9-14-05 - Fat Fest, Day 1
Waters Fished: Garden River
Fish Caught: 9
Outing Date: 9-14-05
Air Temp: lows around 40, highs around 70
Water Temp: 67F
Water Level: low
Water Color: clear
Fish Species: Pink Salmon, King Salmon
Pattern Fished: Glo Bugs
Pattern Color: Hot orange
Fishing Quality: Fair
It's that time of year again - our annual trip
to Sault St. Marie, Ontario, to fish the Garden River. Some of our
buddies couldn't make it this year, while other new individuals
joined our group for the trek north!
Riding with Gerry and John this year, we got up
there around 2:30 AM. They had reserved a hotel to get some sleep
& a shower - it was great to get a couple hours of sleep even
if on the floor, not to mention a SHOWER. Around 5:30 AM we were
on our way to cross the border and meet up with everyone at the
Tradin' Post. To my surprise, entering Canada was quick and painless
- next year I believe we'll need to have our passports!
After waiting what seemed like an hour, we were
finally squared away with our licenses and land use permits. The
2 hour drive to the Garden followed. Speculation flew around in
the car...would there be fish...would we be lucky enough to camp
where we did last time...are we early...are we late?
We pulled up to find only ONE other campsite set
up; last year's "FAT" site laid empty and inviting. There,
on the hill above the river, sat the fire ring that the Heathens
had constructed in 2004. EXCELLENT.
As always, everyone ran for the river to see what
we were in for. It's a magical moment - you walk up and either see
nothing or everything you were hoping for. This year? NOTHING! Granted,
that never stopped us before, and it didn't stop us this year. We
all quickly got to the work of setting up tents, carports, the kitchen,
cots etc. Before you knew it, what was formerly empty ground was
now FATMAN's Tent City.
The moment our accommodations were set up, I ran
downstream to check another spot...that's when I saw it...3 pinks
at the head of a riffle. So there ARE fish this year! EXCELLENT!
Most other folks had begun the race to get suited
up and on the water - I hurried myself but of course, my run downstream
cost me precious time. Hoping to be the first one on the stream,
I arrived back at my sighted pinks to find FATMAT wailing away on
'em! "THOSE ARE MY FISH MATT!!!!" I shouted downstream
Meanwhile Matt's brother Mitch was downstream and
within moments, his rod arched over and throbbed, a surefire sign
that he's tied into a fish! I raced downstream in the ankle deep
water, my camera firing away. By the time I got to Skinnymitch,
he landed the first Pink Salmon of the 2005 Fat Fest!
Things looked pretty skinny down where Matt &
Mitch were fishin, so I turned to head upstream. Along the way one
of our fellow campsite visitors suggested I try upstream - exactly
where I was headed.
YEE HA, there ARE fish around...at least half a
dozen pinks sat at the tailout of a bathtub sized depression. I
started casting and drifting. Every few drifts a male would tear
off and follow my flies on their diagonal swing downstream. It's
only a matter of time.
Splash...what was that? My rod has suddenly gotten
a bit tip heavy. I look down and there on the pebbled bottom of
the river is my reel's spool. Huh. I put it back and start casting
FISH ON! SPLASH! What the hell?! My spool is again
in the water. I clamp down on the line, pick up the spool, put it
on again and start taking up slack. The spool starts sliding out
again! CRAP! Somehow, despite this equipment malfunction I actually
manage to land my first pink of the trip, a fat hen. After some
examination of my gear, it turns out that the spring which keeps
the "spool lock" in place has either worn out or simply
Well, I figure that if I keep the rod tilted while
drifting, the spool will stay on. I tie into my 2nd fish in short
order and again lose the spool while fighting it. Thankfully, #2
comes to shore without any further incidents. As a good sized pink
salmon swims back to the far side, I again examine my gear.
I'm not about to give up my spot, so I do the only
thing I can do - cast while holding the spool on the reel with my
right hand. Thankfully I get some breaks when Rich and Dutton hook
up, but my next two pinks simply wear me out. This ISN'T going to
work long term - my arm and hand is simply exhausted.
Frustrated, I head up for lunch and a gear change
- I've brought backup! Rich thinks he might have a reel that will
work, but upon further examination a 4wt. reel won't cut it. Time
to break out Ron Caimi's 8wt. Bamboo Salmon Rod!
I get back on the water to find Jim Coursey still
working the pool outside our mess hall. After having him give the
cane some casts, I'm them summoned back upstream as Gerry's rod
After Gerry lands a nice buck, I figure it's time
to give the cane a workout. Upstream I notice a few kings holding
in a deep eddy...somehow they evade me and make their way upstream.
Back in the riffles, I pull it off. First one eager
hen, then a second, which entices Gerry to ask for my camera to
get some shots of me in action.
The afternoon has turned out to be sunny, practically
a scorcher. Heath, Ari and Sean have gone to Sault St. Marie on
a beer run; a large portion of our remaining group has come up into
the gravel run that seems to be holding the majority of the Pinks.
Mitch, Matt, Gerry and Jim are now all up here
but it's BRUCE who hooks up next. Another feisty pink falls for
a fly! As the afternoon turns into evening, the action is slow but
every once in a while someone gets something. I KNOW I landed a
total of NINE for the day but can't find all the pictures - I suspect
there are some pics floating around in other cameras.
A puff of smoke downstream signals the start of
dinner! Ari beacons us with PBR from streamside. Yeah, this has
been a challenging day - food sounds GREAT right about now!
Bruce has brought up 3 pork butts to make pork
steak! It's a pork lover's paradise back at camp. Sean is making
dinner for Heath and Ari - turns out they'll be having grass and
dirt as a garnish in their pasta this evening! Pork is served up
- I hear there was veggies too but who the heck cares, I've got
a huge hunk of porkmeat and fat on my plate, completely slathered
in BBQ sauce! I'm in "HOG HEAVEN"! Fat's logsplitting
demonstration rounds out the evening; the air takes on a decidedly
chilly feel and we all soak up the fire. It doesn't get any better