Originally written for knik.co.
Our national bird has made their home base on the beach of Deep Creek, where Alaskans appreciate their terrifying and majestic features.
Eagles are often seen monitoring the beach for fish carcasses to feast upon or confidently scanning the creek from their nests above, near where the light house towers over the creek.
The drive from Anchorage to Ninilchik, where Deep Creek enters the Gulf of Alaska, is approximately four hours. There are multiple stops along the way, like Turnagain Pass, roughly halfway to Deep Creek from Anchorage. An hour away from Ninilchik is Soldotna where you can mingle and buy fresh produce from locals at their weekly Central Peninsula Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.
Entering the beach, there are rows and rows of boats along the entrance where you can set sail and reel in fish. Continuing down the beach, there’s a site for RVs and campers to set up their tents and camps.
Pitching a tent and lighting a fire is second nature to Alaskans. When the chairs are set up around the fire and the tents are pinned in place, it’s time to bring out the salmon rods.
Fly fishing can be a hobby, profession, or a passion for all ages. Within Deep Creek’s salty waters, landing a king salmon or a halibut is a great victory. The experience of a king salmon tugging at your rod will heighten your senses as it vibrates in your hand.
An average Deep Creek king salmon is 24 to 36 inches in length and can weigh over 50 pounds, so roll up your sleeves and prepare to stand your ground. An angler is allowed one king salmon a day at Deep Creek. There’s a fillet station located at the side of the creek for convenience. Otherwise, setting the salmon in an iced cooler can preserve its freshness.
When the run of salmon and halibut is slow, take a walk on the beach and observe the flock of eagles. Be careful not to get too close, as their talons can tear through even the toughest skin.
As they occupy the beach, eagles lay claim their prey’s carcasses by spreading their wings as wide as they can and leaning in to assert dominance. Their wingspan can range from six to eight feet. To cater to the eagles’ appetite, some people leave the eggs from the filleted salmon on the beach for them to devour.
When the creek dials down it’s water temperatures, everyone turns in their fishing polls and gather around the fire to warm up and relax. Deep Creek’s campground features a grill in every space for fire-building convenience.
With a clear view of Mount Redoubt and the Chigmit Range across Cook Inlet, the sun can be seen setting behind the mountains creating a scenic view. As the skies grow red and the tides are rolling in high, the campers and fishermen take the moment to watch the skies turn into a painting.
The abundance of eagles roaming among the seagulls, the adrenaline of reeling in a king salmon and a hunger for more catches, the smell of a burning fire enveloping your clothes, and the glowing red skies that illuminate the ocean’s tide will leave a worthwhile memory.