I headed down to the beach yesterday. It was beautiful, with a light, balmy southerly breeze. I rigged up and swung a fly for an hour or two on the incoming tide. Trying a new fly line and sink tip. Later I walked the edges of the last night's high tide , looking for spawned out forage fish, and I wandered in the lagoons, wading ankle deep at the edge of the shallows, turning over shells and seaweed as I went. It is a treat to come out now, in these early weeks, and watch the emergence of so many lives as the sun returns to it's high northern latitudes. When I do this a few times a week it is always a thrill to find that one day, seemingly all of a sudden, there is a lot of life and a lot going on all at once. This is a wonderful time of expectancy. And the trout are soon to be in on the deal in earnest, feeding heavily on small juvenile salmon and tiny herring. Most of our springtime flies are too fully dressed, and way to big.
I didn't see any Chum salmon fry here in this spot yet. And that is no surprise. You could see a random few this early. but that will improve as the weeks go by. I have seen them dropping out of some of the upper Hood Canal and Admiralty inlet regional spawning rivers and creeks as early as late February and the first week of March most years. But generally it runs into later March and even April sometimes up here. And I bet many of them are dropping down into the estuaries a bit earlier with this milder winter we have had, and with the recent freshet and the sunniest winter on record. The sun drives everything.
But I did notice that all of the signs of spring are awakening here; the eagles are active, many birds gathering at the shores, starfish at the shallow tides edge, huge clusters of snails gathered on rocks, midges and crane flies blowing about, countless sculpin scurrying away along the edges, beach hoppers and crabs actively participating, and the deep earthy smell of the salt and mud and sea life. That's the thing- that wonderful fresh smell of the saltchuck. Just a nice day in the sun and soft breezes. The last time I sat and talked with Doug Rose was right there, last fall, sitting on that log, just chewing the fat and watching the tide run. A precious memory now. I had my Mobile Chum Baby Kit with me and I enjoyed spinning flies, from behind the 4X4 steering wheel, on my clamp-on vintage Herter's vise, listening to the wind and water as the sun set. Breathing through a heavy heart. http://olympicpeninsulaflyfishing.blogspot.com
You made me feel as if I was walking right alongside you, trudging down the beach and scuffling along in the shallows looking for the myriad little creatures that exist in that unique zone. I also appreciated how you described the loss of your friend. I'm sorry for your loss.
It always amazes me how our love of friends and family is so connected to our love of nature. Everything's part of a larger design, don't ya think?
Anyway, I too have not seen any evidence of chum fry in the Silverdale area recently. Been fishin' and lookin' around Dyes Inlet, Bainbridge and in the canal over the last few weeks but still waiting for 'em!
Edit: BTW, I almost have my tying area set up in the house and am eager to start playing with this aspect of the sport. My thanks to Mr. Mercer for the tying/buying tips he's shown me (and I expect I'll bend his ear a little more when I get a bit more deep into this! )