Deuter Traveller 55 Hooks Up Alaska Fly-fishing Trip
Catching 100 fish in one day was purely a fairy tale in my book, that is, until last week. Skittering caddis, swinging leaches, huckin’ big stymies for huge rainbow trout ….Heck, yeah!
Packing for a trip to a fly-out fishing lodge in Alaska is an adventure in and of itself. Luckily, days before embarking to Intricate Bay Lodge, the Provoke 16 and Traveller 55+10 arrived. My husband, Keith and 2 yr old daughter, Ali, already had called dibs on the Kid Comfort III and ACT Trail Lite (the most versatile pack in the world) for a trip to Colorado to climb, hike and fish with the secondary purpose of seeing the grandparents.
For my trip, the Traveller’s ample storage and great organizational features were up to the rugged challenge of backwoods Alaska. This is just the type of travel pack I’ve been waiting for, great in airports but even better for the outback. I needed something lightweight but roomy enough for waders, boots, big puffy jacket, rain gear and of course a bottle of Whiskey and some Black Sheep Coffee beans for the guides. The Traveller’s internal backpack frame helped me handle all the off-road travel and the grab handles made it easy to load and unload. Also the detachable day pack helped me meet the weight requirements by popping it off as a carry-on.
Travel consisted of a flight from Mammoth Lakes to LAX, and then the long flight to Anchorage. After a 7-hour layover in a cozy hotel with two snoring family members, we boarded a small Pilatus jet to Iliamna where we hoofed it to a floatplane and then flew to the lodge. The Provoke on one shoulder loaded with two rods and reels loaded in, and the Traveller on my back. It was all smooth sailing despite the lack of luggage carts, pavement, and even solid, dry ground. OK at least the luggage part was smooth sailing; the flights themselves would have scared the poo out of timid flyers.
The highlight of the trip was the last day. We awoke after 4 hours of sleep (staying out until 1 a.m. fishing on solstice was a must!) and it was already 60 degrees and sunny. Were we really in Alaska? This was it – the ultimate fishing day. After a hearty breakfast, I ran upstairs to get ready for the day, loading fleece pants, bug shirt, wind jacket, buff, sun hat, sunglasses, down puffy, rain jacket, along with my dry flies, leaches, tippet, reel, clippers, and hemos all into my Traveller 10 (the Traveler 55’s little sidekick day-pack). My Provoke had been loaned/stolen by my brother after the first day in the bush. He needed a small, sleek pack that would fit into the raft, handle all the fishing and rain gear, and be comfortable to fish in all day. And, I’m a good sister…
We boarded the floatplane with our Deuter daypacks and a seven minute puddle jump later we’re loading the rafts and strapping down our rods and packs. After an initial two-mile stretch of whitewater, which the guides ran without a hiccup, a 30 foot waterfall blocked our path. We hopped out, portaged, and on the other side: “Wow – look at that hole.”
Giddy with excitement, we started swinging leaches. Fish after 24-inch fish. So what if I my shoulder was sagging all the way to the shore by the end of the day. It was truly fishing heaven on earth!
We passed a huge bald eagle in its nest, a brown bear poked its head up from an S-turn in the river to greet us, and we each landed about 100 fish that day. The night ended with a feast: braised short ribs, carrot soufflé, broccoli and coconut flan.
I know, pinch me. Oh wait, my arm is already sore.
Author: Julie Rainville, Family Ambassador