9-17-04 - Another STUNNER on the Garden & possibly
the first ever Spawning Dress Pinook Pictures Online?!
Waters Fished: Garden River
Fish Caught: 8 photographed, many more landed fair and tons lost!!
Outing Date: 9-17-04
Air Temp: 70's
Water Temp: Didn't take it, about 60F or so
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Stained and clear
Fish Species: Pink Salmon, Pinook Salmon, Chinook Salmon
Pattern Fished: EGGS of all types!
Pattern Color: Fluorescent Shades worked best
Fishing Quality: GREAT!
GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE! Well actually it was FOGGY...and
COLD...lows overnight were like in the 40's! Thankfully the wind
had died down.
Everyone went through the coffee. Someone had the
wise idea to break out the Quaker Instant Oatmeal for breakfast...PERFECT
to get you warmed up. Man I gotta say looking back on this trip,
I have never felt healthier in the last couple years...something
about 3 square meals per day, lots of exercise and clean air with
good night's sleeps. To top it off, despite eating like an absolute
pig, upon coming back I was thoroughly convinced that I had lost
a good 10 lbs.
My morning mission had one singular, easy-to-accomplish
goal; get more pictures of our group guys fishin! I had a few remaining
on the list for fish pics!
The bright day turned things around...fish were
a bit more skittish so the bite was slower than yesterday. It didn't
matter though, there were still plenty of fish around and plenty
of them were willing to bite.
I did take my time getting on the water, and when
I arrived Jim Kercheval informed me that the females were hitting
orange and the bucks were hitting chartreuse...or was it the other
way around? Yeah, I think it was Bucks on Orange and Hens on chartreuse.
Anyway, the surprising part of it was that his observation truly
panned out...one sex was hitting one color and one was hitting the
other. I wanted bucks...best to leave the hens undisturbed if possible,
so later in the morning I had switched to both eggs being the same
After getting many good shots, I went back to a
bend and spent some time on the water fishin' with Gerry...I was
still on a mission for LARGER and Fresher Buck Pink Salmon. Again,
I was going to bring a couple back to send off to Rich Benedict
(Angling Artisan) so he can make molds of them and work with a new
species. I am all for reproduction work instead of skin mounts,
so it seems a very good thing to harvest a couple fish, make molds
of them, thus allowing for the trophy angler to hopefully practice
C&R and still get a mount for the wall. In other words, I do
not mind harvesting fish when they are carefully chosen and are
put to positive use.
It seems pretty safe to say that the larger fish
were all holding in deeper water...only the smaller fish were bedding
up. I don't know WHY it was like that, it just was. PERHAPS, and
this is just a theory, it was just that the larger, more dominant
fish had the ability to keep the smaller fish out of the safer,
Gerry was the first to land a true keeper...and
lose it immediately after taking it's picture! I guess it wasn't
meant to be. However, in addition to Pinks, I really wanted to get
something for Rich to work with that few taxidermists have ever
gotten their hands on...a Pinook. I had been spreading the word
through our group that if anyone landed a nice male Pinook they
should bring it back specifically so we can send it on to be molded.
Of course, this foreshadowing all leads up to the
fact that Gerry's next fish was a total REDEEMER...one STUNNING
male Pinook. Yes, STUNNING. For those who don't know, the Pinook
is the hybrid cross of a Pink Salmon and Chinook Salmon; it seems
there really aren't many places where these occur other than the
Garden and St. Mary's Rapids. Some folks propose that the Pinook
may actually be fertile, but the science kinda dictates that the
Pinook is likely sterile. I will add that at first glance this fish
looks a lot like a respectable Coho. When I came back, I learned
that supposedly some Coho I guess show up in the St. Mary's from
time-to-time so I had to do more research. What gives away that
this fish is NOT a Coho and is indeed a Pinook is the tail...it's
covered in spots, whereas at most a coho has just a few on the upper
edge of the tail, not to mention that it's TOTALLY the tail of a
Pink! Most ALL of the Pinook images I've seen online are of fresh
silver fish...this very well could be the only spawning dress Pinook
image available...a Rambling Reports exclusive?
Gerry and I continued to fish until lunch, both
landing some nice fish including at least one huge hen pink each...we
quickly sent those back to ensure they'd keep attracting the big
males. Unfortunately it seems that all of the FOULED Pinks were
the ones we really would've liked to keep for molding...too bad
they were fouled. The fair fish were fun, but none were "molders"!
By lunch things had warmed up considerably...not
a cloud in the sky! Again, lunch was traditional FAT deli sandwhiches...this
time I figured out we had some salad that no one was touching...it
made for some nice crunch in the otherwise meat and cheese stuffed
bread construction! For those who were wanting some variety in our
lunchtime fare, FAT was fryin' up a couple fresh male pinks!
Afternoon brought increased angling pressure from
more folks who had shown up, so Randy, Matt J. and I decided to
head downstream and try our luck. We hiked through camp and along
a long, well worn path until coming to a wide, boulder-strew riffle
where a readily apparent access point waited for us. We each took
turns sliding down the steep, well-worn mud bank.
TONS, literally TONS of fish, mostly PINKS, sat
at the bottom of a deep, slow pool. While Matt and Randy worked
the more active spawners, I crossed to try for the deep ones. The
problem was that in bright daylight these fish were just totally
stressed. The second I my fly hit the water, all the fish in a 10
foot radius would scatter. As my fly drifted downstream, I could
see the masses of fish parting on both sides of my presentation.
These were fish that were CLEARLY not going to be biting ANYTHING
After seeing this, I looked towards the fast water
for better chances...the fish are more comfortable here and have
less time to examine the offering. As I worked my way downstream
I came up to a father/son team who were simply whacking them in
the bend. Randy and Matt soon followed, and we found ourselves working
a deep run below.
We probably would've gone farther down, but it
was here that we had a good dozen anglers downstream from us, all
on some choice water. We kinda settled for the spot we had...a deep
sandy bottom where several kings were holding. A big log sat on
the bottom providing both cover and a fly fishin' obstacle. Being
about 5-6 foot deep and still running fairly fast, this water required
at least 6 #7 clamshots and I was STILL breezing by over their heads
on most drifts.
I switched offerings; earlier in the day Jim was
having phenomenal action with the Pinks and the Atomic Satellite
Moe Fo in Chartreuse (an MP original). The problem Jim had was that
most of the takes didn't connect; he figured that the fly was too
large and that most of the hits were just on the satellites; the
fish weren't taking the entire mass into their mouths. Well, I didn't
design the fly specifically for Pinks, but I know several folks
who've done well when fishing for larger specimens...why not try
the fly here?
I did manage to hook up, totally foul, on one of
the kings who just swam through my drift and fouled up. The fish
went ballistic, thrashing, running downstream, jumping several times.
The fish ended up taking me into our first downstream neighbor's
drift...he was really understanding about the matter. Eventually
I got really tired of fighting this foul hooked fish, so I dropped
the rod tip and did the straight pull....got my fly line back sans
leader and flies. There goes my only Chartreuse ASMF.
I've never liked fishin' deep water, partially
because doing so with floating fly line isn't effective and partially
because, perhaps as a result of the first part, more fish seem to
get hooked up foul. So while Randy and Matt continued in the deep
slot, I looked upstream and headed back to the riffles.
The fish weren't thick there, but they were there,
and there were some fair sized Pinks! Downstream Randy was working
the bend (now vacant) and managed a fish....another KING! Randy
was arguably Mr. King for the trip...this one was #3 or 4 already.
We spent a little more time working the riffles
and the shallow boulder area above...I lost a few fair fish and
landed yet another hen Pink, but my patience for the area was wearing
thin. As dusk was approaching, we decided to head back to camp and
see what was up.
Why not catch more fish? That's always fun...the
boys were still smakin' 'em left and right on the gravel. More fish
pics for everyone including myself. Well all fished straight till
dinnertime; assuredly everyone got their fill of the Pinks!
Dinner was ROCKIN' as always; how about Guinness-boiled BBQ Chicken?!?!
We had GOOD instant mashed potatoes...I think they were Betty Crocker
Garlic and Chive or something like that...lacking gravy I tried
them with BBQ sause...OMG they were AWESOME. Rich had found this
great time-consuming activity for his boys the night prior; go gather
rocks. Well, our firepit was now FIRST RATE - we even had a little
side section for the Dutch Oven Cobbler! Oh, and this one..hmm..might
be a new personal favorite - Chocolate PEACH! Add on the HOT Toddies
concocted by Mr. Greene, lots of hilarity, ribbing, dirty joke and
story telling, and it was another fantastic evening around the campfire.
Another cold night was in the forecast, so we all made sure to
spend some extra time around the fire. Just think, there's still
more fishin' to do tomorrow, and maybe even SUNDAY!
Of note, it was another raucous night in the tent city...I guess
some women had shown up at a neighboring campsite. Rumor was they
arrived with a bottle of JB and 3 Fifths of Tequila. Not much was
said, "We're here and we want to party." It was a LONG
night for those of us who didn't have earplugs, and for once it
wasn't because of my snoring!