Since we’re in the middle of Katmai Week here between The Circles, I wanted to share this photo, although probably not for the reasons many would think.
The pic above was taken of two fishermen in Katmai National Park. I’ve found myself in a similar situation while fishing Alaska’s rivers. Once was with my Dad, which was more nerve-wracking than when I was solo! Forget the bear, I was worried about how my Dad would react.
What I love about this picture, from all my time in Alaska, is that the bear actually has little to no interest in the fishermen. The bear simply has salmon on its mind. We don’t have two fishermen in the picture, but three.
If given half the chance, man can live with wildlife. The two species above, can coexist. Katmai NP&P is a prime example of that. I would hope that is the lesson the photograph has to give. After all, Alaska would be a much poorer place without her bears.
The photo was taken in July by Robert Hawthorne, a photographer out of Bozeman, Montana. His link is below:
When I first set up the Beaver Cam, I was expecting some photos right away, but the Beav had other ideas. It didn’t come by the cam until I was out of town fishing. It does have an extensive area from which to fell his lumber, so I didn’t get too concerned.
That Pesky Rabbit; or Curatores Gignentia in Latin
The first week the Beaver Cam was up, I had 442 pictures of this rabbit. I’ve been asked, “How can you be sure it’s the same rabbit?” Because I waded through 442 pictures of the goofy thing hoping for a picture of the beaver.
The Bunny Hop
The funny thing about rabbits, is that they tend to twitch this way, and then twitch that way for endless hours of viewing entertainment. They may hop a foot or two, but then they go back to twitching. There were a lot of pictures where the only noticeable difference between shots was the placement of one ear or the other.
The rabbit returns to twitching
The second week the cam was up, when I was out of town chasing cohos, the beaver did stop by for a couple of dozen shots. I was grateful, although they were interspersed between 502 pictures of my favorite rabbit. When I finally took the cam down due to concern it may be carried off with a tree, I had close to 1000 pictures of Bugs, and 40 of the beaver.
I’ve had this Agfa Billy-Clack #74 camera sitting on the shelf for a while now, but had never sent a roll of film through it.
The Billy-Clack was produced prior to The Second World War, so it’s an 80+ year old piece of equipment. I believe the exact years of production ran from 1934 to 1940.
I had no idea what I was going to get out of it, but I kind of like the results. I shot a roll of black & white film while in Seward, and followed that up with a roll of color in Fairbanks.
The Agfa Billy-Clack #74
The Billy-Clack has a definite “Art-Deco” look to it. The camera itself is as basic as one can get. It has the option of two shutter speeds (1/50, Bulb), three apertures (11,16,22), two view finders (a portrait, and a landscape), and it does have a built in yellow filter that you can slide in place if you so desire. It also has one of the most awkward shutters I have ever used. Still, it was fun to get out and shoot.
Normally, we head down to Seward with the idea that we may get one day of fishing in with decent seas. This year, we went down knowing we had perfect weather for the entire time on the coast.
The second day out, we hit the silvers early and often outside of Resurrection Bay. Once we hit our limit there, we came into the Bay for the possibility of three more silvers each. The fishing within Resurrection Bay was considerably slower, but we did catch some cohos.
Since we were planning on being out on the water all day, we wrapped things up by going after rock fish. It took us a couple of stops to find them, but when we did, it was nonstop action. Rock fish are a blast to fish, and they are incredible eating too.
It was a great day out on the water, and I have a nicely stocked freezer as winter approaches.
We spent the morning in the Gulf of Alaska, just outside Resurrection Bay. The fishing was good, but not great. The jelly fish were thick, due to the warmer than normal water temperatures. When I say thick, I mean thick. Every time the lure was brought up, the line, bait & lure were coated in jelly fish snot. It was a mess. By noon, we were covered in the gooey stuff, and the side of the boat would need a thorough cleaning from the endless flicking.
In the afternoon, my companions tried to fish from shore, while I hiked about, camera in hand. There was no sign of cohos in the bay and I had no interest in catching any pink salmon. As a resident, I fully admit to being a salmon snob.
Two local pre-teen boys rode up to the creek mouth on their bicycles, and promptly snagged a pink a piece. There was a fair amount of grumbling from the people who had been at it for a while. The boys came bounding up from the creek with their haul, the youngest commenting that he couldn’t ride home with more than one salmon, when I asked why they had already stopped fishing. He rode off carrying his catch. The older boy had a better system: He hooked the pink salmon over the handlebar through the gills and peddled off with the fish nearly touching the ground.
All I could think of as I watched them peddle away was, “What an incredible place to grow up in.” They had life by the tail.
We were down at the docks early one morning, anxious to get out on the water to chase some cohos.
While we waited, a sea otter was putting on a show.
The sea otter with some herring
The otter would dive, then come up with 3-4 herring. It would eat one, while keeping the rest sitting on its chest. Only the best part of the bait fish was eaten, and the rest quickly discarded. No doubt, there was no shortage of food for the otter in the harbor.
The sea otter eating some mussels
For the second course, the sea otter turned to some sort of mussel. The sound of the sea otter crunching away on the shell was clearly audible. In fact, I took one video, where the crunching sound seemed to echo across the harbor. The otter would eat for a bit, then spin effortlessly in the water, dumping the broken shells off its chest, then go back to eating, only to repeat the entire process.
I could have spent a much longer time watching the sea otter, but there were salmon to catch, and the Captain was ready to head out.
But not before he came over to join us, and take a quick picture of the sea otter. “It’s my daughter’s favorite animal,” he said, before herding us toward his boat.
The road to Seward had an unexpected gauntlet north of the town of Willow, Alaska. Severe winds had knocked over a power pole, and the resulting sparks set off a wildfire along the Parks Highway.
The winds were still howling when we went through. Firefighters were on the scene, but things didn’t look good. By the time we made it to Anchorage, we learned that the fire had made the jump, and both sides of the road had flames. The Parks had been closed to traffic behind us.
A smokey Seward Harbor
The high winds continued on the Kenai Peninsula, as we drove south on the Seward Highway. The Swan Lake Fire had been all but contained, but the winds gave it a breath of new life, which closed the Sterling Highway, and left the taste of burning spruce in all of our throats.
Out on Resurrection Bay: Looking back at Seward Harbor
Once on the water, the smoke diminished some, but we didn’t really escape it until we were out in the Gulf of Alaska.
To date, Seward had seen 2.25″ of rain, which is unheard of. They normally see 64″ in a year. The town of Homer had been hit even harder still, with only 1.15″ of rain this season. Needless to say, the Kenai Peninsula is seeing drought conditions.
The fishing was good, and at times great. There was no rain in the foreseeable forecast, so no one had rain jackets. The temps were in the 70’s F, and we all ended up fishing in short sleeves. Out of all my trips to Alaska’s coast to fish, this one may have been the most surreal.