Once again the beautiful Prince William Sound and the town of Cordova made us welcome to enjoy the amazing phenomena of the returning silver salmon with our fly rods. The team from Orca Adventure Lodge was ready and able to head out with us to put some fish in the box bright and early the first morning, and so were we.
We headed out to one of our favorite locations in the Sound because the weather was gorgeous and the tide was good for engineering a comfortable entrance to the river. We headed up the beach as soon as we docked, and the 8-weights were rigged up as fast as possible. The flies were in the water in no-time.
The wakes of fish moving back and forth in front of us, were easy to see, and the flies were ones that we always use, but, for some reason we couldn't explain, the fish were just not biting. This was the most un-cooperative bunch of fish that I've ever seen. After lots of frustration, we decided that a combination of very warm water, and a blazing sun day had combined to render the fish totally closed-mouth. Later, at the lodge, we learned that nearly everyone else fishing that area that morning had exactly the problems that we did.
The next morning proved to be better and we all caught salmon in the Eyak River where a lot of fish were entering from the saltwater. Mike, our boat captain took us to a perfect spot where the fish had to navigate from salt to fresh water, and we could see pods of them coming right toward us. Now our usual flies did their job and some large, black streamers with cone heads got the fish interested, as did some Clouser Minnows, and Sparklers (flies of my invention).
One of our other fishing locations was a lovely little lake that holds cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden char, and "jack" salmon (meaning those that are too young to spawn.) Cordova is the top of the range for sea-run "cutties" and we encounter them in many of the small streams. This lake has a tiny stream that connects to the salt-water and we caught all three of these species with small, bright, Kelly-green streamers.
Another day on the trip we also flew out to a tiny, wilderness river in a small plane that landed on the beach, with our pilot Steve Ranney, (the owner of Orca Adventure Lodge). We negotiated for a pick-up time about five hours later because we would need to be back on the beach before the tide came high up the beach. Then we headed off for the short hike through the beautiful, sandy beach grasses to the creek.
You would never believe that there were were lots of silvers in this small creek because the water is completely tannic (a dark brown color created by the plants growing along the water-way). Since the creek isn't very large it is fairly easy to find the fish with simple prospecting along the grassy banks. Cutthroat trout also sneak in and take the flies from time to time, and we can't see them either.
Bright, acrobatic fish are the order of the day in this creek, but we have to be especially alert to the possibility of bears, because small creeks like this one are especially tempting to feeding bears. We hollered, whistled, and just made a lot of noise, as well as carrying two cans of bear-spray for added protection.
At the allotted time Steve met us on the beach and helped get all of the fish into the plane for transport back to the lodge. On the way home we got the special treat of a glacier-viewing ride that gave us a fly over of part of Sheridan glacier, an absolutely awesome experience.
Orca does a fantastic job of taking care of the silvers for its guests to take home with them. We always head over to the cleaning building at the lodge to watch the process. Masterful hands quickly gut the fish, slice off the fillets with the meat, and then proceed to vacuum seal it into pieces of various sizes for packaging. A huge freezer holds everyone's fish with their name on them until their departure.
Each day we'd hurry to clean up after getting back to the lodge so as to be among the first to be in the dining room for dinner. The meals at Orca are unbelievable. Tasty soups, excellent salads, and two incredible entrees followed by desserts that are not to be missed. Tasty soups, excellent salads, and two incredible entrees followed by desserts that are not to be missed make up the menus. I actually have to order a half-portion of the entrée because I can't eat it all!
Our departure came much too quickly, as usual. In spite of our first day difficulties, we had a fabulous time, with lots of fresh silver salmon for everyone to take home. The Silver Salmon Spectacular trip is one of my very favorites, and we invite you to come along to enjoy it with us next year.