Tag Archives: fishing
We have circled around once again to the day we officially celebrate the wild salmon here in Alaska. It can not be stressed enough how this aquatic migrator is vital to both Alaska’s economy and psyche.
Festivities can be found throughout Alaska today. Events include everything from catching & cleaning, to preparing our favorite fish. I’m sure you can even find some salmon poetry if you look for it.
So, grab that rod and get out on a river bank or climb over the gunwales and wet your line. The salmon are running.
I knew it before I even went outside the cabin the next morning. I had left a window open to experience the thunderstorm, and now I could smell the repercussions.
Sure enough, when I walked down the boardwalk to the lake, the hills across the water were barely visible due to the smoke. No doubt the lightning from the storm the previous night had started another wildfire. No where in Alaska is safe from the smoke this summer.
It was around noon when I heard the buzz of the planes coming in. Two single engine aircraft flew directly over me at a height of only a few hundred feet. Under one wing, in all capital letters, was the word FIRE.
For the next six hours, the two planes skirted the lake, landing in a bay on the far end on their floats, filled up their tanks on the run, then took off again in the direction that they had come. The fire must have been close, as the raven flies, because the interval between water fills was only 10 minutes.
I went back out to fish, but hesitated from crossing the lake. I had hit the trout fairly hard the evening before on the other side of the lake, but I didn’t think I could cross in 10 minutes in the canoe. I ended up fishing my side until evening, when the flights stopped.
I had seen where a critter had broken through some screening on a porch out at the lake cabin, and promptly jumped down the steps to go check it out. When I looked up, I caught sight of a fox running down the boardwalk towards me.
It was black. And red. A beautiful mix. I came to a halt to admire the fox’s coloring. The fox froze too. Then I said, “You have to be the most beautiful fox I’ve seen today.” I swear, it blushed, but it was only one side of its face. The red side. It was like looking at a springer spaniel, but with large swaths of both colors, equally mixed across the body. And with a pointy nose, ears, and a great bushy tail that was tipped in white.
We watched each other for a moment, when a red squirrel, who apparently could not stand the tension, chattered noisily at the fox’s right. The fox instinctively pounced at the sound, but the squirrel was already off and running under the boardwalk. The fox then pounced to its left, where the squirrel had run, only to suddenly come up short, remembering that I was standing in front of it.
In what looked like a moment of pure exasperation, the fox pounced forward, and then ran right down the boardwalk, straight at me. I back peddled up one step, but then stood my ground. I could not out maneuver it anyway.
At the steps, the fox hopped off the boardwalk, and looked up at me. It really was an absolutely stunning animal. We stood looking at each other, mere feet apart. I had brought two film cameras, and I had the cell phone, but all three were sitting inside the cabin. I knew I should have waited a day before I thought about work.
I slowly edged my way up to the landing and reached the door; the fox had its eyes on me the entire time. As soon as I opened the door, the fox thought better of our proximity, and trotted off into the woods. It did not run off; it trotted. Totally composed, with its head held high, and its tail straight out behind it in defiance.
Photo above: A red and black fox from Unalaska, who claims to have never left the island, nor visited the lake cabin.
I took several days “off” last week to head out to a local lake at a client’s request. They wanted me to check the place out, and see if it needs any work, and I wanted to wet a line or two and try for some trout.
Before I made even a dozen paddle strokes from the landing, I had an eagle flying overhead. It was high enough, and the sun bright enough, that I wasn’t sure if it was a golden eagle, or an immature bald eagle, but that didn’t seem to matter anyway. I was just happy to be out on the water, in a newly repaired canoe, away from cell phones, email and texts.
“When will you be back in town?”
My answer: “I have no idea. When the fish stop biting, I guess.”
For the second consecutive year, we had incredible weather for our fishing trip out of Seward. Unfortunately, we did not catch as many silvers as last year. We knew we were a bit early for the coho run, but my buddy started a new job this spring, and he lost his time-off flexibility. Still, we did okay on cohos, and we did extremely well catching rockfish. There are 102 known species of rockfish, with 30 of them in the Gulf of Alaska. We caught several yelloweye rockfish, which are bright orange in color, and a couple of tiger rockfish, which are orange with black stripes.
I should stress the reality, that weather like this is extremely rare, and welcome, in the Seward area. To the left of the above photo is Bear Glacier, which the deck hand said hadn’t been visible for two weeks.
Once we started to get bait ready, the seagulls magically appeared. The deck hand threw several herring scraps up in the air, for the seagulls to catch. That action not only increased their numbers, but their aggressiveness too.
The ride out to the fishing area was to be 45 minutes, but wildlife viewing increased that time frame. We saw otters galore, as well as a group of sea lions in the above pic. There were about a dozen sea lions dozing in the sun, along this small island’s shoreline.
We also came across two orcas in the Bay. One adult, probably the mother, and her calf. It’s not a good pic, with the boat rocking, and the zoom way up. The fin of one of the orcas, and the water vapor from its blowhole is just visible in the center of the frame. The initial sighting was as close as they came to the boat. At one point, my buddy said, “You know they are going to pop up on the other side.” Sure enough, the two orcas did resurface off the opposite deck. At this point, I finally relented and pulled my phone out of my waterproof pocket, to catch this final glimpse of the orca. My apologies for being slow, but I had cohos on my mind.
The salmon reports continue to be bad. Alaska Fish & Game shut down king salmon fishing on the famed Kenai River. It had been down to catch & release on the Kenai, but now even that is closed. The latest closure has the entire river shut down for the remainder of June, at that time the lower portion of the Kenai would open, but the upper river would remain closed.
An extremely poor return of adult kings to the river prompted the closing. As of 17 June, only 2182 kings had swam past the Fish & Game’s sonar counter.
This is the second major closing of salmon fisheries in as many weeks.