In summer of 2005


Introduction

On the way to my office at the station, I was assaulted by someone on July 6, just 3 days before leaving to Alaska. Then, my left leg back muscle was torn. This injury could ruin my trip .

My daughter treated me with packed ice and a bandage. So, I could barely enjoy my fishing expedition this year. I really appreciated her taking care of me very much.

This year for a change, I decided to go to the interior of Alaska. Copper Valley is about 200 miles east of Anchorage, and has a lot of rivers. Copper River is the main stream, and has several big tributaries, for example Gulkana River and Gakkona River, and Klutina River.

When spawning time coming, large numbers of salmon come up to these rivers.

Matanuska River

P@On July 10

Even though I went to bed at midnight, I had to get up at 2:45 a.m.. Making preparations for fishing, I and Mr.Shiraishi went to the office of the Grove's Camp Ground. I chose this accommodation because it had a freezer space available and we would be able to do bank-fishing in front of the camp ground. My sleeping room was rustic and only had a small bed, and a shared shower and a toilet. But, it was enough to fish.

Sleeping room

This camp ground also offers fishing boat charters for kingsalmon fishing in June and for stealhead fishing in October. The boat, with two Japanese people and thee American people, was quickly going upstream on the swift Klutina River at the break of dawn.

Going Upstream

According to my guide, this river is the fourth swiftest in North America. I hoped this wouldn't cause something bad for my fishing.

After twenty minutes sailing, Niccle, a fishing guide, stopped the boat at the right side of the river, and moored it at a thick branch stretching out over the river. Now, the kingsalmon fishing began after two year absence. This was my first challenge for bank-fishing kingsalmon. what is biting ? How is the landing ? I got excited and a little bit nervous.

Niccle wrapped a lump of salmon egg with a red net. He stocke a 5/0 Octopus Hook through it. He set a Spin-N-glow and a lead above the bait. I casted it upstream and kept it bouncing on the bottom until it moved downstream. I did this again and again.

Rigging for king Bankfishing in Klutina

I had fished for 5 hours, and changed the eggs every 20 or 30 minutes, but had no bite. Only one of the Americans caught one sockeye. As the end of my time approaching, I almost gave up, but my rod was tugged into the water. Fish on ! My rod was being bent like a full moon, and then the fish was rushing downstream. If it got into the swift current , the line would have been broken. I held my rod tightly, and led it to the shallows gradually while pumping. Niccle was waiting with a landing net. I got it !

Kingsalmon in Klutina

It was a female kingsalmon of about 25 pounds. Its body was changing to spawning color, but it still looked like a king. After that, one of the Americans, fishing upstream, caught big one. The time had come.

Yes , Kingsalmon

Q@On July 11

We went to Klutina Salmon Charters at 3:40 a.m. which was on the opposite bank from Grove's Camp. We and an American couple , and Jacy , a fishing guide , got in the 4WD car that Dianne was driving. There was a raft on the roof that we would later use.

Klutina rafting

We were going up an unpaved Klutina Lake Road 15 miles along Klutina River. Dianne stopped the car where he and Jacy would launch the raft. They unloaded it , and prepared for fishing. I was so excited that it was the first time for me to fish while rafting on the river.

Our raft

The front seat was for a couple and the middle was for Jacy, and we were on the rear seat. Jacy was rowing skillfully on the swift and billowing river.

Going Downstream

After going down several miles, Jacy stopped the raft near the right bank where the current was slower. Our fishing began. Niccle wrapped a lump of preserved salmon egg in a red net. He stuck a 5/0 Octopus Hook through it. He set a Corkie, a rubber octopus, and a lead above the bait. The egg had been preserved in sugar. He fixed it to the hook by a rubber band. We casted like the day before, but we didn't get any bites for a couple of hours.

Jacy decided to move. After going down a few miles, we began to fish again. This hole was the same one we had visited the previous day. After several minutes, the woman got the strong bite. Her very tough rod was bent like a full moon, it seemed to be difficult to hold the rod by herself. Jacy rushed to her and they held it together.
After 15 minutes fighting, a 40 pound kingsalmon was in the net.

Her husband tried to fish at the same place. After 10 minutes, he got a big one, too. Mr.Shiraishi tried again , and got a nice one. Jacy extended the charter time, and I fished intently. However, three kings were today's bag limit.
We went back to the camp at noon.

R@On July 12

Because I had got up very early the last two days, I stayed in bed so long in the morning. I did bank-fishing for two hours, but got no sockeye.
I would go to Valdez in the afternoon, so I packed up my baggage.

Going to Valdez

Passing through Copper Valley, a lot of snow-capped mountains appear in front of us. It is Chugach Mountains. Approaching Tompson Pass, we can see Tosina Glacier and Girls Mountain. We are driving through gorges. Glaciers are thawing out , and are making a lot of beautiful waterfalls along the gorges. This water is draining into Lowe River, and going down to Port Valdez. I guess there are no fish in Lowe River because it is too muddy.
Valdez, the town in Prince William Sound, is just around the corner.

Girls mountain

After checking in to Downtown B&B Inn, we are going to Alison Point. I have heard large numbers of pinksalmons are converging there and it is very easy to do bank-fishing.
Alison Point is just before the Alaska Oil Pipeline terminal.

Before reaching the terminal, we came across a lot of people fishing along the shore. I stopped the car and saw them fishing. Surprisingly, they were casting lures not so far away, but catching pinksalmons easily. We could see many schools of pinksalmons at the shore nearby. We started fishing anyway.

Pinksalmon bankfishing

Because a large number of pinksalmons are wandering nearby the shore line, most people are snagging. However, we are so experienced anglers and have a little pride that we try not to snag it and cast aside from schools.

school pinksalmon

Pinksalmon was chasing the lure boldly. I caught 3 pinks soon. When I fished third pink, my rod was broken. It was a 3 piece travel rod, so its connecting part must have been fragile. I filleted them and put them into zip-lock bags while Mr.Shiraishi was fishing. When I opened a pink's belly, I found the stomach had atrophied and nothing was in it. Generally speaking, when salmon start running up, they never eat.It could be true. I believe their chasing is depending on their instinct.

Pinksalmon Valdez

When I saw the map next day,I found Solomon Guich Fish Hatchery nearby the fishing place. They could have come back to their home, the hatchery.

On July 13

We went to the boat harbor at 7:00 a.m.. We and 3 people from a Chicago family got on board Wild Iris that Captain Barbara was steering. Looking Shoup Glacier and Valdez Glacier, we were going forward in the misty Port Valdez.

On board Valdez Beautiful Valdez

Port Valdez is one of the inlets of Prince William Sound, and is a good fishery for salmon and halibut. So, there were a lot of commercial fishing boats around us. Barbara anchored at intervals for commercial fishing boats to go by. Wet line!

Spin-fishing on board

We set Meps spinners, and the family set Pixies. There were a lot of rises around the boat. A few pinks were chasing the lures , but never bit. The water was too clear, maybe. Barbara moved the boat several times, and made it drift. At last , she decided to go to the offing of Alison Point.

The water in the offing of Alison Point is a little muddy because Lowe River flows into Port Valdez. It could make the fish relaxed. The anglers on board begin to shout Fish on! . Barbara becomes very busy running on the boat with a landing net.

Barbara extended fishing time until 1:50 pm., and got back to the harbor at 2:00 pm.. 5 anglers caught 40 fish. We got 25. Because we tried to fish only female, males were 3 of 25. In my experience, the female is more aggressive and chases a lure very well.

Fish of the today Hanson family

We left Valdez at 4:30 pm.. On the way back , I refilled the gas and returned to the camp at 6:30 pm..

On July 14

Today is for bank-fishing! At the beginning , I intended to go to some rivers in Copper Valley. But, I've never fished sockeye in Klutina River. Until I catch 1 fish, I can't go anywhere.

Klutina River

The lead with rubber was easily stuck , so I changed to the local pencil lead. The water wasn't so deep that I made a leader short. I did flipping by different ways. However, I got no fish.

After two hours flipping, the bite came suddenly. It was my first bite, so I reeled up very carefully. But it ended in failure. The fish was going downstream at one stroke. My fishing line couldn't bear the fish weight and current power. Damm!

After two hours, I got a second bite. I hooked strongly and narrowly fished, but couldn't land it. The third bite came after one hour. I could catch it easily this time. Surprisingly , it was 2 foot kingsalmon. But I had to release it immediately , because my hook was on not its mouth but the side. The side means it's illegal to keep.

When the next bite came, it seemed to be stuck. The line didn't move any more. At first , I thought it was stuck , and lifted up my rod. Then, the line started moving towards upstream. In my experience, this moving means it must be a very big fish. As expected , it pulled the line strongly. Then,it turned downstream. I held the rod and the reel tightly, and tried to reel up. If it goes into swift current, I won't be able to catch it. I have to be patient or my rod will be broken. The fish is approaching the bank. When I picked up a landing net at the bank, the line was broken. I was utterly absentminded for a while.

My 11 hours fighting has finished in vain. I couldn't catch even one sockeye. I have to come back here and try again.

Dram Mountain

On July 15

I have been fishing for two hours in the morning, but no fish. It is not easy to do different ways of fishing depending on each river. I understand how to fish in my mind, but practice is different.

Because I would meet my friends, Valerie and Jake, in Anchorage at 4:00 pm., I left the camp at 11:00 am.. As I was coming close to Anchorage, it was getting foggy. The newspaper I read in Valdez said the weather of summer was so extraordinary that many fires had occured in Kenai Peninsula, and a big fire occured nearby Skilak Lake yesterday. The sea wind was carrying their smoke to Anchorage, my friend said.

I could enjoy very delicious dinner with Valerie and her son, Jake, at Simon & Seaforts. Valerie bought our dinner. It was a long time since we had a nice dinner because we had been staying at the rustic room in Copper Valley. Thank you Valerie.

With Valerie and Jake

On July 16

We got on the plane at 8:00 am. at Anchorage International Airport, and changed to NW7 at Seattle. There were several Japanese anglers with fishing rods and tourists who seemed to have travelled at Denali region. There are few Japanese in June, but lots in July.

My fishing expedition that it had taken 6 months to arrange has almost finished. If possible, I'd like to come back here soon. However, I am a Sunday angler, and have a lot of jobs in Japan. Chumsalmon and Cohosalmon may be waiting for the running up time in the sea. But , I can't fish for them this year. See you next year.

What are you thinking ?

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