By Francesca Popp-Wright

When perfect weather and unlimited fishing/catching are combined, one might say that Tangle Lakes certainly tantalized the senses. The journey is sometimes half the fun and with this year’s frost heaves on the roads, it was a true carnival ride.

Tangle Lakes is a place where the paved road ends and the gravel road of the Denali Highway begins. I can’t forget to mention how the scenery seems endless with rolling hills of tundra and snow capped mountains.

The annual trip for Project Healing Waters Alaska took place June 27-30 and welcomed participates from the Wasilla, Fairbanks and Anchorage programs, as well as four national participants from Virginia, Montana and Idaho. It gave people the opportunity to unplug and just enjoy their surroundings.

Jason and Francesca

This was my second trip to Tangle Lakes. It proved to be as good as, if not better than, my first trip two years ago. The last trip was fun, but rainy, windy and cold. This adventure was warm, sunny, and had a light breeze, which made fly casting conditions optimal. Additionally, it was so warm (temps in the mid to high 80s), I ended up wet wading (a rarity in Alaska) since my waders sprung a leak.

Francesca with one of many Grayling

The catch of the day was mostly grayling. One participant was even fortunate to land a whitefish. However, the legendary Lake trout dove to depths beyond reach. I lost count of how many grayling I caught after five, but I know some participants nabbed more than 100 of these beauties on the second day of fishing.

A nice Grayling

Grayling have always been an exciting fish to catch. There were many times a fish would be on the line the second the fly hit the water. A few times, I even hooked one or two on the back swing when I was about the recast my line. The grayling sight fishing was so much fun, especially when the strike was on a fly I tied, while using a rod I built.

Lining up for a photo op

I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of the Anchorage program and look forward to participating for many years to come. The Tangle Lakes trip is one trip many people look forward to every year. It would not be possible without the support from Bob Dobranski and businesses and organizations including the Tangle River Inn, the Bureau of Land Management in Glennallen and Fairbanks, and Wrangle Institute for Science and Environment (WISE), as well as many dedicated PHWFF volunteers.

Fun river fishing with lots of action