Saturday, August 25, 2012

The River

An upstream view of one of my happy places in the world.

The river is my fishing destination of choice. If at all possible, somewhere far enough away from a road where you cannot hear the cars driving by. I know it may be a lot to ask, but we can always dream. I prefer my rivers clear and with a gravel and sand bottom. Clear skies and the sound of the rushing waters will drown out your stress and worries quicker than a bottle of anything to muddle the mind. When all these elements are perfectly in place catching fish can become almost secondary. But lets not fool ourselves, the fish is why we are here.

My prey of choice is the King (Chinook) Salmon. They are large and aggressive. They fight amongst themselves for the opportunity to spawn. The larger and more aggressive males will chase away anything that may interrupt the spawning ritual, including a well presented fly! And if the buck is in a particularly foul mood a poorly presented fly will do just as nicely. I have seen males move 5-6 feet to strike a fly with reckless abandon almost ripping the rod from my hands simply because he is in a pissed off mood. Those strikes are few and far between, but ALWAYS memorable! In Michigan the Salmon move upstream on my favorite river in August in large pods and some may even move upstream much earlier. The skies can be very clear with few clouds and the water low and crystal clear. Do not let this ruse convince you that a light leader will get you more strikes. It will just leave you with an open mouth and a snapped line as the fish makes your feeble reel scream as they jump like a derailed freight train. Oh these early days of fall is what I long for. When the birds are singing freely and the river is whispering to my soul often drawing me into a blissful state of peace before there is a bone jarring strike and it feels like my arm was nearly ripped out of socket.

Me feeling a little juiced after catching this small but spunky male King.

Early in the season the adrenaline rush you experience when you tangle with one of these brutes is an awesome natural high. When the fight is done you can feel your heart thumping in your chest and you can't help but smile after the fight is done, win or lose (although the smile is usually bigger for the victor). often times you can hear another fisherman holler in excitement somewhere else upon the river and you know the fight is on elsewhere.

A female King on it's way back to her redd upon being released.

Where I fish on the Pere Marquette it is a catch & release only fishery. The Salmon and Steelhead are all natural reproduction or strays.As the season goes on you can see much evidence of the ending of the cycle of life for these amazing fish.

The end of the line for this great warrior.
Their bodies can be seen half eaten by scavengers or floating downstream dead or dying, the leave pay homage as they are falling readily upon the ground and in the river. It is always a somewhat sad moment for me that I really cannot explain. I have a great deal of respect for these fish and a sense of gratitude, but as the Salmon fill the river with nutrients the river will belong to the chrome warriors soon enough...

This is a re-write of one of my first blogs. I thought it could stand for a little improvement.

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