9-28-04 - KICKIN' KINGS!
Waters Fished: Pike River
Fish Caught: 2/10
Outing Date: 9-28-04
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Air Temp: 50's
Water Temp: 58F
Water Level: low, 10 cfs
Water Color: cloudy, maybe 1-2' vis.
Fish Species: Chinook Salmon, Bullhead?!
Pattern Fished: EGGS EGGS EGGS
Pattern Color: Peach Scored for Ken, both of mine came on Chartreuse
Fishing Quality: Good
I'm honestly not really sure how this all happened. Rich was wanting to pull the early morning trip on Wed. I was thinking about heading out Tuesday evening AND Wed. evening. I think in the end, the combination of the fact that a) I was already wide away and b) fishin in the AM and PM on Wed only counts as ONE day resulted in my choice to go out on Tuesday evening instead!
To make matters worse..where should I go? The Root has fish in, that's pretty much known at this point. However, it's also flowing at 2 cfs. I think my shower has more flow.
The Milwaukee? Well, it's an hour drive or so from the house; granted I think when you account for side streets pretty much ALL the tribs end up being 45 minutes to an hour. Well, I'd already been on the Milwaukee this week anyway, and I knew there'd be fish there. A flow that's still around 100 cfs is more than enough to allow SOME fish to come up; last year it was 40 and they were still moving.
What about my secret favorite...the Pike? It's flowing at 10 cuffs or so, and does have spring-fed influence, so it may be cooler than the other area tribes. It's also closest to home. Before I even had made my decision, I exited 94 at KR out of HABIT. Well I guess I'm fishing' the Pike then!
I arrived downstream at A & 13th and pulled off to the side. As I opened up the door, I heard SPLASHING! SWEET! Before putting on ANY gear I grabbed the spotlight and shined the river to see if I could find the source of the noise ...I did ...a lone king resting below a riffle, his tail and dorsal fin sticking out of the water.
It was easily after 8:00 PM by the time I had suited up and crossed the stream...well after dark now. I didn't sight my fish until after getting up on the gravel bar..he was sitting at the tail of the run in a depression - still a rather silvery fish too. I turned out the lights and got to work.
Downstream a light shown along the banks..nothing strong, but it was moving, definitely another angler coming in. I continued to fish this spot as the angler got closer...figured I better turn the headlamp back on so he would know I was there. My presence definitely didn't stop his assent towards the fish I was working.
Alright, time to see what's up..I had put a good 20 drifts in the vicinity of this fish. When I broke out the spotlight, no fish. I looked upstream..no fish. I looked below the tail in the broken water..no fish. Somehow this one had evaded me. Not wanting to wade the golf course property, and figuring the guy below me might want to do that, I started walking downstream.
"See any feesh?" he asked me.
"Just one, and he's moving around. He's there, then he's not," I replied.
"Yes, not really. Have you been downstream?"
"No, no feesh dare either" he said, scouring the 6" deep water with a mag light.
"Check this out...on sale $20 at Bass Pro right now" as I broke out the spotlight and turned night to day.
We chatted for just a few minutes more before I said good evening and wished him luck. If he continued to head upstream he'd likely be going to the same spot that I intended to try later in the evening. So, do I trust my gut or do I go look downstream to find the fish that Ken had sighted earlier?
My gut told me full moon, enough water to pass, the fish would be moving up. Yes, guilty as charged, I'm gonna barrier fish. It happens to be that it's simply the one spot where the fish MUST rest and pile up before continuing upstream.
I quickly repositioned and decided to head in from above..I definitely could beat this guy to the spot IF that's where he was going. When I arrived, there wasn't a soul around. Well, I guess fish don't have souls....if they do then the river was haunted BIG TIME.
I had open ended plans to meet up with a few different folks that evening. As I was removing the hook from my first king...Joe R. called....I looked at the screen and opened it up, starting the conversation with, "Joe, are you keeping any kings tonight?".
"I said, Do you want a KING?"
I think Joe got the hint right then and there...unable to make it out due to a late start due to family responsibilities. He wished me luck.
I figured I should call Chromeseeker....I had tried earlier but didn't get him and hadn't heard back. This time when I called I did manage to get ahold of him; he was in the harbor. A few hours of casting and floating had produced nothing. I insisted he get his butt up there...and yet he hesitated. Again, I INSISTED THAT HE LEAVE THE HARBOR AND COME JOIN ME ON THE RIVER. He said he'd call back.
Call back? What was there to think about? He'd had no action...I was telling him it was an action guarantee if he met up with me. What was to think about? Well, 5 minutes later he called back and said they were on their way...they as in he and Jacek!
So here I am, in the middle of a small tributary under a partly cloudy sky with relatively high winds out of the north and a full moon rapidly rising in the sky. Every few minutes a big king would skitter up the riffles, only it's belly, maybe it's lower jaw, in the water. It's like watching one of those car commercials where the car is driving through an inch of water...only this time it was salmon swimming upstream. These salmon must have 100 times the libido of any human.
As fish continued to pile into the pool, I braced myself for what I knew was coming..invariably on a spooky night like this Bart and/or Jacek would try to spook me. No amount of metal preparation can prevent the startle...they still managed to get me upon arrival. After cordial hellos and such, Bart asked me, "So, whasup?"
"This" I said as I set the hook on a fair king whose head rose from the water, shaking violently and throwing my hook.
Ken arrived shortly thereafter, and we all took turns on the water. Towards evening I landed the hen pictured above, Bart pulled my globug from it's throat, took some pics, and right after releasing it Ken came up from downstream carrying something. As he got closer (and I dashed across the riffles to meet him) I found him holding a big dark male King Salmon by the tail. It was still alive, and I asked "Are you gonna keep him?"
"No, but I really need a picture." Right after that the fish squirmed, Ken lost his grasp, and the fish slammed headfirst into the riprap.
"Looks like you ARE gonna be keepin' him afterall," I chuckled. WE got lots of pictures of this fish...Ken's first ever King on the Fly. I'm going to say this fish was in the 18-20lb. category...another monster. It's funny, but after the kings, when you catch a big steelhead in the 10+ range you just kinda shrug and say "ah, another small one".
That pretty much sums up our evening. Bart and Jacek had neglected glowstick indicators, and they both went home without landing any fair fish. Considering they're accomplished anglers who know what they're doing, and considering I even gave them the same stuff that was working for me, heck I even gave them the spot that kept paying off, so I'm gonna say that the only difference between what they did and what I did was that glowstick indicator. It's an ESSENTIAL part of the nightfishin' outfit that you simply cannot go without.
And now, as I write this at 2:19 PM, Sept. 30, tonight is the last night you can legally nightfish the WI tribs in 2004...and you have to leave the water at midnight, as that will be Oct. 1. For those of you heading out this evening for those last few hours of pure bliss - TIGHT LINES, MELTED DRAGS, GLOWSTICKS and ABUNDANT FISH!