9-15-05 - Fat Fest, Day 2 - PINKTOPIA!
Waters Fished: Garden River, St. Mary's Rapids
Fish Caught: 3
Outing Date: 9-15-05
Air Temp: lows around 40, highs around 75
Water Temp: Garden 62F, St. Mary's 67F
Water Level: both low
Water Color: both very clear
Fish Species: Pink Salmon, Atlantic Salmon, King Salmon
Pattern Fished: Glo Bugs & Clouser Minnows
Pattern Color: Hot Orange; clousers in white/chart. and white/gray/black
Fishing Quality: Slow
It's a frigid morning on Thursday, Day 2 of "Fat
Fest" on the Garden River. The "Indian fire starter"
logs do the trick - in minutes we have a roaring fire, hot coffee,
hot oatmeal, anything HOT you can think of to warm up. One look
at the river tells you that even the river water is relatively HOT!
Having had my fill of fish on Wednesday, I wasn't
in any terrible hurry to get on the water - let the other guys fish
the honey hole and catch some fish! I spent much of the morning
watching Rich, Matt, Mitch and Chief ply the riffles right above
camp....definitely some fish to be had!
As the day warmed up, we decided it was time to
head down to "PINKTOPIA"! Now, there is a back story,
bear with me. Apparently, when Rich & the heathens picked up
FatMat and SkinnyMitch in Green Bay, a comment was uttered. Specifically,
"Spewboy" Dutton Brown said to Matt, "I'm gonna kick
your ass in PINKTOPIA"! Dutton was referring to a little part
of the river we formerly knew as "Pink City". Where the
heck he came up with PINKTOPIA is beyond all of us. Oh, and for
the Fat Tribe, let's not forget "Chinese Restaurant"!
Yeah, trips like this are bound to create some inside jokes...more
on Chuck aka. Puker AKA Spewboy Dutton later...
So yeah, back to Pinktopia! 2 years ago, on my
first trip to the Garden, "Pinktopia" was the only place
we found fish during our entire trip. Pinktopia was the location
of the infamous smackdown between myself and the Browns, where I
had lead the "big fish" contest with a 5" Chub (quit
snickering) up until the very last day.
In 2004, Pinktopia was THE place to go for BIG
pinks...sure there were plenty of pinks running around upriver by
camp but Pinktopia definitely held the hogs. Pinktopia is definitely
a trek from camp...at least 2 or 3 river miles. You absolutely DO
NOT want to walk there on dry land, especially the walk back, uphill,
We owe Bruce big-time...if ever there was someone
who came prepared for a wilderness camping experience it was Bruce
& David. Not only did they bring the usual complement of gear,
but a ATV, Satellite Phone and Laptop were added to the arsenal!
Bruce was more than happy to trade a well-tied
spey fly for the ATV ride down to Pinktopia. Rich and a few others
had gone down the day before and the report was grim. Not discouraged,
I convinced Heath, Sean and Ari to make the ride down as well. John
rounded out the package with one of his 7-mile 2-way radios...the
deal was that if there were boatloads of fish I was to call up to
to camp immediately!
Well, I waded at least a half mile each way down
and back upon arriving at Pinktopia. Sean, Ari and Heath took their
time getting downstream - I was more interested in moving fast to
check the sweet spots and wasn't too concerned if I spooked up some
fish in the process...heck spooked fish are proof enough for me.
Yeah, I made some pleas on the 2-way to come airlift
us out of Pinktopia - it was a wasteland. Not one of us sighted
anything while there; HIGHLY unusual based on my prior experiences.
Not even BEAR TRACKS! As we left, we ran into two anglers from camp
who had waded the entire way down - they had seen TWO fish.
Back upstream, I absolutely refused to go skunked
for the day, so while most folks were taking a siesta I was busy
thrashing the water to produce a back-to-back pair of Pinks. Phew...at
least I broke the skunk.
Now, no one in our camp is necessarily gullible
enough to believe everything we're told; we ran into a guy who had
been fishing the Soo and had left to come here in the hopes of something
better. Naturally, we decided we should probably go to the Soo for
the evening. I admittedly wavered until the very last minute...what
the heck, it's been 2 years since I've fished St. Mary's Rapids.
So I ended up riding with Heath, Bruce and David
to the Soo. Upon arriving and disembarking, Dutton stood behind
the FATMOBILE holding a tupperware cylinder containing a green liquid.
"What's in that?" someone asked.
"My PUKE!" Dutton replied with absolute
glee. The tale was retold again and again. Apparently, somewhere
between the dirt trails and solid pavement, Dutton had asked Rich
to "get the lid...". "Off this" should have
finished that sentence, but instead the remark was punctuated with
something akin to that famous scene in The Exorcist. Immediate,
raucous laughter apparently broke out. As Rich changed into clean
clothes, he commented on the various items that didn't make it out
"clean"...the GPS, the windshield, the dashboard, the
seat, the seatBELT, the steering wheel, the steering column, Rich's
shirt, his GLASSES etc. So now you know why Dutton, despite his
wishes, is now known as "Puker"...at least for the remainder
of the Canada trip.
Walking out to St. Mary's Rapids we met a couple
locals who informed us that currently, the most prevalent fish in
the river was the Atlantic Salmon. I sincerely doubted that info
at the time, but have come to find through the Edison
Sault Hydroplant Fishcam that in fact Atlantics ARE currently
the most common fish at the moment. Seriously, SWEET, Kudos to Canidensus
for posting that link!
After the wade across, we fanned out over the 3/4
mile by 1/2 mile stretch of water. Now, with my prior time spent
on the Soo, talking with Guliani, I picked up on how the Soo is
best fished. I DIDN't go out there and cast blindly, but rather
patiently walked up and down looking for ANY indication that a fish
was present. It took 45 minutes of stalking to find my prey.
It took an HOUR of patience to actually connect
with the blue form below me in at least 4-6 feet of FAST moving
water. As I drift, whatever it was sat tight to the bottom, occasionally
moving left or right to snap something in the current but otherwise
sticking tight to the holding spot.
More lead, different flies, I kept changing until
FINALLY I broke the combination. 5 #6 clam shots and a Black/Gray/White
Clouser Minnow were the key. As my offering drifted deep from the
head of the plunge, the blue form shot right, turning into a crescent.
I set the hook!
HOLY SSSSHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTTTT!! My drag
started roaring - I was helpless at first other than to watch this
fish tear downstream, then headshake in DEEP ASS water. I shouted
around and got Gerry's attention as well as Heath and Matt. As the
fish tired, I got it up to the surface. Dark Brown Back, Black Spots,
Silver Belly, pinkish stripe down the side and a fully spotted tail...we
were all thinkin' STEELHEAD! HOW FREAKIN' sweet would that be?!
Granted, all along I had been secretly hoping for
an Atlantic. Matt touched the tail as the fish skimmed the surface
and caused another frenzied eruption. It took another minute or
two of gingerly playing the fish to get it back in close, upon which
Heath made the big grab and landed the fish. In the first 5 seconds,
I'm sure one of us said "Yup, that is a steelhead alright",
but as soon as I saw the tail I recognized the pattern and the identification
was finalized....a beautiful, FAT, 20.5" fresh hen Pink Salmon.
We took a few pictures of this beauty and I spent a good 10 minutes
getting her to revive. 67F water temps in the Rapids? Yeah, that
will make a revive tough after a fight like that. Well, one thing
is for sure, Caimi's Bamboo Rods sure do carry that Bamboo Karma
- that's my FIRST FISH EVER landed on St. Mary's Rapids!
When I was done reviving the fish, I turned and
realized EVERYONE IS GONE?! What?! Yeah, it had been a couple hours
and Mitch had been the only one to connect with a fish. I walked
upstream to find MOST of our group already waiting on shore, while
the last stranglers filed in and waded across. MOST of our group
hadn't seen a thing; Rich was lucky enough to sight a couple kings
as they fled the scene.
By the time we got back to the Garden it was DEFINITELY
time for another round of DINNER! Afterall, PUKER has somehow managed
to void his entire stomach of every last drop of Blue Gatorade on
the ride back, so he's DEFINITELY hungry. Italian Beef AND Sausage...man
Rich has really stepped it up a notch. Everyone huddled around Bruce's
computer to see the 2004 Africa trip pictures.
As things turned totally dark our fire grew. Gerry,
the ant picture is for you (yes, apparently one of the dead logs
we found was home to some rather LARGE ants, some with wings). How
could I forget the TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CHERRY COBBLER?!?! I won't disclose
the new secret ingredient, but I will say that Mitch went back for
a 2nd and 3rd bite even after scorching off the entire lining of
his mouth! Warnings that "Cobbler Expands When Ingested"
were completely ignored by most everyone. Ah, this is what it's
all about....Chinese Restaurant.