While the weather was not the best for our spring outing at Adventure Denali this year, the good fishing made up for it. The wind increased as we put the tubes together and got ready, but the gusts were so strong that we opted for a walk around the lake and a visit with Kirk Martakis the owner. Finally, the wind calmed down and we quickly pulled on our waders and made for the water.
None of the three anglers had ever been in a float tube, so the first hour or so was spent learning to manage the tube and cast from a sitting position. Using both nymphs and my favorite bead-head lake leeches every possible size of fish showed us how eagerly they had been waiting for us. As usual, the early coaching took the form of reminding them to "keep paddling, keep paddling" to keep their fish from getting slack lined. They got the technique mastered quickly. We all had a blast watching the small, 7 or 8-inch long fish flail about attempting to spit the hook. The larger fish were another, matter, however.
Kathryn connected with the first good fish, a lovely, bright, fifteen or sixteen inch specimen and the catch was on. I could hardly keep up with them. Once they perfected the use of the pliers that were in their tube, they settled down to release their own fish.
Cat caught the first of the large fish that these lakes are famous for and patiently played it as it sped out into the middle of the lake and then dove strongly for the bottom, over and over again. Finally, I helped her guide it into the lading net and she was ecstatic! Like everyone who catches these huge fish, she had trouble getting the hook out and reviving it by keeping it in the water in front of her tube while she circled around to make sure there was water going through its gills. Pretty soon it propelled itself out of her hands and headed back to the deep. Two more of these behemoths came to the landing net for her in the course of the day.
Kathryn also scored a 28-30 sized fish that we had difficulty measuring. She had lost another big one that morning so she was delighted to net this beauty. We all admired it as it posed quietly for some pictures
Celine, had not had as much fly fishing experience as the other two, but as we trolled the lake she began to identify the "bumps" she was feeling as fish and quickly tightened up the fly. Soon she too was proudly lifting some beautiful fish for us all to admire. She hooked up with a 28-inch fish late in the afternoon and played it like she had been doing it her whole life. "I watched what the others were doing to play their big fish and tried to do what they did," she said. She was a very quick learner!
We traveled to Brushkana Creek along the Denali Hiway the next day to do some dry fly fishing for grayling but found them more interested in nymphs. My usual "favorite spot" didn’t produce much, so we hiked down the trail a ways to another good spot and found some more willing takers. We stopped at the gas station for ice-cream on the way home.
Our last day saw us at the "3rd Lake" on the Adventure Denali property where grayling are usually plentiful, and while that was still the case, we couldn’t get them going like we usually do. We attributed that to the constantly changing atmospheric pressure producing cold wind, rain, and not a lot of quiet water were the fish could chase dry flies. We did score lots of small fish, however. On the way back to the cabin they did some fishing off the bank at the second lake where all of them pulled out rainbows that measured 15+ or larger.
As usual, it was hard to head for home. There’s just no place like Adventure Denali for fantastic fishing!