…to book a winter trip to South Andros – white sand, and lots of it.
Archives for June 2010
A couple of years ago at Alaska West we started offering a charter flight from Anchorage direct to Quinhagak – the Yupik village at the mouth of the Kanektok River, 6 miles from our camp. Our guests loved it because it provided much more direct access to our operation and just made the travel a heck of a lot smoother.
Last year we upgraded the charter to a DC-3, a really cool airplane that allowed more of our guests to take the charter. Reviews were great, so this year…
We upgraded again, this time to a deHavilland Dash 8 operated by Era Aviation. The Dash 8 allows all of our guests to take our charter to and from camp. It’s a modern, smooth, fast ride, and it’s comfy too – complete with a flight attendant and a lavatory! Era flies right out of the Anchorage International Airport and their service is awesome.
Of course the fishing is still the most important part of a trip to Alaska West, but getting there easily and in comfort doesn’t hurt.
More on Alaska West
Photo: BC West Staff
The week started well with excellent water conditions for Spring salmon fishing, with about 2 feet of visibility at the start of the week, favorable weather and even some decent numbers of early steelhead around. Being a June group (smaller groups of 4 max) the four of us had plenty of available water and fish rolling and showing in almost every pool. Host Brian Niska promptly got spooled by the two of the first four fish he hooked, with two fish taking us well down river before being brought to hand…(well, almost, one fell off at the beach…all but a photo.)
Joe Richter found himself snake bit for Springs (kings) but was doing a nice job of hooking steelhead. Eventually he did break his Dean River Spring salmon jinx with a micro Jack but took it all well in fun. Brian’s mother Louise also took the time to get dragged around by a nice Spring, much to poor Joe’s horror…(about her 10th cast all trip, she was only part-time fishing).
In the end Brian hooked about 6-8 good fish, plus some big grabs and Steelhead, and Joe continued to hook steelhead, a few sea-run char and the Jack. A great week was had by all.
Today we continue our series of weekly posts straight from The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing – a new collection of 250 nuggets of fly fishing wisdom from Kirk Deeter and the late, great Charlie Meyers. We’re lucky enough to have gotten permission to post some excerpts from the book – read on!
Our tip for the day is a big one related to nymphing – change your weight before you change your fly.
If you find this kind of this useful, you can pick up your copy of The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing right here.
I have never met an angler who doesn’t like or respect Pat Dorsey. For those of you who do not know Pat, he is, hands down, the hot stick guide on the trout rivers closest to Denver, namely the highly technical Cheesman Canyon section of the South Platte River, the Dream Stream section of the Platte (up in South Park), the Williams Fork of the Colorado (near Kremmling), and pretty much anywhere else he chooses to guide. He literally wrote the book on fly fishing the South Platte.
The fact that Pat is almost uniformly recognized as the best guide in one of the busiest trout fishing regions in America is tall praise. Despite that, he remains humble, hard working, and amazingly open with his bag of tricks. The most important lesson he ever shared came on a crowded day near Deckers—one of those days when conditions were challenging, the fish were stubborn, and the place was packed with so many anglers, we simply didn’t have the option of bouncing from one run to the next. We had to make do with the water right in front of us.
Pat tied on a double-nymph rig, with an RS2 and a Black Beauty. Three casts, and nothing. Pat suggested we add a “fuzz” more weight to the rig. A few more casts, and nothing still. I suggested we switch flies, as we knew the run we were working held fish. Maybe they just didn’t like our flies. No, insisted Pat, we’ll add a little more weight. Several more casts, nothing. He added yet another BB and, two casts later, we tied into a hefty brown trout.
That fish had been there all along. We never switched fly patterns. What we did was find the right weight balance that made those flies finally drop perfectly into the trout’s feeding zone. It was an offer the fish, ultimately, could not refuse. “Weight,” said Pat, “is the most important factor when you are fishing with nymphs. I might cast 100 times with different flies, but if the weight isn’t right, it won’t work. When the weight is right, the fly will almost always work.”
Think about that the next time you’re frustrated at the edge of a run you know holds trout. Think about your weight before switch fly patterns. It’s probably worth 10 weight adjustments before any single fly change, especially when you are casting at educated and challenging trout. After all, Pat explained, “The difference between a good fisherman and a great one is often no more than a BB.”
More Trout Fishing Tips
Over the years our second week at Alaska West has been notorious for having the most hardcore anglers and some of the best king fishing of the season. This year was no different! Once again we had some long time guests joining us.
Guys like Mike Opitz, Jack Thomas, Dave Victor, Marty Herman, Tony Robins, Jamie Will, Andy Jensen and Charles St. Pierre have been joining us for quite some time and it’s always nice to see them come off the plane. We were also joined by some of our newer members like Bernie Kelly, Mike Kuhnert, Lew Ofstein and Hal Leavell. What a great bunch of people to have together in one place.
Our guests this week hit the river dressed to the hilt with the warmest gear they could find. Some years in Alaska summer comes slowly and this is one of those years. The water temps this week ranged between 43 and 50 degrees, outside temps between 45 and 55. It was overcast all week with some rain mixed in for good measure! Not nice, but we’re in Southwest Alaska so what do you expect? You should expect the unexpected!
The king fishing this week was truly incredible at times with some huge numbers put up early in the week. Overall the fishing was pretty steady with some lulls from time to time. All the guests landed kings this week including Zoe Victor who joined her dad for 3 days of fishing in the first part of the week. Zoe had never fished for kings and ended up landing some really nice fish on single and double hand rods which is quite the accomplishment. We saw some really large kings this week as well, even though this week does not typically give up the largest fish of the season. Our largest of the week pushed 40lbs, but many were caught over 30lbs.
All of our guests took advantage of the perfect water conditions by hucking the double hand rods most the week. We also enjoyed the spey/double hand teachings of Charles St. Pierre again. As many of you may know Charles has worked wonders for years with all the neophyte double hand anglers. He is a huge part of why we have seen a surge in the spey/double hand interest, especially on the west coast. His patience and optimism with our guests and the sincerity with which he shares his knowledge is incredible. Thanks again Charles!
Pardon the back-t0-back king salmon hero shots. We love fishing for kings and we’re catching them at two lodges now, so we just had to share.
Fishing with his guide Whitney Gould, he came across this sucker. Mission accomplished, don’t you think?
How to Be Like Brian
Dean River Chinook Salmon are pretty awesome critters.
At BC West we catch them mostly in the bottom mile and a half of river, so they’re hot and bright, and just like their steelhead cousins, they’re as powerful as they come. We hook quite a few of them and we land lots of smaller ones, but everything has to go right to land the big boys (and girls).
Brian Niska pulled it off last week. Great fish, Brian.