In spite of dealing with some of the highest tides of the year, we had a great fly fishing school at Orca Lodge again this year. Lots of pink salmon around for us to chase, and pretty great weather to make us happy.
The flight from Anchorage to Cordova displayed awesome views of the mountains, glaciers, and miles and miles of the Copper River Delta. After one of the lodge's famous meals, a walk on the beach, and a good night's sleep, we were all set the next morning to head out to Humpy Creek as soon as the tide was high enough to launch the boat. Soon, we were setting out gear down on the rocks right near where we would have the first fly casting lesson. Due to the high tides (which plagued us the entire trip) we had to keep moving the gear to higher ground as the tide came in.
The gals were quick to get the basic cast down and soon the cries of "I've got one" rang in the air as we moved from the casting spot to actually fishing. Very quickly they all "had one" at the same time, and I kept busy running up & down the beach helping them with their releases. What a blast they were having watching their fluorescent pink fly slide through the hundreds of pink salmon crowding the small creek and seeing it get nailed by an eager fish.
The boat from the lodge came to pick us up all too early, but everyone knew that when we got back to the lodge it was time for the first knot-tying lesson. They had already experienced some busted leaders and realized the importance of mastering the knots. By dinner time they could all tie a nail knot, a triple surgeons' knot, and a clinch knot and were feeling pretty proud of themselves.
We put their newly-mastered skills to work as the boat took us to "pudge bay" a lovely, hidden bay with a lovely creek at its head. The high tides forced us to work our way up to the creek by fishing at various stops along the route. Mud & bugs were the order of the day, and we hardly took off our head-nets all day. Finally, we reached the creek, and although we had only a short time left to fish before the tide forced us out, everyone hooked up with both pink and chum salmon. Their confidence was apparent when they hooked a 10-lb chum instead of a 5-lb pink.
We were back at the lodge early enough to drive up to see the sockeye salmon spawning, and to visit our favorite store, Copper River Fleece before dinner. Once again, we had difficulty choosing between the two enticing entrées, and leaving room for dessert.
The following day we flew to Martin Lake to see if we could connect with either some sockeye salmon or Dolly Varden char. After an exciting glacier-filled flight we found ourselves having to wade to shore because of rocks that threatened the plane's floats. Thank goodness for our wading sticks and an oar from the plane. That adventure was followed by an overgrown trail where we missed a turn and ended up bush-whacking our way down to the river. We located a great fishing spot, but it was devoid of fish (at least while we were there.)
All our woes were forgotten on the ride home, however, as Gayle, our pilot, took us on a spectacular and absolutely breathtaking glacier flight-see over Sheridan Glacier, gleaming in the afternoon sun. It made our day complete.
The school graduation party took place at the Cordova Airport where we shared a pizza and wine and everyone received their graduation gift of a year's membership in Trout Unlimited. It might have been the end of the school, but it was just the beginning of their life as fly fishers.