The Thrill of A King Salmon Strike
More Subtle Smallmouth Bass
I managed to find a couple of weather windows to fish early in the week between bouts of pouring rain and howling south winds. Paul & I went out late Monday for salmon (or whatever). The salmon bite has been frustrating for us. There seem to be lots of fish out there based on what we see on the sonar. Of course, there is also a lot of food for these fish in the form of clouds of alewife and most times it's hard to find hungry fish. The surface temperatures are getting into the low to mid 60's and we had to go down about 50' for find water as cold as 45F. The charter boats seemed to be scattered, some out deep, others in real tight so we could not get a hint from them. We found most of the fish in 60-80FOW, but could not get many to hit. We did manage one nice Chinook, 34" and about 16 pounds. After spending the Spring and early Summer catching browns and rainbows, both of which can put on a pretty good fight at the end of a line, you soon realize that salmon are a whole different ballgame. The first wild run of a big salmon is something to behold. When you first grab a hold of the rod it seems that a freight train is on the other end. You have no control; the fish is dealing all the cards. If you survive that initial foray, you might begin to recover some of your line, but as soon as you think you are making progress, the fish may decide to head to Michigan and take out all the recovered line and more. Eventually, assuming you have good hooks in him, you might sense some signs of fatigue in the fish and you can slowly move him closer to the boat. Many times the fish will race straight towards the boat. When this happens all you can do is reel as fast as you can (never fast enough) and hope the line does not go so slack that he tosses the hook. After what seems an eternity, the fish finally approaches boatside. If you can steer it clear of the other lines, you might be able to slip a net under him. But you can never relax until that is accomplished. "It ain't over 'til it's over". The fish always seems to have one more run in him. Seeing the fish flopping in the bottom of the boat gives you more a feeling of relief than accomplishment. It is no wonder people come from all over the country to have this experience.
The bay side still is giving up smallmouth bass in the shallower water. The water temperatures were getting up there a week ago (70s), but with the recent rain and lack of sun, they have settled in the mid 60's in the north. I had to work pretty hard to land the fish I did. It required more then a little patience (something that is not my strong suit) until I found some active fish. With the clear, shallow water, I was taking the longest casts I could to avoid coming up on the fish and spooking them. I changed lures and technique a lot. I hooked into a nice 19" fish after a long cast with a KVD Coffee Tube (Goby color, of course). He did not hit it, just picked up the jig and swam away with it until I set the hook. Another 20" fish hit my Flat Rap while it was sitting motionless on the surface. I had stopped reeling to take a phone call and when I started picking up the line, "WHAM"!! The fish will often tell you how they want to get caught if you just pay attention. I even got a scrappy rock bass now and then. All and all, a fun couple of hours on the water.
The 4th of July weekend will bring a lot of anglers to Baileys Harbor and all of the Door. That's great, but it means I might have to look a bit farther and longer to find some "vacant" water. I don't begrudge the visiting fisherman, I enjoy their company (mostly) and of course we need their business. Welcome anglers!!! After all, when they leave for home, I'll still be fishing.
Tight Lines, Bruce
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