Dude, Let's Go To Alaska, Vol I - Anchorage to Ninilchik

Escaping the big sweaty:

It's just too damn hot in New Orleans during the summer.  Everyone that has the opportunity to get out of the city during the summer wisely does.  It was with that awareness that I nodded as my wife described her plans to spend a couple of weeks traveling with the dance group she's a part of.  Faced with the choice of staying put in hot, humid, slow New Orleans, or planning a fishing trip, I didn't waver long before beginning my planning.  Allne and I had visited the Kenai Peninsula the summer before, and I knew it was somewhere that I wanted to fish and visit more extensively, and with little time to plan, I decided I would go back there.  This time I recruited my usual partner in crime, Josh Reppel to come along and join the hijinks.   We flew out of New Orleans to Anchorage on July 17th, where we'd spend one night before picking up our trusty steed for the trip, a Uhaul cargo van.  Our first stop was my favorite brewery in Anchorage, Midnight Sun.   Click the thumbnails in any galleries to get full size images.

First Stop: Bird Creek

Once we picked up the cargo van, our first stop to check out the fishing scene was Bird Creek, off the highway as we headed towards Cooper Landing from Anchorage.  It was extremely muddy, and we watched the locals for technique before experimenting a little bit, unsuccessfully drifting flies for Coho Salmon.  The locals weren't having a huge amount of success either, and we decided that we would keep on pushing, and check out Bird Creek again on the way back to Anchorage, hoping the Coho run would be happening at that point.  

Next Stop: Hope, AK

After a quick stop to get some footage with the drone and stretch our legs, it was on to Hope, where Resurrection Creek meets the saltwater.  There was a strong run of Pink Salmon, and it wasn't more than a few minutes before we were in the water and catching fish.  Unlike the salmon we would be fishing later in the trip, the Pinks actually bit the lures, and were quite aggressive fighters.   We got so caught up fishing that we managed to completely forget that we hadn't bought any food or supplies yet, and by the time the sun started going down, it was past 11pm, and far later than the local grocery was open.  The only thing we could do was boil the creek water and cook a nice, fresh salmon on a stone.  You've never had salmon until you've had it 20 yards from where it came out of the water.  Additional photos (anything with me in them) courtesy of Josh Reppel.

Photo Gallery: Hope

Abandoning Hope, next stop: Cooper Landing

Waking up in the morning, we (of course) couldn't resist a bit more fishing in Resurrection Creek, since the action had been so good.   After quite a few fish, I got a little lazy, let the line wrap around my rod, and the worst possible disaster struck: a fish turned into the current and shot downstream, flipping my rod over and snapping it where the line was wrapped.  Day 2 of fishing, and my 8wt fly rod is no more...  After that debacle, we decided to hit the road and headed towards Cooper Landing, the small town well known for great fishing on the Kenai and Russian Rivers.   We had limited success on the upper Russian River, landing only a couple small trout, but were able to find a couple of Sockeye as they migrated up the Kenai, fishing off the side of the river.  Campgrounds were full up, and we ended up having to crash in the back of the van!

Fuller Lake and on to Ninilchik

After quite literally sleeping in a van, down by the river (always wanted to say that), we decided to give Fuller Lake a shot, in search of Grayling.  The hike is steep, but the view once you reach the lake is fantastic.  Unfortunately, the fishing was totally dead, but a dip in the lake in that setting was pretty satisfying.  Once we made it back down of the trail, it was on to Ninilchik, to meet up with Daniel McKnight, who I had found through a local tackle shop and was going to rent us some kayaks and show us around.

 

Coming up next - Canoe and Kayak fishing in Swan Lake, Deep Creek, Homer, and Kachemak bay.

 

Dude, Let's Go to Alaska, Vol. I and II - Video

Having a good time going through some of the video from my recent trip to Alaska.  Thought it would be a fun idea to break the footage up into shorter videos before eventually putting something longer together.   Been studying up on Final Cut Pro as well, trying to have some fun with learning the program.

Vol 1 finds us fishing the Quartz Creek, close to the campground we stayed in towards the end of the trip.  The salmon were a little behind on their run, and the fishing hadn't quite gotten hot yet, but we had some success fishing beads.  The rig usually consists of a small plastic bead pegged about 2.5" above a bare hook, with split shot above that, and a strike indicator even further up.  It's a rig that takes some getting used to.  The dolly varden and trout feed on the salmon eggs, and the beads look very similar.  The tough part is getting the drift right, so the bead travels as a natural egg would, as well as trying to avoid losing too much tackle to snags and salmon.  The salmon spawn in the creek, and fishing for them is totally prohibited.  By that point in their journey, they aren't any good to eat anyway, and are getting closer to their last days.  You can't avoid foul hooking them and occasionally hooking them in the lip though, and that leads to a lot of retying your rig.  

Vol II covers a day hike into Crescent Lake, one of the best lakes for arctic grayling in Alaska.  I had been frustrated in multiple attempts to catch a grayling, and I was pretty psyched to get up there and give it another shot.  The hike in was beautiful, with the weather staying nice and cool but not rainy.  Pretty much as soon as we got in the water and started casting, I caught a gorgeous fish that came in over 17" - pretty big for a grayling.  They are really pretty fish, with a big sail-like fin and lots of subtle color shades.  They were voracious and stacked in the lake, and we easily caught over 30 fish per person on a variety of small flies.  I was casting a 4/5 weight, and after the fishing we had done with strike indicators, split shot and heavy flies, it was awesome to do some regular casting with the fly rod.  The water was freezing, however, and it took it's toll on my feet after a while, even with wading boots and thick socks.  The hike in and out is around 6 miles, and easily done in a day, although there is some great looking camping opportunities I might try next time.  

Alaska Photo Preview

Josh Reppel and I just got back from a 19 day trip to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, and I'm going through the mountain of photos and video I came back with.   It'll take a while to get everything up, but I thought I'd throw a few shots up.