Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sitka A Long Time Coming

So for me to sit down and type out every detail, would probably take about 6 posts. So I'm going to try to sum it up with as many details I can. Its been 3 years since I've been fishing the clear rivers of Baranof Island, a place that I hold close to my heart. Ok now that the mushy stuff is out lets get to it.

3 Days of small craft advisories and gusts of wind up to 40mph, had Paul and I headed in the opposite direction we had originally planned. Even on the back side of the island the winds and chop were less than ideal for taking an 8ft dingy, with a 3 horse kicker on the back, to shore. We managed to get a few hours in the first night, no steel, but we did manage a few nice Coastal Cutthroat to finish the night. That night after a couple Alaskan beers we decided that seeing only one steelhead in the whole system that we would either move to another river in the am, or head to a remote place known to have huge Cutthroat. Well... yet again the weather had us cabin bound until it decided to let up just enough. It was a tough hike up we made it, fishing was ok, I got one really nice and colorful fish. As we got closer to the shore, on the way back down, we could hear the wind and it wasn't nice. Long story short, kicker stopped working, winds picked up, seas picked up, and it was a night on the beach looking at the boat we could not reach till the winds died down. Fire blazing to dry us out, keep us warm, and to an extent keep the bears away, we waited until 2pm the next day.

Back in town, plans continued to get changed, and we ended up chasing some "ghost rainbows" that someone had said were in a remote, hard to get to hole off one of the lakes. No fish... So I spent the next couple days hanging out with friends and visiting family, with the thoughts of why I came here in the first place wondering in the back of my mind.

Finally it was Saturday afternoon, after a late night in the bars, and Jack (Paul's new deckhand) and I were finally going to get at least 4 hours in chasing some steel. Days over and no fish to hand, however we were fishing a dirty river; someone had fished every hole just hours before us. Jack managed to hook 2 fish on a 5wt, didnt end well, and I pulled the fly right out of ones mouth. So we headed back down to the mouth to await our ride home.

Waking up on Sunday morning, day 8 of my trip, still with no steelhead, my motivation was very low to even try for one. But with a few uplifting words from Jack and a phone call to my good friend Tom, we were on the way back. It was a day that I will never forget.

Fishing with old friends and new friends on a river that I used to call home for my favorite fish. We messed around a bit in the morning looking into every hole and under every log jam, searching for a fish to swing at. I decided it would be best to head back to where we had seen a couple the day before, not over looking a couple holes I had confidence we would see a couple (or just one).

"There she is" I yelled, I had spotted a pair of steelhead in a far bank riffle. Multiple cast later, my line went tight, and a beautiful, majestic, steelhead came leaping out of the water. After about 6 jumps some awesome runs, She met me on the beach. This is the fish of a lifetime for me! Someone once told me that "steelhead will beat you down" this trip felt just like that. But I will have to say, holding this fish in my hands, with close friends around, and on this river with only the sound of the water racing over the rocks. Its my quote that ran through my head "its where these fish take you, thats why I love them".

Now after the love story, we headed back down stream. The day wasn't over, we found a run filled with juvenile steelhead smashing stoneflies off the surface, yeah we could pass these guys up. Coming back to one of the first holes we hit, I spotted about 6 Steelhead waiting to make their finally push back out to the ocean. We hooked 3 out of there, but log jams are not easy to overcome with a large, angry steelhead running through them. I managed to turn one down stream and fight him in open water. I was on cloud nine, Happiest kid in the world.

The last morning I was there (monday) around 4:30, Jack and I loaded up the boat and picked Paul up for a morning King fishing. The bite was good, weather perfect, and we had 3 fish to the boat in about an hour. It felt good to be back on the ocean. Again flying high that morning, it took all I had to board that plane heading east that afternoon.

Wow, now you can enjoy the photos:)


  1. Dude those are some awesome fish at the end there! You're making me miss Alaska. Looks like the trip was a blast!

    1. Haha thanks man, Its making me miss it too, even though I was just there. Didnt want to leave one bit.

      Looks like you are having a good time down south. Let me know a good time to head down and ill be there.

    2. I'll keep you updated, my buddy kirk is showing up today to try and chase some tarpon around this week, but no boat is hurting our chances (got kayaks tomorrow)... I think early spring may be the ticket like end feb early march, if your not too busy chasing hendrickson's. Baby tarpon will be in the everglades and the bugs will be minimal, late winter early spring is going to be awesome here.