Bill and I finished the Alaskan fishing season in a maelstrom of dashed hopes and lost tackle. It looked promising at first--clear skies, easy seas. But our boatmates tangled lines, broke rods, scorched reels and generally threw the whole day under the bus. We managed a few "chickens" but were otherwise rejected from Cook Inlet and other locales. The worst part of it was that it wasn't the guide's fault. Sometimes you get stuck with folks who think they can cast a 16 ounce jig without their thumb on the reels. There's a splash and then the sound of expensive monofilament spinning out of control. They (the other clients) didn't know a salmon from a rock fish, and yet the wanted them all for themselves. Leaving here, I have a new understanding about charter fishing. I'll try to keep most of it to myself. I don't think we will see Mr. Mixer on a halibut boat in the near future.
The Rodfather is here and catching fish. Other than losing my car keys (for good) within an hour of arriving, he's living up to the challenge of Alaska. Kenai Float and Fish guide John, took us on a great float of the river this week. John and Heather run a first rate operation. They even made us coffee. It's truly a family owned business. We caught lots of rainbows on dries and a few sockeye salmon. Above, Bill demonstrates perfect fish displaying methods. Notice the position of his hands. He is still one of the best, if not the best fish-hand model in the fly-fishing press. Below--can you guess what this is?
The Rodfather arrives Sunday. In preparation for his visit I pre-fished the local streams yesterday after church. Pink salmon and char tested my light fly rod. I landed a few. The sun was out way past 11 p.m. It's hard to believe it's already almost over. I'll be headed back to WY in a few days. The fish were taking tiny streamers that imitate something called a sand lance.
With all of this salmon obsession you might overlook the trout that has always been there, right under your feet. I was among salmon fishermen when I saw rainbows and char in the shallows. They were snatching the eggs and scraps of salmon as people filleted their day's catch. I tied on an orange glo-bug and it got real very quickly. I forgot how much rainbow trout can do for your soul. I was sawed off several times by big, twenty-inch fish that took the fly and made for the Kenai. Most broke my tippet. I landed this 16 inch fish after losing a half dozen. The Rodfather arrives next week to ravage these trout. We're doing an all day float with Kenai Float and Fish out of Cooper Landing.
My seventy-something-year-old mom and her friend Ann are up for some sight seeing and salmon fishing. They are having a grand time at Maria's Majestic Views B and B. Yesterday Tim took us across the bay for some hot salmon action. We caught dozens of pinks and four sockeyes. We're having salmon for dinner tonight, off to Seldovia tomorrow. Happy hour at 5.
I made salmon broth out of a carcass bound for the trash. You could live like a king up here on the stuff people throw away. But I guess that's true for all over the US .Look for my essay and corresponding recipe in the current issue of Gray's.
The Russian River is an amazing place, often disparaged by elite anglers, frequently the scene of carnage and abuse, the place of collapsing relationships, the butt of jokes. I have a love/hate relationship with the river. I went this week to catch the back end of the early sockeye run. The biologists say the river will, once again, meet its escapement goals. It's amazing that this many people catch limits of salmon, and still the Russian carries on.I caught two bright fish on Weds evening. I threw back a few stinkers. I slept a few hours in the back of my truck. Justin Witt, of Global Fly Fishing Destinations, rapped on my camper shell at 4 am, and we set off upstream. We walked an hour upstream to find two black bears fishing. There was a tree across the river and the salmon, some of them fresh and bright, were stacked there. We had a blast. Justin had to show me how to fillet my fish. I also forgot my bear spray. It was back at camp. I need to get better.
The summer is going by so quickly. Salmon are showing up in large numbers. You can buy sockeyes from the fishermen who caught them. They run about 20 bucks per fish. But they are wild. These fish have never been frozen or dyed to look orange. I have an essay in the Gray's Bird Hunting Edition. It is out this month.