Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day six

Day six dawned white and surreal. Fog covered the river and we couldn't see to the far shore from the lodge...it was quickly apparent that the float planes might not be in our plans today. Being an odd year, no pink salmon ran up this river so the big rainbows were few and far between, and in short order all five boats would be plying the waters looking for rainbows. We made a quick run downriver, threw some huge leeches, and then gave up on the bows. It wasn't that the fish weren't there, it was more that my dad and I just didn't want to work for them. not a ton of fun slinging this stuff in the cold fog.



When I clipped that sucker off my line, I had no idea that a few hours later I would be begging Duane to dig that fly out of his fly box.


Instead of slinging lead and hunting solitary bows...we took it easy. We boated up to a little pocket of water and pulled over. My dad and Duane sat in the boat and chatted about railroading etc...me...I caught a coho.


This prompted my dad to get out his rod and start throwing some flies around, but by the time he did, I landed another. Then another...in short order my dad got in on the action with a fish...I promptly hooked up for the double shot.



The coho were thick, right on the edge of that little seam in the pictures, but after ripping some fish out of there, they closed their mouths. I switched to my six weight, tied on a dry fly and started walking upriver, catching grayling every few casts. My dad followed after with similar success. The grayling in alaska are just insane. I could have quite easily caught grayling all day long but after an hour or two I walked back to the boat and grabbed my seven weight. Duane and my dad were content to chat, but I figured the coho would be ready to go again...and they were.






The day took on a relaxed, vacation like atmosphere. I would casually catch a coho (or grayling!) on the pink leech, then walk a few feet away and catch a bunch of grayling on dry flies for 30 minutes. After a rest...I would catch another coho. In one spot, I landed 10 coho, my dad 4 and Duane one while trying out some casts with my dads switch rod. I never attempted to keep track of the grayling...many.






Sated and relaxed, we decided to head up through the rapids and go for a boat ride to check out the big lake. Zipping along with Jake sitting next to me I was once again struck by the size of Alaska. Miles of terrain unfolded around me, no power lines or lights...just two grizzly bears roaming a flood plain near an incoming creek. Amazing. We motored slowly into a shallow bay, all of my fisherman's instincts going off like alarm bells...with good reason. Standing on the bow of the boat, I could see fish darting away as we rode through the shallows. A few sightings and I was able to turn to Duane and my dad and say excitedly: "Pike!"

A few minutes later, we were re-rigged with the previous monstrous black leech and the heaviest tippet we could muster. I stalked the shallows on foot, booming casts out into the bay...waiting. Then I saw it...as my extremely visible black leech slid through the water a silver bullet shot towards the fly from ten feet away and slammed into the leech. You just have to love pike on the fly.









We hooted and hollered and caught small pike throughout the bay, watching missiles fly towards our leeches from ten to fifteen feet away. At one point a pike engulfed my leech from behind, severing the twenty lb tippet so cleanly that I never felt an ounce of resistance...water wolves indeed. Then, I spotted a monster fish. It was only two rod lengths away, laying in wait like a crocodile. I yelled to my dad and directed his leech right past the jaws of this fish...twice...with no take. Rather than risk a third cast with the same color, I flipped my five inch long pink leech at the monster...gills flared, and I set the hook.


This was a huge fish, but in the shallow water the battle didn't last long. In short order I had the fish wallowing in six inches of water, too big to do more than roll around. My dad and I were stunned. Duane joined us after securing the boat and we took some pictures of what will likely be the largest pike I will ever catch. We taped the fish at 42 inches long...and FAT. What a fish!






The boat ride home was sweet.

8 comments:

Stealth said...

That is a fish of a lifetime (unless you live up north). I didn't know pike loved leeches that much. I'll have to try some on the pickerel down here. Great story telling!

Unknown said...

The day started as a huge disappointment for me. Not that we would be fishing in front of the lodge, as I had landed a 29.5 inch rainbow with 17 inch girth there the year before, but my real dream was to fly out for the scheduled second coho trip. We have big rainbow on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana and a few other places within a couple hours of my house, but it takes driving an entire day to get close to a coho.

As John's story reports, it was an awesome day!! I caught my first pike on a fly and was shocked by the savage hits, even though the ones I caught were long and skinny.

Of course catching the smaller coho in front of the lodge and getting the grayling were nothing to sneeze at, John's huge pike made my day and really, my trip. Never were we supposed to catch pike! It was not advertised for this time of year and pike were not on the target list! I had seen pictures of pike like this in magazines, but never in person. I made John let me pick her up just to have my hands on something that big! Wonderful.

We had to make a very tough choice that night at dinner, but I'll let John tell you that part of the story. The Reel John Montana

John Montana said...

Pickerel..very cool. I would love to add one to my life list. The pike was likely a fish of a lifetime for me, I doubt I ever catch one bigger. And I truly did give my dad two passes. He made good casts but the fish didn't flinch. Really neat fish, I am glad we got to see her.

Lawrence Pearson said...

I really enjoyed your fishing experience as well as amazign picture.Thank you very much

Tim Gerke said...

Wow! Best day on the water ever??

Brian J. said...

Great write up and great day-- looks like you may have caught the pike bug too (I've heard about it but never experienced it).

cheers

Wendy Berrell said...

What a day and what a monumental northern pike. Congrats on that. The big S curve and the giant head are great. Wish I could have seen that fish in person. And to catch them on relatively small flies is notable too.

Ty said...

Daaayuuuumm!