The number of Arctic Char we’re seeing in this creek is difficult to convey. We’re heading upstream to the headwaters to fish a stretch of water that is legendary for some of the largest char in this drainage. The plan is to fish there, eat lunch and then hit a few other spots on the way back downstream. But right now hundreds of char are scooting away from the jet boat as we’re motoring upstream. In terms of numbers all I can think of is how many stars can you see on a clear night? On a more practical level you have to wonder how am I going get through all the 16-inch to 20-inch fish so I can have a shot at the larger 25-inch plus char. It’s a problem I don’t mind contemplating.
If there was some kind of scale to rate water’s clarity, let’s say one similar to the one used to evaluate diamonds, this place where we’ve stopped and are rigging up our fly rods would rate as being absolute, perfect clarity. The char spread bank to bank for pretty much the entire length of this 80-yard long flat. The water is deeper where the main channel comes in at the top after which it spreads and flattens for the rest of its length.
Jon decides to go with a small Morrish Mouse pattern. I’m going to stick to the orange wooly bugger type pattern that worked so well a few days ago. The bugger is tied and rigged to be fished on the surface so you can swing and then “wake” it back to you after making a downstream and across presentation. If that sound technical, believe me, it isn’t. My first char of the day attacks the fly as soon as it hits the water. My second char is a 24-incher. Meanwhile Jon is getting follows and strikes on the mouse pattern and his wife, Patty, is a little further upstream giggling because she has a fish on most of the time. In fact all three of us are giggling most of the time.
We tend to get a little more serious when any of us hook up one of the larger bucks that dominate the deeper water at the head of the run. They are colored up and take your breath away. We’re in the land of the big boys, the sun is warm on our backs, the scenery is astounding and we haven’t seen another angler anywhere since I arrived four days ago.
We take a late lunch break mostly because we’d forgotten to eat and then decide we better head back downstream if we want to fish new water. When we stop it’s the same story---too many char to count, big ones, giggles and astonishment. We name one spot the Mouse Place because the char can’t get enough of Ken Morrish’s mouse pattern.
At some point we just stop and find ourselves wandering on a gravel bar looking at the stones. I wouldn’t say we were exhausted—only that we were done fishing for the day by mutual consent.
Later on Patty says, “The sky is clear. We’ll be able to see the stars tonight,”