We woke up on the early side, as I like to get to the river as the world is waking up. I had a spot in mind to fish, it wasn't a secret spot, and to my enjoyment there was no one else around as we popped through the foliage. The end of the season presents itself with many opportunities that are plain and simply not available during the hot summer months. Lake run fish make their way back into the river and some can be very large. To me, when this happens, it is as though you are looking at a river that you know as well as your best friend, but now your friend has a few new toys to play with. It is a refreshing of the system with cool water and higher flows that create new areas for the legendary fish to haunt.
This was one of those mornings. I knew what had been working recently as far as flies go, and I got my father situated before I took my first few casts. Dad hooked up right off the bat with a nice leaping salmon that unfortunately flew the coop before we could get him to net. It was a good sign of things to come though for sure. We kept at it and eventually I hooked into something big. It was bogging me down and not showing itself, which made my first instinct to think it was not a salmon. After ten more seconds though, it was a different story. The fish made a surge for the surface and exploded out of the water with such power and reckless abandon, that I assumed it would snap my line. I attempted to keep the rod tip low as the large salmon displayed countless cartwheels throughout the pool. The key here would be to keep this fish in the area directly in front of me. If I allowed it to get around the bend it would be over, as it turns into rapids which are not where you want to play a fish of that size. Things seemed to be slowing down and I even let a feeling of relief creep in as I saw the fish slowly roll on the surface in front of me.
The feeling of relief was quickly followed by a feeling of sheer panic as the once defeated fish magically turned back into the flying dragon it had been minutes before. Before I could even think of what to do next the fish made a U-turn and headed directly into the rapids. Really!? Meanwhile my father was constantly asking me if I would like him to net the fish and per usual, I said I would like to try it on my own. When the fish went down river, I did ask him to turn my video camera on though, as I knew this could get comical. I charged down the side of the rapids following the fish as quickly as I could. It was not easy to say the least. I must have slipped a half dozen times on my way downriver, all the while my father is in the woods attempting to get some footage.
After about a 200 meter battle, mixed with raging white water and near swimming sessions, I was able to find a back eddy and ease the fish over to my net. My father was still scrambling through the woods mumbling something about his "pole" still being on the ground where we started when he saw the fish in the net. "That fish is huge!" was his response to laying his eyes on the beast. Though it was not my largest Pittsburg salmon, it was certainly one of the most exciting I have ever caught. It measured 21" and must have been pushing somewhere between "obese" and "overfed" on the weight scale.
Once again the end of a season in Pittsburg did not fail to impress me. We went on to catch many more fish that day and enjoyed the scenery and each others company as we did. When we left the water it was a feeling of sadness at first. It would be months before I could get back to see my friend and feel her rush against my legs. That feeling was quickly replaced by a sense of calm in knowing that the river would be there waiting, ready to welcome me back for the start of another season that was just around the bend.
|My last Pittsburg salmon of the season|