Tubing Tales

2016 Alaska Float Tubing

This year’s float tubing days were as much fun as always despite a pair of flippers that refused to perform, and schools of fish that weren’t where they usually are.

We started off as always with some pick-up & lay down casts for first timers before I set them up in front of some old logs at the edge of the lake that always have fish nearby. It wasn’t long until everyone began to report “bumps” that signaled fish activity, but that didn’t always result in “takes”. The anglers were a determined bunch and with a little coaching they kept right at it until they actually hooked-up and progressed to the “keep paddling” stage.

Stopping paddling in the tube almost always results in the loss of a fish, and they all seemed to get that right away. Rods high and bent, plus furious paddling finally began to end in fish to be released, and everyone was pretty proud of themselves, just as they should have been. It was really fun to see them settle down to casting right at the swirls and bubbles that signaled fish and fishing success.

We made a tour straight down one side of the lake catching fish in nearly all of the places that usually produce until everyone was ready for lunch and a “relief” stop. Then we headed down the opposite side of the lake and I didn’t have to say anything about where to fish. They had it down.

The second group consisted of a young couple trying to figure out if they liked float tubing well enough to buy some for themselves, and another first-timer. They too headed down the lake with good success as they became more and more confident. The husband of the couple even hooked into an 18-inch fish that squirted a few eggs as we released her.

I explained to them that some of the lake fish do actually lay fertilized eggs even when they are in still water, but that the eggs can’t survive because they do not have running water to bring them oxygen like they do in rivers.

The third group went through the same initiation and were confidently fishing by the time we finished working the first side of the lake, when a crisis arose. One of them had a flipper come off!! Since it is almost impossible to make repairs with the fins in the water because the angler isn’t able to lift her foot up under the round tube, I towed her to the bank to fix what was wrong. She went back to fishing, but it wasn’t long until the flipper came off again, and then her other flipper was in the process of following suit!! So, I had her take off both fins, and I just towed her from place to place as she happily just kept fishing. During lunch I got a spare pare of flippers out of my van, rigged her up for the afternoon, and all was well. The original flippers turned out to have defective material in the straps.

Our spring float tube adventures are always a hoot, and usually end in people asking where they can get a float tube and what brand they should get. I show them that all of my float tubes are made by Buck’s Backs in ID, and aim them there. I remind them to buy a tube with a urethane bladder instead of an inner tube and to get a pump that inflates on both the in and the out. They’re on their way.

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