King Salmon Camp

Now it really feels like summer. Technically, we’re more than a month into it, but to me, it always starts with the Puget Sound king salmon opener, which usually falls on July 16th. As per usual, we packed up pretty much everything we own–I don’t know how we could go camping without the boat to hold all our gear–piled in and headed for our camp. That’s the Olympia crew, headed up by the Sweeneys, preparing to bust out the s’mores, above.

We hit the water early the next morning, our hopes high enough to overcome the previous night’s late campfire.

And fortunately, we found some fish. Smaller than ever this year, but we’re thankful for the harvest. Interesting to note that 50 years ago, the average size of a Puget Sound king salmon was 25 pounds. In recent years, it’s dropped to about 9 or 10, and this year it seems most of the fish are even smaller. A few decent ones around, but if we boated an “average” fish from the old days now, it would look like a whale.

A couple more days of camping and fishing, and the Oly folks headed home. Leaving just the kids and me for one more quiet night, a huge pile of spaghetti, and a bit more fishing. As the kids grow up, I can already see these times together are limited, so I try to savor every minute. It’s a lot of work, but more than worth it. Big thanks to the Sweeneys for making the effort and for feeding us fantastic food. Time to fire up the smoker!

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Handful Of Fun

Sometimes, in the middle of hectic summer activities, it’s good to just calm down and go fishing. All it takes is an hour, a handline (or little trout rod), a hook and a bit of whatever critters you scrape off the bottom of a dock. And it turns out, you’re never too old to become completely absorbed by a tug on the line.

I figured the kids would’ve outgrown this by now, but Weston led the charge and Skyla soon joined in. And before I knew it, I was peering into the depths and hoping for a bite, too. All for fish that we usually walk past as we jump in a boat and charge off in search of bigger game. Today’s tally: 10 shiners, one flounder–all observed briefly in the bucket aquarium and released–and an hour’s worth of pure fun.


Riverhorse

Legendary Texas fly flinger, guitar picker, road warrior, wordsmith and good buddy, Riverhorse Nakadate, rolled onto the Island to fish and eat–traditional Tuesday activities–with Smarty and me. We chased sea-run cutts on the salt way down the Sound, found a lot of dinks, a few mediums, and some true hogs that chased but wouldn’t eat. Mostly, though, we chewed the fat, spun yarns and laughed a lot on a beautiful afternoon. Followed, of course, by our usual Tuesday night gluttony with the full crew, including Neal, Pete, Helene and Morgan. That’s Riverhorse below with the new IGFA 10-Pound Class Tippet World Record shiner perch shortly before packing it up to ship to the taxidermist. What a day.


In The Summertime

Long days, warm weather, and best of all, no school. Time to head up into the mountains on the hunt for little west-side trout. We started out serious. That’s Skyla shaking off the rust and tightening up her loop, above, and Weston discussing the merits of dry flies versus nymphs with Halo, below.

But the day was hot and it soon turned into this.

Then long conversations while drying off on warm rocks. Big hike back to to the car, quick stop for giant burgers on the way home, a bit of ice cream and deep, deep sleep. Awesome way to kick off summer.


The Coast Is Calling

It must be that time of year. I can’t stop thinking about steelhead and rain-forest rivers. Of course, with a schedule packed with a film project, book commitments, kid basketball and volleyball tournaments and the usual post-holiday glut of “real” work, it’ll probably be at least a month before I can make it out to the coast. But that’s where tying flies comes to the rescue. I can take a little break from the daily grind, twist some feathers and dream. As you can see from the critters above, I’m currently dreaming of high water, light tips and shallow lies. And big chrome steelhead.