Montana Creek was full of fish when we arrived, and they just kept coming on the second day as well. Designed as a “getting practice catching fish” day, we had plenty of willing subjects to help new fly fishers get the hang of hooking, playing, landing and releasing fish.
Both the pink and chum salmon were eager to help teach everyone how to catch them. Some of the hook-ups were in the fish’s dorsal fin or spots other than the mouth, but they still fought like crazy as we landed them for release. That helped the gals perfect their skills on keeping the line tight and letting the fish run, skills they will need for all of the other fish they pursue in the future.
The water was high and rather murky the first day, but we could still make out the dark shapes of fish, which helped them practice targeting a particular fish and directing the fly right to it. They got better and better at it as the day went on. These fish were not dime bright and keepable, but they still provided actual targets for the practice that everyone was after. A “triple” ended their day as they all landed a fish caught right in the mouth at the same time.
The second day the water had cleared up considerably and even gone down several inches, so, while that helped with sight-casting to the fish, it also made them spookier. Darker flies helped to deal with that problem, and when we fished from a different spot than the day before they managed to catch fresher chum salmon right in the tip of the nose. They, too, accidently caught fish in places other than the mouth, which is pretty much unavoidable in these salmon-chocked waters, but the catch and release practice they got was terrific.
We had hoped that we might find some bright silver salmon among the mix of pink and chum salmon that filled the great side channel where we fished, but it was not to be. Either the run was about over, or there just weren’t any silvers around when we were there. We’ll never know which.
Lots of fly fishing newbies take advantage of these “learning” days each year, and they always have loads of fun developing their skills, getting their questions answered, and being able to put what they are learning into practice immediately. My thanks to the pinks and chums for helping me see to it that happens!