Over the past week or so Jon, Patty and I have fished for silver salmon at The Falling in Place (see August 18 post) three times. It’s still early in the run and we’ve seen more fish on each day. I like witnessing the river filling up with bright, chrome salmon. A lot of the fish we catch still have sea lice on them and are full of fight. The salmon are so thick that we quit swinging bunny flies early on during our first day’s visit. It’s been 100 percent surface fishing with Peters Poppers (see August 24 post) since then. We’re at the point now where you pretty much get a strike or a follow every time you cast the popper. We figure we’d have a fish on every cast if we were swinging and that would be too much.
Our standard procedure is two of us fish and the third person nets the silvers. It’s madness to try to release these brutes without a net. The netter tries to stand about a rod-length downstream from the angler who is fighting the fish. When the salmon tires and you’re able to get it in close you lift its head and try to lead it head first into the net. This doesn’t always go as planned and the fish rockets off at warp speed and makes a few more runs before you can bring it back to the net. These unexpected runs are the ones where the spinning reel handle is most likely to batter your knuckles. All three of us thought we were skilled enough at landing larger fish to be past the bruised and battered knuckle stage and all three of us found out we were wrong. I can assure you that the knuckle buster still hurts as much as ever.
Today it’s just Jon and me fishing so we’re trading off the rod and the net. You catch and silver, then you net a silver, then you catch a silver and so on. We’ve decided that the larger hens fight the most determinedly, but the big bucks are no slouchers, either. We’ve had a few attack the popper by jumping out of the water and coming down on top of it.
There is a more practical reason for our visits to the Falling in Place, too. We try to keep four salmon each trip for the lodge freezer. The criteria for those that we take are pretty stringent. We want bright, chromy bucks. These first-of-the-run chromers are the best to eat. We make a point to thank those salmon that will feed us for that privilege. Then comes the feast.