I was in that Na-Na land commonly referred to as airplane sleep pretty much from Denver to Anchorage. If you’re able to sleep on planes it’s that state of semi-unconsciousness between being drowsily awake and asleep. It’s where you wonder whose snoring and then realize it’s you. Anyway, we landed so I got up and wandered into the terminal, flowed with the crowd to baggage claim, retrieved my rolling duffel bag, walked outside and called the shuttle to my hotel. It was all good.
The next morning I was back at the airport for the PenAir flight to King Salmon where my friend Jon Kent was meeting me with his Cessna to fly me back to Painter Creek Lodge. Jon and his wife, Patty, have spent the last two seasons putting the lodge back together after a couple bears mistook it for a drive-in diner toward the end winter and pretty much tore it up. I’m here to help out a little and hang out a lot for the next three weeks. Of course, my ulterior motive is fishing and once I’m set up in the old guide shack Jon suggests we run upriver a ways to catch some arctic char. The suggestion is a little more urgent that usual since the weather report is calling for wind and heavy rain coming from the southeast.
The river is loaded with char, some tail end of the king salmon spawners, chums, and sockeyes which wouldn’t be much out of the ordinary, but is miraculous to those of us who been hanging out in this drainage off a for more than a decade. But more about that later.
For right now we are pretty much catching one char after another on Jon’s world renowned Wonder Fly which is essentially an unweighted orange wooly bugger that you wake across the water’s surface until it’s attacked by a char. And it is an attack—you see the bow wave coming from three or four feet away and try to hold off on your set-up until the fish is all over the fly. It’s a lot of fight once you hook up, in fact after you’ve caught and released five or six char you begin to wonder if maybe that tennis elbow you thought you’d overcome is back again.
So, this where Jon teaches me a quick release revelation this plentiful run of char taught him. First off, make sure you flatten the barb on the Wonder Fly then when the char strikes and you hook up and feel that the weight of the fish and the fight is about average throw a small loop of slack into your fly line. Unless the char is rocketing downstream it will throw the fly and the release is complete.
For me this trip is going to be a lot about letting go or should I say the art of release. Stay tuned. I’ll be blogging every chance the satellite connection allows me to.