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 3 – Avengers Assemble

20 08 2018

So it begins.  The part I have dreamed about for years.  Fishing in Alaska.

I really didn’t know how this was all going to work but I found out Sunday, after dinner.  I was assigned a guide and there would be two other people joining me on his boat for the week.  Each night the guide is assigned a ‘beat” or section of the river that was exclusively his.  This way we wouldn’t all be piling into one spot.  Not that it really mattered, the fish were every where.  The next morning we all met down on the dock to head out.

Avengers Assemble

We set up at our first spot and got some quick instructions from Tim on what to do and where to fish.  I started out with my Orivs Helios 2 and one of the 150 flies I tied for this trip.  The hole was full of Chum Salmon and it didn’t take long for Phil to hook into one.

As for me it took a little longer.  This wasn’t going to be the slam dunk I thought it would.  I soon realized that all these weighted flies I tied weren’t weighted enough for the current.  They would only sink about 6 inches below the surface.  Not very effective when the fish are 4 feet down.  Tim added a 5 foot sink tip to my line and then I was in the zone.

That would be my only Chum of the day.  I hooked into a big male shortly after landing this small hen but I lost him.  After that things were pretty slow for me.  The other fishermen in my group were doing ok but it wasn’t the light’s out fishing I was expecting.  Tim explained to me that this week was a transition week.  The Chum run was winding down and the fish were starting to spawn and die.  The hen I caught was spawned out.  The Pinks and Silvers hadn’t started yet the the King Salmon run was over.  There were still a few around but there wouldn’t be any fresh fish coming into the river.  The Sockeye run was over as well but a smaller run did make there way into the river Sunday and we would be targeting them tomorrow.  As for now, we were making do with the hand dealt to us.  We tried a few more spots with mixed results.  At the last spot Tim set me up to fish and indicator and bead in hope of catching some char.  Phil and John were upstream above me fishing for salmon while I was downstream going after the Char and Rainbows feeding on any drifting eggs.  It worked.

Closeup view

The first fish we actually caught twice.  Tim netted it and when I looked into the net to see my first Char it was gone.  There was a rip in the net and he found it.  Next thing I know Tim is taking off downstream and netting the fish a second time.  Even though he fell through he was still hooked so Tim was able to follow the line to the fish.  This time he kept the fish away form the rip I could see him and get a few pics.  I soon followed it up with a second char.

After that the only excitement was watching all the rainbow fingerlings attack my bead whenever it was in the water.  There were dozens of them swimming around me and they were very hungry.  I would drop the bead in the water and they were all over it.  I tried to get a picture but they came out to blurry and the fish were hard to see.

After that we headed in for dinner.  Not the fish every cast scenario I have heard stores of but I wasn’t going to complain, at least not to loudly.