Our Silver Salmon Spectacular trip is always the last of our season and we hate to see the time for it arrive. Orca Adventure Lodge in Cordova, AK is our headquarters for this great outing and we can never get enough of it. We have to face the fact that when we head out to intercept the silvers, summer’s over, however.
We arrive late in the afternoon of the first day to get organized and set up for our days of flying and boating out to target these amazing fish. We usually start by boating out into Prince William Sound to take advantage of the schools of fish that are appearing in the river mouths and estuaries. They are quite easy to spot as they swirl in the water in small bundles of five to ten fish. I tell everyone that when they see this phenomenon to cast directly into it and then strip their line like crazy. That is the technique we use for much of the time when the fish are moving up-stream.
This year we arrived on a day in 65-75 miles winds and pouring rain. The streets were flooded, the boats were tied up, and the lodge was busy sheltering its customers and providing one of the fantastic meals it is known for. The next day the atmosphere was much calmer, but the only place we could fish was a couple of ponds that harbor fish that are trapped there until a high-enough tide pushed into a culvert gives them passage out. We caught several fish and everyone got a good chance to learn to cast the 8-weight rods that are necessary for catching silvers.
The next day the water was high but one of the lodge boats said the water was fishable so we headed out to a wonderful river that was reported to have fish and where the tide would be pushing out. We piled out of the boat and strung out along the beach with rods loaded with some flies from my book, “Pacific Salmon Flies.” All of them remembered the advice to cast right into moving fish and one after the other quickly hooked a beautiful, silvery fish and the air was filled with leaping silvers.
We had planned to fish a different section of the river, but the flood of the previous few days made it impossible to get there due to deep water. So I waded through one after the other areas to finally find one that was wadable for us. We packed up and waded over and finally managed to spread out to give everyone a chance to fish. It wasn’t 5 minutes until a ten or twelve-pound specimen broke the surface and others quickly followed. The place where were fishing still held high water and the vegetation at the bottom made it difficult to land a fish, but we did the best we could. All too soon our boat captain, who came to gather up the fish, told us we’d have to leave because the tide was coming in, so we reluctantly headed for the boat and home.
We have one day fly-out on our trip so the following day Steve, the owner of Orca Lodge fired-up the small plane we headed with rods to a small, lovely creek flowing through a sandy beach and out to Hawaiian-like breakers where we landed on the beach. Our destination was still recovering from the recent storm, so we couldn’t find any silvers coming in on the tide. We hoped to find some silvers or some sea-run cutthroat already in the water, but the only fish we saw were a few “jack-silvers.” Those are immature silvers who cannot spawn but that are often swimming with the larger fish. We headed home in time to beat the tide, and decided to do some shopping. We headed over to a wonderful shop called “Copper River Fleece” where everyone indulged an item or two.
One more day we got back in the boat in the rain and traveled to an estuary that Steve knows a super beach that usually provides lots of silvers coming in on the tide. We lined up again to be able to cast to them as they entered the flow coming out of the main channel. Pretty soon the pods of fish began to appear and so did the hook-ups. One of our group finally caught her very first fish on a fly rod—a big, fat specimen. We all celebrated after she picked it up for pictures. Lucky as she was, she caught her second fish just a short time later!
Soon we noticed that the tide was coming in fast and we moved up river. As the water spread out along the beach line a few more fish got hooked but not landed, soon we had to leave because the river mouth was flooded. After returning to the lodge some of the group decided they were not yet “fished-out” and we had to leave the next day so they returned to the ponds we had fished the first day and caught a couple of fish.
All in all the trip was a great adventure. A Silver Salmon Spectacular as usual!!