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9-22-03 - Dude, my brother beats me to the punch with the first fair-landed Chinook of the season.
I'm not a slacker though, and here's my first for the season!
Gotta do the rod shot, right?! Totally destroyed the wolley bugger too.
Phil with his first landed. She was spilling eggs all over the place. And I THINK this was his first fish ever on a fly rod. Unfortunately for Phil's luck, she wasn't fair. Still, he'll remember this fight for years.
You guys all should know the rules, foul hooked fish MUST BE RELEASED. Chris and Phil worked with her until she regained full steam.
Larry W., this fly should look vaguely familiar to you (it's a variation of your Nymphette)! And for the rest of you, proof of the fair-hook night bite :)
So there's my #2! We hot-smoked with mesquite after brushing with Knob Creek & Cajan Rub. FANTATSTIC...best smoked fish I've ever had. That's the upside to fishing with two (2) CIA Grads this week.

It just doesn't get any better than this!

9-22-03 - It's about TIME!

Waters Fished: Root River, Pike River
Fish Caught: 3 fairs landed
Outing Date: 9-22-03
Weather: Breezy, a bit of rain during the night
Air Temp: COLD, maybe 50's
Water Temp: Didn't take it
Water Level: low, but up from prior
Water Color: Both Root & Pike were muddy
Fish Species: Chinooks
Pattern Fished: Mostly Chartruese Wolley Buggers and ESL's
Pattern Color: Chartreuse
Fishing Quality: Finally a FIVE-STAR DAY!

So, my bro (Chris) and his buddy Phil have been in from NJ since Saturday and have not yet gone fishing!?! What's up with that. Time for some motivation, time for the FATMAN. If he can't get them to fish with kindness, he'll beat 'em into submission for me. As evening approached I informed them that I had a treat for them, that they would be instructed by the FATMAN, and sure enough, that got them packed up and ready to go.

After the long process of getting licences, extra gear, whatever we needed, we FINALLY made it to the Root at about 6:30. Another half an hour getting folks geared up and we're FINALLY ready to start fishing.

The Root totally sucked. A flow of like 7 cfs. You couldn't get any kind of drift. Oh, and the fish? About 10 of them, all holding in the sanctuary (big surprise there). Bottom line, the Root still needs a good rain. Otherwise, it's a waste of time.

So around 8:00, maybe 8:30, we finally headed to the Pike. 9:00 rolled around by the time we got to the water...the entire time we're wondering if there are even gonna be fish.

Well, as it turned out, the rain did bump the Pike from like 10 to 25 cfs, and I guess that was enough, as FAT spotted a couple chinnies. He set Phil up on it while Chris looked on and I fished upstream. Meanwhile, a couple other intrepid night anglers were out. Turns out they were jerks too...walked right up onto the fish that Phil was fishing.

FAT had things to do, so rather than watch us fish until 11:00 he called it early...there wasn't any guiding really needed on the fishing we ended up doing. I admit it's tough when the fish are this thread-bare. And as another tidbit, he had Phil on the fly-rod casting just about as well as my brother and I in only 2 hours or so of work. That is a testiment to the ability of both the instructor and the student!

So FAT was out probably by 10:00, if not sooner, and the three of us all end up fishing the same pool. There's a fish or two in there. Well, 30 minutes goes by with nothing really going on.

And then I heard it...the familiar wosh of a salmon thrusting his way upstream. Then another. I figured the guys downstream were spooking their fish up..cool. They'd sit in the pool, settle down, and then we'd maybe get lucky. Then another wosh. And a few minutes later, another. Ok, 4 woshes. There were 4 fish downstream according to my brother.

Then, another wosh. What? I thought there were only a few fish. A few minutes go by, and another fish goes by. And repeat... Meanwhile, the perverbial sh*t hits the fan. Chris hooks up GOOD! After a LONG FIGHT I finally get the fish in the net...awesome. He beats me to the punch with the first fair-landed chinook of the season on a Chartruese w/Orange Head ESL I tied!

I go back to fishing. Wait, what's that tug..and then my indicator starts putting on a light show as it dances across the pool. Before too terribly long, my brother bungles a net or two but finally brings in my first Chinook of the season on a Size #1 all Chartruese (with red thread) Wolley Bugger!! Meanwhile, the wind is picking up, the clouds are moving in.

Phil does well too, although his first one came in foul. A long revive but well worth it. Gotta land 'em fair to keep em. Heck, that's the only downside I can think of when it comes to night fishing; usually you can't tell if a fish is fair or foul until it's in the net. At this point the fish running up subsided and it rained a bit...I kept watching for lightning...at the first bolt we'd be outta there...no need to die on the river tonight. Thankfully, it subsided, and in the process had scared our downstream buddies off the river. We were all alone.

And then things just kept getting hotter. Again, another Chinook on fair. The fights defy description...simply awesome. Over the course of the night, the fish kept coming up. More and more fish. It comes to a point where ever cast is a hookup...sure, I bet a lot were foul. It was so friggin dark I couldn't even guess how many fish were there, but conservatively at least 25-50 came upstream into the pool while we were out.

The night ended on a mixed note that goes down like this. Chris has a fish on, and it's schooling him. He can't do anything except hold on. Jumps are amazing, and that new 9 wt. Justin built for me just took the abuse and kept going. I'm up by my bro with the net when I look and see that now PHIL has one on too. He's seen it as he got it into shore the first time; he knows it's fair. SWEET. That was what I was waiting to hear, that Phil would land one fair for the night, capping it of perfectly.

So here's my bro, upstream, with a fish that just refuses to come in. Phil is downstream and seems to have things under control. Then it happens. Phil's fish runs upstream and Chris's fish runs downstream. The fish pass each other. Phils turns left towards the opposite shore. Chris's also turns left to loop up and come towards us on yet another insane dash. Lines twist, and Phil comes up on the short end with no fish.

But meanwhile Chris is still on. His fish is a derailed freighttrain bouncing around the pool like a billiard ball. At one point we almost have it in and it jumps up onto shore only 2 feet away from me, then falls back and runs again. Chris is tired, his back and arms are hurting (yeah, that's what it's all about Baby). The fish comes up to us again; maybe this time I'll get it in the net. I look at Chris's indicator sitting right in front of me stationary. I look down and see a salmon.

SWOOSH, I have her in the net! FINALLY, sweet! Total relief. The fish is thrashing hard and I'm doing my best to hold on.

Have you figured out what happened next?

Well, have you?

Are you sure?

Only if you've formulated your guess can you read the results.

I look up at my bro, and his rod is still bent, and it's not pointing towards the net. I look out across the water and see his blue indicator once again dancing in the pool. I shout, "Who's fish is this?!"

My bro glances down and goes, "Dude, that's NOT MY FISH"!

So it turns out I've simply netted a random Chinny that was right in front of me. Things just can't get any better than this! But wait, I still have a fish to land. I fight with this now royally PO'd female in the net and finally get her back into the water. Alright, enough of this...Chris's fish is coming in now. But now, finally, it's realized that it can escape if it leaves the pool and starts running downriver, through the riffles.

Chris is obstructed, he can't easily follow the fish on it's downstream run. I leap over shoreline obstacles and find his fish now in the riffles, thrashing wildly in an attempt to escape. "I don't think so!" and a clumsy jab of the net get's this fish to shore. And now I can see WHY this just went on forever...the fish is fouled in the ventral fin. In other words, as most of you would call it, "Ass-Hooked".

I let Chris revive and release this fish...he froze for a bit but that's the sacrifice we make as fisherman. As he's sitting there reviving, another fish gives him a bath (to be frank, we were ALL bathed well beforehand). Chris grabs this newcomer by the tail, it shoots of, as does the fish that he's reviving. Neat trick :)

So we stayed out until 2:30 AM or so, and by the time it was all done I was something like 2/1/237, Chris was like 1/1/934, and Phil was like 0/1/345. OK, so those hookup numbers are exagerations (934 hookups just aren't possible in the timespan). Basically, by the time we left, we really shouldn't have, it was a hookup just about every cast.

As we hiked out with only one rod still in totally functional condition, I looked at the two of them and said, "Guys, it doesn't get any better than this, and in fact, this will probably be the best day we'll have all week." So far, as I write this, it has been just that, the best day of the season.

Oh, and I did call FAT while all this was going on (I even managed to get the sound of one of those chinnies running the riffles in the background)...I still can't believe he left when he did (to go TIE FLIES!?! Well, OK, he needs thousands for all the boneheads who break off on every fish like I used to do :). I will say this too, if you can, hire Rich to take you and teach you night fishing sometime, regardless of whether the fish are currently running thick or not. After doing it twice, I HIGHLY recommend it. Want solitude? Go fish at NIGHT!

One last tip, Ganamatsu makes AWESOME Salmon hooks, perfect for buggers and the like. We had such good hooksets with these; heck I'm pretty sure my #2 was hooked well into the bone at the roof of the mouth. Check out thos hooks at Bass Pro (they were already low last time I was there!).

  MP 

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