Absolutely everywhere I've gone this summer it has been or still was raining. All the rivers were high and pretty dirty, and the fishing was tough. The lovely little Chena River near Fairbanks, Alaska was no exception. I travel to Fairbanks every couple of years to introduce my clients to the Chena where the Arctic grayling are plentiful and cooperative. Some women come just for the day, and some come for several days. Such was the case this year.
We started out nymphing at some of my favorite places with very few rewards and then kept moving more and more up-river where the water was not so deep & fast. Finally, we landed a few fish and headed back to the campground for a glass of wine and dinner.
The weather improved the second day, but it took a lot of hard work scouting different locations for the fishing to improve. Late in the afternoon, we finally found a beautiful little run where the fish had been just waiting for our flies. After catching a sixteen-inch specimen and lots of his smaller cousins, we started back to the campground. On a quick stop at a spot that hadn't produced the day before we discovered where several fish were hiding out. They were mostly "dinks" (or small grayling) but we didn't care. They fell all over each other to take our dry flies and provided us with some delightful fishing. We did manage to catch most of them it seemed before another storm moved in and we gave up for the day.
Our third day was the most productive. The water level was falling somewhat and more fish were deciding to be cooperative. Returning to our successful spots from the day before, we were into fish right away. Bead-head gold ribbed hare's ears were by far the most productive fly followed by some juicy prince's. As we were getting ready for "the last cast" before moving on, one of the gals, who hadn't been catching suddenly hooked into the fish of the trip. After a tough, dogged fight, she finally brought a gorgeous, golden-colored, 18-inch fish to hand and we all admired his splendor. Lots and lots and lots of the "dinks" and a few of their larger cousins brought a fun finish to the day.
While we may not have caught as many fish as other years, what we definitely had more of this year were moose. We would see them in every road-side pond as we drove along, sometimes with a calf and sometimes in the company of other moose. They always seem to like the Chena River environment and we count on seeing lots of them.
The highlight of the trip, however, was the sighting of a young lynx who came out of the bushes along the road, climbed up on the pavement, and then, after looking both ways as his mother told him to, decided there was too much traffic for him and he retreated back to the bushes. It was a rare and exciting experience.