“This is all you need to catch fish up here,” George said earlier in the day as he handed out egg sucking leech patterns he had tied back home. They were #6 size royal purple leech patterns with bright orange yarn eggs tied near the eye of the hook.
We tossed the leech pattern along with other egg patterns all afternoon. Cast across the pool with short mends until the line either jolts or hesitates.
“What’s the preferred method for setting the hook?” someone asked.
“Just try doing like this,” George said while moving his left hand back like a strip-set and raising his right hand like a tip-set.
One convenient thing about being the “expert” is that if your directions are vague enough you can never be wrong. It’s probably the best rhetorical tactic for staying an expert. I’m not saying George didn’t know what he was talking about. He has an entire trophy case that can refute such a hypothesis. I’m just saying if you operate in the gray area with your instructions you’re always right regardless of how someone else interprets it.
“I didn’t think salmon ate while they run up the river to spawn. I thought they just came to die,” was an observation made by my brother-in-law, Dale.
“They don’t,” George replied.
“Then how are we going to catch them?” Dale rebutted.
“In the mouth,” George replied.
We were all pretty unsure about that. If they weren’t supposed to be eating anything, and we are using a technique that essentially fools them in to try to eat something that isn’t what they think it is then what in the hell are we trying to do?
“They’re so thick I guess we’re going to foul hook them?” said Dad.
On our first trip, my dad had actually foul hooked a salmon with a casting spoon that popped out of the fishes back and became lodged just under his eyeball.
George just continued to come back, “you remember all of those fish you caught the last time? Where’d you set the hook?”
“In the mouth,” we replied.
Fortunately, at the honey hole in East Yahtam it didn’t matter. The sheer abundance of fish made George an expert and there were plenty of opportunities to figure out the best method for bringing fish to hand. For the record, I found the strip set effective. Strip-set then rod high while they run, and reel down on the fish once it begins to tire out.
Almost every time someone landed a fish we took the time to point out how the fish was hooked. At times it looked like the fish took a swipe at the leech pattern and the hook penetrated just on the outside of the mouth, but a large majority of the hookups were right inside of the jaw. George wasn’t wrong. They were eating the flies presented to them even if they weren’t supposed to.