We tubed in the rain, we tubed in the wind, and we tubed in the cold. Every one of the five days we were out was a real adventure. We started off in one of my favorite lakes, but it turned out that it had been one of the first to open in the area and had really been hammered by other anglers before we got there. It was really fun, but not very productive. So, the second day we tried one of my other favorite lakes nearby. The weather was really miserable, and the low atmospheric pressure really put the fish down. Nevertheless, one of the gals hooked into a very large fish just before we planned to head back to the campground for lunch and a warm-up.
The fish didn’t jump at all. It just headed for the bottom and stayed there. It didn’t appear to be a rainbow, but I couldn’t figure what else it could be. After a long, protracted battle on the 5-wt rod, the fish finally came to the surface. Much to our surprise it turned out to be a 23-inch char, which must have been planted in the lake years ago. I had never caught char in that lake before and was absolutely flabbergasted over it all.
After hot soup and some walking around to warm up, we headed out again. A different one of my favorite spots wasn’t producing at all, except for the pair of loons that circled us repeatedly. Suddenly, in the midst of our loon photography, the very same gal that had hooked up the large fish in the morning did it again! It was another char, but only about eighteen inches in length this time. Wow!
The following day two of the gals went with me to a third lake, where we experienced the only nice weather of the week. They landed quite a few rainbows, and we got some great pictures that ended up at the bottom of the lake after I lost my camera, unfortunately. What a bummer. We tried for over an hour to retrieve it, but finally gave up and got out of the water for lunch. The fishing was a bit slower after lunch, but we attributed that to an on-coming storm
Day number four we tried our luck at the lake where Alaska usually holds its Casting for Recovery retreat. We scored a couple of fish early-on, but then had several hits that we lost. After a mix of trolling and casting we stopped for lunch. Heading in a different direction after lunch, we only located one small fish with a couple of other strikes. On the paddle back to camp, though, two of the gals each hooked up with 18-inch fish within five minutes of each other. We landed them both, but only got a picture of one of them. Once again, we were bombarded by heavy rain and wind from two different storm systems in the area.
The last day turned out to be the best fishing day of the week with a number of good rainbows to their credit. It was the first day of the Memorial Day week-end, so we hit the lake really early to try to beat the expected crowds. The bad weather mostly held off even though the clouds were low and threatening all day with intermittent sprinkles. The gals got some experience using the landing nets to retrieve fish by themselves from the tube, a technique that they had been anxious to practice.
Everybody learned how to get in and out of the tube by themselves, how to cast while sitting down in the tube, and, of course, how to paddle backwards. Just like always, most people were ready to buy a tube of their own by the time we finished.
Even though we could have seen more fish, we were all thrilled at the numbers of common loons we saw. Every lake we fished had a pair that came very close to us, even swimming right below the tubes where we could see them. They also entertained us with their danger-calls when the eagles appeared. It was a great week. We’ll be doing it again next year. Join us!