Jason Brooks, one of my Western Washington writers, floated the Humptulips River on the southwest side of the Olympic Peninsula for coho earlier this week with guide Mark Coleman (425-736-8920). Here’s his report:
So, my buddy Grant calls me on Sunday to let me know that the trip is “on” for Monday and that we need to meet Mark Coleman (All Rivers Guide Service) at 5:30 near the Humptulips, which means I had to pick up Grant at 3:30!
All goes well, and we spend some coin at the local 7-11 in Aberdeen, fill that gas tank as well, and head to the river with a balmy 21 degrees — not including wind chill.
As we stand on the gravel bar launch at 6:00, I start to tell Grant that it won’t be daylight for another hour or more when Mark walks up after parking his rig and says, “Let’s go!”
Now my idea of fun isn’t exactly floating down a river in the dark in sub-freezing temperatures, more like a margarita on a sunny beach in Mexico, which is what I kept telling myself as I began to lose the feelings of all my extremities!
Let me say, that “Boat Chute” just above the hatchery on the Hump is a bit like “Splash Mountain” at Disneyland, minus the warm sun, Briar Rabbit theme or the popcorn and cotton candy at the end.
OK, looking back on it, it is nothing like Splash Mountain, but again I kept telling myself, “This will be fun…”
At the moment of commitment, passing the point of no return, Grant and I get into a discussion of our PFDs. Mine is the auto inflatable one and his is the neoprene vest type. Mark isn’t wearing any and we both conclude that if the boat does flip, he is the smartest guy on the trip. After all, he will succumb quickly, while Grant and I will become bobbers and die slowly.
Just then the boat gets sucked down the chute … and we came out floating down the other side.
Finally the sun comes up and we begin to fish, and by 10:15 we had landed 10 coho and had our limit of chrome!
We tossed spinners and other lures, and fished your basic coho holding water — back eddies, frog water areas and the inside of the river bends (again, back eddies).
It was fast and furious — Grant caught three fish in four casts — but we did learn after pulling a few fish out of a hole the hole would go “dead” and we would move on. Mark said that the fish are stacked up tight in the holes and that once they get “stirred up,” it took a while for the fish to calm down and this was the reason we launched in the dark, as he wanted to be first at a certain hole he likes to fish. It turns out there was only one other boat on the river the entire day, so we pretty much had the entire river to ourselves.
We decide to spend the rest of the day float fishing jigs for steelhead, attempting to break my reputation. It was a close one: Grant had two take-downs but my reputation is well intact — no steelhead!
Hope all is well and sleep comes soon,