Days growing short. The sun tracks a low angle as it cuts across the sky, no longer able to crest the tall trees on the far side of the river. The first frost of the year comes, but the days can still be comfortably warm. Storms that have traveled across the Pacific line up in columns like amassing armies making ready to lay siege to the coast. Mushrooms erupt in dark thickets of pine duff beneath dripping conifer deep in shadowed woods, and silver sea runs return home to their coastal rivers after a life in the salt.
With their black tar mouths and large cobalt eyes, the cosmic braille of their heavily freckled back like some coded language of the ancient world, King Salmon have earned their title well.
Fall rains can open the door to some of the best spey fishing for salmon on the Pacific Coast. We lucked out again this season on the North Coast with another healthy dose of wet weather leading to fishing that was at times hard to fathom. Early morning ecstasies and last light hopes answered with the unforgettable grab of a King.
Heavy tips. Heavy rods. Heavy fish. The game is its own. Swinging flies for Kings is not the same as swinging flies for steelhead. They hold in different water. They eat differently. They even fight differently. More than any other species of Pacific Salmon, Kings seem to be the most selective about when and what they will eat. I saw this first hand in Alaska. There were days when you simply could not get them to come to your fly. Above all, fishing for Kings is a hunt.