April - Baja, Mexico | May - Float Tubing | June - Brooks River | July - Cordova Flyfishing School | July - Denali Highway | August - Raspberry Island | August - Canoe, Camp & Float Tube | August - Reel Wilderness | September - Cordova Salmon Fishing
by Pudge Kleinkauf
Our twelfth annual saltwater flyfishing trip to Mexico was a blast. A great group
of anglers, with some flyfishing in saltwater for the very first time, turned
the trip into one big laugh-fest. A sense of humor almost seemed to have been a
pre-requisite for attending. The hilarity absolutely rocked the bar at the hotel
as the afternoon fishing stories were told and re-told to the hoots and hollers
of others. No matter what they caught that day, they considered it fantastic.
And, catch they did!
The marlin were out in force this year, and Jennifer from Boston was the first to connect. She had fished for stripers and other salt water fish, so was familiar with the need to palm the reel, to play the fish with the rod off to the side, and other techniques that contribute to success in the salt. A hundred-pound fish was her reward. Was she ever excited! She said that she especially enjoyed seeing the deck-hand carefully return the fish to the water.
That gave the others something to strive for, and they gave it their all. While marlin fishing, Maria, an Alaska flyfisher connected with a sailfish instead. She reported that she was shaking so hard with excitement that she nearly dropped the rod. Her fish turned out to be the first sailfish of the season for our hotel. Alison, from San Diego, (a regular on our trip), also landed a large jack cravalle, one of the most sought-after fish on a fly rod in salt water. Gold-hued dorado came to some of the large, red flies, and bonito and yellow finned tuna also got in on the act.
Lots of other fish cooperated as well. (There are over 300 species of fish in the lovely Sea of Cortez, and it is impossible to identify them all.) A couple of days we went out in search of our beloved “skippies”, the skipjack tuna that brighten every fly fisher’s day with their cooperative attitude, and their schooling-up tendencies that make for fast and furious fishing. All of our boats circled back and forth in and around the schools, and time after time all of the rods on the boat were being bent by “skippies. We caught them until our arms were tired.
Our evenings at the hotel were spent with fly tying, equipment and fly discussions, and casting clinics on the beach with Gary and the guides from Baja On The Fly. As usual, all but Allison and Sandy, who have been on almost every single trip that we have ever done to Baja, had to learn that lifting the rod on the hook-set (as is done in fresh-water flyfishing)
will result in a lost fish. Instead, strip-striking, and playing the fish with the butt of the rod rather than the tip are the techniques required in the salt. We’d practice and practice with each other. Then, it was up to them to remember and apply those tactics when they got a strike on the boat.
Each evening we had recitations of who missed fish by lifting the rod tip, or who pulled the hook right out of the fish’s mouth because they couldn’t remember to keep their rod on its side as they fought the fish. The stories added a lot to the “bite” of the margaritas.
The last morning, we all went surf fishing out in front of the hotel at 6:00 a.m. The conditions were perfect. A gorgeous sun-rise, small waves, and bait-fish scurrying for their lives as larger fish slashed through the schools. Now, they had to master the two-hand retrieve, the haul and double haul, and the use of a stripping basket to keep the line from wrapping around their legs with every wave. (See how on our Tips page!).
Almost everyone caught needle fish, a common surf fish with a long mouth containing jagged teeth that look like a pinking shears, and coronet fish, with mouths like bugles, which only have a small sucker opening at the end. Other surf perch and some species that we couldn’t identify also came to the flies. A lady fish or two got caught as did some pompano.
Our half-day 4-wheeler excursion gave those who went an up-close and personal experience with the beautiful, cactus and elephant trees of Baja’s mountains and some panoramas of long, curving beaches and boats bobbing in the waves. We got back in time for lunch all dusty and dirty, but thrilled with the experience.
Next year’s trip promises to be every bit as exciting. It will take place in
April. Details will be available in the next few weeks and in our newsletter.
Get in touch with us soon if you’d like to do some fly fishing in the salt in
¡Vamos ir a pescar!
by Pudge Kleinkauf
The water was warmer than usual as we strapped on our flippers, stepped into the float tubes, waded out, and cast our lines for the spring rainbow trout that are waiting for us each year. As a result, the numbers of fish were not where we usually expect to see them.
The gravelly area right below the cabin that typically holds lots of fish shortly after ice-out, was disappointingly empty. The usual hustle and bustle of fish cruising back and forth along the bank was missing. It was too quiet for our tastes.
Since we know other places where fish congregate in the spring, we set off across the lake to what we hoped would be greener pastures. And, thankfully, on the lee side of a long island, we found them. Large, fat, trout scurried around enjoying both the warmth of the water after a long winter under the ice as well as the nymphs and emerging insects that it held.
Trout in this lake are land-locked and cannot successfully spawn because they do not have an in-flow or out-flow creek where their eggs can enjoy the oxygen-rich flowing water that they require. Nevertheless, the fish move back and forth amidst each other and eventually form the pairs of fish that attempt the spawning ritual. Concentrating on each other, they are quite oblivious to us.
Our casts were often ignored, but occasionally we really connected. A large buck took one of the gals into her backing as she paddled furiously to keep up with him. First he tore away down the bank, and then, just when she had him under control, he headed out into deeper water and toward the other end of the island. He was in surprisingly shallow water, and she was forced into water that made it hard to paddle just to keep up with him. Ultimately, she subdued him and lifted him carefully for the rest of us admire. He was gorgeous. His crimson gill-plates and sides absolutely gleamed in the sun.
The wind came up all too often and forced us back to the cabin, but we were prepared for time to relax on the deck with a glass of wine, and enjoy our lunch or dinner while we waited for calmer weather. We also enjoyed the wildlife that always seems to be around the lake in the spring.
A pair of mating loons called out to us as we arrived at the cabin after our hike from the vehicles, and then proceeded to swim right next to us as we stopped the tubes and fished. We also heard, but never saw, migrating sand-hill cranes on their way north for the summer. A bald eagle keep his eye on us throughout the week-end watching to see if we were releasing a fish that he might capture. A pair of trumperter swans also few overhead, with their pure white wings matching the snow-covered Mount McKinley that we could see from the water.
As usual, it was a wonderful way to start the fly fishing year and a fun experience for the “first-timers.” We’ll be back for more next spring. Let us know if you want to come along!
by Pudge Kleinkauf
Both of the groups at the
Brooks River this year had fantastic fishing. The first group scored big on the
rainbows, and the second group really got into the sockeye. Of course, the first
group wished for more sockeye, and the second group missed having more bows, but
that’s fishing! The water was lower than we’ve seen it in years, so we could
easily wade to our favorite spots.
We started off our visit with rainbows in the 18-inch plus category. Large, black articulated leeches were just the ticket for the fish. Perhaps because they were tired of the dry flies and nymphs they’d been seeing since opening day, they very quickly demonstrated their preference for big and black. Dan landed a fish nearly twenty-five inches long and Lori lost one as large or larger just at the last minute.
One day as we fished, I called out to Lori to watch out for what I thought was a small log floating down the river. I couldn’t believe it when she told me the log was a swimming squirrel! He paddled along right in front of her and then headed for the far bank. If that wasn’t enough, we were heading back from the watching bears at the upper platform when we noticed a large brown object on the lower deck railing. That turned out to be an injured bat! This group has to rank as some of the best wildlife spotters I’ve ever fished with.
The second group had their own adventures. Mostly with the bears. On numerous occasions, we had to pull in the flies and step back from the water as a bear or bears wandered along the bank. Their special favorite turned out to be a sow with three new cubs. Cute as could be as they tried to run with their little short legs to keep up with mom, they turned out to be a source of endless entertainment.
The first night we saw them they nearly drowned while mom fished. They’d followed her into the river and got caught in the current, which swept them down river. Mom frantically searched for them while they struggled to make it to shore. We were all holding our breath to see if they’d make it.
When they did, we let out a collective sigh of relief. Another afternoon, while mom fished, the babies once again got caught in the current. This time they got swept under the suspension bridge that leads from the trail to the lower observation platform. The runt-cub somehow managed to get hold of the supports of the bridge and hauled himself up out of the water. Finally the other two appeared, and then scrambled up the bank to safety.
Meanwhile, runtie had managed to get through the bridge slats and now was running frantically back and forth on the bridge unable to get out because of the gates at either end, which prevent bears using the bridge. Mom, paced frantically right in front of the gate encouraging him to try to slide between the vertical bars on the fence.
Suddenly a large boar appeared on the other side of the river and began eyeing the two clubs without a protective mother. Now things got really frantic. Mother bear was just about to abandon runtie on the bridge when he figured out how to climb the slats and get up on the top of the gate. There he had another problem. A rolling metal bar prevented him from getting a toe-hold and he ended up straddling the bar helplessly. Finally he got his balance and managed to jump off the fence to mom who quickly gathered up all three cubs and put them safely up a tree while she nervously watched the big boar. What a show!! .
Oh yes, we also had some great fishing. The sockeye finally decided to arrive
en-mass in great, dark schools. And, lucky us, we were right in the midst of
them. Every rod was bent nearly all the time. If you can believe it, the group
actually got tired of hollering “fish-on.” Everybody got a fish to take home,
and we probably released another hundred and fifty fish before things slowed
down. It was the kind of action we dream about.
by Pudge Kleinkauf
The hordes of pink salmon made learning to fly fish easy for this year’s participants in the annual Women’s Flyfishing® school. The pinks (or “humpies as they are called in Alaska) were everywhere in little humpy creek the first morning we set out from the lodge for our first casting and fishing lesson.
First everyone got proficient with the basic cast, and then we put it to work on the water. There they practiced the technique called mending to keep the line from dragging the fly and proper drift to present the fly to the fish. The low water made the drift of the fly particularly difficult, but they were persistent, and quickly managed to get the fly aiming for the fish’s mouth instead of the prominent hump on his or her back.
It wasn’t very long until I was hearing cries of “I’ve got this one in the mouth,” coming from up and down the river. That accomplished, the next thing was to help everyone learn how to play a fish so that it didn’t break off and how to palm the reel to enable the fish to run, but to still maintain control. Surprisingly, they didn’t lose many flies, and even more surprisingly, one of them caught a fish that had broken off from someone else and got my fly back!
We headed back to the lodge in mid-afternoon to make sure we had plenty of time for knot tying before dinner. These were a dedicated bunch and were tying nail knots and blood knots perfectly in no time. They planned to be ready for the fish the next day.
The boat took us to a lovely small bay with a stream at its head where we began by casting to cruising fish. Except for a baby halibut, we weren’t very successful. So, we had Bob move the boat to the far shore where there was less tidal mud and where it was easier to reach the fish. Then the catching began! Soon we ate our lunch and decided to hike up to the little creek and try out luck. That turned out to be a great decision. The creek was filled with fish, both pink and chum salmon as well as some Dolly Varden char.
They all caught and released more fish than the previous day, but this time, they had all mastered the technique of removing the hook from the fish’s mouth and releasing it correctly. There was bear sign everywhere, but we made plenty of noise and weren’t bothered.
The following day we headed out in the float plane for a day on the Martin River. A special tour over the nearby glaciers made the flight a particularly breathtaking one. We hoped for sockeye salmon in the Martin, but found Dolly Varden char instead. The lower river held lots of Dollies, but they refused to bite. So, we headed up-stream to a lovely run where we had lunch and then gave the Dollies another chance. This time the light was right and everyone could see them. That made it much easier to direct their casts to right where the fish were holding.
The technique of bouncing eggs along the bottom is one that many flyfishers have learned fishing with nymphs. These gals proved how effective it also is for Dollies. We hated to wade back down river to where the plane was to pick us up.
Our last day found us on another coastal river where the chum salmon run. While we hooked some chums, fresh pink salmon were there in much greater numbers. The mud made the wading difficult, but we managed. As the tide came we had to move farther and farther back along the beach. We tried to hike up-river, but the tide flooded the river bends and we retreated back to the beach. The afternoon ended with casting from the beach to huge dark pods of fresh pink salmon that gave up fish after fish to our florescent pink flies. Boy, it was hard to put away the rods and head for the plane!
If you want to learn to fly fish with us next summer, let us know and we’ll get you booked for our 2008 fly fishing school.
by Pudge Kleinkauf
We fish every year on the Denali Highway in Interior Alaska. Beautiful Arctic grayling abound in the streams and lakes along the Highway and eagerly take the flies that we present.
This year we did something a bit different. We drove farther down the Highway than usual to hook up with the great folks from MacLaren Lodge on the Mac Laren River. Enjoying the lodge’s hospitality, super food, and comfortable cabins, we spent more time than usual fishing the streams in the middle of the Highway.
The first afternoon after everyone had had lunch and settled in their cabin, we headed out to a nearby stream for the trip’s first grayling fishing day. They were excited to pursue this fish that is so famous for taking dry flies and nymphs.
A Royal Wulff with a white wing for angler-visibility got the fish all excited. Then, after everyone could see and follow the fly, we worked on placing the fly in the fish’s feeding lane and on the drag-free drift. Until the storm clouds rolled in, we had a grayling hook-up on almost every cast. Sometimes the fish missed and sometimes we missed. But the rises were consistent and the fish were eager.
As usual, the grayling were persistent. They and helped the anglers learn how the fly had to drift before they’d go for it and also would get hooked. The fun was in the practicing. All too soon it was time to head back for dinner.
The next day we took the lodge boat out and spent the day casting to the grayling in its crystal clear water. It was especially fun to watch he fish come from far below and smack the fly. The visibility was absolutely perfect.
After lunch we hiked up the creek to explore its other sections and were rewarded there with even bigger fish. In one deep run we caught at least 10 fish over eighteen inches. An eighteen-inch fish is large for a grayling!
After a great dinner and a hot shower we hit the sack early to be ready for our following day on the 4-wheelers. We got our lunches and hopped on the ATV’s right after breakfast and headed out to what turned out to be an incredible challenge.
A 4-wheeling club visit the week-before had turned the trail into a wet, nearly impassible quagmire. We bravely forged ahead and slowly made progress over the worst of the sections. Finally we came out into a high meadow where the trail was great. After one more muddy section, we arrived at a steep hill where the trail had washed out. So, we just parked the ATVs and hiked the last half-mile to the creek. The bugs were unbelievable. Without our head nets they would have driven us crazy.
The creek was lovely and inviting and looked like perfect grayling water. After nearly two hours with only two fish to account for, however, we were completely puzzled. We’d fished with dry flies, and nymphs, and even small streamers, but nothing! We finally concluded that the water was cooling at this high altitude and that the fish were probably already on their way back to their wintering-over sites. After lunch we fished another stretch of water, but with no more success so we headed back to the 4-wheelers and made our way home. The view from the top of the ridge was gorgeous! It was well worth the effort.
Our last morning found us headed back down the Highway to the main road. We stopped at one of my favorite creeks along the way to fish until noon, when it was time to head for home. There, the fish were a little slow to get started early in the morning, but just kept getting more and more cooperative as time went by. They took Wulffs, and caddis, and parachute Adams, and humpies in every color and size. They were trying to make it up to us for our previous, almost fishless, day. And, they did. It was a super end to a super trip.
We’ll definitely be going back to the Denali Highway next year. Want to go along? Just let us know.
by Pudge Kleinkauf
Fish that were everywhere plus fantastic weather combined to make for a wonderful trip to Raspberry Island Remote Camp this year. Boat problems on our arrival day resulted in us fishing a river on the road system on Kodiak Island while we waited on afternoon pick-up by the Lodge’s other boat. No one was complaining, though, because fresh pink salmon were arriving on the in-coming tide by the dozens. Their swirls and jumps showed us just where to cast, and cast we did.
One of the women on the trip had never cast a fly rod, and a couple of the other gals had never fished for larger fish before, so they all had to adjust to casting the 8-wt rods and learning to palm the reel to control their fish before their hook-ups resulted in fish on the bank.
It wasn’t long before there were bent rods everywhere, and I was kept busy running back and forth between them to help with releases. I heard a lot of “yippee” and “go girls” as the catching increased. They didn’t even stop for lunch. “We can eat lunch while we’re driving to the boat,” someone said, and the others quickly agreed.
The boat ride to the lodge included a stop at a bird rookery with several kinds of birds flying and nesting right above us. Very soon thereafter we began to spot sea otters bobbing in the waves as the boat passed by.
High winds restricted the boats to only certain bays the next morning, so we
headed to a protected cove with a small creek at its head for our fishing. The
fish were nowhere to be seen. What was to be seen, however, was a young brown
bear that ambled down the bank closer and closer to us. Because of the wind, he
couldn’t smell us and kept coming to determine what we were. We gathered into a
group, hollered and waved our arms, and tried to look big as is recommended by
bear experts, and finally he turned and headed into the forest. As the tide
fell, we hiked up the creek a bit, but found no more fish so decided to radio
the boat to come and get us. After a long, slogging hike along the beach, we
reached a place where the boat could pick us up.
Our next day’s adventure took place at a beautiful, protected bay absolutely filled with fish, and the hook-ups were fast and furious. Along the way we came upon probably 100 sea otters playing and feeding in a huge kelp bed. Shortly after we passed them we found ourselves right in the middle of a whale feeding-frenzy. We counted at least six different humpback whales blowing, diving, and putting on a show for us. Fishing was almost anti-climactic.
The lesson everyone mastered that day was how to land a fish and release it by yourself. This day included a bear visit as well. Movement in the bushes along the creek alerted us to a sow and three cubs that we feeding on a salmon the sow had just caught. Again we gathered together and waved our arms and mom decided her cubs were safer in the vegetation and herded them away. We were to see her once more later that day, but again she kept her babies well away from us.
With the wind down we got to go to a beautiful creek on a beach fronting Sheikof Straight the next day where our target was Dolly Varden char. When we put the sun at our backs we could see them perfectly, just finning in the clear water. Everyone was rigged with small pink beads that imitated the salmon eggs that were drifting down from the spawning salmon above, and they did the trick. One after the other of the pink-spotted beauties fell for our “fake” eggs.
The rest of our wildlife watching that day included a scruffy-looking red fox that hung around us and our gear for over an hour letting us take pictures of him. After a great shore lunch looking out at snow-capped mountains and volcanoes across the Straights, we returned to fishing. Later in the afternoon, however, another sow and cubs sent us scurrying for the boat. High surf made it necessary for some of us to hike down the beach to an easier place for pick-up, however.
The last day was another Dolly Varden char day. We flew out from the lodge to a nearby lake and creek that was absolutely choked with Dollies. First we had a “greeny-weenie” challenge with a small chartreuse eye-ball fly everyone was using, and then, after lunch we headed up-stream to fish the outlet of the lake. It was another gorgeous day and the plane came all too soon to take us back to the Kodiak airport. The return flight was stunning, and, from the air, we could even still see “our” whales still feeding.
We’ll be doing this trip again next year, and we hope you’ll join us. Contact us early so you don't miss out!
by Pudge Kleinkauf
The title of this trip should
have been canoe, float tube for Rainbows and wade the creek to fish for char. As
it turned out, the weather made it almost impossible to camp. Torrential rain
and high winds buffeted the Kenai Peninsula and resulted in a slight change of
plans for our trip.
Luckily, the Blue Moose Lodge, with whom we do the trip, had room for us, and we decided that instead of canceling the trip we would just delete the camping part. So, we still did the canoeing and float tubing, but because the weather really affected the fishing, we spent our last day fishing a small creek for the Dolly Varden char that were holding behind the spawning sockeye salmon waiting for the eggs.
The lakes we headed out to lay within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge about an hour’s drive from the lodge. After a short hike, and some challenging bush-whacking because the trail had grown over, we emerged onto a small hill above a perfect place to launch the float tubes. We bravely set off in spite of some wind but both paddling and fishing proved to be difficult.
We had some hook-ups fairly quickly. Unfortunately, they all hadn’t mastered the art of keeping a fish tight in a float tube at first. Later, they were to lose one large fish when it wrapped itself and the leader around the roots of a water lily and another as it was executing it’s seventh jump straight out of the water. Then, it started to rain, and the fishing absolutely shut down. An occasional fish would jump, but the activity just kept diminishing as the storm progressed. As we predicted, the wind that had made it difficult to paddle in the beginning had completely changed course and then made it difficult to paddle back. Even the swans that we saw on the lake were hiding out in the grass rather than paddle in the strong wind. A glass of wine and a great dinner at the lodge made us glad we’d changed our plans.
A different lake the next day, plus a little better weather, gave us encouragement. A mother loon and one of her fluffy, grey-brown chicks checked us out as we paddled the canoes away from shore. A fish jumped within the first bay where we’d stopped to fish the weed-beds, but nobody had a hit, so we paddled on. The lake was absolutely lovely, calm and full of weeds and lily pads (what should have been perfect insect-producing grocery stores for fish).
We saw occasional fish jumping and even caught a few small ones, but the big fellows eluded us all day. Whether we fished with dries, or bead-head nymphs or streamers, didn’t matter at all. Someone would get a fish and then we’d all switch to that fly thinking that “now we had the secret.” We never caught two fish on the same fly all day. The weather improved somewhat late in the afternoon, but the fish just never turned on. A low pressure system in the atmosphere had put them down-as it always does. We ended our day with both loon parents and both their chicks for company as we loaded up. It was a real treat to see them so close.
Instead of heading back to the lakes for a third day in the still rainy, windy weather, we opted for fishing a small creek instead. Luckily, the rain held off and no one else was fishing the spot we chose. This time, the fish were Dolly Varden char instead of rainbow trout, but the group was ready for a change.
Fishing with egg-imitation flies or tiny beads to interest fish like dollies or rainbows or grayling when they are eating salmon eggs, requires some different tactics. We either fish with short lines and leaders in a technique called “high-sticking” or we fish with long leaders and strike indicators. Both methods require the use of a small split shot for weight on the leader about 18 inches above the fly. Both methods work.
We could see just a few dollies mixed in with the spawning salmon at first, but as our light improved and we checked out several different locations along the creek, we soon connected with fish. Some of the fish were the spawning salmon that we caught accidently, but that always happens as we fish among them for the dollies.
Dollies have light pink spots on a gray background (as opposed to rainbow trout that have dark spots on a light background), but some of them become easy to see as they develop a large, white band along their pectoral and caudal fins when they begin to go into their own spawning colors. Once you spot those white bands, it becomes much easier to sight-fish for dollies.
In spite of the weather, the trip was great and so was the group. The lakes were absolutely beautiful, the fall colors were starting to show in the trees and meadows, and the lodge couldn’t have been more warm and hospitable.
We’ll definitely be “Blue Moosing” it again next year. Come on along.
by Pudge Kleinkauf
From rainbow trout, to Dolly Varden char, to large lovely grayling, to prehistoric, aggressive pike, we got to fish for it all during our inaugural trip to Reel Wilderness Adventures’ camp in the scenic Wood Tikchik State Park in western Alaska. What a great operation!
The trip began in mid-day after our arrival by float plane. David, RWA’s owner, introduced the staff who would be fishing with us and feeding us and generally taking care of us during our trip, and, after a quick tour of the shower and potty facilities and our snug and cozy weather-port cabins, we were anxious to wet a line.
We downed a quick lunch in the fantastic, comfortable yurt that serves as the camp headquarters, then wadered up and took off in the boats either for a small char creek nearby or for a trout river in the other direction. Everybody caught fish. Some of us scored on dollies lying just behind the spawning red (sockeye) salmon and the rest of us pulled in rainbows. Jo landed a beautiful 26-inch rainbow that first day and spent the rest of the trip waiting to see if someone got a bigger fish or if she had the prize of the trip. (She won. The next closest fish were in the 22-24 inch range.)
Everyone who went char fishing the first day went after the rainbows the second day, while the first day’s trout anglers headed across the lake to some of the camp’s favorite pike bays. We both had a roaring good time. Laurie, who wasn’t sure about the pike initially, became absolutely obsessed with them, hauling one after the other with a frenzy. The three of us in one boat landed a grad total of sixty-five pike in one day.
Finally, we had the good weather that we had been waiting for and took off across the smooth-as-silk lakes for a 1 hour 45 minute boat ride to the uppermost reaches of the park. There we accessed a stunning little grayling stream that took our breath away with its setting and with its fish.
This was to be the first dry fly experience for all but two of our group. With just a little instruction in the casts that would flutter the elk hair caddis and parachute Adams to the surface, they were off and running, with Rose catching the fish of the day, a beautiful, sail-finned grayling 20-inches long in water that was astoundingly clear. Sightings of moose enhanced the day, as did two-year old sibling brown bears moving along the beach on our way home.
We speculated that these two were in their first year away from their mother and were hanging together because they probably didn’t feel confident enough to strike out on their own. We followed along in the boats as they rounded a curve on the beach and headed up to a spectacular waterfall that we had seen that morning. They climbed over a large snow-bank right below the falls as we watched enthralled. The “can you believe it” sunset really capped off our day.
The next day the three that hadn’t yet had the chance to try out pike fishing headed out with the 8-wt rods, and the rest of us went back for some char fishing. Amazingly, the char had completely vacated the small creeks where we’d caught them just three days before. A nice rainbow appreciated Lauri’s offering, and then we spent the rest of the day playing with the pike.
As it always does when we’re having a great time, the days passed much too quickly. From our customized morning omelets to the fantastic clam chowder to the home made bread and entres from prime rib to fresh salmon, we never lacked for wonderful food. Kim, our chef fed us well. We loved socializing in the yurt in front of the fire each morning with our coffee and being awakened by the loons.
It was hard to pick a favorite part of the trip. The variety of fish made it special and the hospitality of the camp made it unforgettable. We’re planning to go again next year. You’d better start planning to come along, and don't forget to let us know.
by Pudge Kleinkauf
Our annual trip to Orca Adventure Lodge for silver (coho) salmon fishing was as great as ever. We had the usual rain that we’ve come to expect in Cordova, but one day it completely sidelined us with an absolute deluge, coupled with forty-mile-an-hour winds. We couldn’t even stand up, let alone fish. That can be Alaska in the fall.
Fortunately, the rain didn’t last the entire trip, so we got in some flights out to a nearby river where the silvers were very, very cooperative, and the bears made several appearances to keep things exciting.
The first group had some flight difficulties and part of the group arrived late. They or course, understood the fact that the rest of us went ahead to the river without them. It took a little time to figure out which were the flies of choice this time, but finally a pink and white clouser minnow got the attention of lots of bright fish just arriving on an in-coming tide. That and a couple of different chartreuse flies with big eyeballs took the limits.
Our flights the next day were amazing! Each plane saw about a dozen bears from the air, plus moose, and lots and lots of snowy white swans gathering for the fall migration. One plane also flew low over at least a hundred seals that were hauled out on an exposed sand bar in the Copper River while the tide was out. On the return flight one plane got a glimpse of two bull moose sparring in the fall colors with their great antler racks intertwined. Gail Ranney, Alaska’s most renowned woman bush pilot, also treated us to a magnificent flight-see detour over glaciers and mountains and mountain goats that was simply amazing! Thanks, Gail!!
As we hiked up-stream to the fish, a two-year old bear ambled along in front of us. Finally, to our great relief, he turned into the bushes and we continued on up-river. The fish were eager, the flies were right, and the rain had stopped, so all-in-all things were going great! Then, shortly after lunch, our 4-legged friend returned. (Thank goodness all the food was safely put away.) He was finally encouraged to head to a different fishing hole, but we kept our eyes peeled for him all afternoon.
The second group also had some bear viewing with their fishing this year. Only, they saw both a brown and a black bear, each on a different day. The day they ventured to the same river where the first group had seen the brown bear, they, too, came upon a bear fishing a stretch just down-river of us as we were packing up and starting back to the plane. She was a beautiful sow with a bright white patch of fur on her right shoulder. The lodge had named her “Star.”
Two days later in another area of Prince William Sound as we fished a narrow small stream in a bay that fills up with water as the tide comes in, a black bear appeared on the opposite bank. We already had kept a few fish and they were safely stashed in the boat, thank goodness. This guy could have easily waded across the river to us, but mostly because we hollered at him, he decided to stay on his own side. He disappeared into the woods and re-appeared a couple of times as if to see if we were still fishing, but never threatened us.
Some flyfishers in each group were on their very first trip for silvers, and it was thrilling for all of us to see them hook, play, and finally land their very first coho on a fly. Silvers are one of the fish goddess’s very best fish on a fly rod. They take a fly quite eagerly, they jump, they zoom away, they fight doggedly, and they pose a real challenge to those who spend the time to learn how to fight them. Besides that, they are great on the grill!!
Speaking of food, the Lodge’s kitchen outdid itself this year. We never stopped remarking on what fantastic meals we had. Their service, hospitality, and comfort were as wonderful as ever, and, although this trip is almost always our last of the season, it’s still one of the very best. Thanks Orca! See you in 2008!! Drop us a line and let us know if we'll see you next year as well!
All textual and graphic material on this site is protected by United States copyright law. You may not copy, use, or distribute any of these materials without prior permission from Women's Flyfishing. © 1996-2013. Fly gif courtesy Gian Padovani and DVWFFA.