“Try Mosquito Lake 27 miles up the Haines Highway, it has Cuttys and Dollys, if that does not work try around the bridge on the Chilkoot”. Those were the words of the guy behind the counter at the local sporting goods store in Haines. Our mission for the next few days to see if we could catch another new species to us, the Dolly Varden. “What should I use?” I asked him. He shows me a variety of flies that I purchased and headed out the door. Having never fished for Dollys before we were really at his mercy, I don’t know if he gave us good information or sold us a bunch of flies that have been gathering dust over the years. I felt somewhat confident in the fact that I had done a little research and found mention of both Mosquito Lake and the Chilkoot.
Earlier in the day we had taken the ferry from Skagway to Haines ($146), our 4th of 7 ferry rides we will have this summer. This was going to be our first of what we hope is many Alaskan fishing adventures over the next couple of months. Although still interesting and a unique way for us to travel, waiting in line and going through the check-in and security procedures feels somewhat like going through security at an airport.
|Our ferry to Haines
|Getting loaded up
|These guys were working hard!
The trip between Skagway and Haines is quick and scenic with lots of waterfalls cascading off the mountains. It was a short time, only taking an hour from dock to dock.
|We are off!
|Approaching the Haines dock
|One cruise ship in Haines today
Well, let’s just say that it lived up to its name. It was a beautiful little campground with 5 sites right on the lake (not big rig friendly) but we did not catch a thing. We did however have plenty of mosquitos to keep us company!
|Our Mosquito Lake site
The next morning we went to check out one of the other spots we had been told about on the Chilkoot. As we were driving there we noticed two fishermen in the river with fly rods. We arrived at Chilkoot State Recreation Site and drove through the campground where we ran into the Camp Host and a Park Ranger talking alongside the rode so we pulled over and asked them about fishing. They gave us the same area that the sporting goods employee gave us and where we saw the fishermen so we had to be on the right track!
As we headed back into town for lunch the two fishermen were walking down the road. Of course we stop and talk to them! Ends up one of the guys was a local guide who also ties flies he sells at the sporting goods store. He showed us a couple of his flies and told us to fish the deeper holes along this stretch and we should hook some Dollys.
Time to find a place to eat! There were a few construction worker working on a building. Figuring they were locals I asked them if they knew my brother-in-law’s buddies, the guy said “ya, go through that door, he is inside doing drywall”. What are the odds? We went in and chatted with him for a little bit, he gave us the exact same place to fish and told us a good place to eat lunch. After lunch at The Bamboo Room and went to the sporting goods store to pick up some of the recommended flies and headed back to the campground.
|There were the secret flies and spoon
Along the way we saw a large dark mass out on the water, as we got closer we realized that they were Scoters, a duck found in the area, in such a tightly formed flock it looked like a solid mass. Then we noticed that they were all swimming in one direction in unison and when they got to a certain spot the front of the raft of ducks would dive, when the trailing ducks got to that spot they would dive, this went on until all the ducks got to that spot and dove. They would pop up in a similar fashion, first one would pop up and in about 20 seconds later creating this solid mass of ducks again. It was bizarre to watch and even harder to explain.
Below is a short video clip I made of them.
Returning to the campground we picked a spot right on the water and got set up for a 3 day stay. At $15/night, this dry camping spot is close to the fishing and will serve us just fine!
|Site #17 at Chilkoot State Recreation Area
|Our site overlooking Chilkoot Lake
|Daisy was playing "Queen of the Stump"
We woke up to rain the next morning which continued as a fine mist off and on throughout the day but that did not deter us from our mission. First let me tell you the water was cold! For the most part you had to stand in knee to thigh deep water to fish the deeper water the fish were holding in. After 10 minutes your feet and toes were numb despite the waterproof waders. It took us about 30 minutes to find what type of water the fish were holding in but when we did we really got into them! They are thicker and beefier than a trout, actually shaped more like a salmon. With the current of the river and the nice size of the fish, they really put up a nice fight!
|Barb stayed warm by climbing on this rock
|We grilled two for dinner that night and they were mighty tasty!
|Can't beat the scenery!
|If you look closely you can see a fish jumping as she reels it in
|She was out fishing me so bad she could not stop laughing!
|Barb releasing another one
Another species crossed off our list, it was time to move on….destination….Haines Junction.