
to the roof of my truck and enough fishing gear to outfit a small fly shop, I set off knowing
that a fish was waiting somewhere out there for me.
This being both our first times, I was in the lead as we found our way to the coveted
spot, the Salmon hatchery in Hoodsport. We suited up, and as we did we compared
flies, rods, and talked of glorious times fishing, you could feel the electricity in the air.
We went to fish the outgoing tide.
After a couple of hours doing my best text-book casting, a 20 pounder jumped over
my flyline just ten foot out from my rod tip as if to say, "aren't I beautiful and wouldn't
you just love to feel me on the end of your line?" That convinced me it was time for,
"TA DA," plan "B."
"Danny, how does Cady Lake sound?"
"Sounds good to me, let's get some lunch and do it." The thought of having to deal with
Logan, coming home with no Salmon Sushi didn't appeal to me, but hey, that's fishing!
Lunch was good, fish and chips, and more glorious stories of fishing. Getting our fill of food,
but never the glorious stories, we made our way back to Belfair and out to Cady Lake.
For those of you who aren't familiar with this water, it's a small, deep, catch and release,
fly fishing only lake in Mason County. It's privately owned, but opened to the public, and
will humble the best of fisherman. The fish can be huge, my personal best was an eight
pounder, caught on my 2 wt. One more thing, every fish caught and landed there is an
earned fish, there is no such thing as an accidental catch at Cady.
I had just fished the lake the day before and had done fairly well on #14 chironomids
being fished at 28 feet. Since the surface temp was somewhere around 70 degrees, I
knew the fish would be hanging deep at one, or all of the 3 springs that feed the lake.
Kicking out, plan "B" was firmly in place.
The one thing about Chironomid fishing is in our float tubes the fly needs to stay vertical
for proper presentation, yet have some movement up and down. This is generally
accomplished by a gentle ripple on the water set in motion by a breeze that is usually
present at Cady, however, on this particular occasion there was no breeze, so I decided
to do a very slow kick and twitch to animate my fly a bit.
About 10 to 15 minutes into this my strike indicator disappeared with a splash accompanied
by the sounds of my reel singing. "Fish on!" I found myself yelling as if Danny didn't already
know and what a fish it was! It took me and my 2 wt a good 3 or 4 minutes to get close
enough to pull the tooth pick out of my strike indicator.
Now for any of you who have not tried fishing this method, this particular maneuver, in itself,
can be a challenge even for the experienced Chironomid fisherman. With a less then happy
trout 28 feet below me, doing it's best to go back down to the peace and tranquility at the
bottom of the lake, I have to somehow grab my strike indicator, remove the tooth pick,
without dropping my rod or giving the fish enough slack to free itself, all the time trying
to look graceful and at least have the appearance that I know what the heck I'm doing.
Danny, standing by with camera in hand ready to record this momentous occasion.
There I was, pulling the rod back with my right hand to get the strike indicator close
enough to grab with my left, at the same time back kicking to keep slack out of my
line till I can pull the pick out with my teeth.
As it turns out I accomplish the maneuver with a small amount of grace all the time not
losing said fish, and after a few more minutes I landed a nice 4 pound Kamloops
Rainbow. Picture taken, fish successfully released, we go back to the kick and
twitch, Danny deciding he would like one of what I had on.
The next couple of hours were filled with glorious tales of fishing. This is when I made
a conscious decision that in retrospect I could have gone for the next few years never
making, I decided to change the color of my Chironomid. Now here's where the
problem comes into play.
Only having two hands, I hold my box of about 100 Chironomids open in the same hand
as my fly rod, as I diligently search for a color I think will better my luck. I need to tell
you how I pride myself on my "no thinking, fast as lighting, setting the hook at the least
little indication of a strike" ability. (Can you see where the story is heading? Just in case
it isn't clear to you let me get back to the action).
So here I am trying to decide between 3 different shades of green or maybe black when
it happened. It is said the surest way to get a strike is to look away and do anything else
other then concentrating on your gear. I got banged and before you could say "fish on" I
was in the midst of the biggest hatch of Chironomids I had ever witnessed. I had just
returned from Canada the week before where Chironomid hatches are world renown,
but the likes of this hatch, let me assure you, was a once in a lifetime experience, I can,
with all honesty say it was as multi ethnic as it could get with Chironamids in every size,
color, and variation possible raining down around me. I can only imagine what it looked
like to the fish below me. It certainly would qualify as "The Great Traveling and Extravaganza
The end result was the recovery of about 25 flies, and for all of you wondering, yes, I
landed the fish, a whopping 12 incher. It wasn't long after that Danny and I put plan "B"
Making my way home my thoughts now focused on the bird, hearing that sweet gentle voice
say, "what, no Sushi!" A perfect end to a not so perfect day, but another glorious fishing
story to thrill and delight all who would take the time to listen.
Good fishing to you all! ~ Willie Toth