As many of our faithful readers know, our Fly Fish Rockport crew got together with a few friends for a little bonding time. Some called it a corporate retreat. Others called it a vacation. And still others simply showed up to get away from the oppressive August heat here in Texas. Regardless of what they called it, bags were packed and flights were booked for the great white North of the Alaskan backcountry.
A year prior, Capt. Jeff was invited up to this same location to shoot a short film fly fishing for northern pike. Capt. Jeff has a rather long history of fly fishing for pike. He has also helped design a rod and fly line specific for targeting these Essox specimen. So this was right up his alley. So off to Alaska he went, to shoot the film. At the completion of this first trip, Capt. Jeff enjoyed it so much, that he decided to reserve the entire houseboat for this year. The plan… to bring up the rest of the Fly Fish Rockport family for a little fun, relaxation and crazy fly fishing.
Fast forward to this August. Capt. Jeff and the gang packed their bags, their 10wt fly rods, and plenty of warm clothes for the trip up North. The first night consisted of everyone arriving in Anchorage, awaiting the bush flight out the next morning. Perfect excuse to have a ridiculously large meal along the Alaskan waterfront, complete with beluga whales swimming by. Good food, and cocktails, were had by all.
There was an early morning bush flight to be caught the next morning. The destination, two hours away, was a gravel strip somewhere near Holy Cross, AK. From there they loaded up their gear in an aluminum jet boat for another 2 hour ride to their final destination, a 90′ houseboat tucked away in a remote drainage off of the Yukon River. Off the grid was an understatement. This was just a bit past the middle of nowhere. For the week, this houseboat was home.
A typical day would begin with a morning cup of coffee. For Capt. Jeff, this would be outside on the front deck of the boat, usually sporting some mellow tunes, while watching moose and other wildlife walking by. As others began to stir around, breakfast would begin to take place. After eating way more food than needed, there was a little down time before hopping in the smaller skiffs and heading out to fish for the day.
Pike fishing, for all those who haven’t tried it, is pretty crazy. It is a very visual thing. If you don’t first spot your fish, you will most certainly see each fish that eats your fly. And they don’t just eat it, they attack it! Violent is about the only way you can describe the takes by these top tier predators. They absolutely destroy everything they go after. It’s truly remarkable to see.
Imagine casting into 2-4 feet of clear water, then retrieving some brightly colored fly that can be as much as 15″ long. Or perhaps a topwater offering that can also eclipse 12″ in length. As you retrieve your fly… it happens. Out of nowhere, you see a flash and a mouth big enough to engulf the entire fly, easily. Then you give it your best tarpon set, or maybe even harder. And then the mayhem begins. And all this happens in the flash of an eye. Completely insane.
These Alaskan pike are big, really big. A “good fish” starts at 40″ in length, then goes up from there. Fish this size are going to start in the 20-25 lb range. Some of the larger fish caught over the course of the week would be over 50″ in length, and pushing 40 lbs. So a 10wt rod is common place. For leader, it’s all straight 60 lb wire. Even then, we were under-gunned at times. Capt. Jeff brought 8 different 10wt rods with him. Only 4 made it back alive!
For all on the trip, other than Capt. Jeff, it was not only their first time fly fishing for northern pike, but it was also their first time visiting Alaska. So it truly was a great experience for everyone. Where better to vanish from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. No cell phones, no email and no other humans. The most relaxing place on earth… with the benefit of wildlife, good friends and a few large fish.
All of our Fly Fish Rockport fly fishing guides and friends had a great time in Alaska. Apparently so much so, that there are rumors of another such trip next year. But we will let you know. Or maybe Capt. Jeff has another plan in mind. He was overheard mumbling something about Papua New Guinea and black bass one evening after a few whiskeys. Either way, the Fly Fish Rockport Corporate Retreat is guaranteed to be an annual event.
We think vacations are good. Really good. Summers are long here on the Texas Coast. So breaking it up with a little time away is just what the doctor ordered. And the ability to play together doesn’t come along for all of us very often. Low and behold, we kinda liked that part too. So we are already looking forward to our next trip. Whether that be within our home state of Texas, or a journey abroad, we hope to be able to share another trip report with you again soon.
A huge thanks goes out to Scott, and his amazing guide crew (Brent, Pat and Wade), at Midnight Sun Trophy Pike Adventures. What an amazing group of guys and an amazing place they get to play in. We encourage you to check it out when you get a minute!
If you are interested in finding more information, photos or whatever else from our trip… You can always email any time. We continue to post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Or perhaps SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel as well. We continually are trying to add more videos and stuff there. We try to keep stuff fresh for those of you that are wishing you were on the flats with us. So be sure to follow us on all our social media stuff. And don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter below.
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