Saturday, October 01, 2011

Day seven

Dinner on the eve of the big pike was a strange event. The general mood was elation...along with my big pike the group had landed 30 and 29 inch rainbows that day. Some truly memorable fish! But everyone knew we had but one day left. Debate raged at all the tables...where to spend the last day on Alaskan waters. My dad seemed to have his mind made up on this one. He was bound and determined to show me the Mountain Lakes and their beauty...a place I was nearly guaranteed to catch a "nuclear" char of staggering colors, but when Pat sat down at our table I leaned over and said:

"Pat, my dad loves to catch big coho. Take us coho fishing tomorrow."

There was little discussion after that...someday I will go back and see those mountain lakes and catch those brightly colored char...but my dad loves to catch big coho. So that is what we did.

When the float plane landed, we jumped out and rigged up ready to go. I nearly caused a major delay because Brad mentioned that they occasionally catch flounders right where we were, so of course I started frantically peppering the area behind the float plane with casts. Eventually, they reeled me in the boat and we were off for another amazing day.

We flung pink and purple leeches...heavy flies that sank quickly and were made entirely of rabbit fur. They undulate and move in the water and the aggressive coho can't resist them. Many of the takes were visual...we would watch the fly as we drifted, swung, or stripped it through the water column and a big coho would bust from the pack like a wolf on the prowl. The fish would close on the fly almost casually and then simply inhale the bug with one big chomp.

My dad and Brad stopped for lunch, and of course I kept fishing. By this point I was really concentrating on the feel of the thing. Standing in the river is much more preferable than fishing from a boat. I could feel the push of the cold, fast water against my legs. My boots dug into the clean gravel and the weight of the line in the water was tangible. If I concentrated and kept my mind blank I swear I could feel the water rushing through the marabou of the fly...pushing against the dumbbell eyes and making the fur dance. I would strip and move the fly, reveling in the sensations and then everything would come tight. Not a jolt or a "hit" as we always say...simply a the hook home with a strip set and the chrome rockets would blast upriver. A veritable smorgasbord of sensations that beats lunch any day in my opinion.

As my dad and brad finished lunch and drifted by me, Brad handed me a sandwich. I took a big bite and watched my dad working the run from the boat as brad walked him downriver. Then a salmon rolled in front of me. I looked around...waist deep in a river, sandwich in hand and salmon rolling. I chomped off another bite, set the sandwhich on my hat and made a cast. Priorities.

We caught fish all day. We caught fish in every run. We caught fish stripping flies, we caught fish swinging flies, we caught fish dead drifting flies. We even caught several fish stripping flies downstream (an apparently ineffective technique) including this awesome dolly varden.

The day was everything I had hoped it would be. My dad loves to catch big coho...and he caught a ton of them.


testflycarpin said...

I bet you were one tired puppy after that trip! Incredible experience. Did the guides and such indicate whether you went an unusually good week or did they seem to brush it off as pretty tyipcal?

John Montana said...

I think overall we had pretty good fishing. We only had one day with low numbers (the braids) and the only other day that wasn't a slam dunk was the day we got fogged in (and we caught a bunch of coho, tons of grayling and really big pike!). We didn't catch any monster bows, our biggest was around 26 inches but we caught tons in the 20-24 inch range. The coho were mostly 12 lbs or so...a few in the 16 lb range.

I would say that was pretty good fishing.

Unknown said...

I had fished the week after this one last year and did great. Four of us who grew up together made the trip of a lifetime. The fishing was just as awesome then. I feel really lucky that I could go one more time and fish with John. I know he will fish there again with his friends. It is such a speacial place, you just have to have your best buddies with you!!

The Royal Coachman Lodge is part of a family operation world wide. Best thing to do is email Pat Vermillion and get the information you need for targeted fish. They have everything...even in Mongoli and Brazil!!! There is not a doubt in my mind that all are class acts. These guys know what they are doing and go more than the extra mile and time to make sure you have a trip of a lifetime. I just hope I'm like a cat.....I'd have seven trips left!!! The Reel John Montana

n.taylor said...


Unknown said...

I have to admit that I have massively enjoyed following along on this adventure series!