Friday, August 24, 2012

Fishing Paradise


Successful day on the Bachatna River with my cousin's and brother.
From left to right: Cousin Greg Nelson, myself, brother Steve, cousin
Mark Anderson, and Greg's brother Tom.
There is so much to tell regarding last weeks trip, it was all very exciting.   We all agreed that the fly out trip to the Bachatna River, across the Cook Inlet from Kenai was the highlight of the week.  Booked through Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker, the Bachatna River is a small clear water river that experiences a nice run of silver salmon this time of year.  Up until recently the only access to the river was landing in a suitable spot then boarding a helicopter to the Bachatna.  Recently the beavers had constructed a sizable dam next to the river creating a pond large enough to allow a skilled pilot the ability to land his plane right there.  And land we did!  Boarding a 10 passenger turbo prop Otter on floats, we took off from a sea base and a short 20 minute ride we landed on the beaver pond. The pilot skillfully backed the plane to the edge of the beaver dam where we exited the plane.  Wow, what a ride.  Just prior to landing the guides asked the pilot to make a pass over of few of the upstream bends to see if there were any salmon in.......it was loaded!  After unloading our gear we headed up the river to the first hole and the fun began.  We had all brought our fly rods and using the guide tested pink egg sucking leech pattern, began landing silvers.  It was the first time I had caught a respectable salmon on a fly and it was a blast.   As the fish became acclimated to our lures we continued to move up the river finding new pods of fish as they rested before continuing there journey upstream to spawn.  While my cousin Greg continued to fish with his fly rod I had brought along a few "Minnesota bass lures" in the odd chance they might work for silvers.  It was pretty unbelievable as the guides were quite impressed with thinking outside the box when the silvers stopped hitting their go to lures.  With the plane scheduled to return to the beaver dam by 2:30, it was time to head back down river, have lunch, clean fish, and get ready for our departure.  All said and done we each brought home our 3 fish limit of beautiful fresh silver salmon that ran from 6 - 10 pounds.   I positioned myself to get a good picture of the plane as it came in to pick us up, we loaded our gear and fish, turned around and took off.  It was amazing how little water the plane needed to take off and it seemed like within 300 feet we were airborne.  I do this trip again in a heartbeat, the guides were great, the plane ride was great, and the fishing was fantastic!


Double hooked Humpy!
One of the reasons we chose to go on the even years (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2012) is that  the pink salmon return to the Kenai River on the even years.  As stated in  Jeff King's Mile 14 once pink salmon hatch they immediately return to the ocean where they grow returning 2 years later.  It's a crazy deal for sure as millions of these salmon come into the Kenai.  There are so many of them that up to 75% of the ones you catch are foul hooked in the back or tail making for an incredible fight.  So much so that it can be quite annoying at times.  A popular lure for catching silver salmon are Blue Fox Pixie Spoons.  They have a very stout treble hook and are ideal for snagging pinks.  On Sunday night while casting my favorite color  Chartreuse Pixie I hooked a nice pink salmon.  You could tell it was probably hooked in the back by the way it was fighting so I just knuckled down and reeled it in.  As it came by the boat I noticed something different, there was a pink Pixie stuck in the back of the fish and that wasn't what I was casting.  Incredibly I had snagged a fish that already had been hooked by another angler which had broke his line, my hook was through the top split ring of the already embedded lure.  So what are the chances?!?!?!

Like everything in life, things always have to end.  It had been great to return to Alaska after a 4 year absence and was everything I remembered it to be.  We continue to meet new friends, renew old friendships, explore new adventures, and revisit the old fishing holes.  This year things were different.  Although you can always count on the pinks to be there, the traditional salmon runs on the Kenai have been anything but normal.  I had received a call while on the Kenai and my friend asked "How's the fishing?".  Terrible I proclaimed, thought for a second and restated my answer........it's simply wonderful.  The weather was perfect, we caught plenty of fish, we were in Alaska, regardless it cannot get any better than that.  So I leave you with a picture that tells the whole story.  After hatching from an egg, the salmon spends a year in it's nursery, growing large enough to head to the ocean.  There it feeds with it's own kind, staying together as they grow older, preparing for their final journey to spawn again.  Once they have accomplished their goal the salmon deteriorate and eventually die leaving their legacy hung up against a rock in the current.  Although their life is through, they continue to provide the next generation of fish valuable resources to help continue the cycle over again.  Like salmon we are also on a journey, destined for the same fate.  Hopefully we will provide for the next generation so they can enjoy this wondrous place.  As Alaska put it so bluntly.........Alaska, Before You Die.  If you can, take that with heart, you will never regret that decision.


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