Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Back!

Well, I finally returned from the great state of Alaska no worse for the wear! For me Alaska is a place were fishing is the priority and sleep is an option. As stated in an earlier post, I had the pleasure of traveling with my brother Steve, and first cousins (all on my dad's side) Paul, Greg, and Mark. Besides being family, these guys are the greatest in the world, putting up with me for 8 days was punishment enough. We landed in Anchorage about noon on Thursday August 14th. Greg flew Suncountry and arrived 2 hours ahead of us so he met up with my cousin Mark, who lives in Anchorage. Their job was to get a hitch for the rental car which we were not suppose to do as well get a landing net. We arrived and began the adventure. Mark is a retired Army guy and he was able to rent us a boat from the base to use on the Kenai for $350/week. This was incredible so we picked it up and headed for Soldotna. There we dropped the boat off at a friends until we returned on Sunday. One of the things we bring to Alaska is fresh sweet corn. This is like gold to our friends and we know they appreciate it. After dropping off about 5 dozen ears we headed to Seward, our destination for the next 3 nights. Seward is located at the south end of the Kenai Pennisula and is an important place for tourism, fishing, and cargo port with a major coal transfer facility there. Our plan was to do 2 full days with Neil Marlow aboard the Shearwater searching for halibut, lingcod, rockfish, and silver salmon. Friday proved to be the best silver day and we did real well including this 15 pounder that you see me holding. In the ocean the salmon are schooled up chasing bait fish, getting ready to head up the local rivers to spawn. Our strategy was to fish the bays that had rivers flowing into them. We fished with 5 oz chain bead sinkers with a 2 foot leader attached to a hook and a squid attractor. A chunk of herring was all it took. We fished the rockfish the same way. Rockfish have swim bladders so when you pull them out of 100 feet they are pretty well done. Besides our 3 salmon and 4 rockfish per day, we were hoping to get at least 2 25# halibut per day. This would give each of us 50# of meat to take home. Unfortunately we were only able to catch about 30 pounds each for the 2 days. Well, that's fishing! On Sunday we returned to the Kenai for the peak of the early silver salmon run. Because it is an even year, the pinks were in and this is a tremendous understatment. In future posts I will elaborate on this incredible event in nature.

My previous post mentioned bears. On Tuesday we flew out of the Funny River Airport in Soldotna to the north side of Cook Inlet and a landed on the beach at the Polly Creek outlet. Here was our "Alaskan Wilderness" experience. The pilot dropped us off at 9:00AM and vowed to return about 8:30 that evening. Upon leaving he gave us each a hand held flare and told us if we run into a bear that was aggresive, wait till it's about 10 feet from you them pull the flare cord. Yeah, right! At about 4:00 the bears showed up, a sow and her 3 cubs of which 2 were second year cubs and pretty big. It was exciting to see as the appeared across the river which initially gave us a physical barrier, which we soon saw it made no difference. While watching momma, one of the older cubs suddenly appeared on our side, barreling full bore towards us. The last thing we wanted was to be in the middle of the sow and her cub. A little noise and the cub headed across the river to mom. Although relieved, it was a tense but exciting moment.

I have many pictures to sort out and many stories to tell, too much for one setting. I will post a number of our more interesting adventures in the coming weeks as I hope my sharing of this experience will encourage you to at least make the same trip. You will never be the same.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

North to Alaska!

Just a short post before I leave. The silvers are in like crazy, the pinks are making their usual even year run, and the halibut are cruising for that piece of octopus. I'll be back in about 10 days with a some great pictures and stories. Hopefully we don't get ate by bears before then!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Followup On China And Other Things!

Well, I finally made it back from my trip to China. Our last leg of the trip took us to a city call Wuxi (Woo-She), which is about 2 hours west of Shanghai. I thought I would post a number of interesting pictures and explain a little bit about them. As a fisherman, the first thing you notice about the area is that it is flat and has significant numbers of canals criss crossing the area. The top picture is the Grand Canal. This was built over 1500 years ago to serve as a main transportation route from the Shuzhou and Wuxi area to Beijing. Although it is no longer used the full length, it is still an important waterway for barges delivering building materials such as sand, rock, and bricks to the coastal areas which are basically void of good base materials. Attached to the Grand Canal are hundreds of little canals that are use for everything from irrigation to side transportation to raising fish. The next picture on the left are 2 Chinese boys enjoying a little fishing in the canal that borders there house. This canal was along a major 4 lane road and I had my driver Sam pull off to let me take a picture of them fishing. Like fisherman everywhere they waved back at me and allowed this picture. They were using homemade cane poles and reminded me of my grandpa Howard, who use to come up to Eleva every summer with his cane poles and we would head to Alma for some fishing. I could not help but take a picture of the preferred toilets in China. Basically it's a squat toilet identical to our methods of relieving ourselves during deer hunting. The difference is that these toilets flush! The next picture at the bottom and on the left is of Antique Road in Shanghai. It is a 4 block market in the heart of Shanghai and has many old antiques (or replica's) and other tourist type goods. In China everything is negotiable. What may start out at 2000 RMB (6.75 RMB to 1 UD Dollar)may eventually get down to 150 RMB, but it's not for the faint hearted. We bought a silk scarf that started at 200RMB and we offered 50. She was extremely angry with us but upon returning we bought 3 for 210. Not bad. We ran into a young man that owned a tea shop on Antique Road. All attempts to get him to move on the price was in vain. His line, I have good tea and good prices, no need to negotiate! This was our second trip to his shop and indeed, his tea is 30% of the price at the Shanghai airport. The last picture is taken from the Bund in Shanghai looking across the river to Pudong (poo-dung). Shanghai is divided into 2 main sections, Pudong (dong means east) and Puxie (poo-shay, xie means west). Pudong represents the modern Shanghai and is home to the large telecommunication tower you see on the left with the big ball near the top while Puxie is still the old Shanghai with the definite European influence. The word Bund means embankment and is at the end of Nanjing Road. (You can learn more about the bund here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bund) Standing on the Bund, looking to Pudong is one of the most beautiful city views in the world.
I did have a guide trip on Sunday but it started to lightning out. Me and that kind of electricity do not get along very well so we did a raincheck. I am really looking forward to fishing with these guys again. Today I went to South Center Lake and got a few crappies and sunnies, nothing special just nice to get out. Thursday I head to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula to attempt to catch some halibut and to take advantage of the Kenai Rivers Pink and Silver salmon run which should be in full swing next week. Stay tuned!