I think anyone who likes to swing flies for chinook has had moments of trying to justify why they do it. Folks who do not Spey fish or even fly fish clearly have a hard time understanding the passion and desire for this sport. Once they find out we like to “swing for kings” and even release the ones we catch, we always get the most confused, shocked look, with a definite side of disdain. Gear fisherman certainly can understand this hobby to a degree; however, when sticking kings on big rods and heavy-duty bait caster reels, you pretty much always are in control of the situation. Yes, many saltwater enthusiasts will want to tell you that they like to catch these chinooks with old school mooching reels, which really have little to no drag. True enough, but sitting high up in a boat on the ocean, with incredible leverage, a captain, and not facing the elements of a raging river, actually does put you in control. You never will feel the combination of adrenalin and fear someone gets when they hook a Tyee Spey casting in a fast river. In these scenarios, you always start the battle with absolutely no control over the situation.
Why do we love this feeling of chaos? To delve into this feeling a bit more, let’s step into a real-life scenario that has catastrophic effects on the human psyche. Most of us have been around, or at least seen, the effects of a riot on people. We west coasters saw this first hand in Vancouver during the 2011 playoff run. No one saw it coming, but after that loss, the city erupted into pure adrenalin driven chaos. Very good folks who had never shown any sign of violence turned into crazed maniacs.
Riots are complex events. Ordinary people, normal citizens, get swept up and do things that would be unlikely under other circumstances. In the case of the Canucks, it was such a disappointing loss because the fans knew they wouldn’t even come close to winning a Stanley cup for another 10 years or more. Once it began, the raging mob had a life of its own. In the end, 300 people were charged and only 50 of those had a prior criminal record.
For me watching people catch big, ocean fresh kings on a spey rod is the closest thing I have seen to that 2011 Vancouver riot. You will see someone who is normally a perfect gentleman in society completely turn. Screaming profanity they would never utter in public, or looking at the guide like they would drown you if you didn’t quickly get them in a boat to chase the fish. Those same crazed eyes I saw in the riots that haunted me so, quickly glazes over a solemn fisherman’s face
If you are craving this excitement in your life,I recommend rather than waiting for a riot to break out, just pick up your spey rods and swing for kings. When a big, tide fresh king bites your fly out in the middle of a fast, deep run, everyone in the vicinity knows all hell is about to break loose. The feeling of being swept up in the moment, trying to tame a beast over which you have absolutely no control, is a major adrenalin rush. Watching the face of an angler as this all begins to transpire will always reminds me of the demonic look on the face of a Canucks fan on that fateful night of June 15th2011 in downtown Vancouver. Maybe the world would be a more peaceful place if more people put down their crow bars, bats and guns, and just picked up a two-handed chinook rod, a squidro, and a roll of T-17. Just a thought.