Story last updated at 7/9/2014 - 3:37 pm
Summer time in Alaska can be really confusing.
For those on vacation, as long as you don’t pop your first Summer Ale then go over your notes for the meeting you have the day after you get back to the world, every day is a Saturday.
For those involved in the tourism industry your Saturday might come on a Tuesday because your weekend is midweek, which of course conflicts with those on a regular work week. You’re ready to let your hair down while everyone else is settling into the usual grind. This is unfortunate.
If you’re a guide or a commercial fisherman, you get a Saturday every couple of weeks, and it lasts for a few hours including sleep.
The best part of summer is when multiple Saturdays coincide.
If there is one constant when it comes to the steady stream of friends which visits me each summer, it’s that they all vacation pretty well. They leave work at work, home at home and are up for pretty much anything.
The two guys up last week had never been fly fishing before, but we went to the sweet place I wrote about a few weeks ago and brought four dozen fish to hand in an hour and a half. Doctors and therapists should stop prescribing drugs and instead give their depressed patients a fly rod and send them to a place with a ton of dolly varden. It’s intensely fun without being an overwhelming high — an exercise in having a blast appreciating the little things.
The next day we had at least a two hour drive to Whale Pass to harvest our daily portion of the terminal coho salmon run. Since the Sirius satellites can’t find my truck because Prince of Wales is apparently just west of earth, we had no music. That was fine because I was able to get a really interesting insight into married life.
There was discussion about soy milk now going into homemade mochas along with other wife-induced culinary changes. As a result there is currently a half gallon of almond milk in the refrigerator, bought by the friend who can’t eat “anything with a face or a mother.”
“A milkshake doesn’t have one either,” I told him, because I’m a bad friend who spends extended periods of time away from people and even more time unsupervised.
The guys don’t resent their dietary changes (they didn’t pay me to type that). In fact, they sorta’ like it and have been advocating the health benefits (their wives didn’t tell me to write that).
Before I get into trouble, I’ll go back to the fishing trip.
I told the guys it was a lot like the fly fishing we did the day before. There’d be fish in water. The only thing that changed was everything about how we’d catch them.
But they already knew. They’d been to the Neck Lake drainage before and have experienced fish hunting. They’ve seen people with halibut rods, 50 pound line and anchors for snagging hooks. I prefer a different method when making the hooks bite. First, I use a standard medium/heavy action salmon rod and a reel spooled with 15-pound test. For a hook I use a No. 5 spinner because the spinner allows so much more control once in the water. Those huge snagging hooks hook rocks and seaweed before they hit the water.
But to each his own.
I saw two of my former teachers turned teaching colleagues from this past year and they were doing just fine with their heavy, heavy, heavy method. No matter how you snag, the best part of it is the experience and everyone was having a great time — the three of us, the father and daughter from Texas, the guys from Oregon, the father and daughter from Flagstaff, Ariz., who were roaming the rapids in shorts — everyone except the fish.
That’s the key, to tuck your other self (the over-worked one) into bed, turn out the light, then barricade the door so it can’t get out and ruin the confusion of a Saturday with no other responsibility, obligation or chore except a good time.
• Jeff Lund grew up in Southeast Alaska and after 10 years in California, succumbed to the pull of home. He writes a weekly outdoors column for the Capital City Weekly. Follow him on twitter @alaskalund