Right now I am sitting at my computer typing this post while enjoying a very fresh salmon filet fried to perfection and seasoned with Spade L spices. I must admit life is good. Here is the story as to how this delicious coho filet ended up on my plate.
On August third my wife secretly booked two flights to Anchorage with plans to meet up with our friends the Butlers for a week of fishing. On August eighth, my birthday, she surprised me with the best present ever, a trip of a lifetime to Alaska (I know I'm spoiled right?). Ten days later our eight and a half hour flight arrived in Anchorage bringing my wife Angie, my one year old daughter Ruby, and myself to the northern paradise of Alaska.
Our friends Randy and Donna Butler were kind enough to invite us to stay and fish the week away with them. Donna was kind enough to pick us up at the airport and a quick two hour drive north landed us at their cabin where for seven days we called home. We were also accompanied by another family of Butlers (not related to Randy and Donna) that love to fly fish as well. Awesome people who also made the trip a delight.
Each day we would wake up at 4 am and get ready to head up river. Randy would then pilot his boat twelve miles upriver around gravel bars and downed trees to our destination. We would then fish until noon or so, then returning back to the cabin where I would check up on Angie and baby Rubes (they didn't fish the mornings, too early and too cold!). Some days we visited, and some we snuck in a quick nap, but around 5 pm we would head back upriver with the whole crew and fish the evening away.
The silver run where we were fishing was the poorest that Randy had seen in the past ten years or so. What this meant was we caught a lot of chums, and a handful of silvers each day. We managed to limit out on silvers each day, but the chums were way more abundant than the cohos. To some who just love to catch silver, this might have frustrated a little. But, in all honesty the chums were bigger, stronger, and much more voracious that the silvers so catching them on my 8 wt never got old. The mean appearance, sharp teeth, and maroon and black tiger stripes make them a very gnarly fish to catch.
Everyday after a few hours of catching salmon, I would put down the 8 wt and bust out my much lighter trout rod. The grayling and dolly varden are so beautiful there that despite their lack in size and fight compared to the salmon, I still found a few hours each day to target them. I caught them on egg patterns, no surprise there, and attractor nymphs such as surveyors and prince hare-e. The Rainbows were few and far between this year. I hope to someday head up there in the fall specifically for the big bows.
My little girl was such a trooper. Every time a salmon was caught she would lean out as far as she could to get a better look at the fish. If she wasn't in the backpack she was playing in the boat. Having a young baby in Alaska went much better than I would have ever thought.
My favorite fish of the trip came on day two sometime in the morning. I had just made friends with some fellows from Denmark when we spotted a few larger silvers chillin behind a large rock. He was courteous enough to let me throw to them. First cast, an explosive hit rattled my fly for a moment before my fly rocketed out of its mouth. Optimistically I threw my fly back behind the boulder when from the deep dark invisible side of the rock an even larger silver inhaled my fly. Strip set, on the reel, explosive run, acrobatic jumps, and a few minutes later the fish was in hand (pictured below).
The beauty of Alaska is incomparable to any other place I have ever been. Special thanks to Donna and Randy Butler for so generously having us as guests. They are great friends to have. And my wife, how cool is she! A trip to Alaska for my birthday??? I wouldn't have seen that coming in a million year.
Four years ago was my first time there, and it took me too long to return. As salmon travel hundreds of miles from freshwater to marine, back to fresh, I too will again make the journey back to Alaska… I only hope its sooner rather than later.
His is a video I put together from our trip. My friend Rhett Butler is the fisherman, and the music is by Derek Clegg. If you like this style of music his website www.derekclegg.com is worth checking out. If this video doesn't make you want to fly fish for silvers and chums I don't know what will. Enjoy!
As promised, I finally got around to getting my pics off my new point and shoot. I am impressed with what I'm getting since I purchased my Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 for just over $100. It may not have an internal GPS, 18 MP, or 1080p HD video like the newest models on the market, but the 14 MP and the 720p HD video are suiting me nicely for a backup camera. Here are some pics from the last few weeks.
This last year I have been enjoying my Canon T2i. Its such a nice camera, and the quality of the pics is amazing! However, I often find myself fishing when I don't want to bring such an expensive piece of equipment out on the river. I have been without a point and shoot for a few months, but as of this week that has changed. I just got a new Olympus Stylus Tough 8010. Its a sharp looking camera, and I hope it will deliver pics as good or better than my old Stylus 1050 that I loved. The underwater capabilities are a must, and this camera has many other bells and whistles. If you can't tell I'm very excited to have it for the days the T2i needs to stay home.
Pictures coming soon…
The middle Provo has been off the hook as of late, and I've had the opportunity of guiding some great people. A client, Dennis, was telling me about a rainbow he caught years ago in Montana that was etched in his memory forever. When I told him that along with brown trout, and whitefish, the middle Provo is home to a number of rainbow trout he got excited. They are the rarest catch of the three salmonids in the stream, but not impossible to come by. As we began the day I could tell that he had one species on his mind, and no matter how good of a guide I am I can't take credit for the fact that the first fish of the day was this awesome rainbow. Just Dennis' luck I guess. In appreciation of being Dennis' best rainbow to date, she (the fish) stood up on tail for the pic, and immediately after she took a bow. Just one more reason to fish the Provo, we have very talented fish here:)
This year the Fly Fishing World Championship is being held in Slovenia. We are once again represented by a remarkable angling squad. The competition starts in the morning, and you can see their results at the end of each day by following their facebook page here Fly Fishing Team USA They have been sharing many pics from Slovenia so you can see the fish, rivers/lakes, and conditions they will be facing.
Good luck gentlemen, and may the fish be many!
This past month I have had the chance to fish a handful of my favorite rivers; the Provo, the Logan, the Spanish Fork, and the Colorado below Glen Canyon Dam. This winter has been rather warmer than usual which has resulted in pretty good fishing in most areas. Not surprisingly the Colorado fished very well the day after Christmas, but this is usually the case since it is located in the desert and has steady water temps year round. It is always a treat to wind your way from the mountain tops near Jacob's Lake to the desert floor of Marble Canyon. Here the magnificent Colorado roars its way between Lake Powell and Lake Mead. The scenery of the river and the canyon walls is worth the drive alone. The scenery is not all this stretch of river has to offer. There is a good population of rainbow trout for miles below the dam, and although I only fish this river once a year it is always an adventure.
Fishing reports, guides, and even scientific literature all state that the majority of a trout's diets on this stretch of river is dominated by scuds, midges, and aquatic worms. With this in mind we usually start by fishing fly patterns that mimic these food sources. This year however, I decided to key in on the reactionary, opportunistic behavior of trout by drifting attractive flashy nymphs by them. These nymphs were large in size and mostly resembled mayflies in their appearance. This goes against what we are always told about the food sources of this particular river, but surprisingly these flies out produced our other more suggestive patterns (scuds worms, and midges) three to one. I'm going to keep this in mind when I fish other food specific rivers in the future.
I'm such a sucker for turkey and gravy, so yes I'm excited it's Thanksgiving once again. It always returns sometime between really good fall trout fishing, and solitary majestic winter fishing. This year, for the first time, we are spending Thanksgiving with family in Mesa, AZ. Its great, the sun is warm, the company is great, and the food will be amazing (always is). And although yesterday afternoon I found myself fishless, stripping leaches and streamers through the pools of a thirsty Lower Salt River, I couldn't help but reflect on how fortunate I am! I don't know how often I tell acquaintances that I fish a minimum of once a week, and usually more (often much more) than that. Their jaws drop, and their eyes bulge every time. "I'm lucky to make it out once a month!" is a common reply. That's why I can't help but be thankful for my wife who allows me so much time on the water. Even if fishing with me isn't on her list of favorite things to do, at least she understands and supports my addiction. So this Thanksgiving I'm especially grateful for my sweet wife for, among MANY other things, the time I'm allowed to fish. Thanks babe! You truly are the best!
Ensinada Mexico where she out fished everyone on the boat. At this point in our marriage this yellow tail was the largest fish either of us had ever caught. Thank goodness for a trip to Alaska that helped me get back on top!
A few years ago, upon meeting Jon Voight he looked us over and said "How did YOU end up with her?" I agree, and I'm still not sure how I got so lucky!
Proof of really meeting Jon Voight. See, I wasn't lying about that so you can believe my fish stories too… well most of them anyway!
Typically I reserve the month of November for trout fishing due to cooler water temps, and the aggressive pre-winter feeding trout display. However, this year I have found myself catching other species such as these smallmouth bass. Below one of our local impoundments I found a few willing fish that had an appetite for one of Gallop's black S. Dungeons. The only effective technique was a deep slow retrieve with this large articulated streamer. It proved to be a fun deviation from my usual late season routine.
It has been very fun this fall fishing for tiger muskie. We have seen fewer fish than in the spring, but more fish have been willing to eat the fly. I'm sure they can feel winter creeping up which means its time to pack on the calories! I can't get enough of watching a fish the size of a small gator chase and smash a seven inch wigling combination of flash, feathers, and fur! Addicting! As the open water draws to an end I'm forced to accept the fact that its going to be a long winter. Dreams of the MANY spectacular follows and the few, but engraving takes on the fly will carry me through till spring. It has been a fun year chasing these spectacular slabs of muscle and aggression, and I already can't wait for June when things pick back up!
Have I mentioned yet that I LOVE my new camera?!