Katmai National Park.

A couple of our best friends, Amanda, and I flew out to King Salmon and then waited for the weather to clear. That is pretty typical in this part of Alaska. When it finally cleared, we hopped on a float plane and were dropped off at Brooks Lodge. We opted to camp for $12 per night per person instead of renting a cabin for $615 per night per person!20180806_155555We immediately got into some fish. They were big and plentiful. They took beads, streamers, nymphs, and pretty much anything that you could drift in front of them. The river was busy with other anglers, guides, and the four of us. You could sight fish to twenty inch rainbows all day. img_0123The falls were behind me. It made me slightly nervous to look away from where a majority of the bears were feeding. Luckily, we had a crew of four, so someone was always watching out for bears.20180807_182530We weren’t the only ones fishing on the river. The bears were never threatening. A few sub adults would cruise by curiously and be kind of annoying. When the big bears came through, we all gave them a lot of space. The most nervous was when a mom and cubs were on our trail. We took the long way home that night.IMG_3621While out there, we had to check out the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. It was much more interesting than I thought that it would be. I was really glad that we did the tour. IMG_0194The weather was great for our whole trip. Good weather, good friends, and good fishing. It doesn’t get better than that. If you are ever in Alaska, it is worth it to go visit Brooks Falls, even if it is just a day trip.IMG_1138

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Floating Willow Creek

Sitting inside in the winter makes me think of the upcoming summer. I remember the good days of floating creeks and rivers. This one was really nice weather and we didn’t have to wear waders or shirts!

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Finn helps navigate us to the put in.

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We caught grayling.

It was a beautifully warm day and I can’t wait for another summer in Alaska!

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Tight lines all day.

Kenai River.

I get it now. When we first moved here, I was excited to fish the world famous Kenai River. I wasn’t very successful. It is hard to walk and wade the Kenai. It is expensive to hire a guide every time I want to go out. The most logical thing was to buy our own raft. 20180614_111451img_4826img_4885img_0332Now I get it. The Kenai is a magical place when you can access a lot of it whenever you want.

Yakutat, AK. Day 4.

I woke up feeling slightly defeated knowing that we were leaving on this day. We had not caught a fish. Most of the fish were in the lower half of the river. We were up at the upper portion of the river. We had not fished above the bridge yet so we thought that we would give it a shot before our trip to the airport. There was so much good looking water, but just no fish. That isn’t entirely true. We saw a few fish. Sight fishing to these beasts is quite exhilarating. We walked and walked. We fished and fished. Nothing happened. We gave up. We headed back to camp to have lunch, pack everything away, and head to the airport.IMG_4522.jpgWe arrived at the infamous nine mile bridge. There were a couple of guys fishing it that had been there since about 5 am. They were taking a break, so I stepped in. I had a couple of follows from some big fish which made my heart race. I switched to a fly that I have to most confidence in. We call it, “The Magic Fly”. I was working it hard. A guide stepped in and told me how few fish were caught on the flies from the bridge area. He also handed me a fly that he thought would work. It looked very similar to my magic fly. We laughed about our taste in flies. It gave me a little more confidence. In the 11th hour. I hooked up.IMG_4523.jpgIt all came together. Caught, pictures, release. Now I can return home with a smile on my face. Now we are planning our return for next year. Hopefully, just like this steelhead.IMG_4535-ANIMATION.gif

Yakutat, AK. Day 3.

We woke up late after our adventure the previous day. We were happy to be warm, dry, and safe. We had another meal out of an aluminum bag by adding hot water. Just like all of the other meals we have been eating. Today’s plan was to drive to the lower part of the river where we had seen a lot of fish the day before.IMG_4520.jpgDriving to the takeout part of the river, we saw a grizzly bear crossing the road. There may be snow on the ground, but the bears are out and about already. It was a good reminder that life goes on that way it always has whether we are here or not. The signs of life and death were everywhere. New growth with old skulls.20180409_133345.jpgSo we fished. And fished some more. The spots looked good. We even saw a few fish. We hooked none and didn’t talk to too many other successful anglers. The fish were spooked and waiting for the rain. We had nice warm sunny days which are apparently terrible for steelheading down on the Situk River.20180411_102019.jpgLuckily, we had an early return to camp where wine and more fishing was waiting for us. We were not roughing it! There were a lot of fish right at this bridge. There are usually some people fishing there, but occasionally, the pressure drops and you can have it to yourself for a while.IMG_4521.jpgOnce again, we were fishless. There was only one more day left. We were not feeling hopeful.

Alaskan Steelhead

I just can’t seem to help myself. October rolls around and the thought of standing in cold water not catching anything gets very appealing. The previous year was very good to me. Catching 3 Steelhead on my first Alaskan outing made me feel like a pro. This year, the rivers was blown out.IMG_3755.jpgI was still able to manage to land one which required being out at the river before everyone else. It was cold and as the water level dropped, my expectations rose. The fishing was probably great the day after we left.IMG_3786.jpgThe drive home was beautiful. We stopped at Tern Lake to watch the swans. IMG_3775.jpgA couple of weeks later, I thought that the water level had dropped enough to make the fishing a little better. I knew that it would be cold, so I rented a hotel room instead of camping. I feel like I am getting older smarter.

The day started with a few feet of ice on the bank. It was tough to release fish without taking them out of the water. This Dolly Varden looks small compared to the giant bird prints in the ice. IMG_3822.jpgI realized that the old get up early trick might be in order. A few weeks ago there would be 6 people in the popular spots when the sun rose. This time I was the only one there. I did see one other person fishing, but he was walking over to the restaurant to get breakfast as I was heading to the river. It paid off.IMG_3834.jpgOne fish per day turned out to be the most I could get. It was more than I could ask for. I will be back next October to do it again.IMG_3829.jpg

Dipnetting.

As real Alaska residents we are allowed to put a net into the water and scoop out fish. We previously did this for Hooligan. Now it was time to do it for salmon.

ADF&G: This popular fishery takes place from late June through July in the marine waters of Cook Inlet just off the mouth of the Kenai River. Since 2003, Alaskans harvest between 130,000 and 540,000 sockeye salmon annually in this fishery.

The Kenai River is a large glacial system draining the central Kenai Peninsula. The river begins at Kenai Lake near the community of Cooper Landing and flows approximately 82 miles down to its mouth in Upper Cook Inlet, near the community of Kenai. The City of Kenai is approximately 160 highway miles south of Anchorage.

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We loaded onto the boat on this rainy day and stuck our nets in the water.Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 9.20.23 AM.pngWe held the nets in the water until feeling a thrashing fish. Then you quickly lift the net out of the water and into the boat. Your crew pounces on the fish (or multiple fish if you are lucky) and swiftly kills and bleeds them.

Occasionally, you get a monster!Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 9.20.45 AM.png

When you get home, the real work begins.Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 9.21.17 AM.png

The (borrowed) smoker was hard at work.Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 9.21.26 AM.png

The (new) freezer is full now!