Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fly Fishing in Sitka for bottom fish Sept. 2015

Ah, one of my favorite trips of the year fly fishing in the salt out of Sitka. This year, Rick and I invited Steve Davila to join us on our annual trip, he was a pleasure to have along. We headed down on the 22 of Sept. made it out to the cabin and opened it up.
Some new or improved patterns for this year. Across the top; Prawns and Sea Lance patterns. Middle row; Yellow Eye, Tiger Rockfish and Herring imitations. Bottom row; Non-pelagic Squids and China Rockfish imitations.

After getting settled in a little bit we went out for a couple of hours, the water was a little rough so we stayed close and used conventional gear. We caught a few Rockfish.

On the first full day, the 23rd it was a little rough so we switched between fly tackle and conventional gear throughout the day.
The first fish of the day on fly gear, a Black Rockfish on a bright pink Non-pelagic Squid.

Ling Cod like the squids too, this one was a little small so we let it go.

It was getting a little hard to keep a fly one the bottom so I tried conventional gear for a while. It's my dream to catch a ling cod like this on fly gear.

Back to fly fishing, Rick connects with Black Rockfish on a white Non-pelagic Squid.

I decided to switch up flies a little bit, here's a Black Rockfish on a China Rockfish imitation.

A new species for us, a Canary Rockfish on a new fly, a Yellow Eye Rockfish imitation.

I think these and most rock fish species are among the prettiest fish in American waters. We caught another new species on this trip too, the Bocaccio Rockfish. For some reason I'm having trouble finding the pictures of those fish.

  Steve and I with our first full days catch, a limit for three

Rick with a very nice Yellow eye on his favorite fly, a white Non-pelagic Squid.

I have been trying to improve the size of my fly caught Halibut for a couple of years, this is my new all time largest, (the second one I've ever caught, the first one was only about eight inches long so it wouldn't take much to improve upon). This one was taken on a Yellow Eye imitation.
The second days catch
A Yellow Eye Rockfish on a Yellow Eye pattern.

Rick with a Canary Rockfish on a green Non-pelagic Squid.

Steve with two Black Rockfish on the same lure, pretty unusual.

Rick with another Canary Rockfish.

A cooler of fine eating. These fish will be filleted, vacuum packed and in the freezer within 90 minutes of the time we hit the beach.

Third day.
A panoramic view of the cabin and the beach.

 Steve with a nice Black Rockfish, we were able to fill a limit of Black Rocks in less than 30 minutes.

Forth day.
The fifth day, these fish were caught in less than an hour.

Rick and I added two new species to my list of Alaskan game fish caught on an original fly, the Canary Rockfish and the Bocaccio Rockfish for a total of twenty three species.

Summer 2015

Well I don't have much to report for the summer as far as new species on original fly patterns goes but there were a couple of exciting things to talk about.

I worked on my new (used) boat all winter. I had the Ford 460 Marine engine rebuilt, pulled out the old floorboards and waterlogged foam and replaced it with new closed cell foam and aluminum floor boards, reducing the weight of the boat by over 650 pounds. I also put in new electronics, a new combination graph and GPS fish finder and marine radio. We christened the boat the Non-pelagic Squid after one of my most productive (and favorite) original fly patterns for bottom fish in the salt.

Mike Bracken and I tried to fish Quarts lake at ice out but the ice went out so early this year we missed it. Though we were late, we did fish and caught some land locked silvers on nymphs and streamers.

We decided to run down and check out the ice at Paxson Lake. As soon as the ice goes out there you can catch lake trout as they ambush salmon smolt at the mouth of the river on their run to the ocean. The ice looked to be about ready to go out in a week or two, so we made tentative plans to return.

On June 15 we went with my buddy Greg Chapin in his boat to Paxson to fish the mouth of the river. The ice had been out about a week and the lakers and whitefish were at the mouth. I wasn't able to pick any lakers or whitefish up on fly fishing gear but I did do on grayling. Greg and the others did very well with lakers and grayling on conventional gear.

Mike and I tried to fish the mouth of the river at Paxson again a week later with my boat. We brought camping gear and food so that we could spend a couple of days and really concentrate on catching fish on fly tackle. On the way from the boat launch to the mouth of the river we saw an eagle eating on a floating moose carcass and a moose swimming across the lake. As we we neared the mouth of the river the engine quit. We did some deductive reasoning and checked a few things, the brand new fuel pump, with only two hours on it, had broken. This began an ordeal to get back to the boat launch with a gravity feed gas system. When we got back to the boat launch we found two flat tires on the boat trailer. Combined with the boat trouble it would take us 27 hours through the night to get back home.

Next I took my boat down to the Kenai river to dip net at the mouth for red salmon. It was a little hectic with all the boats but still fun.
Some reds fresh from salt water at the mouth of the Kenai.

While down on the peninsula we fished out of deep creek for halibut with conventional gear. The huge tides in Cook Inlet do not lend themselves to fly fishing very well, opportunities are very limited at best.

We spent five days in early August fishing for rock fish, halibut and ling cod out of Seward. The relatively small tides and protected waters around Seward lend themselves very well to fly fishing for bottom fish but I had a full boat (6 people) and I was doing the captain thing so I didn't do any fly fishing. We were, however, able to bring home limits of fish every day with conventional gear.

 Part of a days catch, Silvers, Greenling, Quill Back, Copper, China, and Black Rock Fish

In mid August we went to Valdez and fished for Silvers, Rockfish and Halibut for two days. It is possible to fly fish for bottom fish and Silvers in Valdez when the tides and weather permits. We had four in the boat and it was a quick trip so we didn't use fly tackle. We did catch limits of rock fish and a few silvers each day. We only caught one halibut during the trip.