The wonderful Copper on The Fly lodge at the outlet of the Little Copper Fly river where it meets Lake Iliamna was eagerly awaiting the seven of us as we arrived from Anchorage for some super rainbow trout fishing. We disembarked from the two float planes and then took the quick, rainy, trip from there over to the lodge and up the stairway to our home for the next five days.
We got assigned to our cabins and quickly wadered-up for some great fishing before dinner. There were thousands of sockeye salmon still swimming in the water and accomplishing their spawning ritual, so there were also lots and lots of pinky-orange eggs laying in the water for the rainbow trout, which was what we were after. Everyone caught quite a few of them with the help of the little plastic bead egg-imitations that the guides had ready.
The sockeye fill the river in the mid-summer getting ready to spawn and, we take an earlier trip to the river in July to catch those for our freezers. Now the phenomenon of the egg laying was bringing us back to fish for the beautiful trout which gorge on them to fatten up for winter. All of those fish are “catch & release” fish and must be returned to the water.
Since all of the fish we fish for are rainbow trout we all learned how to rig the “fake” egg and then bounce it along the bottom to replicate the “real-thing.” As often as not, the egg was the wrong color and it didn’t engage the feeding fish, so, after unsuccessful tries we resorted to scouring the river bottom for one with the proper color. Once we had a better “match” the fish reacted more willing. It was surprising how many times we had to change to get a closer color to get the fish’s attention.
Many of the rainbows in the Copper River are fish called Leopard Rainbows because they are spectacularly colored beauties. Caramel-colored instead of silver skin distinguishes these bows from other trout.
It was great to see everyone connecting with the fat & sassy rainbows. Sue seemed to have the magic touch for catching fish that were after fish that were higher in the water column instead of bouncing on the bottom. Between her and her husband, Brad, they practically connected with nearly all of the fish in one productive run.
Sandy has fished this river with us before and knows a lot about the techniques for fishing with a bead and the locations on the river that are particularly productive. She seems to get fish no matter where they stopped.
I met Gwen and Dan at the Pleasanton, CA. Fly Fishing Show, and found them eager to fish somewhere where there would be fishing only for rainbows. Both of them showed us how just much they loved bows with all the fish they caught.
We always have lots of opportunities for different places to stop and fish along the river, and also lots of locations where wildlife appears. Due to the large runs of sockeye, there are lots of bears on the river, and we have many opportunities to see them with their cubs. This year we had an opportunity to watch a sow teaching her two cubs how to catch a salmon. We also come across moose and other wildlife as well. The lodge itself stands high on a ridge next to the river where a grassy meadow also provides the opportunity to see birds of many species.
The fall colors appear as our time at the lodge passes, and there are already yellows and rust-colored vegetation on the hills as our flight takes off from the lodge. This is a wonderful trip and the incredible beauty of Lake Iliamna will stay with you forever.