As our McKenzie River Salmon Season comes to a close, we now have reports of freshly arriving Salmon in Oregon’s coastal rivers
Saying Goodbye to our 2017 McKenzie River Salmon Season.
Our final September salmon journey down the McKenzie this past week proved fun and surprisingly productive. We actually brought 3 hatchery salmon to the net on Thursday, September 7, including a double header on a last minute half-day effort. When I got the call, I was initially pretty skeptical about our prospects given the late date and the fact that I had pretty much already packed it in for our McKenzie River Spring-Summer Chinook Season. I guess since I was available and I had noticed a forecast for possible showers, I said “What the heck, maybe a change in the weather and Lady Luck will help steer us into an aggressive late arrival. Let’s give it a go.”
My guest was definitely not into an O-Dark-Thirty launch so we met at 9:00 am and were actively fishing by 9:30 am. We had decided to take a run & gun approach, just giving a cursory pass to the most likely holes on a 5 mile drift, no anchoring up, no pounding the water. To our delight, the strategy worked. There was only one other boat on the water and they were swinging flies for steelhead in the shallower riffles so boat pressure was certainly not an issue. Our first pull-down came about a mile and a quarter below the launch in the third hole we fished. The fish was a medium sized hatchery keeper that appeared to be in pretty darned decent condition for a September Springer. After a short 10 minute battle, Garry finessed his first fish to the net and we were on the board.
Clouds were moving in quickly and it appeared that showers might be more than likely. Though we were pretty stoked with our late season accomplishment, we continued fishing with only modest conviction knowing well that we had already pushed the envelope beyond capacity. In swift current at about mile 3 of the drift, down went Garry’s rod again. Fish on! I rowed like a banshee toward softer water where I could drop anchor and get the second rod out of Garry’s way. I reeled in fast and was about to lift the gear into the boat when wham, yet a different salmon slammed my lure and we had a double header going. As luck would have it, my fish turned tail bee-lining toward Garry’s fish. After several minutes of panic, expletives aside, we ended up landing both fish. Suffice to say, miracles do happen, even to the undeserving.
The attached photos help demonstrate the quality of the meat in these late arriving Spring Chinook. The Springers have evolved to travel long distances and can live for months off their high quantity of body fat as they journey back from the ocean to their place of birth, sometimes several hundred miles.
Soon after landing the double, hard rain commenced accompanied by intense lightening and thunder which we took as a sign from above. When a major bolt left a tree on the south ridge smoldering, we decided without debate, to heed the sign and head for the barn. It was certainly a memorable September salmon trip to close out our McKenzie River Salmon Season for 2017.
In the coming months now, when targeting salmon. we will be focusing on on Fall Chinook in the coastal rivers and estuaries as they stage for their Fall Run. Such rivers include the Siuslaw, the Umpqua, the Siletz, the Coquille and numerous others.