Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Innoko River, do it yourself pike, July 2013

The Innoko River in western Alaska is well known for it's great number of large northern pike so when I was planning a trip to that neck of the woods for a float trip on the Salmon and Aniak rivers for salmon, trout and char I decided to combine it with a trip to the Innoko River. I figured it would save on travel expenses if i did them both. The plan was to book a fully outfitted eight day float on the Salmon and Aniak Rivers and do a do it yourself, four day trip on the Innoko with my Russian Army surplus folding kayak and MREs for grub.

Mike and I flew to the small village of Shagaluk on July 19th to begin the first leg of our journey. Shagaluk is the only village on the Innoko river. A native fellow named Randy was there to meet the small plane and he was willing to take us and all of our gear to a landing on the river a short distance away. Upon arrival at the landing, we found the river to be everything we had heard it was. It was big, wide and slow moving. The banks were full of knee deep mud and the mosquitoes were voracious. We put the boat together as fast as we could and cut some brush to give us something to walk on to keep from sinking into the mud, we loaded up the gear and got out on the river. Out on the river the bugs were not so bad.

On our approach to the Shagaluk, we could see that the river was running murky with mud from resent rains but the sloughs feeding into the river were clear. We knew we would need to fish the sloughs to have any luck. It was already starting to get late so we headed for the mouth of the very first slough we saw. Once in the slough we checked a few possible camp sights and settled on the third place we checked. The bank there was also knee deep mud, it was quite a struggle to get all the gear unloaded and up the banks with the mud trying to suck the shoes off of our waders with every step, and then there were the bugs.

The 20 foot Russian army surplus folding kayak carried us and 300 pounds of gear nicely. It was a little harder to get in and out of and travel around in than a canoe.

Here's the tackle we would start out with, on the top, a six weight with floating line, an eight pound leader and a moose hair frog. middle, a nine weight with sinking line, a 20 pound leader and minnow pattern. On the bottom, an eight weight with shooting head, twenty pound leader and the Salmon Fork Smolt.

We learned how to make the camp comfortable, we used the axe to smooth out the tussocks under the tent and cut wood for a walk way to the boat.

The kayak carried us smoothly over the water, it is a little awkward when you are used to a canoe.

We were zipped up in the tent away from the bugs one evening and heard a commotion in the river, we looked out to see this bull moose swimming the river, apparently, we were camped in a moose trail. A day or two later we saw a cow and calf moose crossing at the same place.

It wasn't long before we were catching fish. The slough itself did not hold many feeding pike, but the mouth of the slough had lots, and they were active. The weather was overcast the first whole day, but the bugs were not bad.

This was the first of many we would catch this size, but we were hoping for bigger ones.

This one was caught on a needle fish pattern tied for the Sitka trip

A 14 pound pike caught on eight pound test and the Innoko Pikey Minnow, Pike are well known for eating their own kind, we saw large pike chasing pike minnows quite a bit.

All of these fish were returned unharmed except what we kept to eat in camp.

Mike and I were both catching fish, we had several double hook-ups.

This one was caught on a Salmon Fork Smolt

We caught several in the 10 to 14 pound range, 30 to 36 inches long.

The fly box, Salmon Fork Smolts, Innoko Pikey Minnows and Moose Hair Frogs.

The weather cleared up on the second day, and the fishing was great.

This was the first look we got at my big one.

This is the first look he got of us.

This was my biggest one, he is 38 3/8 inches long and 22 pounds, he was caught on a Salmon Fork Smolt with a 6 weight rod and 8 pound leader.

Here he is with the battered fly. These toothy guys were very hard on flies. The jaw spreaders were really helpful in getting the flies out and releasing the fish unharmed.

We didn't eat only MREs, Meals Ready to Eat, we had fresh fish with most of our meals at camp. Some people don't care to eat pike because of the "Y" bones, but they aren't a big problem in medium size fish.

The mouth of the slough looking toward the camp sight. This is where we caught many of our big fish. 
The weather stayed nice for the rest of the trip.

On the forth day the fish were really biting, and so were the mosquitoes. The head nets were indispensable.

Every good thing must come to an end, back at the airstrip at Shagaluk, the Russian kayak breaks down for the next leg of our trip.

Almost ready for the plane. Mud is all over the gear, we have had enough of the bugs for a while and we are looking forward to clear water trout streams. Next we head to the Salmon and Aniak Rivers to fish for rainbows, char and salmon.

1 comment:

  1. It's fun having a fishing camp with your friends or family. Besides from having a fishing camp, you should try doing a fishing trip with your family.