The excitement was building to the point that, while it was nice to sleep in my own bed, the sleep part never was particularly great. I kept waking up wondering if it was time to go. By around 6:00 the next morning, I was ready to get up. On the road around sunrise, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were very few people out at this time of day. Instead of getting stuck in the usual slow weekend traffic, I made good time and a few hours later was cruising through one of my favorite mountain towns in America.
Pushing on to a remote tributary, I found a campsite and put in my claim by setting up the tent and leaving my camp chair up and ready. On the way down to the campsite I was all over the road, mostly because I was staring at the beautiful stream instead of the narrow dirt road. Someone following my car's tracks probably thought that a drunk guy had been driving and expected to find a crash around every bend.
On the drive in I had located two good pools full of Kokanee salmon with most fish podded up but a few were doing their thing on the redds. A handful of browns were around also gobble up any stray eggs. Never having encountered Kokanee before, I rigged up with a pair of bright nymphs and started working the pod. My indicator dove 3 or 4 times before the line came tight. The fish had eaten one of the nymphs!
The fish was strong and full of fight. By the time I had netted the fish it had worked me back to the tail of the pool. Another few feet and it would have gained the faster current below. I was lucky on that one. A couple of quick pictures were taken to document my first ever salmon. The Kokanee were fun, but I think I'm ready for Alaska now. Bring on the real salmon!
In another hour or so of fishing, I accidentally snagged a couple of salmon and fair caught one more. Apparently snagging salmon is a big sport, but as I wasn't fishing for table fare, I tried to stick to the high road. The sun was beginning to lower by the time I made it back down to camp. The only other people around had left by this time, and I had the whole stream to myself.
Walking downstream, I found several nice pools. One in particular seemed to hold some salmon. A streamer had been dug out of the bottom of my fishing pack and tied on so I was looking for something other than the Kokanee. Swinging the fly, swimming the fly, stripping the fly, any method I used seemed to produce about the same...absolutely nothing. Perhaps it was the full moon...or maybe I had the wrong color on...or maybe there were no fish. You know how it goes. Lots of great reasons for my lack of success were occurring to me by this time.
Distracted by the scenery and lack of fish, I started to take a few pictures of my surroundings. The colors in the landscape seemed more beautiful in the late evening light.
Then I returned to the pool with the Kokanee. Finally, like a flash of brilliance (more likely just dumb luck) I thought maybe I should fish the far side.
One of the best things I did all day was to throw the streamer to the far side of the current. By the second strip, I saw a huge flash as a brown rolled on the streamer. For the next 45 minutes, nearly every cast produced at least a follow, and I was catching enough beautiful lake run browns to mostly forget that I had a camera hanging around my neck. I was dialed in although I think it was more along the lines of stumbling into luck. The salmon were podded up near me while the browns were almost all in the soft water on the far bank.
The next morning I returned to the same spot and again caught some nice fish including a small lake trout. Some fishing holes are definitely better than others, or at least that seems to be the main lesson I learned. Later on Sunday, I would again stumble upon a great fishing hole, but more about that later.