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Showing posts with the label arctic grayling


It's hard to beat the perfect day.  Is it late summer?  Early autumn?  Maybe the day is somewhere in between.  A September day that by afternoon noses into the eighties.   I spend it by hiking into the high country.
The miles go by, I hike quickly in the comfort of the cool morning.  Aspens are yellowing, so is the thimbleberry that carpets the stream bottom trail.  Huckleberry bushes that failed to produce fruit this year put on a show of crimson.  Its as if to say "sorry for the lack of berries, here's some crimson leaves instead."

I reach the lake.  Its calm, mostly.  I drop my pack, pull out a ground tarp to set on the soggy ground, and settle in the watch for a while.  Such splendor.  A clear blue sky.  An alpine lake. Mountains.  Bear poop. 

A fish rises, then another.  I watch.  No need to hurry.  My dates not going anywhere.  She'll continue to leave little rings on the lake surface.  She can't afford to miss a meal you know.  
And so I fish.  It'…

Deer Lake Dayhike

It's a nice hike, about six miles or so (each way). The elevation gain is steady but not brutal. An occasional straight stretch in the trail offers respite from the climb.  The prize at the end of the hike is the opportunity to cast a fly to grayling in an alpine lake.

I hit the trail around 7 a.m.  The morning was pleasant, dew or light rain from the previous night clung to the brush that hung over the trail. Along the way, I ran into this fellow rummaging for breakfast. He was unconcerned by my presence, enough so that he turned his back on me, sat, and went back to filling his belly.  I squirted by on the trail.

The rest of the hike was uneventful as regards wildlife.  In and out of the lodgepole timber, the trail follows a stream a good part of the way.  I stopped once to fill my water bottle from a spring (I carry a filter).

I arrived at the lake and found the surface calm.  Here and there grayling were rising. I snapped a few photos and commenced to rigging for the mornings…

Kongakut River Journal - Day Ten

The last full day on the Kongakut --- The day that I've been waiting for.  Not because it was the last, but rather because it would be devoted strictly to fishing.  I noticed fishy looking pools on the downstream float.  I'd be back if the hike from camp was not too great.

The sun was already on the river when I got up.  It was breezy.  There was no fog.  No condensation.  Another blue sky morning.  The warmest yet. We had berry pancakes for breakfast.

Most of the crew took off and hiked south of camp.  They later indicated that getting to higher ground was tough due to the tussocks.

I had all day to hike upriver to fish, explore and take photos. Solo. Just me and the grizzlies.  I didn't run into any, but their numerous tracks indicated that they too preferred to travel along the river.

I climbed a bluff that overlooked the river and surveyed the route upstream.  It was a good opportunity to have a snack and take a few photos.  Looking over my shoulder I could see the hi…

Kongakut River Journal - Day Eight

Moving day, today is August 18.  After a foggy night, it turned out to be a beautiful blue sky day. Windy though.

Low water made for several major drags.

Pulled over for lunch.  Mario indicated that he had seen some fish. Water looked marginal but I rigged the eight weight and was soon fast to a char.  Several more followed.  Kept two for dinner.

Valley opening up as mountains draw back from river.  River shallower, more braided.  Channel selection more challenging.

Eventually made it to Caribou Pass.  A most beautiful spot.  Great view…. upriver and down.

Got dinner going after setting up a nice camp.  Mario did one fish over stove and griddle.  I did bigger fish wrapped in two small pieces of foil over fire.  A grill would have been handy.  Fish cooked unevenly, so we just kept pulling off done pieces.  Good smoky taste.  Everyone seemed to like it. Fish only fell in fire once.

Passed chocolate bars after dinner.  Good cup of coffee too.

Took a few casts in pool below camp.  Expecte…

Arctic Char - A Most Underrated Game Fish

In Alaska, where glamorous game fish abound, some fish are overlooked, or just plain don't get the respect that they deserve.  Usually taken incidentally, a by catch if you will, while pursuing other game fish, few trips are undertaken strictly with char as the target species.  However, a few years ago I did just that.  I travelled to the North Slope with the intention of fishing specifically for char. North Slope waters generally lack the various salmon and headline grabbing rainbows.  And, while char exist elsewhere in Alaska, it just seemed most appropriate to fish for them in the arctic.

After dinner, at our first camp, I strolled upstream with my five weight.  Earlier, I'd noted a few rising fish tucked against a rock wall.  Expecting grayling, I returned, armed appropriately for trout sized quarry.  That's what I got.  Nicely trout sized at that. Fit. Fat. Scrappy. They came willingly to a Stimulator.  Noting an occasional rise midstream, I rolled out a cast, expec…