Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kodiak : Index

Links of Fishing Trip to Kodiak Alaska

The Island

The People

The Bear Camp

Isolated Living

The Eagles

The Bears

The Fishing

Interviewing The Crew

Kodiak : Isolated Living

When Jeannie was in grade school, people asked her the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" She says that question was annoying to her and so she would answer "A Hermit". Little did those folks know that she was right. Jeannie lives on Uganik Bay in remote Kodiak Island, Alaska with no power, no running water and no neighbors aside from the occasional Bears who have discovered her Rasberry Garden. Jeannie was our cook and she didn't mind us poking around her place, so we did the short hike down the coast of the Bay to her place and took some pictures.

Chris, Jeannie's friend with a plane was visiting.

A 6 foot chain fence surrounds the property to protect from the bears.It's the little things that matter - a flower box.
quite an elaborate garden and greenhouse.
Rasberry and Gooseberry Bushes and
View of the house. Lots of amenities here for such a remote location.

Kodiak : The Eagles

I have never seen so many Eagles as I did while on Kodiak Island. The number of Eagles in Alaska are comprable to the number of Turkey Buzzards in Virginia. They are scavengers just the same. You could look up and see 10 Eagles circling. On one occasion, we came across an Eagle with a broken wing. I could have walked right up to it, but I decided to give him some space. I sneaked around a rock to get as close as possible, but not so to spook him too much and hurt himself even more. Although our guide said that he saw the same eagle defending himself against a bear the previous day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kodiak : The Bears

Lots of big animals like to eat Salmon. The bears, which normally spend their time up in the mountains come down to eat salmon before they go back up into the colder elevations to hibernate. At one point, we saw 28 bears at one time. The bears make all sorts of paths thru the high grass surrounding the river. We use these bear path to get from one fishing hole to other fishing holes. On many occasions, we encountered bears across the river, in the river on our side of the river...all over. They were more interested in the salmon than us. Some bears were very comfortable with us being there and others were very skiddish. Sows, Boars, and cubs....we saw them all. Some of the larger Boars stay up in the mountains and are content with berries. Here are some pictures of the bears.

Bear video:

Kodiak : Interviewing The Crew



Frick and Frack

Curious George and the Grizzly Bear

as George says in not so many words ... We all have our own Grizzly Bear.

Kodiak : The Fishing

George says that our week of fishing is the worst week that he's ever had on Kodiak. Since it was my best week of fishing ever, I can't imagine a good week. It rained every day, which made the water a bit murkier than normal. In spite of that, I caught the biggest fish that I've ever caught on a fly rod. Here is a video and some pictures of the fishing.

Kodiak : The Bear Camp

The View From the Bay.

Coffee To Start The Day
Dick Rohrer's Bear Camp is the "Waldorf" of camps on this side of the island. The basically consists of the basics. There are 3 cabins that consist of bunk beds and a propane heater. There are 2 outhouses and 1 common room cabin for cooking, eating and cribbage (the preferred card game of all commercial canneries in Alaska).

Kodiak : The People

We met some very interesting people during our trip.

Trevor Dunbar and his father (coach of the Kodiak Cross Country Team) were returning from a 21 team competition just North of Anchorage. Trevor had just beat the state record time for the 5k, with a time of 15:17. (pretty damn fast) Look for Trevor in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Jeanie lives on Island paradise and I will do a seperate entry on the wonderful place where she lives. In addition to being a very self sufficient woman who lives in a remote part of Kodiak Island, she was also our cook for the week. She knows how to cook fish as well as other things like Gooseberry pie, cornbread and rasberry scones to name a few.

Sam (left) and Dick (right) Rohrer are the owners and guides behind Dick Rohrers Bear Camp, which was the outfit behind our trip. Dick grew up in Lancaster, PA and found his way to settle down in Kodiak and operate his camp. His son, Sam, is a native of Kodiak. Their operation includes Bear, Goat and Deer hunts as well as fishing and wildlife viewing expeditions.

David is from East Texas and operates heavy machinery in Valdeze. During his first week on the job, he became friends with Floyd (the guy who has recently become engaged to the Republican VP Candidate's daughter). We made a lot of inquiries into the local pulse on Sarah Palin's nomination and we'd estimate an 80% approval rating. We thought that he was important enough to profile here. He also thought that George was the funniest person on the planet.

Isaac is an enforcement officer that works for the State of Alaska. He was in the area patrolling the status of guiding on the river and checking out various camps set up on the river to ensure compliance with the law. He flew in to Mush Lake, set up camp and we met him as he was just heading down the river in his 5 lb inflatable raft (which was the envy our our guide Sam). He made it down to the lake around 7pm, just when the rain started and it was starting to get dark. We were thinking of him as we got back to our propane heated cabins and Sam went out to look for him, but by the time he made it up to the mouth of the river, Isaac was gone. We saw him the next day again, so apparently he somehow found bear trails to hike back up the river to his camp several miles up the river.

Kodiak : The Island

Kodiak Island is SW of Anchorage. There are 2 ways to get there 1) by plane 2) by ferry. The Ferry is less expensive, but it is a 10 hour trip - we flew. The island has about 14,000 residents, mostly centered around the township of Kodiak on the East side of the island. There is one road on the island, which is about 80 miles long and doesn't get to the West side of the Island. There are 2 significant activities on the island, fishing and the military. The largest coast guard base in the USA is located on Kodiak Island which accounts for about 2000 of the residents. About 12000 people live in the town of Kodiak, where the largest occupation is commercial fishing. They fish for everything in the ocean - salmon, king crab, red snapper, etc, etc. These operations are known as canneries and they do everything from catch the fish to packaging and distribution to retailers like Costco.

The island came to be out of ancient volcanos that erupted and formed the numerous mountain peaks that make of the island today. The highest mountain peak on the island is something like 6000 ft and the rock is black, clearly a product of hardened molten lava. Snow and ice on the mountain peaks are visible and are the source of the many streams, and rivers that flow from the melting glacial ice into the oceans. These rivers are the spawning grounds for the Pacific Salmon that frequent the waters during the months of August and September. We hit the Uganic River during the peak of the Salmon runs. In the prophetic words of our friend George Durwachter, "A Hell of alot depends on those damn Salmon". The fishing industry, the bears, the eagles, and the seagulls to name a few.

From the town of Kodiak, we took a pontoon plane to the west side of the Island and landed in Uganik Bay, where we spent a week fishing on Uganic River. This part of the island is not accessible by car and there is no power, no telephones, no running water, no WIFI, no Starbucks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Into The Wild

I think the story may have even started on the east coast and ended in Alaska...although it's been many years since I read the book. Such may be my fate as I leave on Sunday to fish for Salmon in Kodiak, Alaska. I am about to embark on this fishing trip to Kodiak with my dad, uncle, and some close family and friends. It should be a very unique experience and I will take some pictures and try to keep a daily journal of my travels. Although there won't be internet access where I'm headed...not even electricity. Just us, the salmon, the grizzly bears, and the Alaskan wilderness.

It takes a bit more preparation to spend a week in Alaska than it does to plan my weekly commute to the office. I've decided that since my arm and leg warmers keep me quite warm on a bike in 30 degree weather, they should do me fine in place of long underwear in 40 degree Alaskan weather. I figure, I'll be around water most of the time, and they'll clean fairly easily via the Dave Z method. I've got my layering strategy all planned out. But aside from the fancy swimsuit that looks like biking shorts, my arm and leg warmers, I'll be stocked like most of the other fishermen. I've been gathering all of my stuff into little piles that will go into little stuff bags, which will then go into bigger stuff bags.

I'll be off the bike for a week, but perhaps I'll lose a couple of pounds by limiting my input to fresh Pacific Salmon.

If I don't make it back, I will turn my blog over to the then to be true bike widow...