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Kodiak Trip Report

Kodiak Coho 2008

Fishing for Coho on Kodiak IslandKodiak was something of a disappointment this year, as extremely high water (the result of the huge low-pressure systems and the highest tides of the year combined with the run-off from pouring rain) kept the fish’s mouths mostly closed. The silver (coho) salmon weren’t available in large numbers, and many of those that were around, just decided not to take flies.

We gathered for the trip in persistent rain and high winds, and fought that combination every single day. The Buskin River, near the town of Kodiak, was our first destination on the trip, and we were lucky enough to score one of the best sections of the river. Spreading out along some beautiful water where a bridge once stood, we saw few fish, but kept casting anyway with large pink, purple, and chartreuse streamers. We knew that we were in the right spot to intercept fish coming in with the morning tide, but, alas, it was not to be.

Dolly Varden CharIn the afternoon, we had better luck with the Dolly Varden char in a different river, that we could clearly see holding behind the spawning salmon. Tiny, 8-mm beads in different shades of pink and orange, fooled the fish into thinking they were real salmon eggs, and we had lots of hits. Every one but Kelly had to learn how to bounce the bead along the bottom of the river where the real eggs are, but it didn’t take them long to get the hang of the technique. The Dollies saved the day for us.

Our next day we ventured out to one of Kodiak’s most famous rivers, the Pasagshak, to target the silvers on the in-coming tide. Workers were paving the road, and that caused us some delays, but we managed. It wasn’t exactly a quiet pristine environment as we rigged the rods and headed down to the river, but clear water and a nice pool for resting fish awaited us. Scott got a hook-up on a cruising fish on a Clouser minnow, but lost it by forgetting that you have to set the hook on salmon two or three times.

We saw small pods of fish heading up-river right in front of us, but they didn’t stop to rest in the pool as we expected. Tom hooked a fish soon after he tied on a chartreuse fly, but it wasn’t enough to keep us there. Soon, we moved down river closer to the river mouth to see if we could intercept the fish sooner. There were lots and lots of people in that stretch of the river, and lots and lots of casting was going on. The only success, however, was achieved by a few people fishing cured salmon eggs. Neither flies nor spinners were successful.

We stopped at the Olds River on our way back to Kodiak, but everything was flooded by the tide and high-water by then. Nevertheless, we did come on some Dollies above the stream, and proceeded to have great fun with them.

The last day of the trip we had decided to fish the Olds. The morning sunrise was so spectacularly beautiful, that we stopped the car a couple of times to take some pictures. When the tide was right, we headed out to the mouth, where the seals were corralling and/or scattering the fish. It was tough go. The seals, combined with extremely high winds, reduced our success, even though we tried there and several other up-river spots as well before giving up. We headed back to the Buskin River, where we’d started the trip, but had to fish way up-river to avoid the high tide. We found a nice holding hole, but the fish in it were spawned-out sockeye salmon. Still, the presence ofspawning sockeye meant eggs in the water, and when we traded our streamers for egg-imitation flies, the Dollies took notice. We were delighted.

We also had the excitement of seeing a bear right at our fishing spot one morning. After some hollering and arm-waving on our part, he departed for a different fishing hole. Overall, though, wet was the word for the trip, and it seemed like we never took off our raincoats. Nevertheless, the fall colors were starting to show in the cottonwoods along the rivers, and the grasses decorating the beaches were a beautiful golden orange in the small amount of afternoon sun that we had, so everyone got to see Kodiak in at least some of her splendor. Known as Alaska’s Emerald Island, Kodiak did her best to live up to that reputation.