South Central, Alaska
Jul 16, 2007 1:49 PM
Post #1 of 12
For years my daughter has been tagging along on various fishing trips content with playing in the woods and on the bank. She did catch her first fish at age 3. A stocked trout that didn't put up much of a fight but did taste good later on that night. At 3 she was a little concerned about all the splashing and jumping the 10 inch fish did and she was not interrested in holding it. |
Fast forward to two summers ago when she watched me see a rainbow tailing behind some silvers and then I purposely went after catching that fish using a prince beadhead nymph. She thought that was pretty cool to see, and picked up the rod and tried casting the fly a little, but couldn't get it out to where the fish were holding. It was a good hour of time though.
Fast forward to this last April when she talked me into taking her to the Great Alaska Sportsman's Show. There she met Cecilia "Pudge" Kleinkauf of Womens's Flyfishing http://www.womensflyfishing.net/. I had given her an autographed copy of Pudge's new "girls" book http://www.rivergirlsflyfishing.com/ for Christmas and she wanted to meet her. Pudge was also doing a half hour casting demo for girls only where my daughter excelled in laying out some line from a 4wt. It was a big marketing circus as well for the new book, but they were promoting something that I support so I didn't mind all the staged photos of Pudge and the young girls. After the show there was a lot of begging for a flyrod outfit. Knowing how my girl likes to get stuff and then leave it unused for years I told her she can use my stuff until she proves to me that she really wants to fish. Fishing gear costs $$ and just leaving it sitting in the garage gathering dust is not where I want to put my money.
So this last week or two we were talking about going on a trip to Hope, AK to catch some pinks. She was all excited, but didn't want to use the flyrod. I started her in the back yard with a cheap medium action spinning rod and she was casting well by the second evening. I also taught her how to hold the rod correctly and how to reel in a big fish so that she will never look like one of those bimbos on Crossing Country. She was stoked on Saturday night for the Sunday road trip to Hope.
Hope has Resurrection Creek running next to it and there is a good run of pinks even in the even years which typically have low numbers of pinks returning. It has easy access, but most of the water is fast, but we managed to find a nice spot that was being used as a rest pool by more than 100 fish. You couldn't have asked for a better set up.
We hiked through the woods and climbed up hills and over trees to get to the gravel bar. I am a little over stoked because I know what is happening. We have 100 fish in less than 2 feet of water 15 feet from our toes. And they are pinks so they will bite nearly anything we put in front of them. This has fish massacar written all over it.
I need to mention the spinning rod set up. I put new line on it and it failed in the back yard. So I dug up one of my old new mitchel 300's. It was a newer one I had picked up in the early 1990's from a going out of business sale. I have a 300 that I have been using now for 39 years with out a problem. It has hauled in pinks, silvers, and reds, and I have no idea how many trout and white bass and bluegills - thousands? The rod was a POS that had been left behind on one of my projects by someone that wanted to fish, but then left the job and never came back. I adopted the rod, but never used it, but thought it would make a great small salmon rod. Enough back story.
I rigged up a purple flash fly with a split shot and made a couple of casts to make sure that the weight was enough to get the fly down to the fish. It took only two casts to get the right smaller shot dead on target and I had a fish hooked. I handed the rod to my girl and went to get the camera out of the pack. I didn't make it two steps before she had yarded the fish up on the gravel. She had spent two days dragging me across the back yard pretending to be fighting a fish, so when she applied that same amount of force on the 5 pound pink she just yanked it out of the water.
I asked her if she wanted to keep the fish and she said "Hell ya we are eating it for dinner tonight!" So I whacked it on the head and took her picture and put it on the stringer. Time for fist two. This time she casted and hook if on her own, and I made her play it for a little bit so that I could take a photo of her fighting the fish.
Right after this we lost our only user status at the hole when 5 people showed up and walked right into the middle of the fish. I yelled at the closest dufus about what did he think he was doing walking into the fish and he started looking around his feet saying that he couldn't see them. Then he realized that all the little gray "shadows" were fish. He and his 4 friends started casting their little trout flys at the pinks. They had fish on right off the bat, but kept loosing them in the current. The first dufus went and got a "snagging" rod and was finally able to land some fish albeit all illegally hooked in places other than the mouth. What a clown. The two women in the group were doing better, but two of the three guys were asshats. After a few hours I figured out that this was a group of one local and four friends that had never fished for anything other than trout before. I don't have anthing against folks trying and learning new things, just don't make a clown out of yourself. Read a book, use the intertubes, please gain some knowledge before you jump into the middle of the river and start thrashing around.
So we became used to the circus down stream. We did have the prime spot at the top end of the hole so we were still good. Then came the third fish. She had tail snagged a big buck pink that was starting to hump so it had a lot of surface area. It turned tail and zipped down stream past the circus, but for some reason my girl couldn't stop him. I had to take the rod and that was when I discovered that the gears in the reel were stripped out. She had tried to crank when the fish had headed down stream with the fast water. I couldn't get the fish in so I had to wade past the circus and get her to hold the rod as I went down and unhooked the fish.
The next few hours were fishless for my girl since the reel didn't work well and she kept loosing fish. She didn't want to give up and she didn't want to use my 8wt flyrod. I rigged up with an purple egg sucking leach (the ultimate Alaska fly) and started hammering pinks. The dufus with the snagging rod was probably getting a little steamed after watching me catch and release a dozen caught in the mouth fish to his one or two snagged fish. I am not even an average fisherman by Alaska standards. I have friends that would have had a fish hooked up on every other cast, whereas I am every 4th to 5th cast if the fish are willing.
By 1pm my arm was tired of hauling pinks in, my girl was tired of the broken reel and how the rod would backlash every other broken off fish into a huge birds nest. We were both hungry and thought that a huge cheese burger from the local diner would be a great lunch. My girl was still stoked about catching her first two salmon and getting dozens of hookups. I learned that new mitchel 300's are not as good as the old ones, and that $20 rods left behind on job sites are not to be used for serious fishing. When hauling that tail snagged fish I learned that the rod didn't go all the way through the handle. I was putting enough pressure on it that it was starting to break at the reel seat. My kid is going to get an early Christmas present before the next fishing trip. Something with a strong butt and a medium tip and some graphite. I'll be flipping coins over fly or spin though since flyrods are so much easier to use for the small streams we fish in.
"Where all men think alike, no one thinks very much......It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf." -- Walter Lippmann