We used to live pretty far away so I hadn't had a chance to try it before, but now we're about 45 minutes from arguably the best sockeye fishery in the lower 48! A couple weeks ago I got invited to head out and try my hand at catching some for the first time. My buddy (who's boat we were taking) understood the sort of action we were likely to encounter, so he suggested that I bring along my older daughter, who is almost as big of a fishing nut as I am. I don't know who was more excited as we readied our gear the night before. We got up bright and early at a mind numbing 2:30 to head to the boat ramp. I expected a groggy grumpy 8 year old at that hour of the morning, but I gently shook her shoulder only once and she popped up, grinned, and said "Let's go!"
We got the boat on the water just as it was starting to get light out. We motored out onto the Columbia River just outside of the mouth of the Okanogan River where 100,000+ sockeye were patiently waiting for the Okanogan to cool down enough to continue their journey upstream. This pause in their migration makes for some absolutely silly fishing. We set out three rods on downriggers, usually about 20-30 feet down and began to troll.
|Lake Pateros in the morning|
|We'll have to work on her rod watching skills...|
However, this was not typical salmon fishing by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe 10 minutes into our day, the rod closest to the kid started bouncing! My buddy set the hook and handed her the rod. I may be a tad biased, but I'd say she battled the fish like a champ! It made a couple little runs, and almost got wrapped in the motor, but she brought it in just fine! Soon the first fish of the day hit the deck. It ended up being a little Chinook, and my daughter's first salmon ever!
|This is an important milestone in the life of a young fisherman (fisherperson?)!|
|I wonder why they're called sockeyes. Their eyes look normal to me.|
|Apparently the sun was a little bright by this point.|
|Anyone want to play a game of 'Count the Boats'?|
I'm pretty sure it doesn't get any better than that.
|The aforementioned stuffed cooler.|