Day one, we headed out from Anchorage through the legendary Lake Clark Pass to Lake Clark National Park and the lodge. Overcast and rain made it difficult to see many of the hanging glaciers that decorate the flanks of the steep mountains in the pass. It was still an awesome experience. As soon as we got our waders on and had a quick lunch we headed over to the Tanalian river to fish for Arctic grayling. On her first cast, Leigh caught a 16-inch grayling on a dry fly. Ginger quickly followed with a similar sized fish on a nymph. After that, several more followed as we managed to find exactly the right drift for the nymphs. The water was fairly low, so the main concentration of fish had moved toward the far bank where the water was deeper. Everybody went back to the lodge with tales of beautiful grayling to tell at dinner.
On our second day, we headed out onto Lake Clark to fish for the lunker pike that inhabit a back bay about a 15 minute boat drive from the lodge. Boy, had the fish been waiting for us! In just a few warm-up casts, Ginger had the first fish on. It managed to spit out the hook before she could land it, but her second fish made up for it. Much bigger than the first, she beached him and held him in all his toothy splendor for pictures. Leigh and Carolyn followed quickly with yellow-spotted fish of their own. Large, slippery trophies, they put up a great fight before being brought to the bank. It wasnt long after that before Leigh hooked a fish that put all the others to shame. The first time it jumped it displayed a huge belly and head. It was enough to give us a small idea of how big it really was. The fight was protracted, but she finally pulled him to the edge of the water where Jeff, our boat captain, managed to grab him for pictures. Whew, what a monster!
We fished awhile at the mouth of the Kijik River on the way home for grayling. Not having much luck in the spot we started out in, we finally took the boat over to the other side of the river and began t pursue the rising fish we had seen from across the river. As we landed, a pair of seagulls attacked us from above. Suddenly we could see why as four chicks scrambled from a nest at the tip of the gravel island we were on. We moved out onto the river, and the chicks went in the other direction, so for awhile, all was well. When we headed back to the boat after landing several nice grayling, however, the parent gulls were back in the air again. We could see three of the babies swimming around in a nearby back eddy, but the fourth one turned out to be right in the gravel behind us. It took some maneuvering before we were able to hop in the boat and take off to relieve the parent birds stress.
The next day we did a 2 ½ mile hike up to the famous Tanalian Falls to fish for grayling. It was a cool, overcast day, which made for very pleasant hiking conditions. Although they were not in bright sunlight, the mountains and the wildflowers were on display for us. When we got to the plunge pool beneath the falls, we could see that the fish were too. Due to heavy rain the previous night, the water pouring over the fall was absolutely astounding.
Nevertheless, the fish were stacked up where they always are in the deeper, quieter water right next to the maelstrom of waves and foam created by the falls. What a great time we had! Fish after fish took the flies, no matter whether they were nymphs or dries or small streamers. They had doubles with fish on so many times I lost count. There were even six triples, where all three of them had fish on at the same time.. After a slow hike back to the lodge for another of its scrumptious dinners, we got ready for our fly-out day before heading for bed.
We flew out over Lake Iliamna to the Kvichak river the next morning to fish for sockeye salmon. Glen Alsworth Jr. the lodge owner, knew right were the fish would be and, after a smooth as silk landing on the river, he took us right to them. Once again, Leigh had the first fish on her very first cast. After her experience with the big pike, she knew just what to do with an 8 lb sockeye and had him on the beach in no time. The others werent far behind, either. Carolyn hooked up over a dozen fish after she had landed the two that she kept for the freezer. Ginger did the same.
After their arms were tired fighting sockeye, we piled back in the plane and headed to a lovely near-by lake for some afternoon char and grayling fishing. Sampling two small creeks and catching both grayling and the char that Leigh especially had wanted to see, an encroaching storm forced us to take off and head back to the lodge.
The last day provided some wonderful dry-fly fishing for grayling back on the Tanalian where we fished until we absolutely had to be back at the lodge for last minute packing and catching our flight back to Anchorage.