Friday, October 19, 2018

Lake trout in the arctic

In July I was able to get above the arctic circle to Galbraith Lake, I fished it for almost 45 minutes and didn't catch a fish. I switched to one of my originals and caught this laker on the first cast.

He's 32 inches long and 13 pounds. We also got to do some really good wildlife viewing while we were there.

Thanks for looking.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Ice fishing, winter of 2017-'18

I put the fish house out on Quartz Lake for most of the winter. This is not fly fishing obviously, but I am tying the same flies that I fish in the summer on jig heads. It's nice to be able to look through the ice and see how the fish react to the jigs.
 My 28 inch rainbow, my biggest fish this winter and my biggest rainbow through the ice ever.

Here we are again.
 Mike working his magic.

Here's the 28 inch rainbow with the typical fish we catch, 12-14 inch silvers and rainbows.

 A full limit that Jon and I caught.

 Jon actually caught these two but he's allergic to fish so I held them up for the picture. These two rainbows are 24 and 23 1/2 inches long.

 Once in a while we catch a stocked king salmon.

 A limit I caught by myself one day, there's a Quartz lake grand slam in there. A king, a silver, a char and a rainbow (20 inches).

My buddy Steve with a couple nice 'bows.

 A nice mixed catch.

 Some of my best fishing buddies. That's a 24 inch char.

Another limit.

 A 24 inch, a 21 inch and an 18 inch rainbow.

 Some more of my favorite fishing buddies. Jack and Elle with their' Dad, that's Elle's 23 1/2 inch rainbow.

 Travis letting go a 23 1/2 inch rainbow, he'd had already kept one over 18 inches, you're only allowed one a day over 18 inches.
 Another nice catch, I really like these smoked.

I had a great time taking kids fishing this winter.

 Bessie and I caught these.

Ed and Mike helped out on this trip.

Steve and Liam had so much fun the first time they came back again.

Ed, Travis and what's-her-name (Rachelle) were in the house with me on this trip. We caught 127 fish on this day and kept only the ones over 12 inches.

All told, I fished the house 24 times this winter, sometimes by myself and sometimes with other people. We caught 789 fish in the house this season. On my best day I caught 124 fish by myself and on our best day with two or more people in the house we caught 127 fish. It was the all round best winter for fishing Quartz lake.

Fly fishing Sitka Fall 2017

Fly fishing the salt in the fall of 2017. This trip it would be Rick, cuzz he owns the boat, my youngest brother Jon and I. For Rick and I it was our bi-annual trip, for Jon, a recent immigrant from Wisconsin it would be entirely new.

We caught the usual suspects, Black Rocks, Yelloweyes and Silvergreys.

Our first days catch.

We caught Quillbacks and Coppers.

Jon's first ever Yelloweye, and it's a nice one.

A double on really nice Ling Cod.

A nice Silvergray.

Rick caught two Silvergrays on one lure at the same time.
A Canary Rockfish.

Then I caught two black rocks on one lure at the same time.

Then we caught a new species, a Red Line Rockfish. It was caught on conventional gear so it doesn't count toward our all time list of species caught on a fly. It was pretty cool to catch a new species though.
We didn't get to fly fish on this trip much and we didn't catch any new species but it was still a great trip. This will be my last open water trip of the season, next, ice fishing.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sitka Alaska, Spring 2017

May 24th through 30th Rick and I fished the waters north of Sitka for bottom fish with some cutthroat trout fishing thrown in. This is our sixth trip in five years fishing with flies in the salt water north of Sitka.

I didn't introduce any new flies this year but I'm concentrating on refining the proven patterns. Here's the Chichagof Herring, at eight inches long it is intended for ling cod and halibut and does very well on them. It catches rockfish too but many rockfish seem to like to just swim with it instead of eat it.

The Non-Pelagic Squid, our go to fly is exceptionally good for all Alaskan saltwater game fish. Non-Pelagic because it is weighted for fishing near the bottom and sometimes tied weedless to help prevent snagging. I tie it in many different colors but white, with accents of one kind or another, is by far the most attractive to bottom fish.

We flew to Sitka on the morning of  May 24th, readied the E-Fish-Ncy and headed to camp. We took an hour to set up and decided to fit in a short evening fishing trip close to camp. The conditions weren't good for fly fishing so we used the conventional gear and caught this limit of 18 rockfish in one hour.

The weather man was calling for high seas and 15 knot winds for May 25th so we opted for fresh water in an un-named inland lake close to the cabin. In years past people had winched a boat overland to the lake, taking advantage of that boat, we paddled to mouth of a small stream that trickled into the lake at the far end, where we found the Cutthroat Trout that we heard live there. So I added a new species to my all time list of Alaska game fish caught on one of my own patterns.

My second Cutthroat, I was able to catch one on a moose hair mosquito, nymph pattern, and a small smolt pattern.

Rick got in on the fun too with his first ever Cutthroat caught on one of my Salmon River Smolts.

Later that same day, we went to one of  Rick's halibut spots in a protected bay hoping we could fly fish there, but the conditions would not let us. We went with conventional gear and I decided to try out some of my new home made lures. The water was deep, at around two hundred feet and the current strong so I went with my biggest and heaviest home cast lure. At 23 ounces, it was able to go pretty deep, even in a stiff current. I was very surprised to catch this 87 pound halibut the very first time I put this jig in the water.

Day three, still too rough to fly fish, but you can't just sit on the beach waiting for the weather to change. This is a Quill Back Rockfish that was hungry for another one of my hand painted lures.

We had a boat full of very good commercially manufactured lures that consistently catch fish but for some reason my home-made lures were out-fishing the commercial lures five to one and even ten to one on this day. You can buy the two on the right in a raw form commercially and paint them yourself which is what I did, then I dressed the hooks with fur and feathers. The third one from the left is an airplane jig that I made, it glows in the dark and it swims around in circles when jigged. The one on the right is my big one, it's too heavy to jig all the time but really works good when other jigs just won't stay on the bottom.

The third days catch. Some yelloweyes, black rocks, coppers, quills, a ling and three halibut. We are fishing two proxy licenses so half of every days limit gets delivered vacuum packed and frozen to our elderly friends that can't get out anymore.

We saw a few of these guys.

Bowhead whales, We also saw dolphins but we couldn't get the camera on them fast enough.

Forth day, some yelloweyes, quills, coppers, lings and silver grays.

On day five we were able to fly fish for about half of the day. Normally we set up the drift, make a cast toward the structure we want to fish, in the direction of the drift. As we drift closer we pay out just enough line to tickle the tops of the structure as we pass over it. I have been experimenting with sliding a Go Pro camera down the fly line to capture some of the action. If I use the Go Pro camera I usually slide the camera down the fly line after the fish is hooked. The camera makes it harder to fish because you cannot detect a bite as easily with the camera on the line. The camera also pulls the fly down into the rocks more making it much harder to fish and increasing the chances of a snag. On this occasion I made the cast and slid the camera down the string before the catch to see if I could have a look around down there, and maybe video a catch from start to finish, I was in for a surprise.
Catching a Tiger Rockfish on a fly.

  I can't see what I'm recording until I get home and view it. When I got the Tiger Rockfish to the boat I knew what I had but I didn't know how the camera recorded it.

I had been trying to catch a Tiger Rockfish on a fly for five years, and I finally got one.

Here's the Tiger and the camera rig that slides down the line to capture it all. We don't catch a lot of these so after a couple of quick pictures we released it with the deep water release rig.

Our limit for the fifth day, the tiger and many others were released. There are strict limits on all species so when you reach the limit for that species the rest have to be returned to the ocean. In this picture we have Quill Back, Yellow Eye, China, Copper and Black Rockfish, with some Ling Cod.
Catching a Black Rockfish, watch as the ling cod takes a couple of swipes at it.

 Our catch for the sixth day with the comfortable cabin in the background. Rockfish, Ling Cod and Halibut.

On the morning of the seventh day we headed back to Sitka for the trip home. We couldn't resist filling a cooler of fresh fish along the way for some friends back home. Along with those fish was this Copper Rockfish, the biggest I've ever seen.

Rick and I didn't get to fly fish very much on this trip, but that's the way it goes. I was able to add two new species to my all time list of Alaskan game fish caught on an original fly pattern though; Cutthroat Trout and Tiger Rockfish.

Thanks for watching.