My sweetheart is a fair weather fisherman. Ruth likes to fish in shirtsleeves, not in a parka with the air temperature colder than even the water is in February and March. This week we had some 50 degree days with bluebird skies, so we took a few hours to go look for a feeder king. We found one in one of our favorite spots, and then went over to our cabin to open it up for the season.
Beautiful woman, beautiful fish. How lucky can a guy get?
Last Saturday was the 24th annual Winter King Tournament here in Homer. Winter kings are "feeder" king salmon that are here are their time in the ocean in which they are fattening up and growing until it's time for them to return o their natal streams to spawn.
I know this is hard to wrap your head around but these kings are here 357 days a year and that means we can catch king salmon any day we want to go out fishing! Many of these kings are from British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington state. Because they are not ready to spawn they are super fatty and rich, wonderful fish to put on the grill. Needless to say, we're spoiled.
Above are fishermen on the "Miss T" high-fiving one another after they netted their first fish of the day. We lost a fish nearby right before this and we believe they picked up "our" fish!
Below are the top three winners in this year's tournament. Ron Johnson, center, won the tournament with his 25.65 lbs fish, and took home $48,241 as Champion. Yup, a pretty good day of fishing.
Team Skookum went out and we hooked two fish...and lost two fish. So we weren't exactly skunked, but we didn't have anything to weigh-in at tournament headquarters. But it was a gorgeous day on the water, and a great event to be a part of.
Homer, Alaska is sometimes referred to as "The Cosmic Hamlet By The Sea". On a day like this, earlier this week, it does indeed look otherworldly. We're having a "real" winter this season, with continual snow, dipping temperatures in the single digits, and that unspoken sensation of comeradery that residents feel towards one another.
We're in this together, say our open-faced looks as we greet each other at the local mom & pop stores, at the post office, at our favorite coffee shop. But there's no sense of displeasure that we're in the grips of another long, cold, dark winter. Look at the place we live! It's cosmic.
It just can't get any more exciting than this.
On my trip back across Kachemak Bay two days ago, I saw some big splashes head of me as I piloted Skookum home from a day of charter fishing.
It was two humpback whales fishing together and fluke-slapping the surface of the water to signal one another. After sounding (deep dive), the whales breached the surface, coming more than two-thirds out of the water, spinning and crashing back down.
Whale biologists hypothesize that this is a feeding technique in which the whale stuns schools of small fish they're feeding on. Whatever the reason, it's an amazing show!
Here's proof positive that I'm no longer a legend in my own mind!
Doug Kelly, a writer who has visited Alaska, and Homer, many times has just published a historical accounting of Alaska's Greatest Outdoor Legends. Don't ask me how I got on that list.
All joking aside, I'm flabbergasted that I would be included with such real Alaska legends like Sydney Huntington, Jim Rearden and Jay Hammond.
All I can say is that my three decades as a staff photographer at the former Anchorage Daily News gave me such incredible opportunities to roam Alaska's great outdoors and bring back photographs from many great assignments.
Every budding photographer's greatest dream is to work for National Geographic. Well, I DID work for NG, because the Daily News offered their photographers constant opportunities to get out into the great wilds and return with images to show our readers the beauty of where we lived.