Karluk River Report
From Sunday to Friday, I was fortunate enough to be able to fish the Karluk in the company of Dan Busch and other members of the Hooknose Society. For those who don't know, the Karluk drains a large portion of SW Kodiak Island and sustains a good population of steelhead and some arctic char.
The five of us stayed in a cabin at a place called Portage, which, I gather from the topo maps, is about 10 or so miles above tide. Even though Kodiak has been experiencing some heavy rains lately, the river was still very low and, though broad (over 200 feet in some places), was quite shallow. Fish movements were impeded by the low water, and we saw far fewer silvers than we expected.
The steelheading, though, was good, although it was far from what I expected in terms of aggressive fish. The fish had adopted full winter behavior and were staying glued to the bottom, taking softly and very discreetly. Our guide, Dan, was a magician at hooking these fish, pulling steelhead out from behind us numerous times. The most successful technique was to dead-drift glo-bugs beneath a strike indicator. I couldn't get the fish to hit a swung-fly, although my buddy John got quite a few by swinging Spey-dressed flies topped with a small brass conehead.
As a matter of fact, I couldn't catch these fish at all, although my friends had little trouble landing three to four fish a day. The steelhead ranged from about two pounds (!) to about fifteen, and were every color steelhead come in, from near-spawning to snow belly bright. The typical fish was about six pounds.
The Karluk steelhead were strong and in excellent condition, but they mostly fought close to where they were hooked, seemingly reluctant to leave the safe pockets of depth they'd found in the otherwise shoal river.
The big story here, though, is BEARS. We had constant encounters of the beary kind; not a day went by that we weren't in the intimate company of one, and, although not one bear every made an aggressive move towards us, we really felt uncomfortable fishing alone and the idea of bear made it hard to concentrate on anything else.
After the six days of fishing, we flew out over the many Kodiak drainages on a bright, high ceilinged day, and could see for ourselves that Kodiak Island was created expressly for salmon. Every dip and depression was a stream, lake or estuary. I'd never seen anything like it. Just wish I were twenty years younger and could move there.
If any of you would like more specific information, feel free to post me off-board.