Posted: Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Funny how it is that whenever you go out fishing here in Alaska you always seem to learn something new or see something different. A few days ago I had a boat full of people on Elephant Lake and found the fishing to be very slow at times and it was rather hard to locate the fish. I don’t use a fish locator so I have to find them the old fashioned way, either fish my old holes or drift till I found a school and then throw out the anchor and hopefully the boat stops right over them. Not real scientific but the method does seem to work.

To be a successful drift fishermen you have to pay attention to the wind and use common logic to pick the spot you want to stop the motor at and have a target where you want to drift too.

I asked one of my younger fishermen just where he thought we should drift and he picked out a very nice looking weed bed mixed with some equally nice looking lily pads in fairly deep water. He pointed out where he thought we should start our drift and explained how he thought we should drift along the deep water side of the weed bed in hopes of finding both kokanee and rainbows. The structure was great and I commend the young fishermen for choosing such a spot however you can’t make your boat drift to the west if the wind is coming straight out of the north!

Then there are days when the wind is moving your boat just right and you’re picking up many fish then all of a sudden it quits blowing or worse yet switches direction. Then there are days it moves you too fast and that makes it hard to keep your bait on bottom or from moving so fast that your through the school before you can catch very many fish from it. You can slow your boat down by dragging a 5-gallon bucket, but I really hate having to do that too.

Then there are days that the fish just don’t seem to be very interested in anything you can offer up for bait. Sometimes these fish seem more content to stare at your bait or push it around with their nose rather then actually open their months and bite it. I have even seen them bite on the sinker many times instead of the hook where the bait is. Best way to solve that problem is to remove the sinker; one less thing for the fish to play with and hopefully his next choice is the hook.

I tried fishing some of my favorite spots but did not have much success so I had my son Travis pick out a new area to fish and we did manage to land a few feisty rainbows from a spot I have not fished in much before. It was getting late so we decided we should start working towards the boat landing before it got completely dark.

As we rounded a bend I noticed a few rainbows surfacing and jumping near a weed bed. I stopped the motor and soon found that these fish were not on any kind of diet. The rainbows must have been in there spawning or getting ready to spawn and the kokanee were looking for some fresh eggs to eat. Sometimes you would hook a rainbow and he would start jumping out of the water and another rainbow would be jumping with him. These fish apparently were so close to spawning they seemed to be almost lovesick. If one fish jumped sometimes several other fish would jump too. I have never seen anything quite like this before despite having watched the rainbows spawn several times before. Joe Ben Hawkins, who just moved here from Michigan, landed two rainbows in the same net at the same time. These two fish were both hooked by fishermen from both ends of the boat. We caught over 30 fish in about an hour and as they say “A good time was had by all! ”

Elephant Lake (AKA Spirit Lake) is perhaps my favorite lake to fish on the Kenai Peninsula in the summer. It is generally quiet and a great lake to spend a day on just fishing and relaxing. I am told the Alaskan Natives picked the name Spirit Lake where the Elephant Lake name came from the fact that the lake resembles the shape of an elephant from the air.

The only spirits I have ever encountered there are those being drank on shore by the groups that often use this area as a place to party. Now everybody has a different idea of what it means to spend time in the Alaska wilderness. To me driving out in the woods and drinking by a camp fire while the bugs chew off your ears and part of one leg is about as interesting to me as doing squats naked on either a cactus or a bear trap.

I take my fishing serious and never drink in my boat. On most fishing trips I have at least 5 children with me and their safety depends entirely on me making wise, safe decisions. I am honored that so many parents through the years have trusted me enough to let their children fish or hunt with me and I am determined not only to get them back home safely but also see that they had a good time. At the same time I am not going to tell you that you as an adult should not drink while you fish or that if having a beer by a campfire is your thing, not to do it. Please pick up your trash when you’re done, don’t leave your beer bottles and trash in the wilderness when you leave. Don’t bury it, hide it, throw it, or simply walk away from it, take it out with you! That is your responsibility and yours alone, if you pack it in pack it out.

I would also like to commend Frank Grant for his clean up efforts at Elephant Lake. I have never known big Frank to drink but did observe him picking up beer bottles and policing the area of the public boat landing. From all of your fellow Alaskans that enjoy Elephant lake as much as you do Frank, THANK YOU! See you next week!

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