JAMES GERACE JR.
Alaska............One needs to take in a deep breath of it and hold it until you pass out from the Beauty and enormity of it.
My lifelong dream of visiting Alaska finally became reality on June 21 of 2006, when I got off the plane in Anchorage. It turned into depression on July 6th as my flight departed Alaska. Looking back I saw for the first time the sun set over the wing as I headed back to Maine. We Mainers have a saying about the beauty of Maine, We proudly proclame it as," God's Country." Maine may very well be God's Country, but Alaska must truely be God's living room.
Trying to describe what is in the heart and Soul would take a much more gifted writer than I. Suffice to say breathing in Alaska would be the only sure way to get it right.
My 16 days of Alaska were spent fishing for King Salmon on the famous Keni river, and the Chuit river where it was my great fortune to have found the reason why these salmon are called King. I watched a gentleman have at least four Kings break off his line in a flash and splash - you would have thought someone had dropped a five gallon bucket of rocks into the water! Unbelievable! My guide informed me that this man had been fishing for Kings for over 16 years with them. I shuddered and wondered how on earth I would ever hold onto such a great fish?
It was my great fortune to have a King take my fly with a tremoundous eruption of water. Having one of these salmon on in a swift river is not for the faint of heart. After about many eternities I was able to beach the King and my guide, Ned, tailed it. It was like I had died and gone to heaven. Ned told me that my King was," by their standords on this river, a small one. The King was about 39 to 40 pounds. He said I could call it 40pounds and asked if I wanted to let it go and try for a larger one.?" The look of disbelief on my face was obvious. Ned asked if this was my first King?" I said yes. He suggested I keep it. I did. For me if the world ended that moment I would relieve for Eternity the experience of just that day and the previous day. The previous day was spent at Wolverine Creek fishing for Reds...Sockeye Salmon. As I am writing this I am shaking my head in disbelief as I recall the beautiful Woulverine Creek area we flew into. Glaciers below us were pointed out to us as some of the oldest known to man. Brown bears were feeding below us, and there were seals and wildlife everywhere.
In the river we fished right beside a sow with two brown bear cubs. A boar was also in the area next to us but the sow ran off taking her cubs with her as the boar approched and tried his hand at fishing. We had to stop fishing as the bears were too close. The guide said it was the law. It afforded a great time to watch them and learn that unlike we are used to seeing on National Geographic and the Discovery channel, those bears really work their ....off and do not catch fish at every attempt. Kinda like we fishermen I mused with a smile. The boar climbed up onto a boulder in the creek and laid down to take a break. We could now get back to trying our luck.
I could not believe my eyes when I saw all those salmon . I had a far greater time believing how difficult it was to hook those salmon. I can see why the guides required us to have glasses, as our flies were coming back at us with great speed as we failed to set the hooks on the salmon. We really had to duck a lot of our own flies as the were not hooking the fish.
Halibut fishing in Ninilchik was another incredible day of fishing. For many years I had the desire to fish until my wrist got sore from fishing and catching fish. Well the last time I had my wrist get sore from fishing was in Maine back in the early 70s. I was one of those Maine lumberjacks who could back then hold a chain saw out straight and cut wood with one hand and not tire of it. For me to catch fish until I was sore was hard to imagine. I had at times two and three fish on at one time. That is what the halibut fishing was like, but un-like small trout and landlocked salmon of Maine, the Halibut were on average 8 to over 35 pounds. Our guide at Deep Creek informed the fisheries people that we had caught and released over 45 smaller halibut.
I am now certain of one thing. I will return to Alaska again. My plan is for another trip next year. My buddies who were unable to go this year got approval from the wives for next year.
This is due to no small measure from the wonderful people of Alaska who go out of their way turning themselves inside out with joy at sharing their jewel with those who see the gem as they do......Alaska.
My trip took me through Seward , Homer, Soldatna, Cooper Landing, Anchorage, Talkeetna, and one of the highlites of my trip......Denali. Hard to not have moist eyes of gratitude for all the Natives who took my hand like a proud parrent taking a child and led me through the wonders they love and cherish so much.
Thanks for the journey.