The crew was Dave and Rebecca, a brother and sister from Seattle taking a break from college.
Bill Franklin was our pilot, a co-operator of the operation at Saltery Lodge. The flight was worth the price of admission as we flew below the mountain peaks under the cloud cover through the American River valley pass to Ugak Bay and up the Saltery River.
We landed on Saltery Lake where the lodge is located which is in absolute wilderness.
Saltery Lake Lodge from Bread Loaf Mountain-Photo Sean Schultz IPhone
Photo Sean Schultz IPhone
Nathan and Sheila are the camp cooks and they do an excellent job with the meals.
After lunch, we decided to fish Lake Creek for Dolly Varden. Dollies are a char with similar color patterns to a brook trout. The Dollies will position themselves behind the spawning Sockeye Salmon to eat the eggs floating down stream. A set up with a bead will catch the aggressive char.
On our journey up stream I saw eagles perched on trees over the water with one willing to stay still for a picture.We managed to catch sixty-two dollies in four hours and returned to the lodge at 5:30 PM. On out trip back to the lodge, we startled a pair of buffalo napping in the grass along the creek bank.
Monday: it rained all night, the lake was on it's way up. There was a significant wind gust in the morning blowing to the west with a few white caps on the lake. The area we fished had some shelter from the wind. Our group had the first hole, also called the upper hole. Rod and Bill started at the upper hole and continued to fish down stream. Sean and I started at the mouth and fished our way into the lake finding silver salmon running along the lake's edge. We waded waist deep and threw to shore taking a number of salmon; several of these weighed over thirteen pounds. Rod reported seeing a bear at the lower hole. Sean and I released eighteen silvers before lunch. It continued to rain throughout the day with the lake coming up eight inches.
Photo Sean Schultz IPhone
After lunch, Sean decided to fish Lake Creek. The rain had stopped with the sun breaking through the clouds. A rainbow was seen to the north with Sean standing under it as he fished.
Rod fished the lower hole with only a few people around and did well landing four Silver Salmon and losing that many. He witnessed an interesting event. A fellow with an expensive Sage rod fished just below Rod. This fellow hooked and was trying to land a Silver Salmon without assistance. He took his rod and tried to lift the ten pound fish out of the water and onto a steep gravel bank only to shatter the rod. The fish slid down the bank. The fellow threw down his rod grabbed the salmon only to get the hook in his thumb and to top it off, the silver salmon bit his finger... That is a bad day.
Rod may contact Sage to let them in on the story, since the fellow has little respect for a good rod. We finished the day with eleven silvers two sockeye and forty-six dollies.
Thursday: We described this day of fishing as a Rock day on Rough Creek. Rough Creek is on the west side of Bread Loaf Mountain. Since the water flow had been high, no one had fished it, therefore very little fishing pressure on this small stream. It was not accessible in the lower reaches due to the high water in Saltery River.
It was almost 5 PM and we decided to finish the day in the lake. Lem took Rod and Bill in the boat to the other side and they fished the lower hole. Sean and I walked the waters edge back to familiar waters in the lake. We each caught another silver and Rod landed two more at the lower hole. We returned to the lodge at 6:30 PM.
Friday: this was our last day to fish, the sun broke through with only a few clouds overhead, and a rainbow was seen near Bread Loaf Mountain on our walk to the river.
Photo Sean Schultz IPhone
After lunch we decided to get out of the sunshine and return to Lake Creek to fish for dollies. We started at 2 PM and made our way up stream. Sean was the first one in the creek and made his way quickly upstream to some favorite spots. He had a pair of bald eagles fly over his head and was marveled. At 4:30 PM, we decided to return to our favorite, mid lake above the upper hole for a last cast, last fish for our week trip. Sean and I went to the lake and Rod made a beeline to the lower hole. Rod caught a Silver Salmon on his third cast, he decided one more and caught two more before calling it a last cast. I found a Silver Salmon in the mid lake and stopped at 5:30 PM satisfied with my last cast. Sean stepped into my spot and at 6 PM was getting concerned because we would stop fishing at 6:15 PM for a prime rib dinner and we did not want to be late. At 6:10 PM. Sean hooked his salmon for his last cast, last fish for the trip.
On Saturday, we had two more encounters with bears. A bear on the front lawn was scratching himself on a dead pine tree. The bear was walking the lakeshore when the plane came in. The bear took off running and nearly ran over a member of the Pittsburg group. He took a picture of it running at him but it was all a blur. Good fun.
We saw another bear on the opposite shore near bread Loaf Mountain as we left. We heard the news that a plane went down Friday night. An Otter had crashed near the airport killing the pilot, with the two passengers surviving. Small plane crashes are common events in Alaska, but one should know 10% of Alaskans have a pilot license and flying is a common mode of transportation in this state.