Doc, Anna, Trevor, Nick and Jason ready for a new day.
Our last three days were incredible... Neil Dorsey, a very experienced Alaskan angler told me as he got out of the chopper late one afternoon, "I've never caught as many 20" rainbows in one day in my life!" Maybe that statement best sums up our last three days.
On Day 4, Anna Riggs and I were dropped off a few miles up from where Friday Creek dumps into the Talachulitna. We were with guide Scott Thomas. On this, our only rainy day, Anna and I caught numerous 'bows in the 18-22 inch range, tons of grayling, chum salmon and fresh silvers at the confluence.
Anna fished like a rock star! She fished both a Dollie Lama and a mouse and railed on fish with both. Friday Creek was bigger down low as it collected tributary water on its journey to the Tal. This stretch was beautiful with classic runs and tailouts.
The rains never got too bad and we were seemingly always in fishy water. I even managed a 19 inch grayling which was a record for this lodge according to our guide Scott. An 18" grayling is considered a trophy in Alaska. Scott was thrilled with the catch. I just knew it was a big grayling, but didn't realize it was the biggest they had ever caught.
At the confluence, Anna gave us a lesson on how to catch silvers on a mouse. She was on fire... so much so, she finally sat down to rest after her umpteenth silver. This was a great day!
Whop,whop, whop. Another day is done.
Big chum on a mouse.
Anna with a nice 'bow
And one of my own!
Big Grayling with head guide Scott!
a couple photos...
...and he is gone.
Another silver for Anna
Scott will need to clean his shotgun well tonight!
Day 6, the day of the three Scotts! Scott Sawtelle (Scotty), head guide Scott (Scooter) and I (Digger) fished another tributary of the Tal. Using these nicknames, we managed to keep our calls to each not too confusing. We had a great day together!
These beautiful streams were becoming addictive. The drill was the same, the results, as we had come to expect, spectacular. The daily drill had become: spectacular flight to a small stream, then dropped off on a gravel bar, rig rods (while the inflatable is being blown up if appropriate), start leapfrogging the runs... catch fish and by that I mean silvers, grayling and 'bows on mice, eggs and streamers. Greatfully acknowledge the good weather with no wind and beautiful blue skies. Then it was fish hard all day, enjoy another spectacular flight back to the lodge. Finally enjoy, cocktails, laughter over a great dinner and to cap it off, enjoy a beautiful walk to our cabin for some much needed rest.
Whew... we had GOOD weather!
And a big buck
Meanwhile, the Peskoe's are dining at the glacier...
Steve and Cindy Peskoe celebrated their anniversary in style. Pulled off the river by a chopper and while still in their waders, they were dropped off at the terminus of a glacier and served lunch by the lovely Jessica.
Scott Sawtelle and Anna Riggs
Love at first sight
On the last day, we fished until 3:30 PM. Scott Sawtelle and I along with guide, Trevor fished a very small stream with big bows. The fish were tough, but I did mention BIG. Scott nailed a very big rainbow behind some spawning salmon and I spent at least an hour trying to get the biggest 'bow I had seen that day.
Trevor with a big 'bow
Mother Grizzly and two cubs a bit downstream from where we landed! We would later see them cross the river above us.
The bow was dogging a small group of spawning chums. I tried mice, dollie lamas and eggs to no avail. I got some looks, but no takers. Then the chums chased the rainbow until he hid under some roots upstream. His new lie made a good presentation much harder.
Then I saw this big 'bow eat a tiny caddis off the surface. I couldn't believe it. I had no caddis with me... Trevor found one smashed in his pack. It was the only one he had. we fluffed it up and gave it a try. We got a small look, but repeated attempts ended in zip. Given the rainbow's willingness to look up, I put on a small beetle and gave this fly a try.
Trevor looking pensive...
or not yet awake!
Nothing on the dead drift. I knew the chopper was on it's way by now. This next cast would have to be my last. As the black beetle reached the 'bow, I shivered the fly just a little bit. Holy Smokes, he ate! I set the hook and the big bow launched himself up and over a logjam, then tail-walked through the run. As he was being assaulted by the nasty thing in his mouth, the spawning chums attacked him from below. Trevor and I yelled and laughed.
As the big bow tired, I was worried the rainbow would be injured by the aggressive chums and my concentration wavered. It was then the hook pulled and he was gone. I said to Trevor who seemed upset, "That's fine, it's good way too end a trip... Makes you want to come back for more!" And I meant it AND we will be back!