End of an Era Coming
Since 2001 I have much enjoyed fishing for huge Kodiak silver salmon. So much, in fact that I have returned every year except three for family reasons, during this twenty-first century. This Kodiak strain produces the largest, on average, silvers in Alaska. Tying into these in fresh condition is like no other salmonid I have experienced. They jump and run to challenge your personal durabilty, the length of your backing, the flexibility of your rod, your knots, your leader strength, and the drag system on which your reel operates.
I owe most of my pleasure in fishing for these superb salmonids to Dan and Randy Busch’s Kodiak Island River Camps operation. For the last twenty-one years Dan and Randy, husband and wife retired school teachers, have offered services second to none for fly-fishers seeking a memorable experience. They begin the season with whale watching outings, then July outings for sockeyes and chum. The real fun begins with their mid-to-late September outings to the Pasagshak River system for the fresh silver salmon. Their scheduled trips end in mid October with fly-in steelhead outings to Kodiak’s fabled Karluk River. I did the Karluk trip about ten years ago. What an experience: steelhead and a late run of fresh silvers. Talk about fly-fishing heaven!
What does their service consist of, you ask? Their fee, which for five solid days of fishing, is perhaps the most reasonable to be found during Alaska’s silver salmon season. From the time Dan picks you up on arrival at the Kodiak airport (usually on a Sunday afternoon) to when he returns you for departure (usually on the morning of the following Saturday) all meals, all transportation, all accommodations are covered under his fee. The only items outside their fee is your fishing license ($55 for seven days) and any particular food or beverage you wish to supplement the superb meals you will experience. On Sunday arrival you go to Dan & Randy’s home for a superb welcome dinner. From that you leave for the Pasaghak system forty-some-odd miles south of town for five days full of fishing. On Friday evening return you go to Dan & Randy’s home for another superb meal, their farewell dinner.
Where do I fish, you ask? Dan leases a summer home with all utilities near the Pasagshak River. Comfortable and clean, it is the base of operations for upcoming fishing on the Pasagshak estuary which you can walk to, the river itself, and Lake Rose Tead about a mile above the home. Then there is a special location about five miles away on the road back to town. This is Kalsin Pond which drains into the Olds River which also hosts silvers and can be fished. When Kalsin Pond’s silvers feel like hitting your offered flies, it can be an unforgettable fly-fishing experience. For fishing the lake, pond and estuary, Dan provides kick boats and fins. The rivers (Pasagshak and Olds) can be waded. Whether you fish the lake, the rivers, or the pond your day begins with a hearty 6 AM breakfast then fishing begins soon after until a lunch break and ends just before 4PM with a return to the home to relax for a while before an excellent dinner. Evenings can be used for sea-side walks, fly tying or “philosophy” of all kinds.
What are the silvers like, you ask? Full of energy, they come in from the ocean a bit more than a mile away. They average fifteen pounds and run up to just over twenty. Other than an occasional jack, (early returner), it is not common to encounter an individual under twelve pounds. A good day is when you land five of these devils. A fifteen to twenty minute fight is usual, and for sure you are doing good to land half of your hook-ups where near hundred yard runs are possible. Between encountering fish, the wise fly-fisher checks flies, knots, leaders, lines, and rods for integrity.
What equipment do I need, you ask? An eight or nine weight system including a nine to ten foot rod works well. For shallows in the lake, pond, river and estuary a floating line works best. Two-handed rods can be used when wading the river or shorelines. When fish move to deeper water in the relatively shallow lake, an intermediate line is ideal. Nine foot leaders of fifteen pound test are almost a requirement. Simple fly patterns patterns in infra-red (fucshia, pink, red) and ultra-violet (blue, green, purple) colors are the norm. So are needle-nosed pliers or stout forceps for removing flies from toothy mouths. A reliable raincoat, waders of the same property, a stripping glove, and clothes comfortable enough for fifty degree Fahrenheit air and water are musts.
What is the weather like in this northern location? With a marine climate, Kodiak, will have daytime air temperatures in the 50s of degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime is mild, but a light frost is possible. Any visitor must expect rain, sometimes mild and pleasant, but other times ferocious and pounding with strong winds. Therein lies the need for a reliable raincoat!
Alaska Airlines has the best connections for reaching Kodiak from the lower forty-eight. We in east Idaho can leave Boise in the morning and, with connections met in Seattle and Anchorage, arrive in Kodiak that afternoon. Be advised that weather can interfere.
Dan and Randy will wrap up their operations in a few years, and that is why I offer this description of an unusually great opportunity to enjoy fresh, powerful silver salmon. You can get more details from them at their email address: [email protected] We, here in the shop, can also help you contact them and provide the benefit of experience. A hospitable and action filled fly-fishing experience awaits you through Kodiak Island River Camps.