The pink salmon were in Montana Creek in droves when the first group arrived, but the water was very high and murky, which made for some tough fishing. From time to time the water seemed to clear a bit, and, if the light was good, we could still make out the fish by looking for the white bellies they always develop as they head upstream to spawn. Otherwise, they were just dark spots in dark water. There were also some chum salmon entering the river, and they were larger, and somewhat easier to see, so we had two different species to go after.
Of course we hooked a pink salmon or two in the giant hump that forms on the backs of the males before spawning, and we even got a couple in the tail because the water was too dark for us to direct our flies right at their mouths. But, all in all, everyone learned the techniques of setting the hook as well as playing, and landing a large fish on a fly rod. Some silver salmon were coming in as well, but we neither saw nor hooked any. After fishing the mail river for the morning, we headed out to the mouth of the river where it dumps into the Susitna River, but, although we hooked into a few, we didn't land them.
The second day's fishing was even tougher as it had rained (again) during the night and the water was even higher. Fishing along a gravel bar trying to find the slow water where the salmon hang out didn't prove very productive even though we could occasionally see fish on their way to the spawning beds.
When we were finally able to fish from one of my favorite spots where fish rest on the main river, we hooked fish almost immediately and landed two large chum salmon right away. That was very encouraging, and, even though it was still raining, we kept on fishing. It wasn't long until the water was notably rising and we knew our time was limited. Still, a bright silver salmon took one of the flies, and the fight was on. This fish didn't get turned back. We had a few more hook-ups, but ended up quitting early because the water was extremely high and very, very dirty.
Resurection Creek, Hope, AK
Fishing for pink salmon on Resurrection Creek wasn't quite up to par this year, mostly because of the high water, but we started out with some casting instruction on the lower river because the tide was out and the wading was easy. The casts were good, the mending technique improved as we went along, and the hooking was all we lacked. So, after lunch we headed up river to where I was pretty sure there would be fish, even though they were not in the bright, silvery shape that we would have preferred.
Sure enough, fish were hanging out in one of my favorite spots just waiting for our flies, it seemed. Everyone hooked and landed fish and no one complained because they really weren't keepable. These single days are mostly practice days, after all, and we are just glad to have fish to cast to. Our only real disappointment was that we couldn't find any Dolly Varden char to cast to. They often provide the most excitement on this creek, but on this trip they were noticeably absent.
Late in the afternoon, after two members of the group had to leave, the other two stayed casting and hooking lots of fish in a tiny quiet spot where the fish were barely visible, but still very cooperative.
The second day's group had better luck down toward the mouth of the river. They, too, worked on their casting techniques, and soon were deliberately casting to fish they could see moving up-stream. A couple of quick "fish-ons & fish-offs" kept everyone excited. Then, quite unexpectedly, Meryl hooked a dime-bright silver salmon. Keeping his cool, and listening to my coaching, he played the fish beautiful, and then skillfully led it to the bank. It was definitely the highpoint of the morning.
After lunch this bunch also went up to my up-stream spot and began casting to the pink salmon with real confidence. Then, suddenly, someone noticed that there were some different fish in the pool. "Do silver salmon have white bellies like the pink salmon," someone asked. "Nope, I answered. They will be bigger ." and more gray in the water." "Then, I think I see some silvers," came the reply. They were right!
The silver salmon run in Resurrection Creek is very small, and it is really fun to see them heading up to spawn in the midst of the other fish. Even though they did their best, and Denise even hooked one (for a second), they just weren't lucky enough to get the silvers. Maybe next time!