Days 3 and 4

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Yesterday, we flew out to a remote stream in the national park that we had to hike about a mile and a half through brush and rough terrain to get to fishable water.  It was strenuous, but very worth it.  We had a great day on small water catching more fish (grayling and small trout) than we could count – all on dry flies.  It was again great weather and a lot of fun.  Dry fly fishing is the ultimate top water action as you have to present the fly just right and then the fish comes rocketing from below to eat it – sometimes coming completely out of the water like a wahoo on the take.

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It was the true Alaska experience which was topped off by a very close encounter with a wild bear.  As we were eating lunch we heard a bunch of splashing just upstream from us but behind our backs.  The guide and I were just thinking “I didn’t think there was anyone else out here fishing but us” when Michael turned around and said “Oh my Gosh! That is a huge bear!”

He/she had been walking up the bank on our side of the river apparently and, upon seeing us, hopped into the water to cross to the other side.  It was only about 40’ from us when it crossed and looked as surprised to see us as we were to see it.

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Today, we went back up the home river (this time on the plane because a whole bunch of people wanted to go ) where we had caught the huge rainbows a couple of days ago.  We didn’t get any as big as before but had a great day with the head guide of the lodge and caught, again, way too many fish to count but probably around 30 rainbows.

Tomorrow is our last day.  Not sure where we are going yet but it almost doesn’t matter.  I has already been a fantastic trip.

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Big ‘Bows

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Today we ran up the Kvichak (Kwee-jack) river in a jet boat instead of flying out.  We do this one of the days as there are four groups of four anglers at the lodge and only three planes.  The target was huge rainbows.  We found them.

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Another fantastic day.  You know it is good in Alaska when the biggest weather problem you have is the potential for sunburn.

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Fish One

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So, some of you may remember I took Michael fly fishing near home a few years ago and we hit a really tough day and he casted for 10 hours and did not catch a fish – but he kept on casting.

Today, our first day of fishing here in Alaska, we flew to a remote stream about 85 miles (1 hour flight time) from the lodge in search of Arctic Char and Grayling.  We landed on a remote lake and hiked in through the tundra and bush to get to the stream.

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I told the guide as we stopped at the first hole that I was going to man the camera instead of a rod at first to see if I could capture Michael’s first fish on a fly.  Michael was afraid I jinxed him but he didn’t disappoint.  On his second cast he hooked and landed a grayling.  A pretty fish they call the Arctic Sailfish for its tall dorsal fin.

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As it turns out, that was probably the smallest fish we caught all day – and there were a lot of them after that first one.

Michael did very well with his casting and caught too many char and grayling to count – including two that were world class in size.  A 21” grayling and a 24” char.

The weather was great.  The fishing was great.  The scenery and surroundings were incredible and our guide for the day, Dac, was awesome as well.

A fantastic start to the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alaska!

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Michael and I have arrived in Alaska for a week of fly-out fishing for Salmon, big trout and other various fishy critters in these parts.  This trip is my 16th birthday present to Michael but, I guess, it is also the epitome of a self-giving gift as I’m sure I am as excited about it as he is.

I did this same type of trip (different lodge but same concept) 14 years ago with my Dad for his 70th birthday and it is a week I will always treasure in my memories and I think he does too.  That is the real point of this trip – to create an incredible time with just the two of us.

 

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Farewell again

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One last night.  One last sunset at Lorelei.  We pull out tomorrow and will stop over in Orlando to visit the Harry Potter world and the rest of Universal Studios one more time.  Then home on Tue evening.

It has been a great trip as always.  Maybe the last one just like this.  Michael will be 16 next summer, possibly with a summer job and probably with a girl in the picture.  Two weeks with Dad in Islamorada may not fit into the picture.  We’ll see.  Whatever happens, we’ll always have these memories.

I added some more pics to the shutterfly site.  See you on our next adventure.

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Shark week 2013 drawing to a close

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This week has been the annual “Shark Week” on the Discovery channel and the kids and I have enjoyed watching the shows at night and conducting our own shark week by day.  Sharks seem to have been a lot of what we’ve caught this year although we have gotten our share of snapper, trout, ladyfish, jacks etc.  Alas, no dolphin this trip even though we had a couple of very nice days on the ocean.

The weather was really good to us this trip as we had almost an entire week of mostly gentle winds.  The past couple days have been more typical of about 15 knots and today and tomorrow are forecasted at 15-20 with a small craft advisory.  So, we’ll be sticking to more protected areas these last couple days.

We also have hit all of our normal haunts on dry land (Hungry Tarpon, Robbies, Lazy Days, Wahoos, Tower of Pizza, Mangrove Mikes and, of course, Lorelei multiple times).

We leave out of here Sunday morning – hopefully after one more amazing sunset at Lorelei on Saturday night.  In any case, it has been another awesome trip.  As I’ve said before, I really, really, love this trip not just for the fishing and fun in the sun on the water but, mostly, because it is absolute immersion time for me with Michael and Allison.  I know I will always treasure these times and I hope they will too.

I’ve uploaded some of the photos to Shutterfly.  You should be able to see them here.

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Tranquility

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The past couple of days have been very calm.  We watch the news each day and see that the mainland is getting pummeled with thunderstorms and wind but we are eerily calm down here and no rain so far.  It is hot, but it has allowed us to get out and do some stuff.

In the past few days we have been to the shark hole, snapper hole, barracuda hole and out on the ocean in search of dolphin (the fish) which we didn’t find but we did stop at Alligator reef for some snorkeling.

 

 

 

 

Here are some pics:

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Tomorrow looks to be calm too but we may take a “break from the sun-day”.  We have one more week in paradise.  I’m sure it will fly by.

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Specks!

Our first fishing foray was going to the “snapper hole”.  We have a few spots we know well around here and each of them is named for the type of fish we normally find there.  We have the snapper hole, the shark hole and the barracuda hole.  The wind was up yesterday so our best bet was the snapper hole – which is actually a channel through a very shallow bank that separates one part of the bay from another.  Snapper and the occasional small barracuda or shark is what we usually find here and Allison started us out.

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Then something strange happened.  While tossing a bigger jig across the channel looking for a small barracuda, I hooked into something that felt familiar but unusual for this area.  As I got it close to the boat I saw it was a really nice Speckled Trout – a fish they do catch here but not this far away from the mainland.  We catch them when we run over to Flamingo which is at the tip of the everglades and is more like the murky bay waters I’m used to in Texas.  This area here is crystal clear with flats with fish such as bonefish and permit, not specks and reds.  I’ve never encountered one this far away from the glades.

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It was about a 20”er so I filled up the live well and said “I guess we eat tonight”.  Then I cast back out into the same spot and immediately caught another one.  At that point I told Michael to rig up with a larger jig and cast out there and he started catching them too.

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By the time they moved away we had five really nice fish in the live well and had released several more.  On top of that Allison caught her normal raft of snapper including three that were eating size so we had enough fish to last a few dinners.

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The Florida mainland has been getting a ton of rain this summer (much like we have at home) and I saw a story on the way down here that Okeechobee was overflowing and sending too much water downstream into the Port St. Lucie area and they were really worried about the local fishing up there because the huge influx of fresh water was lowering the salinity of the bay and driving the fish away.  I guess the Everglades are in the same boat and the fresh water has driven the trout out here into bonefish country.

As we were getting ready to pull away we saw we had drawn in a couple of sharks and the kids started chanting for me to catch one so I tried to target one of the smaller ones and did hook him up.

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Then we bounced our way back home to clean fish, ourselves and cook dinner.  Which was great…

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and finished off with some key lime pie Smile.

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Ahhhhh…

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We arrived in Islamorada late yesterday afternoon.  We got unpacked and the boat in the water and settled a bit and then it was dinner time so we headed off to my “One Particular Harbor” of Lorelei on the beach.  You guys have seen much better sunsets than this from this exact vantage point, but, no matter the display nature chooses to reveal, sitting on this little beach with the guy playing Jimmy Buffet in the Tiki bar behind you and having a casual dinner is hard to beat.

 

Before we headed to my favorite spot, we got settled in our little downstairs cottage.  It’s the same place we’ve been staying for the past three years so the kids are very familiar with it.  We got here and they both said “ah, we’re at our second home”.  Then Allison ran off to arrange her stuffed animals (she brings somewhere on the order of 100 of them with her) on her bed and then check out all the familiar haunts of this wonderful little place.  Chasing land crabs, Iguanas and small lizards around; sitting under the tiki hut, looking for fish under the dock and just generally re-immersing herself in the environment.  It is really wonderful to see.

 

Michael, now much older than when we started coming here (his age change from 11-15 is more significant than Allison’s from 7-11) also was clearly enjoying himself but in a more relaxed and adult manner.  Man, is he growing up.  Not too much, though, as he still will play with his sister and tell her stories at her urging as they fall asleep (sharing the same small bedroom) just as he always has.  Kids are such creatures of habit and Michael has really got to be the best big brother that ever lived.

 

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I’m going to try and keep up the blog during this trip but maybe not quite as much as in the past – just because you all have seen it all before – several times now.  I will be posting more frequently with pictures on facebook though because my new phone makes that so easy.  So, watch that medium as well for real-time updates on our adventures in paradise.

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Happy Veterans Day

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Michael’s JROTC unit marched in the annual “Salute to Veterans” parade in downtown Charlotte this morning.  It was perfect weather and a great turnout for the parade.  Charlotte really has a beautiful downtown area.  I should get down there more.

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Those with a sharp eye (or maybe my Dad) will pick out a difference on Michael’s epaulets…

Just before the parade Michael was promoted to the rank of Corporal – skipping Private First Class altogether (much to the chagrin of most of the second-year cadets who did not obtain Corporal until the end of their first year).

 

There were lots of interesting participants in the parade but I have to show off this one for my Mom.

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A group of 60+ cheerleaders still going strong.  Smile

Happy Veterans Day to everyone and Thanks, Dad.  Your grandson appears to be following in your footsteps.

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