Friday, April 26, 2013


Well I'm packed.  I somehow managed to get it all stowed away within my targeted baggage.  In less than 12 hrs we will be hittin I-94 on route to the 313... DTW for our 3:49 flight to Seattle.  By 10pm tomorrow night I should be into my first cold Alaska beer in Juneau.  It's been a little while in the making and is now before us.  For those that have I am starting to get excited.  For those that care...I will make an honest effort at getting a few posts up while we are out there.  Check back periodically.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


With less than 3 and a half days until we fly out I am in a mad rush getting my head around how I am going to pack all of my gear.  Last night I thought I better lay it all out and get a better understanding of the extent of gear I plan on bringing.  I rather go in loaded for bear than regret not bringing item X.  Now where in the heck am I gonna put all this stuff?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Beads

While researching online for the Situk trip I ran across a well written article from a past issue of The Salmon and Steelhead Journal.  The article centered around a couple of Fish Nerds traveling to Yakutat to validate all of the rumoured stories of the fabled Situk river.  The guy went on to confirm  run after run holding 30-40 steelhead while they floated the river daily.  He also went on to state they struggled prolifically the first couple of days to turn any fish.  It was not until a local guide instructed them to forego the temptation of fishing the seen and concentrate on the unseen fish that their fortunes turned.   He then went on to instruct the diehard fly guys to run beads.  They took his advice and found great success.  The remainder of their trip produced quantities of steelhead on 8mm beads.
I have my beads packed...10 mm and 7 mm in various colours.   I hope they fish as well as they did the first time I tired them.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Alaskan Coastal Brown Bears

Truth be told I am seriously starting to get excited about the Alaska trip.  I have been so preoccupied with work and the Shutdown that my thoughts have been consumed with the evil devices of modern Industrialization.  It's a necessary evil and part of my employment.  Typically when it's all said and done there is a giant pot of money and some memorable moments.  This small outage will certainly pay for the Alaska trip and then some so the two week commitment is really a small price to pay.
Today I had a lull in the action and my thoughts began to shift towards the upcoming trip.  One of the highlights of this trip for me is the fact that we will be in Brown Bear country.  Alaskan Coastal Brown Bear country to be precise.  A while back someone asked me what the difference is between a Grizzly bear and a Brown bear.  I didn't honestly know so I embarked on a little Internet research adventure.  What I learned was that genetically there really is no difference.  They are the same species. 
The huge differences lie in geography.  Geography plays a giant part in bear diet.  This is the kicker my friends!!!  The Alaskan Brown Bear has a primary diet of protein rich fish and the like.  Food is plentiful on the coast and these bears grow to an enormous size.  The inland Grizzlies of the highlands and mountainous regions primarily forage for their food and a great deal of their diet consists of plant matter. 
This and the fact that they have to travel great distances sees them burning more calories and results in a smaller body mass.  Their cardio is probably amazing as well as their land speed times but their overall size and mass is smaller in comparison to the fish eaters.
Many moons ago when I was attending Sir Sanford Fleming College we went to the Toronto Sportsman show.  One of the highlights of that years show was the Grizzly Bear that was used in most if not all of the movies of the time.  I believe the bear was named Bart and the owner and handler had raised him since he was a cub.  They backed a trailer into the heavily secured arena and opened the door. 
When the bear entered the arena the place went dead silent.  I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise and my heartbeat begin to race.  I immediately scanned my surroundings for the exits in case things got weird.  It was surreal to be in the presence of such an magnificent, enormous beast.  One really has no idea of the true size and mass of these creatures until you are in their company.  They are majestic giants and their mere presence instills fear and respect.  Ever since that encounter  I have had a genuine fear and respect for these giants but at the same time there is nothing more I want from this trip than to see them in their wild and natural element and capture them on camera.

I ran across this crazy video while surfing tonight.  It made me laugh and think...I really only have to out run Old Man Maxfield.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Marabou Goodness

Some of my other behind the scenes Alaska ties.  Marabou Jigs on 2X strong #4's.  Some Great Lakes favourites and some Alaska tried and true colour combinations.
13 days and counting...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Been tying behind the scenes.  16 days and counting...
Now which one looks lucky?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Spring Time Critters...

Truth be told...I haven't had much writing ambition as of late.   The past couple of weekend outings have been trying to say the least. The trip up with Arn was a lot of fun.  It was nice to share a few drifts and see him enjoy the river.  We found a couple of fish but worked extremely hard for them.  I lost a tank up at the three sisters that still haunts me.  The highlight of that weekend was the abundance of critters running around the countryside...  Deer, Turkey, Possums, Mink,  Sandhill Cranes, etc. etc. etc.
The clock is really ticking on my fishing options with a spring outage on the books at work.  This coupled with prepping for the Alaska trip has had all of my free time consumed.
The water conditions have been magnificent for the past month  but the pushes of fish have been mere trickles.  The forest is covered in snow, upwards of a foot in places, and this spring is gearing up to resemble one from the distant past.  The next month should see some pretty exciting fishing on the West Side.   Normally I would be ecstatic with how this is playing out but work has once again managed to find a way to intervene in my happiness.  The spring outage is a a double edged sword for me...  On one hand I will most likely miss the big push on the Manistee when it happens but the overtime that will result will certainly pay for my Alaska trip. 
Truth be told the Alaska trip is the prize at the end of the rainbow and is what will get me through this shutdown.  As I type this we are a mere 20 days away from the journey.  God I hope it's epic!  Historically every second year sees a bumper push of fish on the Situk according to the Alaska DNR Weir census data.  As luck would have it we are in a second year scenario.  Knock on wood...
So... this weekend was most likely going to be my last shot at the big river for 3-4 weeks.  I am on the hook at work for Sunday so I booked off Friday and planned on fishing two days. 
I was hoping there would be a few more fish around to put the R-type to the test but Friday was a struggle.  I worked hard all morning to no avail.  I fished from the coffer all the way down to the Tunk hole.  Finally I found a nice chromer up near the Dam just prior to pulling the plug.  It was a welcomed reward and certainly felt good after a major workout.  Spring dimes are always bonus.  Friday night I thought long and hard about my options for the morning.  I really wasn't looking forward to battling the crowds at the damn for the little fish that are kicking around there.  I knew it was going to be a circus anywhere I went so I opted for the first light fish at Suicide. 
I figured I'd hit a few fish early and jet while the weekend warriors started rolling in after their bacon and egg restaurant breakfasts.
I managed to get my old bones out of bed at a decent hour but still  found myself leaving the cabin as the darkness was fading.  I arrived to the parking access to find it full.  The giant snowbanks from the lingering winter have the parking lot capacity pretty much down to a fraction of what it should hold.  Nonetheless there were at least 10 vehicles there and I took this as a message that I was not meant to fish there this morning.
 Plan B was in order and I turned around and headed back for the Sawdust Access.  I was very reluctant to drive back in.  A few years ago I took the minivan back in there when 4x4's were parking at the road and walking in.  I made it back and out but not without some sweet driving and a self push while the I left the van in drive.  I swore I'd never roll the dice on that place again unless the road was snow and ice free.  This morning it looked more civil from the road so  I threw caution to the wind and headed back in.  It's pretty much a single lane in and out this time of the year and as I proceeded back the ruts got bigger and deeper until the van started to bottom out on the Icy middle. 
There was no stopping now!   If another vehicle had been coming the other way I would have certainly been done.  Luckily for me there wasn't and I plowed my way back to the fee station parking lot.  Surprisingly there was a bunch of people camping back there.  A mixture of 5th wheels and wall Tents.  The fresh snow that was now falling reminded my how fortunate we are to have the cabin...and the Woodstove.  It was not so long ago that a camping trip of this nature for a shot at some decent Steelhead action would have been right down my alley.
The Sawdust run has always treated me well.  This section is one of the most beautiful on the river and I always enjoy my time spent here.  The fishing can vary and it's all time dependant.  I was sure there would be at least one kicking around with my name on it so I paid my Access fee and made the descent to the valley floor.  The river was in amazing shape.  The vis was crystal and the flow was marginally high.  It reminded me of the High Bank Drifters trip we did about 3-4 years back.  There was already a few boats kicking around but lots of room so I dropped in to my usual starting run.  As I made a few drifts people started to make their way down the hill and along the bank. 
My next planned destination became populated and I began to get antsy.  I pulled the plug and hiked down river to the one and only spot that I absolutely had to fish before it became overrun.  This spot holds a special place in my heart as I landed one of my all time top ten fish there.  It was during the "High Bank Drifters" Trip.  It was a tank of a Hen that I absolutely had no business messing with but somehow managed to swing  to Norlands awaiting grip.  It was a team effort and  I will never forget that fish or day for as long as I live.  I always make a point of fishing that run with utmost attention to detail whenever I'm down there and always relive that memory.
I walked down the path to the river and set up under the small Pine Tree on a level gravel bar.  After a couple of drifts my float dropped far into the run.  I set up hard convinced it was the gravel hump at the back of the run when the R-Type loaded up proud and the stern head shakes provided instant confirmation.  It was a big fish and I really wasn't sure what I had gotten myself into.  There is really only a small section of river bank where the stairs come down that affords any shot at banking the fish solo.  Other than that it's overhanging brush and sheered bank.  Between the size and power of this fish and the healthy river flow the R-type rod was really getting a workout. 
I must admit I was impressed by this blank.  I have been running  super sticky #8 Gamakatsu Octopus hooks lately on 6lb Maxima Flouro so it gave me some leeway to stand on this fish.  It handled the situation perfectly and afforded me the opportunity to swing the large hen right onto the submerged step where I tailed her.  It was another great moment.  Another giant hen from this section and at a time when I really needed a confidence booster.  She certainly made my trip and the rest of the day would only be a bonus.  I couldn't help but think this rod will be a welcomed addition to my arsenal for the AK trip. 
I pounded the run for another 30-40 mins and dropped down to the giant deep water section just below it.  I managed a dime shaker right out of the gate but nothing else.  By now the wind was ripping down the river and it was very cold.  My toes were reminding me just how cold the river still is so I opted to hike back up river towards the Gravel Flats.  I couldn't help but marvel at just how pristine the river looked.  It certainly instilled some confidence. 
One at my destination I wouldn't have made 3-4 drifts when I found myself into another large chrome hen.  Once again the rod met the mark and handled the situation to a Tee.  I managed to swing the pretty lady onto the bank and my awaiting grip.  I couldn't have ended my weekend trip better.  Three fish and an honest workout for the rod review.  As I type this I'm an hour away from packing up and hitting the Interstate for home. 
I have mixed feelings about missing the next three weeks up here and have already started  to devise an exit strategy for next weekend. 
I can do without the crowds but the lure of timing a decent push is ever present.  By the time the weekend rolls around work will have me in dire need of some alone time on the water so there is a small chance I may find myself on the road headed NW next Friday evening ;0)

Stay tuned folks...