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9-17-04 - Good morning boys!

A cold night means a frosty morning on the Garden River.

Hey, have you seen our mess tent?!

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
Weather: Stunning
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 color.

First fish of the morning...there will be many more to come. Relative to most, this was a HUGE Female Pink salmon!

Yup...more fish pics...another male Pink Salmon comes to shore.

Chief sees his backing with the help of a big Pink.

It's getting to the point where I'm not even close to photographing every fair fish I land....heck shoot them in the water and let 'em go!

Duke proves he has the hot hand with the Pinks!

If there's any doubt, those long sticks in the water downstream from Kent are all fish.

Surely a candidate for best picture from the trip...Kent's fish tailwalks just as I'm snapping the pics.

WHOO HOO...these little salmon are FEISTY!

Kent tames yet another Pink before sending it back to make babies.

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.

Doubles are a regular occurance...heck Gerry and John had time to pose and the fish even cooperated!

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, deeper spots.

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.

Yeah...another male pink for me!

Whoo hoo..another tall Pink for Gerry. This fish was REAL lucky...it was headed to NY to be molded until it wiggled free from Gerry's grip!

A relatively big hen comes from the deeper water.

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 has tied into something big.

PINOOK! Check out this STUNNING Pinook Salmon!

Gerry's Pinook was sacrificed for colorplates and a fish mold...Angling Artisan may be one of the only folks who can make you a true Pinook reproduction!

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"!

Plenty of fish and room for everyone on the river this morning.

Gerry lands another BIG hen from deeper water.

One of many more fish I landed before lunch.

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!

A few males were kept for lunch. Fried Fresh Salmon is lip-smackin' good.

For those not fish-inclined, you could always get your fill of sandwiches.

After lunch I took a look downstream.

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.

Right out our "front door" was a stopping point for the Pinks and Kings who were still moving upstream.

Downstream about a mile, Matt peeks out from the shadows in an attempt to land yet another fish.

Matt and Randy work high-noon skittish salmonids from the shadows.

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 I offered.

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.

Randy earned the nickname "Mr. King"...I think this was his third or fourth already.

No kings, but more Pinks for MP.

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!

Before dinner we headed back to see how folks were doing...John has tied into a buck!

I think John's taking "fish posing lessons" from Gerry.

Matt is having a great week too!

Once in a while someone offers to take my picture...here with a steep-backed male Pink Salmon.
(Copyright 2004 John)

John keeps landing nice fish!

MMMM...dinner is on the grill (Guinness Boiled BBQ Chicken) and another FATMAN Dutch oven cobbler is on the coals!

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.

Gerry broke out the Hot Toddies and we all got stupid - Jim K., Rich and Fred Sr. bust a gut at someone's infantile (and totally hysterical) remarks...something about having a camp b*tch afterall.

Randy, Matt and John waiting for a punchline...

Nighttime around the glowing 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!

It's no bonfire, but it was plenty to keep warm.

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!

  MP 

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