Saturday, August 25, 2007

I have been assimilated!

It is official... I have given up my city ways and become an outdoors-woman. Ok, that might be stretching it a bit, but not really that much! Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I went fishing. And, I caught fish. And, I threw fish back after removing hooks from their mouths. And, I gutted one of the fish I caught, cutting it open and scraping all the innards out with my fingernails (which are just now getting clean). And, I LOVED it! So, after yesterday's excursion, I spent a lot of money getting myself outfitted with the right equipment for fishing, since I was sorely lacking all of it on my first excursion. Here's the rest of the story....

After a busy week at work that started first thing Sunday morning with a surprise cutter visit on a jetlag hangover (I spent last week in New Orleans for a conference), we decided a morale day was in order by Friday. So I headed out fishing with a handful of the guys from work, after they promised me they'd teach me what to do. Oh, I almost forgot - I purchased the minimal equipment I would need for this expedition on Wednesday, including about 5 lures, a rod/reel, and a license. Not entirely sure that I would enjoy the activity, I decided my pink and green plaid Wellies would suffice in terms of footwear for my first outing (you can see them in the background of one of the pictures!). So we headed out to one of the local rivers in search of the elusive "silvers," otherwise known as really-the-only-salmon-that's-yummy-besides-Kings, or Coho.

The silvers have just started running here, so most of the salmon in the rivers are the Pinks, which aren't very good to eat, and have started to look pretty gnarly. For those who don't know, salmon come up in the rivers to spawn after living in the open ocean for a few years. Once they come up the rivers, they start to change in characteristics, and eventually just decompose and die. Given they're on their way out, some of them can start to be pretty nasty! So, the trick is to go fishing when they first start running, so you get the nice fresh ones. The bigger trick is to only get the silvers because they're the ones that taste the best.

Back to the story: Once we got out to the river, and one of the guys fixed up my stuff by respooling my reel with better line, we headed out to his "secret spot." Of course, the spot required crossing the river twice, which wasn't an issue for the two guys I was with, but definitely was an issue for my too-short pink Wellies. So the Great Outdoors-woman had to succumb to a piggy-back ride across the deep spots. Very dignified. Very. Once I got over that, and got to work pretending to know how to fish, the fun really started! Right away, we started hitting the pinks, strictly catch-and-release though, given their mostly nasty appearance. Then the fun really got going, though, as I (yes, me) caught the first silver of the day! He was a small guy, but I kept him anyway, since we weren't sure we'd see any others. We didn't need to worry too much, though, since we ended up with 5 silvers between the 3 of us (we were allowed 6 total by the regs), with none of them as small as my first guy. Unfortunately, I left the camera at home, so I don't have a good shot of the whole fish, but here's the fruit of my labor after filleting!
(Don't mind the shadow... that's my head). The one on the left is my first one - it was probably only about 3 or 4 pounds, giving about a pound and a half of meat. The other one was quite a bit bigger, though I'm not sure how big. But, I got just over 3 and a half pounds of meat from that one!

So, of course, last night, I had to go out and buy the appropriate gear (ie, things to make it so I don't have to be piggy-backed across a river), and then test it out as soon as possible. Jason and I headed out today to try our luck, but didn't have much. We hooked into a bunch of Pinks again, but sent them all back into the river to die a peaceful death. Unfortunately, we didn't see a single Silver anywhere, but we'll probably try again later in the week. I'm definitely "hooked" on fishing... I really had a great time, and, surprisingly, got a pretty good workout, too! In fact, my whole body is aching tonight, which I'm blaming on the couple of fish I snagged in the tail (much harder to reel in), and hauling myself around in really heavy waders.

Oh, wait! I didn't tell you what the "proper gear" was! That's right, I'm now the proud owner of my very own hip waders and wading boots. I sloshed through the river on my own today, and spent some quality time standing in the river fishing. I'm here to tell you - the water is cold. But it was just cool to be able to do that. So, to end things here, I'll just share two more pictures with you - Jason in his fishing gear, and me in mine. If someone had told me 2 or 3 years ago that I'd own my own fishing gear and hip waders, I think I would've fallen over laughing. Yet, here I am, enjoying some of the best Kodiak has to offer. Yes, I've been assimilated!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More from Man Camp

Another day at man camp. After I posted yesterday we ended up getting launched on a case down near Seward, AK. After a quick search we were cleared to do some sight seeing. What a beautiful day to do that. We flew up the valley from Seward to Portage and then through to Whittier. This is the major/only way to drive from Anchorage down to these areas of Alaska. We had driven this route when we drove to Homer on the way up here. It was amazing see this route from the air, especially since it was actually sunny yesterday, unlike the day we drove it.
These pictures of the glaicers and the valleys are amazing in the picutres, but these don't even do them justice. Seeing them in person is unbelieveable. The best part is that there are people paying mucho $ to do what we get to do. I definitly can't complain.

While we were flying, we even ran into a moose that was trying to cool himself off. Unlike those in the lower 48 that are trying to cool from the 90+ temps, this moose was trying to cool off from the high 60s. The picture doesn't give the best view, but I thought I would include it anyways.

Well today we are probably going to go hiking. Hopefully we'll see a bear that I can actually get a picture of. I almost got a picture of a black bear swimming yesterday, but by the time we got the car stopped he was out of the water and on his way. I'll also try to get some more pictures of where we are staying.
Hope everyone is doing well. Stay tuned for more pictures and adventures from man camp.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Posting from Man Camp

Hello to everyone. It's been a while since I have last posted, but I'm currently in Cordova, Alaska on a two week deployment and have some time to while I'm standing duty so I figured that I would update everyone on what's been going on. Since Becca last posted from Anchorage we've been pretty busy around here. Once she returned from Juneau we ended up finishing the fence around the house. Fred now has a huge backyard to roam around, unfortunately he doesn't get to watch the neighbors like he did our front, but he has more room then he has ever had for his "kingdom". We'll see how he adapts to his new yard.

I ended up finishing the fence the night before I left for Cordova. For those that don't know, Cordova is one of the places we deploy to during the summer months so that we can respond better to the commercial and recreational fishing fleet. Cordova is on the mainland south west of Anchorage, but it's not connected by any roads from the interior. The only way in is by the ferry or the airlines. So we're basically on an island for all intensive purposes. Needless to say, there is less stuff here then in Kodiak. There is a small town with a few restaurants, and a grocery store (very expensive). What they do have is amazing scenery, hiking, fishing and hunting.

When we come here it's like going away for man camp. The C130 (large transport plane) brings us over it's packed with bikes, guns, fishing gear, hiking gear, and what not. You can pretty much do whatever you want around here. There is a shooting range just around the corner, we've been out shooting Matt's (other pilot) rifles and pistol, unfortunately I didn't get my guns early enough to pack them up and bring them. They will be brough the next time I come. Other then hunting, which we haven't been doing, we have been doing a to of fishing. Currently the pink salmon are running, and hopefully the silvers (coho) will start running later this week. I have caught and filetted 5 already and bring my first Alaska salmon home. I think it will only be a matter of time before I hear from Jay, Matt, or Alex.
Along with fishing we have been hiking, and cannoeing. You can't beat the activities you can do around here. While doing all this we've been spotting all sorts of wildlife. The bears are like stray dogs over here, both black and brown bears. They are everywhere. There are also moose, sheep, deer, wolf, eagles, and much more.

Besides doing all this stuff, we've also been flying around here. It's amazing, we've flown all around Prince William sound (where the Exxon Valdez sunk) the pipeline, Bagley icefield, and many other glaciers. It's hard to beleive that we get payed to do this. Others are paying big money to see a fraction of what we get to see.

Well I've got to get going, hope everyone is doing well, and can't wait to hear from all of you.