I remember falling to me knees, disappointed and frustrated that I hadn't checked the tippet (and I'm not sure if it would have mattered, honestly). I stared up at the slate-gray sky and then focused back in on the water. I reached for my fly box, and pinched another conehead streamer from the foam. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FISHING STORY

 

                                                                               

 

FOLLOWING

THE VOICE

IN YOUR HEAD

 

 

 

One of the beautiful rivers Chris Hunt fished last fall. Hunt website photos.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

T

he late August rain provided the symphony, a tinny drum beat on the camper's roof and walls, while I sat at my "kitchen" table tying up a gawdy pink streamer. 

Parked beneath the bows of towering yellow cedar and Sitka spruce in a lonely Forest Service campground on Prince of Wales Island, I waited out the rain at the vise. I'd fired up the generator to give everything a charge, and I had plugged in a movie for some background noise.

But I didn't need it. The rainforest deluge was company enough as I spun bright pink hackle into a workable collar onto a size 4 salmon hook, ahead of a strand of pink chenille and a marabou chaser, complete with some tinsel to add some shine. 

I finished the fly and held it up to the light. Not bad. Not bad at all. 

The pinks were in. Had been all month, or so I was told. The silvers? Any minute now, the locals said. They were waiting for them, just like I was. 

I could be hip-deep in Staney Creek, perfectly dry in my rain gear and casting away, but I was at the end of a three-month adventure that had taken me from Idaho Falls up through Montana, British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and finally Alaska.

I had topped Attigun Pass earlier in the month, and then worked my way south to Haines, where I put my entire rig on the Alaska Ferry. Two days later, I was on Prince of Wales Island with eight days to kill. And I was tired. Deep-down tired. Bone tired.

I just didn't want to fish in a downpour. It was tying weather. And nap weather. Nothing puts you to sleep like the steady white noise of a rainstorm in the forest. I hadn't slept that well in weeks. I think, too, like the bears that I shared the rainforest streams with, I could sense the end of the season of gluttony. It was winding down. The days were getting shorter. There was a noticeable chill in the woods. Occasionally, I could see my breath in the temperate air. Hibernation approached.

Pink salmon are a lot of fun. They'll chase flies when the mood strikes them, and they're willing fighters. But they're not silvers. Not even close. Cohos aren't just in a different weight class, they fight like they belong in the octagon. And, I fish silvers with a purpose. They're my favorite salmon to actually eat. And, over the last 10 weeks or so, I only kept a handful of fish to eat—I gobbled down a couple of grayling above the Arctic Circle, just to say I'd tried them, and I filleted a pike I caught in a little froggy pond near the town of Tok just as I entered Alaska. But silvers? A limit of fish on ice would make it home for the freezer, and I could enjoy salmon all winter long.

After a couple of casts through the thick school of fish, I managed to hook a pink that took the fly and then ran off downstream, giving up after just a minute or two. I managed two more humpies on the fly and started thinking that the silvers were more interested in moving up then they were in chasing a my streamer. 

 

 

 

And then a Maserati took the streamer and my reel started to scream. My line sliced through the school of fish, scattering 4-pound humpies like flock-shot quail. Then, as my fly line hummed through the water in front of me, a massive silver took flight from the creek a good 20 yards upstream. The conehead streamer was stuck tight in the fish's jaws, and then I heard the audible snap. My line went slack. The coho jumped two more times on its way upstream, and then the rainforest was quiet, save for the occasional splash from the migrating salmon. 

I remember falling to me knees, disappointed and frustrated that I hadn't checked the tippet (and I'm not sure if it would have mattered, honestly). I stared up at the slate-gray sky and then focused back in on the water. I reached for my fly box, and pinched another conehead streamer from the foam. 

You idiot, the voice said to me. 

Why don't you just shut the hell up? I retorted. I looked at the tag end of tippet. No curlies. Just a straight break. I rerigged. 

I cast again. I was getting hungry.

Chris Hunt is the national digital director for Trout Media. He lives and works in Idaho Falls. 

Show your support and become a member of Trout Unlimited for valuable tips, fly tying, gear and more.

 


© 2008-2018 The Valley Voice News | All Rights Reserved