Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Memories

This has been quite a summer. In the thirty three years I've made Alaska my home, I can't remember ever experiencing such a warm, dry summer. I bitch a lot about the heat and the westerly winds that accompany the dry, sunny days, but I know that when I'm neck deep in snow and hugging the toyostove for a little extra warmth, I'll look back and wish I had a little of this heat that is bringing so much discomfort right now.
This top picture is of Spud Creek. It's not uncommon for it to run dry for a bit in the summer, though this year it has been longer than usual. In the winter the water that is usually there freezes and long icesicles form on the rocks and steps. The astilibe grows wild here. I was fortunate enought to snap a shot before the flowers turned. I guess the locals used to bring buckets to the creek years ago to get their water. I don't know why it's called spud creek- maybe someone used to grow potatoes in the area next to it. Now it forms a barrier between Colette's Cupboard and the school shop. Colette's used to be a garage that belonged to Mary Johnson, but when she died, Raino Hill bought the property and enlarged and remodeled the garage and turned it into a store. I think he primarily gets his groceries from Costco over in Juneau. His store is only one of two here in Hoonah.
The school shop was built around six or eight years ago, maybe longer, at quite an expense. Unfortunately it hasn't been in use for the past three or four years for various reasons. I think largely because we have so few kids going to school here now.
This next shot I took while I was walking home from the harbor. I had just gotten in from the king salmon opening and was stuck by the way the sunset made everything appear differently. The high tide provided a reflecting surface for the pilings and I liked the way it looked. Hoonah Cold Storage is in the backround. That's where I sell my fish. They have been an important part of this community for as long as I've been here, and no doubt long before then too.
I have quite a few pictures of sunsets here- I never get tired of looking at them. In part because they are beautiful, but also because it won't be long before they are just a memory of a summer unlike any other.



Friday, July 10, 2009

Breakdowns and Sunsets

I should be out fishing right now, but the other day when I went out, the hydraulic pump, which I kind of hoped I had a fixed with a shot of WD40 and a rap with a rubber mallet, decided to give up the ghost. Fortunately I was able to get all the gear up this time without having to resort to the pipe wrench. When I first discovered I was having a problem with the pump, I had all four lines in the water and I had to pull two fifty pound leads plus gear and fish, and two thirty five pound leads with gear and fish with the pipe wrench. I had about fourteen fathoms of gear out and could only pull in about six inches at a time. Needless to say it took awhile and I was a little stiff and sore when it all finally came aboard. However, all that's in the past. I sent the pump over to Juneau to be worked on and it's supposed to be coming here on the next flight. Hopefully I will get it all squared away and get out fishing this afternoon. Breakdowns are one of the down falls of being self- employed. If you can't work, you can't make money, and with something like fishing or farming where there is a limited time to work in, it can really be tough. All that being said, I had a chance to go on a bike ride with Jan last night and had the forsight to bring my camera, so I got a few great shots. I never get tired of seeing the sunset here- maybe because we normally don't get all that much sun... plus it's just plain beautiful. The first photo is of the cannery which is now a tourist destination. The second is of the tunnel, looking across Port Frederick. I'm so blessed to be in a place with such incredible scenery. Of course there are good points and bad to every place, but at the end of the day when you're with someone you love, out enjoying the evening, it's hard to remember the bad stuff.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer King Salmon Opener


These are a couple of pictures that I took from the first king salmon opening outside. When I say outside I mean out on the ocean, away from the Inside Passage here in Southeast Alaska. I always hate having to go out there. Almost always there is a swell, which in itself isn't so bad, but if it's a westerly, which it often is, and there is any wind on top of it, which there usually is, then it can be miserable. The area I fish is such that I have to be right in the trough of the waves, which means I'm constantly fighting to maintain my balance while at the same time watching out for other boats and pulling the fish aboard. It makes an otherwise enjoyable experience a real pain. In order to get to the outside, I have to pass through South Inian Pass, which is also a real challenge for me. The idea is to try to time your passage through on the outgoing tide, so you aren't fighting the current. The bad part can be if there is a westerly wind blowing in Cross Sound, the waves have a tendency to build right at the entrance and it can be pretty scary. I don't much care to be scared, although a lot of people seem to enjoy it I guess, judging from all the rides in amusement parks and the horror movies that people watch. Maybe I could charge folks a bunch of money and they could go with me through South Pass for a good scary time.
The fish in the picture are some of the ones I caught the first day. That's why I have to go outside for the king opening in July- it can be pretty lucrative. I sold the fish to a buying scow in Lisianski Inlet. They anchor at a place called Ewe Ledge every year and all the fishermen know they are there. I like the stainless shute that they have. They wheel it right up to the boat and you toss your fish into it and then they weigh them up. It's an all girl crew which I guess is good for business. The process can be kind of slow, but it's convenient - plus they usually have some kind of baked goods to munch on while you wait. Last time it was chocolate cupcakes- Yum! All the fish on the shute are either coho or king salmon, with the exception of the brown one in the middle. He's a thirty two pound ling cod.
I took a picture of this sow brown bear and her cub in Mite Cove. It's just down the way from Ewe Ledge and I anchor there quite a bit when I'm fishing outside. She was pretty busy eating the tall grass at the edge of the cove and at one point she must have lost track of her cub because I could hear her calling it. The big boars will kill the cubs if they get a chance so that the females will come back in heat, so the sows have to be pretty diligent.
Down Lisianski Inlet a few miles is the fishing village of Pelican. It's fallen on pretty hard times lately, and although I don't know all the particulars, I think they are trying to adjust to the changing conditions. At one point Pelican was a major fishing port and to the best of my knowlege the fish plant is still there, but whether or not they are buying fish now I can't say.
One of the more popular places to go in Pelican is Rosie's Bar and Grill. I've never been inside myself, but I need to check it out. I understand that the ceiling is full of names, but in order to write your name there, you have to stand on the bar and drop your pants. Guess my name will never be up there, but it would be nice to visit none the less.