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After many years of fishing my favorite little Quartz Creek in Alaska I finally had the chance to actually be there enough days to see the fishing from immediate pre spawn to post spawn for the sockeye salmon (which brings the dolly varden into feeding mode). It was fascinating to see how quickly the dollies feeding on red (sockeye) eggs fatten up…..within 7-10 days they go from very svelte to some really obese pigs.

My first brief two hour fishing trip was about the 28th of July….there were some sockeye already up staging to spawn but not yet laying. Fished hard for awhile and only managed four or five dollies all of which were quite thin:





Also one pretty little, skinnyish rainbow:



The water was up a bit but running crystal clear and cold. Stopped to enjoy the little water flowers that were blooming:



Then I spent 3 days down on the Ninilchik…..as previously reported……and on the way back stopped at Quartz for a short while to see many more reds had moved up and they were starting to dig redds for egg laying. Decided I would need to get back down here as soon as possible……which happened to be three days later as my work schedule was very light at work ….. so I could commune with mama nature and help solve The Quartz Creek Quandry.

I seemed to have hit the creek on its absolutely peak day……there were sockeye spawning everywhere and I was sight fishing the dollies right and left, it was impossible to keep track of them…..it was to die for…..a fly guys dream.







It was so much fun standing in the middle of Quartz and seeing dollies in every possible direction that I could cast to. Started seeing some bigger dollies too but it was sometimes difficult to get it past the smaller fish to the bigger ones:



Seemed to be more rainbows in this stretch then usual. Normally I catch 1 or 2 in a day but this day I caught 9 and lost an absolute monster (in the 23-25" range) when he threw the hook on the first jump……call the waaambulance:



Got out of the river to eat some food and call my buddy as he was thinking about coming down in the morning. When I got in touch with him he said there had been a fatal accident closing the highway……there is only one road to almost anywhere in Alaska so no alternate route is possible, unless you are a great swimmer in extremely cold water…..he wasn't going to come down. So I fished a few more hours then hopped on the road back to Eagle River. All told I'd caught over 60 fish…..absolutely amazing even for Quartz Creek….by far the most numbers productive day I'd ever had there. It was just stupid great!!

Now back to the drive home…..it turned into an epoch adventure. I was driving back for about an hour (it's a 2 ½ hour drive) when traffic began to slow and after a while stopped dead. Evidently the large accident had closed the highway for several hours and now I was stopped in traffic 23 miles behind the accident. If you know Alaska there generally is only one way to get from point A to point B with no alternatives. Alaskans understand and so we had a big party for the next 4 hours until the traffic started to move…..of course, no traffic was coming the other way. Fortunately, I had some food and water in the cooler so I wouldn't die. Someone pulled out a high tech drone and amazed us for a while. People got together in the middle of the road in their cars and discussed who knows what….I'm sure a great deal of alcohol was consumed during this time also. SSSOOOOOOOOOOO after the long wait the cars started moving slowly….it was about 1 am by this time…..and every possible turnout or stop area was absolutely stuffed with campers and trucks…presumably sleeping. Finally got to the only gas station in this stretch (after 2 a.m.) and wanted to get something but there was a line of 45 to 50 people waiting for the one guy working there….a gigantic Charlie Foxtrot. So I kept cruising on back…..my 2 ½ hour commute now edging over the 7 hour mark. Just to cap off such a great drive I got to my exit and it was CLOSED!!! I wanted to run over the night work crews to alleviate some of the tension. Of course, it was only about 15 or 20 minutes more to go around….but it was the principle of the thing. Anyway, I only got a few hours of sleep that night…..but the fishing had certainly made the aggravation worth it.

So 2 days later I was heading back down to Quartz with my friends son-in-law…. who was really antsy to hit some fish. It was another beautiful Alaskan summer day and the river was looking nice:



We geared up and hopped into the water. It was a bit slow at first and my first fish was a fully decked out sockeye:



As we moved downstream the dollies started showing and after awhile Ty got his first one….I'm not one to question a recently frocked lawyer but I'm not sure what the blue nitrile exam gloves were about….and I was afraid to ask:



We started catching them with reckless abandon as the morning continued:



They were more dollies which were getting colored up also:





Bead color was anything orange to tangerine but definitely in the 6mm size as the reds were laying eggs all over the place. We continued downstream and just continued enjoying the dolly eggfest…..many doubles were hooked up.





I stopped taking many pictures after this to just bask in dolly fishing nirvana. After fishing for another few hours Ty's bad back started stiffening up so we headed back upstream toward the car….of course, fishing all the way. Amongst all these dollies there were some really nice ones showing up. This male was absolutely spectacular in color and hooked lip (despite the "weak" vertical hold no fish were intentionally harmed in the taking of these pictures):





As I was crossing the creek one last time I stopped right in the middle and proceeded to catch 7 dollies without moving a step…..some upstream, some downstream, one right under my feet……this kind of fishing is what cause life long fishing addictions like mine. As we were nearing the car again I spotted a very nice fish and managed to get it to suck up my bead….after several casts. It was one of the nicest dollies on this trip….around 24 inches:



Ty was hardly moving by now so we picked up and waded across to the car…on the way out of the river I enjoyed the water flowers one last time (yes, this is a problem for those of us raised in the 60's and early 70's):



It took a long time for the fish fever to pass…..

Brian
 

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Awesome pictures! Small world, I was stuck for 4 hours due to that same crash based on your timeline! I also got stuck a few times by the blasting to widen the highway. At least the scenery is great while you wait!
 

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If you can find a spot, there are some massive dollys in the Kenai between Skilak lake and Bings Landing. I assume this is the Quartz Creek that runs into Kenai Lake?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Yes that is the right creek. Yes, there are some great dollies in the Kenai River itself.....have caught many over 10 lbs. but it is not the same as fishing a classic little stream for them.....there is a certain ambiance you don't find on the big river. Here's a couple caught almost back to back a few years ago right above Skilak Lake in the Kenai......



 

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Awesome post, you're a lucky guy to be able to fish those rivers so frequently. I was up there last July and fished the kenai for rainbows and had one of the funnest days of my life catching multiple bows in the high 20" range.
 

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Very cool story and great pictures. Curious about the blue nitrile gloves--some folks just don't like the smell of fish on their hands I suppose. :)
 
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