Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Wonderful Salmon Fork of the Black 2014

Well, this year I had the great pleasure to accompany my brother Robb on my trip down the Salmon Fork of the Black River. Robb lives in Austria where he has made his home with his wife Gerti and two girls for thirty some years, so we haven't had the chance to spend much time together since we were kids, only seeing each other for weddings and funerals.

I had looked forward to this float even more than usual for over a year.

We made the boat and our gear ready to start the trip on the banks of the Salmon Fork at my normal departure spot where the pool is deep enough for the float plane to land near Pink Bluff.

The river was running high due to a very wet summer. The high muddy water made the fishing more challenging than normal, but still, we started catching fish right away. Here's Robb with his first Arctic Grayling, one of many firsts he would experience on the trip.

Robb was fishing with conventional gear while I continued with my obsession with fly fishing. We caught some really beautiful Grayling up to 18 inches long.

I am trying a new fly for this year, a golden minnow.

We saw lots of wildlife, this was the first of two cow-and-calf pairs we saw.

This young bull wasn't very worried about us, they act entirely different when hunters in power boats come by during the hunting season.

This moose hung out with us for a bit while we fished the mouth of Salmon Village Slough.

When we first arrived at Salmon Village Slough, the sheefish were jumping from the water with real enthusiasm. Robb and I both hooked several.

Sheefish like really big, flashy flies like the Salmon River Smolt.

We also caught a few pike at the mouth of the slough, this one could not resist the Golden Minnow.

Robb caught the biggest Northern Pike of the trip, this thirty-seven incher.

Along with the moose, we saw two black bears....

and this handsome young wolf.

Robb is a very avid bird watcher. We identified lots of birds-of-prey as well as other species.

This was pretty interesting, two fledgling bald eagles that made it to the point where they could almost fly. It's my understanding that it is not common for two chicks to make it.

We saw a pair of these great horned owls, and three nesting pairs of peregrine falcons.

Even though the water was high, we found comfortable camp sights every night.

Sheefish are very good eating, especially fresh from the river.

Life is rough on the river. Fresh grayling, fry bread and noodles in Alfredo sauce is hard to beat after a day on the river.

With the high water, the biting bugs were bad at times, a smudgy fire helped keep them out of camp.

 For breakfast it's hard to beat meat on a stick, these are breakfast sausages.

After browning the sausage we wrapped it in dough and toasted it.

These were so good we had a couple.
At times even a smudgy fire didn't help repel the bugs. The head nets provided by our brother Brian for this trip sure came in handy. Thanks Bri, for the socks and the head lamps too.

Yummy, this concludes the fine-dining portion of our story.

The river was quite beautiful and the silence was the best part.
Why would you want to be anywhere else?

We spent part of a morning with these young otters, three in all. They were as curious about us as we were about them.

In several places along the river we could see where bears were digging swallows out of nests in the banks of the river.

Like I said, life is rough on the river. Robb took over the oars for a while so I could get a much needed and well deserved nap. All in all, it was a great trip, we managed to survive. Next stop, Chalkyitsik where....

Robb took time to play with the local children.

and the children took time to play with the local ground squirrels.

This guy lived near the post office, he was quite used to the people coming and going. He didn't mind helping himself to our food box where he found some corn tortillas that he really liked.

 While we were in Chalkyitsik we helped our host pick his personal use net. He caught sheefish, chum salmon and king salmon.

All good things must come to an end and this one does too. Our gear waits to be loaded for the trip back to Fairbanks.

Thanks for checking it out, next time, fly fishing in Sitka.


  1. Thanks for the great blog post and for the great time we had!

  2. I always loved this river and you made this trip better, and your photography made this blog better. The pleasure was mine, we gotta do it again some time, maybe a river with salmon, trout, and char in it. Oh yeah, and different birds too.