This Trip Is For Him
We run 10-15 miles to the first drop and then fish near the bottom with jigs for rockfish (delicious and hard-fighting, all seven species of ‘em). After 3-4 hours of fishing, we head for fish camp, a remote campsite in the rain forest by a gravel beach.
The camp area is covered by large tarps to keep the rain away. Stone fire rings with blazing camp fires and rustic benches are welcome after the often rainy and chilly conditions on the water.
We take photos of the catch on the cleaning table; then the guests relax by the fire with a hot drink while I fillet the fish. Our chef prepares a great bouillabaisse with potatoes, tomato stew, and the fresh fish, which I serve. We enjoy a dessert of blueberry rhubarb bread pudding topped with whipped cream, candied ginger and caramel.
Then we take a leisurely ride back to town with side trips to check out likely eagle and wildlife-watching spots, and it’s time to gear down and say good-bye. The format makes a great trip, but I also look forward to targeting halibut next month when business picks up.
At times there can be a bittersweet poignancy to guiding that grabs my heart. Last week as I chatted with a woman guest who was fishing alone (Mom stayed on the ship), she shared that her father was in the terminal stages of Parkinson’s Disease back home and had only brief moments of lucidity. They’d often dreamed of fishing in Alaska together, and she hoped to be able to share her memories of this trip with him.
Just yesterday we were fishing a drift that had yielded pollock and sablefish the day before, when a woman in the bow walked back to me in the stern. She gave me a tearful hug and asked if it was okay for her to dump some ashes. It was the first anniversary of her husband’s death; he’d always wanted to
fish in Alaska but never got here. I said, “Of course, anything I can do to make it special?” She said “Thanks, No.” I scanned the area for hazards, took off my cap, closed my eyes, and sent a good thought. Then back to the tiller, the fish finder, and my other guests.
Sure, there were sad moments for both of these ladies, but I remain amazed at their positive outlook and overall good cheer. The power of the dream of fishing in Alaska is hard to overstate for so many anglers (obviously including myself).