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!We 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. The 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.We 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.While 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. The 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.
When thinking of planning a do it yourself trip to Yakutat, there are a couple of important websites to check with. One is Bob’s blog. He will give you an honest representation of what is going on with fish in the river. It might not be what you want to hear, but it will be the truth of what he hears. The other website is the USGS water conditions. CFS is what was checking the most.
Now, I will be the first to tell you that I became obsessed with these websites for a month leading up to our trip. It didn’t matter. If the weather said it was raining, Bob said that there were no fish, and the USGS gauge wasn’t working, we were still going on this trip. In reality, the weather forecast changed every 5 minutes, Bob said that a few fish had been reported in the river, and the gauge showed that there was hardly any water in the river. Tickets were booked, boats were made ready, we were on our way.
When we arrived at the Yakutat Airport, our boats were waiting and everything was working out. I was starting to get excited about the fishing. The Yakutat Lodge would be setting up our shuttles and providing information from their guides that had been on the water every day.
There wasn’t much snow on the ground and we were ready to get out there. After we bought beer, flies, fuel, and firewood that is. Second stop was the Situk river Fly Shop out in a WWII hangar. It was pretty cool.
We arrived at the boat launch where there are 6 elevated camping platforms free to use provided by the forest service. We arrived and were unprepared for what we found. There was still snow. More snow than we wanted to sleep on. So we got to work. This was bad for my casting muscles.
We set up our camp and I ran to the river. Amanda strolled over with a beer and took a couple of pictures.
That night we made margaritas, talked about fishing around the fire, and tried to sleep in anticipation of floating the river the next day. Day one was done and no fish were caught.
When friends come to visit, I like to take them to do things. Like see dead whales.Or go up hills.Carve pumpkins.Make them look at tall things.Make them look at pretty things.Make them go up more hills.Make them take selfies with me.Make them like it here.I showed them some glaciers and told them that the water was cold.I guess that some people need to figure things out for themselves.
We took the family out to Caines Head a couple of times. It is one of our favorite places to visit. We stopped to watch the salmon in the river. The dogs begged for food.The hike through the mossy forest along the coast is amazing.
Once you make it to the beach, you are greeted by views of glaciers across the bay.The dogs love the beach. Some never stop running while searching for birds.The wife always seem to catch fish and look good doing it.
My favorite way to spend time with family involves fishing.
Photos from the amazing Alison Snyder.
After the madness of Memorial Day, we headed south to the Anchor River to see if we could catch a King Salmon on a fly. The patriotism of the bald eagles were in full swing.The night before we fished, we got to spend some time by a campfire doing the usual things. It seemed like a good omen.
The evening was lovely.
The next day, we had a hook up! Hanapa’a.The eagles were vigilantly watching to see what would happen.We did it! We landed one.
That gave us plenty of time to explore the beaches in the area. What a beautiful spot!
We headed up the Parks Highway (names for George Parks, not Denali National Park, even though that is the direction it heads) to follow little blue lines that we had seen on Google Maps. We found a place where the power lines cross the creek. This is usually a good spot to access the water.
Many other places I have fished have lots of private property preventing a person from accessing the water. Here, you really just can’t get to the water. The bushes are too thick, the mud is too deep, and there are no trails. It is perfect. When you do get to the water, you might be on a cliff too high to fish properly. The other side of the river always seems to look better than wherever I am standing.
Plus, there is the added bonus that I am always looking over my shoulder for wildlife. Maybe something to see that is cool, maybe making sure that nothing is going to attack me. Either way, I feel like I am always looking out for something. We found a piece of water that looked like it would have some fish. The water was higher than we wanted though. It was muddy. There were hardly any bugs (except the mosquitoes). There had to be fish here.
It was too early in the season for anything salmon related. No eggs yet. No flesh unless it was left over from last year. These are meat eating trout. It was time to swing some streamers. The bigger and uglier the better.Somehow, we fooled them again. Total solitude. Hungry fish. The fear of being attacked by wildlife overcome. Mosquitoes swatted. Headed home, we felt accomplished. Rugged. Alaskan like. Bear spray safely in the car unused, we stopped by Starbucks for our usual chai lattes. We aren’t that rugged.As the fishing season starts to heat up, my heart races more and more before each adventure starts. Every time that we step outside, I am amazed at what we see.
As I was coming home from work one recent morning, a moose crossed the road in front of me. Luckily, I had plenty of time to stop. Then the moose stopped as well. He stood in the middle of the road and I stopped. Idling the bike, I lowered my feet unsure of what to do. If he charged, could I turn around fast enough and gun it? Probably not. Would we play chicken and I try to skirt around to the other lane? Doubtful. We looked at each other for a while. I think that he realized that I wasn’t too much of a threat. He walked down the road keeping a wary eye on me.He was on the same side of the road as I was, so I was going to have to drive on the opposite side of the road to give him plenty of space. A couple of cars came by. Some stopped to make sure that he wouldn’t charge them as well. Some zoomed by either not noticing or not caring. I slowly started approaching him from behind, but got into the other lane (hoping there was no oncoming traffic) and he stopped to watch as I passed him nervously.
These giant animals are still amazing to me. To the locals, they are like dairy cows in Wisconsin. Big, never trusted, and seen everywhere. Locals don’t take pictures of moose. I still do. I got home and took the dogs on a short walk. A few minutes later, this brute come clomping down the road just like he was when I passed him. He still didn’t seem to have a care in the world. He is a true local.