Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The winter is a time to develop new flies, tie more flies to replace those used up over the summer and go ice fishing. I like to test new flies, and old ones, by adapting them for ice fishing. Ice fishing gives me a rare opportunity to watch fish and see how they react to different fly patterns by watching them through the ice in a darkened fish house. I am not able to present the flies how I might if I was actually fly fishing but I am able to see how enthusiastically certain species of fish might react to a particular fly. So here are gratuitous pictures of fish caught over the winter with fly patterns adapted for ice fishing.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
On October 20th Mike Bracken and I leave Fairbanks to meet the ferry in Homer on the 22nd for our trip to Kodiak Island in quest of Silver Salmon in Terror river and bottom fish in Terror Bay. We also had permits for brown bear in case one came into camp and blacktail deer. This year we were bringing my boat the Non-Pelagic Squid (named after one of my most productive original fly patterns) for transportation and salt water fly fishing.
The Non-Pelagic Squid at rest in Terror Bay at low tide. Despite some limitations with size and problems with the jet plugging up with debris at times the boat performed really well.
Some of the flies I'm taking to Kodiak. Some prawns, some herring, some rockfish imitations and some Atomic Non-Pelagic Squids.
Mike and I met our two guests from Ohio, Kevin Ball and Joe Bettio at the airport in Kodiak on the 23rd. I had met Joe and Kevin on previous trips to Ohio and South Dakota on pheasant hunting trips. Joe had also accompanied us on our trip to Kodiak in the fall of 2013.
We made a real comfortable camp at the head of Terror Bay. Deer would sometimes come out of the woods within a half of a mile.
Joe and I spike camped up the river to find some spawning silver salmon. Joe started out with conventional gear but the line on his rod was too light and they kept breaking it. After a few quick lessons in fly fishing he picked it up and was able to land this nice silver on a crystal egg sucking leach.
A male in full spawning colors. The silvers here are very big, and explosive fighters. This is one of several I caught on a six weight rod with a six pound tippet and the crystal egg sucking leach. These fish were lots off fun to fight with huge runs down the river. One hefty male finally broke the rod with an especially enthusiastic fight. We landed the fish and continued to fish with the broken rod.
A short video of salmon fishing in Terror River.
If you could get your lure or fly through the large schools of pacific cod, you could reach the rockfish and other fish near the bottom.
The other guys were fishing with conventional gear but I was able to add Walleye Pollock like this one, Pacific Cod and Rock Sole to my list of Alaskan Sport Fish caught on an original fly pattern.
Here's Kevin with one of his Rock Sole, although not often kept for table fare, we kept pollock, cod and sole for camp suppers and they were excellent.
Joe with a Quill Back Rockfish...
and a Yelloweye Rockfish
We took a little time out for deer hunting too, this is one of my bucks. We took six deer in all, three nice bucks and three smaller deer for eating.
Joe with his buck
Beside the fishing and deer hunting we had another mission, we were to field test these knives made with steel we smelted in our own back yard with iron ore mined in Alaska. This steel smelted in the traditional Japanese method of making tamahagane performed extremely well. These knives were able to completely skin and butcher three deer before showing even the slightest resharpening. I was very pleased.
We saw bears and marine mammals of all kinds as well as deer and other wild life. It was a great trip.