Friday, October 14, 2016
Paxson Lake, the mouth of the Gulkana River
In the spring, just after the ice goes out the salmon smolt in the Gulkana River make the run to the ocean to begin life in salt water. They are silvery grey with muted spots and are about four inches long. Lake trout from Paxson lake wait in ambush at the outlet of the lake for the young salmon to start their journey. It's a good opportunity for fly fishers to get in on some really exciting fishing. You can see the lakers chasing the smolt and thrashing at them in the riffles.
These are are some smolt patterns I tied for the trip.
My friend and fly fishing consultant Fred DeCicco, a retired fisheries biologist and avid fly fisherman also told me to bring lots of nymphs. Here are some of the nymphs I tied for the trip. The top left one was tied from some hair combed from my chessy/labs coat. I'm practicing tying with found/unusual fibers and feathers for survival readiness.
I also tied up some scuds to bring along for fun.
I brought three rods, a three weight and two six weights.
Grayling are always willing participants. These ones are really pretty and get up to about 18 inches long. They were hitting smolt, nymph and scud imitations.
The three weight was casting really well, the conditions were perfect and I was really able to work on my double haul on it.
The water here is crystal clear. Small to medium dark nymphs worked the best on grayling.
These lake trout up to 3 1/2 pounds are scrappy fighters, they were hitting smolts, scuds and nymphs.
All in all it was a great trip, I added lake trout to my overall list and I caught lots of fish. I wasn't able to catch any broad white fish and add that species to my list.
I did catch a king salmon on a spinning rod, the one and only cast I made with conventional gear. My goal next year is to add the white fish to my list and catch a Paxson lake grand slam, that's lake trout, white fish, grayling and rainbow.