Evan's Eyes

Web Log Entry #0075, Sunday, June 29, 2003: Day 223

Anchorage Sunrise: 4:26am Sunset: 11:31pm High Temp: 57° Low Temp: 43°

When one lives in Alaska, one must go fishing. I think it's a law. Since I contentiously obey laws (except the stupid ones), I went on a fishing trip. Technically, I don't fish. I haven't since I was a camp counselor. This way I could honestly tell the Fishing Police I've been on an Alaskan fishing trip, and hope they don't ask too many other questions.

Larry offered to take Stan and I down the Kenai. He's actually a [Government Agency] employee, but he works at the client site, which makes me think of the "Political Officer" position on Soviet Navy vessels, which always means "KGB Spy" in the movies, but I don't think Larry's a spy. I should ask him sometime. Anyway, he's lived in Alaska for a while, and had a hankering to do some authentic Alaskan angling, and kindly offered to take us along. It's important to have an Alaskan with you to explain the Fishing Rules. Alaskan Fishing Rules come in a thick booklet, which describe where, when, and how you can catch which fish. If, for example, you stopped along the Kenai River and wanted to fly-fish for Red Salmon using a double-hook cricket on June 14th, YOU CAN'T! It says so in the book. Maybe if you were going to cast in a lake for Rainbow Trout using single hook with artificial flies before June 15th , you'd be okay (you might have to wear a hat), but the rule book is there to tell you that you can't do what you want to do. It's much easier to take an Alaskan along, and besides, on our own we'd probably end up not catching anything.

Fish get up early, so we left at 6:00am. I could tell it was going to be a good day when we passed a young man running down Tudor Road (at 6:03am), wearing a tux with boutonnière, sans tie and cummerbund. I don't know what it meant, but it was obviously an omen. I hope he got where he was going (or got away from whatever he was fleeing).

On the way to find Hidden Lake we passed a moose! Based on previous experience, I thought it was a VERY LARGE chipmunk, but it was a young moose, on the left side of the road. Kids, don't ever do this (and Don't Do Drugs! Stay in School!), but Larry pulled over on the left side of the highway so I could snap photos (unfortunately, it was the fiddling around with drivers so the photos could be downloaded from that camera that killed Mr. Laptop I, and in the depressing aftermath, Stan traded the camera to some Gypsies for a handful of magic beans, so those pictures are lost forever).

The first stop on our tour was scenic, not fish-oriented. We walked two miles up a mountain to see the falls (which appeared to be less than a 45º angle to me, so they probably should be "rapids" rather than "falls," but I've learned that it's best not to argue with the locals). I watched for bears. We didn't see any, but we did learn the answer about whether bears do something in the woods, or at least, on trails through the woods. (Answer: Watch where you step.) The trail was terribly crowded; we passed six other people in two hours. Still, it was a pleasant hike and we weren't eaten.

The next stop was a secret fishing spot. It's so secret, I wasn't allowed to take any pictures or give any hints that might allow other fisher-persons to figure out where it is. A few bears know about the spot, but they don't tell anyone either, so that's all I can say.

We then went to Hidden Lake, which was right where the map said it would be, so it hardly seemed hidden at all. Maybe it's some sort of Alaskan inside joke. Before carrying the gear to the water, we stood around and ate our sandwiches while Larry explained that bananas are bad luck on fishing boats. If a tourist brings a banana onto the boat, the guide will throw it into the lake. You'd think that if they seriously believed the bananas were bad luck, they'd put up a "NO BANANAS!" sign at the pier. I suspect it's not actually bad luck, just a passive-aggressive way of punishing tourists for being tourists, disguised as being "colorful" for them so they'll tell their relatives about it back home ("And then they threw Herb's banana into the water! Because it was bad luck! Did you ever hear of such a thing?").

I quickly forgot about all that as we set up on a rocky area about 10' above the water. The lake was fabulous! The water was a rich blue, surrounded by thickly forested hills. We could hear loons playing the avian version of "Marco Polo" off yonder. If one could eradicate the mosquitoes and the other people, it would have been perfect.

Using a pair of Larry's Magic Fish-Seeing Glasses (otherwise known as polarized sunglasses, but if you've never used them to gaze into the depths of a lake, try it!), we could see small schools of adolescent fish swimming about the edge of the lake. We could tell they were adolescents because they were self-absorbed, had acne, and wore rediculously baggy jeans (hmm, could clothes be sold to fashion-conscious wild animals? Must look into that...). They were fond of nibbling Larry's bait, which would eventually fall off the hook and sink to the bottom, drawing a swarm of tiny fish all the way down. Larry would then pull up his hook, put on more bait, and toss it out again. I spent quite a while watching this cycle repeat with the Magic glasses. It seemed to entertain Larry quite a bit, as he kept doing it. Stan wandered off, trying different baits and lures at different locations.

They say fishing is a metaphor for Life. Probably because it's mostly just sitting around waiting for something to happen. After a few hours of Life, we packed up and headed back to Anchorage. Let's look at the scores.

Total Fish Caught:
Larry (experienced Alaskan Fisherperson): 0
Stan (experienced Washington and Alaska Fisherperson): 0
Evan (not fishing): 0

So the Crème de la Resistance of this trip was that even without trying, I did as well as Larry and Stan did. If I'm ever questioned, I'll be sure to tell that to the Fishing Police.

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© 2003 Evan M. Nichols