We unpacked, donned our gear and set out for a half day of fishing. This river is so full of coho even the beginners in the group were landing 15-pound silvers on their very first casts. With the fishing so productive, we could afford to be picky about which fish we kept for the four-a-day limit. We released the pinks and reds and only kept the bright silvers, which were feisty and full of fight. The flies that were consistent were the Dalai Lamas, in black and white, black and blue, and chartreuse and pink. John tied them with rabbit strips, and they held up pretty well. Actually, the more chewed up and sparse they got, the better the fish liked them. The gear we used were 8-weight rods with anti-reverse reels, either sink-tip or floating line (with weighted flies, they got down to where the fish were just fine), and 20-pound mono leader. These fish are not leader-shy, and they pull like tow trucks, so you don't want wimpy terminal tackle.
The weather was mild, not particularly cold, with one day so sunny and warm we could fish in shirt sleeves, and one day that it rained steadily but wasn't cold. There was bear sign near the river, tracks and scat, but we didn't have any close encounters with them. The guides take great care not to leave fish guts or trimmings near where we fish, and there were a fair number of fishers on both banks of the river, so the bears stayed away.
The last day, John and I had the guide take us to the river mouth, where it empties into Prince William Sound. I've seen videos of salmon staging and making their run up the river to spawn, but unless you've actually experienced it firsthand, you have no idea how impressive it is. It was like being in a blender full of fish!
We can't overstate how great a job Alaska Wilderness Outfitters and the Tsiu River Lodge did for us, and we already are planning a return trip next year.
Scott Stevenot composed a video of photos we all shared of the trip. Check it out at: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1jBTbULXY6k
September 9th - O'Neill Forebay - Jeff Goyert
Barry Burt and I had been watching the weather forecast to find a "window in the wind" that would allow us a few hours of striper fishing at the O'Neill Forebay. We got lucky with the wind and the fish on Friday September 9th.
The water level was, according to the California Department of Water Resources website (cdec.water.ca.gov) was at 221.3 feet which is average if not a bit higher than average which makes it a little easier to fish in the weeds. There was a slight current running toward Check 13 which I think indicates that water is being released from the Forebay. It was clear bright sunshine, not too hot, and best of all calm with just a slight breeze to put a ripple on the water.
The bite was on from the get go; I had a half a dozen stripers to 20 inches in the first hour; Barry got a little bit of a late start but racked up his share of bass with one that was a good 22 inches.
We were both fishing 7 weight rods with sinking lines; our flies were Barry's own "San Luis Smelt" pattern using a fast jerky strip retrieve.
We spent the morning out in front of the old launch ramp on the Mederos side of the Forebay; the fishing was was steady until about 10:30 when the current quit.
The Forebay is a great place to fish, it is only about an hour from Santa Cruz, and is usually rewarding. The Fall seems to be best time to there; the fish bite and the weather is great.
September 25th - O'Neill Forebay - Jeff Goyert
Steve Rudzinski and I had a very similar day over there today. We were both on the water at first light and had steady action til 9 am when the temperature got cooking. After that it became a slow pick for a fish here and there. We ended up with a bakers dozen between us; the largest maybe 21 inches.
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