So life has been pretty crazy in my neck of the woods this past month or so. Among other things, I messed up my tricep at work pretty badly a few weeks ago, which really put a cramp on my style for a bit. I even had to miss out on a day on the water with Ira! So when a situation arose today that offered me a widow of time to be on the water, I jumped all over it. The shipyard where I work closes down every year between Christmas and New Year's, and the last day at work before the closure is traditionally an "easy" day. As it were, I found myself being off work extremely early today. Now, I have some wrapping to do, and other duties to attend to before tomorrow's festivities, and my wife has certainly kept me busy with this stuff lately, so surely if I was to rush home she would quickly make use of my new found free time. We have a Christmas dinner with her family planned for the evening as well, so it would be another hectic day..... Unless, of course, I simply didn't report to the better half that I had this free time, and instead find something to occupy my time. Luckily for me I keep my truck stocked with waders/jacket and at least one rod/reel combo. Well today I had an 8 wt, a floating line, my waders, and stripping basket, but I had taken my wading jacket out last week and with it all of my flies, so I was stuck using whatever flies I had stuck in the dashboard and visors of my truck. (Turns out I could make a pretty complete saltwater box out of what I have stuck around my truck) Anyway, I weighed the pros and cons of this slight bit of dishonesty, and decided that my sanity was in need of a few hours on the water, and thats all I really cared about at the moment, so I headed out to a favorite beach where I've spent plenty of time, but never really fished for SRC. Earlier this year I vowed to spend more time on this beach during the "off" season, and see how it would fare for SRC. I parked the truck and started gearing up, and realized that I was going to be in for a cold time as I really wasn't dressed for an outing, rather I was dressed for sitting around the office at work playing cards. Luckily I had a fleece stuffed in my truck, so I threw it on and rigged up. I grabbed a few clousers in varying sizes/colors, a couple random chum flies, a popper, and one lone Popsicle stick that I can't even remember sticking in my visor and headed out. I got on the water just before high tide, which turned out to be perfect for this particular stretch of beach. I knew where some deeper channels were from time spent chasing salmon, and knew where I had seen some cutthroat feeding so I immediately started in this vicinity. The tide was moving, but barely. I started off fishing a badly beat up popper, and immediately started getting interest. I think on my first 10 casts I had fish attack the popper on 8 of them.... But I missed them all. I've never fished a popper much, and never really gotten decent at it. I was having a blast with all the action, but I really wanted to catch a fish! After about a half hour or so of missing fish after fish, I finally connected and landed a scrappy little 10" cutthroat. Not much of a challenge on the 8 wt, but it was a beautiful fish and just what the doctor ordered for me after the past month of insanity. I continued to fish through the tide change, and ended up landing 4 more SRC, the biggest going maybe 15", and 1 rezzie that was closer to 16". The SRC all came to the popper, and I missed many, many more fish. The rezzie came on size 8 all pink clouser that I tied on after the popper pretty much fell apart. None of these fish were huge, and none of them were much of a battle with the gear I was using, but they were all beautiful, healthy fish and were a great way to enjoy a crisp Christmas eve. I have missed the beach a lot!!!!! About 2 hours after tide change the current really started to pick up. My action had really died down, so I decided to move down just a bit and make some casts into a couple of deeper channels I knew of from my previous salmon trips. First cast into the first channel and I lost the pink clouser to a boulder. I contemplated wading out to try to save the fly before busting it off, but the water looked so fishy that I couldn't bring myself to disturb it anymore than I already had so I pointed the rod at the fly and snapped it off. At this point I tied on the Popsicle Stick I had found stuck in my truck's visor. I tied up a bunch of these years ago when I made an attempt to get serious about SRC, so this must have been a leftover of that batch. It was tied quite poorly, the proporitions were way out of wack, and the head was a disaster but I tied it on anyway and started casting. I worked through one channel, and then stepped across a shallower sand bar so I could cast into the other, and had made 2 casts when I my line came taught and I was into a fish. A real fish. I could tell instantly that this was no little SRC. It hit about 35 feet from me, and simply turned and ran. It didn't head shake. It didn't jump. It didn't come at me. It simply hit and ran like hell. So fast, in fact, that I was in my backing in about 2 seconds flat. I was so caught off guard by this that it's a miracle I managed to keep the fish on the line. A freight train of a hit was NOT what I was anticipating this day. I really wasn't expecting much at all, to be honest. The earlier SRC and rezzie was a huge bonus! Anyway, after it got into my backing it slowed down, and it became a game of tug of war. I'd work the fish towards me, it would take the line back out. This went back and forth for a couple minutes, before I was finally able to get my wits about me. At this point I stepped back to the beach, and worked down the beach a ways to get a different angle on the fish. Shortly after he turned and pretty much came right in and I slid a 6-7lb blackmouth up to the beach. I was so excited I was shaking! My first thought was "Holy shit, a king!" My second thought was "Damn, no camera!" Yup... A camera was one thing I most certainly did not have in my rolling fly shop I call a truck. I unhooked the fish, waded out a bit thinking I'd have to let him rest up, but I took about three steps cradling him in the water and he took off out of my hand like a bolt of lightning. At this point I walked up and sat on a big chunk of driftwood for about 15 minutes, just taking it all in. It has been a rough few weeks, and it was nice to feel some redemption. I was interrupted with a text from my wife, to which I responded that I had just got off early and would be home soon. I headed back to the truck, and back home where I still arrived a couple hours earlier than normal, and my wife was quite pleased. Win win I wish like hell I had a camera, as my first chinook on the fly is something I'd love to share with everyone... But the image of that fish taking off out of my hand is something I won't soon forget. I'm off for the next week or so, and am hoping to take my boat out and do some gear fishing for these fish so maybe I'll sneak end up with a pic or two if I'm lucky anyway. Merry Christmas everyone!