Big wind and waves scuttle halibut trip, so monster rainbows suffice

Having been forced to cancel their plans to fish for halibut out of kayaks, Tim and Jason Lesmeister decide to pursue rainbow trout on the small lakes dotting the Keno Peninsula. (Jason Lesmeister photo) Photo - Jason Lesmeister

Here’s how it was supposed to work: I walk off the plane in Anchorage, Alaska, and hop into my son, Jason’s truck. We cruise to his place in Cooper Landing and slide the tongue of the kayak trailer onto the 2-inch ball. Then check the straps wrapped around the bodies of the kayaks to make sure they’re secure, and we inventory the tackle, sonars and other gear to make sure it is all there. Then off to the mouth of the Kasilof River to fish for halibut.

This time of year the rivers are running strong, and this washes out any salmon flesh that was in deep water and never got eaten by bears or rainbow trout. Halibut and other bottom-feeders love this feast and work the area for a few weeks. Current pushes the salmon smolt to the mouths of the rivers, and this brings in the king salmon to feed on the tiny fish.

Yes, there’s a lot happening around the mouths of the rivers in Alaska in June, and a kayak is a good way to target this opportunity.

We had freshly spooled the rods with 100-pound-test braided superline. It sounded good on paper. We had some big lead-head jigs, some 50-pound test fluorocarbon for leader and lots of motivation to test this fishing program and see if it would work as well in actual conditions.

Too bad the weather wouldn’t cooperate. This one variable can always cause pain and misery on a fishing excursion. It was raining, and not just a little. But the wind really destroyed our program. Try beaching a kayak with a 60-pound halibut on the end of the line when you have four-foot waves battering the shoreline. It just ain’t worth it.

Fortunately, I have a son who has been living and guiding up there for 24 years, and I visit his place at least a couple times each year. So we’ll get another shot at it. Never get your hopes up too high when it comes to an exotic fishing trip because if the variables that constitute a successful journey change, then disappointment won’t be deep. And, always have a Plan B.

Out Plan B was to take the kayaks to some of the small lakes sprinkled about the Kenai Peninsula and chase some rainbow trout. In Minnesota, the lakes are the main focus. But in Alaska, all priorities are on the rivers, which means Jason and I had every lake to ourselves.

Not a bad backup plan: Surrounded by Alaskan beauty, rainbow trout jumping all around the kayaks, snatching the tail off the twister body on the Road-Runner Jig, and jumping three feet in the air. Even the best-laid plans that go bad can result in a situation that bears sweet fruit.

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