Kings of Kodiak -3
Jeff and I were lucky to get in on the Ayakulik. It was supposed to be the peak of the run but the salmon hadn’t show up in their usual riches and famous rivers were being all across “The Great Land”.
But within 3 hours Jeff had half a dozen fish and I, with two under my belt was beginning to think king salmon fishing wasn’t as hard as it was cracked up to be.
The next fish won its release earlier than anticipate, and the curse started I didn’t raise a fish for 24 hours _ of which about 18 were fishing. I could barely lift my right arm from what must have been a couple of thousand casts, and for much of the second day my spirits were even lower. I couldn’t have bought a salmon at the Sydney Fish Market.
Travel for a specific hatch, species or run and you need a slice of luck. Mine came in the form of a bright pink deer hair surface popper. In desperation I tied it on and worked the far bank in front of camp. Tossing surface flies for the smaller silver salmon is great sport, but kings aren’t supposed to eat them. About third cast in, the gray evening waters were shouldered aside, and a huge kiped mouth engulfed the fly. I lifted and there was nothing, just heavy ripples rolling across the still pool. I sat for a while watching Jeff fish, and the industrious beavers deciding I didn’t need to catch another fish, that moment was enough. So sure enough, the kings decided to be kind again
But to stand on the green slopes of Pillar mountain on a blue sky day _ or knee deep in the icy Ayakulik under a gray fisherman’s sky _ the hardships and dangers faced by those living and working here year-round fall to a vague tickle, behind the pleasure of find yourself actually on Kodiak.
The nervous glances and startled jumps of the new arrival have disappeared, the adrenal remnants only heightening the experience of visiting one of the world’s great wilderness frontiers. It is an experience, and a sensation, that is highly addictive
Then your fly, perhaps one of Ruppart’s superb Black Electric Leeches come to a halt, and somehow you remember after hundred of uneventful casts, how to set the hook with your line hand not the rod.
You feel weight, heavy, implacable, start to move upstream, the reel spinning faster than you can believe. The rod is bowed deeply, the line humming under pressure from current and fish. The black despair from hours of futile effort vanishes with one hookup. As if Kodiak Island isn’t special enough, it has the Kings of the Pacific.