(That's a Toscani stogie stuck between my teeth.)
My fishing buddy and I hit the Salmon River Monday morning. It wasn't our originally planned destination as the Chum salmon were running on the Miami River, and they make for a fun catch-and-release workout. Nor was the Salmon River our second choice, but that place is a more closely guarded secret, so no mention of it will you find here. We chose the Salmon perhaps because it was the closest, and it has facilities at the nearby hatchery, a necessary stop en route to other areas as the morning coffee works its magic.
This time of year the hatchery is doing its fish count, collecting mature fish as they come up a fish ladder, recording the fish, and then sending them on their way upstream via a large tube into the water above the wier. It is in these waters one typically finds a bunch of guys eager to hook into the congregated school. The busiest time for this nuts-to-butts style of combat fishing is in October. By November, the craze has generally passed, and Monday found only three of us in the water: buddy Steve, me and George.
I fished for about ten minutes before I hooked this beautiful male, and landed him about fifteen minutes later with the help of George's net. Shortly thereafter, and after I suggested he go to a silver spinner, George caught his first fish. Steve and I left, while George decided to stick around.
What?! leave when the fish are obviously hitting? Well, that's pretty much my fault as I didn't have my current fishing license on me. I thought I did, but no, and 2009 has passed. Steve had his, though, and we tagged the fish on his. Then there was some contradictory signage about a day's limit (different than the published regs), and being so close to a state fish facility, we decided to error on the side of caution. And always thinking, Steve snapped this picture next to his fly gear and then remarked, "In two days I'll have convinced myself and everyone else that I caught this fish."
Although my fish is a bit smaller than the one on the right, experienced anglers will know that of the two, mine is the real prize. Fish as chromed as mine are the exception, younger than the other male colored up and ready for spawning. The one on the right is George's fish. It was his first-ever salmon, and as much as Steve, a chef, tried to convince him that it would not make a good meal, even smoked, George was adamant. Both Steve and I knew what that first fish meant, and since for both of us our first fish were also beat to shit, we dropped the matter.