Pictures of the Day: Orvis Days on Contact Creek

Written by: Nathan Cook, Fishing Manager, Orvis San Jose, CA

Crystal Creek Orvis Trip

The Orvis crew shows just how great the fishing can be in the Alaskan bush.

photo courtesy Nathan Cook

My very first Alaskan experience, in late July, began with an immediate mosquito kamikaze attack as I walked out of the tiny airport in the small town of King Salmon to the shuttle. But that didn’t matter, as I was far from work and civilization, and the only thing I had to think about was, “Where are we fishing today?” A 20-minute drive took our group—which included Dan Davala (Orvis Arlington, VA), Ed Fowler (Orvis Marlton, NJ), Dave Parker (Orvis Travel, Manchester, VT), and me (Orvis San Jose, CA)—to Crystal Creek Lodge, on the Naknek River. I met the other guestsand the awesome staff and guides, washed a day of travel off of me, sat down to the first of many amazing dinners, and then went downstairs to the lounge and finished the day off with some of fine Alaskan brew. Later that night, we were instructed by our guides to get some rest because they were going to test us Orvis guys with a “tundra death march” to a wonderful piece of water called Contact Creek.

Our days began with a wake-up call at 6:30am, breakfast, wader-up in their wader “ready room” and then walking down to the dock to get on one of the lodge’s de Havilland Beavers at 8a.m. to fly out to our destination. Hiking on the tundra can be best described as walking on a bumpy sponge. The landscape was very beautiful and desolate, but for short guys like me, walking in that slop is quite the workout. Rigging up our 6-weights with salmon-egg imitations, we set out to track down Dolly Varden, grayling, and the legendary Alaskan rainbow trout. Dan and Ed also gave their freshly tied salmon streamers a try to land a sockeye and chum salmon, which were eager to oblige.

Crystal Creek Orvis Trip

Flying in style in a de havilland Beaver is one of the joys of bush travel.

photo courtesy Nathan Cook

It didn’t take long for me to hook into my first-ever Dolly, a fish that can put a real nice bend in a 6-weight. Shortly after that was my first-ever grayling, a feisty little fish with an incredible dorsal fin. This was also the creek where I caught my first-ever chum salmon, pink salmon, and Alaskan rainbow, which is even more beautiful in person than what pictures show. And the best part of all of this was that we only saw one guide and his client the whole day. We had the entire river to ourselves, and 20-inch fish all day! “Incredible” doesn’t even begin to describe it. It is also worth noting that fishing with the bears on Brooks Creek in Katmai National Park for big Rainbows and Sockeye is something every angler should experience.

The first day set the tone for the rest of the week: big, healthy, wild fish and no crowds on big and small rivers alike. It was an incredible experience. But before I wrap this up, I must also confess my sin of back-trolling for King salmon with a fly rod on the Naknek River. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, you know?

Click here to see a great slideshow from our trip.

Crystal Creek Orvis Trip

The incredible scenery made the “tundra death march” bearable.

photo courtesy Nathan Cook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.