This past week local white water and fly guide Graydon Garlough came into the shop, and we always shoot the breeze about fishing. He always has killer stories about big fish on the forks of the american, and i have been wanting to get on the river for a while.
Our days ended up matching well and he invited me to join him and some friends on a float nearby.
Got the rafts down to the river and started fishing around 9. This is some beautiful and rugged country. The only way to fish most of this is from a raft, as it allows unparalleled access to all of the prime spots, and it also is a fun way to shoot down some of the rapids along the river. Kevin had a pretty much brand new boat, that was really nice to row and super stable to fish out of. Its always fun to have a nice ride.
You can fish pretty much anyway you want to, but there are predatory browns lurking in this river, so it was no question what i was going to throw all day, big streamers. I love nothing more than a solid streamer grab. Super visual and its just a blast hammering out long casts.
Right off the bat i laid my sculpin into a shallow rock garden and a nice brown hammered it as soon as it hit the water, then wrapped a rock and popped me off. It happens….thats why you fish 10lb at the smallest.
Kevin, my partner for the day (2 to a raft) took the rod for the next while, and i got to row for a while. He hammered on the fish with a czech nymphing setup that i am going to check out in the future. So nice to be able to fish nymphs without a bobber…
A ways down river, it took a slight left turn leaving some soft water in the corner, and kevin laid a cast down to a brown that was cruising around actively feeding. The fish followed the 4″ long sculpin for a long ways, and finally hit it when kevin started to strip as violently as possible. The fish took a long run as soon as he was on, screaming the reel the whole way. It was about 20 seconds of insanity before the line just went slack, the hook must have never gotten a good grab. Kevin laid another cast right in front of it and it ate it again, but also did not get the hook.
After that he let me have the front again and got back on the oars. Pretty quickly after i started fishing again, i made a shot to the bank, gave it a few strips and saw a white mouth open and inhale the sculpin. The fish fought like crazy, and we had fast water on both sides, with a small island in the middle creating a good break in the current. He jumped once and made some really solid runs. We landed him right as Graydon and Derek floated up to us, a solid 20″+ brown, one of my favorite fish to date.
Kevin decided to stay on the oars even after i caught that fish, so i kept at it after that. Pretty soon we were coming around a corner into a really deep bucket, so i dumped as much line as i could straight down and let it hit the bottom. As soon as my line was down, i gave one strip and my rod jolted from the weight of a big brown attacking my sculpin. It felt as if i was snagged on the bottom as the fish dove to break me off in the massive rocks that were on the bottom. We pulled the raft over to the side and i found a ledge i could walk out on the fight the fish in. After a solid fight i slid him to hand and got a handful of brown trout.
There wasnt much more river left after this last run, but kevin got back up front after we got ourselves composed and gave it a go, but we didnt find anymore takers.
This was one of the best fishing days i have had in a long time. Grady and his crew are working on some new info for their business and i will have it posted up here soon. They offer 1-3 days trips, up to a 20 mile wilderness float which is an amazing way to see the area. Highly recommended, not only for the fishing but also the adrenaline pumping white water.
Thanks for reading! I head to alaska for the summer guiding season in about a month, stay tuned for pictures and reports!!