Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 Alaska Trip: Days Three and Four

The sun came up early and we found that we were headed to the Ugashik Narrows in the big brother of the Beaver, the De Havilland Otter. The Otter has a much higher payload and was able to transport our whole group the seventy minutes to our destination.

On the way we came across a few mountains that seemingly rose straight out of the tundra.

As you fly over the tundra you realize that there is water everywhere. It is absolutely filled with pothole lakes and ponds, and criss-crossed with meandering rivers.

The Ugashik Narrows are a small stretch of moving water that connects Upper Ugashik Lake about 500 yards down to Lower Ugashik Lake. After landing at the intlet at the upper a few of us headed towards the outlet to see what we could find. Along the way I drifted a bead rig, and it did not take long to hook up!

In addition to Char, the Grayling were around and feeding heavily. This was the biggest one I caught to this point on the trip. I have heard so-so things about the fight they put up but found nothing lacking with them at the Narrows as they tried to bulldog their way through the current.

With the distinctive dorsal and shimmering coloration, these Grayling were stunning.

After getting a few fish under our belt on bead rigs Greg decided to try swinging streamers and, after he hooked up on seemingly the first drift, Patrick and I quickly followed suit. What followed was perhaps the best day of swinging streamers I have ever had or even heard of. By the end of the day we had landed well over a hundred fish on the swing including Grayling, Arctic Char, Rainbows, Sockeye and Lake Trout!

The flats section that was between the inlet and outlet was jam packed with Sockeye. The population of Sockeye there ensured that there were plenty of Char and Grayling around.

My favorite fish of the day, and perhaps the trip, was this oversized Arctic Char. The coloration of the fish was amazing, but to see it required I regain my line and backing a few times. This fish was not happy about being hooked and landed!

My biggest Grayling of the trip came as Greg and I were making our way back towards where the plane would be picking us up. This fish taped out over 18" and was as thick as my forearm.

Such a cool fish. I can't wait to fish for them again, hopefully with dries.

After two days of flyouts I felt about as lively as this moose...

The weapon of choice for my streamer fishing was the 8WT Mystic M-Series. This 10'3" rod had plenty to get the fly where I needed it and handle the fish once they were hooked up. This particular picture highlights the traditional Scandi that did very well for me throughout the week.

Day four found me back on the Naknek River. As we were cruising around we came across the bear that is likely the same bear we had around camp each night. This guy was not happy about the motor on the boat...

They say that musky are the fish of 10,000 casts, but this day made it seem that Silvers have the same frustrating propensity. I was nearly eight hours of the day in before I hooked up with my first silver. It was a beast of a fish that after a minute of rolls and leaps threw my hook...and I then threw my rod. At that point I was pretty salty about it but the video of it, that may makes it's way out some day, was pretty funny. Unfortunately I hooked up and lost another fish, then another fish, and another fish before on literally my last cast of the day I hooked up and landed a Silver. It was an amazing fight and I was lucky enough to win that round.

In discussion that evening we decided that perhaps a standard shanked hook provided too much leverage, so next time I chase Coho I will be prepared with stingers. I am not sure if it was all the casting in the wind, but I slept very well after that fish.

It was good that I did as I would need to be alert the next two days on bear infested Margot Creek and Brooks River!

-mike schmidt


  1. Great stuff Mike. I am really enjoying this one. I look forward to reading about the rest of the trip.

  2. Some great fish Mike. Such a variety. Those char and grayling are awesome, definitely on the life list.