The sun was actually out in Cordova on the first day of our trip this year, and that wonderful situation managed to continue through day 2 as well! We got our waders on, we picked up the sandwiches the lodge had made for us and took off for the Eyak River, to get started targeting silver salmon. The river was in great shape, but we only saw a few silvers coming up on the tide. There were Dolly Varden char around, and we caught a few of these, so we finally headed into town to make a stop at the Copper River Fleece store as we always do.
The next day the boat took us into Prince William Sound for some fishing at one of the small creeks there, and we were lucky enough to find silvers galore! Making up for the day before, we hooked them fast and furiously, and carefully released those that were beginning to develop their spawning colors. Everyone was amazed at the huge hook-noses the male fish develop, and we got lots of pictures.
A rock-solid hook-up is often hard to achieve on these large fish, so it took awhile for everyone to realize that they had to do a hook-set that was much more forceful than they would do in a trout. Once it happened, however, the classic leaps, cartwheels, jumps and more ensued. Lines took off with the speed of light, and it was fun to see all the other fish scatter as a hooked one zoomed right through them.
Things would quiet down a bit after a played fish was safely on the bank, and it was absolutely amazing to see how many dorsal fins poked out on top of the water. That was because fish that had come in on previous tides were sharing the same water with the fresh ones. The tannic water and the sun-glare made it difficult to see which fish were which from the bank, but we could always tell a fresh fish when we had one on the line. Their power and antics made for great fun while we were playing them and once we were bringing one near to shore, we could always see the bright, white, bodies of the newer arrivals.
We had taken a canoe up-river with us to make returning the fish to the boat easier, and we marveled at the huge fish that we were accumulating there. All but one of us caught a limit of fish, and they were some of the largest fish I’ve seen on this trip in several years.
Julie and Chris had fun trying different flies, mostly ones from my new book, Pacific Salmon Flies, New Ties & Old Standbys, (buy it on my web site at www.womensflyfishing.net/merchandise.htm) and they quickly developed some favorites. Pink and white clouser minnows were successful as were the raspberry & gold Sparklers. The Spook quickly became Chris’s choice. Surprisingly, we caught hardly any fish on egg-sucking leeches, the old Alaska standby fly.
Lisa and Laurie were casting the Stop Lights and chartreuse and white popsicles with good results as well. At times, the bite would go off, as it always does when fishing for silvers, and usually we could turn it back on with a change of fly or a change of color. During the high, slack tide, however, it seemed like all we could do was sit on the river bank and eat lunch.
Chris, from the lodge, our bear-watcher and helper, had a great time landing our fish and making a beautiful “flower” arrangement with them beside the boat. Everyone got lots of pictures of that, as you can imagine. Once the tide changed, things picked up again, and we fished like maniacs until it was time to go.
Our third day was somewhat overcast as we took off for the Martin River. Flying over the Copper River Delta where we saw seven moose was a real treat, and the silvers were waiting for us there as well. A wide black line of fish was making its way up the river toward a small creek where they would spawn, and once again we had good success. It began to rain earl in the day and then just kept getting worse as the day wore on. Soon the water became cloudy and started to rise, and it became decidedly harder to hook the fish. It was easy to see when newly arrived fish joined the others as they were much more willing to bite. In the midst of it all, Chris caught a nearly 30-inch steelhead, which was carefully released. By the end of the day we were like a bunch of drowned rats, and it was fabulous to get back to the lodge for a glass of wine and one of Christian (the chef’s) amazing dinners.
Our fourth day we went by boat to another of the many small creeks that enter Prince William Sound, and it took us awhile to get to biting fish because the tide was coming in. We fished the beach to pods of arriving fish, but with no success due to the five large seals that were patrolling the creek mouth and driving away the fish. Finally, the tide receded far enough that we could wade up-stream where the fishing was more productive. Once again, we put the fish in the canoe to head back to the boat, where we had to get on board quickly so it didn’t get beached on the out-going tide.
We only had a couple of hours to fish before heading to the airport on our last day, so we went to some near-by ponds and tried our luck with no results. The lodge had our silvers all filleted, vacuum sealed and frozen for us to take home and we very reluctantly made our departure.
Next year?? You bet!! Orca Adventure Lodge will be waiting for us. Come on along!