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Dreams

Every fisherman dreams of fishing Alaska sometime in their life. Last week, that dream came true for me when I float-fished the Kanektok River in Western Alaska with one of the premier outfitters in our northern-most state. We arrived in Anchorage the first day, overnighted there, then flew to Dillingham the next morning. From there, we took a float plane onto an isolated lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains, where our seven-day journey was to begin near the headwaters of the Kanektok River. We were shocked to find an extremely comfortable camp waiting for us with spacious tents that never leaked, comfortable air mattresses to sleep on, premier Avon boats to fish from, and meals prepared by outfitter Clint Duncan that were better than you could find in most gourmet restaurants. The first night, we enjoyed crisp salad, baked potatoes, prime rib and homemade bread baked along the shore of the river. Other nights saw meals such as shrimp and scallops in cream sauce on rice, and halibut cheeks poached in white wine. No one lost any weight on this trip.

The fishing was superb. We found that out even before leaving the lake to start the float by catching sockeye salmon up to 12 pounds and sassy humpback (pink) salmon in the 3-5 pound class. The first day on the river turned up good quantities of arctic char, dolly vardens and grayling on spoons and spinners, as well as egg flies. The second day saw even more quantities of these fish. By the third day, we began to pick up several beautifully colored 'leopard' rainbows mixed in with the char, dollies and grayling, some weighing up to five pounds.

Our fourth day of floating on the Kanektok River saw some of the most exciting fishing of the trip. I cast big deer-hair flies imitating voles towards sweepers and snags near shore, where the'bows like to hang out. Slapping the big 'mice' flies down with a splat, we would pull them back slowly, so they created a v-wake on the surface and rainbows up to five pounds suddenly materialized and sucked down the bulky offerings. When we pulled in to set up camp, 37 rainbows had struck our mice flies, many more had looked them over and refused at the last minute.

On the fifth and sixth days of the trip, more rainbows, dollies and humpies came our way, plus a sprinkling of chum salmon. But the premier fish for the trip's culmination was the silver or coho salmon. These fish avidly take spoons such as Pixies and brightly colored streamer flies and fight tremendously. By the trip's end, everyone had caught hundreds of strong gamefish, but more importantly, enjoyed incredible scenery and the fine companionship of Clint's crew of friendly, hard-working guides.

If you prefer a lodge-type setup instead of a float, the Duncans offer that as well on the Kanektok.

Author Gerald Aimg is a writer for Sports Afield Magazine.


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