I headed up to the Salmon River all by my lonesome this past Saturday. First of all, five hours of driving all by yourself, in the dark, no fun, no fun at all. I have to admit, I was looking forward to not listening to Aaron’s incessant ramblings for five hours straight, but after one or two I found myself wishing he was there to fill the dead air. What I need to do is figure out a way to meet him half way and pick him up so the rambling is only 2 hours in length!
I arrived at Kevin Davis’ fishing flop house and as usual he was the best host ever. Kevin is one of THE nicest people I have ever met, and while he conceals his obsession for GL fish chasing well with complaints of long work hours and complete exhaustion, this weekend he revealed that he loves his job. He told me that he often worries that if he isn’t on the river for even a day, he is worried he is going to miss the “best day ever”. I don’t blame him, I wish I could be there every day as well. Snappy was on patrol with my camera:
Aaron and I had a running bet after our last blow out in Oswego. After being frustrated with the crowds and generally made miserable on our last trip, Aaron and I decided perhaps we should go it alone on the Steel Trips. This way I could relax a little more, take my time, and enjoy the time off of work without feeling hurried. As we were walking out the door from the trip where I blew at least 15 Steelhead without landing 1 stinking fish, Aaron bet me that I wouldn’t get even 1 in the net for the next 5 years without him there. This presented the perfect opportunity for me to challenge myself. Goal for the trip, land a Steelhead myself and capture a solo picture and release safely back to the river.
It didn’t take me 5 years, more like 50 minutes. I had Steel in the net within the first hour of the first day. It was a nice 7 or 8 pound female. She was fairly fresh and a great fight.
The first day was spent mostly in the upper fly zone, I landed at least 8 browns and 4 steel. I got a picture in the net for the proof of success needed. I was happy to know I could do it on my own. I also got to spend a day relaxing. I packed lunch and chilled out when I got tired and didn’t run up and down the river wearing myself to near death by exhaustion.
I do have to admit, I am nearly positive that I would have landed double the fish if Aaron was there, but the trade off for a relaxing day away from work, especially after driving five hours was worth it.
Kevin and I got some drinks and chased some desperate Oswego tail that night at the “local hot spot” Steamers. I must have stayed up until 2am, but it was cool because I slept in until 9am the next morning.
When I got to the river at 10:30 on Monday I was a little worried that I was too late, and everyone might have already wacked all the fish in the morning, but I was surprised to find almost NOBODY on the river. It was the perfect Steelheading day. Overcast, a balmy 45 degrees, and an empty river. I wacked a nice fish on my second cast and then a nice 6 or 7 pound male brown trout. I got some great pictures of him. I landed 7 steelhead, which is a great day for me and I landed quite a few browns as well.
Lessons of the day were:
As the day progresses or your residency in a “spot” lengthens, switch down a tippet size and wack another one. I switched from 3x to 4x in some spots after getting few and then having a lull and then would wack another fish.
Don’t be affraid of the 6mm beads. While I caught the majority of fish on 8mm beads, the same rule applied, after catching a few I would switch down a tippet size and then after that down a bead size and BAM, another steelhead. I think the 6mm beads are the closest to actual size anyway, so I wasn’t surprised they worked, although happy to find out they did.
Switch the bead up after a few fish, the bead is generally molested after being eaten a few times and so is your tippet. I would generally switch the tippet and bead just to get fresh gear on and help decrease my “booted” fish percentage.
Tuesday I woke up around 9am again and this time only hit the river from 10:00 until 2:30 but only managed 4 again. I lost three HOT fresh fish on the lower river because I let them get back in that fast water. They kicked my butt. I even nailed some in deep slackwater on the indicator. I was scared of the water at first but I decreased my weight, spread the weight pattern out along the leader, put a bigger indicator on and then raised the indicator on the leader and I felt confident on the suspension and natural drift and then WHAM, I nailed a nice in the slack water.
After that, it was a five hour drive back to the real world. I found myself wishing that I could stay forever. The whole ride back I was thinking about turning in PA and heading to the Erie tribs, but these damn bills have to get paid. Damn the bills!
While I was successful on my solo mission and I was greatful to have a relaxing trip with no pressure to run up and down the river, I did recognize that this sacrifice lead to catching less fish. It was worth it to me, but no judgement, to each their own style.
A sample of the fish caught: