Monday, August 30, 2010

They had it coming

The Pebble Partnership, proponents of what might be the most obscene mine around, is about as slimy a corporation as it gets.  In their never-ending quest to down play the fact that the Pebble Mine would completely destroy one of the most productive fisheries in the state, they've been sponsoring every public event in Alaska, including the state fair (click to enlarge, and pay special attention to the eye):

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Wife turns "old"

**updated with biggun dolly pictures**

I turned 30 last year and, ever since my 22nd birthday (which was an unmitigated disaster I don't care to relive), no birthday has given me pause.  I think I aged a bit going from 18 to 24, but have stayed about the same ever since--give or take a few gray hairs, of course.

Yesterday was The Wife's birthday.  She insists that it wasn't a big deal; I think it got to her a bit.  She had been anxious all week.  After changing our birthday celebration plans a few too many times, we finally settled on a float trip with our good friends Megan and Doug.  What better way to turn 30 than on the river?
After a lazy morning and a beluga-filled drive down the Peninsula, we finally rigged up and started down the river.  The Wife quickly set the day's pace:
I spent the majority of the day behind the oars with The Wife and Megan at the front of the boat and Doug and Karta at the back.  About two-thirds of the way through fighting this first fish Karta worked her way onto the edge of the boat and, in the excitement of it all, slithered into the water.  It was quite the shit show.  After dragging her back into the boat we were sure to keep a closer eye on her for the rest of the day.

There were sockeye everywhere.  Any half-decent riffle was covered in spawning salmon, and in between the thousands of red monsters were hundreds of rainbow and dolly varden.  Here's Doug with one of the many rainbows caught on the day:
Among the crew, we fished an FMF, flesh patterns, and a few different beads.  If you could get a decent dead drift through a riffle with the right bead, your odds of hooking up were quite good.  Here's Megan getting schooled by a sockeye:
Dolly varden were the most commonly-caught fish (for me at least), with rainbow in a close second.  However, we also caught a fair number of sockeye and one coho, which was nice and bright:
Me playing guide for The Wife:
The rain was more or less constant throughout the day, which came at no real surprise and only briefly escalated above a mere annoyance.  People in Alaska like to complain about the weather, but if the fish are biting the weather can do whatever it wants, I figure.
There were a number of very good fish caught on the day, with rainbows over 20 inches and some very large dollies.  Of course, the best two non-salmon--a dolly varden I caught that was upward of 26 inches and one that The Wife caught that wasn't quite as long but was even heavier--came to net long after our camera gave the "change battery pack" signal.  Fortunately, Megan and Doug had a working camera so they were able to capture the rest of the day:
 And the birthday girl:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Put this in the "The Wife's job is better than mine" category

While I was slaving away this past week behind a desk, The Wife was posing as a client for the Bristol Bay Fly Fishing Academy.

She calls this "work."  And while that's debatable, the Academy is a pretty cool program that helps young locals learn the tools of the guiding trade and (hopefully) find work with local lodges and outfitters.  They needed someone to act as a client for the guides-in-training, which is where The Wife comes in.

From the Bristol Bay Fly Fishing Academy website:
Most people who visit Bristol Bay want to fish. And most of them want to fish with a local, home-grown guide who knows the waters, the wildlife, the people and the way of life here. That’s why we’re training the region’s young people to explore careers as guides – so they might stay in the region, earn a prosperous living, advocate for the health of the watershed and offer visitors an authentic experience of one of our country’s most special natural places.
Of course, if they're gainfully employed in the sport fishing industry, they're less likely to advocate for the development of a huge copper mine that would destroy local sport fishing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back in Alaska

Both my camera and The Wife are out of town for the week.  I meant to download some pictures from last week and do a trip report of sorts from my recent trip back to Oregon, but forgot.  Suffice it to say that small stream fishing in a high desert ponderosa forest is every bit as awesome as it's cracked up to be.  The Wife being gone sucks though.

Back in Alaska, the fish are in--pinks out the wazoo, coho, chums. . .  Karta found a giant Chinook carcass yesterday.  Maybe 40 pounds.  There's something about bushwhacking along the salmon-lined banks of a deafening river in griz country that makes you feel alive.  Stepping around heaping piles of bear shit when you can't see or hear past your nose makes you keep your trigger finger at the ready, if nothing else.  I think I'll wait until I have a more responsible companion than Karta before going back there again.  You know, someone who carries their own bear deterrent instead of acting as an attractant.