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 5 – A Day of Remembrance

22 08 2018

The fifth day of my Alaska trip fell on the three year anniversary of my Father’s death.  It is also around the same time that he, my brother and I were supposed to go to Alaska.  Needless to say this was going to be a tough day.  I would have a lot of time to reflect on this.  We were headed downstream to an area only 6 miles form the ocean.  We would be catching fish fresh from the ocean and hopefully I would get my last 2 fish of the Pacific Salmon 5, a Silver Salmon and a Pink Salmon.  The downside of this was the 1 1/2 hour boat ride down and back.  Time that could be spent fishing if we were closer to the lodge.  The upside was the scenery and wildlife.  As it would turn out I would see more Bald Eagles than I ever have in my whole life.  I couldn’t get a decent picture of any of them though.  I was either getting bounced around on the boat to much or they were to far away.  It was still awe inspiring to see so many eagles hanging out on the cliffs waiting to do eagle stuff.

Our first stop was on a sand bar called the “Barge Bar”.  Don’t know why it is called this but somewhat felt the need to write it in the sand.

We spread out along the sand bar and started fishing.  I was using my Redington Chromer today and it didn’t take long for me to have my first fish on for the day, a chrome hen Chum.  She was just starting to show the darker bars I was used to seeing on these fish.  During the picture taking process the fish jumped and the line was wrapped around the tip of my rod.  When she took off she snapped the tip off of my rod.  Her last great act of defiance deflated me.  My favorite rod and now it was broken as well.  I am so glad I bought my Scott Flex.

Next up was my first and second Pink Salmon.  The run had just started and they would turn out to be the mainstay of my visit.  Not the biggest fish but they sure are scrappy little guys.  Later in the week I would scale down my rod weight and really have some fun with them.  Right now it was all about getting my 5.

Letting her go to do her Pink thing.

After that fish I waded back out to my spot and got back to business.  The people around me were catching fish as well so in between casting I was watching all the action.  I was watching John bring in another Pink as I half heartedly stripped my fly in.  Without warning a fish hit and took off.  I set the hook and bent the rod parallel to the water.  Once I did that she jumped and I quickly realized I was hooked up with my Silver.  Tim saw this and yelled out and I got deadly serious.  I wanted this fish bad so I made sure I did everything right.  While Tim was hustling over with the net I worked my way to shore to make things easier.  About 5 minutes later she was in the net.  While Tim got the hook out I reached into my waders to pull out a picture I had brought with me just for this occasion.  It was a picture of my Dad and Grandfather from the early 60’s heading out to go fishing for Coho Salmon and Lake Trout in Traverse Bay.  Jacob, the other guide and picture taker, realized what I wanted and helped set it up.  He told me not to rush, I had hooked this fish deep and she was bleeding out so we were going to keep her anyways.  I slowed down, took a breath and got everything set.

After that I took a couple of the standard “Grip & Grin” photos but this time Tim wanted in on it.  This picture would make it to the Lodge’s Facebook Page.  Tim also wanted one for his own collection since he needs to advertise for his guiding services as well.

Once we were done I just sat back for a moment and took it all in.  I had just completed my Grand Slam of Pacific Salmon on a fly rod.  The ultimate goal is to do it in one day but in order for that to happen I would need a day where it was just Tim and I and free reign on the whole river.  It wasn’t that important to me.  I got the picture I wanted.  Everything else from here on in was just a bonus.

After that fish we moved on to two more spots during the day.  The next one was called “Sesame Street” and the last one was called “John & Mary”.  Again, I have no idea where they come up with these names but I really didn’t care.  I was catching fish at all of them.  As a matter of fact I would land 12 Salmon today and I didn’t lose a single fish.  The last fish I caught was a male Chum.  Jacob had just started to tell me I should move when he saw my rod double over.  His next comment was “Never Mind” and he waded over with the net.

It wasn’t to much longer after that when we started for home.  We had a long boat ride back and we have to be back at the lodge by 5.  If we aren’t back by 5:30 pm. they start to wonder if something happened and shortly afterwards will send out boats to find you.  There is no reliable way to communicate out here so setting meeting times is the safe bet.  Besides, I really couldn’t complain about the view on the way back.

 

 

 

 

 

 





Fishing and Tying Sunday (7/22/18)

23 07 2018

This past Sunday I woke up to do my usual fly fishing for just about anything.  I wondered what the water was going to be like with the on and off rains we had the last few days.  Turns out the water wasn’t bad.  The only problem was the double digit NE winds making sight fishing nearly impossible.  So much for an accurate weather report from my weather app.  Before I left it said NE winds were around 5 mph and it was dead calm around my house.  Apparently 10 miles south it was different.  I gave it a shot anyways and on my first cast I landed a decent bass.

After that I didn’t hook or see anything.  I gave up after about an hour and headed home.  I had flies to tie and I was running out of time.  I have plenty of streamers for my Alaska trip but I needed to tie up some surface stuff for the Grayling and Rainbows.  Originally I was going to take some mouse patterns but the guide told me no to bother.  He told me once the salmon move in the Rainbows set up behind them to feed on the eggs and anything pink.  So pink it is.

After that it was on to the smaller stuff.  I just got a box of Firehole Sticks barbless hooks and I wanted to try them out.  These things are stupid sharp and they should work out well.

The guide told me to tie up Caddis patterns that float high in the fast water.  These should do the trick.  I tied up some stimulator patterns as well.  I really don’t need that many, I”m not going to spend that much time chasing Grayling.  I Just want to catch a few nicer ones to cross of my “caught fly fishing” list and possibly have a replica made.  They catch a fair number of them on beads as well while fishing for the Rainbows so I don’t need to get to crazy.  All that is left for me to do now is arrange all my gear to make sure I have it all covered.  Weather permitting I may go out fly fishing one last time but I don’t know for sure.  MY OCD is kicking in and I’m afraid of losing or breaking something between now and Alaska.  I should probably just stick to catching walleye for the next few weeks.

 

 





6/27/18 Walleye

28 06 2018

After almost a two month hiatus from walleye catching I decided to get back out on the river last night.  That and my supply in the freezer is getting dangerously low.  My original plan was to not even leave the house until after 9:00 pm but overcast clouds and a favorable report, from the day before, changed my mind.   I should have stuck to my original plan.  Double digit NW winds and rain made the first hour pretty miserable.  Throw in some of those other fish still being around and I was really questioning why I decided to go out.  I at least had a nice view for awhile.

Eventually the rain stopped and the wind died down enough to where I could concentrate more on fishing instead of fighting the elements.  The action wasn’t fast and furious but I was able to catch my 5 fish limit by about 10:00 pm.  There was no particular pattern that out performed the other.  Every lure and lead caught fish from the smallest Rock Bass to an 18 1/2 inch pissed off Smallmouth.

I ended up with 10 walleye tonight and released 5 that were borderline legal.  I was catching some better fish compared to the Spring so I was getting picky, even though conditions were tough.  All throughout the night the Other Fish were pushing the minnows to the surface while the gulls and tern dive bombed them from above.  Several times I was right in the middle of it with minnows jumping and predator fish boiling within feet of me.  It would have been a lot of fun if I had my 5 wt in my hand instead of wire.  I was there to catch walleye anyways and they were on the feed as well.  Every one I caught had Emerald Shiners or Gobies in their stomachs.  Not to surprising to see this.  After the Other Fish run winds down the resident walleye seem to go on a feeding binge.  Probably since they no longer have to compete with millions of other minnow eaters.

Despite the wind and rain the water was in good shape.  The water is clear and very few floating weeds.  Not very many mayfly husks on the surface either.  I never did take a temperature reading but the level is still way up.  The breakwall at Elizabeth Park is still under water but it looks likes they put out some new markers.  I’m sure a few members of the Tri-Hull navy ran aground during the Other Fish run.  Temps are supposed to jump into the 90’s for the next few days and with it being The 4th of July weekend I’ll be staying off the water.  I need to run up to my Mom’s anyways to take care of some chores.  I’ll be at it next week some night.  It’s going to be a great summer of walleye fishing.

 

 





Rainbow Walleye 6/22/12

23 06 2012

I really have to wonder about weather forecasts sometimes. I checked before I left and one site said a north wind at 7 mph. Another one called for a south wind at 10 mph. Turns out they were both right. When I launched the boat at 7:30 pm the wind was straight out of the south. Not my favorite direction but it wasn’t too bad. I set up in my usual spot with the same 3 lures I used the last time. Fellow DWF member Steve Schoonover was out here and fishing just north of me. It didn’t take long and I had two in the boat. As I was getting my lines back in the water the wind suddenly changed direction and came straight out of the north. There was one big cloud above me but it didn’t look that ominous. The wind started to pick up in speed and it started to rain. It wasn’t much but they were big ole fat Forrest Gump raindrops. It didn’t last long but the wind continued to build and soon boat control became difficult. I had picked up a third one so I wasn’t about to give up just yet. Besides, a rainbow had appeared and according to Noah and the Bible that is a promise of better times. I was right, caught the last two as the clouds passed and I was pulling lines.

Steve Schoonover fishing under the Rainbow

Before I left I pulled up alongside of Steve to see how he was doing. He is just getting started on handlining so I wanted to make sure he was catching fish. Fishing is great but catching is better. He had one throwback and after a brief chat about his set up I gave him a shorter and lighter weight to try. Hopefully that got his spoons in the strike zone. I’m still waiting to hear back from him on how he did.
I talked to Dave Fitch as well. He was out there with his boys and they had one so far. There was one other boat out tonight, an elderly gentleman in a green Lund. He trolled by me at one point and he looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. He had a lit pipe hanging out the left side of his mouth and he was wearing an old tattered hat. Don’t know if he caught anything but he made for an all American portrait. Wish I would have taken one.
Final tally was 5 dish rags for just over an hour of fishing. I called the walleye this because that is what they fought like, wet dish rags. No pulling, no head shakes, just dead weight. Now walleye are not known for their fighting ability but this was ridiculous. It was like they would just grab the lure and say “Oh it’s Mark, I give up “and just let me drag them in. Of course when they hit the cooler they came to life but it was too late by then.
Couple of side notes for tonight. Caught my last rag on the orange and black spoon at the bottom of the picture. I own close to 800 spoons and that is the only one I have in that pattern. Of course that means I am going to lose it soon. For now though I have one more trip in the books and I still haven’t lost a lure. Of course that will probably change tonight when I take my Dad out.

The 5 Lazy Wet Dish Rags

All wrapped and ready to go for the next trip.

My friend Jerry Hinton told me of this neat little trick he does when storing his leaders. He keeps the spoons attached and winds them all up together. This really works slick, especially with a YoYo handline reel. I can pull off all 3 leaders and be set up in fishing in under a minute. No more digging around in the spoon box to pull lures first. They are already there. I am a creature of habit anyways so using the same lures from the last trip doesn’t bother me.