With the sun rising at 7:30 and launching only an hours drive, my day began with the luxury of sleeping in until 5:30, which is usually when I’m sitting on the river in the dark, waiting for the sun to rise, freezing. This year though, we were drifting the Nestucca, a river we both had very little experience with, making daylight a must. So at the ripe hour of 5:45 I left to meet Jamie. It got down to 20 degrees on some parts of the drive, and when we launched at about 8, it was a balmy 24 degrees according to my car. The boat ramp was icy which made launching a challenge but without much delay we were OFF!
The day didn’t take long to ripen. We plugged down a stretch or two until we found a nice deep slot above a tailout. Dropped the anchor and prepared for the assault. Jamie’s weapon of choice was a diver with bait. Mine, my 10′ 6" 12-30lb Lami, with 80lb braid and 30 pound Seagaur flouro leader. Put my first bait of the day on and was pleased with the fist size glob of eggs. I pitched my float OFF the left side of the boat and watched as it drifted right down the middle of the seam for about 30 yards, "its getting dumped", I thought….nada. Reeled in and checked my bait, a small fist size glob still present. This time dropped it OFF the right side of the boat and watched it run, much more slowly this time, down the right edge of the seem against some frog water. Now, I’m always amazed at the different ways a bobber acts when a fish takes the lunch and runs, and sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish a bite. This was not the case, 20 feet OFF the bow it sunk like a rock. I reared back and set the hook deep into what, for a second, I thought was a rock. Then I felt the soft thump thump, and I new it…Fish On!
Jamie whipped in his gear and the battle began. I knew right away that this was a big fish because I could see it flashing 10 feet down, 20 feet away. I cranked my drag tight tight as we were in a nice hole and wanted to end it in the same hole. After a couple minutes of some of the hardest fish fighting Iv’e ever done I got it near the boat and saw what was the biggest hen I’ve ever hooked. Jamie pulled anchor and took us to the frog water which is the only place we could’ve landed it. The fight was insane not for the aerobatic craziness of a steelhead or coho, it was a straight up strength battle and I’ve never felt a salmon so strong. After about 5 minutes of a standoff beneath the boat I managed to get it up for a terrible net angle. Under the oar, Jamie swoops it like an Ace and we get her in the net. She was so big that her entire bottom side was rubbed and ripped up from moving up steam. She still had scales falling OFF and was fresh as can be. Bonk, we high five for a sec and then get back at it.
I quickly hooked, and lost, two more back bouncing in the same hole and after about 30 min with no action we moved down stream. The next few hours were peaceful in the bluebird sky and we saw many other anglers enjoying the sunshine. Toward the end of the float we encountered a less than cheerful guide who made no effort to hide his dissatisfaction of others. He dropped in below us and we leaped around him a couple times. The cherry on top was lacing another hen about 20 feet beneath him and yelling "Happy Thanksgiving!" as we brought it in.
It was an Amazing day once again and a great tradition I hope we continue for years.
Thanks again Jamisonace for a great day in your Heated, Cadillac of a drift boat, and what an Amazing net job.