Silver (coho) fishing in Alaska in the Fall simply can’t be beat. These are the fish that many fly fishers wait for all season long. Why? Because they are incredible fighters and jumpers. No other Pacific salmon is such an acrobatic adversary.
So it was that September found us back at Orca Adventure Lodge in Cordova targeting our favorite prey. So it also was that it was raining or threatening rain the entire trip. But we had first class rain gear and we were ready.
On our first day the weather started out sunny and we quickly made plans for our fly-out day. Gayle Ranney (Alaska’s most famous woman bush-pilot) gassed up the plane, loaded us onboard, and took off into beautiful Prince William Sound. Glaciers shone snowy white in the distance. We landed on a wave-decorated black-sand beach and hiked over to one of my favorite little creeks. The silvers grabbed our flies eagerly to tell us they were glad that we were there.
We cast furiously knowing that we only had about three hours before the tide came back in and we had to get the plane off the beach. Cooperative silvers swirled and waked to show us exactly where they were. A small pool, filled with fish that had come up on the previous tide, provided fantastic sport. Because we didn’t want to overload the plane for the return trip, we only kept a few fish and released all the others to go make babies.
We had time before dinner for a drive out to Childs Glacier and we took advantage of it. In spite of intermittent sprinkles, the views of the Glacier and the nearby “Million Dollar Bridge”, first completed in 1910, were amazing. To add to the experience, swans and their cygnets glided serenely on many of the ponds along the road. A glass of wine, a great dinner, and early to bed got us ready for the next day.
We weren’t nearly as successful the following day. The Eyak River was in perfect shape (which it isn’t very often) so we couldn’t explain the lack of fish. They just weren’t there. After trying several different spots and wearing out our arms casting, we headed for the lodge.
Even though a storm was predicted on day three, Steve told us that he thought we could take the boat and fish a small creek not too far from the lodge and still beat the brunt of the storm back. It was already raining (which is par for the course in Cordova), but it was the wind that we needed to be aware of. The creek was small, as many of them are in that area, and dumped right into the Sound. A mile+ hike with several creek crossings took us to a great spot. Somewhat like our first day’s experience, it was an up-stream pool that provided all the fun. Steve stood watch for bears and manned the camera while we fished, and it was almost an “every cast” experience.
Silvers of all sizes couldn’t get enough of our Everglow and Clouser flies. One of Ginger’s fish was a really large male with the characteristically bulb-like nose. His flanks were turning red and his head and teeth were huge, and he was so powerful that we weren’t sure that Ginger’s 8-wt rod could handle him. Patience on her part won the day as she finally eased him into the bank for pictures.
This time we had to be mindful of both the tide and the on-coming storm. We fished up until the very last second and then quickly made our way back to the anchored boat. Even so, the anchor was no longer on dry ground, and Steve had to wade out a ways to get it and pull the boat to shore. The storm built behind us as we hurried back to the lodge.
The wind just kept howling and the rain just kept pouring all night long! Some of the gusts literally shook the lodge. Needless to say, the rivers were all blown out the next day so we headed out to see if we could find any Dolly Varden char in a small creek near town. No luck there, but a nearby lake produced some lovely cutthroat trout and one Dolly.