Day 7 – The Locals

24 08 2018

Today was going to be about catching some of the locals.  The Rainbow Trout, Artic Char and Artic Grayling are not migratory and are present year round.  I had never caught an Artic Grayling before or a Giant Alaskan Rainbow so they were on top of the to do list.  I’ve caught Rainbow trout before in Michigan but nothing worth bragging about.  I was hoping I could swing flies for them but the order of business today was going to be beads and indicators.  I also had a different guide today.  Tim was taking another group down to the tidal area so today my guide would be David.  I get the feeling that when guests are trying to catch the resident fish they are handed off to Dave.  It seems to be his specialty and the only way he wants to fish.  After lunch Phil and I changed that.  We got tired of catching lots of little fish and wanted something a little bigger.  That would come later, for now it was lighter rods and beads.

The first stop was on yet another island upstream from the lodge.  I broke out my 6wt TFO BVK rod and let Dave rig it up with a bead and indicator.  He told me to just cast out and drift it through the run about 10 feet from shore.  The bead bite was just starting to kick in since the Chum’s were all spawning.  For the next half hour I proceeded to catch lot’s of rainbows.  Problem was they were anywhere from a couple inches to maybe 12 inches long.  Nothing to get excited about.

Eyes were definitely bigger than his stomach.

I moved further downstream and I finally hooked into and landed a better fish.

That was the only decent fish in the hole so we picked up and moved on to another spot.  This place we would just fish from the boat, kind of like speed jigging.  Drift down quickly, let the indicator drift with the boat for about 200 yards and then motor up and start all over.  Each drift lasted maybe a minute with the fast current.  We hooked fish on every drift but landed very few.  I was able to get my Grayling (3 in total) though.

And another decent Rainbow.

And another Char

Eventually we set up on another island and waded.  No locals but I did pick up a couple of male Chum.  Fortunately they were pretty beat up and didn’t fight much.  I had already broke 2 rods and I didn’t want to make it a third.  A 6wt rod isn’t exactly ideal for a 10+ pound Chum Salmon.

Once we finished up there we told Dave that we wanted to go back to stripping flies for something bigger.  We headed downstream and started fishing for Pinks again.  We hit three places in total.  We would stop, catch a few fish and then nothing after the initial flurry.  The third stop was near the lodge and actually in the same place we saw the bears feeding the night before.  I mentioned it to Phil and then we both got a little nervous.  Dave said not to worry, he had our back.  I looked over at him and his Remington 870 was slung across his shoulder.  After almost a week it still took some getting used to having my guide carrying a shotgun while I fished.

We didn’t stay at the last spot very long.  We could see rain coming down the mountain and neither one of us wanted to get wet so we quit early.  I didn’t mind.  My initial goal was to catch one of every species available and I was able to do just that.  Nothing worth getting a replica mount made for but that was ok.  I had lots of pictures, memories and one more day to go.

 

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Day – 2 Arrival

17 08 2018

Day 2 – I woke up bright and early to catch my next flight out of Anchorage to King Salmon.  Our flight was delayed by half an hour because of rain and fog.  I was beginning to think I would never see the sun again.  Saw this sign at check in.  Made me realize that I am not in Kansas anymore.

After that I boarded the Saab 2000 with the rest of the Steelhead Alley Outfitters gang for our 1 hour flight to King Salmon.

The view was rather impressive.

After we landed in King Salmon things got interesting.  It was still raining and there was no set time for us to be picked up and flown out. We were taken to “Eddie’s” the local bar to wait for our pickup.  This is about the only place in town to eat or get a drink.  I honestly don’t know how the locals could afford to drink or eat there.  I got 2 slices of French Toast for breakfast and it was 7.95.  Doesn’t  seem that expensive but the 2 slices were once piece of toast, cut in half.  The local grocery store was selling a cooked rotisserie chicken for 35 dollars.  Don’t even ask what a case of beer goes for.  So we ate and waited for our call up.  About 2 hours later our plane arrived and I was in the first group out.  We would be flying to the lodge in a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver.  They built over 1,600 of these planes starting back in 1947 and there were approximately 900 of them still flying.

We took off and started our flight north.  The fog was getting thicker and visibility was getting worse.  At one point we were flying at around 100 feet as the pilot tried to spot a path between the fog banks and hills.  About 20 minutes out and 10 minutes from the lodge he couldn’t see anymore and turned around.  Needless to say my heart sank.  This was not how I wanted my trip to start.  Once we landed we were taken back to Eddie’s where the rest of our group had a look of surprise and disappointment on their faces.  We were told it could be awhile and even started to look into renting motel rooms just in case.  About 2 hours later I was picked up for round 2.  Back into the Beaver we went.  This time though we made it a little farther than the last time.  Once I saw the Alagnak River I knew we were home free.  The pilot would be able to follow the river up to the lodge and land, which he did.

Finally!  After many years I was actually going to be fishing in Alaska.  Even though it was raining I just stood there for a moment and took it all in.

All that was left was to move my gear to my cabin and wait for everyone else to show up.  It took a few hours and an extra plane but everyone was able to get in and the clients already there were able to get out.  Around 6:30 we were all served dinner which was followed by Bear Class.  That’s right, Bear Class.  We had to learn what to do and what not to do in bear country.

Don’t run.

Make lots of noise when walking along the shore and in tall grass.

If you have a fish on and see a bear just break the line and back away.

If you see a bear yell out so that everyone in the group knows, especially the guide.  The one with the shotgun and bear spray.

Enjoy your stay.

 

Next up…..The fishing begins.