My trip last Friday to Quartz Creek for dollies was a very interesting one for being up and down. The weather was pretty decent…..chance of some sprinkles:
But as I drove down the sun spilling over the mountains kind of gave everything a surreal color….
No one was parked at my typical starting point so I hit the stream without the fish having been molested this morning. As I walked up slowly to look in the water there were two dollies right in front of me playing grab-fanny with each other. When my bead hit the water one of them ran over and inhaled it…..fish one:
As soon as he was released I flipped back in and his play buddy ran over and grabbed it instantly…..yeehaw….two casts, two fish….life can’t be any better than that. Felt like a fantastic day just starting. Of course, even thinking that way jinxed me and it was another hour before I even got a bite.
But I finally found a hole with several fish working it and concentrated on them for an hour and a half…..managed to pick-up 5 fish, including this really pretty dolly:
I managed a few more fishing back upstream….
At this point, for whatever reason….I lost my mojo…yep, a horrible thing to have happen. For the next 2 hours I hooked and lost 15 or so straight fish…..almost enough to make me start playing Xbox than fishing. So eventually I headed home and when downloading my photo card found some feature had been activated that takes a short video everytime you take a picture…..don’t even know what got it started but it’s a interesting kind of synopsis of the trip….
While driving back from the Kenai Peninsula I get a call from my guide/friend asking if I wanted to go this coming Friday to float the upper Kenai. I said “Okay”.....my thought was to invite a friend down…..turned out he couldn’t make it and the weather was horrible. Honestly, didn’t really want to go down but decided to not back out on my friend. So late Thursday night I decided that egg, sausage and potato burritos would be great way to start the trip in the morning. So I boiled a pot of water…..threw several small taters in, sat down and fell asleep for 3 hours. When I bolted up at 1 a.m. the entire house was full of smoke (still wondering why none of my smoke alarms sounded….hmmmm)…..let me tell you them little taters were all little brick hard, ebony golf balls…..the pan doesn’t look so hot either. Only blessing in this is my wife isn’t home…..otherwise she would have damaged me bodily in some severe manner. I opened all the doors and windows for an hour and, at least, the smoke cleared out. When I got up later at 4:45 am had to microwave a few potatoes to make them burritos….they were yummy….if not somewhat tainted.
Took off for my 2 ½ hour drive in a steady rain and it was like that all the way down. Yippee, yippee…….NOT. Met the boys at the launch and we were underway. I could tell at our first fishing area that pictures were going to be tough with the steady drizzle to hard rain the first 3 hours:
Camera was getting pelted with rain and fogging up all at the same time. The Kenai River was quite high for this time of year…..it was at 7,500 cfs…..median for this time of year is about 4,500 cfs. This flow makes much of the water to heavy and deep to effectively flyfish but that’s what we always do here. Caught a nice dolly as we made our way to a good spot and after a while of fishing water that was just too deep…. I was thinking making this a shorter fishing day wouldn’t be that bad as my hat was soaking through and dripping down my neck. Finally my strike indicator (bobber) went time and I struck solidly into a nice rainbow. As it bolted downstream into my backing I was starting to change my tune about how the day should go. This was a real horker fish but after a lengthy struggle she slipped into the net. What a toad:
While unhooking here she was spitting up eggs all over the bottom of the boat….these were much more orange and solid colored than the beads we were using and after a little while I switched to a bead closely resembling the disgorged eggs. It made all the difference in the fishing……Gordon, one of my friend’s neighbors (the guide) was fishing with me and got nothing until changing to this color of egg (which, of course, the guide didn’t have so I magnanimously “loaned” him some for Gordon to use…..what a humanitarian......hehehe.
Granted we still never got great numbers of fish today but the general size was prodigious…..they were big! We were passing through much of the water fast so we could get down to where we could see the lake in case it started getting to windy to be able to cross. As we trucked along I caught a few nice dollies…..and a few midget dollies too. We got to one of my favorite holes (and the bears favorites too…..there were munched salmon carcasses everywhere) and after several casts into the white water riffle at its head I buried the hook in another monster rainbow. She jumped a couple of times then ran way down river……after about 15 minutes I finally worked here up so Dennis could get a net under her….
After that this hole was dead for the next 30 minutes when I hooked into a nice rainbow who posed for a picture…..
Not long after I caught a small rainbow and a few middling dollies then lost another toad bow……couldn’t keep up with her and set the hook….she bolted out of the water and threw the hook right back at me….can’t get them all…..darn it. During this stop the rain was just pouring down and my camera started to get a bit fritzy so I had to put it away for awhile. We kept moving down the river with only a few fish when another big bow popped my bead about 3 feet from shore……she made 3 spectacular leaps and we floated through a bunch of water trying to get to someplace we could land her. But finally she came out boatside and I get a real original pose on the first try:
She held still for the second….
She was very dark and obviously spawned this year…..all her fins were split……we figured she must be an old hen maybe on her last spawning year….but she did give a great account of herself. As we got within about a mile of Skilak Lake we decided to take on of the side braids and not the main river channel……it was a good place to stop for lunch but for an hour we couldn’t get anything…..except a few pretty red fish (spawning reds and definitely undesired). Dennis’ dog, Chip, loves retrieving spawned out reds and piling them on shore…..bears probably love that. Sometimes he gets a bit “too” friendly while trying to help out with fish…..
This backwater is usually very good but we couldn’t get a thing…..so we sat down for a lunch of blackened coho (caught the day before), oranged carrots and baked potatoes with fixings…..great on a wet day. About this time our rain fizzled out and only sprinkled a few times for the rest of the day. While the gear was being put back on the boat I watched Gordon….who was having a very tough day…..catch his 2nd or 3rd fish while his bead was in real shallow water. I went down below where I had done zero before lunch and promptly whacked 6 dollies in half and hour from 3 to six lbs. Unfortunately my camera was only working when it felt like it and I didn’t get many pics the rest of the trip…..
Gordon had been using an 8mm bead…I was using a 6mm….so Dennis changed him over and he immediately started to catch fish…..he lost a monster bow in this last stretch. I caught several nice dollies….this is the last fish pic the camera took…..
We were about a ¼ mile above the lake when we found a bunch of big fish bunched up in a small area. Initially I popped our biggest dolly who ran me way in to my backing but finally worked here up to the net…..in the 8-9 lbs category. Next cast I lost a 25 inch bow on the first jump. I was resigned to the fact my camera would just not take any pictures right now…..didn’t stop the fun. Nailed two more dollies in the 5-6 lbs range then was just assailed by another rainbow of 27 inches……that one left me with one throbbing sore wrist and shoulder. Gordon caught a bunch of fish in this spot and finally after an hour or so we floated to the lake and started the 75 min drive to the get out ramp. I did manage to get the camera to take a few pictures as we motored across the lake…..
We loaded out and headed home…….guess I was glad I came…. Will be doing this trip again next Saturday…..