Heading to the Copper River

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.

Alaska fishing 2018

Soda Creek

Soda Creek IMG_5300

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.

Monday on the Bay

Got an early start fishing out of Berkley. Picked up bait in SF and ran back past Treasure Island to the Alameda Rock Wall.

Hooked up on quite a few shakers, which reduced our boredom. Then we caught two keeper stripers.

IMG_4843 undersize halibut ARW 4-9-18

Almost legal, but not quite. I posed for a picture anyway. Captain Bob laughed at me.

Looked like the highlight of the day might be the baseball we netted about mid day.

Unfortunately it was a little league model and not one that came the way of AT&T Park.

Then we boated a halibut over the minimum. It was almost a day worthy of remembering.

About 2:00 PM, we decided to shift from the Alameda Rock Wall over to the Berkley flats. On our way we passed a party boat.

“California Dawn,” said Captain Bob. “They’ve been doing well in this area lately.”

Time to pull over and give it a try. Ten minutes later my rod dipped and my reel began to  pay out line.

“This is a real fish,” I said, as a maneuvered my rod over the engine to face the fish.

We soon had a couple good looks at it and we knew it was special. I let it play out a ways from the boat, not wanting it to get close until it was worn down a bit.

When it was time to net the fish, Captain Bob was ready and did a great job of making sure we didn’t have one of those “at-the-boat” events.

The fish was 38.5 inches long and weighed in at 20 pounds. Long and not fat, but a great fish. Suddenly the fishing had gone from good to great.

Had our best success at the end of the low slack tide.

IMG_4846 38 in striper ARW 4-9-18

Biggest striper I’ve caught. And, I’ve logged in a lot of hours fishing for them.

Now he’s shrink-wrapped.

 

 

 

Fish-out 2018

This was the weekend of the annual fish-out, an event created and fostered by my brother, Rob. Despite significant rain, the event went off without a hitch and we had a great time.

The libations were liberal and masculinity was evident.

IMG_2931 Fryd's striper 2018

Nice striper.

When I departed yesterday, the largest fish honor was held by John Frydendahl – a striped bass of about 15 pounds.

John also told us that he’d been “spooled” by another fish before the rest of us arrived. We could only wonder about the size of that one.

The white-front geese appeared to be staging for a flight north. They will leave any time now.

Pheasants and mallards were displaying and chasing each other around. Managed to photograph one rooster in full bloom.

DSC_0327[1] rooster

 

 

 

 

Pyramid Lake 2018

On Sunday March 18th, a group of us traveled to Pyramid Lake to try our luck on Lahontan cutthroat trout. We caught a break in the weather, which was nice but maybe not conducive to the best of fishing success.

We fished Sunday afternoon, Monday all day and Tuesday until about noon. The results were scant. Four of us caught eleven trout, six of them on Monday.

Brother Rob did the best, catching seven over the span. The rest of us caught four. It was a bit laborious considering the result. The largest was about five or six pounds.

Photos were taken with Rob’s Iphone.

 

Fish Finding

 

Fish finding is not necessarily the same as fish catching.

The fish finder can be a bit frustrating. Captain Bob has been making some changes to our tweeting fish finder and it has been helpful. Yesterday our fish finder “runnethed  over”, but the fish did not follow.

Here are a couple views of our fish finder yesterday morning.

First we tried the entrance buoys at Half Moon Bay. Here’s what we saw.

IMG_3378 Half Moon Bay

You can see our lonely downrigger balls, but not much else when we first lowered our bait. That’s the bait hovering at about 29 feet.

Ironically, despite a lack of visuals, we managed to catch a salmon of about 7 or 8 pounds after an hour of trolling. Then word came in that fish were stacked up at the Pacifica Pier – about 15 miles north.

We were on the move and when we arrived near the Pacifica Pier, here’s what we saw.

IMG_3415 Pacifica

The “low chirp” (lower frequency) view, on the right, is outrageous. This is the most stuff I’ve ever seen on our fish finder. The upside down Vs are fish. The other stuff is bait fish. The wiggly lines through the midde is our bait.

Once again you ran see the path of our two downrigger balls and single lead ball. You would think that we would have had a triple hook-up. Amazingly, after about 3 hours fishing near the Pier, we had caught only one fish –  a shaker about 15 inches long. And, we had a couple other fish on for a moment.

About 1:00 PM we departed back towards the Half Moon Bay dock. Near the entrance buoy we trolled again, until about 2:30. Not much going on and no fish.

We arrived at the dock to learn that at about 2:00 PM, the fishing at the Pacifica Pier went wide open with many people catching limits in a hurry.

Not only do you need to find’em. You need to find’em when they’re hungry.

That’s fishing.

 

 

Salmon Success at Last

Captain Bob and I made our first salmon attempt out of Half Moon Bay in April. Then we tried Monterrey Bay and out the gate to the South buoy. After three trips we were still stuck on zero. The closest we came to paydirt was a boat-side miss on the Monterrey trip.

Monday we finally turned it around. Three of us landed four of the seven fish we hooked and I was fortunate enough to land a 20 pound plus king that made me proud. Captain Bob and  his guest Paul landed the other three which were all between six and ten pounds.

We caught the fish on a trip to the north, almost to Point Reyes and within a few miles of the Farallon Islands. Here’s a photo of my fish. You can see Point Reyes in the background. We used anchovies trolled with a triangle flasher.

IMG_3364 Rich 22#

We had a great day with good salmon action,  light seas and many interesting critters – whales, porpoise and seals – around to keep us entertained.

According to reports we gathered, the fishing was generally about a fish per rod, with one notable exception, a ferry boat that fished away from the pack and caught limits around.