Alaska: The Chosen River Days 2 & 3
Day 2 - Dan and I went upriver with Clint Duncan, the manager and one of the owners of the camp we were visiting. Clint has been fishing these waters since he was practically a boy, which is when I first met him. The year was 1979. He’s been on this river every summer since then. He knows it like no other man alive.
We motored awhile upriver... long enough for us to be happy when Clint cut the motor. He stepped from the stern to the middle of the skiff and manned the oars. He said "We'll duck in here and float a side channel that hasn't fished in weeks". I could see nothing but a small bleed... certainly it wasn't big enough to get a boat down! The side channel was overhung with sweepers and choked with debris. Clint jumped out of the boat and grabbed the gunnel. Clint said "It opens up once we get aways down the channel. We left the opening overgrown so that no one would know there was a floatable channel ahead. I'll walk us through it".
His plan was to walk us down the swift, but shallow water while we cast to the banks for rainbow.Â The fishing was a bit slow at first where the waters were
deep and channelized, but when the braid opened up the stuff of dreams stretched out in front of us. Along the banks chum salmon were either on redds or actively digging them. Big bucks chased other males or saddled up behind females to bump them with their toothy, grotesque snouts. Dollies dashed in and out of the melee and were often bitten by male chum as a reward for their thievery. And behind all this or next to the bank taking a break from eating eggs were the bows. From the stern, I led with the mouse and Dan played clean-up from the bow with an egg sucking flesh fly. We caught dozen and dozens of 16” - 23” bows. I pulled most of my fish from their resting spots just offshore or from thick and tangled root wads. Dan got many of his fish from behind redds where the bows were actively feeding. The majority of our fish were spotted and sight fished. It was enthralling fishing and with Clint’s running commentary on everything from fish biology to mousing techniques to his own personal history the day was an absolute ball. I’m not sure how it could have been better.
I was very tired when we got back to camp. Skating a mouse is hard on the
shoulders and wrists. You must lift the leader off the water and wiggle the rod tip to impart action to the fly. I was beat! Clint must have been exhausted - he spent
8 hours wading in 49 degree water manhandling his broad linebacker-of-a-skiff downriver.Â He seemed no worse for the wear and was as enthusiastic at dinner as he had been at the beginning of the day.Â This is a man who is perfect for his job.
Big Dollies in 2012!
Silver Salmon Fresh from the Ocean
Day 3 - This was my ho-hum day. Nothing unusual, just lots of fish all day long. Ho-hum!!! Riley and Dan Cronin and I explored the river below camp We threw big streamers, "gut-shot"mice and eggs. Our dollie fishing was incredible and at times we were getting a hook-up on every cast. By 4:00 pm, I had caught so many fish that I had to quit - My son's 11 week old dog had given me a playful bite with his puppy teeth before the trip and all this "catching" had aggravated the injury. I finally just put down my rod and took in the scenery. What a day!
King Salmon takes a Dollie Lama