10-15-06 - Back to the Pike!
Waters Fished: Pike River
Fish Caught: Several
Outing Date: 10-1-06
Air Temp: low 70's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: low, 16 cfs
Water Color: off green, visibility 1'
Fish Species: Coho Salmon, King Salmon
Pattern Fished: Mostly Egg Patterns
Pattern Color: Red and Chartreuse was the ticket!
So it's another early morning Team Fish with Mike - gotta say I'm really enjoying spending all this time on the water with him...we ALWAYS seem to have a really good time. After last week, I wanted to change things up for Mike...I think he hadn't seen the Pike before, or at the very least I'd surely show him some new water (hey, there's 30+ miles of river and I know I haven't seen them all).
We went for the early morning warmup hike...a deep trek into the woods to warm up and check spots we'd like to fish along the way. The main purpose was to get to some really good water in case we got "squeezed out" later in the morning. The other reason - rumors that Cohos were showing up in better numbers.
Well heck, sometimes things just work out! Within a minute of stepping in Mike hooked up with a big fat fresh hen Coho - he got a wild ride and we got the pictures to prove it (although they almost all turned out blurry..it was just around sunrise!). While Mike worked the gravel head, I worked an undercut and to my surprise got hammered - the line shot off downstream, I actually saw my backing briefly on the Pike (which is unusual because usually there's not that far for a fish to run!). I secretly hoped for steel, but was surprised to find a half dead / half chrome hen king was the culprit. As far as I was concerned, I was done for the day (literally, it was an exceptional fight).
We inched our way downstream, Mike battling another coho. To the tailout, where tons of Kings were sparring. The light levels quickly came up making a spook-free presentation difficult. The guy wading through the river with a stringer of kings didn't help things either. So it's going to be THIS kind of day...
Apparently folks had started showing up en-masse...my plan for a slow, casual trip downstream hitting the spots quickly changed to a run and gun approach...find the open spots, hit 'em quick and move on. We saw a few more Kings, but pretty soon found ourselves back at the road where we started!
Plan B - try a different access point. Actually it paid of pretty well...we found a BIG pair of bucks sparring. They were TOTALLY oblivious to our presence, and their heightened aggression made them relatively EASY targets!
So Mike is fishing to the pair of bucks which are along shore on the far side of the stream. I'm standing up on the bank behind him. A little old lady walks up on the opposite bank, Zebco in hand. She makes eye contact. "Feesh"?
Not sure what to say, I say nothing. She looks at Mike, then looks at the water and climbs down the bank. "FEEEEESH!" she cries, pointing at the pair of sparring bucks. Something big and maroon is hanging from the end of her Zebco outfit....it rockets straight down into the water. She REARS back with all her might, burying the maroon mass of unknown material into the side of one of the bucks. IT GOES BALLISTIC!
Zebco, or at least this little old lady, hasn't heard of a drag system. The fish is impaled, thrashing about at her feet, spraying water everywhere. She's trying to drag it onto shore, but it's more than a little too big for her. Somehow, who really knows how, the fish manages to escape. I look at her, pull out my cell phone, and start dialing. She quickly climbs up the bank, finds her younger male counterpart. I follow, with the DNR TIP LINE giving me the busy signal, and watch as they get into a pickup with a topper and drive off. I hang up. I come back to Mike and appologize....Mike took it a bit better than I did...in fact I think to quote him, "That was the most hysterical thing I've ever seen on the river."
Well, no little old wrinkled hag of a lady snagger is gonna get in Mike's way...within a few minutes the violated buck had forgotten it's ordeal and was right back there fighting with the other. Mike eventually distracted one of the pair long enough to fool it into crushing an egg - it was all over after that. When we finally got it in, well, the picture actually doesn't do it justice...around a 35-36" buck, no crust, big kype. Well, we got the coho, and now we've nailed down the King.
Mike didn't stop there...a little while later he pissed off the other buck. It ran him downstream and gave him a great fight. Nets are good and ending those battles! Believe it or not, it was actually a few inches shorter than the first one...goes to show you what camera angle can do!
We fished a while longer...Mike tied into a hen that easily could've gone 30 lbs. We chased her and chased her...a fish as big as this one, still fat and ripe and at least 3 feet long, well, it's hard to hide but she did a really good job of it!
The MN crew finally showed up - it was probably 11:30 AM by this point! I kinda talked them all through the section of water we were fishing and sent them on their way...a few stuck around for a little while to watch Mike's technique. Eventually Mike had to throw in the towel on the monster hen...I think our 4 hour trip went more than a little long and home was calling!
After Mike and I parted ways, I headed upstream to check on everyone. I found Nick and Matt first, plying a plunge. Andy was upstream working another plunge, Renee had a few fish running around the upstream tailout. Emily...well I'm sure there were fish out in front of her too. I think it was Renee who tipped me off that she thought she heard Will shouting from further upstream around the bend.
Renee has great ears apparently...I got up there to find Willio tied into a nice fish. We got it landed....another Coho on the fresher side, still fat and plump. It shimmered in shades of pink and lavender...truly a beautiful fish!
Basically, the group was spread out for much of the day...I wanted them to experience the smaller, more intimate one-on-one setting of the Pike River. Usually it's just you and the fish...the next guy is somewhere up or downstream (there's simply not enough room for 2 people to fish a spot usually!).
Emily was the next to hook up...it was another nice King that gave her more than she bargained for. It kept running upstream and digging deep into the pool. Sometimes hooks just come loose...this was one of those times.
I admit I was already running on empty between not nearly enough sleep and several hours already spent on the water. I was making my way downstream with Renee to take a break when we ran into Nick and Matt again. They hadn't moved much, and who could blame them with at least 8 kings milling around the tailout they had camped on. Nick managed a nice hen...good to see more people having luck than not!
The afternoon was starting to drag on...the fish weren't as willing. Renee spent a fair amount of time on a pair of fish that could've cared less. Eventually we moved upstream a bit and after many carefully placed drifts, she hooked up and we got the skunk off.
Early afternoon became solid afternoon. The MN Crew was, for the most part, completely exhausted. Matt had more than one fish on, but was still an O-fer. I set him up on the bend with the 30lb hen (and a few other kings) and sat down to watch. Slowly, more and more of our group showed up. Before too long, the ENTIRE CREW was sitting on a bridge overlooking Matt, critiquing every cast and making suggestions. Yes, we were Matt's Peanut Gallery. Eventually he DID hook up, we all cheered...but somehow it ended up being one of those "fish off" kinda moments for MK.
That pretty much ended the trip...the crew had a drive back ranging from a few hours to several. It was completely a blast to have them all come out for the King run this year - chalk off another great day of salmon fishing for 2006.