Sunday, June 27, 2010

Some people call this fishing

We took the interns* to float the upper Kenai on Thursday from Cooper Landing to Jim's Landing.
One of the most ridiculous things about the Kenai is the combat fishing at the Russian.  [As always, click to enlarge].
It was like this for almost two miles on both banks.  Unbelievable.
This is more my speed:

* Karta is not an intern.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This is just too ripe to pass on

*UPDATE - The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly failed to adopt the resolution opposing the Grant Lake project by a vote of 6-2.

So you know that death march I went on a bit ago?  Yeah, that's right, the one with all the devil's club, downfall and bitchen falls at the end: 
Well, as it turns out, I'm not the only one who enjoys seeking out interesting spots on the map.  You see, our good friends at the Homer Electric Association think that damming and diverting this falls is a great idea--never mind the fact that it is a prime salmon-producing tributary of Kenai River.

Those bastards.

And just what makes this so timely, you might ask?  Well, at tonight's Kenai Peninsula Borough meeting, Mayor Carey and Assembly Member McClure are introducing a resolution to formalize the Borough's opposition to the project.  Additionally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is soliciting scoping comments on the project, which are due July 6.

I haven't spent too much time looking at this, but I did notice that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Anadromous Fish Catalog lists coho as present up to the falls, but not beyond--something that was updated just this year.
I'm thinking a coho salmon can get past.  What say you?  Any interest in repeating the death march this September to find out?  It's a little beyond the scope of my typical work project, but I just might have to weigh in on this one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On fly selection . . .

The comments to my last post got me thinking about my evolution as a fly fisherman and tier.

When I started fly fishing I was a broke high-schooler who owned, maybe, twelve flies: an adams here, a hares ear or two there, a few box-store-bought woolly buggers (you know, the sort that come in a plastic and cardboard-backed container hanging on a hook at wally world), and perhaps a fewer high-quality flies stolen from my dad.
Once I figured out how to cast and where the fish were, I caught fish despite my poorly apportioned fly box.

Over time, I realized just how many different flies were out there, learned to tie, and had to carry a dozen of every type in various sizes every time I went fishing.
I caught fish, but not because I carried a thousand flies.  To this day, I'm still trying to lose the flies I tied during this period.

As time wore on, I began to realize that presentation was infinitely more important than fly selection, and I caught the vast majority of my fish on a small handful of flies.  The adams, hares ear and woolly bugger still had their spot in my box, but a well-placed parachute adams could do anything a Hi-Vis Knock-Down Dun could do and a sparsly-tied elk hair caddis could do anything a sedgehammer could do.  And the parachute adams and elk hair caddis are infinitely easier to tie.

Now that I find myself in Alaska, my box basically is down to two flies:
So, while there will always be a spot on fly shop shelves and in the new guy's vest for flies that catch fisherman, here's to the flies that catch the fish.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

These boots were made for walking

The Alaska Board of Fisheries recently passed a ban on felt-soled wading boots to help stymie the spread of invasive aquatic organisms.  This, along with the fact that my wading garb has been in various states of disarray for quite some time, made it great to receive a new set of Simms G4 wading boots for my birthday.

Since these boots won't catch fish by themselves, I headed out after work on Friday for some flexible rod sampling.

Sam givin'er:
Evan's aggressive wading:
The venerable FMF:
I caught my first fish, a smaller rainbow, almost immediately stripping a FMF.  After hooking and losing another two quick fish using the same technique, things seemed to go stale and I spent a while trying different flies.  Flesh patterns: nothing.  Black leeches: nope.  Hare's ear, prince and yellow stone nymphs: nada, nil and zilch.  Ultimately, I went back to the FMF but, instead of stripping, I let it dead drift below an indicator.  Almost immediately I was back into fish, landing a couple more rainbows and a nice grayling.  Lesson learned: never doubt the FMF.

Here's one of the rainbows getting an up-close-and-personal view of the new boots:
And one last parting shot of Sam with another fun rainbow:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Out with the canoe

One of the great things about Alaska is that, if you simply pick a spot out on the map and go there, you're likely to find some beautiful terrain.  Last weekend, our friend Evan joined The Wife and I for just such a trip.  I had identified a couple lakes down on the Kenai peninsula that were joined by a short stream.  The map indicated there were some "falls" at the outlet of the upper lake--and we had our destination.

We used our new canoe to shuttle out to an island and set up camp for the night.
Karta was very concerned anytime the canoe left without her.
Of course, our camera's battery died almost instantly. . . 

[pictures of camp and campfire-fried cheese curds]

Sam and Liz joined us the next day for the final assault to the falls and upper lake, and managed to bring a working camera along.  Of course, the trails that exist on maps don't always exist in real life, and what was supposed to be an easy 1.5 mile hike to the upper lake turned into a three-hour death march.

We didn't see tons of wildlife, but we did find this guy:
The Wife, not seeming to mind the long slog:
A group shot (Sam, myself, The Wife and Karta, Evan, and Liz):
After relaxing at the falls for a while, we finally turned back for home.  What the trip lacked in fish, it more than made up for with devil's club:
The Wife, right before making the final descent down to the lower lake, our canoe, and the drive home: