Wednesday, August 8, 2012

North To Alaska!

Arriving at Seward Harbor

By the time most of you are reading this I should be reeling in a 90 pound halibut, battling a 12 pound Silver Salmon on the Kenai River, or looking down on the Cook Inlet as we fly to a remote salmon river on the main land.  This will be my 6th trip to Alaska with my brother Steve.  Joining us will be my cousins Greg and Tom Nelson, as well we are meeting my cousin Mark Anderson, of Anchorage.  We have been together for most of the past trips at on time or another and I might say we are a pretty good group.  Mark has done a great job in arranging our personal transportation both on and off the water.  Being an Army veteran, he has access to a rental boat as we have an 18 foot/35 hp jet river boat for the 5 days of fishing on the Kenai.  Steve and I made most of the other arrangements including 2 days of ocean fishing in the Prince William Sound out of Seward and a flyover trip to a clear river hopefully teaming with fresh silver salmon.  Tom and Greg, for the most part they simply just bring money!  Fortunately we bring most of our own gear for the salmon fishing as well as knives, coolers, lures, waders, and a fish whacker my Uncle Jerry made for us.  One of the things that I look forward to is the renewal of old friendships like Jeff King and cousin Mark, who I haven't seen in 4 years.  Our secret weapon is fresh Midwestern sweet corn on the cob which I am loading my cooler up today and plan on distributing it to our closest friends on the Kenai.  It serves a couple of purposes, first of all it is very much appreciated as fresh sweet corn in Alaska is as rare as catching a sockeye salmon on the Mississippi River.  We get a lot of mileage out of it as I will never forget the time we gave some to our cabin host in Seward one year, we got moose sausage and homemade beer in exchange as well as some great Alaskan conversation.  Besides, we might as well fill up our coolers with something other than air.  

Brother Steve with a Chum Salmon on a fly
So our itinerary goes something like this.  Arrive in Anchorage and assemble the crew.  We should be able to get out of town by 1:30 and in Soldotna by 3:30.  Figure an hour to make the rounds, say hi, and get our schedules set, we head to Seward to check in with our charter, The Fish House.  We have both Friday and Saturday booked for a combo trip where we go for halibut, ocean run silver salmon as they are staged to head up the rivers, and ling cod.  Along the way we usually see whales, porpoises, sea otters, and every sea bird you can think of.  It a great trip and is usually lasts all day as a halibut only trip usually ends once you limit out.  I really enjoy catching the silvers in the ocean as it's quite the experience with the clear water.  I believe the salmon are much better tasting out of the ocean than those that have been in fresh water for a while.  Leaving Seward we head back to Anchorage to pick up our boat then on to Soldotna.  We should arrive in time to do a little fishing on the Kenai River for silvers and the ever present pink salmon.  The pinks arrive only on the even years and arrive they do!  It is estimated that over 5 million fish enter the river as evident by standing on the shore, watching them swim upstream in a constant 24 hour parade.  It's pretty cool.  The pinks are also called Humpback salmon for they develop a huge humped back once they enter the fresh water.  On Monday we are flying over to a remote stream across the Cook Inlet and will fish Silvers.  Here I am going to try my fly fishing skills and try to catch my first salmon on a fly.  I have had plenty of opportunities to do this however with time short we usually stick with our spinning equipment.  This trip is only about 6 hours and will allow us to be back to the Kenai in time to take advantage of the evening bite.  Tuesday and Wednesday are sort of open and serve as a back up day for halibut should we get blown off the ocean in Seward.  This has happened before and we re-booked our halibut trip out of Anchor Point doing extremely well.  It's nice to have that backup day if needed. Thursday is a travel day back to Anchorage as both Tom and Greg have decided to take the red-eye's back while Steve and I leave Friday morning.  Both Steve and I are flying first class on the return flight and will have plenty weight availability with our check baggage for bringing back fish.

There are some interesting fishing restrictions in response to the record low King Salmon run on the Kenai and most of the other major rivers in Alaska.  Because the fish are still coming into the Kenai River all fishing can only be done with single hook, non scented lures.  We have made provisions for this and have brought up a few "secret" lures that might prove to set the river on fire.  I have decided not to bring my computer with so it may be a few days before I post again, I am sure you understand.  I can't wait to get off the boat, fire up the grill and throw a couple of fresh halibut and salmon fillet on, and open a cool Alaskan Amber enjoying an evening with my brother and cousins. 


Jeff King said...

Sounds like you're ready to rock. It was just announced that starting manana its business as usual on the Kenai river so drop by, I've got some good bait for ya...

Otto said...

I'm jealous! Some summer I hope to take a long trip to Alaska.