Clearly, August has arrived. Gray, rainy, and wet. The rain was preceded by a large red salmon run in the Kenai River. As part of my office's annual summer fishing trip, we went down to try and catch some with fly rods from a position thigh deep in the current, shoulder to shoulder with other wanna-bes trying to push in to the good spot. Four of us (two co-workers, C, and myself) loaded into a boat to reach our spot with a caricature of an Alaska fishing guide. He looked like hard living: hooked nose, stringy hair pouring from beneath a hat that was more seam-grip than hat, long beard, and plenty of arrest stories.
Of course, any commercial guiding operation takes safety very seriously. Caricature Guide ("CG") was no exception. A quarter mile up river, he looked up. "You guys know how to work this motor, don't you?"
"Uh, not really..."
"Alright. We'll the throttle is pretty touchy. If I go over board, just be careful."
So briefed, we all settled in for the ride. Once at the fishing hole, we went about casting and hooking fish. We hauled in much fewer than we hooked. This led to lots of subtle coaching by CG.
"You've got to let the fish run! Let it run!"
"What are you doing? Why'd you let the fish run? Reel it in, man, reel it in!"
We went on like this for the whole day. If I let the fish run, I was supposed to reel. If I reeled, I was supposed to let the fish run. I suppose you find the art of fishing somewhere in the middle.
Coaching aside, it was a hot day on the river and we had a good time. Heading back to Copper Landing, though, the day took a turn. Two fatal crashes on the Sterling Highway shut the road down. Four of us and CG are sitting in CG's van when a state trooper walks up to pass on the news: the highway is closed until tomorrow morning. We're trapped on the wrong side of Copper Landing, feet in hip waders, no wallet, no food, and no particular idea of how or when we're getting home. Long story short, and some seven hours later, we did make it as far as Copper Landing and the cars (and shoes). Tragic accidents and long day. As CG pulled into the guide's lot he was on the phone to a friend who was sitting in the only bar in Copper Landing, yelling, "You tell him he better stay open at least until I get a beer, or I'm going to tear the fucking door off the place." I guess he had earned it by that time.
Follow up to the McCarthy post, a few pictures: