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Old 12-22-2009, 05:41 PM
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Default An outstanding Day in 2009;

Feel free to tell your own tale from the year whether you are here in Ak. or anywhere at all.

I will enter my own story just to get the ball rolling.



Every year I take a trip to Western Alaska to finish my salmon season. The fish tend to run a few weeks behind the ones here in the Cook Inlet tributaries so it became part of my strategy to fish the islands. One thing that you can count on in this part of the world in late September is a storm, or several. Being a veteran of these Aleutian spawned storms I have gathered gear with them in mind and I do my best to be prepared for anything that blows in. This past season was a regular weather trophy of sorts.

From the moment the boat was about to set me ashore it was raining and raining at a good steady pace I might add. This sets the stage for a difficult first day, you find yourself regretting that the last time you pitched your expedition tent was last September in this same place. I use a North Face Expedition 25 for my camp when I venture away from home and cabin and contrary to what you may think, they don't pitch that easy. Trying to hurry the process in a pouring rain does little to help with the ease of set up either. Of course I did get the tent up and it was dry inside so I quickly stowed my gear and set about the business of going fishing.

I have this thing about trying to find a spot where the masses are not willing to venture and usually take a bit of a hike prior to setting camp. I like this little spot on a narrow spit of land between the river and the ocean but this time the rain dictated that I camp within close proximity to the base of the mountain to try to buffet some of the weather from my spot. Although it just wasn't as secluded as usual I got over that when I found a nice bunch of silvers rushing up the river as the evening tide withdrew. The fishing was good and I was able to retain a nice pair of male fish for the ice chest. For five days I fished the channel and the surf and had experienced both good numbers of fish and increasing numbers of fishermen each day. The rain was not enough to deter people from coming out to fish and I found myself being pushed a little farther up river or to the beach with each passing day. You see, even all the way out on an island in Alaska there will be a crowd once the word circulates about the presence of fish, especially big fish. I always feel I have a good shot at success because I sleep right there beside the river in my tent through all sort of in-climate weather and am always the first person on the water and the last to leave at night. If you can stand it physically there is a real chance to catch so many big Pacific Silver Salmon every day that you will not know how many you have caught. You learn to rely on instinct or perhaps intuition to tell you when to take your two fish limit after which you must stop fishing.

[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

On the night of my sixth day the storm which had been ongoing for every day of my presence there intensified. I lay there in the dark listening as the cadence of the rain built to a crescendo and stayed there. The wind was picking up from the 20 to 30 mph that I had endured all day and now was about to test my tent to its limits. I own the same tent that ascent teams use on mountains like Denali and Everest for a reason and this was sure to be one of them. All through the night the wind threatened to flatten my tent, sometimes bending it to the point where the ceiling (normally 54" tall) was just above my nose. Of course the noise created by the combination of the wind and the heavy rain was a force all of its own also. By morning after a rather sleep deprived night I knew that regardless of the conditions I had to fish. Now this having to fish thing was not driven by some machismo urge, it was more of a matter of fact. I know this watershed and I have been fishing it for years now and I knew that this storm would surly raise the river to the point where when combined with the tides, it would soon be unfishable.

Just getting yourself out of a tent and into waders and a wet jacket in times like these is quite an undertaking but I did it as I had been doing for seven mornings. This day was to be different because of the wind. As dawn came the rains formed as showers, really hard ones but showers with a lull in between them. The wind, now that was to be another story. The wind seemed to be holding steady at around 50 mph and as it brought another rain shower in to land it gained strength. Even though I have lived here and experienced storms every year since my first ones in 1989 this one was a real force. So what could be the good news here? Nobody showed up to fish! I mean nobody all day right up until dark I was alone. What else happened was that the morning tide was running in combination with a storm surge and with it came the densest most prolific runs of salmon I have ever seen! And I was alone! The wind became so strong when it would gust that remaining on my feet was something that demanded attention. I have never been outdoors in such conditions but the fish were coming in numbers that demanded me to stay.

I kept a watchful eye on a boulder across the channel as a reminder of the level of the river. These rivers don't get muddy like we are used to seeing a river become quickly discolored by a heavy rain. There is no development to cause any inordinate erosion and so the water becomes a bit chalky but not really muddy. The bright silver salmon are easy to see as they twist, turn and jump after entering from the ocean. And so I stayed on the river that day, I later learned from a Coast Guard report that winds had reached 88 mph in the area where I was and I had no real surprise that no one had ventured out to this place to fish that day. I was able to catch and release salmon at a rate that I never have before and don't expect to in the near future. Late in the afternoon as the tide came back in I crossed the river returning to my camp and preparing coffee in the gale. You tend to lose weight on such trips as these, because cooking and eating are not such wonderful experiences as you would like them to be. I sat on a log with my back to the gusting wind and savored the hot black brew with a granola bar as I waited for the tide to withdraw. As the tide ran out I went back on the river and was fortunate in taking two large males for my ice chest. So it was to be that the worst possible conditions I could have imagined would yield the best days fishing of 2009. I could not tell you how many fish I caught only that there were many and I wish I were there today as I write this. I had my C Crane Radio with me and when I got the weather report after the night & day hard wind and rain. The Coast Guard station at Kodiak reported sustained winds of 50 mph with gusts up to 90 mph, I had no reason to believe that these speeds were not the same or higher where I was at.

I stayed only two more days and on the second day the storm had completely moved away from land and I was able to take down my camp on a dry day. Past years had taught me to use a lull in the weather to my advantage and to cut and run while the conditions were good. Many times I have relived that day in the driving rains and howling wind, wind that tore every leaf from every alder along the entire river. Every tree had paid a price for its existence on that harsh spit of land when the big blow came. I expect it was not their first and I know it will not be their last. I can only share in that hope for myself, that I will live to see another day like that one and I will not complain. I will go and fish for those beauties.

Ard



These are the two fish taken during the storm;
[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]
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Old 12-22-2009, 11:00 PM
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Default Re: An Outstanding Day in 2009

I caught some trophies this year (in my eyes;-))
But the most memorable was in the Uinta's. Started off being less than desirable. Wind blowing, cold, and had to back track about a mile to find the tip section to my rod.
But, the sun came out, I tied on the pattern of the day. Made first cast and Bam! A Brookie, second cast BAM! a Grayling, third cast BAM! A Tiger trout and Forth cast BAM! A rainbow.
Only thing missing from that grand slam was an Albino.
That was very cool and I calmed right down and actually got a nice warm fuzzy feeling the rest of the day!
Not the biggest fish by far, but WEIRD and felt like a real message from the heavens to not take life so serious.
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Old 12-22-2009, 11:35 PM
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Default Re: An Outstanding Day in 2009

Ard: Outstanding story, I don't have anything that came close to that, but you're story sure brings back memories of Alaska, thanks for sharing!

Larry
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Old 12-23-2009, 12:03 AM
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Default Re: An Outstanding Day in 2009

Lake Luxembourg was were I began flyfishing, over 30 years ago. My rod was a generic white fiberglass model, along with a Japanese reel and cheap line. I didn't have much money for leaders, so I often fished them as short as 3 feet. It didn't seem to matter much, as the lake's largemouth bass weren't picky, and heavy plastic Hula Poppers seemed to sail through the air better on a stout leader. The lake is home to several coves, and all would bring excitement to any bass angler. Before going to college, I fished those coves every chance I had. One cove became my favorite, and I quickly adopted it as my own. I knew just where and when the largemouth would take my plastic popper, and took great pride not only in catching nice bass, but catching them with a fly rod.

I went away to school, and spent less time fishing at Lake Luxembourg. After graduating school, I moved to away from the lake, and eventually to another state. While visiting my parents, I would drive past the lake, and tell my wife and son about the fishing I had done there, while pointing out the best spots. We never stopped to fish the lake, however. Most of our visits were during
the winter holidays, and other visits didn't allow much time for fishing.

A few years ago, we moved back to a town that was near the lake, and I quickly decided it was time for a reunion. My old cove had become shallow after 20 years of silt deposits. My wife and I decided to try another of the lake's coves on Christmas Eve 2006. It was around 2:30pm, and we were wading during an unusually warm afternoon. I was fishing a small wooly bugger, and wasn't really expecting much action. After about 15 minutes, something had taken my bugger hard. It didn't fight like a largemouth, but
was tugging nicely. When I got it in close, I realized it was a rainbow trout. I always eschewed the stocked trout in Lake Luxembourg, and even the bait fisherman that flocked along the banks every April. Fishing for stocked trout always seemed like clubbing seals to me, and I often avoided the lake entirely, until I was certain that all the hatchery fish had been consumed by the corn and bobber crowd. This was different, however, and I had just caught a trout that managed to survive the summer heat. This wasn't any old trout. This was Super Trout! This was also the first trout I ever caught in Lake Luxembourg.

The following day, I discovered that the state fish commission had just stocked the lake with trout, but that didn't diminish our excitement. The lake was filled with trout, and that cove became a haven for many of these fish. We spent the next month fishing that cove in weather that was way too frigid for any sane person. The trout were biting, and I decided that I wasn't getting any younger. This was a deal too good to let slip away. We fished right up until the very last day of February, when the lake would be closed to all fishing until April 1. When April 1 arrived, we ran back to our cove, and began to catch trout once again. Later that Spring, we discovered that this cove had a nice largemouth population as well. As the trout were all consumed by the Powerbait and bobber crowd (I don't know if Powerbait existed in the 70's), the largemouth were better than I remembered from my high school days. I wasn't the one catching the big bass, however. My wife's luck was incredible that summer, and several framed photos of the largemouth she caught began to adorn our walls.

We fished that cove with great success through the Fall of 2008. The PA fish commission did their part by stocking the lake in November, and the trout seemed to swim straight into the cove. Life was good, and we couldn't have asked for more. We caught as many trout as the bait fishermen, and often more. I made a few friends among the bait crowd, mostly guys that fished the mouth of the cove. They stood on the bank, while I stalked the cove in waders. It's hard for me to stand in one spot for too long, but I often made my way back around to talk with the guys. Toward the end of February,we all said, "See you in a month."

My wife and I were back in the cove on first day of April this year, and we couldn't get a bite. A few days later, I saw my bait friends, and they were doing quite well in the cove. I tried every pattern in my vest, but still couldn't get a bite. Did the new fish prefer balls of flourescent dough over my wooly buggers, and had they somehow corrupted the the trout that had been stocked a few months earlier? I was determined not to give up on what had become our cove, and went there every afternoon during that first week in April. The end of that week was very cold, and talking with the guys on the bank was a much more comfortable proposition than standing in icy water. After watching my friends catch almost their limit of trout, I decided something had to be done. I waded to the back of the cove, in a shallow area that had often held a good number of trout. I cast my wooly bugger to the
usual spots, and after only 5 minutes, I had a fish on! The bend in my rod made me suspect that this was not a trout, however, and the line peeling off my spool convinced my that I had something even better than Super Trout hooked. After a few minutes, I was able to see that it was the biggest largemouth that I had ever seen in person, and it was on my line! I played it into water that was about a foot deep, but it ran again. My friends were as excited as me, and I realized I had to land this fish. Fearing that I would tear its jaw off, I used my little trout net like a spatula and was able to finally scoop the monster out of the water. My friends and I ran toward each other, and the cameras came out. That bass not only erased a week of bad luck with trout, but also reminded me of my dreams 30 years ago. Dreams of catching a trophy bass.

Click the image to open in full size.

That bass measured 25 inches, and weighed as much as the Easter hams I remembered. The temperature never got above 40 degrees that day, and after releasing the bass, my mind turned toward my numb limbs. After saying some long goodbyes, I was barely able to hike back to my Jeep. When I got home, I downloaded the photo onto a disc, and ran to WalMart. I had an 8x10 print made, bought a frame, and had it hanging above my wife's bass pictures by the time she came home. Thirty years ago, I would have kept that bass, with some crazy notion of having it mounted. I knew back then I couldn't afford to have that done, and now I'm just glad to have caught it on film. I managed to land three nice rainbows in that cove last week, and things are looking good for the upcoming new year.

Here's a picture of our cove:

Click the image to open in full size.

Last edited by FrankB2; 12-23-2009 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 12-23-2009, 12:19 AM
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Default Re: An Outstanding Day in 2009

Joni,
Sounds like you had a great day to me and it's the one you chose so it had to be good.

Frank,
That is a great tale of two fish (pun intended) and a really nice bass!
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Old 12-23-2009, 12:27 AM
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Default Re: An Outstanding Day in 2009

Hi Ard,
I typed that off the top of my head, and wish that I had more time to phrase
the story better. It wasn't even proofread, and I had to go back and edit
several typo's....

Great looking salmon, and fantastic rod and reel!!! Almost makes me want to
travel 4,000 miles.
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Old 12-23-2009, 01:20 AM
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Default Re: An Outstanding Day in 2009

Great story Ard...sometimes useful to be a tough,stubborn and experienced guy
Frank thanks for the story and he pic...nice bass but what I like the most is....your bonnet
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:37 AM
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Default Re: An Outstanding Day in 2009

Great Stories guys, and gals... I had so many best days this year; but I have to say this one was definitely one of them, sorry I can't pick a best...lol

I was in Northern MI for my annual Hex trip and as you know most of the fishing is late evening into the dark hours. During the day the wife and I ride bikes, hike, hit Traverse City one day, the casino etc.

I had been hearing about the Black River for a very long time, but had never fished it. I talked to a friend who owns a nice little fly shop, and who fishes it very often, and he gave me directions to one of his favorite stretches.

We made our way there the next day and it was absolutely beautiful country. A small winding stream, bubbly little riffles, tiny plunge pools; absolutely beautiful. As we began to fish, the little caddis pattern I tied on our lines was the magic needed to tempt the inhabitants. We caught a number of beautiful little Brook Trout; I can't tell you how many, cause I don't know and don't really care. They were a very fond memory of my fishing past, and hopefully my future.

One thing I do know for sure, I will be visiting that beautiful little gem in 2010.

Dan
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Old 12-23-2009, 12:26 PM
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Default Re: An Outstanding Day in 2009

Dan,

You would have to really work to outdo the story about nearly drowning on the Michigan River when your boat swamped. The Black River sounds great and it makes for a good memory even though I've never seen it.

A buddy form PA. e-mailed me some pictures from a trip on Elk Creek back in 2002. I thought of you when I saw them.
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