Pink Salmon

by Eric K

The portability of the Daiwa Kiyose 30SF is such that I can have it with me at any given time. In the case of a recent trip to Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior the Kiyose hitched a ride in my fly fishing vest and proved itself capable of tackling the annual pink salmon run. The tributaries of Lake Superior are fast flowing freestone rivers and streams pushing deeply tannin stained waters into the crystal clear, foot numbingly cold body of the big lake. Thanks to a 1956 accidental introduction of the pink salmon, or humpies, north shore anglers have an opportunity to target these fast growing fall spawners.

The fishing isn't terribly difficult once the fish are found. However, they can be fickle and we spent many hours sight fishing dead drifted yarn egg patterns and bead-head nymphs to humpies that weren't interested. This is classic "chuck and duck" flyfishing. The angler adds split-shot until there is enough weight to keep the fly ticking along the rocky stream bed where these current loving fish hold and spawn. A large slow moving cold front brought with it a large volume of precip that raised the river levels along the shore, temporarily making the rivers unfishable. It also brought in salmon that had been staging at the mouths of these rivers and we found humpies in virtually all the streams we explored the following day. It also got them aggressive!

The next day we sampled several rivers with our 6 weight flyrods and nymph rigs. I had it in the back of my mind that when I figured these fish out I would then have a go at them with the Kiyose. I routinely fish bead heads and weighted nymphs with the Kiyose in open water situations for larger fish, having landed several decent LM bass. But with the weight required to get a good drift in these fast moving freestone rivers, I was concerned that if I did hook a pink in that current that either my tippet would pop or the rod.

Expressing my doubts, my friend bet me $20 I couldn't land one! Of course now I was committed. After finding a perfect run, I set-up the Kiyose with a level flouro line and a short 4X tippet, having never used anything beefier than 5X on this rod. I fished a yarn egg pattern with two split shot 9" up the line. Casting was not graceful, but the rod put it where it needed to go every time. Seeing a good looking current break holding a hen, I drifted the fly into the break and held it back to settle behind a stone. She came forward 5", put her head down and took in the fly. That I managed to not flub the hook-set was amazing. That she ran down stream and rod nor line popped was even more so! While the Kiyose adroitly handled the fish, I monkied about for my net and slipped it behind her, letting the current push her into it. By no means a monster (MN state record around 3.5lbs), but at 14" or so she was healthy and strong and very fun to catch on this rod.

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"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
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