HUMBOLDT BAY- THE DEATH OF SALMON SAM (Part II)
Sex herring: “Chovie, we really going to do this? I’ve never sexed up a salmon before. I mean Jesus Chovie you are talking about murder in the 1st; if the salmon find out, you’re as good as cat food –Me too!”
Chovie: “F*CK Sam and his punk ass crew. They can’t keep bullying us around and think there is no consequences. Either he’s done or I’m done.”
(Harry the halibut walks by “Chovie is toast, I got dibs on his yak and gear.”)
Chovie: “Jesus harry can I get a little support here??”
Sex herring: “So…getting back on topic, have you told the priest your plan?”
Chovie: “Priest said to bring a him a fillet hommie.”
Sex herring: “Got it. You know your priest is crooked right?”
We loaded the kayaks and walked down the sand path to the launch. The sun was rising over the bay and the placid bay water teemed with bait under the surface. The weeds blanked the surface of the bay, making it impossible to troll inside. Tim and I decided our best course was to chart a path outside the bay.
The breakers crashed the bay entrance as the outgoing tide move us quickly outside where a fleet of boats was working the sand bar. I metered fish mid column and scattered bait below. There was not much action and I was dreading a repeat of yesterday.
From the distance, along the north jetty wall, a fleet of boats was staging in anticipation of an upcoming event. The birds were antsy, as their eyes pivoted along the ocean surface, looking for any signs of disturbance and fleeting fish. Tim, and I decided to explore the intrigue along the jetty. Tim takes off first to explore the fleet while I stayed back to troll a little longer. As Tim approaches the fleet he radios;
“Keith, come over this way. I’ve seen two hook ups”
“I’m on my way”, moments later
“Juan is on”, Tim radios from the distance, as Juan’s rod bends over from the weight of a large Chinook. The large fish fights defiantly before finding its freedom from a small window in an open net –Heartbreak.
The action came fast, and furious, as flurries moved along the north jetty wall. School after school bent fisherman’s rods and the sound of fish alarms echoed the air with excitement, as the schools of salmon marauded the sea floor foraging for prey—They were hungry and on the bite.
Tap tap tap the pole tip relayed the intent of the fish below. BAM!!! the pole gets hammered and the rod tip bends over. The line peels off the spool as cheers quickly followed from the surrounding boats. The rod tip erratically bounces as the line lifts from the water towards the frantic fish in the distance. It dives down. It dives out, and the line goes slack before an acrobatic Chinook goes air born. I hectically cranked the reel to retrieve any slack line as the fish dashed towards the rear of my yak and wraps the main line over the rudder—I held my breath. I hastily maneuvered the kayak to unwrap the snagged line before it broke off—It worked. The Chinook came up HOT but quickly lost steam from the fight. After a moment she sings her swan song and it was game over—clipped and bled.
The fleet saw consistent action as the morning drew on. Tim was becoming stressed from the inaction on his rod. His eyes glimmered with the passion to fish but the beating on his will was taking a toll. The feeling is best described as a combination of anger, envy, jealousy, grief and WTF is going on!! It happens when your will is dismantled, piece by piece, by the sound of fish hitting the decks and people cheering from excitement, I’ve been there—it’s brutal. I know this feeling and wished the fish gods would provide him a pass, at least one day, to partake in the feast—they wouldn’t.
From the distance I hear a loud explicatory as a shore fisherman loses a large Chinook to the rocks. Moments later I see multiple hook up around the same point. The waves broke along the rocky point and I questioned the sanity of the shore fisherman, and my own, for attempting to fish near breaking waves. I pinned a bright sex herring, slapped on some sardine juice and sent it down—Four cranks from the bottom. The contour of the bottom was a mixture of sand and jagged rocks gradually rising from 35 ft to a steady 20. I drifted over a small pinnacle when the tip of my rod bends over.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
“I’m on!” I yell to Tim, as he shrugs and goes back to the melancholy of his thoughts. I reel it in and SNAP!! The fish comes off at the boat, leaving a disemboweled head as evidence of a fight I clearly lost. Dishearten but not broken, I circled back around the point and pinned on another herring. Immediately my rod doubles over into the water.
The size of the fish was formidable from the outset as it takes blistering runs into the depths. I straighten out the slack and steadied the bow of my rod.“Keep it tight” I thought as I breathed to maintain my composure against the rush of adrenaline shooting through my veins. My heart raced like an Indy 500 racecar as I awaited the tragic crash. The thoughts of spit hooks and lost fights flooded my mind. The ghost of lost salmon taunted me to pay attention to them long enough for their comrade to escape. I pushed back. I pulled back to keep my mind clear. Then I see the bright chrome struggling against the murky brown water rising from the depths. 20lbs of chrome shakes its head, and struggles against the current, tide and my will. It’s the end and he knew it. I’m coming for you Sam. He makes a final dash for the bottom and bends the rod over. His violent shakes sought to dislodge the hook in his jaw. The line peels of the screaming reel one last time before coming to a stand still. I crank him up from the depths. Defiantly he struggles to the surface eventually succumbing to exhaustion and my net—Game over, and limits for the day!
The anticlimactic atmosphere of day two was erased by the hot action of the finale.I paddled back to the protection of the bay where the water was flat and calm. A few kayakers were inside the bay, and we exchanged pleasantries and took a few photos. Tim followed shortly after and we loaded the kayaks on the car and drove home from the bay still teeming with fish to be caught –Next time.
Chovie: “What’s up Sam, this looks like the end for you buddy.”
Salmon Sam: “Chovie. haha, you little sht, you think you’re so smart don’t you? If you take me out the gang will just replace me. You’re going to die a horrible death. They will hunt you down and eat you alive, piece by piece.”
Chovie: “I’ll take my chances Sam. My priest sends his regards. He will enjoy you piece by piece” (Chovie puts out Salmon Sam)