Smalley snags some good memories

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Remember salmon snagging?

Got memories of standing on the shoreline of the Flathead River and casting huge, leaded treble hooks in hopes of snagging kokanee salmon on their annual spawning trek?

Unlike present-day lake whitefish that spawn, then return to the big lake, 4-year-old kokanee salmon died after spawning.

A few anglers claimed they could jig bright salmon, but most harvested fish were snagged.

Kokanee congregated in eddies and, if you could find a big rock close to shore, there’s a good chance kokes were stacked behind it.

I remember standing on a high bank behind the aluminum plant and the river was literally packed with the dark bodies of salmon for as far as you could see, both upstream and downstream.

Schools looked like big, black slow-moving clouds!

Both of my most memorable snagging incidents happened in Bad Rock Canyon.

One night after school, I was snagging with Jim Moulds and we were down to our last snagging hooks, when both of us got snagged on the bottom of the river.

We didn’t want to head back to town for more hooks, so we took off our pants and waded out into the cold, cold river.

Within minutes, they reduced the flow from Hungry Horse Dam and by the time we left we could have walked out dry to where we’d been snagged.

The other incident happened when my snagging partner wasn’t paying attention to how much line was still out from the rod and when she jerked, the leaded treble hook came right out of the water and hit me in the middle of the forehead.

I married her anyway!

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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