It's been another difficult fall, the weather was good, almost too good. The streams and rivers remained pretty full all the way to the end of October and because of that the fish didn't move in a predictable way at all. Trout, grayling and char follow the salmon to their spawning streams every year. There they spend the summer and fall first eating the eggs that spill forth from the gravel by the tens of thousands, these are the eggs that fail to be deposited well enough to hold them fast in the current. After all the spawning is finished the trout and their friends begin their migration down the creeks to the rivers where they will winter in the deep waters safe from being frozen in at the head waters. With a late run of silvers this can take until now, November. We had a good strong silver return and right up until 2 weeks ago I was watching fish working at their nests and spawning.
All of this was more than a little perplexing as I hiked many miles to find the fish as they would be dropping down the rivers and creeks. I have talked to very few people who claim to have had fabulous fishing here in the valley but some must have hit the drop and had some good fish to show. It just wasn't me, not for lack of effort for sure but I missed. Yesterday although very cold I thought to take one last swing at them.
When you drive North and can see Denali over 170 miles away you know a couple things, it's clear, and it' clear because it's 17* out there.
I took my regular parking spot and before I even saw the river I saw signs of things to come.
From where I park it is a one mile walk through the woods and flood plane to reach the water I like best to fish. When I walked to the river bank I could see that perhaps this would be only a walk because the water looked pretty hard to fish.
I couldn't just not fish, even if I were to draw a blank I couldn't just go home. So I went to the big river, and there the conditions told me the plain hard truth, it's over Ard, go home.
Now, I had with me a rod that took a long time to put together. all told it took almost a month and 94 dollars more than I had bargained for before I had an as new Hardy Swift in the 11'6" size. I intended to cast this rod however I must admit that I wasn't able to get much of a feel for it yesterday. That was attributable to a several things, one was my hands were really cold and the shelf ice prevented me from getting into the river. The big factor were the ice flows, averaging 3 - 4" thick and some the size of a 4 X8 sheet of plywood coming down the river meant that getting in the water could be dangerous too.
Here I was in the river, looking up you can see Denali off in the distance and that slab of ice coming down the shore line is what I'm talking about.
About a quarter mile down river all that ice was being driven against shore at a big right hand bend and you could hear it grinding like some sort of mill down there. But I did what I could, I held out hope as the sun did that low slow trek across the horizon.
I got to try the rod and although it is way different than a real 2 hander I believe I'll be able to work it well on medium size creeks and low water rivers as well. It is so light that my Cascapedia seems a wee bit heavy for it. Great, I need another reel, I was really hoping this would make a good home for my old reel...........
Although the season is over for the rivers to the north I have a few spots where I can still scrape up a few fish until things get really ugly out there. I'll be heading to one such gem tomorrow to see if this guy has any larger friends sharing the run with him.
The fish in the stream in question are also migratory and there is no telling what I'll find there tomorrow, it's supposed to be 40* on Sunday