Almost Won E-mail
Monday, 19 October 2009 11:37

Almost big enough

Hey KFM,
Bryce Molenkamp, Zeelander, from the Hobie team here.

Pumping my legs on the pedals I squint my eyes and put my sunglasses on in the late morning light. Unlike most days fishing I'm taking my time and wishing I was deep in my sleeping bag stuffed in that little green waterproof cocoon I call my tent. Yesterday's skunking was still very fresh in my mind and while making my way out to the fishing holes today there just isn't that fervor that I feel every morning when I hit the water. It is a beautiful day though, I really shouldn't complain. The mist peeling off the Vancouver Island mountain tops, the curious harbor seals coming out to greet me with bobbing heads, the bald eagles fluttering and soaring overhead, the warming temperature of a clearing day; it's really hard to complain on the first day of the Tyee Kayak Fishing Derby.

 I finally make my way around the last bend in Moutcha Bay and I can see the rest of the entrants all set in their holes with their rods pumping up and down, catching the sun glinting off their guides. Other yakers paddling towards a hefty Tyee (Chinook) freshly breached leaving only it's rings of wake as a reminder of the full bodied form that could make it to Alaska and back against all odds. I decide to make way to a part of the bay which I yesterday thought might be productive. Thirty to forty feet from a near vertical granite slope the bottom went flat until it made a dive from thirty feet all the way down to seventy. The fish finder had shown some schools would hang in their but today the trolling powerboats had a way of stirring them all up and no schools really hung around anywhere for very long. I settled in, pointed my bow into the light breeze coming from the Nootka Sound inlet and slowly pumped the pedals to hover over my spot. I reached back and grabbed my favorite rod, hooked up a light three-ounce jig and settled into my seat for the first cast.

 There were a few ways to fish this spot and two of the most popular methods were to drop the jig straight down and jig the depth where the salmon were holding or cast thirty or more feet out and let the jig flutter through the water column pumping slowly on the retrieve. I looked to my fishfinder and with no school below me and decided to get to casting. Nothing for the first few casts and then the fishfinder showed a school slowly rearing it's head. Thump! I retrieved my jig a little faster with the impending mega school in my sight. Thump! I reeled faster as the school came into view and then I went full speed retrieve to prepare to get the jig down there. Thump! Thump! Finally got the jig in and got to pulling out forty five feet straight down into the school. Thump! Thump! I started my first jig and the screen started to clear out. Less fish, less fish, less.. empty. The school only held about forty or so fish and none of them went for my chunk of hooked metal which now hung motionless below me.

 I smelled yesterday's skunking still fresh on the water and I was none too pleased. As I sat back and leaned against my tackle box I thought of some words a fellow yakfisherman once told me. You have to be confident that you're going to catch fish. You've got to just will them onto your hook. I looked to the sky, shook my head, let out a long breath and got back into the game.

 I thought a little deeper this time. Since they're running they're not going to be in any particular place. They're going to be in constant motion and the only way to get into them is to find what looks like the right spot, fan cast and then on to the next. I went a little further out, into deeper water, and drifted with the breeze fan casting from spot to spot. Nine o'clock, ten o'clock, eleven, twelve, one, two, three, next! Nine o'clock, ten o'clock, eleven, twelve, one, two, three, next! I covered two spots when the fishfinder screen started filling up again. Thump! I was going to keep it under control this time and stick to my strategy. Thump! No going nuts and chasing what might not even come to me. Thump! The screen filled up from fifty feet all the way to twenty when finally the depth started to read twenty feet I knew this was the school. Thump! Thump! I reeled in my jig and got to fan casting again letting my jig flutter through the school Thump! WHAM!!! My jig's hit like a freight train and the taught line rips my rod into an upside down crescent, rod tip just tapping the surface of the water. I slip leaning way too far forward while casting and struggle to lean back in my seat. She's coming right at me and I see her fly right under me, a huge Chinook, in full sprint mode, dorsal fin tucked all the way back. My line hits the side of my yak and as I push the rod tip around my bow the spool sliding under my thumb starts to get warm. She slows for a second and then she's in the air, right in front of me, frozen in a fountain of shimmering water. She hits the surface and I reel like mad to pull in the slack, then she goes to the air again. Jumping three more times, each lower than the first and each time I'm just struggling to pull in the slack so the hook doesn't just fall from her jaws. Then she takes a different strategy.

 Seemingly done with her aerial assault she hugs the bottom and the slayride ensues. Pulled around the bay all I can think is I'm finally not that guy getting skunked, I'm that guy with a fish on.. for the time being. I push my thoughts of glory back in my back pocket and try not to think of the horrible pop and slack line that could happen at any second. I keep the line nice and tight and put it to her. She's got a lot of power in those shoulders and gets some good wake going off my bow. I get her to the leader and try to get a look but she's just out of sight when she takes another run for the bottom. Three or four more times, my swivel is glinting in the air and I follow the line down to the water only to see a blank canvas of deep evergreen. That's when I feel her power dwindling. I can feel it easier with every crank of the reel, she's slowly giving. I reach back for the net and quietly lie it across my lap doing my best not to snag it on all the protrusions across my yak. I reel in pulling her in my direction and she's responding. Her dorsal fin breaks the surface with tail fin behind slowly pumping left to right directly at me. I lower the net straight down along side the yak gripping the bottom taught with two fingers. It's hanging there like a hockey net and all I have to do is guide her in. She's still coming right for it and in the corner of my mind I'm thinking, she's gonna make a burst and turn the corner and be off again so stay ready. But she persists to go straight. I let my two fingers out of the net and as it unfurls I slide it out and she glides right in. Two seconds later her head's right in my lap with her tail sticking up to the sky at the end of my feet. Twenty six and a half pounds of Tyee salmon and first place of the pro division of the Moutcha Bay Tyee kayak fishing derby. I love kayak fishing!!

 

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