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.
This sow and cubs passed by close on our last day of fishing.
Rob caught this nice rainbow which was one of the larger trout we caught. It was too early in the run for the big flesh-eating trout.
Caught this salmon on a dry fly while trout fishing.
I’m fishing for trout as a brown bear snorkels for sockeye salmon about 20 yards up stream. You can see his ears only.
Joe DiDonato with a nice sockeye.
Jeff watches as Mike revives a sockeye.
Guides Jack and Mike driving the boat with two engines.
Gulls were constantly watching.
Me with sockeye.
Rob Fletcher with nice sockeye.
Pat Romani with nice sockeye.
Rob Fletcher fights a sockeye.
Bob’s nice sockeye.
Guide, Jack nets Bob Smallman’s sockeye.
Guide Mike nets sockeye
Pat Romani fights sockeye while Jeff Kerry looks on.
The Beaver departs camp on day one.
Bob fights fish while guide Mike waits at the net.
The lodge is tucked away in an Island Cove just off the coast of northern BC and seaward of the inland passage. Although protected and calm, it’s only about a mile run to the surf and maybe 10 miles to actual deep water fishing for halibut.
Each group of two fishermen received use of a 16 foot Boston Whaler that appeared to be brand new and each was powered by a 50 horse Yamaha outboard. We were led to the fishing grounds by the fish-master each day and had a lot of freedom to do as we pleased.
We were provided box lunches so we could fish all day or we could choose to return to the lodge for lunch. Food was very good and ample.
The salmon fishing was very good and we landed several nice salmon each day including sockeye, king and silvers. The largest king we landed was about 25 pounds and the silvers ran in the eight pound range. The sockeye were the smallest of the group.
The key to success seemed to be locating fish (boats were equipped with fish finders) and determining the best depth to keep you bait. We fished mooching rigs and most of our salmon were caught at around 25 to 30 feet.
On one occasion we followed the fish-master out to sea a few miles in heavy swells (about ten footers) to fish for halibut. The halibut fishing was pretty good and we caught our three-fish per person limits rather quickly, but none were large fish with the best one in the ten pound class. After about an hour of halibut fishing in the heavy water we were ready to head in.
The three-day stay was too short for us and we would have been happy to stay a few days longer. This is a good trip for hard core fishermen.
Joe’s Salmon Lodge in northern British Columbia is a fun place to fish for salmon. I purchased a trip for two at our MDF banquet a few years back and took my brother along. Our dates were in early July and we fished for about three days.
The trip is an interesting adventure, traveling on three different planes between Oakland and the lodge. The last was a “Grumman Goose” Seaplane, one of serveral classic planes that’s been in use in BC and Alaska for many decades.
This is how the Goose looked on the runway at the airport on wheels.
The “Goose” arriving at Joe’s Lodge on water.
Because the Goose floats on it’s hull and not floats, it’s not a “float” plane it’s a seaplane and it is capable of landing in swells up to three feet (according to my research).
An interesting fact is that the Goose seaplane has been out of production for over 60 years but a company on the east coast is planning to build new planes starting this year.
More on this trip later….