The school bells were ringing as the shuttle from the airport dropped us off at Orca Adventure Lodge’s 2015 Fly Fishing School for women, but it was too late in the afternoon to do much fishing. So, we had a delectable dinner and then gathered for a quick lesson on gear and got everyone outfitted for the up-coming days.
The first day of the school found us on “humpy” creek for our first casting lesson with the 8-wt fly rods. After practice of the overhead, roll, and side-arm cast, we got right down to business on the creek. It was absolutely packed with pink (humpy) salmon headed up-river to spawn. Everyone got a bright pink fly to get started with and pretty soon I was hearing things like “got one,” and “just had a hit.” You almost couldn’t avoid getting hooked up with a fish even though it was not necessarily with a fly in the mouth.
Because there are so many fish in the creek students get lots and lots and lots of chances to hook a fish. Then the instruction on landing the fish occurs. Everyone needs to learn how to keep the tension on the line so that slack line does not enable the fish to spit the hook. Then, they need to practice how to get the fish on the bank, and also how to release it. Because the fish are in spawning condition, and not good to eat, we don’t keep any, but they sure are fun to practice on.
We headed home mid-afternoon so as to leave time for our first knot-tying session. As all the students do, these women found that mastering the three essential fly fishing knots was easy as pie with an accompanying glass of wine. They were ready for day number two.
The weather kept us from traveling very far from the lodge so we headed over to breathtakingly beautiful Hartney Ban, where a Shorebird Festival is held in Cordova in May, to chase the humpies as the tide went out. One of the women even managed to catch a huge chum salmon. That afternoon we took out the 5-wt fly rods and fished for cutthroat trout in a lovely little lake near the airport. All of the catch was pretty small, so we headed back into town for our annual visit to the Copper River Fleece shop before ending at the lodge for a lesson on flies and which ones to use for different fish.
Weather was better the following day and we got our chance to visit spectacular Sheep Bay. Absolutely chocked full of fish, the creek provided absolutely incredible fishing opportunity. Twenty or thirty-plus fish were the numbers for everyone. Their arms were sore when we headed back across the salt flats to meet our boat for the trip back to the lodge, and watched for sea-otters all the way home.
Our last day we flew out in a small plane to scenic Hook Point to fish a small stream that always produces cutthroat trout as well as pink salmon. Once again using 5-wts, they all were catching “cutties” with both dry and wet flies and weren’t much interested in the salmon. The weather was beautiful and provided picture-perfect views of the rolling tide coming in the half-moon shaped bay on a beach covered with logs and wild flowers. As an added treat, Steve Ranney, Orca’s owner and our pilot, always treats us to a glacier flight-see over massive Sheridan Glacier on our ride home. It really takes your breath away!
We celebrated their graduation from the school with some excellent pizza that we picked up on our way to the airport and a Women’s Fly Fishing fly box that signals success for everyone. What a great trip it was!!
Join us next summer and we’ll make a flyfisher out of you!!