CHENA HOT SPRINGS, Alaska — Bill Cochran and I don’t have the best track record on our fishing outings.
You’d think that with both of us going, the notorious outdoor writer curse would somehow cancel itself out. Instead, I think it doubles.
We’ve had slow days fishing for flounder on the Eastern Shore, and slow days fishing for smallmouth bass on the James River. Even slow days on Bill’s little pond on his property. (Granted that was an ice-fishing outing.)
So, I had to admit I was little nervous on Tuesday afternoon when we headed out for an afternoon of grayling fishing on the Chena River.
The fishing had been great a day earlier on Monument Creek, a little Chena River tributary. Would that continue? Or would the double curse rare its ugly head?
We headed a few miles down the road from the resort, along with Bill’s wife, Katherine, and writer Doug Stamm.
I was the only one with waders, an advantage on the stretch of water we ended up on. But from the river I found a spot with some decent bank access and got Bill and Paul there.
The fishing wasn’t furious. In fact, the grayling were pretty picky, rising slowly in the crystal clear water and then turning away from my flies.
I finally hooked one, a good fish that I guessed was 17 or 18 inches long. It shook free after 30 seconds.
When I finally caught one, it was a 12-incher. A pretty fish, but not the giant I was hoping for.
Bill was casting a small Blue Fox spinner with no luck. As I was moving downstream I heard him say, “Oh! I got one.”
He seemed pretty surprised, and I suppose that was appropriate considering we were both fishing the same hole.
His was a pretty 12-incher, which he held for a moment for a photo before it flopped free.
Those fish were it.
While we didn’t set the world on fire, the fact that we weren’t the ones who got skunked is a move in the right direction.
I’ve since been back to the Chena for some more grayling fishing, including Wednesday after dinner. Right at dusk the air filled with mayflies. Fish dimpled the surface of every pool.
Chris Hunt, the communications director for Trout Unlimited and writer of the great Eat More Brook Trout blog (visit it before you get mad), and I worked a couple slick pools and fooled some decent fish.
Wednesday was actually a heavy fishing day as I also had a fly-out trip to a remote northern pike lake. I’ll write a separate post on that fun adventure as soon as I can.
Sorry to have been absent with dispatches for a couple of days but the Internet is proving problematic up here at Chena Hot Springs Resort. The resort has satellite Internet, which is pretty good. But there are 200 people here and all of us have laptops and have been really pushing the Internet connection to its breaking point.
Today is the final full day of the conference. I just got out of the second board of directors meeting of the conference and this afternoon we have our shooting event, at which we’ll get to try out some firearms from Browning, Smith and Wesson and Winchester.