Howdy everyone!!! Hope the New Year is treating everyone well thus far and you’re all getting some quality time out on the water! 2013 is an exciting year for me as I am partaking in my first two hosted trips to Christmas Island and the Amazon!! Hosting trips has been a huge goal for me and I’m more than ecstatic for the opportunity to do this! Here is a brief description on each trip:
Even before I first picked up a fly rod, I’ve always been fascinated by the lure of saltwater. I remember sitting in the family room studying photos displayed around our walls. There were pictures of family along with a few of my dad and his trophy animals taken in some remote part of the world, but there was one photo in particular that kept my attention the longest. It was of my mother holding a 12 pound bonefish. I was too young to know what kind of fish it was or even comprehend the fact that it was caught on a fly, but I do remember thinking how “cool” it was. It was then that I vowed to myself to someday catch one of those exotic creatures.
I was wearing my hair down that day. It was straight with a slight curl at the end to enhance it’s bounciness and give it the look of elegance void of any flaws. My dad and I had just landed on Rarotonga, one of the many islands in the Cook Islands, located in the Pacific. After a 9 hour flight from LA we were ready to be on solid ground again. I was wearing jeans and a long sleeve Simms fishing shirt, being from a cold environment (Montana in March) I didn’t think about humidity and heat once we crossed the equator. My hair went from beauty and elegance to a mass that resembled a lion’s mane that I quickly subdued with a hair tie. Kia Orana, which is welcome in some weird language, was displayed over the small terminal. We made it through customs only losing an apple and an orange my dad thought he could sneak in.
“I really wanted to eat those,” he says. I just shook my head in amusement then we boarded a small puddle jumper that took us over to one of the islands called Aitutaki.
Ian was waiting for us at the small airport, his face decorated with a large grin. Ian is from Australia who came to Aitutaki to manage the lodge and live the classic life of a fish bum. He’s a tall dark haired man with skin the color of molasses and a demeanor that’s typical of any hardcore fly fisherman.
“Goo’day mates!” he says.
I can’t help but chuckle because the first thing I think of is Crocodile Dundee. Montana isn’t the best place for cultural exposure. We make a short drive to a small restaurant and bar called The Boat Shed. We’re shown to our cabin and begin assembling our gear for the next 6 days of fishing. The lagoon was beautiful. No more than a 2 minute walk from our cabin, trevally, bonefish and several coral fish thrive and cruise the coral heads. Large palm trees line the shore, thick sand glimmers in the bright sun and there’s a faint roar as the surf hits the reef on the outskirts of the island. Being completely surrounded by hundreds of miles of water was weird. Much different than the hundreds of miles of wilderness I’m accustomed to in Alaska. There you may have a slight chance at survival, to walk out and get help. However, out here in the ocean? A person may need to settle with the Lord quickly for death is unmistakably imminent. A spooky thought for me.
My first encounter with a bonefish. It comes and goes like a lightning bolt, I even found myself questioning if it actually happened or was just an hallucination. I was walking a flat with Ian the first day which was basically a training session. He taught me what to look for when searching a flat. “Bonefish are a slightly different color blue than the water,” he instructs. “OK,” I think.” Searching for a fish in a river, a lake or even in muddy water has always been something I had no problem with. I figured this would be a cake walk….I was wrong. It was like trying to find a ghost, that wasn’t there to begin with.
“There’s one!” exclaimed Ian, pointing his finger in a direction to my left. I scan the water and I see nothing but the casual blue water rippled with a moderate wind.
“I don’t see anything,” I remark.
“He’s about 20 feet in front of you.” He comes up behind me and holds his finger right by my eye and points in the direction of the fish. “He’s moving from left to right, slightly towards us.”
I squint my eyes and focus hard, searching for the slightest movement, looking for the dark torpedo shaped back of a bonefish. Still I see nothing. “I’m sorry,” I say. “I just don’t see him.”
“Alright, cast about 15 feet out at about 2 O’clock.”
I do as he says and begin to do a very very slow strip. “He’s on it!” exclaims Ian. “Get ready! Set!!”
I rip the line through the guides and for a split second feel a heavy tug on the other end, then my line goes limp and my heart sinks. I try to speak but the only thing that comes out is a shriek and I abandon the attempt, embarrassed.
“Ah, that’s a rough one, mate,” says Ian in a strong Aussie accent. “You’ll get another shot at one, no worries!”
Rua, one of the three Davey brothers, was our guide for our first day of fishing. He’s an Aitutaki native who’d recently given up commercial net fishing for bones to become a full time fly fishing guide. This transition was very controversial not only within his own family but also throughout the community as the Davey family was the biggest supplier of bonefish on the island. We meet Rua on a sandy beach on the opposite side of the lagoon where he picks us up in a small flats boat. Rua was a quiet fella and when he did talk it was difficult to understand. I’m convinced that I did the exact opposite of what he was telling me to do on many occasions. He probably thought I was a stupid white girl from America, but after a few spooked bones and a game of Guesstures, we conquered the language barrier and finally had some luck.
We were blanketed in dark blue rain clouds as raindrops trickled off the brim of my hat and ran down my face. The cool rain was a Godsend. I could almost hear the raindrops sizzle when they hit my skin. The savage sunburn I’d received on the flat with Ian the day before was overbearing and I was applying aloe vera profusely; I was thankful for the rain. Rua was poling us through a flat while I was on the bow scanning the water. It was mid afternoon and I still hadn’t hooked a bone. I was tired, hot, my feet hurt from standing all day and my gumption was dwindling. Then Rua tells me to cast. I never did see the fish due to the cloud cover, but Rua told me what to do.
“Cast 20 meters, 12 clock.” he says. “Leave it. Now strip slow. Slow, slow, slow. Hesitation.”
I stop the strip completely then he says it again with more urgency. “I am hesitating,” I say. He looks at me with a confused look then gestures to me a quick strip. “Het his tension,” he exclaims. Then I understood what he was saying. He wanted me to get the fish’s attention by making two fast strips! I quickly stripped twice and immediately the fish turns then I feel a slight tug. I ream the line through the guides and I feel the weight of the fish as it takes off like a rocket. I was using a blue and red Allen Alpha II reel and the colors seemed to blend together as the fish spun line from the spool. My dad was cheering me on as the fish made three hard runs and proceeded to turn and come straight back forcing me to reel like my life depended on it. Finally, the fish tired and allowed Rua to scoop it into the net. I reached in and held it into the sun, taking in the blue iridescence of it’s fins, the mirror like shine of it’s scales and for a moment nothing else existed except for me and that fish. Firsts are always memorable, whether it’s a first car, a first deer or a first kiss. A first always holds a special meaning, occupies a special place in the memory bank. No matter what, that first will aways be carried with you, your mind can never break away from it. This was my first bonefish and I wanted to absorb every infinite detail about this special creature because I knew I’d never forget it. We snapped a couple photos then watched as the 6 pound bone evaporated into the clear water and swam away. I sat down, took a deep breath and tried to collect myself. There’s plenty of truth to the saying that the salt will change you. That once you go saltwater fishing, you’ll always be trying to get back to it, it’s forever in your blood. I love freshwater, I grew up around it but saltwater is incomparable. There’s nothing like hooking a fish that can rip you a new butt hole in a matter of seconds. No fly fisherman can disagree with that.
My dad slapped me on the back, bringing me back to reality. “You did it, girl! You got one.”
The rest of the week was spent cruising around the island’s flats chasing some of the biggest bones I’ll probably ever see. Later in the week I managed to catch an 11 pounder with Itu, Rua’s brother and fly fishing mentor, and had a shot at a Trevally the size of a small car. The evenings were spent catching reef fish in the lagoon and drinking beer with the locals in The Boat Shed bar. I was awarded a pair of Maui Jim’s sunglasses for being the first female angler to successfully catch a bonefish at the lodge and was presented with The Ship Wreck, which is a drink that should be called “Put you on your ass in 5 minutes”. The week came and went like a blur, it’s amazing how fast the time goes when you’re caught up in catching fish and getting sunburned. Before I knew it, I was back in snowy Montana, sitting in class, wishing I was still in the middle of the Pacific. As the professor preached as if reading from a teleprompter, I drifted back to that first bonefish and my dad congratulating me. Back to the moment when I knew there was no going back, that there was no anti-venom for the venom that now courses through my veins. I’m a newborn saltwater addict and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So here I am sitting in Statistics class and instead of thinking about our next exam in two days, all I can think about is catching my first permit. Yup, I’m so screwed.
Ever thought about going somewhere warm for Christmas? How about going bonefishing too? Well I’m happy to say that here is your chance.
From the 25th of December through the 2nd of January, I’m hosting a group of 8 anglers to Christmas Island for a week long rendezvous with some of the best bonefishing in the world. The hosting lodge will be The Villages, which is known as the best lodge on the island with great staff and guides.
The week long package is $2390.00 based on double occupancy. Pacific Air has plenty of seats available for that week as well. Time and space is limited so don’t procrastinate!
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on this glorious adventure!
This is one of those stories that I’d happily keep locked away in a dark place somewhere. I made the witnesses swear themselves to silence and vowed to myself that I’d never tell a soul. Well, I’ll be first to say that I’m a hypacrit and about to tell the whole dang world about my little “oops” that I still look back on and cringe at with disgust.
The day started off just as any other day. The river silently and almost ghostly flowed by camp on a brisk fall morning with the smell of coffee permiating through the canvas cooktent where my mom joyfully cooked biscuits and gravey. I was guiding a couple that day, Craig and Marty, who happened to be very close family friends. They had come to camp for a few days and today was their last day.
After a hearty breakfast that threatened to put me into a food coma, we rolled into the 18 foot, flat bottom jet boat and headed downriver for an 8 hour day of fishing. It was a beautiful morning with a sky vacant of any clouds and a briskness that nipped at my cheeks. Fall was just around the corner and I couldn’t help but get excited for fall mouse fishing and fat rainbows. I was riding cloud nine that morning.
The day of fishing was just as I thought it would be. Full of fat fish, grip n grins and sunscreen. If my memory serves me correct, I even think we saw a bear. It was about 4:30 and we had roughly a 45 minute boat ride back to camp (5pm is when all boats must be back). So we decided to call it a day and head home. We were about 15 minutes into our trip back when we came to a vast, calm and almost lake like section of river. I knew my gas tank was running low so I figured this would be a good spot to lean down and switch tanks….without stopping.
I made one last look to make sure we were going in the right direction before I leaned down and took the hose off the tank. It’s usually pretty easy to get back on but for some reason the hose wouldn’t fit into the other tank. Frusterated, I tried harder and took my eyes off my road. It was then that a little voice in the back of my head said,”Look up, Camille.” I looked up and my heart stopped. I was headed straight for the bank and had no time to turn or even slow down! Craig was laying down in the boat with his jacket over his head so he had no clue what was about to happen, Marty however, saw the whole thing unfold. I can’t even imagine what was going through her mind, other than, “I’m going to die!” She too was laying in the boat and as a result it was difficult for her to turn around and warn me that we were about to exit the river at full speed. I had just enough time to brace myself before we hit. It was like I was in the movie The Dukes of Hazzard. The boat cleared the bank and skidded accross the long-bladed grass with the motor screaming a terrible high pitch whine that only ment it was no longer in the water. I frantically hit the kill switch as the boat came to a stop.
I looked around and immediately started apologizing. I scanned the scene only to find there was no water running beneath the boat and we were a good 8 feet up on the bank. Craig wakes up and when he sees that we’ve vacated the river he starts to laugh and says,”Geez Camille, 5 seconds ago we were floating!”
I would have sat there and laughed with them for a bit but I knew I only had moments to get the boat back into the water before Dan, one of the other guides I worked with, came around the corner to see me high and dry. There was no way I was going to let that happen. So I ushered everyone out and started to jerk the boat back towards the river. After a few tugs, the boat was floating again, there were a few grass stains on the hull but other than that, it was unscathed. However, the grass where the boat was once sitting had been matted down to the point where it would have been obvious that a boat was sitting there. So I tried ruffling the grass up so it looked natural again. At this point I could hear Dan’s boat coming and I had to get going before he came around the corner. I pushed the boat out, started the motor and took off just as Dan came around the bend. A huge sigh of relief was all that I could muster, I got so incredibly lucky.
Craig and Marty said they would never tell a soul and I vowed to myself that I’d never say anything, but to be honest, it’s too good of a story not to tell. Everyone has their dumb moments and the best thing you can do is embrace it and laugh at yourself. Life is too short not to.
What a dedicated, hardworking and diligent student would be doing, is writing notes and paying attention to the word vomit coming from a Business Communications professor. I can tell you (if you haven’t already guessed) I’m not that student, at least not right now. Instead I’m reflecting upon my summer and attempting to write down the experiences I had. As my professor began his lecture on Social Organization, his words faded and I drifted back to the beginning of my 2011 summer in Bristol bay, Alaska.
As I walked across the asphault towards the Dillingham airport terminal I took a deep breath and couldn’t help but notice how good it felt to be back for another summer. Spring hadn’t sprung yet so everything was a brown and dreary color with low clouds threatening to spit rain on the bay. My mother and I were greeted by two of Dillingham’s best young bucks who offered to give us a ride to Aleknagik (a small native village about 20 miles from Dilly). Bubba and Chad have been my close friends for several years and always manage to find “fun”. As we were loading up the truck, I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned around to see Kevin Layland, a kid I have been friends with my entire life. It had been a couple years since I had seen him and was surprised to see that he had the makings of a small beard and was wearing Carhartts that would make a hobo fit for candle lit dinner. We all stood around and visited for several minutes and then decided to head for the lake. I couldn’t have thought of a better “welcome back” then to have some of my closest friends meet me at the airport.
The next few days were spent getting the cabin cleaned up and livable. Bubba and Chad stopped by late one evening for a visit. Bubba is a pilot and his dad had left his small supercub on the North shore of the lake and had asked Bubba to fly it to Dillingham for him. I knew what plane he was talking about, it happened to be the red cub sitting by the airstrip that looked as though it had been through hell and back. All the instruments on the inside were nearly torn out, had “Fuck” very faintly painted on the side and seats that looked as though mice had made little homes inside them. Not so sure I would want to fly around in that thing. But Bubba was determined. We all stood to the side as we watched Bubba try to start the little cub. Nothing happened. Then he jumped out and motioned for Chad to come over. I waltzed over too because I knew that, whatever would happen, would be good and I didn’t want to miss it.
“Chad, I need you to sit in the plane and hold the break and throttle,” instructs Bubba. “Why?” asks Chad. “I have to prop start this son of a bitch.” (Prop starting means someone must manually turn the prop in order for it to fire and start. All the while avoiding the prop).
“Oh, shit” was written all over Chad’s face as Bubba went to the front of the plane and grabbed the prop blade.
“CRANK….WOOOSH.” Nothing. “CRANK….WOOOSH.” Nothing. “CRANK….WOOOSH.” Nothing. This probably went on for like 10 minutes. I was convinced that it wasn’t going to start when “BOOM”. Bubba staggers back and nearly falls over. Black exhaust swirls in the air and birds fly from the trees in fright. It had backfired.
“Holy cows,” giggles Bubba as he goes back to the prop. “CRANK……VERRRROOOOM! The plane fires right up. Chad, who’s still sitting in the plane brings the throttle down to an idyle while Bubba jumps in. “Chad, I want to do a couple touch and goes solo before you fly with me.” So Chad joins my mother and I as we watch Bubba taxi onto the runway and take off. He did a few “not so perfect touch and goes” and then comes and picks up Chad. As they flew off I couldn’t help but wish I was in that plane with them.
A few short days later, my dad showed up in his Cessna 185 from Anchorage. Our crew for the season was already in town so we all had dinner together before my dad flew them out to camp. There was Dan, Ross, Seth, and Nick. Dan was from Michigan who had a degree in International Business and Spanish. Ross was a fish bum/guide from Redding, California. Seth was a fish bum/guide from Montana and Nick was from Washington who had a fetish for Jeeps and guns. That night, my dad made two trips to camp in order to get all the guys out. My mom and I would be going out in a couple days so she could get the kitchen ready and I could help train the new guys. Our first week was fast approaching and we had a lot to do.
The next day my dad and I went to Dillingham to get some supplies and attend a town meeting with the EPA regarding the proposed Pebble mine. This past spring, the EPA announced that it would become involved in and research possible affects the mine would have on communities and natural habitats. A huge advantage for the anti-pebble folks. The meeting was held in the Dillingham middle school gym and I was delighted to see how many people showed up. Commercial, sportfishing and subsitence fisherman were all there to express their concerns and thanks for the EPA’s involvement. My dad was one of the last people to stand up and shed a little light on what was a stake. He spoke with emotion, determination and frankness that would make Bill O’Reilly feel like a pinhead. It was exactly what the EPA needed to hear.
Our first week began with 6. The weather was a balmy 50 degrees, the river was in mint condition and the trout were abundant. The first week is always a bit tense as it’s the beginning of a long and arduous season of endless fishing. It’s always nice to start the season with good clients and get things off on the right foot. Our worries were soon dissolved as the first three clients walked up the steps carrying a pirate flag saying, “Surrender the Booty”.
More to come! -Camille
Below is a write up of March 23rd’s Red Gold screening in Bozeman, Montana.
It’s no question that most of us have a lust and need for things that are propelled by adventure and built by two inspiring words, ‘what if’. We seek out places that have been lost to history, pursue the unknown, and even fantasize about embarking on adventures that closely resemble Narnia or Harry Potter. If you’re one of the lucky people that get to search for Atlantis or catch Bigfoot, kudos to you, that’s awesome, but if you’re anything like me then you’re dreaming of remote and wild places free of a plague I call civilization.
Alaska is the harbinger of remote places. Rivers rich in life snake through the tundra the same today as they did when humans chased saber-tooth tigers with sticks. In today’s world of politics, machines, cities, news, and straight up noise, it’s difficult to find a place where nothing but the faint ringing in your ear is all you hear when all else is silent. I’ve experienced that ringing while sitting atop a hill overlooking a vast expanse of wilderness void of human influence and thought how shameful it would be to allow such a rarity to be degraded simply for copper and gold.
I’ve always said that I would stand up for what I love and believe in. That I would do my best to protect what I hold dear to my heart; whether it is family, friends and even a place. In this case, I’m working to protect a place. Bristol Bay, Alaska is currently the ant in which a kid with a magnifying glass is studying. Two foreign mining companies are looking to build the world’s largest open pit copper and gold mine at the headwaters of the richest salmon harboring rivers on the planet. This mine could potentially ruin a resource that has given Alaskan’s their identity and way of life for centuries, a resource that gives life to an ecosystem in which millions of people journey to experience every year. Alaska’s salmon are its footprint, its blood, and without salmon Alaska will forever be changed and human beings will forever be to blame.
When I’m not playing the role of “student” at Montana State University in Bozeman, I’m busy fishing, working with MSU’s fly fishing club Gallatin FlyCasters and finding ways to educate folks on the proposed pebble mine in Alaska. Recently, I and Gallatin FlyCasters teamed up with the Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited on doing a showing of Red Gold (an award winning documentary by Ben Knight and Travis Rummel of Felt Soul Media) which focuses on Bristol Bay, its salmon and the issues surrounding the development. After several weeks of planning and advertising, the 23rd of March was suddenly upon us and I was beginning to feel the sting of anticipation and worry in hopes of having a good turnout.
The show was to start at 7pm. I, along with a friend, showed up at 6 to help set up and get things ready. I was in charge of the anti-pebble table and asking for signatures on a petition going to the EPA while Mark Peterson and Travis Morris (guys from TU) sold tickets. I was surprised to see several people already filing through the door. “Wow,” I thought to myself. “People are actually coming!” As 7 rolled around Curt “Ole” Olson (commercial fisherman from film) and my folks (Dave and Kim Egdorf) came through the door. Without hesitation, Ole grabs the microphone and starts talking about Bristol Bay and how important it is that we stop this mine. I watched the crowd of nearly 200 as he spoke and I saw nothing but intent and awe stricken gazes. Ole has a knack for captivating his audience. As the film was about to start I stood up and made my short speech. First off, I’m not the best public speaker, I do the classic stutter, forget what I was going to say and fidget like I have a colony of termites in my pants. I was surprised to find that this was not going to be one of those embarrassing moments for me. Words just flowed easily from my mouth (almost like word diarrhea). I guess when you speak from the heart everything just falls into place.
After the film Ole stood up once again and provided an informative and moving speech. He talked about his life on Nushagak Point, his family, and his fellow fisherman. If his stories about Bristol Bay couldn’t convince you that it’s a place worth saving then I don’t know what could because there was nothing but truth in his words. The same goes for my dad, Dave Egdorf. He’s been a pilot in Alaska for over 30 years and has experienced things that most of us will only read about. He also stood up and enveloped the crowd in stories that spawned (no pun intended) goose bumps. Once the speeches came to an end, it was time for our raffle drawing. I pulled several tickets from the hat and gave away prizes ranging from fly boxes to a rod, line and reel kit from The Fly Shop in Redding, California. As I walked out of the theater headed to my table to start asking for signatures, I was shocked to see the table flooded with folks signing the petition. Pages were being grabbed at like kids scrambling for candy after a piñata had been beaten with a bat. People were endlessly coming to me with questions, thank yous and inquiring about ways they could help. I was beaming with happiness just because I didn’t have to ask people for anything, they just willingly signed, grabbed stickers and asked questions. It was the most refreshing and rewarding feeling ever!
Once everyone had emptied the old theater, a few of us stayed behind, drank a beer and reflected on the night. After some number crunching we estimated that we would be able to donate over $1000 to an organization heavily involved in the fight against pebble and had exposed the issue to the entire city of Bozeman through radio broadcasts and an article in the Bozeman Chronicle. I truly feel that it was a successful event and it couldn’t have been pulled off without the support of our sponsors and Trout Unlimited. I’d like to thank Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska, Felt Soul Media, The Fly Shop, Gallatin River Lodge, Simms, and many others for their support and generous donations. Without these folks, events such as this would not be possible and protecting resources like Bristol Bay would be nearly impossible.
A few days later I was driving to class dreading an exam that had consumed my life for the past week, when I pulled up behind a rusted out truck with a single sticker on its bumper. A smile spread across my face as I stared at the No Pebble mine sticker. In that single moment I had this over-whelming feeling that we were going to beat this mine. Bristol Bay is a rare, invigorating, and beautiful place that is the last stronghold for wild Sockeye salmon. It’s one of the few places where someone can truly live an adventure free of human technology and experience the world through nature’s eyes and see pulses of salmon bring the region to life. It’s without question, a jewel worth fighting for.
The award winning documentary Red Gold will be showing at the Emerson Cultural theater in Bozeman, Mt March 23rd at 7pm. Ole Olson and Dave Egdorf (characters from film) will be attending the event. There will be door prizes and raffles! All procceds will be donated to an organization that is heavily involved in the fight against the mine. Please come support the cause and learn more about this threat to the Bristol Bay watershed.
Hello ladies and gentlemen! I’d like to announce that Up’North Maine Fly Castings will be hosting a photo contest from March 1st-April 1st. There are some awesome prizes for the first place winner.
- Up’North Hat & Decals
- LLBean Streamlight Ultra 14ft 9wt Spey Rod (Two Handed)
- Roughfisher’s Trout Nymph Assortment (tied just for this contest!)
- Cliff Outdoors “Super Days Worth” Fly Box
- Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters: C&F Bonefish Waterproof Fly Box w/assortment of warm/salt flies
- Life on the Fly Outfitters-10% off any Saltwater Trip
Visit his site:
to view the rules & regulations for the contest.
So get out there, grab your camera, and submit some photos for a chance to win some great swag!
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the director of Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska, Scott Hed, asking me to run their booth at the Great Rockies Sports Show here in Bozeman the weekend of January 28-30th. Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving natural resources and habitats in our country’s last frontier. For the past 3-4 years Bristol Bay, Alaska has been an X on the treasure map of two foriegn mining companies. Anglo-American, a London based mining corporation and Northern Dynasty, a Canadian mining corporation have partnered in a proposed open pit copper, gold, and molybdemum mine at the headwaters of the most prolific sockeye salmon run on the planet. It would be the world’s largest open pit mine with an earthen dam that would dwarf the Three Gorges Dam in China. It’s name? The Pebble Mine.Pebble is located in Bristol Bay, Alaska at the headwaters of The Kvichak and Nushagak rivers. Over 60 million salmon return to these rivers every year to spawn; there is no other place in the world where you can find salmon in these kind numbers. They are also the food staple for the whole ecosystem, providing food for bears, varmits, birds, rainbow trout, artic char, artic grayling, and local communities/villages. The Commercial and Sportfisheries evolve around the yearly returning salmon runs, contributing to over $440 million per year to Alaska’s economy. The possibilities of this mine devastating this priceless resource are too significant to ignore.
The show ran from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening. The show itself wasn’t of great size but it was able to draw people in from all over the valley. On Friday my mom came to town. She decided to take a break from substitute teaching and come spend the weekend in Bozeman. She, along with a few of my buddies, helped me set up the booth and start reeling in people in an effort to collect signatures (we had a petition going to the EPA). Although it was slow the first day, anyone who saw our booth (which was pretty sweet looking) came over and asked, “What’s the pebble mine?” After a brief over-view most signed the petition and walked away genuinly concerned. I even had a little girl come up and grab a sticker from the table and stick it on her shirt. Even though she was probably too young to understand what it meant, it still put a grin on my face and made me believe even more that we can stop this mine.
For the next two days myself, my mom, and a couple buddies worked the booth. Ian Majszak who is a close friend of mine, is an accomplished videographer and was kind enough to not only help with the booth, but to also take some great photos of the weekend event. Thanks for all your help Ian!
Overall, I was able to get over 130 signatures and educated twice as many on the issue. Most people seemed fairly concerned and as usual there were those who were less than interested in the topic. I had the opportunity to visit with some local miners who offered some good insight on the potential of Pebble. Even though I understood where they were coming from, I still believe that a mine of this size and type should not be developed in such a fragile and rare enviornment.
After a couple months of silence on my part and getting my butt off the couch, I figured it was time I got my rear in gear and gave “riplps” some greatly needed affection. The past few months have gone by faster than an F-16 fighter jet going over a football stadium and I’m still wondering how Christmas could have come and gone so fast. The rest of the season in Alaska was just like clockwork, with just a few twists and turns. The weather reaked havoc on Alaska and caused the Nushagak river to rise nearly 3 feet and turn to the color of Nesquik (you know, the chocolate milk drink stuff?). Hurricane Katrina somehow revived herself and paid us a visit one not so important day and I can now say that I’ve rowed a boat in 70+ mph winds. But aside from the bad weather and poor river conditions, fishing was good. We had to use flies that were redicoulously bright and of unorthodox size (flies big enough to take your noggin off). But after learning how to “chuck and duck” the flies produced some good fish and anglers always came back with grins and photos to flaunt.
On the evening of September 10th my dad shot a moose. That night I was fishing upriver from camp when I heard this faint grunt coming from the alder trees behind me. I immediately knew that it was a bull moose and took off running for camp (which I regret now because I made everyone believe I was being chased by a bear). Anyway, I informed my dad who inturn grabbed his gun and we walked about 100 yards behind camp when we saw the bull standing in some bushes. He was looking right at us. “Is he big enough?” asked my dad. “He looks pretty big to me,” I replied. One shot was all it took for the old bull to go down. He ran about 50 yards only to expire in a small pond (slew). I was sure that we would be out there all night cutting up moose and fighting off bears, but with six people working together we had that moose in camp within 3 hours. The rest of the night was spent sitting around the campfire, drinking beer and telling stories. It was a good way to end the hunting season and what kept creeping into my mind was the fact that 2 years ago to that day was when I shot my moose. The season of 2010 was a great one and it’s hard to believe it’s already come and gone. Such is life I suppose: the bad news is time flys, but the good news is…your the pilot!
I returned to Montana in early October and two weeks later I was off to British Columbia to chase steelhead. My dad and I left Montana eager for that first swing and first ever BC steelhead. The drive was long but the senery was unbelievable. After 3 days of driving we reached New Hazelton and met up with a steelhead master by the name of Paul Miller (aka, Paulito). He and his wife were kind enough to let us stay in his B-E-A-UTIFUL home and offer us some much needed (and appreciated) instruction on the Kispiox river. Paul took us to several of his favorite runs (all of which will remain un-named) and after a brief lesson on where to cast and “what not to do” we began our 2010 steelhead extravaganza.
The next 8 days was spent beating the water and battling the elements. I’ve never been to a place where mother nature was so prominent (I know that sounds dumb but go to BC and you”ll know what I mean). It rained nearly everyday and if it wasn’t, it was colder then a snowman’s nose. I was constantly “doing a little jig” to get the blood flowing through my viens again. Even though the weather threatened to take every little bit of sanity I had left, I was loving every minute, and when I brought in my first ever wild BC steelhead I remembered why I was there and whyI loved fishing so much. It was a good feeling to hold that 15lb hen in my hands, then watch her swim back to the waters in which she was born. Steelhead truly are……god’s dime.
Throughout our 8 days of fishing, my dad and I caught and released 3 wild steelhead. Some would say that’s terrible fishing, but we couldn’t have been happier. Steelhead are tough, elusive, stubborn and picky. Anglers can go weeks without even moving one, and the fact that we got 3 was more than satisfactory. The time spent with my dad was icing on the cake and will be something I look back on for the rest of my life. British Columbia steelhead are now in my blood and if one thing is for sure, I’ll be back for round 2….soon!
The rest of my fall was spent in Montana. Hunting season was in full swing when we got back so I endulged myself in some duck and pheasant hunting. In November, I turned 21. Some friends were kind enough to show me the ropes to ‘bar hopping’ even though we only went to 2. I’ve never been one for singing and always said that I’d never sing karaoke, but on this particular night, Jenn and I sang “Fishin in the Dark” which we totally rocked. I think I may have a future in karaoke! Snowboarding season is also upon Montana and I have been taking full advantage of it. Red Lodge is the closest mountian and although small, is a great hill to spend a day on. On Christmas eve, I was lucky enough to snowboard a full day with two good friends of mine. It’s one thing to be out snowboarding, but when your able to do it with good people, it makes a good day turn into an awesome day. I can’t wait for the next day of shredding the pow pow!
I’ll return to college in January. I’m looking forward to getting back into school again (I know, I’ll probably eat my words). I’ll try to be a better blogger and update this thing more than just once every 4 months. Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I’ll see you all in the new year!!!
Best fishes and Happy Holidays, Camille <’))))><
Here are some photos that I promised to post from this past season in Alaska. Enjoy!!
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this thing and I’ll be honest, there’s a lot to cover. So, I’ll start at the beginning. Sorry for no photos, I’ll add some soon.
Our first week started June 10th. We had 5 anglers in camp, all of which were great people and wonderful anglers. No salmon had come through the bay yet so, obviously there were no salmon upriver. Fishing was limited to streamers and mice, which produced no complaints. The rainbows were big and made the reel scream with every run. We fished cover hard (By cover I mean, logs, trees, cutbanks, etc), and inevitably lost quite a few flies. Bears were around but usually didn’t cause any problems. Although, we did have one try to join the campfire with us one night.
The following weeks were much the same. Throwing flies into death traps, and sometimes 15 feet up in the trees (those are always fun to try and get back). The weather was marginal. Rain somedays and sun the others. It’s been a very cold and wet summer for us this year. I would give anything to have just one day of sunshine. Anyway, the bugs were aweful as always. It was impossible to get away from them. They got so bad that I could hardly breath without snorting a mosquito….seriously. It was almost commical.
Salmon started showing up about the 30th of June. A chum here and there. Nothing to write home about, but it got us excited that the river would be coming to life soon. When the salmon show up they also bring other small fish with them. Like Dolly Varden, smaller Rainbows, and Grayling. All of which are hoping to benefit from the buffet of eggs that will soon be released by spawning salmon.
I had the opportunity to experience commercial fishing for the first time this summer. Dylan Braund and Ole Olson, from the movie Red Gold, invited me to go fishing with them for one week. So a packed my gear and off I went to Nushagak Point. I spent my first night on a tender. A tender is a 40 ft boat where fishermen sell and off load their fish. It was a real eye opener. I watched as the crew went about their business, working the cranes, and moving fish. I tried to stay out of the way but my curiosity got the best of me. I had to see what was going on. Anyway, sleeping on a boat out in Nushagak Bay was interesting. It took a while for me to get used to the constant rocking and the hum of the engine, but I relaxed and feel into a deep, fish smelling sleep.
The next day I woke up to Ole waiting for me in his skiff ready to go fishing. I look out the door to see a small fishing skiff and three people dressed in bright orange rain gear. It was howling out and I thought to myself, “I’m gonna be one of those people out in the pouring rain, wind and cold for 12 hours catching fish. HELL YES!!” Ole looked at me and asked, “You wanna go to the beach or go fishing?” I looked at him and said, ” I wanna go fishing.” So I threw on my waders and rain gear and went commercial fishing for the first time.
The next few days were undenyably awesome. I worked 12 hour shifts and had two 24 hour shifts. It’s amazing how mixed up your sense of time gets once you stay up for a couple days straight. The days just mesh together and become one long one. I spent time fishing one several different boats. I fished with Ole one day (the first day) then with Dylan for one, and after that I spent most of my time on Jordan’s boat, the Viken. Which was (no offense to Dylan or Ole) my favorite. Jordan, or Captian Crunch, was the skipper. Justin and Matt were the crewman and were great guys. We all got to know eachother fairly well after spending 12 hours on a small boat together. Justin was a fellow Bobcat (Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. Where I go to school.) who recently graduated. It’s amazing how small a world it really is.
The 4th was spent on the beach. Fishing had been slow so there was no reason to spend 12 hours freezing your butt off when you could be enjoying the company of fellow fishermen. Ole put together a big party, Peter Pan Cannery sent out hotdogs, beer and pop for the occasion, and some of the crewman built a bonfire. I guessed about 40+ people showed up, bringing home made food with them. I never ate so good at a potluck before….the cake was to die for. Being the mayor of Nushagak Point, Ole made a little speech and thanked everyone for coming. High tide was getting close so everyone started getting ready for the night shift. So did I.
I know this sounds crazy but, I prefered the night shift over the day shift. Time went by faster and the experience was that much neater. I was in Jordan’s boat that night and we decided to pick the nets quick and then head for a tender. A couple of the tenders provide hot chocolate and snacks for the fishermen when they came to sell fish. We were headed for the Thor that night. The Thor is an old wood boat, that pretty much looks like a house on water….almost. You wouldn’t think that it could float at first sight but it was by far the most comfortable. We tied the boat up and went inside. As you walked in the first thing you saw was the kitchen. Directly to the left is an ancient looking stove, a small counter, and coffee pot and a small sink. Then past that you’d see a small table. We took off our wet and stinky rain gear and made ourselves at home. The room had to have been over 90 degrees, and it felt wonderful. The candy bowl sitting on the table was immediately grabbed and raided of starburst and laffy taffeys, while everyone else reached for the coffee. Jordan and myself dove into the hot chocolate. It was there that I learned how to play 10,000. A dice game that required only good addition skills, something that was sometimes non-existant after so many hours without sleep. The game was easy and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I had no luck and took last place every game.
About half way through the week, fishing the bay was closed due to low numbers on the Nush so Fish & Game opened the Wood River. This is something that happens very rarely. The last time Wood river was opened for commercial fishing was 10 years ago. The river is less than a mile wide, and over 200+ drifters and set netters rush to get the best spot for fishing. Dylan and Ole were lucky and got the four best spots on the Wood. We were the envy of every boat that went by. An hour before the opener, we were all scrambling to get everything ready. Once 7 am hit every set-netter dragged his net out and began catching fish. The drifter’s opener (which are those big fising boats you see in the harbor) was set one hour later. Once 8 am hit, the chaos began.
“WATCH OUT FOR MY BUOY!” yelled Ole, as a 40 foot drifter rolled by us less than 6 feet away. ”I’LL CUT YOUR NET IF YOU CATCH MY BUOY!” he yells. It was utter chaos. Over 20 boats trying to fish on spot right off our nets. It was like watching bumper boats. People were screaming four letter words at eachother, raming other boats, cutting nets, and running over nets. I’d never seen anything like it before so I was grinning and laughing from ear to ear. That is until the fish started to sink the net.
We had 6 crewman, including myself, picking the net. 6 people in one boat is a lot for a skiff, but we had so many fish in the net that every person was busy. Every boat that went by had all eyes on us. There were so many fish that we were standing almost knee deep in fish. I can honestly say that I caught more fish in just 1 hour than I have in my whole life. It was a trip! After the long day some of the guys took the last load of fish to the Thor to sell. I stayed behind and helped on the beach. The opener had closed and we were going to head home to Nush Point so catch a hot shower and tell stories to the night crew. I was thinking about hot chocolate and how good it would taste right about now. The long boat ride home wouldn’t be so bad with a cup of hot coco warming my tummy. Low and behold, one of the sweetest guys (you know who you are) brought me a cup of hot coco back from the Thor. It was the best hot coco I’d ever had.
My time at Nushagak Point went by too fast. It was one of the neatest most rewarding experiences I’d ever had. I will never forget the fish, the cold, the tides, and most of all, the people who I met and got to know.
That’s all for the moment. There will be more posts to come.
Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Farmed Salmon.
Salmon has been a major seafood commodity for people all over the world for decades. The fish has been served on salads, in pasta dishes, grilled to perfection, and stacked on crackers for appetizers. It’s complimented hot plates and set standards high for all other seafood delicates. However, most of America’s salmon dishes no longer fit the label of wild. Today, over 65% of the salmon consumed in the United States is farmed, and unfortunately this percent is rising. Fish hatcheries have been producing fish since the 1800′s, and have made some positive impacts. However it is obvious that farmed salmon are a negative substitute for wild salmon.
The first Pacific Coast salmon hatchery was established in 1872 on the McCloud River in Northern California which was operated by the U.S. Fish Commission. Prior to that historic development that would change the face of fisheries world-wide, experiments with propagation started in 1862 by settlers and farmers. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Game, “Salmon hatcheries, through the use of controlled water flow, concrete, steel, and artificial diets, are a means of combating losses of fish life caused by environmental changes.” (“Salmon”) Fish are raised in holding ponds either made from net or concrete and are fed specific meals. By the year 1900, over 15 hatcheries were in operation in the state of Washington and 58,000,000 salmon fry had been released. All of which used the same methods of rearing.
Salmon are raised in hatcheries until they are large enough to survive on their own in the wild. Until then, young fish are raised in large holding ponds and fed vitamin enriched meals. The meals consist of fish products such as tuna viscera, turbot, pasteurized salmon viscera, dogfish, and de-scaled pasteurized herring. Along with this meal there is a vitamin package. There are several different types of vitamins in this package such as ascorbic acid, Biotin, B12, E, folic acid, inosital menadine, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, and several other chemicals. All of these vitamins and minerals allow each fish to grow and become strong enough to survive in the wild. It may seem beneficial to have healthy and strong fish released into the wild but in reality it’s detrimental.
Even though these vitamins and chemicals are meant to help these fish grow and become fit enough to survive in the wild, there are some negative effects. Farmed salmon have a higher amount of PCB’s, known carcinogens, and other toxic chemicals in their flesh. These PCB’s are concentrated in the “ground up fish” that are fed to smolt, (baby salmon) in the holding pools. Once consumed the PCB’s are then stored in the salmon’s flesh, which in turn gives the meat a considerably different color than wild fish. As a result, fish are given canthaxanthin, which gives the meat that bright orange color. According to Miriam Jacobs, a nutritionist and toxicologist at the University of Surrey claims that children and infants are more at risk when consuming these contaminants because their daily intake will be greater than an adult’s. Women who are pregnant and are considering breast-feeding should be careful because toxins tend to accumulate in breast milk. It is thought that if enough of these toxins are consumed, infants could have brain damage and also have trouble with vision. Ultimately, consuming farmed salmon has high risks, especially at a young age. It would take extreme amounts digested to really have an affect but these risks shouldn’t be over-looked and fish hatcheries need to take the initiative to find better and safer ways to raise fish.
Human health is a small concern when it comes to farmed salmon. It’s the wild fish populations that shoulder the major effects. Farms are located in small bays and inlets, and typically support over 500,000 fish. These conditions provide perfect breeding grounds for the sea louse/lice. Sea lice are small parasites that attach themselves to salmon and feed on their blood. They’re similar to a tick feeding on a deer except, they feed on fish and thrive in the ocean. They’re a salt water organism, so freshwater rivers remain relatively lice free. Fish farms can harbor millions of sea lice at once. When smolt make their downstream run to the ocean they swim by these farms. It is then that they are bombarded by millions of lice. Smolt are usually the size of a triple-A battery when they reach the ocean, so just one sea lice can be deadly to a smolt. With these increased casualties, the numbers of returning salmon will be decreased dramatically. Before salmon farms, sea lice on salmon smolt had never before been documented.
When farmed salmon are released from hatcheries, they go out to sea and then return with wild salmon to spawn. According to John Dentler and David Buchanan who wrote The Northwest Salmon Crisis, “Hatchery salmon are less genetically diverse than wild populations,”. Because of this inter-breeding between farmed and wild salmon causes off-spring to be more susceptible to diseases such as flexibacter columnaris. Inter-breeding also degrades the overall genetic purity of wild salmon.
Because they are less “authentic” farmed salmon are bought and sold in greater numbers due to lower prices and easy access. As a result, they have dramatically impacted the wild salmon market in a negative way. Depending on which market, wild salmon is sold from $15-20/lb. A considerable amount more than farmed salmon which can be half that. It’s obvious which option consumers are going to choose. Bristol Bay, Alaska is home to the world’s largest wild Sockeye salmon run and a multi-million dollar commercial fishing industry. Today Bristol Bay’s fishery brings in over $325 million whereas in the late 80′s it was $800 million. In the 80′s farmed salmon supplied 2 percent of the world’s supply, then in 2004 it grew to 65 percent. Farmed salmon has caused several commercial fishermen to go out of business or has wiped out fisheries all together. The commercial fishery in Bristol Bay is the backbone for the people who live in that area. Without salmon, Bristol Bay would lose a major part of its identity.
Farmed salmon have helped wild fish numbers in different ways, but it’s obvious that the risks outweigh the benefits. Wild salmon genetics have been degraded, numbers have been decreased, sea lice infestations have been increased, diseases have gone rampant, markets have been corrupted, and problems with health are possible. The wild salmon populations in the lower forty eight have diminished to almost non-existent. It is important that the government and the citizens of the U.S. work together to protect one of the world’s natural wonders. According to Nick Jans, writer for USA Today, “Wild Alaska salmon remains one of the last abundant, relatively pure and wild foods available. Why on earth should we weaken our economy and threaten a precious natural resource-all so we can eat an imported, inferior substitute?” Those words should be considered by everyone regardless if they eat salmon or not. Instead of eating a chemical enhanced piece of trash, choose a pure and wild piece of goodness. Wild salmon are one of the world’s natural wonders because they return year after year to spawn in the same rivers in which they were born. They feed all the wildlife of the Pacific Northwest, such as bears, eagles, birds, and locals who rely on them for subsistence. To use and produce a substitute for these amazing creatures is foolish and will assist in the extinction of salmon all together.
Salmon and Salmon Hatcheies
Milstein, Michael. ” PCB test pits farmed salmon vs. wild.” Environmental Working Group. 29 July, 2003. 19 April, 2009. <http://www.ewg.org>.
“The price of salmon.” PAN. March 2001. 19 April, 2009. <http://www.pan-uk.org>.
” Purdue food expert: Benefits of farmed salmon outweigh risks.” Purdue News. January 2004. 27 April, 2009.<http://news.uns.purdue.edu>.
. Olympia: Washington Department of Fisheries, 1977.
Review for No Sports Allowed Vol. 1
Every fly fisherman shares a passion and obsession when it comes to catching fish. Both are portrayed in telling stories (along with a few lies), and when the hopeful fisherman steps into the brisk, clear water of a flowing river. ‘No Sports Allowed,’ is a humerous, passionate, and enthusiastic film about a group of Idaho fish hounds who all share the same love for a quiet sport. With plenty of bent rods, smiles, and of course hungry Idahoian trout, the film has a knack for sparking a “I want to fish now” mind set. Be prepared to experience great fish-catching action, some good humor, and a life style belonging to a group of goofy Idaho fly fishing guides. It’s how they do, and they do it well.
Just a random assortment of photos.
Hey all!! A new online fly fishing magazine by the name of Fish Can’t Read will be coming out the 15th of this month. Make sure to check it out!!
Here is the website: www.fishcantread.com
See you there!!!!!
Nils is from a small town/village in Germany (I over-heard him explain it’s where-abouts and name several times, but for some reason the name has evaded my memory). He’s a very very young 74 year old who could give a 50 year old a run for his money (not kidding). I was dumb-founded when I heard him say 74. When out on the river Nils was all business. His uniform consisted of the G4 Pro waders, a very nifty vest that allowed for deep wading, a sick (very nice) hat that had some worldy feathers stuck in the band, and also a net that was stuck to his back with a magnet. He definatley had good taste in gear. His weapons of choice (rods & reels) were a 3 weight Loop rod and reel, and Sage’s XP 6 weight (the XP was his favorite rod). Like I said, he meant business. When back at camp I would hear him rave about some of the guide’s casting skills and all the while I’m thinking to myself, “Nils you could give those guides a run for their money in a casting competition.” This guy could throw some line!
When out on the river, Nils knew exactly what he wanted to fish. If the run wasn’t fast, and had good cover for a fish to hold in, he would tell us to just go to the next spot. He made his own fly choices, tied everything on himself, released his own fish, and he even made the guides fish with him. That’s right, he made the guides fish!! To say the least, nobody was complaining. It’s not often that we get to rip some lip.
The fishing this week was good. Again the leeches, mice, and smolt patterns cleaned house. The salmon are just starting to spawn so eggs, and flesh patterns are starting to drift through redds. The Nushagak is once again alive with thousands of fish. Bear prints are littering the gravel bars, moose are being spotted in front of camp, the Artic Terns are hatching their chicks, wolves are roaming the tundra, and the rainbows are getting fat. Going upriver from camp is getting tough. The boat ride is full of ducking and diving to avoid trees, sliding to keep from beaching, and tight turns to evade root balls and log jams. A few more days of 80+ degrees and going up river will be a dream.
Back in camp, Nils got out his fly tieing kit and showed me some of his tricks. He watched me tie up a steelhead fly then gave me some constructive critisism. I tell you what, I can make one hell of a steelhead fly now! He was even kind enough to give me a very generous amount of tieing materials. Fox hair, hackles, deer hair, and so forth. Thanks again Nils for all the great stuff I will surly put it to good use! Nils was also a very skilled tier. There are times when a certain fly is working best, and for some reason you can’t keep it away from the trees and submerged logs. That was Nils problem for one day, and unfortunately he lost most of his key flies. So he kept one for an example and that night he tied up some of his own. They turned out pretty darn good, and by-golly they caught fish.
Nils time at camp went by fast. Moose sightings, crazy boat rides, hot weather, bent rods, good food, and great company were all part of the recipe for a fun filled time. It was good to have you here Nils, and we hope to see you again! Safe travels and keep a bend in your rod!
Tight lines——-< ‘)))))><
Dave, Kim, Camille, Nick, Nick, James, and Kris!
Streamers, woolley buggers, mice, and smolt patterns have been the bugs of choice. Deep eddies, and submerged logs are still holding large amounts of fish, rainbows, grayling, and dollies combined. More salmon are being spotted everyday, most of which are Chums, or Dog salmon. During the evenings everyone will sit on the picnic table and watch salmon push up river. For awhile there was a little competition going on who would see the first king. I never did hear what the stakes were but a king never was spotted.
John and Patty stayed for three days and then headed back to the real world. It was a joy to have them both in camp. It’s not very often that you come accross such nice people as them. Drake, Brett’s brother, also decided to leave camp early. Apparenty he couldn’t hack the mosquitoes and bombardment of sh*t talking the guides and his brother gave him….haha….just kidding Drake!! We all missed you and camp was surly a little quieter without you around! Hope we will see you back up here again soon!
The week was nothing but fun. There’s nothing like having a camp full of appreciative people who enjoy just being out in the boonies. There’s not very many places like this left and when it’s shared with the right people it gives you hope that it will someday be protected and threat free. Alaska is our last frontier, and we need to do whatever we can to keep it wild. The fish forcast for the next several weeks is nothing but bent rods. If your scheduled for a week this summer……be prepared and ready for some serious lip rippin!! See you on the water!
Go Daddy (June 19-26)
The past week has been a great one. Again we’ve had six clients occupy the beds here at the Nushagak river camp, and all suceeded in ripping an unreasonable amount of lip. This week we had Paul and his son Eric, Ed and Neil, Mike and his son Scott.
As usual the new arrivees were shy and unsure of what they had gotten themselves into, which is understandable because the crew here has lost a considerable amount of their marbles as a result from the Alaskan state bird (the mosquito). But after the flow of a little whiskey, wine and beer everyone loosened up and the smiles flashed. It was going to be another great week.
The weather stood it’s ground for the next couple of days. The warm sunny days kept spirits up and the sunscreen an arm’s reach away. The fishing had also stayed the same. Large leeches and woolley buggers plinked off some fatties from under trees and log jams, while the mouse lured hot rainbows out from the depths of deep eddies and cut banks. Then some much needed rain came in and made sure everything was washed clean. The river came up maybe 6 inches, just enough to make things a little easier on the boat motors, but not enough to color up the river. The next few days everyone left the sunscreen in the bunk and packed in extra layers. Crawling out of the sleeping bag in the morning got to be a challenge, while the cold wind during the boat rides began to bite at the face.
The cooler temperatures however didn’t deter the drive to catch fish. Everyone came back with pictures of nice fish and memories that would last a lifetime. Salmon are showing up more and more everyday. Moose are being spotted during the fishing day as well as right in front of camp. Bear and wolf tracks are a common sighting on gravel bars. The Nushagak River is coming to life once again.
It was a great week and a wonderful way to spend the Father’s Day weekend.
After spending a long winter in the Nushagak river’s deep holes and eddies, the rainbows, grayling and dolly varden jump started the 09 season with a force strong enough to knock out a grizzley. Shooting out from submerged logs and deep cut banks, fish engulfed anything that twitched, whether it was a skated mouse or a weighted streamer. The day of lip rippn began at 6:30 am with coffee at the door, then followed by a hearty, rib-sticking breakfast.
Frank and John are four year returnees. Being long time fishing companions, both know eachother like a reel and a line. It was humerous to hear the two battle back-and-forth over minor issues. One evening, John made the statement that he wanted to get his big fish picture over the course of the next few days. Frank, who had already achieved that goal earlier on in the week, volunteered to be the photographer. The next day, John hooks into and lands a 23+ inch rainbow. A perfect specimen for the big fish shot. Frank snaps a few pics. Later that day, John decides to take a look at his prize fish picture. To his dismay and horror the only thing that would pop up on the screen were three pictures of Frank’s eyeball.
This week’s fishing was fairly good. The water level is lower than usual at this time of year so the boat rides have been full of excitment. It’s difficult to say, “we want rain,” but if the water level continues to drop then fishing up river will be a thing of the past. So we are praying for rain. The water clarity is perfect. At the beginning of the week there was some color but it was more than likely due to late spring run-off. Streamers such as woolley buggers, sculpzillas, silvey sculpins, and several others have been producing well. Mouse fishing has also been very productive. Frank and John spent one full day fishing the mouse. “We caught fish all day,” they boast. “We probably could have caught more if we used streamers, but skating a mouse was just too much fun to pass up.” Streamer colors vary from day-to-day depending on weather and water temperature. White is always a fun color to fish because it allows you to watch “the take”. Swinging a white streamer under a log and witnessing a fat-pig rainbow come out from the depths and crush it, always sends your heart to your throat.
Artic Grayling and Dolly Varden are littered through-out the river. The Grayling have been raging on the dry-fly hatches for the past several days. Small caddis and stoneflies have been peppering the river and providing anglers with a fun and action packed time throwing dries. It’s not unusual to see a grayling snag a mouse too.
The camp atmosphere was super this week. At dinner, everyone shared their most memorable fish story and at the campfire everyone enjoyed a jam session with a scotch. My mother is an accomplished pianist, Nick and Kris are hardcore guitar pickers, and I play the old moose jaw. We haven’t practiced in awhile but after a few off keys we managed to come together and make some good ole Nushagak music. Roger and Kathrine started dancing as John chimed in some lyrics, while everyone else laughed and took pictures. It was John’s 73rd birthday so we watched him make a wish and blow out his candles (matches). I’ve never seen a happier 73 year old. Later that night John pulled my dad aside and said, “You have a place here that enables you to enrich people’s lives. I’m happy to say that you’ve enriched mine. Thank you.”
The first week was a wonderful way to start off the season. Salmon are starting to show up and the mosquitoes are scheduled to slow down within the next week. The weather looks good and the fishing is only getting better. Myself and everyone here at camp is looking forward to the rest of the season and the memories to be had.
For more information on Egdorf’s Nushagak River Lodge please visit this site: Http://flyfishingtravel.com/alaska/egdorfs.html
Once at Aleknagik lake, which is about a 30 minute drive East of Dillingham, we hitched a ride accross and got settled in. My dad was still in Anchorage there for we couldn’t get out to camp yet. After launching the boats, hooking up the water, and doing several other small things, the guys and I decided to do a little pike fishing.
We left the house at 10 pm. Let me remind you that at this time of year in Alaska it doesn’t get dark. It was a perfect setting for a possibly perfect evening out in a pike slew. Completely calm water, warm and sunny, and not a single mosquito. We couldn’t resist.
Northern Pike are notorious for being very aggressive. I look at them like a fresh water barracuda. Teeth sharp as razors driven by an appetite like that of a 15 year old, they’ll eat nearly anything whether it be a stikle-back minnow, or a small duck. As we cast our lines out to the weeds and stripped back in we could see them follow right behind the fly. They would either follow right to the boat and turn away or they would eat right before you started another cast. Often times that led to pulling the fly right out of their mouths, which really got annoying after awhile.
After seeing 30+ fish and only catching 1 we decided to move farther up the slew just to have a look around. We rounded a bend and decided to throw a few more casts.
“Three casts each,” Nick says. “Then we’ll head home.”
As can be expected three casts turned into twenty. Nick had a monster pike follow his fly several times, so when he couldn’t catch it James and I had to give it a go. The monster was never caught. We packed up our gear, grabbed a beer, and threw on some extra layers for the trip home. Nick was the driver, and to our dismay the boat WOULD NOT START.
We all stood there staring at the motor scratching our heads. Could it be the plugs, do we have gas, is it flooded, and on and on. The thought of being about being nearly two miles from home with a down motor and no oars was not appealing. (In our excitment to go fishing we completely forgot about oars). Finally we came to the conclusion that we ran out of gas. I know, it’s pretty embarrassing to run out of gas. Now we all know to never trust a gas gage. At this point we realized that we were not going to be driving back home, but paddling with our hands. After the first five minutes of using our hands and only moving 20ft, we decided to look around and dig up some better paddling devices. I found a bailer, Nick found the top of the battery case, and James grabbed a life jacket. With all three of us laying on the bow with our new paddling instuments we started moving pretty quick. I estimated about 3 mph. Even though the current situation royally sucked, we couldn’t help but laugh. Here are three fly-fishing guides laying on the bow of a gas deprived boat with no oars paddling home with a life-jacket, a bailer, and the top of a battery case. If there was anyone on the beach watching this, I can imagine it being hilarious. I would have paid money to have gotten it on camera.
At about half-way, the sound of swirling water and endless paddling became to much. “James sing us a song,” says Nick
James sat there for a minute and then began singing. “Row row row your boat gently down the stream.” NO!!!! Anything but that song!! Both Nick and I shout. All of us just started laughing. Pretty soon all three of us were singing different songs at various pitches. I was singing Have You Ever Seen The Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival, James kept repeating a verse from some rap song which was “I’m on a boat B***H.” Then Nick was singing some Nickelback song. I began thinking to myself, ” If we’re crazy now, what is it going to be like three months from now?”
At this point visibility was getting low. Even though it doesn’t get pitch black at this time of year, it can still get pretty dark. We we’re now on the home stretch and our paddling pace started to pick up. We all made a guess at what time we would be back. I guessed 1am, Nick guessed 1:48am, and James guessed 2:06am. By the time we did reach home it was 2am. After all the paddling and excitment there was no way we could go to bed. We stayed up and played some cards and shot around some BS. It must have been 3:30am before we finally went to bed. The next day we decided to go fishing again, and that time we made sure we had gas, and an oar.
After my close encounter with an elusive Russian steelhead, we deciced to meander over to another run. I was still giddy with excitment so I was a little hesitant to leave but Jones assured me that we would be returning to the same spot later that afternoon.
The next spot was also another very beautiful peace of water (not much of this river is ugly). We were able to over-look the river and watch fish move by. I even got to see a seal, which at first caught me off guard because I was unaware of seals being in that area. After fishing the run for about an hour or two we decided to move. I had just reeled in and was walking back to the car when an Osprey came swooping down and snatched up a fish. He was about 100 feet high, and began to hover in one spot for about 30 seconds before he folded his wings and pointed his nose straight down. Just as he was about to hit the water he shot his feet forward and stretched his wings back, forming a torpedo like shape. He hit the water and disappeared for two seconds then emerged with a silver bullet in his talons. It was pretty sweet to witness a search and destroy mission. It’s easy to forget how well adapted animals are to their enviornment. To be able to see a small fish from 100 ft+ is truly amazing, let alone make a dive and be accurate enough to actually make fish and talon connect. Too bad we didn’t get the action on film. If any of you want to check out some AMAZING Osprey photos check out this site: www.miguellasa.com.
After we watched the osprey fly off with it’s prize, we hopped back in the truck and went back to the run where we started that morning. As was expected there were a fair amount of people there. It resembled a small beach so it was a great place for those who wanted to tan. It happened to be a warm and sunny day so there was a substantial amount of people laying on blankets cooking themselves. There were also some fisherman either chucking bait or in Jones’ words,”Stinking up the water,” or swining a fly. We all kinda squeezed our way into the run and began fishing. As I was standing in the cool water, I noticed some rather older and rougher looking individuals visiting on the beach. All where sitting on a blanket, and from what I could tell where either intoxicated or under-the-infulence of something else. All where laughing obnoxiously and whenever one stood up he wobbled and just sat back down again. To say the least….I was amused. I turned my attention back to my fishing but never did stop listening to the drunken hillbillies behind me. Some comic releif was more than welcomed. After awhile, a breeze kicked up and I thought I got a whiff of some Mary Jane (slang for weed). I looked around and didn’t see any indication of someone smoking the reefer. Then I saw a thick cloud of smoke hovering over the drunken hillbillies. I figured that was the source and also the reason for their inability to walk or laugh in a civilized manner.
Like Jones had promised, we returned to the run where I had the big grab. I was still rigged with my bright orange fly (I couldn’t bring myself to use anything else, after a big grab like that I considered it the “lucky fly”). I waded out to the same spot, stripped out some line, and whipped the fly out towards the bank. I gave it a big mend and let it begin it’s swing. It wasn’t 20 seconds before I had another big grab, and this time the fight went all the way. I lifted my rod up and almost immediately the fish made that Galvan Torque sing. I looked at Jones and Chris Aff, who decided to join us that afternoon, and let out the biggest, “Wooooohoooo.” Some fisherman who where up river from us chimmed in as well. It was such a good feeling. The fish made two hard runs, and then allowed me to slowly bring him in.
After the exciting catch, we decided to call it a day and head back to Santa Rosa. Once back at the house I jumped in the shower and got cleaned up for dinner. Jones cooked up some excellent meat for hot sandwiches, while his girlfriend set up the table and set Justin and I up with drinks. We all sat down for dinner and scarfed down some awesome sandwiches and Mountain Dew. Jones made the comment that he’d never had a dew before, and upon hearing that both Justin and I looked up with big eyes.
After supper we all sat down on some of thee most comfy couches ever, and watched Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was the perfect way to end the day. I went to bed feeling pretty dog-on-good that night.