Tag Archives: wildlife

Wild Salmon Day

It’s Alaska’s third annual Wild Salmon Day. Events and salmon barbecues are being held throughout the state today. Get out and enjoy some wild Alaska salmon.


Fishing Resurrection Bay

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 Gateway to Kenai Fjords

Back from our fishing trip to Seward, Alaska. Here are just a few of the Seward Sights:

Upon arrival, we hit the beach in late afternoon to wet our lines. This seagull watched patiently, hoping we would eventually catch it a salmon dinner.

Apparently, Seward is the Mural Capital of Alaska, a tidbit that had eluded me up until this past week. This one graces the wall of The Fish House, which is a great place to pick up any gear that one leaves in Fairbanks. It is also a pretty kick-ass hardware store.

Seward is the southern terminus for the Alaska Railroad. Across the street from the little depot, is one of the best breakfast places in town, called The Smoke Shack. This small diner is located in a complex known as The Train Rec. Made up of several retired Alaska Railroad cars, The Train Rec has a great view of the harbor.


The Train Rec complex


Spot the Sheep


Dall sheep in Denali NP via Super Cub


Rover Repairs

I have not done a Rover post in a while, simply because I have not worked on the vehicle in a while. I have not been idle on that front however, as I’ve been hoarding Rover parts for at least a year, and quite possibly two.

Since my work truck now has a body shop appointment, due to an Out of State Trespasser, I will need the old Land Rover for a week or two on the job, so my motivation to rid the Rover Hut of parts has grown considerably.

As in life, one part going out, leads to the replacement of several others, and such is the World of Land Rovers. After installing the new Turner engine in San Antonio, I found that this motor was not happy with the standard mechanical fuel pump. I then installed an inline electric pump, which made all the difference. The added benefit to the electric pump, was that the problem of vapor lock dissipated. Living in Alaska, vapor lock was like the Yeti: the stuff of legends. Traveling in Texas and Mexico, brought the beast out into the realm of reality.

The electric pump recently fried out, which started this whole affair. The last time The Rover was in the Lower 48, my gas tank started to leak at the seam. I had heard that rubbing Ivory bar soap at the point of the leak, would seal the thing, and sure enough, Ivory worked like a charm. In fact, that field repair ended up lasting several Years, and yes, I meant to capitalize that. Obviously, once one replaces the fuel pump, one might as well replace the leaking tank, especially since a new tank is sitting under the work bench.

Dropping the old tank on this truck is relatively easy, although a tad harder when it is almost full. One thing that constantly amuses me, hours later, is how a simple item like a gas tank can change over the years. One would think at 52 years old, the mold would be kind of locked into a pattern, but no. This isn’t the first time I’ve replaced the tank, so I know that the tank has grown in length incrementally over the years. That is only a problem due to the fact that the tank fits into a fixed amount of space. You’ll get the thing in there, but it will take a bit of pressure.

Rovers North claims that the new tank has been tested for leaks. It better be, but I’ll carry a bar of Ivory just in case.

Since I was under The Rover, and the tail pipe had broken from the muffler, and since I have the replacement parts, I decided to pull the exhaust too. I know what you’re thinking, the tailpipe was hanging there just fine from the clamps, but there is another reason for the exhaust removal. That will be for another post, assuming the job goes in the direction of the plan.

While dropping the muffler, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a brown blur racing at me. I had just enough time to jump up, and bang my head, which caused the blur to change direction before running through my hair. I thought I knew what it was, but I hadn’t seen it for a while. Sure enough, the little force of nature came zipping by me again, and this time I was able to get a good look at it.

It was my resident weasel, which I’ve written about on here before. He was living in my wood shed this past winter, but as each week passed, and the wood pile became smaller and smaller, he was forced to find another place to live. He’s brown now, with the black-tipped tail. The weasel is as feisty as ever, not even remotely impressed by my presence, and quite possibly still holding a grudge.


The Bears of Katmai

Now that the salmon are starting to return to Brooks River, the bears are coming into Brooks Falls to fatten up. The Katmai Bear Cam is getting to be a little more interesting of late too.

There are approximately 2200 brown bears within the boundaries of Katmai National Park & Preserve at any given time. The Alaska Peninsula has more bears as residents than people. Most of the bears that come to Brooks Falls are numbered, as a way to keep track of them. Many of the regular bears receive names from the rangers and biologists that study them.


#410

The oldest known bear in the park, is Bear #410, she carries the nickname “Four-Ton”. A 29 year old female. Four-Ton is one of the largest females in the park. When the salmon are running, 410 is fishing, and she doesn’t care who is around. She often fishes in the midst of large males, and she doesn’t seem to be bothered by people either.


Otis

For fans of the Bear Cam, Bear #480 is a favorite. Fondly known as “Otis”, 480 is the oldest known male bear in the park at 22 years old. Otis just recently returned to the falls, and was seen catching a nice salmon and taking it back to his island to eat in peace. He is known for having the most efficient salmon catching technique of the Brooks Falls regulars.


New cubs

The first spring cubs of the year have shown up for fishing lessons.


#503

There’s a new bear in town, and he has been saddled with the number 503. Look at those claws.


#634

Bear #634 has also returned to Brooks River. Known as “Popeye”, 634 is an aggressive bear, and is known to steal fish from smaller bears.

It should be noted, that 2018 is the 100th Anniversary of Katmai National Park. Happy birthday!

Photos credit: Katmai National P&P


Bear Walking

It is wise to never limit any one of your senses when hiking in Alaska.

This comic reminds me of a time I went for a walk with my dog after a miserable day at work. I was not far from town, but my mind was focused on the terrible day I had, and not on the trail.

My dog and I came around a corner, and spooked a large bull moose. It should never have happened, there was plenty of opportunity for me to spot the moose long before I did, but I wasn’t paying attention. The moose lowered his massive rack, and charged directly at me. I was within mere feet of that mighty bull, when my yellow lab charged the moose, barking up a storm. The bull turned his charge, and my dog sauntered over to a bush to lay down his scent. His job was done, disaster adverted, it was time for more important things.

The entire event lasted only seconds. The bull stood by the forest edge, giving me the stink-eye. My heart was pounding through my jacket, and my Labrador wanted to know why we were flushing moose and not grouse.

It was a lesson I never forgot. If you can’t keep your mind on the trail, stay home and burn your dinner instead.

Comic credit: Nuggets by Jamie Smith