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.
My friend Steve Palmquist was up visiting from Kansas. I nearly got him killed within six hours of picking him up at the Anchorage Airport. After that it was smooth sailing. We fished with Captain Kyle on the Irish Mist. It was a great time and that boat is a great boat to fish from, plenty of deck space and a heated, roomy cabin. The captain put us on a great halibut hole and the Kansan did great, hooking most of the fish that hit his bait. Later in the week we did a hike to a nearby glacier. My dogs did retrieves in liquid about the same coolness of your Crown and Coke. Good times.
I just got back from a few days at No See Um Lodge in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The fishing was off the charts. We flew in Beavers every day to find the best places to fish. It was catch and release fishing at its best. And the service at the lodge was incredible too. They actual had a hot tub and a sauna shipped up the river and installed at the lodge so you could relax after a day of fishing. I never fished in the same water twice. Each day they sent us out to new locations. You'll be hearing more about this place when I can wrap my mind around it.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: you can live like a king up here on what people throw away. Two days ago, I filched a halibut carcass that was headed for the dumpster. I spent the morning making a fumet It was made more difficult because I had Labrador Retrievers weaving through my legs. I let it simmer for an hour, then tossed out the bones and strained it. Later I added some tomatoes and parsley. It was rich and creamy, one of the best things I've ever made. It tasted vaguely of Kachemak Bay.
Here's Henderson chilling in the Alaskan sunshine while I work on the condo. The nearby rivers are closed to ALL fishing due to woefully low king salmon returns. The Anchor River, the closest river to Homer, has only 200 fish as of now. Usually, the river would have 1,500 or more. So we are biding are time and waiting for things to improve. At least I can still fish at The Fishing Hole.
The solo drive from Casper to Homer was tough. The Yukon is my favorite, but I didn't tarry to long there. Made the Alaska border on the 3rd day. 3,000 miles later and I'm at K-Bay Coffee, vaguely recognizing some of the folks here and there, blending by wearing rubber boots. I'm taking the dogs for a beach-walk.