Fall has descended, or perhaps ascended, bringing a fierceness to an already dramatic landscape. Touched now with autumnal hues, the jagged fingers jutting forth from the cradling palms of river valleys, those places with a nurturing touch, and feel even greater if possible, more humbling. It is between these towering sentinels that we wind, following the well worn course of salmon, pursuing their pursuers divining the water for char who carry Fall’s splendor beneath the rippled flows and those speckled Rainbow Trout whose cheeks look as though they have stood in a crisp wind. With hook and line we probe the depths, perfecting our trade one cast at a time, trying to trick them at their own game.
This past week was rode in on a warm Fall day and finished up the same way. It was the in between that hammered home the notion that our summer was over. Through the cool rains of midweek we put together some excellent fishing, not letting the nasty conditions keep us from our task at hand. This time of year is synonymous with Silver Salmon fishing and the Toigak River Silvers are never a disappointment. Both gear and fly caught records fell this week. Bob Lynch toppled Jim Konkel’s short-lived reign atop the leader board with a silver he caught using a fly he designed himself that weighed almost fifteen pounds. Wilson Cozby waited until the last day of the week to reel in his record salmon, a giant of sixteen pounds. The Togiak continues to produce good numbers of salmon and we expect that to continue through the end of the season.
Although Rainbow Trout fishing remains exceptional, last weeks record trout, caught by Glen Urban, that weighed 11.3 pounds, still stands. The record was neared a few times by anglers like Maureen Lynch who brought to net a 30 inch Rainbow from Secret Creek. The Agulukpak continues to tear through anglers arms, grinding our guests into submission with constant action from large, healthy trout and char. While fishing the “Pak” on his second to last day, Jim Konkel, not wanting to leave Mission Lodge without being represented on the leader board, landed an Arctic Char with an 17.5 inch girth and 26 inch length that weighed 10 pounds beating the previous record by nearly a pound. Brooks River and Moraine Creek are also putting up some great numbers of large Rainbow Trout for those who are interested in and enjoy sight fishing. The Agulowak is absolutely insane with fish that at times seem to be crawling over each other to get at your presentation. It did not seem to matter where our guests went this week as good fishing was sure to be there waiting for them when they arrived. It was a pleasure fishing with all of our guests this past week and look forward to seeing them next season.
Mission Lodge Fishing Report
After a week of warm weather, seemingly unseasonable for this part of Alaska, this past week began with much cooler temperature and rain. The Chinook must have felt our distress at this turn of events and responded by keeping rods bent and drags burning. What more could you ask for to kick of our Mack Chase week than unbelievably good salmon fishing. Mack himself set the tone with a 35 pound king that established a new seasonal record. For almost all of the group salmon was the focus, whether it was Kings on spinners and plugs or Chums and Sockeyes on flies everyone wanted salmon. Nathan Schaub spent a few days along with his pilot cohorts fly fishing for chums. Along with landing 20 chums in an afternoon he set the record for fly caught chum with a beast of a fish that weighed 11.8 pounds.
Mack’s fishing and card playing buddy, Cookie, set the gear caught record with a 12 pound chum. There were those who took time out from their salmon quest to experience some other fishing opportunities. Mike Phipps and Steve George have taken a liking to the Rainbows of the Kvichak over the years and were looking forward to mining it’s waters again for some large trout. It payed off when Steve landed a trout that tipped the scale at nine pounds. The Agulukpak was again a consistent producer of char and big Northern Pike. Jim Richards tied into one of those big pike and set the lodge record with a fish that weighed 10.5 pounds. Toward the end of the week, after some had had their fill of King Salmon, they wanted to try their hand at Sockeye. These fish have a reputation of being tackle testing fighters and all who hooked into a few confessed their amazement at their strength. Joe Gamertsfelder hooked into the biggest Sockeye of the week, a knuckle buster that weighed 8.5 pounds. It was definitely a week of full fish boxes and big kings and a week of familiar faces that we look forward to every year. Thank you to Mack and all of his friends for making it a great week.
Our first week of the season at Mission Lodge coasted in on the soft belly of clear skies and a warm breeze. We welcomed back the Benson family, who brought some of their close friends to partake in the Mission Lodge experience. We set out on the first day with resident fish at the forefront of our consciousness, but if we stopped for a moment, lingering there was a glimmer of King Salmon. The Agulakpak produced an abundance of Arctic Char for all of those who fished there and if you had had your fill of them could chase Northern Pike in a variety of bays around the area. It was on one of these ventures that Dave Benson wielding the long rod landed a healthy Pike that weighed in at almost four pounds. While casting hardware along the brushy edges Derek Hopkins hooked into a Pike that pushed the scales at 9.6 pounds.
TThe tributaries along Lake Beverly also produced some great action for Rainbow Trout. Jack Forell set an early high mark on the fly when he landed a gorgeous trout that weighed 4.2 pounds. Another popular trip was out Lake Hop that can take you to multiple stunning, fish producing destinations in one day. For those that were interested in catching Lake Trout this was the trip. The two Steve’s both set benchmarks in gear and fly weighing 4.3 and 3.6 pounds respectively. Our Secret Creek played host to both of the largest char caught this week as well as plentiful Arctic Grayling all too willing to take dries. Paul Lemestre landed a char that was pushing seven pounds on the fly, while Jeff Hopkins landed an 8.4 pound char using spoons. If people we looking for a strictly rainbow trout fishery the Kvichak offers some of the hardest fighting fish in Alaska. Looking very similar to Steelhead, they do not hesitate taking to the air in erratic contortions, then peeling line from reels in hard-headed charges. Derek Hopkins again set a board record when he tied into what would be a seven pound trout that he had a little trouble with bringing to the net.
Toward the latter half of the week we started sending trips to the Nushagak where at first the action was a little slow, but by the final day of the week things had picked up. Aaron Hopkins took home top honors with a King Salmon that weighed in a 32 pounds shattering Debbie Benson’s previous mark of 26 pounds. For our guests in the coming weeks, the King Salmon fishing is only going to improve so look forward to constant action. To our guests this past week, thank you for making the first week of Mission Lodge’s 25th season a great success. We look forward to fishing with all of you next season.