12/17/2011

17 12 2011

Some more pictures.

Rosemary playing in the snow.

On the way to Eagle River.

Quartz Creek.

The mighty Kenai!

At the confluence with the Russian.

Gwins is up for sale!

It can be done!

Across Cook Inlet on the way to Hope.

Resurrection Creek in Hope.

A home in Hope.





Alaska Dec. 2011- Thursday, 8

2 12 2011

We have not traveled to far from “home” yet but the weather has been pretty nice some snow but mild temperatures. No sign of the baby’s immanent arrival but it can’t be too long!

Here’s a couple of pics…

We got out of the house today for a while and took these pictures outside of Anchorage on the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet.

Thursday, Dec. 8 2011 Bregitte is having some contractions! She has a doctor appointment at 2:30 Alaska Time.

How’d you like to wake up to this?





Is this a proper replacement for angling?

25 10 2011

“The sweatdrops on the brow of honest toil are more precious than the jewels of a ducal coronet, and the pen of a ready writer, the tools of the artisan, and the axe of the backwoodsman, are weapons of a nobler chivalry than ever couched the lance or wielded the sword.”  - Rev. George Washington Bethune, 1839

Many modern scholars exhibit a proclivity to chastise the “myth” of the American Dream.  Hard, honest work, self-sufficiency, and individualism have become objects of scorn since Upton Sinclair produced his turn-of-the-century commentary on the struggles of the immigrant in “The Jungle.”  At this point, I might be inclined to agree.  But the monotonous employment in the Alaskan oilfields, if one is careful to notice, provides the laborer a chance that few Americans, or disposable wage-earners in general, get to experience:  the sublime surroundings of the Alaskan wilderness, and an exciting and dangerous chance to earn a hefty paycheck.  Since I was rehired in August, I have done very little besides work, and there seems to be no evidence of respite.  Three weeks on, not quite two weeks off, three more on, and only one off.  But the money continues to roll, so my back continues to ache.  This particular hitch, however, I have been lucky enough to work in Cook Inlet on a rather small production platform.  Three weeks worth of waking to the sight of the Alaskan Range and three of the largest volcanoes in the world seems enough to sustain the mind as the body breaks under a heavy load.  But the work is honorable, and though I am but a squire in this chivalrous endeavor, hope remains that at long last I become manifestly a noble member of this body, the Knights of the Rotary Table (oilfield joke).

No man is an Island, unlike the platform

 

Logistical nightmare

 

 

 

Iliamna, 10,000 feet of sulfur-belching goodness

 

Pretty exciting, huh?

 

Sunset over Mt. Redoubt





Fall Fishing

23 09 2011

“This morning is one of the mysterious and bewitching days.  Surely it is not that the summer is ended, the green year passing, the winter coming, that gives such peculiar influence to the days.  Something has been poured out into the air from the land of magic.  It has been steeped with atmospheric wine, and we drink by breathing a subtile and exhilarating elixir.”  -  Henry Ward Beecher, 1862

On the morning ride, we inhaled until we were gasping.  The family took the drive to Houston on Wednesday to visit the grandparents, and to get Dad into a little fall fishing on the Parks.  The scenes embodied the essence of living in Alaska, and reminded us of what we had to hold onto in the coming months.  The hills were ablaze with birch yellows and tundra reds, the earth exhaling a benevolence that seemed to apologize for the rains that saturated late summer.  Denali received the same transmission that Pioneer Peak did, and she unveiled herself for the entire drive to Talkeetna.  Montana Creek was on board as well, and I fished in a t-shirt all day, though I brought the closet in anticipation of cold, steel rain.  I didn’t have much success as far as fish went, but on a day like this, even I really didn’t care.  I lost a real nice bow upriver, and managed to fool this aggressive grayling on a caddis.  Fishing a dry fly in the bold autumn sun might have been a mistake.  I now cannot think that any other kind of fishing exists, and if it does, that any other method or season is worth any effort.  Sadly, in Alaska, that experience is more elusive than the aurora.

Pioneer Peak over the Knik River

Montana Creek

Ahhhh!  The payoff, caddis-style





The Quartz is Strong in this One

18 08 2011

Two trips to Quartz Creek, two days of tearing out my shoulder.  I went down Tuesday with the intention of overnighting and possibly hitting the Russian.  The fishing was good enough on the stream that cemented my flyfishing nearly seven years ago that I was satisfied by early evening.  Washed out red-ish 8 mil beads did pretty well on the dollies.  Reds were stacked in the creek pretty thick, with most of them hanging out in swift, shallow runs, some of them already doing the spawn huckle-buck.  I picked up a few dollies in the shallows, but the majority (and the largest) were found in deeper, slightly slower water.  Tuesday, I likely landed ten or so in a couple of hours, but lost just as many.  The largest was prolly 17-18″, and that was good enough for me.  On Sunday (during the summers, AWC holds service on Wednesdays) evening, I headed down again under the ruse that I had to get up early in Seward for a halibut charter.  So I fished Quartz Sunday evening for another couple of hours.  Despite the weekend warriors stepping heavily on the dollies and rainbows, apparently by the end of the weekend, they weren’t all full.  Again, the same 8 mil worked for a while, and I landed a few dollies around 20″ and a nice 18″ bow.  The bite eventually turned off for a few minutes, and it took a while to find the right bead again.  After several colors and sizes (along with an assortment of flesh) I finally found another producer.  Bold, bright, fresh orange 6 mils brought the bite back on, and I nailed several more large dollies before calling it quits.  At the right time of year, Quartz rarely disappoints.  Though it does happen, if one is patient and waits until at least the second week of August, its tough not to catch fish.  One of my favorite confidence-builders came through again this year, as expected.





Fun on the Little Su

5 08 2011

It seems that my good blessings continue to lead me to new fishing buddies.  E7 Jason Baker (one of the Guard’s finest) and I hit it off from the first time Bregitte and I went back to Anchorage Weslyan, and we finally got a little fishing in.  He pointed me to a lesser-known spot on the Little Susitna, about 4 miles from Mom’s.  Lots of salmon have finally started moving in, and while we didn’t see any coveted silvers, loads of blushed kings and spoiling chums were holding up in his honey hole.  Naturally, at least a handful of rainbows and a few dollies gathered nearby, and the rippin was on.  The bows weren’t all that big, but willing to take the bead drifted behind a couple of mid-spawn kings.  Baker was throwing a bright orange #4 vibrax, and bumped a LOT of fish, and started bringing all sorts of fish.  He landed quite a few jack kings, and they looked like so much fun, I had catch one.  We waded quite a ways down river from the boat launch, in violation of Senor Bill Dance’s number one rule, and of course, it bit us.  It really didn’t matter, though, because we had such a good time, and seemed to consistently hook-up throughout the day.  The silvers are probably by now starting to trickle in, and that means more boats and more fishermen, but it sure looks like a good spot a little later in the year for quick trips to catch a handful of rainbows.

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One of the smaller jacks Jason caught with regularity (I know, we thought it was a rainbow too)

 

 

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This may be the last fish picture with the beard for some time. Wish the fish could have matched the magnificence of the imperial.





Fruits of our Labor

2 08 2011

“The gentle gurgling of the brook, what is it to a thoroughly practical man but a remembrancer of the savory simmering of the frying-pan? It couples the practical and domestic end of fishing with the physical and poetic excitement of the operation’ Alas! that a world should be so barbarous as to condemn piscatory sports so long as they contribute to exercise taste, sentiment, and moral enjoyment; and that all objection ceases when a man can prove that he labored for his mouth alone. It is all right, if it was eating that he had in mind. The frying-pan is in universal favor. This is the modern image that fell down from heaven, which all men hold in reverence!”  – Henry Ward Beecher, 1855

Normally, on this site, we post about catch and release fishing (a controversial subject in any circle).  An enjoyable excursion quickly turns to employment when one decides to keep even a single fish.  We don’t condemn keeping legal limits, nor do we consider bringing home fish caught on a fly a disgusting practice, but we personally enjoy them much more in a picture than on a plate.  However, this post is not about any of that.

It is red salmon season on the Kenai Peninsula.  Blow’n’go time.  I have disregarded flossin’ reds for several years, but I will not repeat that error again if I am again anywhere close to the KP mid-July.  I regret not having taken more pictures and video of the red fishing, but this lone picture says quite a bit.  Usually meat hunts aren’t as fun as this was, and this year seemed like much less work than previous ones (Ronnie had quite a bit to do with that).  Regardless, a freezer full of fish is a good way to end any fishing season.  We second Beecher’s assessment that “the frying pan is in universal favor.”  Nowhere is that more evident than in Alaska in July.





Can’t stop fishin

28 07 2011

Well, after a rowdy week on the Kenai chasing reds (and doing quite well I must say), I just couldn’t shake the fish fever.  Sunday afternoon, Ronnie and I headed north from Houston to my favority, Montana Creek.  A few years of rust were still evident in Ronnie’s fly skills, but after a handful of casts, he seemed back on track.  I was hoping for more kings in the river that might have suggested an early egg-bite, but we saw very few, and bead-fishing didn’t produce even a sniff.  Ronnie managed to produce this 15-16″ beaut on the wooly, and missed a couple on the caddis.  I finally fooled one grayling into taking it, but as soon as we felt like we were into fish, we were out.  We totaled probably two hours of fishing, and only these two to hand.  But it was nice to get back to Montana, and within a few weeks, the trouting should pick up nicely.





Russian Bears

19 07 2011

I’m ruined.  The last several outings on Lower 48 rivers found me almost exclusively using dries.  After some success through Canada with sulfurs, it’s been difficult to put away the topwater stuff.  The same has gone for the Russian.  I’ve hit my favorite river a couple of times since we’ve been in Alaska, and have had pretty good results on the elk hair caddis.  In between salmon runs conventional fishing (dries, streamers, nymphs) is as or more productive than the usual battery of Alaskan salmon stream fare of eggs and flesh.  I haven’t landed anything over 18″, but I’ve been catching just enough to keep my fishing dries.  I could probably hook up more often with underwater stuff, but on top is just too much fun.  Early morning and late in the evening, as usual, have produced the most fish, but the bruins seem to travel a little more during that time as well.  Here are a few that have kept me fishing at more sensible times.  I think I’ll put the Russian on hold until after salmon fishing is shut down and the egg bite is in full swing, but it’s still been as fantastic as I remember.

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Glorious Paxson

8 07 2011

It is by a river that I would choose … to revive old friendships, and to play with the children, and to confess my faults, and to escape from vain selfish desires, and to cleanse my mind from all the false, foolish things that mar the joy and peace of living.”  – Henry Van Dyke, Little Rivers

 

It’s that time again.  The third annual good old fashioned family Independence Day vacation to Paxson was definitely another success.  For the second year in a row, the weather was a little foul, and this time, the cold and the rain didn’t thwart the throngs of mosquitoes from joining the party.  Regardless, we all had a fabulous couple of days, good rides to and from town, and the usual battery of large, hard fighting grayling.  Because we had two newcomers to the “gentle art,” Grandpa and I didn’t fish as much as we guided, but the results were the same as in years past, and putting new anglers on fish was more rewarding that hooking them ourselves.  The newbies were, of course, Gigi and Rosemary.  Gigi was just coming off a less-than-stellar introduction to fly fishing, and was in the mood for some real casting, drifting, and naturally, catching fish on the fly.  She is a natural.  The first, and usually most productive hole was invaded by a large family of humans that forced us to head upstream from our favorite spot to another riffle chock full of suicidal finny prowlers.  Her most successful approach involved drifting a PT nymph under an indicator, and she landed two 16-18″ brutes like a pro.  Congratulations to her, and hopefully, we’ll be able to get her out a few more times before the end of the summer.  The other novice angler, coming off some early lessons with the rod and reel in scattered bathtubs throughout the south, was none other than my little Sugar Bear, Rosemary.  We set her “Cars:  The Movie” Zebco up with the same nymphing rig, and Grandpa helped with the casting and the hookups.  Once the first grayling was on, a heart-pounding fight ensued, and with a little help on the reel from dad, Frog landed her first fish.  She was more than happy to let me hold the fish while she examined it (misdiagnosing the predator as a salmon), and within seconds of the release, cries of “want another fish” rang throughout the Gulkana Valley.  After one more, Rosemary seemed content to play in the shallow shoals, and the fishing for the trip was complete.  She has now correctly identified her catch as grayling, and is telling everyone.  This, of course, will not be her last outing, but it was one to remember indeed.

She’s got the stance …

… and the pose!

Rosemary’s determination is almost scary.

Still concentrating on the fish.

This hole wasn’t as productive as some of the others.








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