Sunday, September 25, 2016

September: Back to Alaska... Fishing Saltery Lake on Kodiak Island

Friday: We left Springfield at 6 AM and flew to Chicago then on to Anchorage before landing on Kodiak near 5 PM ... It were a good trip; a smooth flight and I recommend Alaska Airline. We had a meal at Henry’s near the harbor and ran into Janelle on our way out.

Saturday: 7 AM Rod and I fished on U-Rascal with Chris (Captain) and Becca first mate. There were three fellows from Az? Three women from China. We caught a limit of rock fish, four small halibut, a dozen King Salmon and a few Pacific Cod. The day started calm with the wind blowing from the north in Ugak bay. We did see a couple whale and puffins. Chris kept fishing until 1830; he gave us a full day on the sea to load up on salt water fish.

Sunday: Dave contacted us and we meet him at the airport. Dave’s newly purchased Cessna has wheels embedded under the pontoons. Alanna and Dick met us at the Hotel. We made it to the lodge by 10:30 AM; in waders and on the water before everyone else arrived and before lunch. The silvers were in the lake, probably older fish and limited numbers. I managed to keep a male and released two other fish. There were a few dolly hooked and a twenty inch jack salmon, all released. The day was dry with a few clouds; it was good to get back to familiar water near Saltery Lake. I saw a mama bear and a pair of cubs on the gravel at the outflow of Lake Creek.

Monday: We started in familiar waters near the lodge. I hooked four silver salmon in the upper hole keeping one. Later, moved back to the lake where there were a few other fellows from the lodge fishing. No one was hooking silvers with a few fish seen breaking water. We hung around until lunch time, stopped at noon for a bite. After lunch, shuttled to the mouth of Rough Creek; Rough Creek now meets Saltery behind the berm, forming a Tidal lake. Most of the silvers were caught in a short time. I walked up stream to look for silvers; I did not find any in the holes or fish moving on the shoals. The day was warm with sunny skies. The forecast for the next few days indicated winds blowing out of the south, then a significant change in the weather; rain and high wind gust on Tuesday.

Tuesday: We woke to rain that lasted throughout the day, into the evening and past midnight. There was an immature eagle hanging around me most of the day while fishing, sitting on a limb nearby or flying overhead. With the storm and predicted high winds, we stayed near the lodge. I had the lake to myself; the others from the lodge fished the upper and lower holes. I managed to turn five salmon in the lake but they did not want to chase a fly. It was near lunch time and the others returned to the lodge. I walked down stream looking for silvers in the holes; there were a few silvers lying river right at the lower hole. Farther downstream in the shallow depths, only to last of spawning sockeye salmon  moving in the shallow shoals; it was too low to hold silvers. After a short wade farther downstream came to bed spring (a popular hole), a narrow, deep run holding twenty plus silvers. I was able to get two fish to shore and hiked back to the lower hole taking the ATV trail. I met Jim at the lower hole at the river's edge and Chris was in the water retrieving a lure for Jim. Chris was kind enough to take the salmon back to the lodge for me, and I was able to fish a bit longer before supper time.

Wednesday: The day was dry with partly cloudy skies; due to the recent rain not sure how the far downstream the group could fish. The lake came up 6-8 inches from yesterday’s rain. We stay near the lodge and I fished the lake until noon; I was able to catch two silvers, keeping one bright fish. I took the fish back to the lodge and had lunch the rest of the group; they had returned much earlier and they were nearly finished with lunch. The plan for the afternoon was to drive to the lower Saltery and Rough Creek. We caravan three vehicles to Rough Creek, there was twice the flow of water with some challenges crossing the creek and setting up to fish. There was no activity, or moving fish… after an hour it was decided to move to the lower Saltery River. I managed to take another silver Coho before the day of fishing came to close. I saw a beaver swimming out in front of me; it was the only time we can in eye contact for the week.

Thursday: We started at the lower Saltery River near the estuary. There were a few city fishermen already fishing and traveling the trails. Rod went below and he said there were no fish seen in the straight away. I fished above the crossing and caught a large dolly and saw one fish hanging under some bush. Matt and Elliot decided to retreat back to the lower and upper holes near the lodge, there were a few silvers caught with short time. I eventually moved to the lake and late afternoon with shadows from the nearby hill covering a small section of water. Finally, I was able to hook a few silvers, using a purple closer brought to hand eleven fish. Rod and I fished until 5 pm before calling it a day. I saw a fox on both sides of the lake; they appeared different with the markings and color. I watched the fox across from me jumping and pouncing several times, probably had a rodent cornered.

Friday: The last day to fish. It was a sunny day the lake level receded a more few inches. I decided to stay with the lake, hoping the rain from two days ago would provide a few fresh fish. I had the other side of the lake to myself with Rod fishing with me in the afternoon. We were able to foul hook a few salmon and release them. We could see the bears near Lake Creek. It was a sunny day with a light south wind. Late in the day with shadows covering the lake, a large group of silver Salmon started to move into the lake. I was able to see my fly in the water and moved it towards individual salmon; they wanted no part of it was would move to the side to avoid the fly. I have been in these situations in past years and would catch many salmon. For some reason, the salmon would not go for it. I managed to get my last salmon of the trip out of the upper hole and called it a day. Everyone else had returned to the lodge.

Saturday: This was our last day in Alaska with the all the guest flying out after breakfast. We left in groups of three. Dick, Rod and I had late flights on of Kodiak and it was decided we would go out last. So, we had time to check out the bears. Lake Creek had flowing water, with enough water for the sockeye salmon to move upstream (see video). The bears were busy running the creek, trapping fish under their paws and grabbing them with their teeth. All the bears including the cubs were working on their skill to catch fish. There were two sets of bears; one mama bear had four one year-old cubs. She had her paws full keeping everyone together, but all the bears were up on the river bank eating a fish. The other set of bears was a mama bear with two-year-old twins, occupied the mouth of Lake Creek most of the day, taking fish when the urge struck and eating throughout the day.