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Ard 07-12-2011 03:01 PM

The Beauty of It;
I went fishing for sockeye and came up short at the end of the day. I have a hard time believing that they are all in and all up the rivers already but yesterday I spent 12 hours hunting them and came up dry. I did manage to find a few early silvers however they were mingling with the now ripening kings. There are also a few pinks showing up but I couldn't get any to take a fly. As I was sneaking along the river I found that there were some kings in the herd that apparently haven't been in long as evidenced by their still bright bodies.

When I decided to try a run, my first cast was a good one and as the fly was guided along its course there was a light tap on the line. I'm not the type who strikes when I feel something so I simply left the swing continue. This laid back approach leads to fewer fish being foul hooked or lost, they either hook themselves or they don't get hooked at all. When I drew the line up for a second go at it I had stripped more line from the reel and was prepared to lengthen the cast but on second thought I placed the fly right back in the same exact spot as my first cast had been. My thinking was to make sure that the 'tap' had in fact been a small rock on the bottom and not a fish. The second presentation was answered with a better bump and this time there was a nice tidewater rainbow on the hook. These fish are almost 100% acrobatic. I can say this because every year I find some and every time they are leapers and runners. Actually it's been a good year for trout although I have not been targeting them. They are hitting salmon flies, big flies like 2/0 and this can be a concern when the intention is to release the trout.

What I meant by the subject line of this thread was what I thought as I unhooked the fish below.




For me the beauty of it is this; ever since I tied my first fancy wet fly I was a dreamer. I was romanticizing the days when trout were caught using patterns like the Montreal, Silver Doctor, and the Brook Fin. These beautiful flies were were inspired by Atlantic Salmon ties but they had been simplified and downsized for use on the native trout in America. But alas, seldom could you find a fish who would take a fly that was not a good replica of a food form in both color and size; it happened but only rarely. Here in Alaska the trout are wild and they (like the fish in the photos) will hit a Skykomish Sunrise tied onto a size 2/0 hook. If you've never seen a 2/0 they are about 1.75" in length and have a wide gap in the bend. When targeting trout I have smaller ties with the hooks barb closed and they take them without hesitation. That's the beauty of it! They hit the classics and that's what keeps me going. I'll guesstimate the length of the trout at 20 - 22", this is common size for tidewater fish.

I took the pictures and was able to back the hook out with no bleeding so all was well. The fish took refuge under the parked boat after being unhooked and slipped away without my noticing. There were other trout in the run and some were real steelhead size fish but as the morning turned to noon the kings in the area began chasing after the few slivers that were in the run and would go after the trout also if they got too close. When the kings are getting close to the point where the hens are about to start nesting the males get very territorial and go after anything that enters their space. This behavior gave every fish in the area a case of lockjaw and I caught only one more fish in this run.


This is what a ripening king salmon looks like, gone are the chrome bright flanks but they still will take a fly if it swings by too close. I was not trying to catch this fish but was swinging to a group of three silvers who were hugging bottom in the same area. The fish was about 15 - 18 pound and was released without undue stress. I moved on up the river and caught several chum in the 9 - 12 pound range and 2 more trout but the rain had intensified to the point that my camera stayed in the case. By the way the salmon took a Freight Train on a Diiachi 1.5 Spey hook.

I'm going to try again tomorrow,


gt05254 07-12-2011 03:07 PM

Re: The Beauty of It;
Nice, Ard...and a very well-titled post!

Ard 07-12-2011 03:19 PM

Re: The Beauty of It;
Thanks Gary, once I get some salmon in the freezer (I did get 70 pounds of king meat but it goes fast) I will begin to focus on rainbows. I'll try to get pictures this year but sometimes it just doesn't work out. The trout in this thread flipped over twice when I tried to steal a few seconds of its time for a picture. After the camera lens was splashed I just said see ya, sorry bout that hook...........

gt05254 07-12-2011 03:26 PM

Re: The Beauty of It;
I have trouble taking pics of 5 inch brook trout when I'm alone, Ard, much less the guys you tie into! I guess sometimes you just have to say, "Thanks for the (mental) memories" and let 'em get back to the business at hand.

littledavid123 07-12-2011 06:12 PM

Re: The Beauty of It;
That water is so clear I am impressed with your ability to get close enough to make a cast. Reminds me of going to the butcher shop and looking thru the glass for just the right cut of meat.

I wouldn't bet my wife's favorite skillet that it is so easy.:p


milt spawn 07-12-2011 06:40 PM

Re: The Beauty of It;
Hey Ard, is that tidewater brackish, or still fresh from streamflow? I just wonder how far the bows will go before declaring themselves steelhead. Also, is there any food for them other than eggs? milt.

Ard 07-12-2011 07:13 PM

Re: The Beauty of It;
Hi Guys,

Dave, I'm using a 13' two hand rod so I'm not really very close to the target. I do sneak along the shore and look for the fish but that trout was hard to spot, I had no idea it was there till it took up the fly. The are where I was at has a deep channel about 25" across X 5' deep, the fish are in that deep water.

Milt, I fish the water about 30 miles above the tidewater but based on the fact that the trout don't appear until the salmon come up I figure they are salters. For food the rivers are full of fish fry. In any river that has a run of pink salmon there are literally hundreds of thousands of fry headed for the ocean every year by this time. I catch lots of trout using my Nine Three streamer when I am focused on trout fishing. The fly is a good representation of any of the species of salmon fry.

stanbiker 07-12-2011 08:24 PM

Re: The Beauty of It;
Sounds like fun Ard!

I was hoping to spend my day off Friday on a float, but the Alaska court system seems to have other plans. (Almost missed the draw, but I guess I'm on the jury after all)

caseywise 07-12-2011 09:43 PM

Re: The Beauty of It;
beautiful pictures my friend!:D:D gotta love that gin clear water. love this time of year up there.


FlyBum 07-12-2011 11:18 PM

Re: The Beauty of It;
Ard, Thanks for sharing those are beautiful pics. It just makes me want to get up there even more.

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