It’s been busy here ever since the weather got cold again. We had a long spat of warm weather from early January through the second week of February. When I say warm I mean as high as 57* and heavy rains in some areas. This made river travel impossible via snowmachine. Matter of fact we were lucky that the ice didn’t breakup completely given the extent of warm weather. In most areas the ice stayed but there was water up to one foot or deeper running atop of the ice, not good for mid January in the Alaskan Interior at all.
This is just a post to show those who have never seen a freight sled what one looks like. The first couple photos were taken when I joined with 3 other fellows on a trip out to the cabin. The loads of lumber were being delivered to a site where a cabin is being constructed. I was told that they had 3200 pounds of lumber on the sleds.
My sled is the one with 2 barrels of fuel and a large dog on board.
I stayed out for a week and then came back for more gas, this trip my wife Nancy made the trip back out with me so we could get some work done at the cabin.
On that run we took 3 more barrels of gas and yes, the great big dog. My dog is a German Shepherd named Boss, he goes everywhere with me and is my chief of security at home and on the rivers. Not much gets past those eyes – ears and nose.
I’ll be leaving tomorrow with 4 barrels of fuel and will be out for a week or until we finish the interior gables. The cabin is an ongoing process that improves a bit each year. It is however a cabin and not a lodge. If you send any e-mail about trips I’ll answer soon as I come back home. I’ll be running as much fuel and other supplies as I can up until the ice goes out. It takes a lot of gasoline to run these rivers during the Salmon season and I try to have enough on hand out there so there are no worries. Bush gas can cost as much as 6.85 per gallon if you have to buy it. Transport is part of that cost, the further in you go the more expensive the gasoline gets. Of course hauling your own spares you from paying .30 cents per pound to have it hauled in but you need a dependable snowmachine and freight sled to take your own. I don’t think that a 13,000 dollar machine and a 2000 dollar sled are economical but they help to explain why freight haulers charge .30 per pound for transport………..
There have been changes to the salmon regulations regarding the Susitna and Yentna River drainages for 2014. I see all of them as being positive especially for those who are seeking only to catch some of these most beautiful and strong of all the salmon species. For the local crowd many of whom are strictly looking to catch and kill the season limit the new regulations may not be so attractive.
In previous years the department of fish & game has delayed setting harvest ratios until they had determined that the fish were in trouble as far as the numbers of returning fish go. In my opinion the delay allowed for many of the precious stock to be caught & killed before there was a closure. Not true for 2014; my home river will begin the season with the rule set to harvest allowed only on Saturday – Sunday and Monday. All fishing will be single hook, to quote from the F&G website; [" Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure is allowed. Single-hook means a fish hook with only one point. Treble hooks and more than one single-hook are prohibited. The use of bait is also prohibited."]
What this means to a fly fisherman / Spey caster who is looking for the challenge of the kings is that there will be virtually no one fishing the rivers on days when the killing of king salmon is not allowed. Myself, I have stopped taking this species three years ago and prior to that time had never killed the 5 fish limit allowed by law. The most damaging facet of the harvest is that when the use of bait was allowed it was the hens which were the most sought after of the species. This was so that the eggs could be taken and cured for use as bait for the taking of more kings……….. Is it just me or does that sound a little short sighted?
My experience last season with rivers during the ‘no kill catch & release’ regulations was that I was virtually alone while fishing. Very few if any boats out and just me and the fish. It doesn’t get much better than that. My best day resulted in hooking and releasing 8 king salmon inside a 4 hour period and all were unharmed to the best of my knowledge. If you would happen to end up fishing with me as your guide I have stocked a good supply of the fly that has proven for 4 straight seasons to produce and produce multiple fish.
The regulations are also affecting the commercial fleet which fishes Cook Inlet with the big nets. Due to the restrictions of the 2014 commercial fleet we may see a dramatic increase in our salmon returns on all species. As soon as our ice goes out and travel is safe on the rivers and creeks I will begin scouting new destinations.
The new destinations will be the result of a new means of transporting fishermen to remote stretches of our waterways. This ‘new means’ does not have a dramatic impact on the price of guided trips and can be discussed at length with any and all people who contact me in regarding setting up dates. There are still some windows open for scheduling but they are filling quickly. I know that a real time calendar showing available dates would be helpful but I have not found one that works for me at this time. The easiest way to determine availability is a simple e-mail request and I will be happy to either call or reply via e-mail as to weather I am open during your trip to Alaska.
In a nutshell the king salmon season is looking good. At this time we are behind on snowpack throughout this region of Alaska. This may result in some of the best water conditions seen in years for the early season June – July. There is always a chance of three foot falling between now and the breakup but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. A deep snowpack results in high and discolored waters with the warming weather. As fly fishermen and women you know that a river running at normal of just below normal levels is a very desirable thing as opposed to the other……….
I’m ready to fish