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Every fall after my busy Alaska fishing season in Alaska, I take five or six weeks off from guiding to catch a few fish on my own. This is the journal describing my fishing adventures from my '98 vacation!


  • August 30, 1998 ... Rolled into camp today after a 36 hour journey from Soldotna, Alaska where I summer ... the trip (by plane, train, and automobile) was by far the easiest I've encountered with smooth sailing nearly the entire way. Didn't see but three bears this trip (normally more), but that was probably due to the time of day I covered most of "bear country". Camp is still almost empty ... only Keith and Alice and one fellow from Georgia named Dennis are here. River is a tad high and very dirty, so I probably will use tomorrow as a get ready day.
  • August 31, 1998 ... As I planned, I spent the day rigging rods and all sorts of other gear including the pontoon boat. River dropped and cleared a little, but is still really too dirty to fish although I did go down to the "High Pea Garden" just before dark to make a few casts. Lots of fish in the "High Garden" ... too bad they were all pinks that bit ... today, I am the "Humpy Master"!
  • September 1, 1998 ... Actually went fishing today, although I started quite late as I found it hard to get out of bed to race exactly nobody down to the "Cable Crossing" to fish. This hole has always been a good producer, but doesn't always fish well under higher water and I felt perhaps that it may still be a little early for many fish to be around despite some rumors. As it turned out, I hooked a fish on my fourth cast fishing a Volcano off of a T-300 ... never before had I seen a "Zipperlip" fish take such a fast, prolonged run, within seconds, I was WAY into my backing and had to finally give chase nearly 1/2 mile downstream before the 41 1/2 inches of raw power!!16 pound buck finally subdued to the rod. As I would soon find out, the fish seemed to extremely active today as my second fish took as I made my SIXTH strip of line on my retrieve ... this fish too, was an extremely good fighter, I'll take back all those things I've said about these fish being eager biters, but poor fighters ... every fish but one today gave spectacular battles, especially this fish on the right that turned out to be my biggest ever on a fly rod ... 41 1/2 inches, somewhere around 25 pounds. Before I finally gave up in mid-afternoon as I felt the need to go get a short nap, the count from this one tailout was ten on, seven landed ... a great day, even for this river ... especially when you consider, I never saw another person! As I sit and type away, the rain is falling and I am worried that I might not get the better water conditions that I expected tomorrow ... we'll wait and see!
  • September 2 ,1998 ... Awoke this morning to find the river rising and coloring slightly, but still quite fishable. I took Dennis down to "Cable Crossing" hoping to let him experience his first steelhead ... he was rather down after a bad experience on Sunday with a local guide that took him out fishing while the river was out. Today, he broke his first couple fish off on spoons with his spinning outfit ... perhaps the twist he had in his in his line was causing the break-offs as his drag appeared to be OK ... finally, he was able to land about a 16 pound hen and later followed up with a buck of about 10-11 pounds ... he was a happy camper indeed!! Keith also came down and tried fishing damp for awhile, but with no luck ... I found that even my T-300 couldn't keep me down, so I rigged up a short, 16 foot, 355 grain head that seemed to do the job ... I'm not sure if my third fish of the day was caught by me, or if he caught himself ... as I neared the break of the tailout, I went through one of my "casting funks" and decided to go take a break as I untangled my running line for about the fourth cast in a row and turned back to shore and started reeling with the rod over my left shoulder as I disgustedly walked back ashore, progressing twenty feet toward the bank, WHAM!!! Who would have ever thought??? Keith yelled down that he would like me to demonstrate this move over my right shoulder tomorrow20 pound steelhead double-header!!! ... we'll see, with the oddities so far, nothing would surprise me!!! Keith and I ended the day with a double on 20 pounders ... although Keith's may have been just a hair under ... his was a girthy 37 incher, and mine 38 1/2 ... Dennis was kind enough to come down from the head of the hole to snap this picture of Keith and I with his fish as the tail wrist was big enough that Keith had problems even hanging onto this beautiful buck ... although today was a little slower than yesterday, I hooked five and landed four, the skies are clearing tonight ... what will better water conditions tomorrow bring???
  • September 3, 1998 ... Expecting better water conditions, I was surprised to find that the river had again risen and colored overnight ... perhaps there was more rain far upstream two days ago than we got here near the mouth of the river, or perhaps some of the afternoon showers were quite heavy in one of the tributary valleys. Anyhow, I made it short fishing day, hoping things will improve tomorrow. Despite the lousy water, I hooked two fish on the flyrod in the tailout of "Cable Crossing" (I had stopped by the "High Pea Garden" previously, but it was already filled with a couple of anglers, it probably would have been a better bet than the "Cable Crossing") using a T-400 and some 2/0 Volcanoes. Unfortunately, I lost both fish in the midst of their acrobatics ... frustrated with my knack for keeping them on and another of my casting funks, I grabbed the gear rod and went up to the head end of the pool to fish a seam with a pink worm under a bobber, not ten feet into the drift, the bobber went under, I assumed that I must have had the depth set incorrectly and nonchalantly tugged to free it ... of course, it yanked back! One screaming run and a cartwheel later, a twenty-plusser spit that worm right back at me! Oh well, so much for a big 'n three days in a row ... and off to town I went for some groceries and even some "great" fast food.
  • September 4, 1998 ... Keith, and his wife, Alice, Jim R. (keep track here, there will be several Jims over the next month) and myself were all very disappointed to see that the river, despite dropping, had colored badly overnight, exactly the A handsome buck!opposite of what should have happened. Despite the poor water ... perhaps eight inches of visibility ... we went back down to "Cable Crossing". Much to our surprise, the water color didn't seem to matter, as it was just a few minutes before Keith was into his first steelhead of the day, which, much like my fish yesterday, spit the hook right back at him. The action got better, within forty-five minutes, Keith, Jim, and myself had all landed a fish ... nothing huge, but we were very happy to see the action amidst the poor water conditions!!! As the day went on, squirts of fish came into the tail, and we were happy to halt the upstream progress temporarily, the group of four of us ended up hooking over 30 steelies, with four separate double-headers! Quite a day indeed! Now, what will happen if the water gets better on Saturday??? Especially with my girlfriend, Corey, (Fishgal to some of the board readers) showing up and ready to do some battle with a gear rod in the upper end of the hole that we can't fish effectively with flies.
  • September 5, 1998 ... Made the early run down to "Cable Crossing" to hopefully beat the added pressure of the weekenders ... thought we were in for a huge day as I rolled a fish on the first cast in the top end of the hole showing Corey how to work the seam ... only moments later, Tony, a local fellow fishing below, hooked into a fish. Despite the improving water today ... fishing was a little slower than we had hoped for, although Keith and I started our day with another double-header about 8 o'clock ... Corey started our group's Twenty-plus pounds of summer run!success about an hour earlier however with her first steelhead from the river, a buck of about 15 pounds. She beat up on the boys today,  as about nine or so, she landed her first steelie over 20 with an aeropuff in the top part of the hole. I finally managed to score another fish in "Cable Crossing" and had two LDR's (long distance releases) on two others. Our group hooked about twenty total before the "weekend warriors" (no pun intended, LOL) showed in force and we all decided to split up and head to some other holes. Corey and I ran up to the upper end of the "Atkins" Property and managed to each hook a fish before we decided to call it a day. Keith informed us when we returned to camp that he had risen five steelies on the dry line in "Elmer's Tree" ... might have to check that one out soon ...
  • September 6, 1998 ... Headed to "Cable Crossing" before first light to hopefully intercept some of the fish that Keith hit in "Elmer's Tree" yesterday afternoon. Corey wasted no time as within a few casts, Corey strikes again with the aeropuff!she landed this 37 inch hen on an aeropuff up top ... good thing because within twenty minutes, it seemed as if half the local tribal members showed up and started hurling lures across the top of my line in the tail ... biting my upper lip, somehow keeping my cool, I decided to pack up and head elsewhere ... meanwhile, Corey managed to land another before the masses descended upon her. Jim, Corey, and I went down near the mouth to the "Pipes" and quickly Jim was into a fish even before I was in the water. We had sent Corey down to the deep part of the run with the gear rod and she too managed to get into some more fish ... hooking two and landing one of them, a low teener ... I followed Jim down through the hole and over the next hour managed to hook and land three fish that were not overly large, but extremely good fighters, taking me way into my backing on several occasions. Wanting to see how some other spots were fishing, I decided to leave the run alone and Corey and I headed up to "Elmer's Tree". The hole has changed a lot in recent years, but the tailout still looked like good fly water ... I was right, soon I managed to land another nice fish that ate a black GP. Knowing that Corey was soaked from the morning's incessant rain, we decided to then go on back to camp to dry out and nap ... fishing was done for the day, as the short nap turned into a long afternoon slumber.
  • September 7, 1998 ... Finding it tough to rise this morning from the late night bagpipin' and fiddlin' around last night's campfire, we rolled the dice this morning hoping that the Monday crowd would be smaller at "Cable Crossing" ... we turned out to be correct in our assumption but we soon found that our adversary today was going to be high water and not competing anglers. Jim S. of Colorado, he too a regular here at the camp, joined Corey and myself for the morning fish. Corey hooked into a fish within a few casts ... unfortunately, she lost this fish ... it turned out to be her only hook-up of the day. Jim, fishing first in the hole, hooked several fish in the last 50 yards of the pool ... these fish too threw the hook ... it seemed as if the fish had OUR number The old tried and true General Practicioner saves the day!today. I shortly thereafter landed this small fish on the right on an orange GP, I'm glad I did, as I would've been empty handed today as the other four that I hit proved to be just a little too wiley to stay on my line. The river was rising hard and coloring quickly from yesterday's rain ... hoping that perhaps a notoriously dirty tributary was pumping in some of the color, we ran upstream to the "Atkins" Property above "No Name" Creek to look for better water ... unfortunately, most of the color was within the mainstem and was even worse up here ... bad guess on our part ... but as I saw, we weren't alone in our bad call as other anglers with the same idea show up as we flogged the water to no avail. Now we'll have to wait and see what the morning brings for water conditions.
  • September 8, 1998 ... Awoke this morning to find the river looking much better initially, but it rose very quickly and dirtied badly in mid-morning ... Art C., a Seattle fellow I fish with a lot up here made it into camp last night and took Corey's spot in the rotation as she headed back to Forks to return to work ... Jim S., Jim R., Art, and I fished "Cable Crossing" for awhile before we called it an early day due to rising water and a very poor bite. Before the river went, however, Jim R., Jim. S. each landed a fish apiece and lost several others, I had my chances ... losing three steelies ... but not landing any of them ... I did manage to land a couple of nice coho, but I guess I won't be able to go the whole month now with a record of at least one steelie a day ... oh well!!! The river seemed to stabilize a little tonight and we even thought it might be clearing a little ...
  • September 9, 1998 ... Got a little later start this morning waiting for daylight to show us the river's state. Today found us back at our usual spot with quality, not quantity being the name of the game ... Jim S. landed a big buck early in the morning of about 25 pounds ... Jim R. had the most activity of the morning fishing as he had the only T-400 in the Not the pink worm!!!group and managed to stay down a little better than the rest of us ... I pulled a smooth move and left mine on a spare spool in camp ... Art did alright with a T-350 and some bullet head flies he tied ... hooking several fish but only landing one.  I continued my bad luck streak, losing my first two fish of the day ... don't you just hate these kind of streaks!!! Art grew tired of tossing the heavy flyline early in the afternoon, and just after we had our semi-weekly visit from the local game warden, Art broke out his old Winona reel that I modified the reel foot on last night to fit his new Loomis 1143 drift rod ... very nice rod I must say, I'll have to remind myself to get one or two the next time the rod buying urge overwhelms me ... he broke the rod in nicely, landing this 20ish buck on the dreaded bubblegum pink worm and bobber. As Art messed around with his bobber, I borrowed his flyrod with the heavier setup and managed to hook, and yes, lose another fish ... will I ever land another fish? After Jim R. headed to town to fill everybody's want list from the fly shop, and Jim S. headed home Art and I went to work with the "other rods" ... we wanted to see if the fish were there and we just couldn't get to them. The fish were there, on my third cast with an aeropuff I hooked yet another fish and of course lost it. I The aeropuff strikes again!watched a big fish boil in the main slot within the tail ... the same water we had all been trying to work and couldn't get down in ... with the gear rod, not a problem ... next cast I got a good tug and set sharply ... nothing, until I started to yank to free my aeropuff rig from the rock that then began to pulsate and march upstream ... and then down, and down, and down ... twenty minutes later (no exaggeration, I can't remember when the last time it took me that long to land a fish on a gear rod!) and several hundred yards downstream, I finally slid this 40 inch buck into the shallows ... nice way to break my bad luck streak!!! We called it a day on this high note and now sit and wait here at camp to see what the water will do ... please don't rain!!!
  • September 10, 1998 ... Jim S., Art, and I made our daily trek to "Cable Crossing" and found the water to be about the same level as we left it yesterday with perhaps a little better visibility ... meaning a little high in here for the bugrods. Jim led the way with a T-300, the heaviest line he has, with Art going next with a T-350, and I batted cleanup with the T-400 and some crazy rabbit fur and flashabou contraption similar to Sarp's Seducer that I had tied up last night. Jim managed to hook and land a fish on the first pass through the hole at the very bottom break ... it turned out to be the only fish any of us hit on the fly. The river began to rise very quickly about 8AM ... but the color was holding alright with the visibility staying at about two feet. About 9 or so, with river up about four inches in the last hour, Another big'unArt and I switched over to the gear rods ... Art hooked a fish on the worm after about five minutes of fishing ... it wasn't more than about eight pounds or so, but it cartwheeled all over the place and was fun just to watch. I grabbed my aeropuff and came in where Art had left off, hooking and landing a fish of about 11-12 pounds. I then decided to go up to the spot in the drift we have dubbed "Corey's Corner" and hooked a fish on my first cast ... turned out to be a dandy, another 40 inch fish ... about a twin of the one I got yesterday afternoon. I called Art up to the spot, knowing that it would be perfect for the worm, it was ... Art quickly hooked two more fish, landing one. We both worked the drift for another hour, watching the river rise some more ... now, we couldn't even buy a bite ... Jim had already left and we decide to do the same, running into town to do laundry and some more tying supplies for the heavy water conditions that it looks like we'll contend with this season.
  • September 11, 1998 ... Awoke this morning around 6:30 not necessarily planning to fish, but the river had returned to nearly the same level as yesterday morning, so we decided to go make a short day of it while the river was still in as we heard rumors of an approaching storm. Art and I went down to "Cable Crossing" to find a gear angler with an observer in the tailout, Art sighed as he wanted to have first pass through there with the flyrod before we switched to gear if necessary. I mentioned to Art that it probably wouldn't be any big deal to have him ahead of us seeing from his technique that the fish were likely safe around him ... I was right, Art came in behind him with the flyrod and managed to promptly hook a couple of fish right behind him ... that's it! I'm taking first water in here next time! Art managed to lose both of these fish, so I secretly felt a little Nice Zipperlip hen steelheadbetter (boy, am I in trouble when he reads this!). I did manage to hook this nice hen a few casts later on a fly I call the Orange Blob off of a T-400 ... spectacular leaper, probably seven or eight full breaks out of the water. Art in the meantime grabbed his gear rod and went to harass some fish in "Corey's Corner" and did so on the first cast, this fish too swam free as Art LDR'd another ...  a few minutes later, he lost his fourth of the day as his leader parted with his mainline ... perhaps, for today anyhow, I've passed my jinx on to someone else. We only gave the hole about an hour longer, with Art not touching any more and myself landing a smallish hen of about seven pounds on the aeropuff. The skies have remained fairly nice today, although we have noticed that the little bit of snow in the higher hills has disappeared, everyone in camp is waiting to see what the water will do ... perhaps the week-end would be a good time for it to blow out to allow us to catch up on our sleep and watch some football games in town.
  • September 12, 1998 ... River was just barely fishable this morning: level had risen another few inches and colored a little more. Despite the poor water, Art and I decided to float from "Mickey's" to camp. The first few holes produced nothing on either fly or gear ... we were very disappointed as "Mickey's" and the "Upper Yoda" are traditionally pretty good high water spots. Moving downstream, Art decided to try a little pocket that always seems to hold fish and I went to the tailout of "Killing Creek", a pool that generally holds salmon, but usually holds some steelhead too right at the very bottom. I began working the hole with a worm under a bobber ... with the very slow current movement in this hole, it does not fish at all with a flyrod ... on the third cast, the bobber went under and a tiny steelie of about three pounds shot out of the water and ... gone. I made several more passes with the bobber and nothing. I switched over to a silver plated spoon just as Art showed up and on the first cast a small coho grabbed it, giving a few meager jumps and some tugs, it was quickly subdued and returned to the pool. Art told me that he had one tug in the pocket, but didn't connect. I cast again and hooked another fish as the spoon was sinking ... this fish was much heavier than the first, but was gone as quickly as I hooked it. The following cast produced exactly the same results as the previous one ... fish on, fish gone. Whether these fish were steelies or not, who knows? I was just happy to have a little action in these water conditions. Art went down to fish what has always been a great high water spot ... I worked the tailout over for awhile longer, hitting one steelie of about 16 pounds. I went down to find Art and saw that the hole we wanted to fish no longer exists ... it appeared today was going to be a reconnaissance run ... we saw that river had changed course too: last year's channel was now dry, although there was water coming in from another split at the point we lost sight of the channel. Last year, much of the water had gone under a logjam where we stood, now the jam was gone. We decided to try the newly cleared channel as we knew where they all came back together and at worst, we could pack our rafts if necessary ... it was! A new logjam about 3/4 of the way down theWhich way do we go??? Which way do we go??channel we took blocked our path ... we were forced to portage our rafts about 400 yards through flood deposited tress to a clear path down. Next time, we'll portage the old river channel, as it was just sand to traverse. We'll see what sort of Lewis & Clark-like adventure we can have next time! Working our way further downstream, we saw lots of changes: the "Raisin Bread" Hole is going to be a dandy under normal water, it wasn't bad at high either, I hit one fish in here on the bugrod, but didn't hook it ... I found a broken hook a few casts later ... perhaps some sloppy casting was to blame here. The "Dandy", historically one of the best holes in the float, is pretty much shot at all but the very lowest water. New stump in the "Root Canal". "Barking Dog Hole" has filled a little, but the snag is still there, and the "Slide Hole" is as good as ever, I just couldn't find any fish in there. I did hook one more fish on the worm just above camp in the "Camp Hole" ... never saw it, but it felt heavy as it marched upstream and popped off in the riffle above. Hoping for some dryer weather, we really need it!!
  • The Neon VolcanoSeptember 13, 1998 ... Art and I decided to take today off ... I finally got up around 10:30 ... a sleep well received. River was essentially out today, with visibility down to about eight inches, with the water level more of a problem ... it had risen about three inches. Spent much of the day tying obnoxious, huge flies like this 3/0 variation of the Volcano (Cook) that I add some chartreuse marabou and krystal flash to in the butt area, and getting more tackle for the gear rod ready. Weather was dry today here at camp, and it is cool tonight, so perhaps the river level will begin a downward trend.
  • September 14, 1998 ... River dropped a little bit overnight and Art and I started at "Cable Crossing" again hoping the level would be getting close to be able to flyrod it ... water was still a little high this morning although I started the day with a real prize on the Neon Volcano shown above ... a huge sucker ... WOW!! What a letdown! We switched over to gear relatively soon and Art was quickly into a fish in "Corey's Corner". Art was able to land this fish ... good thing, because we couldn't hold onto another fish for the rest of the day. I hooked and lost two in "Cable Crossing" fishing the Aeropuff. We gave "Crossing" until about 11AM and then decided to go up and try the "High Pea Garden". As it turned out, the level was perfect in here ... problem was, Art and I were both rigged up with T-300's and 400's, we needed 200's or a sink-tip. Nevertheless, I managed to hook two nice steelies on the 3/0 Neon Volcano forcing the 300 Let me show you how to land one Bob ... NOT!!through the best I could ... our hexed streak continued as Art hooked a fish in the channel opposite of the main slot we fish from the island that we call the "High Garden". All three fish we hooked in here were very nice fish, all high teeners or better ... one that I hooked looked to be 20'ish or even a little better ... oh well! River is dropping tonight and "Cable Crossing" ought to fish OK in the morning, although the "Garden" is a bet too ... will probably hold off on a float for a day or so or perhaps longer depending upon what we find the next day or so. New arrival here in camp this afternoon ... Jason N., an old frat brother, roommate, and co-worker in the golf shop, rolled in tonight and will fish with me for the next five or six days.
  • September 15, 1998 ... Watch out, it's that old guy in the green down coat again!Awoke this morning to a 27 degree frost covering the car ... the first freeze since I've been here. Clearing overnight brought the frost and helped to drop the river a little bit more. The usual gang did the usual thing ... head to "Cable Crossing". The water was low enough to allow the "flyboys" to work the whole lower end of the hole ... everybody fished T-400's the whole with the exception of Art who likes to fish the TS-350 with a weighted fly. In the meantime, Jason worked the upper end with an assortment of gear. Jim S. tried to get the day going for us, but broke his fish off. It took Art to come through again for us with this dandy buck. The morning was slow but steady ... Jason lost a few, I landed one, and Jim R. and Art each hit a couple ... about noon, all Hell broke loose with a triple-header underway in the fly zone of the hole. Unfortunately my fish went upstream (it was a dandy!) and Jim R.'s went At last!!!down ... bad combination ... only Art landed his fish. But this triple-header seemed to mark the steady flow of fish over the next few hours. I seemed to pass on my bad luck streak to Jason as he went through fits trying to keep fish on his hook ... I know how you feel Jas! Although he did finally manage to land this bright hen this afternoon. As the afternoon wore on, calls of "fish on" were heard every 10 or 15 minutes ... all tallied up, at mid-afternoon when we all went back to camp (save for Jason and I stopping for pizza in town) we hooked 33 fish in "Cable Crossing" today. No really big fish today, perhaps tomorrow ... but the increasing clouds tonight have everybody a little anxious about what the weather will do ... another couple of dry days will put the river at perfect level ... or a good rain will have me sitting at the computer in lowly cabin number eight tonight on the outskirts of camp, or maybe making a run up to one of the local lakes for some cutthroat fishing that usually provides incredible numbers (40-50 each angler in a few hours), but no size (most are 6-9 inches).
  • Bob the computer geek.September 16, 1998 ... After a late night of working on a new version of the website (coming soon, I promise!), the morning wake-up came way too early this morning, but Jason and I answered the call of duty again and joined Art and the two Jims at "Cable Crossing". I started the group's day off with a nice hen of about 15 pounds on my second cast with a Showgirl off of a T-400. We all expected to continue where we left off yesterday with the water looking quite good today ... but the fish didn't appear to be moving through in any appreciable numbers today ... Jason landed the next two fish, one coho and one steelhead in the upper end of the hole on hardware. We didn't have any more activity on the fly rods until early afternoon when Art hooked a couple of fish and lost both right at the very break of the tail. I did lose a nice fish in mid-pool on a blue Hey Jen, I REALLY am fishing here!and pink rag that I put to use as my arm grew weary of endless casting with the heavy flyline. In the meantime however, Jason landed this 40 inch buck in mid-pool using a spoon. His first steelie over 20, congrats Jason! As mid-afternoon rolled around, the locals showed up in force and we all decided to call it quits in here as things were too crowded with their presence. Jason and I went up to "Elmer's Tree" and we doubled up on our respective first casts. Jason LDR'd his, but the little purple GP held on to my hen of about 11-12 pounds. I did hook another steelie in the far slot on the bank opposite where we normally fish by wading up a small underwater bar in the center of the river. I lost the fish as it swam around my legs as I tried to figure out what my best plan was to release it ... perfect! That took care of that dilemma. The water looks very good tonight and we'll probably give the old trusty hole another go in the morning ... we'll hold off on a float for another day or so ... "Cable Crossing" can't be slow two days in a row, can it??
  • September 17, 1998 ... Yep, "Cable Crossing" was slow two days in a row! Jason, Jim S., and I started here this morning and found that the fish were not being terribly cooperative in here. They just keep getting bigger for Jason!Both Jim and I missed fish in the lower end ... that was it for us. Jason, throwing some hardware up top, landed several coho. Switching over to the pink and blur rag, he finally hooked into a steelie ... and it was a "toad", as I like to call them. After his first 20 plusser yesterday, Jason bested his own record with this fish ... 40 1/2 inches by 22 inches ... about 24 1/2 pounds. Rather than waiting to see if any fish would move in through the day,  I took Jason up to the "Upper Yoda". He fished the deep heavy water up top and I worked the flat part of mid-pool and the tail. Jason quickly landed two fish ... one of which was again nearing twenty. It took me a little while to find my first one, but I finally found a taker for the size 4 Coal Car (off of a T-200, yes!! My Run over by a Coal Carright arm says thank you!): a buck of about twelve pounds. I did manage to hook three more fish in the pool, landing two, and losing one that I never saw, but acted quite large. Lots of people have come into camp the last 12 hours: Greg N., Art's wife Sue, Jack and Doris E., and Fred "the Fire Maker" M. and his wife Mary Ellen (both couples regulars here for over 35 years). Nearly the whole "crew" is in camp ... a few more days and just about everyone will be here. Tomorrow, we plan to float from "Mickey's" down ... with the "Yoda" being one of the first stops in the morning. The river is looking the best it has all trip (moderate flow, six feet of visibility) and hopes are high for a productive float.
  • September 18, 1998 ... Awoke this morning to Mother Nature giving us a light show overhead, weather was sunny again today ... three days straight now! What a far cry from the early part of the month. Art, Jim S., Jason, and I put in at "Mickey's" and floated down to camp. I landed the first fish of the day, a coho, in the head end of the "Upper Yoda". Disappointingly, the hole didn't seem to be holding as many fish as it did yesterday. Jim landed one small steelie in the tail, and Art got a nice buck Bob in the Outcast on a 75 degree float on the Zipperlipin the mid to high teens in mid-pool. I never touched a fish in here, but I found some in a little pocket downstream a few hundred yards ... hooking four steelies in nearly as many casts ... losing them all! I guess I have my hex back! Jason landed one coho at the head end of the "Upper Yoda" and another in the tailout of "Killing Creek". We found the portage today through last year's channel to be much easier than the one we made the other day ... but it's still a pain to drag and carry the boats when you're supposed to be floating. My hunch about how the "Raisin Bread" at normal flow would fish turned out to be right on the money. After having lunch at the head end, Art hooked into a real dandy that cartwheeled his way down the hole and ... gone! A few minutes later, I hooked and (again) lost one. Next cast, fish on!! Within moments, Jim hooked a Finally, this is what Jim looks like!small, but acrobatic fish in the tail. I continued to play my hen of about 14 pounds (suckered by the old Alger's Red Assassin (your fly is famous now Kent!)). Jim lost his fish, but hooked and landed another a few casts later ... how do we define that, a double-header and a half?? About ten minutes later, Art and I doubled ... I kept and landed my fish in the hole, Art followed his down through a small rapid and landed his. We gave the "Raisin Bread" a while longer with no more action, perhaps we had just stirred the hole up too much for the moment ... so we ventured downstream to the "Dandy" where Jason was landing about a 16 pound hen that he hooked on a brass spoon. I continued down to the "Root Canal", a hole that has always fished best with gear, but this year seems to have filled in some and is a nice drift for the bugrod. I  managed to hook and land a tiny buck of about five pounds on a size 4 bucktailed black GP ... I figured on his first jump, he cleared the water one foot for every pound of his weight. We blew through the lower end of the drift as the 5 o'clock "Cocktail Hour" was drawing near. Art and Jason stopped at the "Mud Hole" and Art hooked a fish of absolutely mammoth proportions ... probably 30 plus. I watched in amazement as a fish of this size did two complete somersaults before settling to the bottom of the river and busting Art's tippet ... must have been a bad spot as he didn't appear to be horsing him. Bummer!!! Jason followed Art through the tail and landed a buck of about 15 pounds. By this time, the tummies were growling and we blew through the last mile of river straight to camp ... appetizers!!! We learned at camp that Greg's crew did well on the float above us too  ... they hooked 17 and landed nine. Plan on the same float tomorrow, and then probably a day off on Sunday. As the "old" 80's tune goes ... "We're walking on sunshine!!"
  • September 19, 1998 ... Ever have one of those days where you feel like you should've stayed in bed??? That's the way my day went! Art and Sue, Jim S., Jason and I repeated the same float as yesterday. I should've known I was in for a bad one when I found one of my pontoons about half deflated this morning on arrival to "Mickey's" ... of course my pump was still at camp. I managed to limp the boat down ... although it was much better going when the morning frost gave way to some warm sunshine to help the air pressure in the tube. Sue started us out this morning with one of the smallest steelies I've ever seen from the river ... Sunrise steelieabout 2 1/2 pounds ... in the head end of the "Yoda". A few minutes later, Jim landed this pretty hen just as the sun broke over the mountains. I hooked an average sized fish a few minutes later and lost it as it passed over the riffle out of the hole ... during my fight, Jim came in behind me and hooked another fish, keeping it on just long enough for one jump. Jason, tossing spoons behind, hooked a couple of fish, landing one, a buck in the high teens. We gave Sue first shot at the pocket where I had hit all the fish the day before ... but all she, or any of the other flyrodders, could manage, was a big Dolly. Just as I was finishing my pass, a steelie rolled in front of me ... being past him, I called to Jason who was walking up the bar to come in behind me with the spoon ... first cast ... whamo ... another buck in the high teens. I went down to the head end of "Killing Creek" and promptly hooked and lost  two steelies ... so went my day ... those would be the last steelhead that I would touch ... although I We're not alone ... fresh bear prints along the portage route.did catch two coho, one about 15 pounds, in the tailout of "Killing Creek". Art, in the process of portaging, went for a brief swim in the river, but we had enough spare clothes to get him relatively dry ... the warm weather made the dunking more bearable too. "Raisin Bread" didn't fish nearly as well as yesterday, with the group only hooking two fish ... one landed for Jim, and one lost for Art. We never touched a fish from here down ... although the effort was a little meager this afternoon ... we're all looking forward to a day off to sleep in ... except for Jason who gets to head back to Seattle following his solid six fish performance on the spoon today. He'll just have to wait 'till next year for that next one. And I'll have a day to regain my timing with my casting ... I felt as if I couldn't throw out of my shadow this afternoon ... reminds a lot of those days on the golf course when things just won't click and thinking about it just makes it worse.
  • September 20, 1998 ... Campfire wood runTraditional Sunday off today. Jason left out about 7:30 this morning ... I finally rolled out of bed at nearly 11 o'clock ... 12 hours of sleep! None of the regulars in camp went fishing today. I did manage to complete two big projects today: the first being a campfire wood run with Jim R. (at right) and Art ... we were just about out of wood and we took it upon ourselves to refill the supply. How?? Drive up and down some of the backroads and find cut-up windfalls ... worked perfect ... filled up the back of Art's pickup. Monday the 21st will be the annual valley party at Peter's place ... basically a massive potluck, it's a chance to remind those of us living in some rustic accommodations of some of home's creature comforts ... and an Razor clams!!!opportunity to see everybody dressed in something other than waders! I spent the evening cooking up a mess of razor clams for an appetizer as my contribution to the feast. I had to borrow lots of stuff from others in camp to get the job done, but I finally finished up at 11PM ... but now the question is: Will the clams last long enough to make it to the party or will the numerous taste-tests finish them off?? I was hoping to get some more flies tied today ... but no luck, I'll have to forgo a campfire or two this week to replenish my supply. Surprisingly enough, the river is now low and clear ... a testament to the long, hot summer that plagued the valley and severely lowered the water table ... many wells are very low and ours is among them. A short float from "Mickey's" down is in the works for tomorrow. A few Northern Lights this evening, but nothing like a few days ago, we'll have to check every few hours to see if Mother Nature gives us one of her occasional spectacular displays.
  • September 21, 1998 ... Short float today that, unfortunately, was short on fish too. Put in at "Mickey's" at first light and went down to the "Yoda". Despite seeing a few fish roll, the only What's This??action came at the very head end of the pool with Greg getting a fish on a black aerofly. I didn't hit anything in the hole, but did manage to pick up this coho (and one steelie later) nymphing a few small slots below it. The only fish out of the "Raisin Bread" ... the next spot that we actually put some serious effort into ... was a small hen for me that I picked up right at the break. Nothing more after that until we got to "Bucky's" just above camp and Greg and Warren got into some fish on hardware in the top end ... during my float today (unfortunately, I did forget my polarized glasses this morning) I only saw one fish ... that being in the camp hole as we pulled in. It appears that most of the fish have moved up out of this float and there isn't too steady of a flow moving into the river now that is low again. The lower river might be a good bet, everyone is going to split up and do some scouting tomorrow to see if some of the traditional low water stacking areas are holding any numbers of fish. Big feast at Peter's tonight with many of the valley residents and most of the I'm suing!!!camp regulars there ... the 60 razor clams I fixed up were a big hit ... people were grabbing them from under the foil wrap on the plate when I first walked in the door. Lots of good food and lots of laughs ... especially when Jack E. (on left ... no harm done) had his chair collapse. The feast included veggie plates, shrimp salad, three kinds of smoked sockeye salmon, fried chicken, homemade pizza, a salmon loaf, honeybaked ham, homemade sourdough rolls, the world's sweetest corn on the cob, scalloped potatoes, and several different kinds of pies and other various sweets for dessert ... I'm just naming some of the stuff I had!! It could be a rough morning tomorrow for a lot of folks dealing with remnants of tonight's festivities.
  • September 22, 1998 ... Woke up this morning at 5:15 to go fishing, and said "The heck with it!" Gathering around the campfireTurned the alarm off and went back to sleep ... needed a few more hours to digest all of last night's goodies. Make a productive day out of  it though; I tied about 40 flies, a couple of dozen leaders, and built about a dozen spoons. Have to re-arm for next big fishing push! Reports were fair from around the area ... a few here and a few there. It appears that the fish are beginning off the river mouth and we're not getting a lot of new fish into the river. The river continues to drop and clear more ... the fish are getting spooky and beginning to hold really high in the heads of the holes under the heavy chop for cover ... I know how to get 'em!
  • September 23, 1998 ... Art, Jim S., and I went down to" Cable Crossing" to check things out down Jim S.with another!here. We're now able to fish mid pool with a T-200 and fishing the tail with light sink-tips. Seemed to be quite a few fish in here but action was spotty early on. The big Dutch group pulled into here today (they usually do every year) and really clogged things up ... fortunately, they didn't last long as the skies opened up with a brief, but intense rain that drove them back to their camp in search of raingear. Jim started things off with a buck of about 8 or 9 pounds. I followed up with a pair of fish in about the next half hour ... neither terribly big, or especially good fighters ... but a pleasure nonetheless. Jim hit a couple of more fish, landing one, and losing a "toad". Things then quieted down for quite awhile ... about three hours or so. Then, Art and I hit fish at nearly the same time. Art's was a hen (or doe as some call them here) of about 15 and mine was a buck of about 18 ... too bad I really couldn't enjoy mine ... I got stung Greg with some proof that he actually can land a this BIG, ugly, black hornet on the back of my neck about a minute into my battle. Damn, it still smarts! Greg came down from "Girly Creek" with reports of the "Lost Fish Hex" ... six on, one to hand. He had some pretty impressive blisters on his thumb from his old direct drive baitcaster ceding line at full speed from a couple of his fish. Greg managed to pop this fish in the head end of the hole on the pink worm before heading off to the airport to pick up a buddy and grab us some pizza for tonight. Art and I managed to start another double header a little bit later, but it got messy really quick: Art's went up, mine went down. Just about the time the two lines crossed, both fish started cartwheeling ... what a mess! My fish subsequently popped off, so I just fed line to Art's fish until he got the mess close enough to where I could start slicing and dicing to free Art's line. It worked and Art managed to get his fish, a hen of about 14 pounds or so. Going on a little journey tomorrow to another river that I haven't fished before, but should be in good shape right now with the very low, clear conditions on the "Zipperlip". Word has it that it's tough wading and a major-league fly-eater, so I'm frantically getting spare big flies tied tonight as everything I tied yesterday was small and dark.
  • September 24, 1998 ... Fishin' the MississippiVentured to the "Mississippi River" today ... the first time I've ever been there. Reminded of my old bushwhacking days, it was a jaunt to get into the area that we wanted to fish. Strange fishing in some of the areas ... fishing really slow water with T-130's and sinktips amidst nasty boulders to wade amongst. These same boulders love to eat flies and an occasional fly line too ... taking Jim R.'s T-200 today. Art started things out by yanking a fish out from right in front of me ... a hen of about 15 pounds or so. I didn't hit anything in my first pass through the drift, but I sure liked the looks of a current seam upstream ... one minor problem: too far to cast to with a single handed flyrod and it died into completely slack water ... no problem, grab the spoon, first cast ... 39" of brawling buck ... my first steelhead from the river. Also my first twenty-plusser in awhile. Jim took Art and  I downstream about a half mile to another drift that ceded a nice buck to Art and teased Jim with a fish in the Mississippi fish get big too!mid-teens that he lost. Following up behind, all I managed was a nice dolly of about 18 inches or so. After quite the extended lunch break as the morning drizzle let up, Art and Jim returned to the original drift ... I continued further upstream to a nice tailout just upstream ... two casts and the pink and black bunny leech did its job. Not a terribly big fish, I landed and turned her back and went searching for more ... lots of fish were rolling in the tail. I managed a few more casts before I got the whistles from downstream that the guys were ready to head home ... I had burned all my fishing time hopping the rocks to get up here, and never got a good chance to work it. Maybe next time ... as they say in the movies: "I'll be back!!" Greg informed us at Happy Hour that he was in "Cable Crossing" for a little bit today and the Dutch got a girthy 43" fish ... damn, a thirty pounder in there on the day we decided to go elsewhere!
  • September 25, 1998 ... As I promised, Art and I returned to the mighty "Mississippi" early this morning. We awoke to a pretty spectacular Northern Lights display this morning, but not even half the show we had at bedtime last night ... only problem then was that we had about 95% cloud cover ... eerie, green glow in camp through the clouds with bursts of brilliant color in the few openings in the clouds. As a sit here typing this, I'm awaiting a show as the skies are nearly 100% clear tonight ... it might happen ... no Mariners game again tonight on the radio ... usually a sign that things are going on above (preventing us from getting a signal from KIRO in Seattle). Anyhow, as we finished the hike into the hole that I saw all the rollers in yesterday ... we saw that there were lots of fish in there, but most well out of reach of any of the rods we had. We made two quick passes through the drift with the bugrods and nothing. We swapped over to the gear rods and I hooked a fish on a spoon that I had pulled off the bottom of the "Zipperlip" a few days earlier ... unfortunately, I LDR'd this fish. We swapped back over to the fly rods and moved down into a little trough that I hadn't made it to yesterday. Art hooked and landed a nice hen of about 16 pounds on a Signal Light ... I'd have a picture of it for you, but as I tailed the fish for Art and removed the hook ... zoom ... off she went. Oh well! Things were relatively quiet for the next few hours but we were having a ball not seeing another soul in sight fishing in the warm sunshine. About 11:40 or so, tossing a size 2 Showgirl off of a T-200, I hooked a fish ... the fish ... the Toad (not quite, but pretty damn close). I played the fish for about ten minutes without anything out of ordinary happening. Then, the fish finally figured out that something was amiss ... he shot across the river at full speed, nearly emptying my reel ... good thing my backing is 20 lb. instead of 30lb., I wouldn't have had enough line otherwise to stop him even with the 15lb tippet I was running in the dirtier water in the "Mississippi". I felt a "pop" ... damn, I lost it. Nope, he turned around and came back almost to my feet in some roaring water and stopped ... and then didn't budge for ten minutes ... no kidding! Art came down with a camera. I told him I thought the fish was huge and I wasn't sure if I still even had him on, I was afraid he'd wrapped on a rock in front of me ... but the water was so swift that I couldn't really tell if the pulses were from the current or the fish. We'll find out ... I backed up to shore and grabbed a rock about the size of a cantaloupe and tossed it out to where I thought the fish was ... nothing. Damn! I am hung up! The fish is gone and I'm wrapped around a rock! Just to make sure, I tossed another rock, nothing ... out of utter disgust at losing the fish, I threw another, bigger rock right at my tippet ... whoa ... he's there ... here we go again! Two hundred yards later, in the middle of a chute on the other side of the river ... it stopped. Same program. No movement whatsoever! I sat there holding pressure on the fish for the next twenty minutes. I even sat down on a rock for a few minutes and Art, saying that I was going to "take forever" went back up top and hooked and landed another nice hen within feet of where I hooked my fish. I knew I was hung again. The fish wasn't going anywhere! I tried "slacking" the fish ... a risky move, but one that sometimes works ... no luck. Finally I just clamped down on the reel and started pulling hard ... cringing at the thought of how much pressure I was exerting, hoping the stretch in the line would cushion all the connections and knots between me and the fish ... even if I lost the fish, I wanted my line back. And again, "pop" ... damn, this time I had lost him ... after all that. I turned my back and started reeling over my right shoulder (remember that move??) ... and then all of a sudden, weight, lots of it! He was still there! I backed off on the pressure and started working him in ... the progress was steady, but slow. Finally at 12:50, I 28 pound "Mississippi River" steelheadpulled the fish up to my feet. Over an hour long battle ... never had I been through as much with a fish, and I certainly wasn't babying him ... I do like to get them in ASAP whenever possible. Putting the tape to him ... 43 inches ... not really girthy like the "Zipperlip" steelhead ... but the formula still puts him at 28 plus pounds??? But thanks for climbing on my line and easily besting my biggest fly-caught fish and nearly meeting the 30 pound fish I got four years ago on the gear rod that didn't put me through anything close to what this fish did! I sat down in the sun and watched Art go to work ... I just enjoyed the moment for a long time! Art managed another fish, a hen of about ten pounds ... great leaper! I never touched another fish after that today ... and you know what? It doesn't hurt my feelings one bit!
  • September 26, 1998 ... Ever have one of those days that you wish you could do over??? I did today. The final score was Bob 0, fish 8 ...almost as bad as that Husky performance today in Nebraska! Knowing that the river had risen some yesterday, and also knowing that many of the fish in the "Mississippi" pool that we were fishing were gone yesterday afternoon, we hoped for new fish in the bottom end of the "Zipperlip". Art, Sue, Jim S. (Jim R. left today), and I went down to see how "Cable Crossing" was Here is Sue at last!!fishing ... and it wasn't all too shabby, despite my poor efforts to keep fish on the hook. Sue turned out to be the Heroine today ... three really nice fish tossing the black aerofly in the heavy water up top. The first here to the right. She was doing some real sore-lapping for awhile this morning. Art had a good day, hooking six and landing five. Jim also had an off day ... hooking three or four and also landing none. We had good activity with the flyrods late this morning and early afternoon as we all switched to the absolutely tiniest, darkest things we had in our boxes. In my case, some size 8 and 10 no name flies that were basically a black ultra-chenille body with a tiny wing of black saap fiber ... I soon found out how hard it sometimes can be to keep huge acrobatic steelies on such small barbless hooks ... although I think Lady Luck evened things out with me in most instances today after yesterday's fish ... but did she have to let me lose the biggest steelie I've ever hooked on a flyrod right at my feet??? I hooked another monster today ... again the battle was in the one hour range. Hooked in mid pool, the fish ran down, then up to the heaviest water in the head ... sitting there for a while, playing tug of war ... and then going down through the tail into the riffle below where I lost him just as I was bringing him into the shallows. Personally, I don't Sue ... the fish assassin ... does it again!count fish until I touch them in some way with my hand ... I lose some in the shallows trying to keep them off of the rocks, but I have to make a tailing attempt in my book. This fish would have easily bettered my 28 pound fish yesterday ... I don't think it was really any longer, but it had the typical huge "Zipperlip" buck's build ... like a chinook. My thirty pound gear caught fish a few years back was 24 1/2 inches in girth and I'm pretty sure this fish was all of that. What a heartbreaker!!! The exact opposite of yesterday, I sat down and sulked for a LONG time. I shouldn't get so worried ... but when you know just how big it was, it just aches inside! Maybe I'll run across him again somewhere along the line. Despite the good numbers of fish in here today and "Girly Creek" just above (Greg hooked 10 and landed 7 in there on gear today), tomorrow will be traditional day off to tie lots of super small flies and get a long night's sleep ... dreaming about the leviathan that almost was!
  • September 27, 1998 ... Sunday off today ... again taking full advantage to sleep ... I rolled out Low water steelhead flies.of bed around 10:00. I spent the majority of the day tying small, dark-patterned flies like these to the right ... all of these are size 8's. Beautiful day to tie outside ... lots of warm sunshine and no breeze in camp (not the story elsewhere) to complicate tying outside. Now that I have a full box of tiny stuff, it'll probably rain like Hell and I'll be in a panic to replace all of the bigger flies that I lost in the "Mississippi". I've got the full arsenal ready for the next few days ... My view while tying flies in campunfortunately, I'm going to have to go home soon ... I miss all the people and the fishing there, but I'm really going to miss my time up here too. A few people in camp went fishing today ... reports were slow. Perhaps the stacked-up fish have just been pounded, or maybe the plethora of leaves in the river from winds near the canyon below put the fish down. Best bet is probably "Cable Crossing" again tomorrow as we know there are fish in there ... we'll see if they'll hit any of the goodies we tied up today. If not, we'll have to look at going back to the "Mississippi" again ... can someone from Forks, Washington actually say this?? Please Rain!!
  • September 28, 1998 ... Preparing to let one goPretty ho-hum day today. Art, Jim, and I went down to "Cable Crossing" and pounded the mid-pool area where the fish have been stacking in the low water. I hit the first fish of the day nymphing ... continuing where I left off the other day, I lost this one. Things were slow through the early morning ... Art actually landed the first fish today mid-morning, although I almost doubled us up by trying the "most obnoxious fly you own" trick ... actually taking a pull on a massive hot pink wiggle bug ... basically a combination of a fly and a plug ... a pain in the you-know-what to throw. Overall, the fishing was rather slow. I hit another fish a little bit later coming through the very top of the hole with an aerofly ... and actually landed it. Switching over to the flyrod as the heavy chop of the head end laid down, I got on a "hot" streak and landed a fish two casts later (two in a row!) ... but Art tried Wow ... I actually landed another one!to steal the show by doubling up below me. I get the ugly fish of the day award ... landing a near-dead chum with nearly all its fins eaten away by rot ... needless to say, it didn't fight like those chums we catch nearer the saltwater. It appears that the steelhead have almost ceased entering the river ... and judging from the fights and their finicky biting, those fish in here seem to have been caught several times. Word is that we'll get some rain by tomorrow ... I won't hold my breath. The "Mississippi"   is in our near future plans again, but we'll probably return to "Cable Crossing" on Tuesday as we heard of little else happening anywhere elsewhere on the river and with Sue joining us (the "Mississippi" jaunt is not high on her list), and a chatroom visitor (who might not be prepared for the big water situation), it seems to be our best bet on the "Zipperlip".
  • September 29, 1998 ... Jim, Art, Sue, and I got a little bit of a late start this morning as we didn't get to meet up with Ron at our planned meeting point. Didn't matter though as there was very little in terms of a bite in "Cable Crossing" early on. However, about 9 or so, Jim landed a hen of about ten pounds ... as we were walking back up the bar to where he hooked the fish, low and behold who should appear ... a fat guy and eight reindeer ... oops, wrong story! Sorry. No, it was Ron who happened to find his way in here! A little trouble getting under way this morning put him behind schedule for his drive to meet us ... but somehow by blind chance, he happened to find his way in here. I joined him in the top end  ... tossing aeroflies myself, and Ron starting Living up to his reputation, Ron with a fish!!with his favorite, the pink worm. We had one of the two bites of the day go on in "Cable Crossing" ... I promptly hooked a couple of fish on "Blackie", losing one really nice one and landing a medium-sized hen. Ron hooked and landed a nice fish a few minutes later, unfortunately, the 18 pound buck bit his spoon (Ron had since changed his worm rig) with his dorsal rather than his mouth. I gave Ron one of the Blackie rigs and he was soon into this buck to the right ... his first legit "Zipperlip River" steelhead. The hot bite continued as Art hooked a nice fish that he played and played ... tough hen she was ... all twenty pounds or so of her. I followed up with another fish up top a few minutes later. And then Jim hooked and landed his last steelhead of his The tag read s"Released by Prevoa 2804"98 trip ... a hen of about 13 pounds. What really made his fish kind of interesting was the spaghetti tag it carried near its dorsal fin ... reading "Released by Prevoa 2804" ... I assume this is one of the commercial boats along he coast that are now required to release whatever steelhead they can ... or perhaps the tag is part of a research project ... maybe someone can help me on this one. And just as soon as this flurry of activity started, it was over ... just an odd hookup here and there for the rest of the afternoon, until this evening, when the fish came back on the bite and Greg managed to get a 40" fish out of here, as well as hooking a few others with his brother in a short time ... typical low-water fishing on the river ... much like salmon fishing down south when you see lots of fish present, but they only bite 2 hours out of 24. Lots of reports of a small grizzly at the mouth of "Girly Creek" just above us ... chasing Dog salmon at the mouth of the creek and even harassing a few boaters that came down the river. I might go try to find him (what in the Hell am I thinking???) to get a few pix ... needless to say the shotgun loaded with slugs will be my photographic expedition partner when I go looking. The forecast now is calling for precipitation ... but in the form of the white stuff instead of liquid form! I guess I won't get to fish the river off of a freshet before I go ... damn!
  • September 30, 1998 ... Getting a very late start after last night's feast at Peter's, Art and I made a short reconnaissance run on the "Mississippi" today. We put in just above where we fished the other day and floated down to "Campbell Consonant". Visibility was much less than our last trip down here, just about 24 inches or so. Our first stop was at the mouth of a Art ... our hero!small tributary of the main river. Fishing off of a point, Art and I worked the current seam off the point down to a riffle. Art didn't hit anything in here, but I picked up a real oddity for this time of year ... a chrome-bright king jack of about 3 or 4 pounds ... the fished munched a pattern called "Joe's Prawn". We scooted down to bar straight across from where I hooked the "Toad" the other day. I had first shot at the water in here ... but to Art's delight, I walked in just where the fish appeared to be holding in the soft corner. Fishing behind, two or three casts was all he needed to pick up this spunky hen on a Signal Light. After releasing the fish, we both went back out into the run ... I made a few casts and realized that I was going to need a 300 rather than a 200 ... just as I stepped out to go back up to the Outcasts to swap rods ... Art was into a fish ... a big one. The fish motored down and down the run ... Art was quickly running out of room on this side of the river to follow the fish, so I ran back up, tied Art's boat to mine and came to his rescue ... I had Art hop into the seat of his, and I towed him across the mighty river to the other side where he could continue the Art and fish in towbattle in an area with some softer water and a bar to follow the fish down. A little bit later, Art was working the fish into the shallows and ... pop ... off came the fish. Oh boy, do I ever know how Art felt! Strange, the knot was still there, and some of the material off of the signal light was caught in the knot ... but no hook! Art, dumbfounded, did his best to stay collected ... but losing a fish in the mid-twenties hurts ... and we lost what looked to be a helluva fishing spot! We parked the boats and worked our way back up to where we had hit the fish a few days earlier ... not a bump for either one of us, oh well ... time to go find a spot downstream. After a quick bite to eat, we paddled down through a giant eddy towards the spot where we had caught a few fish on our first trip down here. Before we made it to our planned spot ... I found a new one. On the left side of the river, there was a small point that created a nice seam. I stopped to fish this and Art went down to a spot about a hundred yards down ... it wasn't but a few minutes and my little bunny leech connected ... briefly ... way too briefly ... DR. By this time, we were due for our pick-up below. Sadly, we packed up and headed for camp. The "Zipperlip" has come up about an inch from some light rain ... but not as much as we had hoped ... we'll wait and see what first light brings for water level on the two rivers ... we'll find another steelie somewhere. More news on the bears, one sow griz and two cubs on the road just down from camp ... Fred got "rescued" while on his walk right in the bear zone ... the griz at "Girly Creek" moved down into the "Cable Crossing" area this morning ... doesn't that figure ... once again, the day we don't fish there ... something unique goes on!
  • October 1, 1998 ... Our prayers have been answered ... the river is up ... and still rising! The dark clouds to the north yesterday must have dumped a lot of rain because the river was up over four inches this morning and has since risen about another eight. Art and I ventured down Blue Binky does it again!to "Cable Crossing" this morning to try our luck. The morning turned out to be quite slow, with Greg and his brother and cousin hooking just a couple of fish in the head end ... I finally managed to land one steelie on the fly ... a Blue Binky ... about 9:45. That turned out to be the only activity in the hole for the bugrodders today. After lunch, Art and I decided to go try our luck in the top end using the gear rods ... it wasn't just a few casts and Art was into a fish ... the old Winona reel heating up his thumb. I carefully continued to fish behind him and we were soon doubled up. A 41 1/2 inch buck grabbed my cerise aerofly and went racing down the river, making my old Bantam 200 scream ... I eventually caught up with him and gave him a stern lecture on taking me so far downriver! Unfortunately, the Mavica (my digital camera) was still in my truck well upstream ... so you won't be able to see his picture for awhile ...the only celluloid evidence resides on Mike's (Greg's cousin) camera. Art and I returned to fishing up high and it didn't take Art long to entice another fish with his gooey-bob ... he babied the fish a little, coaxing me into trying to double us up again ... didn't happen ... but I did hook another hen of about 18 pounds just a few casts after he released his. Joking that this was "too easy" (it never really is!) ... we went back to work with the flyrods ... no luck at all! As mid-afternoon rolled around, we decided to go down to see if the "Pipes" had any new fish in it with the rise in the water ... probably so ... but they sure didn't like any of our offerings! By this afternoon the river was full of leaves and had lots of color, with rising water, conditions were less than Ha ... an ugly guy with a pretty fish!ideal for a good bite. Greg (here on the left with one of his two fish today) came back to camp with reports that a couple of fellows  hooked a fair number of fish near "Corey's Corner" after we left ... he also said that many of them were foul-hooked ('jigged' as they say here). Greg said that they were drift fishing with a plain orange size 14 corky with over six feet of leader ... not exactly what you'd expect to be the ticket of the day under these conditions, but if it works, don't knock it! Can't wait for the next few days if the water stabilizes. Last year, we had nearly the same conditions at the end of my trip ... and fishing was outstanding. Will this year's finale be the same??
  • October 2, 1998 ... Not much good to write about today in terms of fishing success. River had come up a little more overnight and was quite dirty this morning ... still a lot of leaves and carcasses of different varieties floating downriver. Art, Sue, and I decided to go to "Cable Crossing" first, and then perhaps to the "High Garden" with the water up. When we pulled into "Cable Crossing" this morning, we were aghast! Six people were already lining the banks of the run ... this just after first light. Apparently the river was too high for the crowd that has been going into "Girly Creek" to get across the tailout into that hole ... so they all ended up here. Despite the number of people, they were all congregated at the head of the hole with cement in their boots, so we went ahead and got our waders on and started working the lower end of the pool. Nothing appeared to be going on ... zippo, nada. Two people walked out, twenty minutes later two more followed suit, a few minutes later Art called to me and said "Where did everybody go?", I looked around, and we were the only ones in here. Great, all by our lonesome! We pounded away, and pounded away ... still nothing. The river didn't look the best, but it had started to drop a The wormaholiclittle and we were waiting for the push of fish to work upstream into the tail. After a very long lunchbreak with an outstanding fire built by yours truly, Art went up to the head and landed this 40" buck on the worm. As we walked back up to the hole from the point well downstream where Art landed the fish, I saw a steelie, roll, and then another. Within minutes, the hole seemed to be alive with fish rolling around everywhere. Seeing lots within a section much better suited for gear, we all armed ourselves with gear rods and tossed ... and tossed ... and tossed. No matter what we threw ... the fish wanted no part of it! This went on for hours, finally, we had enough humiliation ... back to camp. Reports were the same from all over the river ... lots of fish seen, only an odd fish here or there willing to bite ... moving fish today I guess. Cold, light rain tonight, we're crossing our fingers that we don't get too much ... only a few days left ... and we are certain that once the water stabilizes, the fishing will be good.
  • October 2, 1998 ... Today, I experienced one of the strangest days of steelie fishing that I've ever encountered. Art and I went returned to "Cable Crossing" to find it wide open. Not a soul in sight to start the day. The river was in nice shape ... flow just a hair high with about three feet of visibility. The tail looked great! We expected the hole to be full of fish to work over. Well, it was ... kinda, sorta. Art and I pounded the tail, myself using a T-400 and Art using his TS-350 and weighted fly ... both lines went through here nicely. For several hours, we pounded the tail as fish rolled around us and, like yesterday, zip, nothing! We knew there were fish here, they were rolling all over the place .... strange. In the meantime, the "Orange Corky Dudes" that were in here the other day came into the head of the hole ... the very head, in some awfully fast water for these conditions, and started to bang a few fish on the tiny offerings in the hole's fastest water.  These guys left after a while after on fellow broke his rod. I finally went up to the The little orange corky dayhead and tied on the same rig ... hate to be a copycat, but any good steelie angler pays attention to what is going on around him or her ... and puts it to use! Over the next twenty minutes, I hooked three and landed two in the fastest water of the very head of the hole.... not even in the soft seam of "Corey's Corner" ... weird. The guys returned shortly with a new rod for the one fellow and they went back to work ... hooking fish on a regular basis. Mike hooked up a similar rig as he saw what was going on, and he was soon banging fish in the heavy water. Meanwhile, Art and I continued to pound the mid-section and tail with the flyrods ... I did actually manage to hook one on a size 8 egg sucking leech that I had switched to following the tiny offering train of thought. But that was all we hit in what we figured to likely be the best part of the hole under cold, limited visibility, higher water conditions. The "OCD's" left after hooking a few more fish, and I saw Mike was still hooking fish, although he was having trouble keeping them on. After Art and I had lunch around the bonfire I built, I put the flyrod away and grabbed the tiny corky rig. Over the rest of the afternoon, I hooked eight more fish, landing six, on the small corky rig ... with either orange or pink being the only colors Mike finally lands one!that seemed to produce strikes. Mike hooked several more fish too, finally coaxing a few to the bank. Art came up and worked the upper end, and he even managed to hook and land his only one of the day ... on what else?? What really perplexes me, is that we could only hook fish in the heavy water on this setup ... in the medium / soft flow mid-pool and tail, these were just as ineffective as anything else we threw! I thought perhaps we were lining some of these fish as we do the sockeye on the Kenai ... but unlike the sockeye ... none of these fish were hooked from the outside in. Just goes to show you that nobody has these fish completely figured out and how important it can be to watch what's going on around you. Now we're all tying up little hooks for tomorrow and digging out tiny corkies ... but it bugs me not to understand what's going on here!
  • October 4, 1998 ... Today turned out to be my finale on the "Zipperlip" ... although I had planned to fish one more day ... heavy rain this evening and the need to get back to Forks suggest that I end the trip on a high note. Art, Sue, Mike, and I were at "Cable Crossing" as the sun came up. The water looked very good, having dropped another inch from yesterday and clearing even a little more. The question of the day, however, was whether or not things would return to normal in terms of a bite. Art led off in the tail and quickly answered the question ... just a few casts was all he needed to hook and LDR his first fish ... a few more, and he was into another ... I was still putting my waders on. I rushed into the hole ... armed with a T-400 and a size 2 pink and black GP. It took me just a few casts and I was off to the races ... going down and down and down The first of two twenty plussers on the bugrod today!the bar ... setting a "new record" for myself being drug downstream by a fish from "Cable Crossing" ... dandy buck ... 39", 20 plus pounds, not a bad way to start the day ... but what a venture back up to the hole ... little did I know, that I would be frequenting "The Eddy" several more times today! Returning to the hole, Art and I hooked fish nearly every pass through the tail. A couple of double-headers too! Sue hooked a nice fish in the head on gear, and did the perfect short-distance release at her feet at the break. She was smart ... the heck with going all the way down the beach to get the fish to your feet! Around 11 or so, Art hooked a really nice fish that started constantly cartwheeling ...subsequently snapping off Art's favorite little orange and purple polar bear hair bug ... boy was he snakebit with busting off some big fish this season. A little while later, I hooked what appeared to be a really nice fish ... it was, as I found out hundreds of yards down the river ... one of the most powerful steelies I've encountered. As I reached down to pop the hook out, there, in the opposite jaw corner, was Art's favorite fly ... streamside bribery when I returned to the fishing hole. This fish was even bigger than my first ... easily low twenties ... two twenties on the bugrod today ... great way to end the trip! Art did manage to land a dandy today, a buck of about 25 pounds ... only problem was, he hooked it while Sue was napping in my Blazer It can be done Mike!and Mike, and I were taking part in a triple-header ... Mike's on a fly (he did finally land his first fly-caught steelie of the trip today while borrowing my rod rigged with the 300 ... did he ever have a shooting head from Hell to work with ... I lent him one of mine, with much improved results!) and mine on gear ... so there was nobody around to take his pic! How' bout that orange corky??? I tried it for awhile after lunch through the whole upper end of the hole ... nada ... I tried the pink one too, zip! But I found the silver-plated spoon effective today as I put the steel to a few fish as I bounced from head to tail armed with the appropriate rod in each instance. As I think about it, I landed a fish with my last cast with the fly rod ... a buck of about 17 pounds ... and also landed one with my last cast with the gear rod ... a buck of about 15 or so on the spoon as I made a few token casts as we were loading the truck to head back to camp. Managed to hook ten fish today ... two days in a row of double-digit hook-ups! Not quite as good as last year's finale, but some fine fishing indeed. I feel sorry for the guys coming into camp right now ... lots of fish, but the water conditions appear to be heading downhill in a hurry ... a serious gamble coming here in October, but if the water stays good ... the fishing can be very good.  Unfortunately, I've gotta wait nearly eleven months before I come back (the fifth time) for another four or five weeks of vacation where I actually get to catch a few fish myself ... instead of only watching others!




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