An Outdoor View: This fishing thing

There must be something to this fishing thing, or we wouldn’t do the things we do to do it.

Fishing, like certain diseases, gets into your blood. It infects all kinds of people, those who do it for fun, those who do it for food, and those who do it for money. I’ve heard commercial fishermen say that if they couldn’t make money fishing, they’d pay to be able to do it. In years of poor salmon runs, many of them do end up paying.

There must be something to this fishing thing.

There was a time in my life when the urge to fish drove me to take desperate measures. In the early 1980s, I was so broke, and the desire to fish the Kenai River was so strong, I borrowed a 14-foot skiff from one friend, a 20-hp outboard from another and a trailer from a third. Oh yeah, and a pickup from a fourth. As you might imagine, putting this convoluted deal together involved a great deal of wheedling on my part. The trailer and pickup weren’t always available when I needed them. Looking back, all that complicated borrowing was a reckless, harebrained thing to do. As Flip Wilson’s Geraldine character used to say, “The devil made me do it.”

There must be something to this fishing thing.

Nowadays, people will pour $30,000 into a boat and motor and another two or three thousand into fishing gear that isn’t much good for anything except fishing for trout and salmon on the Kenai River. How many people would pay $30,000 to get into golfing?

There must be something to this fishing thing.

There are people who travel thousands of miles to fish Kenai Peninsula waters. Some have to scrimp and save for years while dreaming of the day they take their “trip of a lifetime.” They endure the agony that air travel has become in recent years. They tolerate rudeness, bad food and misleading hype from businesses that are more interested in making money than providing a service. And yet, in spite of everything, they keep coming back for more.

There must be something to this fishing thing.

One of the greatest spectacles on the Kenai Peninsula is the sight of hundreds of people fishing cheek-to-jowl for sockeye salmon near the confluence of the Kenai and Russian rivers. Over the years, I’ve written about this astonishing fishery many times, as have many others, but I’ve yet to see the true essence of it captured in print. This fishing can be in turn fun, boring, exciting, dangerous, competitive and rewarding. My friend Bill Santos spent somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000 on his fishing trip to Alaska this year. Between them, he and a buddy caught seven or eight sockeyes and two halibut, little “chickens.” This was the fifteenth time he has journeyed north from his home in Massachusetts, primarily to fish for sockeyes at the Russian.

Why do we keep doing this crazy stuff?

There must be something to this fishing thing.

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

More in Life

tease
Getting creative with camping

Making healthy, diverse meals while outdoors takes some planning

James Franklin Bush was arrested and jailed for vagrancy and contributing to the delinquency of minors in California in 1960, about a year before the murder in Soldotna of Jack Griffiths. (Public document from ancestry.com)
A violent season — Part 4

James Franklin “Jim” Bush stood accused of the Soldotna murder of Jack Griffiths in October 1961

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Hard to say goodbye

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve been perfectly happy with my 14-year-old, base model pickup truck.

File
Minister’s Message: Faith will lead to God’s abundance

Abundance is in many aspects of our lives, some good and some not.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Lisa Parker, vice mayor of Soldotna, celebrates after throwing the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Peninsula Oilers and the Mat-Su Miners on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
Kenai and Soldotna square off once more in ‘King of the River Food Drive’

Food can be donated at the food bank or at either city’s chamber of commerce

These noodles are made with only three ingredients, but they require a bit of time, patience, and a lot of elbow grease. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Filling the time with noodles

These noodles are made with only three ingredients, but they require a bit of time, patience and a lot of elbow grease

[csC1—]Jack and Alice Griffiths, owners of the Circus Bar, pose together in about 1960. (Public photo from familysearch.org)
A violent season — Part 3

The second spirit, said Cunningham, belonged to Jack Griffiths….

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
The Kenai Potter’s Guild’s annual exhibition, “Clay on Display,” is seen at the Kenai Art Center on Tuesday.
Expression in a teapot at July art center show

Kenai Art Center’s annual pottery show takes front gallery, with memories of Japan featured in the back

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Attendees take food from a buffet during the grand opening of Siam Noodles and Food in Kenai on Tuesday.
Soldotna Thai restaurant expands to Kenai

The restaurant is next to Jersey Subs in Kenai where Thai Town used to be located

Ruth Ann and Oscar Pederson share smiles with young Vicky, a foster daughter they were trying to adopt in 1954. This front-page photograph appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on June 17, 1954.
A violent season — Part 2

Triumph, tragedy and mystery

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes it’s not cool to mention heat

Thanks for the joke fest material rolling into our Unhinged Alaska headquarters folks but chill out.