Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alaska: The Chosen River Day 6 - Our Final day

Last Day
With our guide Aaron, Dan Cronin and I went far upriver. We finally cut the engine at a falcon’s cliff just below the point where the taiga gives way to the mountains.  Even this far from the ocean, we caught fresh silvers while the falcon chicks squawked, anxious for a lemming or Arctic hare for breakfast.  It was feast or famine up here for us too.  If we found chum or kings, we found dollies or rainbows.  If no salmon - there were no fish.  Some bars were so loaded with dollies that a seemingly dark bottom turned to a light grey as our boat passed over the massive carpet of fish.  Then we would catch a fish on every cast.  The river was beautiful; swift, gin-clear water flew over a cobblestoned bottom.  We could see ruby colored kings in the deeper runs, dark dollies below them, green chum in the shallow slicks, grotesque pinks intermingling with the chum and a few bright red sockeye scattered about.  The rainbow were tough to spot, but we knew they were there. Soon it was time for lunch.

While Aaron made sandwiches, I tried one of his "Wino" flies (made from a wine cork and a piece of egg yarn) on my silver rod for a quick go at skating his “dry” egg.  I tied  two feet of 3X tippet on a 4 foot butt of 30 lb. leader and it was all attached to my 8 wt.  Certainly not a conventional dry fly rig!  I cast across the river, made a mend downstream and skated the "Wino". Jaws soon appeared. They tracked my fly like a heat seeking missile.  With jaws snapping, the fish usually caught up to the swiftly swinging egg.  This was repeated scores of times over the next two hours resulting in dozens of 22 - 25” dollies that fought like thugs and looked like drag queens.  It was one of the most amazing two hours of fishing  I’ve ever experienced.  

 At one point, the dollies started taking small stoneflies off the slick surface and I switched to a humpy (not exactly matching the hatch!) with similar results.  So let’s recap:  I’m catching 23 - 25” dollies on an 8 wt. rod with 3X tippet that barely fit thru the eye of a #12 dry fly!  I love Alaska! 

Thanks to all my fellow anglers for making this such a great trip! Thanks to Marcia and Neal Dorsey, Steve and Cindy Peskoe, John and Anna Riggs, Dan Cronin, Nat and Melodie Rowe and Bob and Paul Stiles. I'll see you in 2014!! 

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