Silver salmon. Coho. Chromers and sea lice, bucks and hens, kypes and leaps and death rolls. Skated dry flies. Chuck and duck streamers, wakes and bear tracks.
Sick, sick fishing. My shoulders ache from both throwing a heavily weighted pink marabou monstrosity, and from fighting coho in the 10-16 lb range. My dad is already in bed, exhausted from the same. At one point Scott looked over at us and said "is that the fifth or sixth double you guys have had?". We hadn't left the first run yet. Leaping salmon are burned in my mind, similar to the line burn on my fingers. One of my knuckles is bleeding from a solid crack by a spinning reel and the image of fly line ripping off the surface as a salmon races upriver is locked in my mind forever.
But despite numbers of huge coho that defy reason or attempts to pin down, one image series will never be forgotten. Popping dry fly coho.
Late in the day, sated and feeling good I tied on Scott's goofy looking foam and marabou popper. I walked down the middle of a run, quartering the cast downstream and letting the fly swing and wake...popping to create extra disturbance every second or so. After twenty or thirty casts I started laughing out loud at the absurdity of it all...popping what was essentially a bass bug over the tops of dozens of coho that were readily eating a lead eyed streamer. What was I doing? As nice as it was to be throwing something that weighed less than a small person, I had just walked halfway down a run without a hit...ten minutes without hooking a fish felt like an eternity! Fortunately, I kept casting while laughing and on about cast 40 or so it happened. A big boil appeared about 8 ft behind the fly, and then a wake started following. I started saying "oh, oh, oh" over and over again as the bulge of water kept coming, but I kept popping and swinging that fly. After what seemed like a mile of river (and likely took 5 seconds or so which really is a long time) the fish reached the fly and a big black gummed mouth opened up and simply engulfed that popping, goofy ass bass fly. I waited until I felt the weight of the fish and then drove the hook home with a vengeance and the fish exploded in typical coho style.
Just a crazy, inexplicable thing.
Just another day in Alaska.