SAO Pages

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Alaska Part IV: The Red Salmon

I am fascinated by the large schools of Sockeye jumping waterfalls and being caught in mid air by hungry grizzly bears! HD Television and the Discovery channel do a great job of making you feel like your standing next to the production crew. For years I have watched, just waiting for the opportunity to head north.

To finally arrive in Alaska and experience the wildness and fishery first hand has created an addiction I will need to feed for the rest of my life. What TV fails to provide is the tingling sensation on your neck when a 1200 pound grizzly sneaks up behind you, and proceeds to fish well with in your comfort zone! This was something that you learn to come to grips with and soon appreciate.

The shear numbers of sockeye layered in the pools is mind boggling! It did not take too long to realize how important the sockeye was to every living creature on this land. Humans, bears, Birds, eagles, char, trout, etc... depend on the red salmon flesh & Eggs to sustain them through the long winter. It was a time of plenty and nothing goes to waste.

Estuaries such as this looked like the water was stained with pure blood, as thousands of Sockeye were constantly pouring into the streams. Large Rainbow trout and Char were strategically placed among the salmon gorging themselves on drifting eggs and flesh. Watching the Grizzly bears tear into salmon after salmon put alot of food in the drift, and watching the char feed in and spar for feeding lanes was extremely entertaining.

Every good group of salmon was followed, patrolled, and preyed on by the large Char and Rainbow Trout. Fishing egg imitations on the out side edges of schools like this produced alot of good fish. At first you were excited to catch Sockeye along with the Char and Trout, but after a day of landing these red beasts you started to feel like there numbers would get in the way of your drifts. What a problem to have right? Too many fish in the way! LOL!!!

Sockeye half eaten my a grizzly becomes food for wolf, birds, and the weak and old. Nothing but bone will remain in this highly utilized Eco System.

This is what the Red Salmon made possible for me. The opportunity and chance to catch and release Large Arctic Char! A dream come true and something I have always wanted to catch on the fly.

Watching huge fat grizzly bears crash into the stream from the near by alders and high grass was awe inspiring!! It also scared the living s**t out of you time and again. The old saying of turning white and resisting the urge to scream like a little girl would describe this situation perfectly. Its not like I have 1500 pound bears back home on the Alley to worry about, so it took a day...or two to get use to the whole bear thing.. In the end I feel like I won and overcome my fear of being bear food.

Greg Standing on a large boulder fighting a large Char that was sitting behind a school of sockeye. Everyday since I have arrived back home, I found myself day dreaming of my stay in AK. So much to do and so little time to do it..

The Prize of the Sockeye runs! Big Colorful Char, My pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I have never held a fish that was as beautifully colored and as mesmerizing in 20 plus years of fly fishing. I felt full filled and a sense of accomplishment and true appreciation for being granted this opportunity.

For their size, I was amazed at how agile these big bears could move to catch salmon. Along the streams you see alot of large holes that are dug out by the bears just to put their bellies in while they rest.

Sockeye on Dry Flies? I spent a good amount of time swinging and stripping mouse patterns in search of Rainbow Trout. The mouse would slash over the school of sockeye, and next thing you know this large green alligator jaw would
poke through the surface and take off with your dry! It was an added bonus and happened quite often through out the day.

Sockeye are very territorial and aggressively attacked patterns such as woolly buggers, egg sucking bunnies, and small sculpins. When hooked their wide bodies are tough to turn and make for one heck of a battle.

John Clouser fights a trophy sized arctic Char that took a tangerine colored egg. We were all amazed at the number of 20 plus inch trout and char in the streams. Add that to the line busting runs, the wildness setting, and the terrific company it makes for a great time.

Standing over a pod of sockeye, and watching the Char feeding on the far outside edge of the school. The next photo shows why we were so excited.

I was able to get a hand on the char from the pool above. Dave fought him like a champ! The funny thing was just minutes after this fish was released he was back feeding! These fish don't waste anytime...

John with a trophy class sockeye!

Sharing water with some of the locals.

Joel with a Trophy Red.

Solitude and Trout on the fly.

Dave with a nice fly caught Red.

Talk about being shuffled out of your hole!

Craig with a sockeye on the 4wt.

Eric with a red salmon from the mouth of the Brooks River.

This grizzly decided to fish directly across from us.

School of Red Salmon

Swinging and drifting buggers and leeches produced alot of strikes.

Sockeye that smacked a mouse pattern.

Alaska will be forever a place I visit! Counting down the days already!! We will be hosting back to AK again next year, and we are already taking those RSVP's. If you are interested in spending a week with us, we would love to have you. We can be contacted at 419-466-9382 or
Steelhead season is right around the corner, but we need alot of rain to get it started. Our Ohio and PA steelhead Alley reports are current every week through out the entire year. The report is located right next to the blog entries on the top right hand side. We will keep you updated!
Until next time....
Greg Senyo
Owner/Operator SAO

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