With my nephew, Dan Warns home on leave from the Navy, the pressure was on to get this sailor’s rod bent! Petty Officer 3rd Class Warns has a serious smoked salmon addiction and once he got a whiff of my hard earned summer stash, it started disappearing fast!
Faced with massive smoked salmon predation, I had to take swift and decisive action so, you guessed it, out to Midchannel we went! It was a special day since my mother Marie came along as well as my best fishin’ buddy and son Matthew. Mercifully, the fishing pressure was light, we were marking bait, we had the tide right and the chinook were in a mood to bite!
Dan and Mom with the day’s first chinook and Dan’s first in quite a while!
Nothin’ better than breaking the ice and following it up with catching your career king of 21 pounds! Good job Sailor!
We were able to “lather, rinse and repeat” until we had a worthy fishbox…and work to do once we returned home.
Secure in the knowledge that we were sending our soldier back to Norfolk Naval Station with a pile of smoked salmon, it was time to take a chance… on the Skagit.
Late July’s heat wave worked the glaciers over, punching the Skagit completely out of fishing shape, essentially eliminating the third of the four chinook sportfishing openings. However, ticket sales for the Ray Reep derby in Mt. Vernon indicated that folks were betting on the big crick dropping back into fishing shape for the annual event. I was invited to attend the derby so right after the radio show on Saturday up to the Skagit we went.
As I came to the ramp after our Saturday afternoon “boat ride” I caught a glimpse of what turned out to be the winning fish!
A gentleman named Otis bagged the winning chinook worth a cool two grand and weighing in at one ounce under 36 pounds. Mark Coleman of All Rivers Guide Service took second place with a beautiful king of 31 pounds. With the numbers of chinook entered in the derby boosting our enthusiasm, we planned on making a day of it on Sunday, the final day of the 2009 Skagit chinook season.
The lower Skagit reverses its current on high tide and the current slowdown is felt clear up to the forks. With a Sunday morning high tide on the chart, we knew we would have to fish near the forks early on. We sat on the pick until my friend JD Lundberg who was staying in his Fishtown cabin called and let me know that the current was heading in the right direction down low.
After hoglining up with JD, we saw pinks starting to pop all around us and those fishing humpy gear were getting decent action.
Suddenly the stern rod started screaming line out!
“That ain’t no humpy” JD cracked.
I grabbed the rod and handed it to my nephew Dan as Matt and I got the other rods in and threw the float…for the first time in sixteen years!
We drifted out, cut the distance between us and the slab chinook and pulled him out in the current away from a few snags. The big king made the mistake of swimming back toward the boat… I bagged him on a torpedo pass…
My Dad would have hit me in the back of the head for that risky move…
The work “Chrome” does not do this net full of chinook justice. I’m still looking for the right word.
Just to make sure, we put the scale to him and he pulled it down to a number I have not seen for quite a while.
I read this as forty pounds. We fished Sitka in June for 12 days and 39lbs was the biggest we found up there…
Here’s the happy crew aboard the Wooldridge DaWg Sled with a Skagit specimen that I waited sixteen years to catch.
Talking with the folks in the know at WDFW, the summer chinook opportunity on the Skagit is viewed as a yearly possibility. Despite the fact that the fish were a bit late, they did indeed show and next year as sportsmen we can hope and argue for a bit longer season.
For my nephew, Petty Officer 3rd Class Warns, he can go back to duty at NAVSTA Norfolk, toting a pile of smoked salmon (which won’t last long) and telling a story (which should last a while longer) of catching his career king in salt water and nearly doubling it two days later in the Skagit river! Now, that's a fish story!
But there is an even better fish story… Something that happened right after we boated our king…Stay tuned…