Another great summer in Homer comes to an end. I'm sitting in the Casper, WY Starbucks, enshrined in flies and heat, the coming and going of people in a hurry. Well, at least we made it home safely--Bill and I driving 16 hours a day, racing the heat and haze. The dogs were a little batty at the end of it. I'm batty too.
After previous disappointments and dashed hopes, Bill Mixer finally caught a halibut worth talking about. We spent the day soaking herring on the Sea Pickle with Captain Dave. The fish hit around noon. An hour later, Captain Dave sunk the harpoon into the beast's gill plate. The fish will feed Bill and his vegetarian family for ten years. It's time to go home. This place is so beautiful that it's depressing every time I have to go home, back to my regular life of baked Albertson's chickens and NPR. I hear it's like 100 degrees down there.
Retiree and former hand model for The Fly Fishing Press, Bill Mixer has arrived in Homer. Here he is with a wild-caught pink salmon filched from a local stream, the name of which I am not at liberty to disclose. Bill used an egg-sucking leech. Bedecked in high-end clothing, Bill is making a name for himself. The motto of our time so far is this: Follow me, and bring your wallet. Below, the last run of sockeyes has hit the local river, whose name escapes me and always will.
I'm very proud of my essay, "Eggs in Your Beer", which is in the current issue of The Drake.This story tells about when I first began fly-fishing with Brian Farmer in Fort Collins. It was great to land a piece in The Drake's 20th Anniversary. Right now, I'm working with their staff to produce a reading of the story which will appear in their weekly podcast. Thanks Bill Mixer for sending this photo of the layout. I'm in Alaska still and I don't get mail here.
Two old college friends, Dean Andrews and Jay Porter, are visiting this week. They are seeing Alaska at its finest. Nearly every time we stopped to cast a lure, some silvery fish followed to investigate. The salmon are in and there's a line at the fish processor's. There have been whales, and 8 foot seas. We are having a blast like the good ole days at Va Tech, but we're a little wiser now. We are in bed by 9 and up at 5 a.m.
Bigger fish are showing up in Kachemak Bay and beyond. Dean and Jay, of Richmond, Virginia are visiting and were lucky enough to fish with Captain Dave Ferreria. The bite was slow but the two big fish came at the same time, which caused all kinds of excitement. A bigger fish was lost. Maybe Dave will get him later in the summer. Today we head over to Humpy Creek.
The sockeyes are the only game in town. Just across the Bay, they are schooling at the entrances of streams. Snagging is not for the squeamish. You are basically yanking these fish out of the water and dispatching them. There is no catch-and-release here, an none of that phony ethos. It's legal though and an Alaska tradition. I got my six yesterday and they will be processed and smoked by my friend David. He brines them for two days, then smokes them to perfection. Late in winter, I'll make some salmon dip, or smoked salmon chowder and hardly remember the suffering I had to witness to get these. That squeamishness fades quickly. In fact, I want to go back for more.
The Russian River Early Sockeye Run continues, but it has a shelf life. I did my part. Last night I got these three, but I had to walk two miles up river and avoid many salmon that were "turning" or "blushing" as they say. I saw heartbreak, slippage, real injury and hopefulness on the banks of that slippery river. I think I'll stay away for a while. On the way home I stopped at Anchor Point to swim the dogs. Rocket posed for a picture with of the volcanoes in the background.
The sockeyes have returned in force to the Kenai Peninsula. I got two limits last week. My knife professionally sharpened by a Russian man, I flew through the filleting exercises with ease. I was so tired after hiking up and down that river that I slept in the back on my truck. It's going to be a sunny week, with temps near 70 on the 4th. I hear it's like Kabul, Afghanistan down in the Lower 48. And I hear there will be parades.