Rocking the Tongass

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Steelie Mike, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. Steelie Mike

    Steelie Mike Active Member

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    Over the past few years I have been fortunate to be able to go to Sitka, Alaska with a friend who grew up there. Over the last year that friendship has fallen to the wayside. However my love for Southeast Alaska grows. During the fall you can purchase tickets to Alaska for really cheap. When looking up fares last fall, Monkey Fly, my girlfriend Elizabeth and I decided to purchase tickets and spend a week in Sitka. We were in agreement that this trip would not be just a fishing trip, but also an opportunity to do some hiking and site seeing. Well that just so happened to be this last week, and we had a blast.

    We fished several areas as well as did several hikes. One was a ten mile monster that took you into the Tongass National Park. This trail went along Indian River. This River was chalked with Pink Salmon. Lots of Pink Salmon! You could not fish for Salmon in this river because of several reasons. Mainly it went through Downtown Sitka and into the Park. It was a great tourist area, but not too many people actually do the full hike that basically extends from the estuary to a waterfall five miles up stream. Well a group of us at the B.B that we stayed at decided to hike up this trail. It was a monster of a hike and we all enjoyed the scenery. Jeff, aka Monkey Fly is a big hiker. He is a Cliff Claven of Mother Nature and can classify almost any type of wildlife/plant life in the Pacific Northwest. We learned a lot about the wildlife there. Over the years I have been fortunate to be able to fish with him. Since then I have taught him about fish and fishing and he has taught me how to identify plants and animal life that we have seen in the forests and waterways that we have fished together. He led the hike like the best nature guide you could ever hire.
    We went on several hikes, but the Indian River hike was the most magnificent. Just look at the pictures and it says it all.

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    Pinks in Indian River

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    Indian River Falls

    We fished several areas. The main runs of salmon in this areas consisted on Pinks. Well we caught a lot of Pinks on this trip. At times there was so many we had a hard time keeping them off of our flies. Starrigavan Creek feeding into Starrigavan Bay was the main fishery in town. Just like Indian River, you could not fish for Salmon in the river. However you could fish for dollies. Since there was a lot of Pinks in the River, we decided to concentrate out efforts in the estuary. The most consistent patterns were small pink buggers with grizzly hackle and the Wog. Oh yeah, the dry pattern! The Pinks were veracious, chasing these small pink dry patterns on the strip. The faster the fly was stripped, the better. At times we would get multiple fish to chase these flies. Except the takes were very subtle. The fish would mouth the flies and not take them like a trout to a dry. Monkey Fly started with Wog and before I could even put a fly in the water, Jeff had a fish on. His first Pink, on a dry no less.

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    One of Elizabeth's Pinks on a Wog.

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    A Toad I caught when the tide came in at Starrigavan.

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    A sculpin that Jeff caught on a wog. He caught several of them including one much bigger.

    Another place we fished for Pinks was Halibut State Park. Granite Creek flows through the park here and we fished the estuary where the Pinks would stack up in pods. Again the Wog was the most effective fly here. When the wind picked up, the waves would get rough and we would have to switch to subsurface flies. Again buggers worked as well as sharp steelies, bunnies, starlight leeches and a variety of pink steelhead flies that I have tied over the years. Ninety-nine percent of the flies that worked were pink. Also in order to prevent fouling fish we always fished barbless hooks. That way the fish had a better chance of freeing themselves when the inevitable would occur.

    We also fished a river called Sawmill Creek. In the past I had only fished this river near the mouth in a boat. There was Chinook, Chum, Pink, Dolly Varden and Rainbow Trout in this river. We caught several chums, pinks and dollies in the river. Monkey Fly also caught a couple of nice rainbows. There was a lot of spawning chums in the river and it was really hard at times to find a location that would swing a fly around them. The most effective pattern for dollies was a pink sharp steelie. At times we caught a lot of them. That was if the chums did not devour our flies first. In one particular area, were I caught several dollies, I hooked four or five chums. Anytime a fly was near them they just could not resist. Instinct I guess. We did manage to catch a few chums that were not in the spawn mode yet. I also managed to hook a thirty or so pound Chinook while swinging through some deep water. He walked on the water a few times and when I got him near he tossed the fly. These Chinooks were not supposed to be in the river. However over the years migratory fish from a near by hatchery started to populate the river.

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    Jeff with a Chum Salmon from Sawmill Creek.

    One day we rented a skiff with another family and we went out into Silver Bay. We got to see a pair of Humpback Whales up close. It was really neat to see them from so close of a distance.

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    Humpback Whale.

    We fished around the Mediviche Fish Hatchery with little success and then moved onto Salmon Lake Creek. This was a small creek that fed out of Salmon Lake. There were Pinks, Sockeye, Chums and Dollies in this system. These pinks were the most aggressive of the trip. Big monsters! It was here that I discovered the SilverFly’s krill pattern. I had only tied one of these flies due to lack of time and I found that the fish could not resist this pattern. Whenever it touched the water, the fish would take it. I was flattered by some other fisherman. After talking to them about patterns that we were using, one of the gentleman asked who I guided for. I though that was one of the best compliments that I could get on a river.

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    Here is a pink with SilverFly's Krill Pattern

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    Monkey Fly with a Toad!

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    Double!

    We spent a little too much time at Salmon Lake Creek and upset the women in the group. It was just too hard to leave aggressive fish. We went on and fished another area below the Green Lake waterfall. Below this waterfall Chinooks were stacked up. I managed to hook up twice to only end up LDR them both. I did manage one small Chinook Jack about twelve inches or so.

    Overall the fishing was great. I wish I could have been able to take Monkey Fly and Elizabeth to Redoubt. There are several small outlet streams that feed out of Redoubt Lake. I have caught lots of Sockeye there in the past, and I got to say they are one of the best fighters on the fly. In Freshwater they are not known as bitters, however in the estuary they can be very aggressive.

    The weirdest part of the trip was when I was in the Fly Away Fly shop in Town on the first day of the trip. While there I saw a copy of Fish and Fly that I did not have. My subscription has not been renewed, and I thought I would take a peek. While scrolling through the pages I see an ugly familiar face, my own. I sent them a couple of pics from my first trip up there three years ago. I thought they must have tossed it out, but apparently not. The miss-spelled my first name and got the story all wrong. Also I am somewhat embarrassed that they mentioned the fly that I had a lot of success with. They did not go into the detail I mentioned when I submitted the picture. Oh well it is nice to get a pic published I guess, and the fly did work.

    There is a lot to do in Sitka if you spend a few days there. The nature is wonderful and there are many historic sites in town. We also enjoyed the Raptor Center. It a center that takes care of eagles other birds that have been injured and try to get them healthy enough to free them back to nature. Many of the birds however have lost their ability to fly and are unfortunately residents there. I highly recommend this center. They do wonderful things for the emblem of our nation, and it rare to be able to get so close to those magnificent animals.

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    Here is Volta. She lossed part of a wing after landing on a powerline.

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    I love Alaska

    _________________
    The logic is infallible: if you kill him, he's gone, if you relase him, he's still there...Gierach
     
  2. Bill Babb

    Bill Babb New Member

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    Great report! Love the pictures!
     
  3. Mingo

    Mingo the Menehune stole my beer

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    Man that is a great report...........felt like you took us with you! I gotta get back up there, you're killin' me! :beer2:
     
  4. OPfisher

    OPfisher I

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    I moving there on wed.!!! : )
     
  5. Reel Time

    Reel Time New Member

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    Record runs of sockeye this year. Dad and new brother in law had a bear encounter last July while fishing for Sockeye there. Pinks are fun but sockeye's will always be my favorite on a fly. Interesting take on the krill fly, most people don't use them but I've heard they can really entice the bite. Glad you had fun. :thumb:
     
  6. Salvelinus

    Salvelinus Member

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    Wow, great report Steelie Mike. I am way jealous and have to get up there some time. That krill fly is really cool. So the fish were taking it in the fresh water, huh?
     
  7. OPfisher

    OPfisher I

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    That krill fly is kicks ass. I read this and tied a few before I moved up. The only problem is that its become too easy to get um ; ) so I started tossing wogs.
     
  8. SilverFly

    SilverFly Active Member

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    Glad to hear it works well on pinks. Just wish it worked that consistently with steelhead and silvers. I was chasing tidewater Coho today and was suprised to have a 32lb chinook grab a #6 krill! Good thing I was using my 10wt, as it was I nearly got spooled.

    Steelie Mike, Great post! Good to finally fish with you last week and get the details in person! Ready for some 'hos in the next week or 2?

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