Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December: Catch and release trout fish at Missouri State Parks

December 5, 2014: Rod Pennington and I met at Montauk State park to fish for a three day weekend. I left Springfield Friday at 9 am, driving Hwy 60 in the fog. By the time I drove through Houston on Hwy 63; the fog started to lift and the rain started to fall. It rained all the way to Licking and on to Montauk.  I stopped at the lodge, and paid for two nights’s lodging and we stayed in cabin #31. The rain continued to fall and I waited 45 minutes before, moving the gear into the cabin. A pileated woodpecker was seen outside the cabin door, with the sounds heard throughout the weekend. Rod was delayed and did not get to the park until 3:30 pm. The rain let up at 1 pm and I made my way down to the spring creek and started to fish near the power lines, making my way up stream for the next three hours. The clouds were low with a light rain until 3 pm. I tied on a small dry fly; the flies worked best when pulled under and fished with a tight line through the water. I managed to release fifteen with a last sat last fish before 4 pm. We stayed in cabin 31; it is located on the hill near the stream and walking distance to the lodge.

It was after 4:30 PM when I met Rod at the cabin, he was able to get fifteen minutes of fishing before the siren sounded. He caught and released three trout fishing near the low water bridge. We ate at the lodge. The lodge is open on weekends serving a very good meal at very reasonable prices. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and opened until 6 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. On Sundays, the lodge is open for breakfast and lunch, but closed in the afternoon; so plan according with Rolla the other place one can travel after a day of fishing for an evening meal.

December 6, 2014: Saturday morning, Rod and I had eggs in a hole and bacon. We were on the water shortly after 8 am starting at the power lines.  Again, I worked my way up stream and Rod went down stream. The day was overcast, in the high thirties. Warren Wilkerson and Joe Davis planned to leave Springfield and be at the park before 11 am. Warren is the president of the Missouri Trout Fishermen's Association and a meeting was scheduled to meet with the three chapters at noon in the lodge. I fished until a few minutes after 11 AM with nine fish to hand.  Warren and Joe finally caught up with me with Rod walking up the road as we left the cabin for the meeting. The meeting lasted an hour and we returned to the cabin. We warmed up the smoker and prepared the evening meal. We all brought a variety of meats. Rod brought chicken, pheasant and quail. Warren and Joe brought a pork loin and filet mignon. I provided a chunk of halibut.  All of this was placed in a smoker for three hours with mesquite wood. Again, we walked back to the spring creek to fish until 4 pm. Rod returned before the rest of us and placed some corn still in the husk in the smoker. We had quite a feast, with more food than we could possibly eat. We sat around that evening discussing a variety of topic and turned in before 10 PM.

December 7, 2014: The morning alarm went off at 6 AM, with Joe cooking bacon and eggs. After breakfast, we moved our gear back to our vehicles and the keys to the cabin returned to the lodge. Two does stood next to the truck looking at Rod and I for some time. I moved for a camera and they took off down the hill out of sight. We were on the water and fishing after 9 AM. Rod planned to stay only a few hours before driving back to Rogersville. Warren and Joe fished near the hatchery; a place Warren calls the honey hole and stayed there most of the day. I started below the dam and fished to the blue hole. The day started cloudy with temperatures in the low thirties. There were only a few breaks in the clouds with the sun peaking out. For me the fishing was excellent. The mayfly hatch was light, but the duns I saw on the water were quickly dispatched by the trout. I took fifteen trout below the dam, before moving above the dam and fishing to the blue hole. Five of these fish were in the sixteen to twenty inch range caught on#20 hooks. Some took a dry, or a wet fly or gently pulled give the fly some movement. I release thirteen more trout above the dam before the day of fishing was over.

 This was a good weekend of fishing. There were only a few fishermen on the water, most of the time I was out of sight of other fishermen. The trout went for the dry flies one a dun was seen on the water. Five of the trout were over sixteen inches with the largest twenty inches in length. There was plenty of wildlife seen with a variety of raptors; bald eagles, turkey vultures and hawks. I had several encounters with white tail deer. With a doe and twin fawns at the end of the trip, they scamper, played and head butt each other before moving across the stream for the evening. The four of us totaled 105 trout caught and released for the three day weekend. The round trip distance from Springfield to Montauk and back is about 220 miles. I would recommend fishing Montauk and plan to stay at least two days. I will return before the end of this year’s catch and release season.

December 13, 2014: I woke late in the morning, started the coffee brewing and packed the truck with fishing gear to make the trip to Roaring River State Park to fish for the day. I plan to fish three state parks in the month of December, so this would the second park. It was after 9 AM when I left Springfield. It was seasonally warm with foggy condition all the way to Roaring River S.P. It was a seventy mile one way trip on Hwy 60 and then south on Hwy 37 at Monett then on State Hwy 112 in Cassville to the park. 

The park was not crowded with the fishermen dispersed from the hatchery to the lower reaches of the boundary waters. I fished the same area where Jenn, Des and I camped earlier this fall, in waters one can wade and fish. It’s not great water with only a few spots for trout to find cover but it did provide solitude. There were only a few fishermen in view for the afternoon with seven trout caught and released for the day. There was not a surface hatch seen while fishing and it took a wet fly to hook the few trout. I fished until 4 PM and returned to Springfield. Beware, most of the bathroom facilities are closed for the season. So, make the necessary stops before entering the park. My next trip will be Bennett Spring S.P.

Monday, November 24, 2014

November: In Michigan fishing the Pere Marquette River then on to Bennett Spring S.P.

I made a trip to Michigan to fish the Pere Marquette River in the area called the maple leaf. The Coho salmon finished their spawning with most of these salmon dead and decaying in the river. If there is a high water event, the decaying fish will eventually wash out to Lake Michigan. There are usually some late salmon spawning and on redds, and these will be the places the steelhead, brown and smaller trout will be to eat any salmon eggs dislodged or floating down river from spawning fish. 

My brother, Kirk had success in previous years fishing for steelhead trout after the salmon spawn in the month of November. The steelhead will move up late fall and winter over in the river, waiting for the return of spring to spawn. The steelhead can return several times to spawn with the largest males being six or seven years old, weighing over ten lbs. and measuring thirty inches in length.

I have fished these waters off and on since a kid and we have seen the change of the river and named special places on the river to those memories. My grandfather had a cabin on Hwy 10 between Branch and Walhalla. We would go the cabin the summer to spend time with family. My grandmother would take us out on hikes, walking the fire trails and waiting by railroad tracks for a locomotive to pass by. Over the years we discovered this was a great river to swim and fish. The Pere Marquette was the first river in the United States to get brown trout planted in the stream from Europe. It was designated as a wild and scenic river in the seventies and stories written about in by Ernest Schwiebert telling of his childhood fishing the upper waters near Baldwin.

One place named on the river was a place where an old cabin once stood; there was an event that occurred before I was born. There was a plaque marking the spot a fellow hung himself on a limb of a white oak tree. The tree still stands with the cabin near by all but gone. We call the area below this spot the hangman hole. Another spot we remember fondly was the birch tree hole. A birch tree leaned over the river marking a popular spot to catch steelhead trout but the tree washed out and carried downstream several years ago. Then there was Ackerson’s Cabin, I remember the cabin and it burnt to the ground forty years ago. The property was sold to the federal government and is now public property with access to the river.

I had two days to fish with Kirk. It was a trip nearly eight hundred miles to Walhalla from Springfield. It took fifteen hours with several traffic jams in Michigan on I-94 and I-96 due to road construction. Kirk fished all day Monday, he drove to Ludington to look at the water. The lake was dirty from recent storms and unfishable from the surf. He spent the rest of the day fishing the Pere Marquette River and had a very good day catching and leasing steelhead, brown trout and smaller rainbows.

I met Kirk at 10 PM that evening at a cabin/motel we usually stay. We talked weather. The forecasted storm moved to the north with Marquette, MI getting 42 inches of snow. We had at least one day without snow.

November 11, 2014: The next morning we woke before 5 A.M. and walked the trail to the river in the dark before morning light. We were fishing with just enough light to see. Throughout the day, we moved from hole to hole and covered the length of the river from the Birch tree hole near the cabins downstream to Hangman. Needless to say, the fly rod and I failed to catch many trout. I had a few hits with a dangling fly. Kirk caught three steelhead. One of the trout was left bleeding and was saved for the icebox; it was a hen that measured 29.5 inches in length. He caught a number of smaller trout, which were released.
Kirk with a 29.5 inch Steelhead Trout
I saw several ospreys flying overhead and a bald eagle flying treetops later in the day.  The rain started to fall afternoon with the cool air moving in before dark. We fished until 5 PM. We returned to the cabin and ate at Emerson Lake.

November 12, 2014: The next day was to be cooler with snow in the forecast. I decided to switch from the fly rod to natural bait, hoping to get a few hookups.The next morning, we packed out and on the river, fishing by 9 PM. The day was over casted with the temperatures in the high twenties. There was a light flurry of snow most of the day. I managed to find small trout behind down trees in the river and several brown trout. One of the brown trout was nearly fifteen inches. I cross paths with my brother at noon, he lost two steelhead trout in the fight. One of the fish actually jumped out of water and hit a tree trunk in mid-air. We fished until 4:30 PM.

It was good to get back to the Pere Marquette River to fish. I discovered how difficult it was climbing the hills and crawling along the banks. Hopefully, I will get back to fish in March.

A photo of Brant, Rod and me going right to left
November 30, 2014: I arranged to meet Brant Koetting for breakfast at a Springfield Village Inn and then on to Bennett Spring State Park for the day a day of fishing. Brant lives in California, MO (near Jefferson City) and spends his summers guiding at Saltery Lake Lodge. Actually, he was our guide this year when Rod, Bill and I fished there in September. Brant made a trip to Bennett last year, so this was not his first visit at the trout park with us.
It was an unusual warm day with the air temperature near 68°F, there was a southern breeze blowing downstream. With a change in the air by mid-afternoon, the wind switched out of the north dropping the temperature 30 degrees in a few hours. Most of the fishermen around us talked of the weekend events and they probably fished Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They were concern for the freezing precipitation forecast for Monday morning. They talked of leaving the park and not staying for another day.
Brant and I were in the water shortly after 9:30 AM with four other fishermen in zone 1, fishing the water above the dam. By noon time, there was probably a dozen in the same area, most of these fishermen knew each other and there was constant chatter among them. Rod was to drive in before noon, but neither Brant nor I saw him. Brant and I decided to move down stream, there were only a few fishermen below the stone bridge. I reentered the water below the hatchery outlet and fished my way back to the dam, and finally started to see a mayfly hatch with rising trout. I saw a family fishing near the stone bridge, with the teenage daughter wearing pink shorts and boots wet wading above her knees in the spring creek. Who would guess the last day of November, that one could wet wade? I was impressed.
Rod fishing infant of the stone bridge
It was 2 PM; Rod spotted me in the water just below the dam. We talked a bit and then he decided to walk across the stone bridge and fish the opposite bank. Brant was downstream and out of sight.
It was 3 PM, Rod and I decided to finish the day in zone 1 above the dam. It was unoccupied water, with most of the previous fishermen gone for the day. Brant was fishing near the dam and I saw him trip and dip into the water with water filling his waders. I told him, “today you could get away with wet waders but tomorrow you wouldn’t” knowing freezing temperatures would be moving in overnight. Rod and Brant made their way to their vehicles before the 4 PM whistle; I managed to hook a trout five minutes before the siren and called it last cast last fish for the day. The afternoon with a light hatch made up for the slow morning and I was able to release twenty trout. Only one trout was of size, measuring sixteen inches. It was a day of contrast, with the air temperatures, wind direction and wiliness for the trout to bite a fly. My next trip will be to Montauk for a three day weekend.
An unusually warm day before the front drop the temperature thirty degrees

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September: Alaska Silver Salmon Fishing on Kodiak Island

Morning fog lifting over Saltery Lake Lodge
Rod Pennington, Bill Taylor and I traveled to Alaska to fly fish for Silver Salmon. The week was filled with bear encounters, one hundred and ninety-four silver salmon caught with eighteen returning with us to Springfield and the rest released back to the water. The weather was very warm for this time of the year with four days of clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine. There was a family of eagles that nested near our cabin and we saw them soaring overhead most of the time over the water. The adults were teaching the young eagles to fly and getting them ready to fly south for the winter. Dave Magoffin and his staff were very friendly and helpful throughout the week. The meals prepared by Edie were delicious, on time with very generous servings. A big thanks to Brant our guide for the week, who netted our fish, took us to Rough Creek for a great day of fishing and kept us out of trouble with the bears. This was my sixth trip back to Saltery lake Lodge, it seems to get better each year; more fish caught, more bear sightings and a lodge that provides an excellent destination to explore Alaska.

Morning Fog: Photo taken by Rod Pennington
September 19, 2014 (Friday): We flew from Springfield to Kodiak Island. The trip was uneventful with some air turbulence over the mountains. We lost our luggage in Anchorage before flying on to Kodiak. We had to wait twenty hours before retrieving our luggage at the terminal in Kodiak. It was almost 11 pm when we settled in our rooms at the Kodiak Inn (Best Western), for a short night's sleep before going out on a boat for a deep sea fishing excursion the next day.

September 20, 2014 (Saturday): We had breakfast at the Kodiak Inn. After breakfast, (since we were without luggage), we went to Mack's sporting goods store to buy some long johns and jackets/ raincoats. We made it to the boat on time at 8 AM.  We met Chris Fiala, the captain of U-Rascal in the parking lot at the harbor.

Fishing with Capt. Chris on U-Rascal: Photo by Bill Taylor
We have been out with Chris in the past and felt confident he would find fish. The mates on board the boat were the same as three years ago with Becca and her three brothers. They spend their summers in Kodiak helping with the boats before returning to the state of Washington to continue their schooling. We left port at 8:30 AM after filling the tanks with fuel and heading out to sea and onto Ugak Bay.

Becca and her brother showing off a pair of Halibut: Photo by Bill Taylor
The day was partly cloudy and a light wind less than 10 knots. The cruise and wave action was smooth with the motion coming from the boat when moving spot to spot. Dr. Taylor did get seasick and had his head on the table when the boat was on the move. He was able to fish when the boat stopped. Chris did find fish and we took a limit of rockfish including yellow eye and Rod landed a rare tiger fish (a striped rockfish).

Rod with a Tiger (Rockfish): Photo by Rod Pennington
Bill with a Yellow Eye (Rockfish) with Chris looking on: Photo by Bill Taylor
Chris took us into Ugak Bay and we took a limit of halibut. The fish averaged 50 to 70 pounds apiece with eight to the cooler, one for each paying fishermen. The location of the fishing spot was just off the site where a blotched rocket launch occurred several weeks ago. When the rocket was on lift off, they had to abort four seconds into the launch and blew everything up including the launch pad. We were told several engineers were on the island, evacuating the launch pad to determine if the site was a total lost.

For more on the story go to:

We finished the day by moving to another spot and picked up flounder. We landed many and added them to the cooler. There was probably about five hundred pounds of fish in the cooler for the day’s catch. We returned to port at Kodiak and Chris took us to Island Seafood to process and package our catch. The plan was to return to Island Seafood the following week after spending a week at Saltery Lake Lodge and take our boxed frozen fish back with us on the flight back to Springfield.
Our catch was dropped off at Island Seafoods for packaging: Photo by Bill Taylor
When we docked the boat and paid for our day of fishing, we returned to the hotel. We discovered no luggage. We had to go back to the airport and pick up our bags. The luggage was secured and locked in a closet; everything was fine with nothing missing. We finished the evening by going to Henry’s Sports Bar for a bite to eat and walking through the harbor looking at the boats moored in the harbor. We returned to the hotel and fell asleep before 10 PM.

Bill captured this photo walking through Kodiak Harbor: Photo by Bill Taylor
September 21, 2014 (Sunday): We made contact with Janelle and she met us at the Best Western about 10:30 AM. She took us to Dave Magoffin’s house, which was only a short drive from the hotel. 

Janelle making arrangements with Dave to fly us out on a float plane
We flew from Dave’s house with a water landing strip for his floatplane. Dave would fly us out on his single engine floatplane to Saltery Lake lodge. The one-way trip took about twenty minutes by air. Dave had to make four trips to get everyone to the lodge and took the entire morning getting us setup and ready to fish Saltery Lake.

Dave's float plane getting ready to make another trip back to the lodge
It was noon before I walked the shores of the lake, the staff; Geoff (guide), Brant (guide), Bryan (guide) and Edie (cook) met the plane when we arrived. Our gear was unloaded and placed in cabin #2. Rod and Bill flew in before me and they were looking over the lake and unpacking their gear. 
Our quarters for the week, cabin #2: Photo by Bill Taylor
We went to the lodge to meet the other guest. There were seven guests for the week. Frank Abramczyk was from Cincinnati OH, he has made many trips to Saltery Lake Lodge. Frank, the father of Geoff made several trips to Saltery Lake when Geoff was much younger. Geoff has guided at the lodge for the past five years. Dick Compton was from Sacramento CA, he has made several trips over the years to Saltery Lake. He enjoys steelhead fishing in California with his spey and switch rods. Dick fishes the Missouri River and told stories of the Trinity. New to the lodge is Chuck and Mary, a couple from Sacramento. They discovered Saltery Lake lodge from conversations with Dick. They are in the same California fishing club.

A young eagle near our cabin, later found the nest: Photo by Bill Taylor
After lunch, we went back to the cabins to get in our waders and set up our 8 wt. rods. Rod and Bill went to the lower hole, a favorite spot for Rod. I walked the lakeshore and started to fish above the river. The day was cloudy with an occasional light rain and a light wind from the pass (north). There was a rainbow that briefly came into view. Rod saw it at the lower hole and captured a bear, eagle and rainbow in the same frame.
The bear is in the water, the eagle is perched in the a tree with a rainbow near by:
Photo by Rod Pennington

I was fishing to the north of Rod and Bill in the lake where I saw the other end of the rainbow. The end of the rainbow was near the mouth of Lake Creek. A place where Sean's ashes were dispersed last year.

A rainbow end's at Lake Creek

It did not take very long before I hooked a silver salmon. I was using a pink/purple #4 Clouser minnow, which proved to be a good fly last year. There were brown bear sightings on the lake; a mother and cub on the west side and a two year old with fishing lure hanging from his ear. No one knows the story how the lure became attached to the bear, but it helped to identify him. We called him Bling. We would see him many more times throughout the week.

One of many bears we saw throughout the week
Geoff and Brant were on duty as guides with the guest. Bryan was at the lodge making runs with the ATV, on a return trip to the water. Bryan spotted a bear and slowed down. The bear was confused, since there were people in front of him near the river; the bear turned and ran into Bryan’s path and the bear was hit in the rear. The bear was not hurt and ran off into the brush in the other direction. We fished until 6:00 PM; the three of us managed to catch and released twenty-four silver salmon. (K14R4B6 t24)

September 22, 2014 (Monday): Breakfast was served at 8:00 AM with coffee ready to by 7:30 AM. With everyone seated at the table, Edie called out a bear on the lawn. Every one jumped from their chairs to watch the bear from the lodge. I was able to capture his presence with my IPhone and saved the video for my Grandson Desmond. 

After breakfast, Rod made the hike to the lower hole and made his way back to the lake later in the day. Bill and I fished the lake using pink/purple Clouser minnows. It was a sunny day after the fog lifted off the lake. There were a number of bear sightings with the bears walking the lakeshore looking for fishing opportunities and weak sockeye spawning in the shallow waters. Even with the bright sun, the fishing was exceptional. The three of us managed to save six silvers salmon for the ice box with a total fifty-one salmon to hand for the day. (K30R12B9 t51)

September 23, 2014 (Tuesday): The day was clear after the fog lifted. The air temperature was unseasonably warm near seventy degrees. During breakfast there was a different visitor, a red fox name Russian made his rounds about the lodge. He was not too concerned for me and I suspect he was looking for a handout. I captured a short video of him. We saw him a few more times during our stay.

Rod and Bill started the day at the lower hole. Bill was casting his 8 wt. TFO rod and the rod failed; it broke in half. He did not know why, it just fell apart in midair. Needless to say, he hiked back to the cabin to retrieve his other rod. It was almost noon, when he was fishing next to me in the lake. The fishing was good with a few good hook sets and then a hook would find a dorsal fin or tail. It can be said, a foul hooked fish can be twice as difficult getting to shore. Many of these salmon were in the 12 lb. to 15 lb. range. In years past, the salmon weighed 10 lb. to 12 lb. on average. Bill was fifty yards from me when I heard a gasp. He broke his Redington rod on a salmon. He was landing the fish without a net. The salmon was near the water’s edge and bolted for deeper water. Bill had his rod pointed up and behind, shattering the rod with the run. Bill was out of fly rods. Geoff was kind enough to loan his rod for the rest of the day. That evening, Bill rented a rod from the lodge for the rest of the week.

Twelve paces from Bling: Photo by Rod Pennington

Same event with different perspective: Photo by Bill Taylor

When Bill left to get Geoff’s rod I was on the west shore by myself. A call went out telling me a bear was on his way to greet me. I was standing in the water when Bling came up behind me. I let Bling know my location; he kept walking closer to me and stood at the water’s edge checking me out. He finally moved on; the bear came within twelve paces of me. We had another close encounter on Friday.

 Here is a YouTube video of the close encounter:

The video was too large to upload on blog.

There was a group of fishermen that would come in from the city of Kodiak. The leader’s name was Dale; he was the guide and supplier of ATVs. He would bring out a different group of fishermen each day. On this day, a father and two sons were fishing together on the opposite side of the lake. They were throwing spinners having issues with their equipment. They hooked a few fish than one of the sons started swearing and cussing due to a fish taking all of the line from a spinning reel. It wasn’t thirty minutes that I had a fish on and noticed monofilament line had crossed my line. I released the fish and started to retrieve the line by hand, there was still a fish on the other end. I kept pulling and finally the fish came off, by the time all of the line was wrapped on my hand I figured there was 200 yards of line. It was stowed away in my pocket and later gave to Brant as a souvenir. The three of us had another good day of catching with forty-four fish caught.
(K22R16B6 t44)

Bryan netting a silver salmon for Rod: Photo by Bill Taylor

September 24, 2014 (Wednesday): We made plans the day before and it was discussed before we left for Alaska; a trip to Rough Creek. Rough Creek is on the west side of Bread loaf Mountain. Last year, Rod GPS our positions and determined the hike, day spent walking up Rough Creek to the north side of the mountain and the return trip was six miles. It was a challenging walk with waders and dressed to fish cold water. We walked across the lower reaches of Saltery Lake and hiked to Rough Creek. 
A short walk along a Beaver pond to Rough Creek: Photo by Rod Pennington

We had an encounter with two bears before reaching Bread Loaf Mountain. There was almost an impasse with us walking west along the lakeshore and the bears working the shore towards us. The bears finally took to the high ground and we were able to proceed. Rough creek was low and gin clear with silvers filling the pools. The scenery and remoteness was the reason for our return, the three of us truly enjoy and savor the time fishing Rough Creek. 

Rough Creek provides pristine scenery: Photo by Bill Taylor

The silvers we caught were in the 12 lb. range. We caught six and we were very happy with the day’s adventure. We left the river and hiked back around 4:30 pm and finished our day back at Saltery Lake and fished until 6:30 pm. We caught more salmon for our fish box. The day ended with Bling fishing the lakeshore and moving in our direction. We had five fish on a stringer and did not want the bear discover them. So, Brant took the fish across out of the path of the traveling bear. (K6R5B4 t15)

Brant and Bill posing with a bear in the background

September 25, 2014 (Thursday): Today we fished the lake until 11:30 am, and then we loaded up in the soccer mom Toyota SUV and made a trip to Ugak Bay. This is the where the Saltery River flows into the bay with a large estuary area where the buffalo roam and wild horses run free. We saw a number of buffalo on our trip to the bay. We saw fifty harbor seals in the water watching us from the brackish water of Saltery River; some of the seals came within casting distance. 

A super cub making a pass before landing next to us: Photo by Bill Taylor

Before we walked out to the seashore, a single engine super cub made a pass over us and came around and landed next to our vehicle on a short dirt/sea shell trail. The pilot landed the plane and motored back to us. He jumped out and introduced himself and his buddy. He name was Eric, a state trooper on Kodiak Island. He and his friend were out scouting buffalo with a hunt planned for the following week. They spent about thirty minutes with us before taking off, heading back to the city of Kodiak. 
Eric standing next to his Super Cub: Photo by Rod Pennington

We walked a half-mile to the seashore waded into the salt water and fished for an hour. We walked the beach looking for treasurers; only found dead crabs, scallop shells, oyster shells and sea urchins. We made it back to our vehicle only to find the rising tide filled our trail with three feet of salt water.
To pass the time for the tide to go out, we fished the brackish water from some high banks. 

Brant fishing the surf: Photo by Bill Taylor

It took an hour before the tide reversed. I waded down the trail and started to work my way up the lower Saltery River. I looked for holding pools where fresh salmon could hold. I did find a pool with a dozen or more salmon. Brant took Rod and Bill back to the lake and I stayed to fish with Brant returning an hour later. On the first cast, I hooked up and released a silver salmon. I managed to break off three more salmon with the fish taking me to brush piles that broke my leader. I caught four Dolly Varden near the salmon hole with all fish released. I saw a large bear moving in the same area a video was shot three years ago with Rod and Sean, with the bear in the same frame. The bear saw me and moved in the other direction. Brant and I fished until 6 PM, making it back in time for dinner. (K2R10B4 t16)

Rod reflecting at the estuary: Photo by Bill Taylor

September 26, 2014 (Friday): The day was overcast with a late afternoon rain that fell into the night. The wind picked up in the morning with white caps on the lake mid-afternoon. Rod and Bill started in the lower hole and finished the day with me in the lake. There were only a few fishermen coming in by AVT from the city of Kodiak. One of the fishermen was Bill Franklin, a former co-host of the lodge with Doyle Hatfield, who retired when their lease was up a few years ago. He was doing well with plans to builds cabin on 25 Acres on the opposite shore of Ugak Bay. He traded his plane in for a boat and spends plenty of time on the water fishing.

The fishing was good with a windy day and solid clouds blocking the sun. We hooked many salmon with all fish released. We filled two fifty lb. boxes of silver salmon and they returned with us on the plane trip back to Springfield.

End of our fishing, walking back to the lodge: Photo by Bill Taylor

It was a challenging day for me. I saw an eagle flying near me and went for the camera to get a picture. My camera was missing from the front pouch in the waders. I retraced my steps back to shore and saw the camera three feet under water; with a fish landing net I was able to recover the camera. Thank goodness it’s waterproof. The second mishap was falling into the water walking backwards trying to net a fish for Rod. Thank goodness the waders go high above my chest; I did not get wet inside. The third mishap was getting spooled by a fish. I was using a large arbor reel (these have less backing capacity). The salmon took off for the lodge, it was probably fouled hooked. Needless to say, the reel was picking up speed as the line ripped out. I tried to slow the fish down with a hand drag, and saw there was very little backing left. I ran down the shoreline, it did not help and all the line was lost; leader, new clear sinking line, and backing. I was spooled!!! I walked back to the cabin and exchanged rod and reels.

We watched a coast guard helicopter flying into and out of the nearby mountain passes. We found out that evening a hunter was reported missing and there was a search party out looking for him. We never did know what happened to him. I checked the local newspaper on line. Noted there was news of the missing hunter but did not read if he was found. Our last encounter with Bling was near our last hour to fish.

Bling came walking down the lakeshore. We let him know our position and he darted off to a high stone ledge near us. Ten minutes later, he walked up behind us and continued his journey walking the water’s edge looking for fish. It was he’s way to say good-bye. It was great video footage.

We finished our day and final opportunity to fish this trip by getting our last cast last fish. I was the last to leave the lake as the day passed to evening and the rain began to fall. I made it back to the lodge in time for dinner. (K18R10B6 t34)

September 27, 2014 (Saturday): After Breakfast, we gathered our gear and prepared to fly out. There was a gust of wind blowing through the pass with a chop on the water. Rod, Bill and Janelle were the first to fly out at 9:30 AM. I followed them an hour later with Dick.

Bryan, Edie and Brant bidding us farewell

Before leaving Saltery Lake, I walked to Lake Creek to bid farewell to Sean and hoped to see a bear. A bear was spotted; it was shy and stayed under cover and in the trees. I noticed the tree where the eagles often perched, a nest nearly out of sight in the summer. With the leaves falling, the nest was visible in the upper reaches of the tree. Then I realized the reason for the eagles’ always in view and constantly flying overhead. This was their summer home. With winter coming on, they will move on to places where food is available. They may even fly to Missouri to winter over… one never knows.

Fly back to Springfield, out of Kodiak with a red eye out of Anchorage: 
Photo by Bill Taylor 

Our trip back to Springfield was uneventful. The red eye flight out of Anchorage to Denver was uncomfortable with cramp quarters, no space for my legs. By the time we landed in Springfield we were exhausted. The flight back is one of a few negative aspects of the trip. We brought back five boxes of fish, many memories of large salmon and great video footage of bears. 

If you have questions or want to know more about Saltery Lake Lodge check out their web site:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September: Roaring River State Park, first campout for Des

Jenn, Brent, Des and I had the opportunity to camp and fish Roaring River State Park for a three-day weekend. On Thursday and Friday the days were hot with temperatures in the mid-nineties. There was a thunderstorm that moved through Saturday morning with a few sounds of thunder and a soft rain until 8:30 AM. Saturday was cooler with temperatures reaching into the mid-seventies with a cloudy day to fish.

September 4, 2014 (Thursday): I left early Thursday morning and met Fred Fregin at Village Inn before driving on the Roaring River.  Fred and I drove in separate vehicles and made it to the park before noon. I picked out a campsite and paid for the two nights. Fred and I fished in zone one for a few hours before stopping to take a break from the sun and heat. We went back to the campsite, which had plenty of shade. We sat in the shade exchanging stories and sipping cool water. Fred returned to Springfield at 4:30 PM, with Jenn and Des coming in after 7 PM. I fished the wading area near the campsite in zone two; it was refreshing to wet wade in the cool waters of the spring creek with the given heat. Des and Jenn were in by 7 PM, with dinner delivered and served by Jenn. After dinner, we relaxed by the campfire, checking out the northern sky. We had a strong flash light that allow us to point out stars and constellations. Des found the seven stars of the big dipper and could locate the North Star. We did stay up to 11 PM, hoping to see some passing satellites, but the moon was too bright with the moonlight washing out the sky. It was a quiet night, even the raccoons made it to our campsite without waking us; they took a bag of chocolate, gram crackers and marshmallows.
September 5, 2014 (Friday): We woke at 7:30 AM; it was a bright sunny day. The coffee was made with a breakfast burrito for each of us. We fished to waters near our campsite. There was a gentle sloping gravel bar in complete shade throughout the day and cool waters to soak our feet. The fishing was good but the catching was more difficult this day. It could have been the sound of rocks being thrown in the water, the movement of small feet along the water’s edge. Needless to say we caught a few trout and that was enough. I packed a small net and we scrubbed a few rocks and moved some gravel to find some under water bugs; aquatic worms, scud, mayfly nymph, snail and leaches. Jenn and Des sat down and looked them over and stretch an illustration of each insect in Des’s notebook. 

Checking out the water bugs
We stopped for lunch at noon, with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and apple cider from Murphy’s Orchard. After lunch, Jenn and Des decided to check out the Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center. Des was given full attention with hands on activities, information about stream team and checking out skull bones from a beaver and blue heron. I returned to the water looking for enough trout for supper. 

Nap time for Des
Brent was to leave Springfield at 4:30 PM and meet us for dinner at 7 PM. I finished the day with just enough trout and when Brent arrived we started to prepare dinner. After dinner, we started a campfire and watched the sky. There were clouds building to the north and signs of rain. The sky to the south was clear. Brent brought the telescope and we focused on the moon with a great view of the craters and landscape. Brent spent some time with the image and captured the moon with his IPhone. The moon was very bright this night so we did not have the opportunity to look at planets. 

The moon as seen from Roaring River SP: Photo by Brent Simmons
We spent the rest of the evening sitting by the campfire and fixing some smores. The clouds to the north continued to build and I figured rain before sunrise.
September 6, 2014 (Saturday):  There a light rain that fell until 8:30 AM. Des was in my face asking for breakfast. We started the coffee and had breakfast on the plates in a short time. The threat of rain remained through the morning and we decided to break camp. Jenn had a wedding to official, Brent wanted to get back to Springfield and visit with his mother, Carol. We had to take tents down, cots to disassembled and damp sleeping bags roll up. Brent and Des left by 10:30 AM. Jenn and I fished together for a short time before she left. I stayed and fished until 4 PM. The day remained cloudy with an occasional light rain. The trout were taking #20 Adams with the best results pulling them under and using a quick strip.
Roaring River State Park is a family friendly camping and fishing area. I camped there when Jenn and Sean were the same age as Des is today. We have many fond memories from twenty-five years ago and now making them with Desmond.