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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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.

Barber Cabin.

In February, we started planning our summer activities. We found that the Barber Cabin was available for a couple of nights in the middle of May. To us, summer is May, June, and July, no matter what the weather is doing. These are the best times to have nice weather.

I packed up the dogs and gear for a couple of days and headed out to the Kenai Peninsula. It has been pretty grey and rainy for the beginning of our summer. I was excited to get out of town.img_4681

It is a short and easy walk to the cabin. I was testing out having Finn carry some supplies. The boys did well. I was careful not to overpack their packs for the first hike of the season. Finn was unsure until he saw his first grouse. Then he completely forgot that he had a pack on his back.img_4682

I had left Anchorage in the rain and it was grey, windy, and sporadically raining on the trail. The trail is wide and mostly flat. The cabin is almost accessible by wheelchair.img_4684When we arrived, the cabin was warm and the stove still had some heat in it. That is a great feeling. Thanks to the people that I passed on the trail. They were hunting bears and like wire haired pointers. Life in Alaska.img_4720We didn’t see any bears which I found surprising. Of course, two loud dogs with bear bells may have helped alert the cautious Ursidae. There is allegedly good fishing in the lake. The cabin was conveniently close to the lake and canoe is provided in the cabin rental. When the wind picked up, there were whitecaps on the lake and we hunkered down in the cabin. When the wind slowed, Lando showed Finn how to fetch things in the water. Finn is still apprehensive about swimming.img_4727-effectsWe took the canoe out on the lake during a calm spell. We didn’t catch or see any fish. We did see a moose swim across the lake. That got Finn excited enough to stand on the bow.img_4714This is a great cabin that is easily accessed. Check it out after fishing the Russian River. The Russian Lakes Trail looks like another place to explore more this summer.img_4713

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 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.