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Old 09-18-2010, 02:00 PM
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Default Fall In Alaska;

Fall is always a challenge for me here. With the salmon runs all but over except in extreme northern coastal river systems I have to concentrate on finding trout and char. We have had an unusually wet year and since early July my region has had over 60 days of rain. No, that's not an embellishment of the facts it has rained nearly every day for months.

I have been busy and also waiting for a chance to go fishing and we have been graced with 6 days of sunshine in a row so I needed to decide on a destination. I whittled it down to either taking a boat trip to the Talachulitna River or a road trip to the Anchor River which is all but 300 miles from my home. I have nearly 1100 miles this year of driving the river boat in rain and fog. The prospect of another 200 mile round trip standing at the console of an open tunnel hull jet boat was loosing ground fast by Wednesday evening. So early Thursday morn I drove away headed for the Anchor. By the time I crossed the Kink River about 25 miles from home fog became an issue for driving and the conditions persisted until I reached Turnagain Pass about 90 or 100 miles away from home. The rise in elevation as I climbed into the pass reveled that far above the thick fog that had engulfed my trip for 75 miles there was a glorious day underway. I had to stop and take a walk down to a small creek that flows through one of the many 'Hanging Glacial Valleys' that are very common in the mountains here.

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

The little stream does support a small population of small Dolly Varden Char, I did not bring my flea rod along so I headed back to the car and mushed on toward the Anchor and the chance to find a late silver or some of the indigenous steelhead trout that live in and out of the river.

When I drove along the Kenai River the sun was brilliant and there were anglers in drift boats and pontoon rafts parked here and there along the way. The thought occurred to me that I had made a mistake by not bringing my river raft and planned on fishing the Kenai for a couple days. Of course it was way too late for that option so I drove on through Sterling and Soldotna toward the Anchor. When I crossed the Kasilof River it was 3:35 PM I spent a little more time hiking in the pass than I had planed on but what the heck I'm going fishing and camping right? Only one problem, after crossing the river I re-entered fog that was even heavier than the fog way back on the other side of the mountains. I drove on as far as Ninilchik and if anything the fog got thicker and by now it was going on 4:20 PM. I turned into the Ninilchik River access area and turned back.

Now we all know that you can fish in fog right? My problem was that I am so sick of being damp and wet that the prospect of camping in a thick layer of fog held no attraction at all. When the fog has not lifted by 4:30 in the afternoon it isn't going to. I was not willing to be wet for another two days steelhead or no steelhead. Now there were more decisions to be made in trying to salvage the trip. Should I camp somewhere along the Kenai? I've fished this river from shore before and it is very much a case of if there are no fish where you are at you go fish-less. Using a boat to locate good prospects and good areas to wade is the best way to approach the Kenai so I drove on. My mind began to focus on a stream I have driven past countless times and always wanted to try but never had. The best news was that It was high in the mountains and maybe there would be no fog tomorrow. So I drove past many a well known creek as I homed in on the unknown.

By early evening I was pitching my tent at a primitive camp ground at Granite Creek. After feeding both Boss (my Shepherd) and myself we took a walk along the creek. Beautiful water is a phrase that comes to mind even now as I write this and at the time I told the dog "If there aren't any fish in this Boss, there aren't any anywhere". We went to sleep just before dark tired from nothing more than driving and riding around Alaska. At 7:00 AM. I had coffee perking and everything was wet, very wet. The fog was very thick and the morning was cool (around 37*) lucky for me I had an extra trash bag to put on the bench at the crude table so I did not have to start the day with a wet butt. After a pot of coffee and a walking tour of the entire camp ground which reveled that we were indeed alone I started to rig up a rod. I had brought along my 6 weight 8' bamboo rod for just such a contingency and I tied a #4 Freight Train to the 10 pound level leader. My thinking is that I show them an attractor pattern to establish whether or not there are fish in the creeks. By the time I had rod and line rigged up and waders and jacket on the fog was lifting enough to indicate that by noon there would be sunshine.
[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

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

I fished approximately 300 yards of the best looking water you could ask for and found nothing. When I say nothing I mean not even baby fish in the shallow shore waters. Not a good sign, not good at all. Now It was time for another plan. It is only about half a mile to the confluence of Granite Creek and the East Fork of Six Mile Creek so off I marched. Now this water is perfect, absolutely beautiful and so is the surrounding scenery. This creek is bigger and I used the long rod and sink tip to probe it and I continued this exercise for a few hours.

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

I fished down for about a mile until the creek branched into four seperate flows and had not seen any indication of anything alive in the water. Beautiful but empty water, I have seen silvers up in this creek in years past but there were none present this day.

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

It is always puzzeling to me when I find things like this, by things I mean that although there are not hundreds of fish teeming in the waters I am unable to find even one. Unfortunately the only way to find out what is happening on many creeks here is to go fish in them. Fortunately I love being out there and have an enjoyable time casting and practicing controling my flies while they probe the waters. By the time I returned to camp it was mid afternoon and the fog was finally lifting and I was able to break down a dry tent. I took this last picture of the view up stream from where I was camped and as you can see it was very pretty country where I woke up that Friday morning.

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

There is still time to make another run to the Kenai for a few days but I have no way to predict the weather. I'm tired of being wet but it just might rain. I'm thinking of staying much closer to home and I'll bet I can find some fish. It is also nice to be able to go home to a dry place if it is raining.

Ard
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Old 09-18-2010, 03:09 PM
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Default Re: Fall In Alaska;

Great report and pics ArdSad indeed not to see fish in such beautiful watersLooks like Boss enjoyed his outing with you
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Old 09-18-2010, 03:28 PM
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Default Re: Fall In Alaska;

Beautiful pics Ark. It blows me away that those streams are not filled with trout.
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Old 09-18-2010, 03:34 PM
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Default Re: Fall In Alaska;

Fall for sure brings beautifull colores ...and Nature at Alaska....woooooow
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Old 09-18-2010, 06:25 PM
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Default Re: Fall In Alaska;

Hi guys,

I agree about it being a strange circumstance that the streams seem somewhat sterile. The things I see when I am exploring help to dull the reality of there not being a bunch of fish. I do find myself wondering sometimes when I find water like the two I fished.

JP,

Boss always has fun; rain, sun, fog, fish, no fish, he seems to have a great time and I try to be like him.
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Old 09-18-2010, 11:05 PM
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Default Re: Fall In Alaska;

Ard: Very nice trip report and awesome photos of Alaska! Sorry to hear the lack of fish in those streams!

Larry
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:21 AM
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Default Re: Fall In Alaska;

Hi Ard
Why there is no fish(trout)?
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:19 AM
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Default Re: Fall In Alaska;

Madjoni,

There could be any number of reasons for the lack of life but I'll only take a few tries at an answer. In the first creek where I camped while I was setting up my tent there were many tiny caddis and stone flies swarming around me as I worked, At first I thought they were all mosquitoes but soon saw that they were not. The fact that there were so many aquatic insects had my hopes up because bugs = food and food = fish, usually. I did not have my stream thermometer in my gear so I could not take the water temp sometimes this can be a factor, the water was cold but then this is Alaska and all the water is cold.

I am left with only guesses. Too cold, not enough food, water quality (Ph), or there could have been a few lurking in the deep channels and I simply did not catch them. I became suspect when I was unable to find young fish in the shallow waters near shore. When you get on water here that has a good fish population there are swarms of young trout and salmon in the little pools near shore. I will ask the regional biologist at Fish & Game about these creeks and then post what I am told.
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Old 09-19-2010, 03:26 PM
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Default Re: Fall In Alaska;

Reminded me of my 'early days' back in the early 60's in Washington State. 30 minutes out side of Seattle you really were 'in the sticks.'

Similar looking territory as you went north and east out of Seattle, and up into the higher end(s) of the Skagit/Sauk River systems. If you saw another person it was a "Well Hi Neighbor!"

How things have changed. The I-5 strip from Tacoma to Everett now has more people than the entire State of Oregon.

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Old 09-19-2010, 05:02 PM
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Default Re: Fall In Alaska;

We will be long gone before there is a development on those sites Fred. But then in retrospect it's not like that would screw up the fishing
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