After seeing a couple of solid reports on coho catches from the Chilliwack River, it was time for us to venture out this morning. The alarm went off at 4:00am and it only took one buzz before I hopped out of bed despite of only three hours of sleep. The first outing is always quite exciting as there are so many unknowns. We met up with Chris and Gwyn at 6:15am, just as it was becoming light. We worked out way through the bush to the Rotary Trail and startled a group of female runners as we popped out. They probably thought that they were about to encounter a family of bears.
Water condition was fantastic as previous days. The first spot looked promising but after drifting through it for 30 minutes at first light, we came up empty handed except the tree that Nina hooked, which resulted in a lost Drennan. We decided to make our way to another spot. Gwyn’s dog Jackson’s reaction did not seem like a good prediction for the rest of the trip.
The second spot also looked promising. The narrow run was deep and flowing slowly, with a few branches acting as fish’s cover. Upon our arrival, a rather bright chinook leaped at the tailout, which was a good sign. Chris reminded us that the bites actually did not happen until 8:00am or 9:00am during his previous outings this week, so we were hopeful.
The conversation among the group kept everyone entertained when the bites were absent. As we joked around, I spotted a couple of light dips on my Drennan. Thinking that it was a trout, I ignored them. Chris thought otherwise, he said those chinook salmon he caught previously had bitten quite lightly. A few drifts later, I missed another stronger dip, which was definitely a salmon. I rebaited with fresh roe and concentrated on the drifts. A few more casts later, the float dipped once again and the hook-set was right on the mark this time. The large bend in the 2106 suggested that it was a good sized chinook salmon. It surfaced briefly just downstream from Gwyn and he confirmed that it was an adult chinook. I managed to keep it in the run instead of letting it tow me downstream like many adult chinook would do. A few minutes later, I had a female chinook salmon, estimated to be between 10 and 15lb on the beach.
It was not the brightest chinook that I have caught on the Vedder, but it was not awfully dark either so we decided to keep it.
The bites appeared to be coming on. Chris soon missed several as we chatted. He was disgusted everytime when the DNE float flew back to the beach.
Seeing that the bite was on, Nina took over the rod from me, I baited her hook with another chunk of beautifully cured coho roe from last year. We watched the float closely as it drifted into the strike zone each time. Finally it sank solidly beside one branch. I yelled, “Set the hook” and even did the hook-set motion with my hands, but the rod was not moving. By the time she yanked the rod, it was two seconds too late.
I rebaited her hook. A few drifts later, it went down again at the same spot. This time the hook-set was also slightly delayed, but the fish did not get away. The leap just seconds after the hook-set confirmed that it was a rather fresh chum salmon. Nina put the pressure on the rod, pointing the rod sideway as I told her to so the fish would swim back up as demanded. After tugging back and forth for several minutes, it finally gave up in the shallows. Nina had landed her first ever chum salmon.
A trip to the Vedder is never complete without a clown show. Seeing that the bites were coming from beyond the branches on the other side of the run, Chris decided to make a longer cast. Of course, the main line was caught up with the branch. He could still feed line to the float, so the main line seemed to be lightly tangled to the branch. Chris decided to yank the rod up and down, to see if he could free it. He did it so hard that the top section of his Sage popped off and slid down the main line toward the branch. Suddenly he realized that he just might lose more than his float! Gwyn came to the rescue, by casting out to hook up his top section. After several attempts, he finally got it back. Now Gwyn decided to rescue the float too, so he casted out to catch it while Chris freely fed line so it could be retrieved. After five minutes of commotion, all terminal tackle was saved.
We ended the outing at 9:30am. Today only the clients were successful. The two guides had to go home empty-handed. After all, isn’t their job to put fish on the clients’ lines before theirs?
A fall salmon trip to the Vedder always ends with a brunch at Cookies.