Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Royal Coachman Lodge-day one

It is hard to describe the sheer size and scope of Alaska. Flying in on the bigger planes into Anchorage and then Dillingham the scope of the state was striking, but riding in a Dehavallind Beaver takes that perspective and makes you realize...well, that you didn't know the half of it. Tundra and lakes roll away as far as you can see. Trees dot the horizons, rivers snake through the land, some looking like skinny strings of water, others raging in a torrent. The Beaver flies low enough that you can see the contours and bends, and you can imagine yourself walking those gravel bottoms and listening to nothing but the wind. It is big country, and at some point the lack of roads simply staggers you.

My first cast into an Alaskan river was hurried...rushed actually. I was simply dying to get a fly in the river. We waded into position in front of the lodge to fish for an hour or so prior to dinner. It was evident that the guides and the experienced clients were not taking this evening's session seriously, this wasn't why they had come but as always with me, I was focussed. I had to force myself to calm down simply to keep from madly scrambling ahead of the two guys leading the way. Grayling rose all over the big gravel tai out in front of us, but despite the splashes and dotted rise forms all around, I could see the exact spot that I wanted to cast a fly. The guide put us into position (with me as far from the spot I wanted as I could be) and the four of us started flinging caddis patterns at the rising grayling. My cast was rushed, and total crap. I pulled the fly in and made a show of checking my dry dropper rig, but in reality I just needed a breath. As I looked at my flies and concentrated on my breathing a couple of the guys hooked up, and Tyler hollered at me to head farther up the bar...right to the spot I had been eyeballing since our plane circled to land at the lodge.

Wading into position, I couldn't see anything rising like I had seen on the tailout, but the river turned here and formed a "not quite" back eddy. Just enough flow to create a calm bucket in the midst of the heavy flow. Finally relaxed and breathing like a normal person, I made my cast and stacked some line to get a nice drift in the strange currents. The elk haired caddis floated for 3 or 4 seconds, and a 16 inch grayling leapt out of the beautiful Alaskan water, and as it turned downward for the river it engulfed my fly. I landed the fish, and took a long moment to admire this rare beauty. Then I kept casting...and kept landing fish. A while later my dad joined me and the bucket continued to after fish. All told I must have landed 35-40 grayling, all on an elk haired caddis that now has a place of honor embedded in my hat.

As introductions to Alaska go, this was a good one. Later that night my dad went to bed, tired from the day and thinking of tomorrow. I stayed up and watched the river. Day one was at an end.


testflycarpin said...

Not exactly your style to pace yourself is it :) Them graylings fight any good? Not that that would be the point just curious.

John Montana said...

I used a 6 wt and enjoyed very battle with a decent fish. Most fish were 14-15 inches and I caught several that might have been 20. Great fish. And 100 percent dry fly fishing.

More to come on my "pacing" Mctage. Including a now famous (amongst the coachman guides) hat sandwich coho event.

n.taylor said...

Looks awesome. I've forwarded to my dad with a small note of..."encouragement" to do something similar.

Ty said...

Excellent read John. I wanna go.

Anonymous said...

Those ain't carp!