This was an absolutely awesome event. I cannot think of anyway that it could have been better. Fishing is just that, and there is no guarantee the will cooperate. This day was about so much more than salmon.
I would like to share our story about the Salmon Slam.
About a month ago, Skip Hughes our PHW lead, let me know about the slam. He primarily flyfishes now and has done every fly fishing event since we started. Knowing that I would rather boat fish than any other thing, he asked if I would go. I thought it would be neat, and if lucky I could "stow away" on someones boat as an observer or mate.
We ran into a couple of bumps along they way. First, we had transportation issues. Since the event was over 100 miles away, we were unable to use a bus provided by the VA. Second, we had two vets cancel in the last 4 days leading up to the event. Our VA representative stated that he wouldn't blame me if we cancelled since there was only one. I sure didn't want to tell the last guy that we weren't going, so we continued to search for someone who could go on short notice. With three days left, we were able to find another.
At Midnight, I picked up the two remaining participants at their respective homes in downtown Erie and jumped on the Thruway and headed NE. I had met Joe before, but had never met Chuck and only talked to him a few times on the phone. Joe told stories, some serious, some hilarious. Chuck was quiet in the back seat, with the exception of some occasional snoring.
After a quick stop at Tim Horton's somewhere between North of Rochester, we finished the last leg of the trip and arrived at Arnie's at around 4:30. Precisely on schedule, I flipped the seat back and figured I would relax for a bit. There is something inside of every fisherman, that requires him to look out at new, unfamiliar water even if it is dark. The three of us were no different, and we walked out on the dock and gazed at the water in the reflection of the lights around the bay, near and far.
Shortly after 5am, I noticed that the marina was coming to life. Not your typical fishing crowd, but a mix of fishermen as well as a few ladies walking their dogs. As it got lighter, I noticed that the tents were set up and wandered over to see if I could help set up. There I met Nick and Theresa. There was coffee ready. Nick did not mention all the trouble he went through to make it.
Soon, more and more captains and participants began to arrive. Since there were a couple of father/son duos on the same boat, there was room on a boat called 'Bout Time' captained by Mike Jr and Sr. I eagerly boarded the boat and we headed out of the Bay.
Soon (The water here on Lake E. is ALOT shallower than Lake O) we were setting up in about 100fow. Soon we caught a nice steelhead about 6.5#. I have caught lots of them in Lake E. but after some trying have never caught a fish with a flasher so this was if first for me. A bit later, a diver started screaming and I grabbed it from the holder and held on. The line soon went slack as the fish either bit through or broke the leader at the hook. Soon the rigger rod went up and a large fish was on the line. With a bit of skill and more luck, I was able to get the fish to the back of the boat for netting with minimal trouble, a 17.7 king.
A couple of hours later, we headed in. Both Mikes commented on how the bite was slow. I fished for about 4 hours and caught the largest fish of my 30+ year avid fishing career.
At the dock, I found that Joe caught a king tied for 2nd and Chuck caught a King that nearly decaitated itself in the motor. Both had ear to ear grins. Soon we headed home for Erie. Both Joe and Chuck were surpisingly peppy for older fellas who had been up for this long. They both recounted the stories of how the fish pulled and pulled, and how much fun they had with the whole event.
Thank you soooo much to everyone involved in this event.
Right now we (The Erie Chapter PHW) is working on a stream steelhead outing this November. I can only pray will turn out as good as this event.