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9-16-04 - Just in case you were wondering where we went...

9-16-04 - Overcast = Awesome Fishin'

Waters Fished: Garden River
Fish Caught: 20 officially photographed, upwards of a total of 50 landed fair and tons lost!!
Outing Date: 9-16-04
Weather: Overcast almost the entire day...some stronger breezes at times.
Air Temp: 60' for highs
Water Temp: Didn't take it, about 60F or so
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Stained and clear
Fish Species: Pink Salmon, Chinook Salmon
Pattern Fished: EGGS of all types!
Pattern Color: Natural Shades worked best
Fishing Quality: Hard to believe but it was even better than yesterday! Can I give it 6 Stars?

OK, so let me start off that this is officially a 20 Pink Salmon day, even though I know I landed at least another 30 or more fair...I simply didn't photograph every last one. To put this into perspective, I have yet to land a legal limit (5) back on my home waters during the salmon run, and I caught more Pinks in one day than all of the steelies I landed for the entire spring.

The weather turned decidedly cold overnight, dipping into the low 40's. No one really seemed to mind though....everyone got up with the sun and after a quick breakfast (and coffee) folks hit the stream. Most of us hung around the island all day.

Gerry Greene with a gorgeous Male Pink Salmon.

John lands a nice humpy.

A closeup of John's buck.

My primary goal was to catch a ton of fish and get many more "fish pictures" for other guys in the group. The night before I rattled off a list of names who I had no fish pics of yet. John had offered up some excellent scotch which was battered for the following - "I just want some awesome pics of me fishing". I had a feeling I wouldn't disappoint him.

There was also the matter of a bet between Chief and I. You may recall last year's wager ($5 for the largest fish landed) which I LOST because Chief's guide's fish counted (aka FATMAN landed the Pinook) and I got Jim K. as my partner...which was cool except for the fact that he had never salmon fished before in his life. Well a few weeks prior to the trip, I went double or nothing with Chief, $10 for the biggest fish, just the two of us. So, if I had a shot at any of the few big Kings running around I would make my effort...but I did keep perspective...this is a PINK SALMON trip. I can get all the Kings I want in just a few weeks.

So I fished the gravel all morning using a modification of some advice Jim had figured out the day prior. His success was coming on a dual-rig of Moe Eggs. I basically just made the following changes...take of ALL the weight (most of the time the fish were in less than 1' of water, many times 6") and change from a dead drift "across stream" presentation to an upstream presentation. With my eggs spaced about 18" apart, this proved to be DEADLY. The eggs would sink and would start to tumble on the gravel. Once on the bottom, it was just enough tension to insure the leader was tight to the butt of the fly line. As the line drifted back to me, I simply picked up the slack. ANY hesitation or dead stop on the fly line got a hook set, and I'd say about 50% of those hooksets were fish which had taken the fly...the other 50% or so were fouls. The fish were that thick...it was pretty much impossible NOT to foul them.

I also made some modifications to my rig...I put away the cool custom 7' 5wt....while it was fun, these fish put up one heck of a fight for their size. If you're familiar with trib fishing, you also know that fouled fish often times are even harder to land. Back home here, I'll just drop the rod tip and snap 'em off...it's only a few glo bugs per day and that's no big deal. But on the pinks, I would've gone through like half of my flies.

Considering all this, I upsized my tippet to 8lb fluorocarbon and my rod to my 9' 7wt. St. Croix Avid (which is overlined with 8wt. SA Bass Taper). The fights were still great, but if a fish was fouled I could just horse it in and release it quickly. Sometimes if a fish was fouled on a fin, a quick yank would simply pull it out without even moving the fish. This new setup was much improved over the 5wt and 4lb tippet.

Basically all morning I sat in ONE SPOT and fished...cast upstream, watch for the line to stop, set the hook, fight a fish, release a fish. It didn't get "boring" but it did get "easy". I easily landed 30 or more fair fish, plus lost many more fair bites. I also landed as many fouled as fair. Despite all this fishing on a patch of gravel not larger than a few parking spots the fish never thinned out...there were that many moving up to take the places of those which were released and swam downstream. With all this catch and release going on, I only had ONE fish that didn't simply BOLT from my hands, but instead swam off and then floated downstream...and that fish was a totally spawned out, crusty old male. Pretty much most of the crusty ones never made the cut for glamor shots. Here's all the morning ones that DID pose (briefly) for my camera.

One of MANY Pinks I landed.

Most of the Hens were spawned out.

Some of the Pink Hens were still rather robust.

Yes, more Salmon for MP

I am on fire with the Hens!

More Hens of the Pinks...at times they actually bit better than the males!

Another humpbacked Pink Salmon comes to shore.

Look at the hump on that fish!

Whoa...I've tied into something a bit larger.
(Copyright someone else 2004)

As the morning progressed I was fishing downstream from Gerry...upstream from him John was working the head of the riffle. A shout came down from John...."KING HEADED YOUR WAY GERRY!".

Gerry almost immediately turned to me and shouted, "Matt, there's a king coming down". I laid out another cast...as it started drifting back towards me the king swam by and perhaps by shear luck, inhaled one of my eggs.

A spawned out female Chinook Salmon puts me way ahead in my bet with Chief.
(Copyright John 2004)

The fight was quick and lame...I put the brakes on her, turned her in the fast water which got her ticked...as she swam back upstream I held tight and she pretty much swam herself right up onto the shore. This was an old spawned out hen...barely worth a picture this time of year (if I got her in November well then I would've been thrilled). I think John took the pics with my camera, could've been Gerry. I also think this fish may have been flossed or even perhaps so lucky that she literally swam right into my flies and inhaled them, but it was hooked fair in the mouth, it was a legal fish. So, while not a stunning achievement and far from a pretty fish, this one did put me firmly ahead in the bet. This was a very lucky catch...I was really hoping for something that involved more skill than luck.

That King pretty much ended the morning for me; shortly thereafter it was time for lunch and just a bit of gloating around Chief (all of you who think poorly of me for betting with and taunting a young boy listen up...it is Chief who gave me the nickname "Dinker King"!) More sandwiches to fuel the fire and I was ready for more fishing.

Randy and Matt had disappeared somewhere, and I was personally itching to head upstream to see what I could find. I opted to take the long way, wading up through the riffles, getting out at the bend (where it's practically over your head even right at shore), crossing between the two bends (water gets about 2" below the top of my waders if I'm on my toes) and then wading up to see what's going on at the long slow water. I didn't kick up many Pinks on the gravel tail...many more were downstream

I DID however find Randy and Matt, who apparently had found a path down from the road in...darn cheaters...the missed one of the "fun" wades! Randy had spotted a huge pod of pinks holding tight on the bottom. Occasionally one would porpoise on the surface. Yesterday Randy had done really well with WD40's and Zebra Midges...I seriously thought he was going to try for a Pink on the dry.

Upstream, Randy is working a deep pod of Pinks.

Randy and Matt spent a lot of time working the fish holding tight on the bottom in several feet of water.

I opted to continue upstream.

Both Randy and Matt were rerigging when I walked up, so I kinda just sat and watched for a while, then moved back to take some pics of the guys fishin. After getting many good pictures, I pressed onward upstream.

It's just gorgeous up here!

I managed to make it almost all the way up without seeing more than a couple fish...numbers were definitely lower upstream from where we were camped in the morning. However it seemed there were more Kings upstream, and the Pinks were a bit larger. As I showed up a few anglers were pretty much getting ready to leave.

It's fast water and slippery wading upstream...I took my time and rerigged, adding 6 #7 clamshots to get my flies into a deep pocket where I could see a few fish holding. I was rewarded with a stunningly handsome male Pink. Not a mark on the fish! I took it to a shallow sandy area that was surrounded by rocks and only a couple inches of water...this gave me plenty of time to photograph all the details of the fish (for taxidermy color plates). After arguably 10 or more minutes of handling, I finally returned the fish to the water no worse for the wear...it bolted off back into the deep swift current.

I noticed that three new anglers had come up, so I didn't stay too much longer...just long enough to land another Pink and then vacate the run I had been pounding. A guy had been sitting below me working the shallow riffles where virtually no fish were holding...I offered him the spot..the green king they had been looking for was sitting at my feet the entire time ;)

Wow...what a nice clean Male Pink!

Arguably the BEST picture I shot on this trip.

Before sending this fish back to the water, I took MANY photos of this male Pink Salmon as colorplates for Rich Benedict at Angling Artisan.

The walk home was a long one...by the time I returned to camp I was in a desperate search for our bucket (5 gallon with the bottom cut out and a seat on the top). That night, Gerry would regail us with a story of how he went "ass over kettle" down the hill, the bucket flying in the air over him as he tumbled backwards due to a bad location of the bucket. Man, the bucket rules.

All in all, what else can I say, we went fishin' and we caught lots of fish. Arguably the most thrilled was Duke (Dutton), Rich's younger son. He was simply on fire. Now, to be fair, Dutton is probably too young to be disappointed by a fouled fish; it got to the point where EVERY fish he landed fair or foul he wanted a picture....I did my best to only oblige him on the fairs but against Rambling Report Policy, there may be a fouled fish or two pictured here. Then again who are you to rain on a really young angler's parade!!! All in all I shot many more of my fish, many more of Duke, even got a picture of our hen/buck double. This is how a fishin' trip is SUPPOSED TO BE!

Yet another male Pink for MP.

All down this side of the island my buddies are slammin the Pinks!

Duke gets in on the action.

Duke battles a relatively BIG PINK!

Duke is on FIRE!

Duke and I pose for our double!
(Copyright 2004 Richard Brown)

Followed quickly by another male.

Another spawned out female Pink Salmon.

Chief tangles with a Pink!

Jim and Kent work one of my favorite runs.

In the later afternoon, my goal was to get more pictures of folks with fish...I still had a pretty long list at this point. Plenty of Pinks were landed by everyone...several doubles occurred. Newly off my list was Fred Anderson Sr. as well as all the Browns (Rich, Kramer and Dutton). Got more pics of Kent, Gerry, and Jim C...including the fish that totally schooled Jim (literally swam around him in circles...yes he has a sense of humor about it)! Yup...that's another burst of pictures coming up right now:

I think Jim is really enjoying this trip!

Fish on and it literally swims circles around Jim!

Jim puts the hurt on a feisty Pink Salmon.

Fred Anderson Sr. is grinnin' ear-to-ear while fighting a nice pink.

Fishing is SERIOUS business for Fred. Sr.

WHOO HOO...another fish on!

Gerry moved in, and in short order we've got another double!

Fred Sr. and Gerry are both occupied with their fish!

Another nice humpy for Gerry!

If you haven't already figured it out, I liked fishin' just downstream from where Fred and Gerry were...right behind me were Rich and the boys, so I shot MANY more pictures of everyone's fish!

Chief and Duke pose with yet another double!

Duke is ON FIRE!

Duke admires a stunning male Pink Salmon.

I won't tell you what Duke was saying while I took this picture, but I think the look says it all!

More pinks for MP!

Yes, still more pinks for me!

Duke is simply having a banner day!

Dukes not the only one on fire...yet another nice pink landed...

...and another...

 

...and another...

...and another.

 

Rich was probably getting the itch for BIG FISH..he is a BIG FISH kinda guy. Tons of Pinks are fun, but if there's a chance a King could be landed, screw the Pinks! Just before dusk Rich seized his opportunity and within just a few casts hooked into a REALLY NICE King.

Holy Smokes Richard "FAT" Brown ties into a King Salmon with 4lb tippet and a 4wt fly rod!

Hard for some to believe, but Rich pulls it off!

Rich and Chief give this King Salmon a nice sendoff...go make babies Mr. King! Regarding the look on Chief's face? I just reminded him that his dad's fish don't count in our bet this year!

The entire time FAT's older son Chief (Kramer) kept on wanting to land the fish bear style. We did our best to keep him out of the water (and out of the fish's way) as FAT had not even considered that he was fishing 4lb. test and a 4wt. when he started casting to this fish.

Amazingly the fish was brought to shore and pictures were taken! One of the reasons you could actually pull off a such a feat is that the are really no snags in the Garden..the bottom is all sand, gravel, pebble, and some bigger rocks in the riffle water. All it takes to land a big fish on truly "ultra light" fly tackle is patience.

Dinner?! Another stunning feast was laid out....BBQ Pulled Pork personally prepared by Mrs. Brown...DELICIOUS, very SMOKY flavor. I think I had 3! But who can forget Fat's "ULTIMATE COBBLER" - Vanilla Apple Cherry. While I am a diehard Double Chocolate Cherry fan, I think majority rules dictate this to be an even greater success.

Nighttime was a hoot...the sun actually set far later than we thought...the clouds pretty much brought on nighttime early. After the actual sunset, the cloud cover began to break along the horizon behind us...I turned to see a strange bright glow in the clouds...turns out it was the sky showing through as the clouds broke up. Once the clouds had dissipated, we were left with a cool clear night.. the stars were everywhere. Gerry insisted on a picture of the Big Dipper; Gerry that last one's for you! It's amazing what an 8 second exposure can do if you put the camera on a tripod ;)

Erie lights on the horizon turned out to be breaks in the evening cloud cover

Spooky....

Later that night, the sky cleared up. You'll have to view this one enlarged to see how cool it was!

"Bundle Up Boys" was probably the last thing I heard before getting into the tent; the overnight forecast was for something like 4° Celsius and winds at 50 knots on Huron??!

  MP 

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