By Kent Danjanovich
You know, I guess I have become a little bit spoiled over the past eight years, traveling around the world fishing some of the best waters that you can imagine. Each one offers some very unique opportunities and I have really yet to find one that didn’t live up to my expectations and in most cases even a little bit more. Well, this past August fellow Pro-Staffer, Rick Rosenberg and I had a chance to visit a new location in Alaska and you know what? We may just have found the best silver salmon river in Alaska this time!
Now I am sure that I have mentioned before that I LOVE to fish for silver (coho) salmon, especially with a fly rod. The strength and acrobatic ability of these silver bullets is simple amazing and each one you hook into no doubt will take you on a new and exciting adventure as you try and win the battle and bring them to the net. I met Greg Dierick at the Denver ISE Show last year and after we talked for a few minutes and he explained to me just what his lodge had to offer, I knew that the Tsiu (pronounced si – u) River was the place for me.
It didn’t take much to get Rick to jump on the bandwagon for the trip and we soon had our travel arrangements made. Rick would meet me in Anchorage for an overnight stay and we would then hop on a flight the next morning for Yakutat. We arrived in Yak just after 11am, where we were met by a representative from Yakutat Coastal Airlines, located right next to the main terminal. Soon our bags were loaded onto the plane and Rick and I, along with six other guests found ourselves flying over some the most beautiful terrain that you can imagine. Ocean, rivers, mountains, glaciers and lush greenery could be seen out of every window and soon our 40 minute flight had us descending on the grassy runway adjacent to the camp. Greg Dierick and his staff greeted us as we deplaned and after a quick bowl of soup and a tall sandwich, our first afternoon on the river was laid out for each of us. We were then introduced to our guides and off to the river we went.
Our guide for the week would be Terry Wheeler, a veteran on the Tsiu and as knowledgeable of a fisherman/guide that you will ever meet. We would be joined by four returning visitors of the lodge from Washington State on this day and after a quick 10 minute ATV ride to one of Terry’s favorite spots, we unloaded ourselves and our fly rods and each of us tied on a colorful leech in hopes of setting the hook into a few big silvers. And you know what? I kid you not, my first cast had no sooner hit the water, making a slow sweep in the current and WHAMMO — my reel was singing my favorite song and my first Tsiu River silver soon had me into my backing. Now that’s the way to start a fishing trip!
During the next three hours before dinner, I don’t think there was a single time that one of the six of us didn’t have a fish on. In fact, more realistically two or three of us could be seen with fish on at any given moment. If this was any indication of what the next four days had in store for us (which is was) my fishing weary right elbow was in for a real workout. The onslaught continued for another hour and a half after dinner, as Rick and I continued to fight fish after fish, while casting lead-eyed leeches in pink and chartreuse presentations.
Our next morning found us again loading into the trailer and heading to the river. Rain clouds threatened all around us, soon giving us a continual drizzle through early afternoon. But you know what, the fishing was so good that we stayed out right through lunch and by 3pm, Rick and I had landed so many bright silvers that we finally decided to head back to camp and take a little breather before dinner. Chef Mike Bernard put on a real feast that night, with a myriad of seafood creations as well as scrumptious desserts to cap it all off with. After dinner, Rick was tuckered out, so I joined a few of our fellow guests (The Smith Boys from Salt Lake City, Utah) and headed back out for some more fishing. It was a treat helping some of the other fisherman learn a little more about the art of fly fishing and about a half dozen hungry brown bears kept us entertained as well as they splashed and thrashed in the waters a safe distance away, also hoping to “Land” a few fish for their dinner.
Day three arrived with clear skies and new fishing companions from North Carolina. We met John and Dick as Terry loaded out equipment into the trailer as we headed out to another stretch of the river. As we made our way to the river, our new fishing partners were full of questions as to our success during our first two days and also what flies seemed to be doing the best. We broke the news to them that we really didn’t think that the color mattered too much and that they were in for some of the best fishing we had ever seen anywhere is our travels. It didn’t take long for them to get into the groove as John seemed to hook into another big silver on about every other cast. The hot fly on this morning was a pink or purple starlight leech and as soon as Dick switched over, his action was just about non-stop. We again didn’t give up until it was time to go in for dinner and then again we found our way back out to the river for more action until dusk settled in.
On our fourth morning, we dropped off John and Dick at another hole and Terry had me and Rick hop on the back of the ATV as we headed for another section of the river. This morning found us landing a few nice Dolly Varden in a more secluded area of the river. The silvers had not quite made it into this area in full force yet, so we worked our way back to the main channel and you guessed it, more non-stop action the rest of the day. After dinner, we joined the Smith brothers from Utah for a couple of more hours of good times on the river and then back to the lodge to pack up our gear for our return trip back to civilization the next day.
Our last morning found us at breakfast at 6:30am. The plane with new guests wouldn’t be coming in until about noon, so we threw on our waders and I grabbed a spin cast outfit as we headed out for another couple of hours on the river. I am sad to say that it did take me until my “Second” cast to hook into a fish, but that first cast was one of the few that I made with an orange Pixey lure that didn’t produce a hook-up. Reluctantly, we headed back to camp at about 11:15am to finish packing for our trip home.
Well as you might be able to tell from this article, our stay with Dierick’s Tsiu River Lodge was nothing short of FANTASTIC and I guarantee that it won’t be our last one either. Not only was the fishing unbelievable, but everything else during our stay was first class in every way. Greg and his staff have built a great reputation with their guests and it is easy to see why they have a very high rate of returning clients. And if you want to throw in a day trip for halibut on your return to Yakutat, they can even help you set that up as well. So what are you waiting for? Get on the phone right now and get your days set for next fall with Dierick’s Tsiu River Lodge. I can just about guarantee that you will catch more fish than you have ever dreamed of and your family and friends will love you forever when you bring home a box or two of the most beautiful salmon fillets you have ever seen. Our newest Platinum Approved Outfitter, Dierick’s Tsiu River Lodge, 907-784-3625 and visit them on the web under Platinum Approved Outfitters on our website or at www.tsiuriverlodge.com.