Sheep Creek: Juneau, AK 7/23/2012

My wife was understanding enough to allow me to fish during our family vacation cruise to Alaska. So far were having a blast and the food, entertainment, and the scenery are outstanding.

I did some research before arriving in Juneau, our first port of call. My afternoon outing would take me to Sheep Creek, which is about 5 miles south of town along the Gastineau channel. During this time of year the chum salmon are thick in the creek and the Dolly Varden pursue the dogs in search of their tasty roe. I started out with my Redington Classic trout 5 wt, which I rigged up a pegged trout bead in molteled or orange. After a few drifts it wasn’t picking up fish, so I sized down and changed colors into the Pautzke red egg color. While the Chum are easily seen in gin color water the Dollies aren’t with their silvery and green backs. You have to look for their swimming otherwise you’ll miss their appearance.

My goal was to target the Dollies since I can always catch Chum in Washington. The tide would move in fairly quickly so the river would eventually come to a slower pace and wasn’t as ideal to free drift the egg imitation. The first fish was a dandy, a nice chrome fish of about 17″. As the tide crept up with the Glacial green color of the salt into the clear creek the chums would pile up into the skinny channel and the Dollies would follow suit. I made successive drifts and picked up several fish on three occasions. All greedily gobbling up the red and then orange colored egg. I lost several rigs on the Chum that would also grab the egg and the 6 lb tippet would snap off in the grizzly like teeth of the Chum.

As the tide crept in and the Chum stacked like firewood it was tougher to get a drift without connecting with a toothy chum that gobbled the egg pattern. It was a good time to take a break and wait out the tide change. A few other fishermen came and tried for dollies but everyone kept snagging the chum including me as they looked like terra cotta warriors positioned for battle.

A few of those fishermen would crowd me as they saw my success with the dollies until I gave up my slot and decided to head back down towards the salt flats where the tide was already receding. I decided to switch tactics and use my 8 wt RPL with Airflo multi-tip line with intermediate tip and bead chain clouser is green over black. I thought the chum would smash this fly like they normally do in Washington but they didn’t seem to care too much for the fly. After fouling many fish, I decide to switch up colors and it was like night and day. A light pink micro calf tail fly with copper bead head was the ticket. The Chum and Dollies would grab this fly with vigor to the point that the Sage would finally explode after a hard run from a big male. Just at the bottom section just below the female ferrule it decided to give way.

I didn’t know if it was the fly color and or pattern change or the change of tide but I couldn’t stop fishing, so used the 5 wt with egg pattern to pick up a few more Chum before I called it quits and called the taxi to pick me up so I could meet my family back in the ship for dinner.

What an amazing place and experience to see just a few miles south of downtown Juneau. I saw bald eagles hanging out near the mouth and some beautiful waterfalls and porpoising salmon as we entered into the Gastineau channel. My wife and family did the Mendenhall glacier tour and saw several pods of Orca whales. Everyone had a great time and we topped it off with another fantastic dinner from Rudi Saliman at the Vista Terrace dining room. I doubt I’ll be able to fish on the next couple of ports due to the broken 8 wt and shorter timing but I’m glad that I was at least able to connect with a few nice Dolly Varden on Sheep Creek.











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