Kings Of The Creek

The morning comes very early on the first day of the salmon run. There is a light frost on the outside of the tent and just enough on the grass to hear it crunch after every step. The smell of the cold is welcoming knowing that daylight will soon bring much warmer temperatures. The drive feels like an eternity. Every mile down the road is another minute closer to daybreak. Finally at the spot, a welcome home feeling springs from deep inside when there are no other vehicles at the pull off spot. This is the first day of the salmon run.

All across the Midwest anglers travel to Northern Michigan to take part in the annual King Salmon run that occurs in late September to early October. Creeks, streams and rivers are full of hopeful fisherman lining the shoreline hoping for one of these massive salmon to test their equipment. Many anglers during this time of year find more salmon in those tiny streams than any picture or story could ever do justice. The trick is timing it just right so that the most productive time is when you are there and not the others guys.

So what do you look for in timing the Salmon Run? First is temperature. The water needs to be close to 50 degrees. Just pay attention to the Weather Channel and local fishing reports before you make your trip. If the water is too warm, you will find large amounts of smaller fish. If the water is colder, you will find older fish. It is also important to watch water levels. There needs to be enough water in the creeks and streams for these large fish to be able to make their way to the spawning beds. If you time your trip after a few days of rain, your attention to detail will pay dividends. Lures of choice range as much as the states people travel from to take part in this yearly event. You will find most people using a classic fly rod with techniques straight out of the best fly fishing novels ever written. Immense thought and dedication comes with their selections of what fly to use along with the length of leader to the main line. The actual fly itself is more secretive than the mysteries of Stonehenge and casual conversations on the creek bed end when the words "hey, what did you catch that on" are spoken.

Other anglers use more modern techniques. They try to best this beast with top of the line spinning and bait casting equipment only to find more attention should have been given to the line as it will get stretched to the very limit. Spoons, minnow baits, and lures designed to look like salmon eggs are most commonly used. Most anglers have to find the right combinations for themselves because when the fish are hot on a bait, those fishermen do not talk about it.

The most enjoyment shared by many comes from walking those streams searching for these amazing Kings of the creek. The sound of the rushing water and the smell of pine trees become completely captivating as the eyes squint trying to make out the body of salmon amidst the rapids. When a fish is found, pure excitement and adrenaline begin to pump throughout every inch of the body. The muscles begin to tighten and breathing begins to increase.

The perfect cast is the only way to finally feel the fight that has been built up inside the minds of so many anglers since the year before. As the King takes the lure, a mighty explosion erupts from where the fish was resting. It bolts downstream and the reel screams as drag is stripped away like it was on free spool. The rod is bent to its final capacity before breaking only to slowly relax as the fish wears down. Ten minute battles are not uncommon especially because this fish always has the advantage. Pride and accomplishment surge after every catch. This fish is known as the King Salmon because it is a fish for Kings. It is also the reason that fisherman dream for a year for next season to fish for it again.

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Written by: Brad Smith

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