Species #50 — Chinook Salmon

Though this is a jack (juvenile) and not the fish I caught that day, Chinook Salmon live up to the title of “King”.

Species: Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Location: Humboldt Bay, Eureka, CA
Date: August 11, 2013

This trip was something special. With my brother and a few of his friends, we opted to go to the Central California Coast. Of course fishing was on the docket, but my main reason for the trip was Glass Beach, California, a location not far from Fort Bragg.

We stayed in Woodland on the way down, with my Uncle Sam and Aunt Mary, and after parting ways, we headed west to the coast.

From left to right: my brother Gabe, his friends Nate Nickel and Will Brain, a much more physically-prime me (I worked out then). Photo credit: Aunt Mary.

Everything went south from there. Since this story will be an upcoming column this summer, I won’t go into too much detail, but basically these things happened:

1) My headlights went out as I made my way north along Highway 1 (a notoriously windy and dangerous road), and we basically drove blind.

2) We couldn’t afford a hotel, and there were no showers, so we paid for a carwash after visiting Glass Beach to wash each other off. We used the car to block traffic, as we stripped down to our underwear and pressure washed one another.

3) Glass Beach itself was a disappointment. Years of unregulated commercial gathering had destroyed this once-beautiful destination.

Sea glass has always fascinated me. Though it pales in comparison to fishing, collecting it is one of my only other hobbies.

4) I took a salmon charter out of Eureka. I caught mostly Coho Salmon (which had to be released), but I did manage to catch a few Chinooks.

It wasn’t monstrous, but the 13-pound Chinook I landed remains one of my larger fish to-date. I’ve only caught White Sturgeon, Bat Rays, Striped Bass, and Common Carp larger at the time of writing in June 2018. It was also my first Salmonid over 30 inches. Note my matching shoes and sweater, too. I’ve always been fly.

5) The largest salmon boated was nearly taken by a sea lion. Fortunately for the angler who caught it, the gaff can be a persuasive tool.

This is one of the best fishing pics I’ve ever taken on a boat.

That was more or less it. I’ll keep it simple because I don’t want to cannibalize my own writing.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #51 — Australasian Snapper.

Species #49 — Coho Salmon

Coho Salmon, often called Silver Salmon, are the second-place salmon of the Pacific Northwest, behind only Chinooks.

Species: Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
Location: Puget Sound, Seattle, WA
Date: July 23, 2013

Washington has some tremendous fisheries. For that reason, it’s strange that I spent so long without fishing this state.

In fact, when I left on this trip in my newly-purchased 2002 Honda CR-V with my friends Ben Blanchard and his then-girlfriend (now-wife) Autumn, it wasn’t a fishing trip.

I packed some fishing rods because, of course, but I really had no idea when or where I’d be fishing.

Instead, we’d traveled north to Sequim, Washington for the Lavender Festival. It wasn’t really my idea, but I like to travel, and I’d never been to that part of Washington State before.

We made it up safely, and the sight, sound, smell, and taste of lavender permeated everything. I supposed you could say it purpletrated our senses completely because we moved from farm to farm and sampled honey, jam, baked goods, lemonade, and every other food or beverage you can infuse with lavender.

It was delightful.

The summer after graduating college, I joined a few friends for a trip to the Lavender Festival in Sequim, Washington. I dressed for the occasion.

Though I was a bit skeptical about going to a festival dedicated to flowers, it actually turned out great. It was beautiful and an all-around great experience.

We made sure to take a lot of pictures of the majestic scenery, and despite my low-quality camera, they turned out pretty well.

Lavender and bees go about as well together as lavender and honey — for that reason, I took home a lot of lavender honey.

***

Though fishing was at the back of my mind, it was still present. Obviously.

I began planning trips here and there, and apart from a brief stop at the famed Lake Crescent where I tried for the Beardslee strain of Rainbow Trout and several stops at small coastal streams in pursuit of Bull Trout, I hadn’t spent enough time fishing.

So as we goofed off and frolicked in the lavender, taking a mock photo shoot, my wheels really began to spin.

Shot 1: Casual.
Shot 2: Too Cool.

 

 

 

 

Shot 3: The Lookback.

 

 

Shot 4: Shy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

The actual fishing trip came a day or two after the festival ended. After riding my first ferry and dining on some delicious Nepalese food when the three of us met up with our friends Christopher Puckett and Logan Moore — both of whom were attending school in Seattle at the time — I crashed hard.

Boarding the boat on two hours’ sleep was rough.

I struggled to stay awake as we ran out to our location, but All-Star Charters was a decent charter operation. We trolled for fish. Though it wasn’t my favorite method, it worked, and we picked up a number of Coho Salmon — my first.

We actually hooked one Chinook as well, but the angler lost it at the last minute.

Over the day, I landed two total fish, and added a new species.

Salmon trolling is boring, but it can be effective.

My first Coho Salmon weren’t terribly big or hard-fighting, but they sure tasted good.

Everything had panned out, but next time, I would make sure to prioritize fishing just a little more. It’s a mantra I’ve lived by ever since.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #50 — Chinook Salmon.