A magical fish, an unbelievably lovely wilderness river, and Alaska Native hospitality all combine to provide the trip of a lifetime, and we get to do it every year!
We started our trip on a very early Ak Airlines flight that took us from Anchorage right to Nome, where our shuttle was waiting to take us the 70-mile trip along the path that the gold rush took in the past to gold and the best grayling fishing in Alaska.
Tom Gray, the owner of AK Adventure was at the river pick-up. He and his wife BJ were our hosts for the trip, and are always ready to make us feel right at home. A quick lunch was ready for us and we ate quickly, eager to get to the fish.
We were heading to grayling water almost immediately, and the first fish of the day was on to the fly in less than 5-minutes after we all got out of the boat and began fishing. It was the first of innumerable fish that we caught on the trip. Eighteen to 22-inch beauties came to our flies over and over again to let us see how gorgeous they are and how eager to take well-presented flies.
We went home that evening to one of BJ’s special spaghetti with home-made bread and a home-made chocolate desert. We all went to bed full, and ready to do it all over again the next day. And we did. Spoiled on home-made bread, and a different desert every day. What we couldn’t eat, we saved for the next day’s lunch. Another of her specialties, sockeye salmon lasagna made another dinner a fabulous favorite.
Fifty and up to seventy absolutely spectacular fish just couldn’t get enough of our foam flies each day as well as the dry-flies and nymphs that the grayling love so much. A chez nymph rig brought an absolute frenzy to the eager grayling, as anglers enjoyed it one afternoon. The water was quite low and a school of chum salmon was making its way up a small, rushing channel with grayling in between, beside, and fighting with each other to get to the salmon fry that accompanied the chum. We had Chez “doubles” of two fish at a time over and over for nearly an hour until the fish moved on.
The pink salmon were also in the main river, eager to take a streamer and stacked up in large pods to get from the Fish River into the Niukluk tributary where they go to spawn, so we had great fun wearing out our arms one afternoon catching and releasing one fish after the other.
Our last afternoon, we visited an Alaska Salmon subsistence fishing camp to learn how Native people catch and keep salmon for food in the winter. One of our group had been waiting to catch a white fish, which native people see as a major specimen for subsistence. He managed to take 3 fish while the rest of us were watching.
We couldn’t have had a better trip and headed home with the hope to visit again and again to this special place.