Summer Sun Fun

Alex Spies

With July nearly over, we are losing daylight at a rate of about 4 minutes per day right now. So that means it is time to really put the pedal to the grind and get fishing! As you read this, the fishing in Alaska is on fire! This time of the summer is my favorite as it really opens the eyes to the joy of nature and the pure beauty that it brings along with it. While we still sit ever so impatiently awaiting the arrival of our first born child, one cannot sit idly by as the salmon run through the rivers. For us in the Valley, the king salmon (chinook) season closed mid-July but that just gives way to the Coho (Silvers), Sockeye (Reds), Chums (Dog), and Pinks (Humpy) salmon to start their runs. With so many different and new species for me to chase it was hard to decide where to start. So I did what any Clam Outdoors enthusiast would do and that is grab your favorite tackle, grab your favorite rod, and hit your favorite lake for some Aluminum Therapy.

For those unfamiliar with the terminology, ‘Aluminum Therapy’ is a cure for the “LOFD’S” or “LOHD’S”. That is “Lack-of-Fishing-Disorder” and “Lack-of-Hunting-Disorder” respectively. Well with the upcoming baby and the stresses that go along with that, I saw a very small window of opportunity where I could make a quick run up to Harding Lake in North Pole, Alaska. That’s correct, the same lake that I landed some Beauty’s out of this winter. So I got the clearance from the Boss-Sammie Jo and my good friend Joe Bay and I were off in search of Trophy Lake Trout and Arctic Char. By now hopefully you all have noticed my infatuation this summer with using my Jason Mitchell Clam Outdoors Mackinaw rod. It literally goes everywhere with me. Yes, I know it is not the most practical of set-ups for trolling deep water but I am trying to see how much it can handle really. Needless to say, it handled beautifully. I had Joe and our Captain Charles rolling on the boat deck when they yelled “Fish on…on the little rod…oh my gosh” so I raced to the back of the boat, grabbed my rod and the fight was on! I was trolling a 6” White/Black tube jig with a ½ oz jig head below a 2 oz banana sinker about 18” up from the tube. I knew this winter after landing a nice 27” Lake Trout on the Mackinaw rod through the ice that it could handle just about anything—still this fight had me guessing. After several minutes of deep head shakes and burning drag with this monster on the line, I finally saw some color. To our surprise it was another beauty of an Arctic Char! When we landed him he measured just shy of 30” which would have been a trophy class sized fish but had an impressive 18 1/4” girth! We kept trolling for the next two nights hooking up on some great fish that were released to swim and fight another day. I got to see Charlie land a beauty Lake Trout and was finally able to help Joe get the ‘Hard-Luck-Monkey’ off his back. We both left Harding Lake exhausted as we headed back home after the weekend.

The fun didn’t stop there though folks. We brought Pasha our dog back into the Veterinary Specialists of Alaska for his final x-rays and received the good word that he had made a full recovery from his broken femur surgery and has no foreseeable issues. He still is not allowed to play with other dogs for another month while we build up his leg muscles doing light walks and jogs. It would seem that with everything coming together that I would sit still…but what about all those salmon running in the Little-Su River by our house you ask, well we got after them too! I successfully completed my “Five Salmon Family Challenge Program” sponsored by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. This is a great program that provides recognition to families that catch and document the five species of Pacific Salmon found in Alaska. Last summer I was able to catch 4 out of the 5 but was never able to land a Chum/Dog Salmon. Got to cross that one off the bucket list this year though on my 2nd ever catch on a fly rod!

To seemingly put an even more memorable note to that week was a surprise visit from Clam Pro Staff Teammate Dennis Musgraves on his way back to the Fairbanks area after a concert in Anchorage. He took me to one of his secret spots not too far down the road where he has claimed a name to fame. With both of our ‘better halves’ putting a limit of 30 minutes on this adventure, the time started ticking. Dennis was able to land a great fish and I was able to land a nice little Pink/Humpy salmon.

Now it seems like the only thing left on my To-Do list is wait for our baby girl to grace us with her presence which quite literally will be any moment now!

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer and catching lots of great fish!


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