Swank Family Trip _ Intricate Bay Alaska – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Swank Family Trip _ Intricate Bay Alaska

I’m watching the sun come to life in the eastern sky along Lake Iliamna along the Alaskan Peninsula this morning. Low clouds are keeping the day from lighting up and the lake has a gentle ebb to its surface. If I were to step outside, I could hear the eerie call of Loons across the lake. My family is sleeping while I anxiously await another grand adventure here with the folks at Intricate Bay Lodge.

Intricate Bay Lodge Fishing Trip

The week is flying past, literally. Somehow, we have managed to fish the Copper River, Moraine Creek, and the Gibraltar River the last few days. Originally, we expected about half the group to do more sightseeing and bear watching than fishing. After about 4 minutes on the water, everyone has been “all-in” with the fishing. Even my 18 year old has been having fun catching fish, floating wild rivers, and keeping an eye out for possible run-ins with Boo Boo around every corner.

The fishing, right now, is dependent on the “egg drop” of the Sockeye Salmon that are everywhere in these rivers. {Quick note to learn about the proposed “Pebble Mine” and to get on board with fighting it.} In just the last two days, the Sockeye have started to dig their Redds and pair up in classic spawning behavior. The Swank clan has been getting fish on egg patterns, fished under an indicator throughout the region. I have spent most of the days swinging flesh flies and sculpin with mixed results, might be time to suck it up and commit to the bobber and egg for the last couple of days. If nothing else, I won’t have to listen to my 10 year old tell me how he outfished me, AGAIN!

Mid-trip, there are a few things that have stuck out at me that may be worth noting for others making their way to the Bristol Bay region in 2018. The waters are generally low, I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing but it has made swinging flies seem to be pretty ineffective on the smaller rivers. The Sage X 697 has outfished all of the other 9 ½” and 9’ 6 wt rods we brought on the trip. That extra length is awesome for mending and landing fish in the rafts when we float. The X rods load deep into the bank with ease and deliver much needed power on these 20-30 mph windy days. The tip is soft enough to bend when a big fish makes a blistering run. Its light throughout and feels more like a classic 9’ rod in feel and weight. I’ve been fishing this rod since August 2017 and it really is the perfect, big river nymph rod and the ideal choice for both swinging flesh flies and egg fishing Alaskan Rainbows.

We still have a couple of days to go and I can juts now hear the rest of the family starting to stir as breakfast is on the way. This has been an amazing family vacation unlike any that we have ever had before. The kids have been great fun to be with, the parents are having a blast watching their grandkids, the food has been awesome, the lodge is unbelievable, the scenery is spectacular, and the week has been filled with all of those unremarkable moments between fishing that will stay with us forever.

Crosswinds at Moraine Creek, Katmail National Park