Not in great numbers, but with consistency. I saw my first few salmon in the Menomonee River Saturday. I had a strike on a white Woolly Bugger, but the hook didn't connect.
Monday I went out again in the late afternoon. I saw a few fish, and made perfect casts with egg patterns, just to watch the the fly bounce off the face and roll down the body of the fish. Something other than food on your mind pal? I walked through the concrete and found one massive fish that looked like it had been hooked, landed and left for dead, such a shame and a waste. I don't know how else it would have got there. In the picture below, the butt of my rod up to the end of the cork measures 10" just to get an idea of the size of the fish.
I went out fairly early Wednesday and had the river to myself for awhile. I only saw two fish, a smaller salmon that tucked itself into an undercut bank and wouldn't budge for anything, and then one big Boss Fight of a male making all kinds of noise. When I first spotted the big guy, he was basically out of the water, "swimming" over the shallow gravel heading downstream.
I made the decision that I was going to get wet, and I went in after him in my jeans and work boots. After a couple hundred yards of wading downstream, I gave up hope of finding him and started to head back up. That's when I saw him, when I turned around. He was in two feet of water just ahead of another run of inch deep riffles. Even in that two feet of water, his dorsal fin and tail broke the surface. He was swirling and rushing all over, I don't know how I could have missed him the first time.
I only made a few casts before he lunged and slashed at my streamer. I've never actually seen a take like that before, only felt it. Then I had that "What have I gotten myself into?" feeling. You know? When you realize that you just hooked into one of the biggest fish of your life on a size 8 streamer, a five weight fly rod with a 4x tippett? that's what most people would consider stream trout gear. Oh yeah, I didn't bring a net either...
I almost landed him right away actually, I reached down to grab him by the tail and he took off hard and didn't stop. I could see the backing on my reel, but he never actually went into the backing. I'm sure I would have seen it proper if I didn't run downstream to keep up with him. He pulled me a few hundred yards downstream. There were several more failed attempts to land him that resulted in reel hissing runs. But each run got shorter, until it seemed like I didn't even need to chase him anymore because he didn't get much more than ten yards away.
Finally he was beat, I brought him along the bank, reached under his gills with my reel hand, I must have set my rod down and grabbed him by the tail with the other hand, but I don't remember. I lifted him from the water, and he made one last ditch flailing effort to get away, but he was mine. When he thrashed, I got covered in fish slime, and I held him tight to keep from dropping him. I think I kissed him at that point, I've kissed bluegill and sunfish with my baby girl because she always does but never a big slimy salmon. I guess when you spend that much time with a fish, you bond. It felt like I had him on for an hour, but I have no clue how long it was.
I only snapped one picture so I could get him back into the water. I wanted to show the perfect hook set in that mouth full of teeth.
There was a spectator who took some pictures. She said she would email me some, but in my adrenaline haze, I could have totally messed up my email address for all I know. Anyway, if I get them, I'll post some.
The fish took a minute, but eventually swam away. I have no upper body strength left, and I can still smell fish slime, but after an epic Boss Fight like this one, you level up!