Canoe Capers

2010 Blue Moose Lodge Canoe Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Think that all the fishing fun is on the rivers? Think again. The lakes are also where it's at during the summer time if great fishing is what you are looking for.

Our annual canoe trip went just as smoothly as a paddle breaking the surface of the water as it moves the canoe through the still waters that offer fishing to either stocked fish or native fish. In our case, we were fishing to a combination of stocked and native fish as we headed out to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge canoe system for some wonderful fishing for rainbow trout.

It was rainy and cool, just as the fish like it when we arrived at our lake of choice for the first day. We got ready to tote the two canoes down the trail to the lake and packed along the foam outriggers that help make them incredibly stable. We loaded up the rods and the lunch and took off into a channel that the beavers had done their darndest to dam up and broke through out into the area that we wanted to fish. A pair of common loons and their two chicks tooted their welcome.

It wasn't five minutes after we stopped paddling and cast out the rods that Sue had a feisty rainbow on the end of her line. She landed two in quick succession while the rest of us were still getting rigged up. Fish were jumping everywhere. As the day went on, we managed to catch up and even pass Sue with the numbers of fish we caught, mostly on brown woolly buggers.

Rita was just learning, but it wasn't long before she became the catcher of the day, leaving all the rest of us in the dust. We decided that she must just be holding her mouth right to make all the fish come to her.

After a great lunch at our regular stopping place, we ventured into a different part of the lake. At first not much was happening, but when we anchored-up near a huge field of water lilies, the fish came to us in earnest. By the time the action tapered off, Rita had eleven fish to her credit. One was 21-inches in length.

We very carefully landed and released each fish, knowing that in the warm water they were particularly vulnerable, and took more time to stabilize before safely swimming off. As we were working on one fish someone noticed that the net from one canoe had disappeared into the lake. So, the hunt was on for the net. Thankfully, the water was calm and the light was good, so after only about a 15-minute search we saw the net upside down in fairly shallow water. We rigged a large woolly bugger and a split shot on the leader, and jugged for it. It wasn't long until it was back in the boat.

We returned to the Blue Moose Lodge for dinner with lots of stories about loons, fish that got away, and the amazing extent of the fields of lily pads on the lakes. A glass of wine and a great dinner, make the day complete.

The next day we tried a different lake, where there clearly wasn't as much action as there had been the day before. Still, it was a blue ribbon day due to the wildlife we got to see. It all started when someone noticed a huge eagle's nest in a large cottonwood tree right beside the lake that had two chicks in it and a pair of very attentive parents screeching and chirping away as they took turns bringing food to the open mouths. As we sat in the canoes watching, we suddenly saw a young moose just down the lake wading out among the lily pads to feed in the shallow water. We could even see the water dripping from his bulbous nose as he raised his head and looked around.

When it was time for lunch we relaxed in front of a wonderful, small fire and watched the fish start to rise on the lake. We paddled out to where they were, but weren't having much luck hooking them up when we noticed a white blob on the far bank. It turned out to be a pair of swans that proceeded to come closer and closer to us as the afternoon progressed. The three canoes moved from palace to place on the lake catching just a few fish here and there, until the swans were almost right next to us feeding in the lily pads. They were spectacular!.

Finally with just about forty minutes left before we had to head in, John and I found the fish. Just the other side of some lily pads where no one had fished, we were suddenly surrounded by rises. We probably hooked at least fifteen fish between us, landing about half of them in just a short time. They weren't large, but we were still thrilled to suddenly have such action.

The day should have been longer, but, unfortunately, it wasn't. Even so, the stillness and hush on the lake, the smooth, clear water and the wildlife viewing made it an exceptional day. We hated for it to be over.

I love the gentleness of the canoe trip, and the tranquility it always brings me.

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