Our week with Wild Alaska Cruises was spent along the southern edge of islands known as the ABC Islands of Alaska. There are many other groups of islands in the world’s oceans with the same name.
The three islands that make up the AK-ABC group are Admiralty Island, Baranof Island and Chicagof Island. Our fishing took place south of Admiralty and west of Baranof Island to the east of Petersburg where our flight landed.
Our trip on the Perseverance was slow and steady. It traveled at about seven knots. Most of the time, the two guide boats either led or followed the mother ship to our destination, as they could travel at greater speed. That gave us time to fish along the way. Stratham Straight is a large body of water with heavy ocean influence. There we found halibut, salmon, lingcod and rock fish.
Our host was Larry Larson, Captain and owner of the Perseverance. Our fishing guides were Robert Elliot and Chase Martenson. They knew how to find and catch fish. It is a very large area with plenty of voids and also nooks holding numbers of fish.
Got home at midnight last night. No time for details. Here’s a representative photo from each day of our trip.
We flew out of San Jose on Saturday and landed in Petersburg about 3 PM. Spent the night in town and were underway on Sunday morning, September 9.
My plan is to expand on this post as I find more time. Lots of photos and lots of fish.
Halibut and rock fish were landed on Sunday afternoon.
On day two, we landed limits of coho salmon and saw our first brown bear.
Day three produced salmon limits again and perfect weather in the cove where Perseverance was anchored.
We had a lot of fishing action on day four.
Day five produced more fishing success and some variety.
Day six was our last chance to catch salmon.
On day seven, I found this dog sleeping on an island in the bay, a prelude to some fishing excitement.
More to come.
Will Robin land the halibut?
Our guide, Jack Johnson picked up my camera and too this photo. This is surely the closest I’ve ever been to a brown bear, at least while awake.
We were on the Copper River for five days with Jack Johnson of the Alaska Legends Lodge. The sockeyes arrived two days before we did. There were plenty of them. The trout were scarce. We spent some time trying to catch them too, but the big ones mostly broke off.
For the most part we cast pink and green sockeye flies at the fish with six to eight weight rods and ten to twelve pound leaders. The sockeyes were very fresh and very strong. They fought like crazy, jumping and cartwheeling. We may have caught 50% of what we hooked.
For trout we tried a lot of flies. I hooked a large rainbow with a cadis imitation dry fly, but couldn’t keep him on. A fly called the Dolly Llama hooked the most trout, but again we failed to land the largest of the bunch.
Typical size for the sockeyes was five to eight pounds, with a few outliers.
Best photo of the trip:
Here are some more photos. More to follow.
Me and five buddies will be landing at Lake Iliamna on Friday. Were going to spend five days with Jack Johnson at the Alaska Legends Lodge. Purchased the trip as a group almost two years ago.
The plan is to catch a bunch of sockeye salmon and also some of the huge rainbows that follow the salmon up stream during July.
All fly fishing. My bags are packed. I’ll probably unpack and pack them again later today.
Hopefully I’ll have some great pictures upon return. Here’s my draft check list.
My buddy Jerry needed to catch his first trout on a fly. Not only that, but he had to catch it on a bamboo rod he’d purchased year’s ago for $80 at a garage sale.
The rod was ok. The reel was fine. The line would work. We practiced a few knots and selected the right flies. He’d be using a deer-hair dry-fly and a bird’s nest nymph on an 18 inch dropper. The deer-hair fly would mainly act as a strike indicator.
Soda Creek is fairly small and an eight incher is a good fish. The stream is not too deep, but the slippery boulders are dangerous.
I wasn’t certain I’d remember how to get there, but some refreshing on a topo-map supplied by a helpful salesman at Ayoob’s Hardware in Chester did the trick.
The trip was a pleasant one-hour drive. The area near the trail head had burned a few years back and there was a lot of brush at the start of the trail. In fact the trail was so obscured that we just headed down hill freelancing.
It was only about a quarter-mile down to the creek, but the canyon was steep. Steeper then I recalled. We slipped and slid our way down. The dirt was deep and loose. The climb out would be a workout.
The bottom of the canyon was just as I remembered it. Lot’s of boulders, big logs and a slippery creek bottom – so slippery that it wasn’t long before I took my first spill. Jerry was working the north side of the creek about 30 yards ahead of me. I glanced at him several times, but didn’t see him catch any fish.
After the first two riffles, I hadn’t had a sniff, which was not unusual as the number of fish in the creek seems to increase as you get further from the “trail.”
Eventually I pulled a small rainbow out of the creek, but the fish dropped off the hook before I got a hand on him. Not an official catch, but a start. Trout fever was beginning to take effect. I wanted the action to improve as I fiendishly adjusted my flies, dropper length etc.
I was looking for the perfect set-up, but each hole demanded something a little different. I had to pee, but didn’t want to stop fishing. Putting on my 2X readers to tie on flies and adjust knots was tedious. I sprang a leak – damn it.
Oh well. I quit fishing for a minute and finished the job properly.
I continued to take glances at Jerry. So far there was no indication that he’d caught that elusive first trout on a fly. In his youth, Jerry had caught quite a few “creek” fish with bait and a spinning rod, so I figured it wouldn’t be long until his experience would translate into a fish. It appeared that he wanted to catch this first fly rod fish without any more help from me than necessary.
It was 30 or 40 more minutes before I actually put my hand on a trout. Sometimes the first fish is the hardest to catch. Ironically this down-stream fish grabbed my fly just as I began to pull it from the water. I wasn’t even looking. Accidents count.
The fish seemed to all be in the fast-moving riffle, so that’s where I began to concentrate.
A little further down stream I pulled three fish from one riffle. I was satisfied and it was almost noon-time. Amazingly we had been fishing for nearly three hours. I looked down stream for Jerry. He was not in sight.
I could see that I’d have to cross back to the north side of the creek in order to go further down stream where I guessed Jerry had disappeared.
I moved a little too quickly as I headed up-stream and my left toe caught a rock. Down I went, face first. I put both hands down to break my fall and I watched as my left thumb bent backwards too far. Scary.
When I got to my feet, I was a bit shaken, but it looked like my thumb was not severely damaged, just overextended. I figured I’d had enough, but I wasn’t happy about how slippery the creek was, so I searched carefully for the best non-slip route I could find.
The excitement was a bit too much. Now I was faced with an unplanned bowel movement. “Oh dam,” I thought to myself as I headed into the bushes and dropped trousers, ” No toilet paper.”
I used a stick. Not very effective. Oh well, now I had too smells to take home.
After relaxing a bit, I found a good walking stick to use during the creek crossing which I completed uneventfully. Where was Jerry?
I walked down stream a ways and sat down. I wished that we had set a rendezvous time, but we hadn’t expected to fish independently. After the rest stop, I headed back towards the “trail.”
After awhile I began to climb the hill. Jerry is in good physical condition and an experienced outdoorsman so I wasn’t overly concerned about him. I’d continue to watch the creek as I climbed.
Eventually I came to the point where I could no longer see down into the creek bottom. I waited there for a while. No Jerry. He had either climbed the hill ahead of me or traveled farther down stream. Again I wished that we had made a better plan.
When I reached the truck, I turned it around and rescued my dog, Lola from the back seat. We went for a short walk. Now it was something like 1:30 PM. My wife Linda sent a text message. “ETA?”
“I’m at the car waiting for Jerry,” I responded.
Linda texted me again. “Pat (Jerry’s wife) is concerned and wants you to go search for Jerry.”
I texted back. “I think I should wait a while longer.” I didn’t want to even think about climbing down into and back out of the canyon again.
Fortunately it wasn’t long before I could see Jerry ahead of me. He looked a bit tired, but not at all in trouble. I apologized for leaving him behind and he told me he wasn’t sure what to do when he couldn’t find me. We agreed that we should have set a time to rendezvous and made a plan.
Jerry caught two trout, so the day was a success. He could now relegate the bamboo rod to his trophy room wall.
I wore my smelly clothes around the rest of the day.