I’ve been thinking about Christmas a lot lately.
No, I’m not eager to walk into the store and hear “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” but we all know that will happen sometime before Halloween.
I’ve been thinking about Christmas because, when I was a kid, time always seemed to slow wayyyyy, wayyyyy downnnnn as the holiday approached.
And time is slowing now as thousands of South Puget Sound anglers wait for millions – 5.1 million – pink salmon to appear off the beaches and run up rivers.
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Many anglers remember the epic angling for pink salmon in 2007 – when about 3 million pinks rocked South Sound – and we’re all wondering how much better 5.1 million fish will be.
If they show up.
A lot of anglers are wondering when the swarms of snappy pinks will arrive on the beaches just north of Commencement Bay and other popular fishing spots.
Pinks aren’t big salmon – they range from 3 to 6 pounds or so – but that is big enough for me. Pinks are cranky fish that aggressively bite lures and flies, so the run is Pink-O-Rama for most anglers.
Huge schools of pink salmon mill around off the beaches – you can actually catch their scent on the air – and the very sight of so many rolling, jumping, swimming salmon sets anglers’ hearts jackhammering.
It’s even more fun to get into a hot pink bite – particularly with bright fish in saltwater – as fish snap at the fly on almost every cast, and they fight hard.
So, anglers are ready to open their pink present this year, and it’s hard to wait.
I can’t quite remember when I started hooking pinks back in 2007 – the fish return only in odd-numbered years for some odd reason no one really understands – but I do know it was early August.
But was it Aug. 3 or Aug. 10 or Aug. 14?
Well, early August is still four days away, and that doesn’t help at all.
It looks like some anglers are hooking small pink salmon at some northern Puget Sound beaches, and that is a good sign. I do remember that the early fish in 2007 were scattered and small.
Yet, we still have to wait.
So, I’m starting to use the time-relativity tactics that I perfected in third grade – when my young heart went pitter-patter for a Lionel electric train set with a locomotive that belched real smoke and had flashing lights for the car crossing.
My still-developing brain evolved a complex set of time calculations that went somewhat like this:
School got out for Christmas vacation – this was way before we started calling it winter vacation – about a week or so before the big day. So, the last day of school was just five or six days away from Christmas Day. And the day after the last day of school was usually when the National Football League playoffs started during the 1970s. So, football would carry me through to the Monday before Christmas – and then Christmas was less than one week away!
It got to the point where I celebrated the arrival of Dec. 23, as it was the day before Christmas Eve – which was the day before Christmas.
Yeah, I was a whacked-out kid, and I guess I’m now just a fish-addled middle-aged man.
But having something good to look forward to is a nice change of pace these days, and I’d be happy with another 3-million-pink year.
I just want the fish to arrive.
I’ve been tying pink salmon flies, which are usually – believe it or not – pink. I like small pink Comet flies, small pink-and-white Clouser Minnows and small pink Woolly Buggers.
Gear anglers really like pink Buzz Bombs.
No matter what we tie onto our lines, we all want the Big Pink Run of 2009 to arrive already.
Obsessively tying flies is one of my ways of coping with the wait – I now have several dozen pink salmon flies ready, and that is probably way too many flies.
But some of those flies will certainly come in handy for the Pink Run of 2011, which is only about 730 days – and two Christmas Days – from now.
Chester Allen: 360-754-4226