Monday, October 02, 2006

Salmon River Countdown

In four days I will head north to the Salmon River in New York to try and catch salmon, steelhead, big brown trout or any combination of those three. I've already started packing: 8-weight rod and reel, waders, studded boots, lucky hat, beer, cigars, advil, camera. A year ago I went for the first time and had some success, thanks to my friend Steve who brought me there and showed me how to catch - and land - fish that were larger than any fish I had ever seen, let alone hooked.

I caught only salmon last year. The serious anglers up there all want steelhead, and many of them don't like hooking into salmon because it takes a long time to land one and that's time that could be spent fishing for steelhead. Me? I think it will be quite a long time before I get tired of hooking a 25- or 30-pound Chinook and watching - and, more importantly, hearing - ninety feet of fly line leave my reel in a matter of seconds. That's fun. Something that surprised me about my previous trip there was how much fun it was to just watch other anglers catch and land fish. Something about seeing an 8-weight fly rod bent over in an upside down 'U,' accompanied by the sound of a screaming reel, whether it belongs to you or the guy next to you.

Less than two years ago I was bitten, badly, by the fly fishing bug. Sometimes I fish for smallmouth in the Shenandoah or Potomac Rivers. Sometimes for trout in small Maryland streams. And sometimes I take my 3-weight across the street to my neighbor's farm pond and fish for sunfish. The rods, the flies, the method, the gear are all different. But that moment when a fish has fallen for my clumsy antics and taken my fly, that tug of life at the end of the line, man, that just does NOT get old. When the life that's tugging the line, though, is the size of a medium sized dog, it goes off the Fun Meter.

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