Our three days of fishing for pink and silver salmon at Hope, AK and three days of fishing for pinks, and chum, and silver salmon at Montana Creek were all great fun. Several different folks each day tried their hand at learning how to cast a fly rod on moving water and how to hook a salmon in the process. Not all the casts were perfect, and certainly not all of them resulted in a fish to the bank, but it was definitely a hoot to help everyone give it a try.
There’s a lot to learn when one is starting out in fly fishing. First, people have to use the wading stick and get out into the water where the fish are. Then, they have to master getting the line and fly into the water in the right way and right to where the fish are. Then, when a fish bites, they must learn how to tighten their fingers around the cork handle of the rod and lift up to set the hook. Next, of course, comes letting the fish run so it doesn’t break the leader, but still keeping it under control and bringing it to the bank. Needless to say, there are lots of steps in that process where something can go wrong.
Some had trouble controlling the line, some had trouble setting the hook, and some had trouble feeling the bite of the fish. Still, sooner or later everyone “got it” and lots of exciting fishing took place. From a nun, who donned her waders instead of her habit, to a couple who’ve fished with me at Hope before and were back for a second go, they all had a great time hooking and landing the pinks. Shamese came for one day on each of the trips in order to sample different water and also get a chance at catching chum salmon.
I had advised everyone that we might not be able to catch any really bright fish that we could take home for dinner. No one really cared. Sure, it would have been fun to catch a shiny silver salmon, but getting the techniques down and developing some confidence was just as important. And, they all did just that.
Montana Creek this year had bear warning signs up in the campground and along the trail, so we made it a practice to hike back to the campground for lunch rather than carry food on us. We were lucky enough to get to fish one of my favorite spots most of the time. The water was much lower than usual, so the fish held up in a somewhat different place, but once everyone’s Polarized glasses could see them, they knew right where to cast. There weren’t as many pink salmon as usual, but still enough to grab the bright pink flies as they swung by.
Several gals hooked (and often also landed) the large chum salmon that were swimming right in front of us, and got a taste of what playing a really large fish is all about. “Thank goodness I learned how to palm the reel in the class,” someone said. “Otherwise I would never have landed this fish.”
A reporter and cameraman from Anchorage’s NBC station joined us for a day as well. She was determined to give fly fishing a try and had several on as she practiced setting the hook. Just at the end of the day she hooked into a huge chum salmon, and pandemonium ensued! The fish easily weighed fifteen pounds and it zoomed down-stream with gusto, pulling out fly line and backing, startling other anglers, charging from one bank to the other, and finally breaking off. Whew! What a way to end the day!
The weather wasn’t too bad, nor were the bugs, thank goodness, so all in all both the Hope days and the Montana Creek days were very successful. How about giving it a try with us next summer?