On the edge of our seats in the small plane, we awaited our traverse of the famed Lake Clark Pass with cameras at the ready. Then, the low clouds and rain appeared, and hoped they wouldn't complete block our views. We got a mix of bumpy flying with overcast clouds hanging over the many glaciers and craggy mountains, but at least we got to see some of the scenery. We had to keep our hopes up for the return flight to see more.
Like many places in Alaska this summer, rain was the order of the day. Nevertheless, we pulled on waders & raincoats, strung up the rods, and headed off to the Tanalian River near the lodge. Spring run-off had done a major re-arrangement on the river this year, and the water was roaring along our favorite stretch. We waded around wherever we could and caught a few grayling on dry flies, but not in the numbers we usually do.
The next day proved better as we hopped a short flight to the trailhead for our hike to the Tanalian Falls. Even though there was an enormous amount of water there, as well, grayling hit our flies almost as fast as we could cast. The depth and speed of the water made us very, very careful where we waded, but the fish were ready for us. We fished with nymphs, dry flies, and even a tiny streamer or two, and all of them took fish. It was still raining, but both Nancy & Gary had several doubles on 18-inch fish, and the picturesque falls themselves provided an incredible day.
Next up was a boat day where we head down the lake to fish for pike and to some of the tributaries for more grayling. The pike were amazing this year! One after the other after the other these paddle-mouth giants took the tan and yellow 2-inch long bunny flies we were casting right from the beach. We could hardly make time for lunch, but the fire that our boat-driver, Jeff, made for us was too good to pass up. Nancy easily hooked over twenty-five fish (all with the same fly) and landed most of them. She especially, didn't want to leave for more grayling fishing but we convinced her that there was lots of other water to explore.
The afternoon saw us at the Kijik River where she hooked up right away. Her second fish was a huge one, but it dispatched the hook before we could get a picture. She and I ended our time there casting ants to eager grayling that were hiding out in a perfect small channel among all the rushing water.
We headed back to an amazing dinner complete with home-made rolls and desserts. The entrees every night at the Lodge are so large, that we have to order half-portions of the beef, chicken, and salmon dishes that make it so difficult to "clean your plate."
Sockeye salmon fishing was on the agenda the following day, and Glen Alsworth Jr, the owner/manager of The Farm Lodge where we stay, was our pilot on a remarkable float-plane flight to the Kvichak River. Much to our disappointment we just didn't hit it right and the salmon were few and far between. So, after a couple of hours spent casting to them, we only had a rainbow and two grayling to show for our efforts and decided to fly elsewhere. The day was beautiful and we got an unbelievable opportunity to see an entire swath of Bristol Bay's rivers and lakes from the air.
The small river we fished connected two lakes, and the fish were absolutely lined up beneath the drop off into the lake waiting for whatever we presented them with. A very large char was in the mix, and Gary hooked it with a huge, black leech that Glen had given him to try. He played it for quite a while but finally lost it in the slippery rocks that we were all attempting to negotiate. Thank goodness we had a breeze and bug shirts that day or we would have been eaten alive by the bugs.
Our last day became a day for a flight and some fishing at Dick Pronenneke's cabin, made famous by the book One Man's Wilderness. Some hiking and fishing around that area put an end to a wonderful trip.
The flight through Lake Clark Pass back to Anchorage was much more representative of the spectacle that the Pass is known for. Glacier after glacier poured down from the layers and layers of snow-capped mountains shining in the sun. Pictures simply don't do it justice.
We're pre-booking for 2015 now. Come and experience it all with us.