There are moments in everyone’s life were you just wished time had stood still or moved a lot slower. Our recent group trip to Alaska at Bristol Bay was just one of those moments.
As normal we had picked a peak autumn week to target fresh run Coho or affectionately known as silvers. Our group was made up off both repeat customers and new customers to salmon fishing in Alaska; we even had the company of two ladies joining our trip. Greta, John Hoggins partner and my partner Tracey, although Greta was an experienced hand and repeat customer to Alaska, it was not only Tracey’s first Alaskan trip but her first ever fly fishing trip. (I like to throw them in to the deep end)
On the departure morning at Anchorage airport to catch the short flight to Dillingham we were greeted with great weather, clear skies and bright sunshine a real treat for Alaska considering it was the end of August. While relaxing at the airport with morning coffee, it is hear where things really start to sink in and you realise that you are in the hub of salmon fishing, for everyone you see at the airport is checking in either fishing equipment or hunting gear. No carrying fishing rods through an airport and people asking what you are carrying, in fact you would look out of place if you did not have them in your hand. It is also testimony to how much Salmon fishing there is all over the Alaskan state.
After a short flight and then road trip it was not long before everyone was onboard the lodges fast transfer boats and racing down the lake through the valley towards the lodge. As you approach the end of the lake there we could see Bristol Bay Lodge nestled and glinting in the morning sun right on the waters edge. As normal we are greeted with eager happy staff that takes care off our entire luggage leaving us to take the relaxing walk up to the lodge lounge. With welcome drinks and completing of release forms (After all we are flying and fishing around in the wilderness at your own risk) its time to be shown to our accommodation, unpack and get ready for its straight off fishing on the Agulowak River.
At this time of year the Agulowak is full of spawning Sockeye Salmon, so brightly coloured in their deep red coats, dark green heads with the males supporting teeth that look they belong in a horror film than in a tranquil river in the Alaskan wilderness. Silvers do not run the river Wok, however with around 2.5 million spawning Sockeye the river is at its best for Rainbow, Char, Dollies and Grayling all completely gorging themselves on the continues stream of salmon eggs. It is no surprise then that everyone spends the first afternoon drift fishing with egg patterns, catching more fish than anyone in the whole group could actually remember by the time we all returned to the lodge.
For the rest of the fishing days everyone was put in to groups of four, and you stay as a group of four all the time, setting off each day by sea plane to access unbelievable rivers. On some days you even get to fish two rivers and end up staying 2 single nights out at both Rainbo and Birch camp. On evenings when returning back to the main lodge it was great for the groups to catch up from the last few days fishing and listening to all the stories about just how many fish people had caught.
I can remember one customers face as we were catching up and the excitement as he informed me that he had caught over 60 silvers in one day. There were other stories about how hard the fish flight, jump, twist and turn, plus stories about huge Rainbows, Arctic Char, and Bears coming in to the camp. Testament to just how good the fishing was plus the whole experience as always the hum in the dining room each evening, with so many excited anglers all telling stories about chasing silvers reminded me of children on Christmas morning, in total contrast to the boat ride back down the lake on the way home, when you could hear a pin drop.
The pictures below tell the whole story and in far better way then I could ever do. This just leaves me to say a huge thank you to all customers who travelled with us and shared the experience of chasing silvers in Alaska, looking forward to it again next year.
If you ever wanted to experience Salmon fishing as it should be, no crowds, stunning scenery, and fish full rivers, we have booked two peak weeks for 2012. One in the summer for Kings, Sockeye and Chums and again the autumn for Silvers, however the availability on both these weeks is down to less than 4 on each week, so be sure to get in quick!