There is an old saying – “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.” The leopard rainbow trout is a fish that will take your breath away. Its sheer beauty, large shoulders, and fierce aggressive nature make it a quarry like no other.
Susan and I worked with the Duncans to come up with a time that would be optimal for trout fishing – we settled on the last week in July.
“Click this virtual tour of the upper base camp” to follow along with us as we take you on a virtual tour of a Dave Duncan and Sons fishing trip. Our destination is the Upper Base Camp on Alaska’s Kanektok river. On this trip, our quest is the elusive Leopard Rainbow. Although it is not too elusive, as we managed to land our fair share of this magnificent fish. Along the way we also find abundant Arctic Char (AKA Dolly Varden) and several salmon species.
Susan and I shared our Kanektok River adventure with nine other guests (Darrell and Linda, Larry and Rankin, Nick and Elaine, Phil, Andrew and Michael.) What a wonderful group! We could not have hand picked better camp mates.
The Upper Base Camp was staffed by a great team: Clint, Owen, Kirk, Scott,” Big” Adam,” Little” Adam, Isaac, Mark – and Mojo (the camp dog.)As you navigate through the virtual trip you may notice helpful hint icons . If you click these icons you will get helpful hints on a particular topic. At the end of the trip, you can get a whole page of hints.
We polled the guests and the guides and came up with ideas that might help make your trip more enjoyable. Some of the guests we talked to have been camping with the Duncans for over 20 years.
The Bethel airport is small. When you get your bags, walk out the backdoor and you will find the Grant Aviation vans.
Earplugs are a handy thing to have on the small aircraft ride as well as the boat ride up to camp.
Pack your raingear (coat and pants) as well as hat, gloves, shoes and other items in one section of your bags – so when you get to Quinhagak, you can easily access the items for a quick change. The boat ride can be chilly, even on warm day. The weather can change quickly, so no matter what the weather, bundle up in your raingear for the hour + boat ride.
Always carry your raingear and sunscreen while fishing – even if there are no clouds in the sky. The weather changes very quickly here.
Take along a pair of yellow tinted polarized sunglasses for those dark days.
Bring extra size 7 split shot (the big ones.) Especially for those that are not mousing.
Take a fly tying class before your trip. It is nice to be able to stop by the tying bench and whip out a few flies for the next day. No matter how many flies you bring, there are always one or two hot local flies that it would be nice to have for the next day. Any of the guides are eager to give you a quick recipe and show you how to build one.
As a Deet substitute try Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Lotion, It seems to work just as well. Also the Buzzoff clothing appeared to work well for some of the guests.
Read up on the area. There are some interesting things in this neck of the woods that would be good to read about. Things like the tundra and the local Yup’iks – so much history in this area.
A Tundra walk is a must. The soft spongy ground and interesting ground cover is unique. Read about the Tundra before you go.
Practice trying to sleep when it is sunny out. That is what is like up there. One couple brought sleeping masks. Of course you are so tired after a few days of fishing – sleep is not a problem for most.