The Last Cast;

Ard

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I posted a slightly different copy of this in the Alaska General Discussion threads but since there are 150 other entries here in the forum blog from me I decided to put this into the record. I haven't been making blog posts after the software change but it's time to get with it. If anyone were interested in finding any other stories about my life and fishing here in AK. or entries from any member just use the Filter to search blog entries by user names.

I'd be fishing instead of looking at this website but the weather has taken a turn here and I've finally sworn off the cold weather fishing. I do mean cold, 33 degrees is doable but I used to fish so long as I could get a fly into the water. Some may remember a post years ago in which I detailed a boat (Mokai) trip to catch a Steelhead when it was below zero, I caught some but also caught my third case of frostbite on my hands......... I'd be down there right now in Oregon or Nor Cal. but I'm old enough that I don't take flying as the virus rates seems to be on an explosive trend as an acceptable risk. And so here I sit.

Caught some beauties this year but as has been said they are scarce and I consider myself fortunate to have both the time and the accumulated know how to be able to sort a few out of a whole bunch of water.

Just a week ago I had the haunting thought that I may be able to get a second crack at a fish which had escaped me a few days prior. The fish had managed to get itself hooked onto my Wilkinson Sunray and I figured it was a done deal. I had wound it onto the reel and began my slow march to shore for the net ceremony when that fish decided to jump clear from the water. I was looking right at it and clearly saw it turn over about 240 degrees and could see the tail sweep the leader out of the water as it tumbled back onto the water. Within a second that line went slack and I was slowly wading back to where I had been when the interaction began. I finished that day with one fish caught one fish not caught but I saw it and knew it was there. Now you guys know I couldn't go back the very next day so I didn't, I figured I had time to allow them to forget I was ever there so I spent the next 7 days elsewhere.

This time of year all the tourists are gone, all the 'charter' guides have dry docked their boats, the moose hunters are done and the only person who might put a boat in the water would be me. There is however a little problem when it gets cold at night here, ice. The water levels drop quickly when those glaciers stop melting and ice forms overnight on the cold water. Then come a 40 degree day that you believe could allow fishing but you have no way to know if the river is frozen unless you go to see. So you hook up the boat and take that seemingly endless drive just to see if you might be able to fish.

I did that and was pretty disappointed when I arrived. The entire river was covered with moving ice to an extent that you knew there was no way to fish. The first ten foot or so from shore out to the moving slag was shelf ice thick enough I could walk on it so I went home thinking it was over.



The heck of it is that the only way to know what's down there is to drag the boat 30 miles to find out. When I thought I was done I tried to put on a happy face, burr.



Then a few days later it had remained above freezing over night 2 days in a row so my curiosity was killen me. I knew I had to go back! All that ice had been on its way to the ocean and it's been above freezing for several days, I had to go again to see if I could get another chance. I took a Go Pro and thought I'd film the boat ride upriver to my home away from home but it was 34 degrees and raining steady when I launched the boat. I'm an old guy and this looked like a 'better get this done' situation and not like something I wanted to spend time hooking up a camera for so .... I did not do the upstream trip on video. Shame really because it was almost 1:00 PM and there were some huge ice slabs coming down but I figured I could dodge them. I did, most of them.

Away I went in a driving rain, headed for my personal honey hole.

These images were all taken at the first stop, that's the famous run where the Streamer Techniques video was made years ago.......... I had crossed so I could work the deepest troth in the river well.



These slabs of shelf ice are what are floating everywhere but the center of the channel is open as you can see.





And these guys were why you kept a lookout, current here is about 3.5 to 4 mph depending on what part of the channel you are in.



Here's a big one, I'm used to watching for trees during runoff so it really wasn't much different.



I do wish I could include a fish image but it wasn't to be. Here's one from about 13 days ago............



It is the hope to catch something like that which makes someone like me do the things I do. There's an awful lot of river and few fish so days without a fish are not uncommon. It's the days when I have three or four unknown fish grabbing at the fly but not getting hooked that keep me going I think. This is a place where you can catch an 8 pound rainbow too but they too are ocean run fish and just as rare as one you figure is a steelhead. I don't sweat the genetics, if it's a trout and over 5 pounds it's a steelhead in my book. All I would have to do is to drive downriver instead of up and there's an ocean there so....

Here's the 'kicker', I did put a chest mount on and started a Go Pro for the ride down river. I think the short ride can demonstrate how a desperate last day can end. The rain had turned to large wet snow with sleet mixed so I knew it would be an enjoyable ride.

 

silver creek

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Thanks for posting Ard.

I would have no idea on where or how to fish water like that. It looks feature less and I can't "read" it to know the likely holding lies are.
 

dennyk

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Hi Ard! You start having withdraws and need a fishin' fix, pack that boat up and come on over to Michigan, We've got a couple nice rivers to fish!

If you decide to stay in Alaska, you may want to look into a used Coast Guard cutter! :)

Denny
 
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