Monday, June 13, 2016

Alaska Road Trip: Red Salmon Fishing on the Copper and Klutina Rivers

As many of you bloggers know, it takes time and effort to write a blog. You try to make it somewhat interesting for the reader. What to write about, what not to write about, what pictures to include. It probably takes me an average of 2 hours to write each one. When completed, I read it, make a few changes, read it again, make a few more changes then have Barb read it before finally publishing it.

Once published I read it one more time just in case we missed a spelling error or something else. I published our last blog late at night and went through each of these steps except rereading it once it was published. I did that the next morning. That is when I noticed several spelling errors! Ugh! Nothing major but frustrating nonetheless. One error in particular is still haunting me days later. It was the first line: “Lying in bed, I wake up to the sounds of birds signing outside our camper.” The first error I see is a tense issue, I probably should have used woke instead of wake, but the more glaring issue is that the birds were signing instead of singing!
Now, several days later I am still paying for that error. Every time we are outside Barb will say something like; “How cute, the birds are signing.” or “How do birds learn sign language?” After a few comments like that I started giving her my own version of sign language!   

Our trip from Glennallen to Chitina was filled with adventure. Before getting too far down the road we wanted to check out the Klutina River to see if the reds were running yet. The Klutina is a tributary of the Copper River and has some of the best salmon you will ever taste. We stopped at the bridge right outside Copper Center, the shoreline was lined with about a dozen or so fisherman, one of which was in the process of landing a fish! So back to the truck I went to get my fly rod and give it a try.
This was another species that we had yet to fish, I had talked to a number of fisherman, an employee at Bass Pro Shop and the employee at Copper Central just down the road from the bridge on the Klutina River in Copper Center. Whether you use a bait casting rod, a spinning rod or an 8 or 9wt fly rod the technique was same, you try and snag them as they go up river.

Evidently the reds don’t feed once they leave the saltwater. They hug the edges of river as they make their way to their spawning grounds. The technique used is called “flipping”. It is really a combination of skill and luck as you flip your fly out into the current, let it float down river to where you think the drop off is and give it a little yank as  you pull it out and “flip” it back up river for your next cast. With luck you will hook one as you yank your fly out of the water.
Ready to fish Barb and I settle in about 20 yards downstream from the guy who we saw catch one. He started chatting it up with us right away explaining that he had been fishing for a few hours and that was the first one he caught. He was from Anchorage and was supposed to be at a service call in Glennallen but thought a few hours of fishing was in order.
Our fishing buddy for the day

And his two Reds
Barb and I took turns flipping along with the rest of the fisherman along both sides of the bank. We saw one guy across the river catch one and our new Anchorage friend caught another one but that was it in our 3 hours of fishing. I had one on very briefly but no one else had caught any. Evidently they were not running at their peak yet so we packed it up and made our way towards Chitina.
Barb going flipp'in crazy!

Our set up for fishing the Klutina

It is interesting to finally see this town in person. Some of the Alaska towns we have seen on TV dramatize them as being super remote in the wilds of Alaska with freezing cold temperatures and imminent death around every corner. Don’t get me wrong, they are remote but most of them do have modern conveniences such as gas stations, grocery stores and almost every house has a satellite dish or two.
Saw this gal swimming in a lake


Visitor Center in Chitina

Chitina is on the Copper River as well, just 20 to 30 miles  downstream. This area too had fisherman lining the banks of the river. Except rather than fishing with rod and reel, they were using dip nets. This area is a “subsistence” fishing area where only fish wheels and dip nets are allowed. Only Alaska residents are allowed to fish this area using these methods. The dip netters use a huge net on the end of 20-30’ pole that they dip into the water in the hope that a fish would swim into it. They are allowed 25 fish for head of household and 10 fish per dependent annually. It looks like a strenuous yet successful way to fish as we saw people netting numerous fish and others with coolers full.
A couple of the local dip netters

The fish wheel is an entirely different method. These are floating platforms with big wheels with scoops on them in the water. The current drives the wheel and scoops the fish out of the water as they swim by. The scooped fish are deposited into a big trough as the wheel spins. These were on sandbars along the river where we could not get too close to them.


Fish Wheels lining the Copper River




That night we camped on O’Brien Road right outside of Chitina. There are several pullouts and  two large gravel areas for primitive camping where the fisherman had set up with plenty of room for pretty much any size rig. 
Great boondocking sites along O'Brien Road 
I would not recommend taking anything over 25’ past the last gravel area and down the steep hill to the river. Although there were a few travel trailers down there, the road is pretty steep and rough. Down here there were another couple dozen RV's and tents along with a fish cleaning trailer surrounded by a hundred seagulls and a handful of bald eagles.
The netting/camping area along O'Brien Road



There were lots of eagles in the area.
It was an interesting day in Chitina, a town steep with tradition and history. Tomorrow we are headed to McCarthy and Kennecott another area with a very rich and interesting past. More to come!

28 comments:

  1. LOL,, I feel your pain with the misused or spelled words. I have actually taken grief from readers, gezzzz. Don't worry, I figure if I can figure out what you are saying it's close enough.
    You guys are doing it right it looks like, good on ya.
    Dave & Diane

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    1. Thanks Dave, looks like you guys are enjoying yourselves in Oregon. I bet that is beautiful this time of year!

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing your fishing adventure. I was dying to know more about it after we visited the Copper River together. Sorry you didn't catch any yet but glad you put it in the water. As far as Barb being sassy, well I am sure you deserved it :) Love, love the moose and fish wheel pictures!!

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    1. Thanks, the fish wheel is pretty interesting. Especially considering the natives invented that technology many years ago and it is still being utilized today.

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  3. Pain? Yeah, so far have been skunked fishing....have fished ponds and lakes and using every different combination of lures, spinners, bobbers, bait, no bait, etc.

    Nothing!

    Trying again tomorrow in Healy outside Denali....then later in week near Cantwell.

    Fish on!

    Les and Sue

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    1. If you go to any of the areas we have fished let me know and I will tell you where we fished and what we used. Lord knows I can use all the help I can get!

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  4. We really enjoyed these first three paragraphs, as they sound familiar, Jim. Sounds like your birds are not only signing, but they are also flying! All kidding aside, you do an excellent job...and so does your editor. :)

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    1. Thanks Jim, it is just frustrating when you find an error after all those previews!

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  5. Did you ever catch that musky on a fly rod?
    Bob

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    1. Hundreds of follows but finally caught one smaller musky. I bet you are on the lake everyday looking for another 50'er!

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  6. Lisa would be willing to be your editor also. She won't let me post until she has proof read it. But I do sneak one past her once in awhile and it probably shows. She also thinks you look sexy in your waders. They look like big boy pants. Fish on!

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    1. Well then, I will just have to post more pictures of me in waders! I will give Barb one more chance at the edited but then I may have an opening.

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  7. As educators, we know your pain in writing and publishing a blog without errors. Even though we have exactly the same process you two have, John writes, rereads, then I do the final read, we still catch things. I am surprised Barb was the one making the comments about your "signing" since she was the final editor and should have caught the mistake...mmmm! Don't beat yourself up, we all do it and we understand:) This trip sure is a little bit of heaven for two "fisherpersons!" Is that a new word!? I hope you able to get a few salmon:)

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    1. It is good to hear that you have errors as well (although I have not seen them). We will be back after those salmon once they really start running in a couple of weeks!

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  8. I really would not have noticed the spelling had you not pointed it out LOL. I have just started reading your blog and have really enjoyed it along with the great pictures. We plan to go full time in about three years and Alaska is on our list. I bet the fish is great but I would not be able to clean it once I caught it. Have you seen any bear while you are fishing? Enjoy the rest of your time in Alaska, it seems great so far.

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    1. Thanks for reading our blog! Three years is about the right amount of time to get everything taken care of and downsize, it is a lot of work! We have seen plenty of bears but none while we are fishing yet.

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  9. I watch a lot of the Alaskan shows and often wondered if they were really as remote and cut off as some portray. Sorry you didn't catch anything but at least you got a line in the water.

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    1. We are headed back up that way in the next few days to see if they are running and hopefully catch one!

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  10. We also go through the same editing issues. It's great getting a tour of some of the areas we missed on our trip.
    Safe travels!

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  11. Ha!! Too funny about the birds! And wonder how many people even noticed; I didn't!! Bummer you didn't catch anything!! Hopefully you'll get another shot at 'em!!

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    1. I fixed it the next day and since you guys don't roll out of bed til noon or so it was fixed by then.

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  12. The fishing looks fun! So they don't use the word "snag"? I like the wheel and net approach. Blog errors, ya.

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    1. I would like to try the dip netting, looks like we will have to become Alaska residents!

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  13. I had to LOL about the grammar and spelling. I majored in Journalism and Steven is a photographer/writer/poet. In other words, an Irishman.:)We read each other's posts until we're blue, but we still find mistakes. It happens.

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    1. It seems there are some errors your eyes will just pass over even if you read it several times!

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  14. If it works out take a boat ride out to Seldovia out of Homer. Get a drink at the Salty Dog on the Homer spit

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