Yakutat, AK. Day 2.

We woke up a little sore, but eager to get going. The rest of our party was a little slower to get going. We discussed the idea of postponing our float a day and simply walking some more this first day. We had brought inflatable kayaks and they were pumped up and ready to go.

With the low flows, we heard that most of the fish would be in the lower half of the river. A decision was made to paddle the first half of the river and then fish the second/lower half. By the time we launched our boats, it was about 10:30 am.

We thought that we were about a third of the way downstream when we reached the forest service cabins. It had taken us 2 hours. This put us on track for a 6 hour float. I had heard the guides talking about 12 hour floats, but I assumed that they were stopping to fish a lot. We were going to skip the first half of the river.

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The boats at the cabins.

It was all quite enjoyable at this point. We took time to leisurely explore the area. We fished half heartedly not seeing many fish. We knew that they would be down lower.20180409_133517.jpgWe floated lazily. There were a lot of downed trees, but we had time to see them coming. Being in inflatable boats the thought of a puncture was always somewhere in the back of my mind. The low flows meant that we were moving slowly, but we had no idea how slowly. IMG_4518.jpgWe eventually found some fish and we thought that we were about halfway down the river. We stopped to fish when we thought we were in the right spots. A few fish were biting, but we were not able to land any. Just when we thought that we had it figured out, a couple of kids came floating down in a motor boat.20180410_084652.jpgThey were very nice and trying not to scare the fish. They asked where we were staying. When we mention that we were camping at the boat launch, they informed us that we still had 8 miles to go the take out. It was now 6:30 PM and we were not even halfway downriver yet. We put our rods away and paddle for the next 3 hours. We saw lots of fish as we paddled hard past them. We were still paddling in the dark when we arrived at the boat take out.

8 miles our first time on a river in inflatables with known log jams and snags in the dark made us appreciate the dry land! We can’t thank Yakutat Lodge enough for leaving a vehicle at the takeout for us. That would have been a long 8 miles to walk back after that day.

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Yakutat, AK. Day 1.

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.

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Amanda finally got some downtime.

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.

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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.20180409_100208.jpg

We set up our camp and I ran to the river. Amanda strolled over with a beer and took a couple of pictures. 20180409_131806.jpg

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.

Seward Getaway.

Seward is just far away enough to feel like you are on vacation, but close enough to spend just a couple of day there. We took off for a couple of days and found the place deserted. Winter here is great! Don’t tell anyone.

The tides are incredible. Leaving lots of places to explore.

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The view from our cabin. Loft upstairs with a bed below.

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The view from the bedroom was pretty amazing.screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-2-47-04-pmWhen we first arrived, we loved the sunshine and snow combination.screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-2-43-47-pmWe found an old railroad car near our cabin.screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-2-44-22-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-08-at-2-44-41-pmWith so many places to explore, it is hard to return to the same place twice. Seward keeps calling us back.

Caines Head, Seward, Alaska.

This one also counts as hike 3/52.

This trail is incredible. It starts outside of Seward on a dirt road that passes an enormous waterfall. It wouldn’t be the last waterfall we saw on this trip. The trail is very well maintained. It had rained the day before, but there were boardwalks everywhere that there needed to be. With the ground smelling wet and everything looking greener than usual, we set off with high hopes and full packs.

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We crossed our first large creek/small river and we spent a little too much time looking for salmon that we hoped would be returning to spawn. This was not a fishing trip and it was difficult to leave a rod behind. Especially when I saw a guy in the parking lot stringing up a fly rod and heading to the beach.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.44.49 AMWe walked in the forest for the first mile or so. Up and down a small hill. We emerged and the trail headed towards the beach. This is where we would find out if we had timed things correctly. At high tide, many places are impassable. On an incoming tide, you can be trapped in small coves or on large rocks. The tides can be quite large here so a very low tide is ideal. A very high tide can be dangerous.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.45.20 AMThis was option number one for a camp spot. Right next to the waterfall. It was only a couple of miles in. It would have been easy, but people would be passing by a lot and it wasn’t our original destination. We wanted something a little further from the trailhead. Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.45.50 AM

After a couple miles of walking on the beach in beautiful sunshine, the trail turned into the forest again. It started uphill and we began to sweat. We couldn’t stop because of the mosquitoes. And we are stubborn. We came to a fork in the trail and chose the more difficult path. We didn’t know about the elevation gain. Or the trail turning to muddy single track, but it mentioned something about the alpine something or other and that sounded pleasant. Imagine sweating, swearing, panting people with legs burning and terrible thoughts racing through their minds.

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I was wondering why I wasn’t laying on my couch scrolling through Instagram like any sane person should be doing with a few days off. The small streams in the high alpine fields were absolutely beautiful.

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We had to be mildly alert for bears as we saw scat on the trail. Eventually the trail headed downhill and we hiked on cool dry creek beds.

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When we thought that we couldn’t take any more strenuous hiking, we thought that we were hallucinating hearing waves. this might be the best view from the trip. Emerging out of the forest and finding the ocean again. We knew that we had made it to South Beach. It wasn’t in Florida, it was much better than that.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.47.20 AMThis was our view for three days. There were two people there when we arrived. It was a Sunday and they were headed out. This nurse career seemed like a good choice at that moment. We were all alone.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.48.03 AMAt night we started a fire before it got dark.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.48.29 AMIt didn’t really get dark because it is summer here. And the moon looked like this when it rose. It was hard to sleep with such beauty around us. Eventually, we hung out bag of food out of the way of the bears and made it to bed.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.48.51 AMIt was easy to lay in bed when we looked out of the tent and saw the same things, but in a different light. The sweltering heat in a tent seems to push you out. Even in Alaska.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.49.23 AMThe next day, a couple of friends joined us for a night. We watched Orcas cruise in the bay. Sea lions were curious enough to pop up their heads near shore. Bald eagles seem to be everywhere up here.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.49.45 AMAnother successful trip in the backcountry. Also, we didn’t see any fish, so I was glad that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on an amazing fishing trip.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.50.00 AMThanks for reading!

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Fly Fishing at Beach Lake.

With a day off, we wanted to fish with our friends. We loaded up 4 people, 3 dogs, 2 float tubes, and 1 canoe. We arrived at Beach Lake to see fish rising, no wind, and mostly cloudy skies.Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 8.42.05 AMFly selection began on shore. The mosquitoes were not terrible, but very present. We saw some tiny grey bugs flitting around, but I had left my Colorado style size 20 and smaller box at home. Should have brought it.Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 8.42.22 AMI used a black gnat fly that worked best all day. It was smashed on the surface, but even more productive while being slowly stripped just under the surface.

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The views were incredible, like they always are here in Alaska. Looking down, I saw fish in the net, or rising all around us. Looking up, we saw terns, eagles, loons, amazing mountains, and float planes. It never seems to get old.Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 8.42.52 AMThe wind picked up and fish stopped rising. We traded tips and tricks while not thinking about how quickly the weather can change and shut down a good day of fishing. After a while, the wind died down and the hot fishing resumed.Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 8.43.05 AMThe only thing better than having stinky hands and cold feet was the burger at the local pool hall after all of it. Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 8.43.25 AM