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  • TRIP REPORT: ALASKA – FALL 2017

    TRIP REPORT:

    ALASKA – FALL 2017

    “Fishing trip”… a phrase that paints it with a pretty broad brushstroke.

    For the average fly fisherman, it can describe anything from a day on a local trout stream to an excursion to some remote location, halfway around the world for an exotic saltwater species.  What drives us to expend resources and devote our precious time can’t simply be summarized by saying we went to catch a fish.  In my mind, that target fish is the point we go but not necessarily the “reason”.   I think many would agree that a fishing trip serves multiple purposes, not the least of which is to “recharge our batteries”.   Whether it’s the peace and quiet of being alone on that little brookie trickle deep in the forest or racing across the flats in a skiff with your best fishing buddy, to a distant mangrove creek in search of that “double-digit” bonefish, the fish becomes secondary to the experience.

    With all that in mind, let me say that my recent (first) trip to Alaska makes it difficult to answer the question … “What was the best part of the trip?”

    First and most important, if you haven’t been there and have been considering it, don’t put it off any longer.  An Alaska fishing trip needs to be at the top of your list.  Now, when I use the term “fishing trip”, I’m not talking about those trips to the crowded, flossing rivers we’ve heard about.  If you want to really appreciate the wildness of our 49th state, a trip to a remote fishing lodge is what you’re looking for.

    This is the ninth consecutive year International Angler has been booking trips with The Royal Coachman Lodge (RCL) and the Copper River Lodge (CRL).  We have first rights to the final week of the season for both lodges before they close down for the winter. That’s not by accident.  By this time, most of the salmon runs have waned and the arctic char and wild rainbow trout have been feasting on salmon eggs and the flesh from dying salmon for the last few months. These fish are at maximum density due to their recent protein bonanza diet .  The trouts’ heads appear to be out of proportion to their bodies.  Envision a football with a little trout tail on one end and a little trout head on the other.

    This year’s trip, as in previous years, was offered as a split trip… three days at the RCL, followed by three days at the CRL.  The operations at both locations are similar, in that every accommodation is made to make your stay comfortable, enjoyable and successful.  It all starts with the people.  All of the staff, guides, pilots, everyone involved contributes to making your stay the best possible experience.  To give you an idea of the level of service, a couple dinner entrees featured grilled lamb chops and baked halibut cheeks.  My mouth is still watering.

     

    The state of Alaska limits the number of permits to most of the surrounding river systems so it’s not unusual to be the only anglers in sight, for MANY miles.  The RCL keeps boats and motors stashed in a number of remote locations that are only accessible via floatplane and the guides are some of the best in Alaska. Here’s where the real fun starts.  Every day is a new adventure, starting with a plane ride from the dock that might last from anywhere between 20 minutes to close to an hour, depending on today’s destination.  The guides are experienced and in-tune with what’s fishing, so that destination is based upon sound decision making.  And with so many options, you won’t be disappointed.  Mornings start with coffee at about 6:30AM, followed by a hearty breakfast served in the main lodge at about 8AM.  Wader up, grab your gear and meet your guide and pilot at the dock, located in front of the lodge on the home river.  The RCL is located on a remote point on the Nuyakuk River, in the Wood Tikchik State Park, Alaska’s largest state park.  The CRL is located on its namesake, Copper River near its mouth to giant Lake Iliamna.  The primary difference between the lodges, from a logistical standpoint is that each day you’ll depart the RCL, a floatplane as your taxi, and fly out to a river that you and your guide have decided upon for the day.  At the CRL, you’ll travel to various sections of the home river by boat, with flyouts to Fog Lake as an ala carte option.

     

    During our stay at RCL, I got to sample a bit of the fast and furious dry fly for grayling action on the Nuyakuk River just upstream of the lodge, big arctic char and rainbows on the Agulapak River, coho salmon, fresh from the sea in the Kulakuk River and jumbo rainbows from the Kvichak River.  Just a tiny slice of what’s available.  So many fish, so little time.  At the end of each day of angling, we would be swept back to our awaiting floatplane, pile in and head back to the lodge.   Shortly after take-off from our day on the Kulakuk, as we banked out over the edge of the ocean, I was peering out the side window down onto the rolling tundra and there stood a sow grizzly with triplet cubs.  Something you just don’t see everyday.  Just another piece of what makes this trip so special.  Throughout the week, we saw caribou, moose, otters, mink, eagles… lots of eagles, and more.  Though it would be very difficult for me to put my finger on the highlight of the trip, I would have to say that being (what I consider) in close proximity to Alaskan grizzlies, as right up there near the top.  During the peak of the salmon runs, all sorts of wild creatures are drawn to the rivers… including Griz.  According to the guides, a typical day during the peak salmon spawning periods can provide 30-40 bear sightings.  A little unnerving when you’re standing along the bank, catching one fish after another and suddenly you snap back to reality as one of those lumbering hulks appears within a stone’s-throw and ambles past.  I don’t care how many times the guide says “ he won’t bother you, he’s focused on the salmon”.   The fact that the high grass growing  along the riverbanks (on both sides), for the entire length of the river is trampled down and littered with salmon skeletons and bear droppings, gives you the sense that there probably isn’t a sqaure inch of river that hasn’t been visited by Ursus Arctos Horribilis.

     

    Everything relies on the returning masses of salmon.  Not only the mammals, birds and fish that dine on the eggs and flesh of those salmonids, but even the surrounding ecosystem is heavily dependent upon their existence.  Studies have found the DNA from salmon in the fiber of the spruce trees that line these pristine waterways.  Nothing goes to waste.

    Of all of the folks present at the lodges during that week, I was one of the few first-timers to visit Alaska.  I think what can be drawn from that is the fact that all who have made the trek to this great northern wilderness have returned, and in most cases repeatedly.  Some have sampled the earlier season fishing, with outstanding results casting dry flies to the big rainbows, while others fish during the peak salmon migrations.  As noted earlier, the big rainbows are the primary targets late in the year, and fishing is either done with egg patterns or more likely, big streamers.  The majority of these rainbows are in the 16″-20″ range, though many rainbows were caught in that incredible 22″-27″ range!  Being a newbie with the two-handed rod, I thought this would be a great opportunity to focus my efforts on swinging streamers with the 11’ switch rod.  The guides were more than happy to put me in great locations and coach me with the appropriate casting techniques and terminal tackle.  This style of presentation was deadly and these wild rainbows responded with viscous strikes on the big minnow or flesh streamer patterns.  On more than one occasion, I’d hook, briefly battle and lose a cartwheeling rainbow, only to have another one chase down the streamer and blast it within seconds of losing the first fish.  Then have the whole scenario repeat itself!  Talk about hot fish!

     

    Looking back on different snapshots in my memory, one of the recurring images I see is when all the anglers would return to the lodge each evening for appetizers and a cold beverage, grinning from ear to ear and shaking their heads in amazement with what they had experienced that day.  I can say with certainty that everyone enjoyed themselves immensely and will return.

    So back to the original question… “What was the best part of the trip?”

    Was it the people, the accommodations and meals? The fishing variety, floatplane rides, the wildlife encounters?  Or the sheer immensity of Alaska?

    Well, I don’t believe I’ve gathered enough intel yet.  I guess that will require additional research trips.

    JW

    It’s time to start planning your 2018 fishing adventure(s).
    Join International Angler’s most popular and unique hosted trip.
    2018 Will be our 11th annual trip to the Bristol Bay region, at two of the premier Alaska lodges. With many of our anglers repeating, this popular trip gets booked quickly. Call today for availability and details!
    September 23 to September 30
    Royal Coachman Lodge/Copper River Lodge, Alaska
    $7,575.00 each
    7 Nights/6 Days
    Includes:
    Seven Nights Lodging
    All Meals
    Six Days Guided Fishing
    Two Different Lodges:
    Royal Coachman Lodge, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, w/fly-outs (www.royalcoachmanlodge.com)
    Copper River Lodge, Bristol Bay Alaska (www.copperriverlodge.com)
    Top shelf accommodations, great food and amazing fishing!
    Last year this exact trip was an outstanding success.

    Read More
  • Early fall events.

    FALL CLEARANCE SALE
    SAVE UP TO 40% OFF ON BRANDS LIKE ORVIS, SAGE, HATCH AND MORE .
    September 19 – 6:00pm @ International Angler
    Steelhead Fly Tying 101 – with Bruce Cox (FREE)
    Join us for a FREE introductory fly tying class. Our expert instructors will teach you how to tie your first fly pattern for Great Lakes Steelhead. No experience or equipment required. Must pre-register, space limited.
    September 26 (4 weeks) 6:00pm, @ International Angler
    Steelhead Fly Tying Course – Beginner ($60.00)
    Learn to tie popular fly patterns for Great Lakes Steelhead, Salmon, and Brown trout.
    September 27 – 6:30pm @ International Angler
    Steelhead Basics with John Stanton
    Join us at the shop for a FREE beginners seminar with Registered PA Guide, John Stanton. He will be talking about Great Lakes Steelhead and how to angle for them using a fly rod.
    October 14 – 8:00am, Yellow Creek Trout Club
    Euro Nymphing Clinic – with Josh Miller ($295.00)
    Join Josh Miller (PA Guide, TEAM USA member, Team USA Youth Coach, and International Angler employee) on the stream to learn Euro Nymphing techniques. Take your angling skills to the next level with this intense full day clinic.
    October 15-19
    South Holston
    Great fall trout fishing on the best trout rivers in the eastern US. Join the IA group on the South Holston and Watauga Rivers. We have 4 spots available on this excellent trip.
    Salmon River, Oct 22 to 24   2 SPOTS LEFT
                             Oct 28 to 30  4 SPOTS LEFT

    IA Salmon River trip – Join one of our groups this fall on the famous Salmon River, Pulaski, NY. Annually, this Great Lakes tributary offers incredible runs of  King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Steelhead, and Brown trout. Our stable of guides are the finest, most knowledgeable in the region. Don’t miss out on one of the best values available in fly fishing.

    http://www.salmoncountryguide.com/

    Package: 3 nights lodging, and 2 days guided fishing for only $750.00 each, double occupancy.

    • Wednesday, October 11, 5:30pm FF101 FREE
    Learn fly-fishing basics in one of our free Fly Fishing 101 classes. Perfect for beginners of all ages. Fly Fishing 101 will provide you with free lessons on fly casting and outfit rigging.
     Please call to sign up: 412-788-8088.
    FF201 October 18 – 5:30pm, meet at Fly Shop
    FF201 (pay $25.00 in advance)
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  • Trip Updates

    October 15 to 19, 2017

    South Holston River, TN – Join us for 3 days of great fall trout fishing. The fall season on the South Holston and Watauga River’s, offers streamer fishing for trophy brown trout and rainbow trout. Also, expect a good Blue Winged Olive hatch for spectacular dry fly fishing. And as always, have a nymph rig set up for dependable nymphing. The amenities at the lodge are second to none. Great food, comfortable accommodations, with a very gracious staff, to make your stay welcoming and memorable. Fall trout fishing at its finest, and not far away.

    Package: 4 Nights lodging, meals, beer & wine, and 3 days guided fishing – $1,900.00 each, double occupancy. (5 spots available)

    http://southholstonriverlodge.com/

     

     21 to 28, 2017                   1 SPOT LEFT        North Andros Fly Fishing

    http://anglingdestinations.com/Destinations.php?REGION_ID=5&DEST_ID=103

    This is a small lodge (6 guest), that we have booked the last 3 years and it has earned a spot near the top of our list for “favorite wading” for bonefish.

    Package: 7 nights lodging, meals, airport transfer, and 6 days guided fishing on the extensive flats of the Joulter’s Cays

    $3,375.00 each, double occupancy ($4,515.00 single occupancy)

    *IF INTERESTED IN THIS EXCELLENT TRIP, PLEASE LET US KNOW ASAP. WE ARE COLLECTING THE FINAL PAYMENTS.

     

    October 22 to 24 (2 spots) & October 28 to 30

    IA Salmon River trip – Join one of our groups this fall on the famous Salmon River, Pulaski, NY. Annually this Great Lakes tributary offers incredible runs of king salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. Our stable of guides are the finest, most knowledgeable in the region. Don’t miss out on one of the best values available in fly fishing.

    http://www.salmoncountryguide.com/

    Package: 3 Nights lodging, and 2 days guided fishing for only $750.00 each, double occupancy.

     

    February 3 to 10, 2018 – Cinco Rios, Chile

    www.cincorios.cl &  www.estanciadelzorro.cl/

    Our week is during the peak Cantaria Beetle Hatch, offering anglers great dry fly fishing for large rainbow and brown trout.

    Package: 7 nights lodging, (split Cinco Rios/Estancia Del Zorro), meals, alcohol, airport transfer, and 6 days guided fishing.

    $4,375.00 each, double occupancy

     

    February 17 to 24, 2018 – 2 SPOTS LEFT      Mars Bay Bonefish Lodge

    http://anglingdestinations.com/Destinations.php?REGION_ID=5&DEST_ID=104

    For many years, Mars Bay has become one of our favorite bonefish destinations. We return to Mars Bay annually for many reasons, great wade fishing endless flats with many “shots” at feeding bonefish. Comfortable accommodations, and very good meals. Can you think of a better place to spend a week in February?

    Package: 7 nights lodging, meals, alcohol, airport transfer, and 6 days guided fishing.

    $4,550.00 each, double occupancy

     

    Please feel free to contact us for additional details or questions.

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  • FLY FISHING GUIDE TRIPS AT INTERNATIONAL ANGLER
    We have two new Pennsylvania registered guides in the stable. Joe Clark And Josh Miller.
    With John Stanton and Leo Vensel and our local guide partners we have many options for your guided day trips. A great gift for Father’s Day call the shop and buy him a guided Fly Fishing trip.
    JOE CLARK
    Joe grew up in the hills of western Pennsylvania. Being home-schooled he was able to spend the majority of his youth beside the woods, streams, and lakes. These days, chasing wild trout has become his passion.  As a member of Team Freestone and a instructor of the US Youth Fly Fishing Team, Joe has honed his skill and enjoyed the many benefits of a fly fishing community. When indoors, Joe also enjoys playing and writing music which is heavily influenced by time spent on the water.
    Josh Miller
    Josh Miller, Coach of the Eastern Region for the US Youth Fly Fishing Team, is from Ross Township, PA. Josh got his “feet wet” at age 10 when he took a fly tying class from a local fly shop. He spent his youth exploring the streams of Northern Pennsylvania. Josh is a member of Fly Fishing Team USA and has worked as an assistant coach, and instructor, with Team USA Youth. He is also a “Signature Fly Tyer” for The Orvis Company.
    John Stanton
    Leo Vensel
    Full day
    1 person $295.00 (local)
    2 people 395.00 (local)
    Full day
    1 person 350.00 (travel/central pa)
    2 people $450.00 ( travel/central pa)
    Available access to private water
    Yellow creek
    Beaver creek
    Rolling rock
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  • Steve Raejeff

    Friday June 9th 6:00pm meet and greet casting legend

    Steve Rajeff. @ the store.

     

    Steve Rajeff

    ACA Hall of Fame member, 38 appearances on ACA All American Team, won the ACA All Around Championship 38 consecutive times, and the bi-annual World Casting Championship 13 times.

    Current Men’s Record Holder

    Fly Distance Combination Plug Accuracy Combination All Accuracy Combination All Distance Combination
    1-Hand Fly Distance

    Current Co-holder Men’s Record Score 100

    Dry Fly Accuracy Trout Fly Accuracy Bass Bug Accuracy
    1/4 oz Plug Accuracy 3/8 oz Plug Accuracy 5/8 oz Plug Accuracy

    Current Co-holder Men’s Record

    Anglers Fly Distance

     

    Read More