Fishing with Roy

Ron and I went to his brother Roy’s place in Haines to subsistence fish for sockeye in the Chilkat River. Last year we got one sockeye and one chum fishing a net down at the mouth of the river. This year, we decided to try upriver where Ron and Roy had done pretty well a few weeks earlier. We boarded the Alaska ferry Matanuska in Juneau, taking Ron’s Ford Explorer so we had something to bring back any fish in, and another vehicle in Haines.

We arrived Saturday evening after a 4.5 hour ferry ride. We are in the midst of a beautiful week of Indian Summer, with temps near 70 and light winds. Sunday we all were up early. Roy and dog Riley took off up the mountain first thing, and Roy and I drank coffee and ate Roy’s chicken’s eggs for breakfast. When Roy returned, Ron harrassed him for being “late” and after Roy got some coffee we headed to the river.

A 50 ft net is allowed in the river, and it’s a lot less of a load than the 300 feet net allowed at the river mouth and out in the saltwater. The river is not wide where we fished – maybe 200 to 300 feet, so 50 feet is plenty. We made 1 pass, and had nearly 20 fish. So I got out and started cleaning on the bank while Ron and Roy made a second pass. When they returned, I had cleaned a third or so of the fish from the first haul, and the boys had about the same number of fish on their second haul. Ron and I continued cleaning fish while Roy remarked that it sure was nice to have “crew”.

When we finished cleaning, we thought we’d make one more drift downstream a few miles near the boat launch. That drift produced the nicest fish – bright and bigger – than the first two drifts. We got those fish in the boat, hauled out the boat, and headed right to Roys to clean them as we were out of container to hold them on the boat. It was in the 60’s already, and could not have been a nicer fall day. The decidous trees were in full color – mainly yellow with a few reds – and the mountains around Haines are magnificent. There are not many places as beautiful as a clear day in Haines. Mountains – some with glaciers – all around, the smell of autumn in the air, and tooling up a river are about a perfect day. Catching 50 sockeye and a few coho and chum made it all the better.

We got back to Roys and finished cleaning the last haul of fish, and then rinsed the earlier fish that we’d “dry” cleaned on the bank. Ron and I went and bought some more ice, while Roy called a few neighbors he’d promised fish. Ron and I packed our fish in ice in our coolers, and put all in Roy’s garage so the bears wouldn’t get them.

Roy has a few cherry trees that were over flowing with cherries. I’d not seen cherries like this before. They are like marachino cherries, with soft, flame-red skin. I picked nearly 3 gallons, as did Ron. Then Roy got out the magic cherry pitting machine, which Ron and I used to clean the cherries. Ron got cherries the last trip up, and his wife sent up a pie for Roy that was out of this world. I’m going to make jam with my batch, and guessing Ron will have Jeannie make pie again.I have a moose tag for the Delta River area that I plan to hunt in Oct. Roy said he could go, so I tentatively have a partner for the hunt.

Heading back to Juneau on the Monday morning ferry now. I started a brake power booster replacement on my truck on Friday that went way too well. Identified the problem part, got it off easily, then took it to O’Reily’s. They asked me all the info on the truck, including the vehicle weight. I put the booster on, then my master cylinder holes wouldn’t line up with the mounting bolts on the booster. They said they had the master cylinder that was what I needed. So after the second trip out there for the part, that master cylinder, too, would not fit. On call number 3, I got a different clerk who said “we often run into this problem”, and he asked what booster I had and my vehicle weight. The booster was for the lighter model of my truck. So, I had to take off the booster that I’d already painstakingly installed twice already (forgot to put on a part after the first try), and return it to them.

Of course, not one of the 4 parts stores in town (or the Haines store) had the one I needed in stock. I asked O’Reily’s how fast they could get me one and what it would cost. They said they had one in the Anchorage store, but could not tell me for 24 hours how much shipping would be. I called up to the Anchorage stores, only to find out they did not have the part there either. Needless to say, I went to the “home town” parts store, who ended up getting my the part overnight and didn’t even require pre-payment. I generally go with small and local, but the new O’Reily’s is much closer to my home than the other stores further, so I usually check with them first. Now I see it was no savings in time – in fact, would have been a lot quicker to go with the local store with experienced clerks – so a lesson learned.

So, back to Juneau to hopefully put the truck brakes back together, and get my fish processed up. Not sure what yet to do with them. Might decide to can a bunch since I haven’t done that in a long time, and canned fish is less of a worry. If you do it properly, the fish is good for years and years and never a worry about freezer burn. But, what you can make with it is somewhat limited.

Hope to head out on an overnight deer hunt on the ridge across from my cabin on Wed, opening day for “doe season” as we call it. Deer season opens for bucks only Aug 1, then either sex Sept 15 to Dec 31. We always hope for a buck, but having the option for either sex is a bonus since there’s usually a lot of country to cover to find a deer. The leaves are still on the blueberry and devil’s club plants now, making visibility poor, and spotting a deer even less likely. With the warm weather, the deer will likely still be in the high country, where visibility is alot better above the treeline.

Mark Stopha
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

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