Why do we do it? Some people come to party. For some of us it is definitely the need, or desire, for the meat of the salmon itself. Others pursue them for the challenge of catching one using various types of bait and tackle. Another type of fisherman uses the pursuit of the fall salmon as an excuse to be in the fall outdoors with the fresh air; the beautiful scenery; and close friends and family.
The first type of fisherman is usually outfitted with heavy rods, line, hooks, booze, and sometimes fireworks; and can usually be found fishing below the dam at all hours of the day and night. They setup their "camp" with lanterns and inflatable rafts for their gear. I rarely see them leave the river, even the ones who bring a large amount of beer as part of the gear. I guess they either hold it in or fall in the river to clean out their waders. After having filled my waders with river water twice this year, due to stupid missteps, I have no desire to do it myself, but I guess if your drunk enough the temperature won't bother you. And yes, I did say fireworks, it wasn't a typo. I saw it myself this year complete with "oohs" and "aahs." What can I say; these people are there to party.
The second type of fisherman is outfitted similarly to the first type, with the exception of the booze. They usually shake their heads at the party animals and mutter under their breath. You can sometimes see the two groups clash at the dam when their lines entangle and each one tries to get the other to let out line. This usually results in someone screaming profanities as their line gets cut by the other guy.
The third type of fisherman is usually armed with lighter, more specialized gear. Some people fish with long spindly noodle rods and light line that is tipped with a small morsel of salmon eggs to entice the fish into biting when it really isn't hungry. Some fish with various sizes of fly rods and use chuck-n-duck rigs tipped with spawn or flies; or fish wet flies or streamers. Yet others fish with spinning rods tipped with spinners, spoons, chuck-n-duck rigs, or float rigs tipped with spawn or jigs. Some of these people are actually targeting Steelhead that follow the Salmon up the rivers during their spawning run. You will probably start to see more Steelhead fisherman in the rivers as the fall progresses into winter. The other thing about this type of fisherman is that they often look for little known places to fish. That is what makes them so valuable to know.
The fourth type of fisherman can sometimes be confused with the third type, but there are some differences. The third type brings along equipment for comfort as well as fishing. They usually are accompanied by several other people and can be seen fishing in a group. They usually setup "camp" and have a few camp chairs, a small campfire made out of downed timber, maybe some marshmallows or hotdogs, and a few kids fishing. Don't get me wrong, these people are here to fish, but they are also here to enjoy the outdoors and each other's company. You can often spot them pausing with cameras to take pictures of the scenery and each other as they fish, because they are actually there after the memories more than the fish. This group also has the common desire with type three fishermen to get away from the large crowds by finding obscure spots to fish.
I guess you could say I fall into the last three categories. This year I have taken two trips so far. The first trip was a hardcore fishing trip with more time spent in the water than out and I had two fish as a result. My second trip was with family and was more about having a good time than fishing, although we did spend a great deal of time doing that. Sometimes it pays off as well; we found a spot that gave up a total of five fish for all the family, which is plenty for the year. If I can go again I think I will try to be the third type of fisherman and concentrate on perfecting one technique.
I guess there is room for all of us on the water in the fall as long as we are considerate. One disturbing trend is the yearly increase in the amount of trash near Tippy Dam and the other popular fishing spots. I'm beginning to think the DNR could make as much money, if not more, by handing out littering tickets instead of snagging tickets.
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