An Outdoor View: Grandkids

Earlier this month, Brady Allred, 14, a grandson from Everett, Wash., came for a two-week stay with my wife and I in Sterling, his first trip to Alaska. Hoping to make his stay memorable, I booked a halibut trip for us out of Homer.

When I booked the charter, I didn’t know that Brady had been fishing only once, and that he’d never caught a fish. I’d booked the trip with Daniel Donich, one of the most experienced charter-boat captains in the Homer fleet, so I had no doubt he could put us on fish. But I wondered if Brady would stick with it long enough to catch a fish, and if he’d enjoy doing the trip.

In past years, I’ve taken some grandkids fishing, so I had reason to wonder.

Granddaughter Shana and I launched my 14-foot skiff from the beach at Deep Creek to fish for halibut a mile or so from shore. By the time the boat was anchored, she was seasick. All she could do was hang her head over the side of the boat and moan.

When I was young, I used to get seasick, so I knew what she was feeling. I also knew that seasickness isn’t fatal. We’d gone to a lot of trouble to get where we were, so I wasn’t eager to leave without fishing. Besides, I reasoned, it was important for her have something to remember. Something other than misery and vomiting. Determined, I baited our hooks with chunks of herring, stuck the rods into rod holders and waited for a bite.

Despite Shana’s helplessness — or maybe because of it — she ended up with a halibut jerking on her line. I handed her the rod, and told her to hang on and crank.

“I can’t pull it in, Grandpa,” she said.

“You can do it,” I said. “Just crank the reel.”

After more coercion from me and more whining from her, she finally winched in a halibut. It was small, maybe a 10-pounder, but it was a halibut. Mission accomplished, I hoisted anchor, and we headed for the beach.

Eric, a grandson who visited several years ago, was treated to a cruise on Prince William Sound. Like Shana, he became seasick, but he was able to rise to the occasion and catch several fish.

I played it safe with granddaughter, Katrina, by taking her sockeye fishing on the Kenai River. There were few fish in the river, so she didn’t catch one, but I finally hooked and beached one. That’s when the fun started.

I was Field Notes Editor for Alaska magazine at the time, and I always needed photos of people with fish. I thought this cute 14-year-old holding a sockeye and smiling for the camera would make a good one, and that she’d like having her photo in the magazine, but try as I might, I couldn’t get her to touch that fish. Finally, after much coaxing and wheedling, she reluctantly held up the fish with a string that I’d run through its gills. The photo did end up in the magazine. The image was small, but that was a good thing. Katrina’s pained expression barely showed.

As it turned out, my worries about Brady were for naught. The water was calm, and no one got sea sick. On the way out, we saw orcas and sea otters. Captain Donich put us on fish, and we caught our limits of halibut. Not once did Brady whine, nor did he waste good fishing time by sending Tweets to friends or playing games on his device. The day after our trip, we ate some of Brady’s first fish, the first halibut he’d ever eaten.

One thing I’ve noticed about taking grandkids fishing is that they’ll seldom come right out and say that they’re having a good time. You have to watch for clues. If they’re hanging over the side of the boat, “chumming,” that’s a clue that they’d rather be doing something else. On the other hand, if they focus on trying to catch a fish, they’re into it.

Regardless of whether they like or dislike a trip, they’ll remind you of it for years.

“Hey, Grandpa. Remember that time when we went on Prince William Sound in your little boat and you almost drowned us?”

Ah, sweet memories.

Les Palmer can be reached at les.palmer@rocketmail.com.

More in Life

File
Minister’s Message: Who is this man?

Over and over again, they struggle to rightly name who he is and what he’s up to

A still from “Casting Maya,” a film about Ascension Bay on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is seen in this screenshot. From Pure Films, the short will be one of nine shown at the International Fly Fishing Film Festival on Aug. 10 in Kenai, Alaska. (IF4/flyfilmfest.com)
Anglers’ night out

Annual International Fly Fishing Film Festival returns to Kenai

Candy pecans make a sweet snack to enjoy on excursions. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Road trip reimagined

Candied pecans accompany more subdued wandering

Robert C. Lewis photo courtesy of the Alaska Digital Archives 
Ready to go fishing, a pair of guests pose in front of the Russian River Rendezvous in the early 1940s.
The Disappearing Lodge, Part 1

By the spring of 1931, a new two-story log building — the lodge’s third iteration — stood on the old site, ready for business

Viola Davis stars in “The Woman King.” (Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.)
On the screen: Women reign in latest action flick

‘The Woman King’ is a standout that breaks new ground

Artwork donated for the Harvest Auction hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Auction, juried show to showcase local talent

Kenai Art Center will host its annual Harvest Auction this weekend, juried art show next month

Sweet and tart cranberry pecan oat bars are photographed. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Cranberries to match the bright colors of fall

Delicious cranberry pecan oat bars are sweet and tart

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Take a chance

The fact of the matter is, you can find a way to hurt yourself in just about any athletic endeavor.

Alaska Digital Archives
George W. Palmer (left), the namesake for the city in the Matanuska Valley and the creek near Hope, poses here with his family in 1898 in the Knik area. Palmer became a business partner of Bill Dawson in Kenai in the last years of Dawson’s life.
Bill Dawson: The Price of Success, Part 5

Thus ended the sometimes tumultuous Alaska tenure of William N. Dawson.

File
Minister’s Message: Plenty

The Bible story of Joseph in Egypt preparing the harvest in the seven years of plenty teaches us some vital lessons

A still from “Jazzfest.” (Photo provided)
DocFest could be the golden year of documentaries — again

Homer Documentary Film Festival returns for 18th year with solid mix

From left: Lacey Jane Brewster, Terri Zopf-Schoessler, Donna Shirnberg, Tracie Sanborn and Bill Taylor (center) rehearse “Menopause Made Me Do It” on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Applause for menopause

Kenai Performers’ new play takes aim at ‘not the most glorious part of womanhood’