I went on a "suicide run" with a few friends after hearing that the reds were hitting in record numbers in the Russian yesterday. Up until yesterday, I had been completely skunked in all fishing attempts. I caught a few lake trout, none worth keeping but they were enough to keep me trying.
I suppose I should admit that I am very much a rookie fisherman. I have caught quite a few fish in the "outside", but anyone here knows that's nothing like fishing in the Greatland.
My luck seems pretty low when it comes to fishing here in AK. All of my attemts have been sad at best. But my luck seems to have made a turn for the better.
I rode south with three friends from my unit, with hopes of a full icebox. We stopped at the parking lot at the Russian, and the attendant told us we were better off heading to Bing's Landing on the Kenai. So off we went. We found the action in what can only be described as typical Alaskan "combat fishing"
Here's where things get interesting. As soon as we found our way through the trail to the river's edge, I noticed one after another angler hooking reds, as far as I could see in either direction along the river. They were thick! I envisioned tossing out my line, catching my limit and having plenty of time for a nap before limiting out again after midnight and heading home.
Boy, was I in for a shock! Picture Barney Fife trying to catch fish shoulder-to-shoulder with a hundered other anglers and you might be close to what actually happened. I was wearing my hip waders, and I found that they can hold almost exactly half the volume of water running along the Kenai when I lost my footing and sat down. I just kept fishing as though I intended to take a seat. (I don't think anyone was fooled though.)
So now wet and cold, I tenaciously continued to cast and pull, hour after hour hoping to hook a fish like everyone around me. My first bite was actually a very nice red - I had a good look as it jumped twice, heading down stream over 100 yards since my drag was set way too light. It shook off the fly, and I doggedly cast away, snagging either the bottom, or another angler's line every other cast. Serious credit is due to the patience of those who had to repeatedly untangle their line from mine.
I lost several flies, weights, had to cut my line twice to eliminate tangles and used pliers to dig a hook out of my thumb, buried past the barb. (Make sure you hold the hook, not the eye when pulling the knot tight.)
I finally got my rhythm going, and hooked on to a small male. He was my only catch, and by far the smallest of all six reds we caught. But I couldn't be more proud. My buddy showed me how to fillet it, and my family had him for dinner tinight. Even a small Red is ebough for a meal for my family of six. I am HOOKED. (pun intended.)
That little red was my fist fish worth keeping since arriving in AK. Here's hoping it will be the first of many more to come!