Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day five

Even in Alaska...there are places that get a ton of fishing pressure. On day five we hit such a river, in the hopes of landing a 30 inch rainbow. In short order I went from being the "world's greatest flyfisherman" to a total novice. The big river crushed me, humbled me, and yet...I loved it.

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. 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 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.


Unknown said...

I am glad you failed to mention the many times you and Pat were yelling at me to set the hook as my bobber was two feet down and heading up river. I finally tired of that and turn my hearing aid off. The Rell John Montana

Ty said...

Man, I'm gonna hate to see the posts on this trip end. Really enjoyed following along with you two.

Wendy Berrell said...

Finally getting to read this stuff. What a trip. Very happy for Sr. and Jr. here. You guys had quite a variety of fishing at hand. Trip of a lifetime. I'll catch up on the previous posts.

Mr. P. said...

John Jr. and John Sr., it sounds like it was a marvelous trip. Congratulations.

Unknown said...

It was a trip that was truly an adventure as well as just plain fun. It was comically difficult for John to have the guides do everything for him (I loved being pampered totally!) and he was always jumping out of the boat in the middle of the river to cast or land a fish (which is normally fully frowned upon and not allowed. One can wade fish fine but it begins after going to shore and having a steady platform to exit and reenter). After the first day, the word got around that his ol' man didn't worry about him drowning and was secretly hoping he'd slip and soak himself so they just put up with it and hoped he didn't break an ankle during landings. We had a woderful time and we didn't even have to untangle the fly lines when John wasn't paying attention and cast when I was casting to poach a fish in front of him. When he would whine about me supposed to be fishing out and down from the boat, I would just turn off my hearing aids.

Every single lunch break, a fabulous affair with each item served by the guide as I relaxed in wonderful style, John would keep fishing. Of course he'd hook one just as my coffee was being poured or the guide was fixing my soup after handing me a huge sandwich and they would get this anxious look to grab the net and move to the action. I pointedly informed them that this was a Union Shop and they were entitled to serve me and enjoy their own meal and forget about John. He could land his own fish or loose them! We were going to have lunch! So, to compromise, the guides ate fast. John beached many a bruiser anyway and always held the fish up trying to make me jealous or something. I'd raise my coffee cup to acknowledge that yes, I did see that battle.
The Reel John Montana

John Montana said...

Two posts left Ty. The "big pike post" (and I do mean big pike) and the final day of Alaska...coho, my dad's favorite fish.

Amazing trip, we will never forget it.