Sixes River Salmon by Margaret Walker

Here\’s my true fishing story.

I was tired of fighting the crowds and private access to all the good salmon fishing holes on the Elk and Sixes rivers here in southern Oregon, so this year I finally got a float tube (of sorts).

Just before daylight on a cold December morning I made my maiden voyage. I had planned on taking a short drift down the Sixes River. There was a lot of brush and many downed trees on this stretch of the river, so just getting through this part of the river was my main concern. Right off the bat I ran under some brush, but I soon got the feel of how to handle the float tube, so I began looking for a hole to anchor and fish in. I found what looked to be a good spot and dropped my anchor. I fished this hole for about an hour when I decided I needed to fish a little lower, so I tried to pull the anchor and discovered that it was stuck under a rock. Luckily, some men in a drift boat came by and pulled it out for me.
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I went on down the river to the next place that looked good to me. I put my plug out and hooked a nice salmon just in from the ocean. She really took off! I couldn\’t figure out how I was going to hold on to the fish and, at the same time, pull my anchor so that I could row over to the bank to get out and land it. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the fish got tired and came back up into the hole. The next major problem I had was figuring out how I was going to net it. It was very difficult to get any leverage on the net, but somehow my luck was holding and I was able to get it netted. Good enough for me! I went down river with a 22-pound fish!

The next morning I could hardy wait to get back on the water. I put in at the same spot as the day before, but this time I headed toward the opposite side of the river. There was a big downed tree on that side and the water was really moving fast. I lined up to make the run through, and gave a hard pull on my right oar. Just as I reached the fast water, the oar came out of the oar holder and fell in the river! Next thing I knew I was tipped sideways, and hung up on the tree. Good thing I had my life jacket on! I managed to get hold of the raft and swim as hard as I could for the gravel bar. Somehow I made it! I looked up just in time to see the lost oar coming right at me. My hair and my jacket were wet, but, aside from my hurt pride, I was in good shape. I was happy to discover that my Neopream waders had also helped me to stay afloat. I decided to call it a day, as I was really starting to get cold, so I headed downstream again.

I soon came to a good hole that I just couldn\’t bear to pass up, so I anchored the float tube and put my rod out. Well, you guessed it. The rod went off, fish on. This time there was no doubt that I had to get to the bank to land this fish–he almost pulled me out of the raft! I put the rod in the rod holder, pulled the anchor and headed for the nearest bank. The bank looked pretty steep, but I decided it was better than nothing. Once I reached the bank I dropped the anchor in again. There was a lot of slack on my line, so I figured that the fish was probably gone. But, oh yes! He almost pulled me under when I caught up to him! I stepped out into the water and discovered that it was up to just under my arm pits. At about that time a guide boat came by and told me to \”hold on\”. He would try to net the fish for me. We finally got it to the bank. A beautiful 36-pound salmon! The guide hit it with his fish whacker and we put him up on the gravel bar.

I had decided to try for one more when, suddenly, I looked up and saw my raft floating off down the river! Lucky for me, the guide that had helped me land the 36-pounder was still in the area, so he rowed down and caught the raft. I went back out to my spot and started fishing again. After about thirty minutes with no action, I realized that I wasn\’t in the same place, so I tried to pull the anchor and discovered that it was it stuck again. Frustrated, I looked over to the bank at my big fish. Somehow, he was now full of life and trying to get back in the water! With my luck still holding, a boat came by. I handed them my anchor rope, and rowed for the shore to stop my fish from getting away. This time when I got back into the raft, I loaded up the fish as well (he took up almost the entire raft), and headed for home. One tired, worn out, lucky 64-year-old fisher woman.

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