Jon and I are out of the home drainage again today. The leopard rainbows have been elusive this trip so the plan for today is to fish the same remote stream we fished last week(see August 23 post), but this time we’ll  go downstream from where Jon lands the plane. There’s some perfect rainbow habitat down there that gave up a bunch of rainbows a few years ago and we’re hoping it will again this year. There’s also a large cut bank that held very large char. So, let’s just say we’re hoping for ‘bows, but aren’t opposed to gargantuan char.

We’ll be fishing mouse patterns on top again today just because it’s so cool to see the “take.” Of course, there will be the “average 20-inch long” char problems meaning we’ll struggle to keep those average-sized char from taking the mouse pattern. These average-size char fight hard and if you landed every one you hooked you’d be a tired puppy by the end of the day. In the past few weeks both Jon and I have gotten pretty proficient at shaking off the smaller char by throwing them slack line right after the hook-up which allows them to throw the barbless hook.

Things go according to plan for the first 15 or 20 minutes. We’re hooking and shaking char off with regularity to “save” ourselves for the “big boys” and hopefully a few ‘bows in attack mode. The char tend to fool around with the fly more than a trout so you almost always know when they’re chasing the mouse pattern. And if that behavior doesn’t clue you in the dead giveaway is when you see these yellowish, orange lips snapping at the mouse pattern. It’s almost like they have lipstick on. If you miss the lipstick figure you’ll see the white on the bottom of their fins---just like a brook trout.

Anyway my contemplative dreaminess is broken when Jon sings out, “I want to see this one!” and lands big buck char that’s easily more than two feet long. “This when you stop talking about them in terms of inches and instead go to feet,” he says.

It’s all good and we manage a few more very nice char, but the rainbows remain elusive. This is a mystery since we’re covering all the deep drop-offs, brushy holes and grassy undercut banks they lurk in. Oh well, we figure. We’ll just have to settle for gargantuan char and fish our way down to the cut bank. But, there’s a surprise awaiting us there, too. The creek has changed its course, cut another channel and erased the beautiful deep, deep holes that once held the gargantuan char.

This might be disappointment to some fly fishers, but this is Alaska and it’s wild, always changing, and we have this entire creek to ourselves. How can that be disappointing?

And besides, I’ve always been a sucker for yellow-orange lipstick. Oh, baby.