Visitors, residents enjoy ritual of fall fishing

Posted: Friday, October 13, 2000

One angler introduced to the steelhead fishery as well as fly fishing in general Saturday was Matanuska-Susitna Borough manager Mike Scott, who made the five-hour trip from the valley for a weekend of angling with friends. He landed his first steelhead on a fly rod after a 10-minute tussle.

"I've wanted to steelhead fish for a long time," Scott said. "I was glad to land him. This was truly for sport. The season's done, and I've got fish in the freezer. And doing it with a fly rod is probably the most sporting type of fishing there is. It was a beautiful fall day."

The popularity of the fishery also adds a bit of an economic bump for Anchor Point merchants, who typically see a downturn in business as the salmon runs wane in the late summer and fall. Many of the anglers are Anchorage residents who choose to either camp on the river or stay in Anchor Point.

"This year has been awesome," said Anchor River Inn general manager John Clutts. "We're seen a definite increase in the last few years in steelhead fishermen staying with us."

He said around 80 percent of his guests are from Anchorage, with Kenai Peninsula anglers making up the rest.

"This time of year, there's not a whole lot to offer," Clutts said of the period before the area's winter activities kick in. "It helps stretch out the season."

Chuck Milewski said he has made the drive to the Anchor from Anchorage for five years. He has a camper on the back of his truck and spends the weekends on the river.

"I really enjoy coming down here -- I got hooked on this in '95," Milewski said. "This has got to be one of the most challenging fisheries in the state, and I enjoy the catch-and-release aspect.

"I love the time of the year, the solitude," he continued as the river rolled by. "These are truly beautiful fish and we are fortunate to get to see them."

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