When the fishing is this good, we were our smiley faces. But what about finding small smiley faces on the gill plates of two different Silver Salmon caught on the Togiak River? Who put them there? When was it done? How did they do it? And maybe even more important, why? What is even more intriguing to our guides and fisherman is that there was a very similar one found on the gill plate of a Sockeye Salmon on the Nushagak River some 100 miles away. It remains a mystery at this point, but we will keep digging.
Fishing was a near repeat of the week before. Frickin’ great! Come on, how else do you describe the volume of catching that took place each day You can not really say ‘off the hook’ because is was a whole lot of ‘ON THE HOOK’! The only less than epic fishing was in Katmai National Park, but even that was pretty dang super. The big difference between this week and last were a couple of monster Silver Salmon being landed with one approaching the mythical twenty pound mark and a little more color to the Dolly Varden!
It is sure nice when things workout on schedule. Trains, planes, doctor appointments and yes, Bristol Bay Alaska Silver Salmon runs. This week brought with it more and more Silvers both on the Goodnews and Togiak Rivers. Right on time. The numbers landed were approaching the silly mark, which usually brings with it complaints of soar elbows, arms and shoulders. That is why we offer massage therapy – to keep you fishing!
Rainbow trout fishing continued to pick up as the salmon spawn really got going on most rivers. We had a couple of fish come to the mouse, but surprisingly the larger Grayling were pouncing on Mickey in great fashion. Catching Arctic Grayling up to 23 inches is pretty cool, but it is even cooler to see them take down your monster dry fly, aka. the mouse.
We switched from our traditional ‘Lake Hops’ over to ‘Refuge Hops’ as the Arctic Char and Dolly Varden ascended the little creeks that feed the lakes of the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. Unlike the Lake Hops, where you fish the drop-offs where the streams hit the large lakes of the Wood-Tikchik State Park, the Refuge Hops consist of walking up the small clear streams of the refuge and sight casting for beautifully colored Arctic Char and Dolly Varden. Super fun stuff indeed.
Be careful what you wish for. We all did our various rain dances, chants and such for the past month and it finally paid off. Big. Too Big. We got rain all right and lots of it. It brought the rivers up and in a couple of cases a little too much up. Morraine Creek out East was almost un-wadable by all but the biggest anglers. Mule Creek got colored up and high, as did the upper Nushagak River. Nothing really blew out per say, but we now had plenty of water after watching our bay nearly dry up.
Fortunately, the effects of all the rain were short lived and all of the rivers settled back in by weeks end. What the extra flush of water did do, was bring the Silver Salmon to all the various fisheries, giving us extra targets of opportunity. Rainbow Trout were again tough to come by as the Sockeye Salmon were still vigorously jockeying around for spawning position, fighting off anything their size and bigger – aka the big ‘bows. There was talk of the Rainbows being gone, until one of our guests donned a dry suit and swam with his GoPro on one of the more popular trout streams. His footage was both a relief and a point of frustration as plenty of sizable Rainbow Trout swam by his lens. It is only a matter of time, which is no consolation if you have just gone home.
Fishing for the other resident species; Dolly Varden, Arctic Char and Arctic Grayling was actually great with some really big fish landed all week long. Once again some new names were added to the trophy board at the bar. Sorry to say that the Silver Salmon record will fall over and over the next couple of weeks.
It was truly like old home week with lots of returning guests who were joined by a couple new faces. For the staff, this weeks flies by too quickly as we have so much fun enjoying the company of such great guests/friends.
We get some pretty driven customers from all walks of life, but non compare to the high tech crowd and especially an entire lodge full of Silicon Valley type folks! The energy they exude is contagious for sure, but at the half way point in our season we can barely keep up to say the least.
The fishing program this week was balanced between Salmon Hops on the Nushagak searching for the thus far elusive Silver Salmon, our famed Lake Hops and Rainbow Trout missions. The Salmon hops were crazy with fresh Pink Salmon choking the river. According to the State of Alaska there was supposed to be over 300,000 Coho [Silver] Salmon in the Nushagak River. But talking with all the other lodge outfits who fish there with us, none of us agreed with those estimates. According to the biologist, the sonar is never wrong [insert your best John Belushi BS cough here]. So hey, after thirty seasons fishing that river, what the heck do we know? After all, we are only flying it every day and looking into the low, clear water with our expensive polarized sun glasses.
We hit Moraine Creek a couple of times and decided that it was like Jekel and Hide. One day it was game on, the next turned stone cold. Part of that was the sudden change in the weather up there. The days it was working good, the fish were very plentiful and jumping all over the place.
The Lake Hops we did this week were great overall and the Lake Trout kept getting bigger and bigger with the new all time record being shattered with a 18.8 pound hen! Way to go Rob! The Arctic Char starting to disappear from the edge of the lakes as they started to chase the spawning Sockeye Salmon up the various creeks.
The weather started to shift during the week and we are hoping it brings some much needed rain to stabilize these very low rivers. Our boat mechanic was even caught secretly doing ‘rain dances’ out in the shop. Low water equals a lot of rock filled motors.