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.
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.We 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.It 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.
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.
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.I 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.The drive home was beautiful. We stopped at Tern Lake to watch the swans. A 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
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. I 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.One 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.
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.
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.
We loaded onto the boat on this rainy day and stuck our nets in the water.We 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!
When you get home, the real work begins.
The (borrowed) smoker was hard at work.
The (new) freezer is full now!
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!