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The Little Ku

By HUNTER REDFIELD – Student Contributor

After waking up and going through the normal morning ritual of dragging myself to the guide shack to eat breakfast, 6:30 a.m. strikes the clock, and it is time to load the rafts into the planes and kick off another day of work.

We sent the first group of clients out, and while standing on the dock waiting to catch the plane, Joey and I were told to very promptly put our waders on because we were going fishing.

So we ran to the weather port and wadered up, grabbing our rods and then we split. Joey headed to the kitchen to grab some snacks to hold us over for the day, and I went to Brian’s shed to grab his chest pack full of all the bead fishing essentials. Just as fast as we made it to the plane, it was fueled up, and soon we were airborne, headed for Peanut Lake to drop off clients.

We landed on Peanut and taxied to the end of the lake, where Sam hopped off into the deceivingly dark tea-colored water that looked to be well over our heads, but surprisingly he only went to his waist before striking bottom, and I did the same, as the plane stopped and we unloaded the clients and gear. Once everyone was out of the plane and had their gear, I spun the plane around and waited for Mark to give his usual “Clear!” before the prop started spinning and the motor growled and I hopped in and buckled up.

I put on my headset and listened to pilots come across the radio saying “Moraine Creek air traffic,” “Kvichak river air traffic” and “Gibraltar river air traffic” before saying that they were piloting a beaver or otter and landing or taking off.

Soon enough, Mark did the same, and we lifted off the water, flew downriver, landed on Kukaklek Lake and pulled the plane in, anxious to have a little time to ourselves.

Once all of our rods were put together and rigged up, we put any unnecessary items back into the plane as a jet boat from another lodge pulled into the mouth of the stream. They made quick work to get ahead of us as we never saw them after they got out of the boat.

We worked up stream, watching for pods of spawning sockeye and dropping the beads behind them, hoping that a hungry egg eating trout would take.

However, we spent lots of time doing this, and for the longest time, had yet to see a trout.

We worked our way around a bend filled with rocks the size of recliners with sockeye mixed in around them, and finally I saw Mark hook up with a fish. I quickly handed my rod to Joey and ran upstream to net it, take a couple pictures, then watch him release it, and once again, he was fishing.

Joey and I followed fishing water behind him, and we watched for fish hoping I could put Joey on his first trout with a fly rod.

We made another bend, and a bear was fishing upstream of us, so we take a moment to watch him.

He jumped in, crashing through the water as it seemed to explode, being pushed by the tails of the salmon, and he was left without a fish. We watched some more, then made our way upstream, fishing behind him. We came to a bend where Mark found some fish, so Joey and I let him fish and passed by, coming to a deep hole lined from side to side and top to bottom with the bright red of the salmon. We figured it would be a good spot, however, we couldn’t seem to find a trout, so we moved a little farther upstream and see more and more salmon but very few trout.

As we went through a shallow riffle, I looked upstream and see salmon at the head of it.

I looked downstream to the tail out of the riffle where it dropped off, and I had a good suspicion the trout would be holding in the deep water hoping for eggs to drop out of the riffle. I threw a cast in and come out with about an 18 inch rainbow. After netting and releasing it, I was quick to get Joey to the riffle.

I taught him the basics of bead fishing, and I seemed to turn into a guide, telling him where to cast, when to mend, and saying set when a fish eats.

After a few fish shake him off, one stuck good enough for me to get a net under and watch his smile beam as his first trout on a fly rod had been caught.

With this trout at hand, Joey seemed to have enough confidence to be able to fish on his own, and we worked that drop off a little more until deciding to move a little farther upstream and then back downstream as we try not to fish up too far to ensure we aren’t fishing in front of anyone’s clients.

While fishing a pocket, my line went tight and I couldn’t help but notice the bright red fish the line leads to. So I fought it, making attempts to net it several times, and finally I was able to.

This turned out to be a poor decision because once in the net, the fish went ballistic, flipping all over the place and wrapping itself in the net because of the jagged teeth it displays.

Once we got it untangled, I take a couple pictures with it, release it and watch as it swims back to the pool filled with his fellow sockeye.

We each caught a few more trout, and then I saw a giant rainbow that most likely would’ve taped around 30 inches long. Just as fast as I saw him, he disappeared to the depths again. I tried fishing for him, but soon I saw Sam and his clients come around the corner. So, we all turned around and made our way downstream, knowing we had to take off by 4 p.m. The walk was longer than planned, and our departure time was offset by half an hour.

Once again, the beaver rumbled, and we took off for the lodge to unload the plane, ending our day on the Little Ku and beginning the remainder of our work day.

 

Columnist Hunter Redfield is a student at Cranberry High School and a member of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications class.

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