We fished an area called the braids, and the character here was amazing. This is a massive river that pours out of lake Iliamna and is home to the worlds largest salmon run, but the big river is broken up into so many channels that a guy could easily get lost. There are small channels and big channels and tons of places for a big rainbow to sit and eat salmon eggs. The current is deceptive...running deep and strong so we fished with long leaders, heavy lead and in my case, no indicators. Gone are the wooded edges and tree covered slopes...instead, the braids are a maze of grass and water. Quite simply an amazing place.
We moved along in the boat, looking for ledges and drop offs below sockeye, places the big bows could lurk out of that current and eat the drifting salmon eggs. We found such spots, but I never found my rhythm. Truthfully...my dad easily out fished me on this day. I could point out the fact that he was in the back of the boat and therefore the first through every hole (true) or I could point out the fact that our guide Pat like to see my dad out fish me (also true) but basically...my dad is a bad ass nymph fisherman. Give him a subsurface fly and put him in a river and he will catch fish. He beat on me pretty good this day (oh yeah...he had an 11 ft switch rod too...last excuse for me!)
One thing about the big river...those trout kick ass. We had one fish leap out of the water and hit the side of the boat from about six feet away...mere inches from actually landing in the boat. Another trout my dad hooked (of course) jumped straight put of the water and was easily higher than our heads as we sat in the boat. I will never forget that leap...a silver, gleaming rainbow so pale they look like salmon flying through the air and crashing back into the clear, cold water. Dad lost that fish but who cares...what a moment.
All in all this was the toughest day of our trip, but I was content. I watched my dad show me how it was done. I stood on the bow of the jet boat as we zoomed around the braids, holding the bow rope and calling out to Pat when I spotted a "holy shit" fish. I saw salmon, chum and sockeye, and I caught some trout and ate a sandwich. Who could complain?
Oh, and back at the lodge, after dinner...I suited back up and whacked the grayling as the sun went down. Another unforgettable day with my dad.