Just Another Day In The Office With Captain Rick Kennedy…
Big fish were all around us. Every few seconds a husky king would explode on the surface in a veil of whitewater. The feeling was absolutely electric. Collectively we all knew it wouldn’t be long before someone hooked up…
“Hey Cal, grab Wayne’s rod and make sure his gear is on the bottom,” instructed Rick Kennedy of Tight Lines Guide Service.
Taking the Berkley Buzz Ramsey signature series rod from Wayne, I could feel the T-55 Flatfish working, but I could tell instantly that his gear wasn’t in the zone. Dropping the Abu Garcia 5500 line counter into free spool, I released another 20 feet of line before I felt the tick of the sinker striking the rocks transmitted up the Spiderwire braid.
Engaging the gear, I retrieved a single crank of braid and handed the rod back to Wayne.
I’d barely turned around when I heard Wayne’s strained voice, “Fish on, I’ve got one!”
Spinning around I was greeted by the sight of Wayne’s rod deeply bent and bucking wildly…That’s when things got crazy.
The other anglers on the big Fish Rite, frantically worked to retrieve their gear and clear the playing field for Wayne and his yet unseen fish. Rick got on the kicker and allowed the boat to work down current in pursuit of the fish, while I shot video with one hand and grabbed a net with the other.
In his fishing career Wayne’s landed a lot of big salmon and it showed. Sure Wayne was excited, all of us were, but he never panicked and never stopped working.
Once the other lines were clear, Wayne followed his fish along the port side of the boat as Rick deftly controlled the kicker, keeping Wayne’s line as close to vertical as possible.
Four minutes into the fight we got the first glimpse of the fish, big broad shouldered with its head down in the current and a chrome and green plug pinned in its mouth. The king’s fast liquid like movements spoke of untapped power. The salmon was willing to show itself, but it was still too strong to take a shot with the net.
As fast as the salmon had shown itself it surged down and disappeared, leaving us speculating just how big it was, 20 pounds? 30…more?
The battle went back and forth for two or three minutes and then the fish appeared again, this time with it’s head up. We were on autopilot now working as a team. Wayne loaded the rod and steered the salmon my way as I drove the net into the water and made the scoop.
Success…we’d been fishing for little more than 20 minutes and we had a beautiful 25 plus pound chinook in the box. It was going to be another day in the office, Rick Kennedy style!
The salmon trip I’m describing took place on October 3 when Rick Kennedy and I joined up with Wayne Sohrakoff, Doug Philpott, Ron Berg, Dennis Hoaas and Mike Marsh to fish one of the most remote and beautiful stretches of the Sacramento River.
At first light we’d dropped Rick’s big jet boat into the water at the Butte City Launch Ramp, undoubtedly one of the worst launches on the river complete with steep banks, slick mud and questionable traction for launch vehicles even if they have 4 wheel drive.
While launching at Butte City was a challenge, the 10 plus mile run upriver to Rick’s salmon hole was an outright adventure. In this stretch the river is a junkyard of downed timber punctuated with plenty of engine busting rocks and bars.
To make things even sketchier a monster north wind was howling through the valley. The wind created lots of surface disturbance, that made it very difficult for Rick to read the river for subsurface logs and other obstacles.
As we cruised northward, we were impressed by the amount of wildlife we saw, including a bald eagle, lots of ducks, some geese, deer, otters, turkeys and more. At one point I happened to be looking in the right place at the right time to see a beautiful 4 to 5 pound steelhead catapult out of the water.
Rick’s hot spot was an eighth mile long hole that averaged about 20 feet deep. The hole was full of salmon. We saw plenty on the surface and the sonar unit betrayed plenty more glued to the bottom.
After Wayne landed his fish my memory becomes a blur of heart pumping excitement and big fish. Wayne caught a pair of big kings as did Ron and Dennis. Doug and Mike each got a single big fish.
When all was said and done we’d hooked 9 and landed 8. Our smallest pair went 15 pounds each and we had four over 20, two of which were over 30. Doug had the largest fish that weighed in at around 35 pounds, while Ron also had a 30 plus.
In terms of the size of the fish it was the hands down best California salmon trip I’ve ever been part of. As near as I can tell the 8 fish we put in the box had a combined total weight of around 167 pounds. That comes out to an average weight of nearly 21 pounds…Impressive!
Salmon are continuing to push up the Sacramento River as of press time. Captain Kennedy plans to continue salmon fishing for the foreseeable future, but will also begin integrating West Delta striper trips into his schedule too. If you’d like more information about fishing with Tight Lines Guide Service or to book your trip now, give Rick a call at (888) 975-0990.Back To Reports