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Alaska Trip 6/28/17-7/9/17 pic heavy

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Alaska Trip 6/28/17-7/9/17

I'm going to start by saying I'm sorry but this is a really long post but it was a really exiting trip for me so I put in a lot of detail in.



3:30 am Laura alarm goes off. So we grab everything and run off to the airport.  We had a gun to check so we weren't sure how much of a hassle we would have to go through.  Well we get to the check log line and check in. We tell the person at the desk we have a gun to check TSA takes a look and says all good, couldn't believe how easy it was. So we fly from BUF to St Paul (only good flight going to Anchorage) then to Anchorage.  The fly was long but all and all wasn't that bad I think we were in the air from ST Paul to Anchorage for about 6 hours.  Land in Anchorage pray my luggage made it which it did (good luck is holding for the trip).  Off to get the RV which we would use to drive up to Denali and then down to the Kenai.  We used ABC motor homes as they had great reviews but man where they slow we were at their place for an hour and half so at this point I’m basically screaming as I’m drooling over my fly rods.  We stopped at Wal mart for supplies which weren't badly priced, have to say though wal mart is country wide no matter where the Wal mart is located the people inside are always the same.

Got on the road and we were headed to our first stop Montana Creek camp ground right next to you guessed it Montana creek.  The drive up was interesting, a lot of things going as far as business and construction going through Anchorage and Palmer, I also noticed that there are snowmobile and 4 wheel trails everywhere(can't do much 4wheeling in NY).  As we go up the Highway we passed Blue ribbon trout stream after the next with NO ONE FISHING which had me starting to think man the fishing must be bad should have stayed home and troll Lake O.  Once at Montana Creek I got the gear together and just about dragged Laura up river in excitement.  Once again there is no one fishing and i see no King Salmon (wasn't there for them anyways) got to a nice hole with a tree hanging over it.  I had a pink worm on just like you use for Steelhead.  It didn't take long and it was game on!!!!  Every Hole had nice Rainbows in it between 14-18 inches. The pink worm and a black woolly bugger where the ticket for us.  Once it got late(not like the sun went down much) we headed back to camp and i noticed 3 kings headed up stream which was cool as they were the first Alaskan salmon i got to see.



On the road to Denali, had some time to kill so we stop at a creek called Troublesome.  It wasn't a very big creek but the first undercut bank I came to guess what it was Rainbow ON AGAIN!  Laura and I proceed to catch Rainbow after Rainbow as we headed down stream. Then we get to this one really nice hole I have Laura try it first next thing I hear is WHAT THE HECK IS THIS!  I looked and it was a HUGE grayling (huge to me as I’d never seen one) around 17 inches long. Next cast I got to catch my first grayling (there goes the first fish on the list checked off) from here on down this creek it was rainbow and grayling in every hole and log jam.

After a bit we headed back to the RV and we were on our way to Denali.  It was long scenic drive but the Alaska speed limit of 65 which really was just how fast can this gut less RV go as we were getting passed doing 70 plus made the drive quick.  Once at Denali we stayed at Reilly creek which was nice.



Laura wanted to take the bus tour back to Denali so needless to say that’s what we did all 13 hours of it lol. We got to see sheep, caribou, bears, and snow shoe heirs.  The sheep and bears where so far away you could barely tell there was even anything there but whatever.  It was in my opinion a long wasted day as i didn't get to fish  but hey had to do it.  At the end of the tour Laura and I both agreed that kind of sucked lol. 



Got up early as it was off portage valley which is south of Anchorage for an ATV tour.  Meet up with tour guide at bird creek (same place a runner got killed by a bear a week earlier) and found out we were the only ones (good luck is still holding). It was awesome we got to ride and then the guide took us down to bird creek where i got to see more kings in a really nice river and just an amazing setting(fishing is closed in bird creek at that time to protect the kings).



Off to six mile creek for white water rafting.  As a boat person I was really hoping this would be intensest, and it didn't take long and they had us in wet suits with our rafts 100 yards down river. So yeah they made us swim down and across the 38 degree river to our rafts (now we are talking my kind of rafting). It was a pretty intense rafting trip that didn’t take overly long maybe 3 hours at most and I would recommend it.

After the rafting it was on to the Russian river. Got my first look at the Kenai and man that is some really nice looking water color.  Once on the Russian I got to see my first Sockeye salmon (nice looking fish) and there where quite a few of them heading up stream and really the number of people really wasn't that bad. So there were just enough people to make you feel safe and get a taste of the people that live in Alaska.  Basically if there was that few of people at say the SR you would feel lonely lol.

It took me a while to figure out how to get a sockeye as I had tied up a bunch of Sockeye fly’s that some of the fly shops recommended like Sockeye lighting and as luck would have it they didn’t work(sucks to cause I tied a lot of them).  At this point it was looking like we were going to be eating nothing but french fries for dinner as we needed a fish.  I had a couple of flies that I randomly tied just before we left because I thought they looked good (not a pattern I saw just a random personal creation).  As a last ditch effort I tried one and man did I get lucky they worked and they worked extremely well.  Landing sockeye took some time though. For a fish that goes about 4 to 8 lbs. on average they fight like crazy, jump everywhere and make big runs.  I normally use 8 lb. test but it was way to light for sockeyes as they would just break me off on their first initial take off.  Once I upped it to 12 lb. it was game on!  I managed to catch my first sockeye, avoid a french fry only dinner, and made Laura proud of me (at least in my mind she was). 

It was odd cleaning the fish as everyone in Alaska (this is actually recommended) cleans there fish stream side and throws the remaining fish back into the river.  Which I guess helps to return and keep the nutrients that the fish bring up from the Ocean in the river, and I must say by seeing how big the sea gulls where it works those things where huge!  Also the meat on a sockeye if you have never seen it is basically blood red and quit firm.



We had a drift boat charter down the Kenai at 10(I guess when the sun doesn’t really set the early morning bite really isn’t a thing), So I got up and fished Sockeyes on the Russian for a bit and had a blast I think I landed between 10 or 15 as there was a good push coming up and not many people down fishing at 5 in the morning.  I didn’t have a good way to transport them as we were flying out to another place in Alaska the next morning so I let them all go.

At 10 Laura and I met our drift boat guide Jeff from Troutfitters at their fly shop right next to the Kenai (there were a lot of fly shops and stores geared towards fishing and fishermen up and down the highway next to the Kenai which was way different then going towards Denali as there were no tackle or fly shops).  We lunched the drift boat at the mouth of Kenai Lake and we were off.  The guide had us drifting with strike indicators small micro flesh and little pheasant heir fly jigs.  About 30 mins in Laura lands a nice rainbow and then on the next cast gets a really big rainbow (measured 22 inches) and I’m over here thinking ok fishing is really going to get good now which was just not the case.  As we drifted and casted without much action I was starting to think there just wasn’t many fish in the river until we came up over there this gravel bar where I noticed rainbows swimming everywhere, from here on in I started noticing rainbows in every pocket but man them just did not want to bite.  Which made sense given the fact that there was a line of drift boats going down the river that just didn’t stop all day so I think those rainbows have seen everything.  There was even a bug hatch going on mid-day and the trout where raising regularly so I started throwing dry fly’s and even though I would get a good drift right to where the trout where raising I could not get them to go.  It wasn’t until we drifted into this little back pocket that I got into fish.  I ended up catching 4 rainbows in a row in this little side pocket on dry’s which was really cool but it ended up being the only place we did, which I’m thinking was because this spot was easily overlooked by the drift boats that had gone down the river in front of us.  Our drift boat trip was for 4 hours but our guide was really cool and really tried to get us into as many fish as passable so our 4 hour trip turned into 6 and half.  In total I think both Laura and I each caught 5 rainbows.



It was back to the airport as we were flying out to Yakutat.  Our plain would first take us past Yakutat to Juneau and man was Juneau a nice looking city if you could call it that with all of the huge green snowcapped mountains and trees. From Juneau it was a 30 min flight to Yakutat were we got to exit the plain by walking onto the tarmac (I thought it was pretty cool as you don’t get to do this around here).  Once on the ground at Yakutat giant rainforest trees with HUGE snowy mountains in the ground dominated the scenery in this little town of about 500 to 600 people. In Yakutat the place we would call home for the next 5 nights was Leonard’s Landing which was right on Yakutat bay so the view was pretty good not that there was much of a bad view anywhere in Yakutat.

Once we got settled in it was off to fish the Situk River.  We drove down to the lower landing which is about 500 yards from the mouth of the River with the ocean and man where there fish down there.  Once we got into a nice spot it wasn’t long before we were into fish.  Only issue was that the hot pattern from the Russian still worked but we quickly lost the one I had left, so once out of my personal sockeye fly pattern we started using the small black wooly bugger pattern that had worked so well earlier in the trip.  It wasn’t long and we had lost all of the wooly buggers I had to.  As they were working really well on rainbows, dolly’s, and sockeyes but I think we ran into a school of Kings which just touched us. So day one at Yakutat was fun but it was a learning experience.



There is a really nice fly shop in Yakutat so I was able to get a few additional supplies that I needed as I brought some fly tying material but I didn’t have exactly what I needed with me for this pattern also I decided to tie up a modified wooly bugger pattern that looked a little like a black stone fly with Krystal flash in it.  Once I got some flies tied up it was off to the Situk again this time armed with new flies where boxed our 6 sockeyes within about an hour and must have caught 20 or so really nice Dolly’s(another fish off the personal list) in the process.



I got up tied flies reregged all of our gear while Laura sleeped( I was basically her personal guide lol). Once she got up we ate breakfast and where off to the Situk again (we basically did this routine everyday as there where fish everywhere no matter what time of day it was).  Once again we walked up river a bit got into a good spot and within about an hour or so we were heading back down river with our limit of fish.

After we had finish fishing for Sockeye I had another fish I wanted to cross off my list of fish in the Salmonidae family that I have caught the Cut throat.  I had asked the fly shop owner if there was a river where I could catch one and he pointed me to Tawah Creek.  Once at this creek I grabbed my 4 wt. and some dry flies and it didn’t take long and I had caught a number of Cutties.  Even though Tawah Creek looked like something you would fish for bass in as I was walking and standing in Lilly pads there were a lot Cut throats.



Ocean charter time!  At 7 in the morning we meet up with Captain Bill of Aero fish and the 4 other people that would be fishing with us.  It was my first time on the Ocean and we didn’t get far from the dock and we were already seeing things like whales and seals.  We setup just outside the bay actually basically right on the point of the bay in 150 feet of water(it was like running to 150 feet to fish for salmon) anchored up and started fishing for Halibut using whole herring, salmon heads, a whole flayed salmon carcass and one jigging rod which I grabbed first.  It wasn’t long and I was swinging for the fences with the jigging rod. I caught 2 nice Halibut before anyone else had even caught one, so I handed the rod off to the other young guy in the boat (there where two older guys one was 92 and another young couple in the boat) as my arms where tiered anyways.  Other people in the boat would go on the catch rock fish, more halibut, Dog fish (it’s a 3 foot shark) and ling cod.  Then as I’m standing next to the rod with the salmon carcass it takes off and it game on!  So I do what felt like chin up after chin up and then finally after some runs towards the anchor and having to tighten down the drag here in the boat comes a 100 plus lb halibut well after the guide shoots it lol.  About 30 minutes later the same set up gets hit again, this time though instead of grabbing the rod I grab Laura and make her fight in what would amount to a halibut a little over 80 lbs.  Once everyone limited out on halibut it was time to catch rock fish.  We used 4 poles with jigging spoons on them and then counted out till we got our limit of 5 which took about 20 mins for everyone on the boat to limit out.  After this the captain gave asked everyone what they wanted to do and the other young couple on the boat wanted to troll for silvers so trolling for silvers we went. We ran four rods with inline weights on each and all you did was take 24 pulls off of the middle two rods and 15 pulls off of the outside 2 rods. Overall it was an extremely simple spread with two spoons and two cut plugs, but once again it didn’t take long and it was fish on!  We caught 6 or 8 silvers in an hour and had at least 20 or so others hit that didn’t stay stuck.  We also had a seal circling us and while this was going on wouldn’t you know it we hook up with a nice king.  Laura from the other young couple grabs the rod and maybe it was because of the seal but that king just didn’t want to get away from the boat so around everything he went, luckily my lake O fishing instincts kicked in as I did some fancy sliding across the back of the boat to move rods net another silver and eventually net a next 20lb king, needless to say if this was a tournament on my boat I totally would have screwed that up lol. After we got dropped off at our dock Landers landing group cleaned our fish and I grabbed some Halibut to cook but it didn’t come out well L so far I haven’t been able to make it taste really good.

After a bad Halibut dinner we decided we better get some more reds so we grabbed the fly rods and headed out since the sun doesn’t set till 1:30 am anyways.  It didn’t take long once back on the river and we were hooked up again. We fish for about an hour till we had 4 fish and made our wade back down the center of the river as we were always on the lookout for bears.



Got up did our morning route and we were off to the river again.  There were salmon everywhere again but man for some reason we just couldn’t get them to go that morning. So we ended the morning with one Sockeye on the stringer and release a number of dollies.

Laura was getting sick of fishing so we decided to head to bridge to nowhere.  It’s a 30 mile drive down a dirt road in the middle of the Alaska rainforest and I must say that dirt road is way smoother than any of the roads around here (makes you wonder what went wrong with the parkway). At the bridge to nowhere there is a glacial feed lake called Harlequin Lake that is full of ice bergs which is pretty cool to see especially since its July.  It’s a ¾ mile walk back to the lake down a little dirt and stone trail and as always we were a little nervous about bears the whole time, and seeing all of the tracks and scat around didn’t help but we were fortunate enough once again not to have any bear issues even though it was always in the back of our mind and probably limited the hiking we did by quite a bit.

After we got back from Harlequin Lake as asked Laura if I could go fishing and she said yes. So I tied up some more fly’s made a few slightly different color variations as well and I was off to the river again. For whatever reason the fish where back on the bite again and within 30 minutes I was walking back down the center of the river with my 3 fish limit.  As I was walking back down it was getting late and man o man where the salmon pouring into the creek!!! At times there where so many and in such big schools there waves of water going up stream.



It was our day to fly out of AlaskaL.  But before all of that Laura and I decided we had to get another limit of salmon so back to the Situk one last time. It was a rainy and cool day and boy did it have the salmon stacked in the river.  There where sockeye salmon everywhere and they were on a good bite as we had our 6 fish limit within 45 mins and we even let a few go do to net marks.

Once we dumped our fish off at the cleaning station it was time to pack and try to figure how to get our fish home.  When we asked the manager Leonard’s Landing how much fish we had it ended up being a little over 150lbs with 63 lbs being Halibut and rock fish and the rest being sockeye salmon. This backed out to be three 50ish pound box’s and we had no clue how to get it all home, we had the options of mailing for 150 dollars a box or take it on the plain with us. So we rolled the dice (this was our first time doing anything like this so we were clue less) and took the boxes to the airport.  At the airport building which really wasn’t any bigger than a house the lady checking bags for Alaskan airlines was like this will not be an issue as she connected all of flights together so our total checked baggage of 6 begs came to a whopping 75 dollars for the whole flight home!!! This was less then what we paid to get 3 checked bags to Alaska so we were pumped.

At 6 pm we were back on the plain to Juneau then to Anchorage to Chicago to Buffalo.  We had a 4 hour layover in Anchorage so we grabbed a bit to eat and did some people watching and man you have never seen an airport that looked like it was 2pm even though it was actually 12am.  Next thing you know we were on our plain which should have been just called pain as on our way to Chicago cause I so couldn’t get comfortable plus the plain was hot and stuffy and I just don’t like plains to begin with(thanks united airlines). Chicago was airport was a crazy rat race which was rued wakeup call saying we were back in the lower 48. Next thing I know I’m looking out the plain at Lake Erie and Ontario as I’m still not sure what day was what as we landed in Buffalo at 1:20 pm on Monday. We went to the baggage claim and thankfully everything arrived according to plan and it was a successful trip.



It was definitely an amazing trip and I’m totally planning on going back (actually planning on 2020 for a return date).  The fishing was great there wasn’t a body of water that we fished that we didn’t catch fish in and actually the Kenai river was our worst fishing and I wouldn’t do another float down the Kenai again unless its was like September.

The weather was really nice as well I like rainy and 50 to 65 degree days. Bugs where almost nonexistent(Mosquitos is the state bird my ass, they should see my back yard or even worse Tug Hill or Old Forge in the summer).

The scenery was really nice, but the best part may have been the overall culture of Alaska. I spent almost the whole time up there with a 44 mag strapped to my chest in plain sight and no one cared and in fact everyone else had a hand cannon as well.  I guess that would kill a lot of lib theory’s seeing a huge number of people down at the Russian river with guns and no one was shooting at anyone.

Also to it was really nice to see a lot of younger people teens to mid 30’s fishing and a lot of families with young kids fishing as this demographic was the norm instead of a bunch of guys in there 50’s and 60’s.  It’s nothing personal it’s just cool to see younger people doing outdoor activities when all it seems you ever here is that the younger generations don’t hunt and fish.

The number of fish reminded me of what our Trout and Salmon runs where years ago.  Plus even with all of the fish and even in the popular places like the Russian the blatant snagging of fish in the rear was basically nonexistent which was really nice to see as well. It’s not often you can fish a trip around here anymore and not get pushed out by a guy with telephone pole and 50 pound braid.


One last thing i would like to thank everyone who gave me advice on here last year regarding Alaska. 





















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Edited by salmonboy41
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On 7/18/2017 at 2:02 PM, Hillside said:

Great post.  Thank you for taking the time to share (and include the detail).  A trip to Alaska is in my future (it is the one place I have always wanted to get to).  

its definitely a must.  If you need any ideas or anything let me know and I'll try and help if i can.

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The Kenai/Russian River " fly fishing" is not similar to your trout experience here. A 2X or 3X long shank hook is used to sink the fly close to the bottom. The bright colors are for the angler to observe the hook. The migrating salmon mouth the line with their large teeth then the hook sticks in the mouth. A sinker a couple feet above the hook ticks the bottom as it drifts in the current. This is where the line is kept close to the bottom and catches the fish.



Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United


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On 7/22/2017 at 8:12 AM, jimski2 said:

The Kenai/Russian River " fly fishing" is not similar to your trout experience here. A 2X or 3X long shank hook is used to sink the fly close to the bottom. The bright colors are for the angler to observe the hook. The migrating salmon mouth the line with their large teeth then the hook sticks in the mouth. A sinker a couple feet above the hook ticks the bottom as it drifts in the current. This is where the line is kept close to the bottom and catches the fish.



Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United


That is what a lot of people where doing but we ended up using small flies and fishing very similarly to how you would here and did very well. 

Edited by salmonboy41
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