Kustatan River Flyout . . . the Teaser

Before I post about Alaska Day 2 of fishing, I’d like to share with you where we went and just how beautiful the scenery is so that this beauty won’t get lost in the next fishing edition of my Alaska Adventures!  

First, maybe you’d like to see where the Kustatan River is in relation to Soldotna, where the Gone Fishin’ Lodge is located?  We drove a fairly short distance to Talon Air where we embarked on a sea plane, or what they call a “bush plane” for a picturesque flight west to the river. 

The red pinpoint is the small lake from which we took off after the fog cleared
that morning. The red circle is where we landed and fished.  Please click on photo for a better view of things.

There were 12 of us on the plane, and all but the pilot and our two guides were from South Louisiana. So you can just about imagine how noisy the flight was with no head phones and everyone shouting to be heard.  And by the way, I was the only one on that bush plane who had never been on this flyout before!!  So, I was like a kid in a candy shop looking out the plane window; or should I say a like a bayou woman way out of her element?

Out of my element or not, it was so amazing to me as we flew over the marshy areas just how much the landscape resembles south Louisiana bayous and marshes.  The main difference is the flora, but it was equally as gorgeous, as you will see from the video footage I plan to share in the fishing post.  

I took this aerial photo of the Kenai River before we actually left the Kenai Peninsula to fly across the Cook Inlet.  If you know me well, you know that I am a map geek, but this time, I found myself ill prepared to get my bearings beforehand . . . something quite of out of character for me, but I found it created more of an adventure than if I had known every twist and turn me might take!

Did I mention the main difference is the flora?  How remiss of me not to mention this other HUGE difference . . . the snow-capped mountains!  And maybe even a glacier or two off in the distance!  (Oh, and did I mention?  No alligators!)

This photo was taken after we disembarked from the bush plane and headed in a small boat to our fishing spot.  Can you see why I say the waterway reminds me of a bayou?  And while I observed the difference in the plant life, I also noticed a plant that both the bayou and Kustatan River have in common . . . .

This floating aquatic we know as the Cow Lily, and I pass them every time I navigate my boat to the Mandalay Wildlife Refuge to work on the Prothonotary Warbler Conservation Project or to go freshwater fishing. Is it a coincidence that I wrote about these colorful floating beauties several years ago in Country Roads Magazine ?  The Alaskan Cow Lily is most likely a different species of the same family and genus, because they look way too much alike not to be related.  I readily admit I am no botanical specialist, but that doesn’t stop me from making observations and doing a little more homework along the way.  Suffice it to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see these gems in a place where their winters are so much more severe than ours down here.  Actually, I felt like they were saying, “Hey! Over here!  Look at us!  Welcome!”  Yes, I am a wee bit strange, but those of you who’ve been on my boat expect it because you’ve heard me talk to the birds!

As if the Cow Lilies were not enough to make me feel at home, there was this sight that wasn’t hard to identify, even from a distance.

Bald Eagles nest in Alaska in the spring and summer.  Down the bayou, the Bald Eagles arrive in October and often return to the same nest from the year before.  And did you know they mate for life?  I don’t know much about the life cycle of these majestic predatory birds that call Alaska home, but down in my neck of the swamp, they nest here and fledge their young, and then the entire Eagle family leaves sometime in May.  I don’t know where our Eagles go from June through September, but we always look forward to their return in the fall.  (Click the link if you care to read more about my experience with a Bald Eagle in the oak tree at Camp Dularge.)

After a short boat ride, Captain Ralph Crystal and Captain Dick Bowen landed us on the sandbar that would be our fishing destination for the rest of the day.  After climbing out of the boat, Martha Spencer called me over and pointed these out to me.  I was just a little uneasy knowing that bears also like to salmon fish off this little sandbar.  I had already decided that if a bear came a-calling, I was gonna be a-leaving, because “this sandbar ain’t big enough for both of us!”

Maybe these were just cub prints, but where there’s a cub, there is usually a mama bear not too far away.  And just to clarify, the sandy bank touched right up against an incline that was nothing but berry bushes and other brambles, and I at least knew enough to know that bears eat those berries, so I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to run if the circumstance called for that.  But not to worry, because I think those Cajuns from Eunice did enough whooping and hollering to keep even the most ornery of bears away!  Ayeee!


Not far from the bear prints were lots of moose prints, and in that moment I mentally asked myself, are moose aggressive?  And then quickly behind that, I asked myself another question.  Did you not read up on anything at all before you made this trip other than to find out what a Dolly Varden is? 

Well, Self, give me a break.  The last year has been a tough one, a trifecta of sorts; challenging physically, mentally, and emotionally.  With the loving support of my family and friends, I’ve come out on the other side of it; maybe not better, but different, and recognizing how little research I did for this adventure of a lifetime shows me just how different I am.  Even having the courage to sign up for this trip was unthinkable a year ago, so in some ways, I am much better!  Maybe better is subjective, right?  But I will indeed give myself a break!  I mean, how often does a person have the opportunity to go so introspective over dog-gone moose prints in the sand?  *big smile here!

And so I will leave you with the tranquil beauty of fireweed-lined landscapes along the shores of the gently-flowing Kustatan River.

Until more fishing on Day 2 of my Alaska Adventure, I remain your


PS:  As I was putting the finishing touches on this  yesterday afternoon, a Louisiana fishing legend lost his life while piloting his charter fishing seaplane.  As a result, my excitement about posting the new installment about my own seaplane adventure has been subdued, and out of respect for him, his family and friends, I am postponing that post for a little while.  His name is Theophile Bourgeois, may he rest in peace.





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    1. And thank you for reading, Terry! So good seeing you and Carol last weekend. I think she gets younger and prettier every time I see her!!! But you’re still a big hairy bear, LOL! (Reference your black bear FB post!)

  1. What a beautiful place! My brother and sil took a cruise to Alaska several years ago and they said it was paradise. Love the photos. The eagle was so majestic.

    1. I just wouldn’t want to be there in the freezing winter and when the sun doesn’t shine at all . . . .

  2. I have been to Alaska so know how wonderful it is. I’m so glad you took the jump to go there yourself. It looks like you had a fantastic trip. I hope you’ll take another jump when possible and come out and visit me in the desert!

    1. I still want to do that but I’d like to hike with you in the rocks and canyons or the desert when I won’t die of heat, LOL!!!!!

  3. I spent a year in Alaska when I was in the Air Force. Seen some marvelous sights while flying all over the state from Anchorage to the Arctic circle. Wish i could go back but temperatures down to 45 below is too much for this South Louisiana born and bred native!

    1. Hi John! Well, you could always go in the summertime like I did! How marvelous being stations there for a year! I didn’t go any further north than where I landed in Anchorage but would certainly love to see more of that state (I almost said country! LOL) Thanks for stopping by. Have we met? BW

  4. Since y’all were n a sandbar known for Bear
    and moose there, did y’all’s Guide have a firearm?
    Seems like all the tv programs about Alaska have people who carry.

    1. Well, THAT is a really good question and not one I even though to ask. I’ll ask the famous Martha Spencer if she knows . . . .Hey Martha?????

  5. I’m almost sure I heard someone on our hunting and fishing show talking about that accident you mentioned. He had been scheduled to go to Alaska for a fishing trip, but had to delay it, and then discovered his guide had been killed in an accident. He mentioned that the guide was well-known and accomplished. I’ll have to go back to the podcasts and see if I can find more. It’s always distressing to hear about things like that happening.

    I just heard a report this week about black bear numbers increasing in both Louisiana and Texas. Granted, they’re not grizzlies, but it’s still fun to think we might have our own bears, too. It was nice to see the fireweed, too. A friend in Montana says that’s one of the first plants that comes back after a fire: hence, the name.

    I thought about living in Alaska when I was there; it seemed like such a good idea. Then, I thought about the fact that I can get out of the way of a hurricane. It’s harder to get out of the way of winter!

    1. This seaplane guide is from Lafitte, lived and worked there as a guide. So, I’m not sure it’s the same story. His seaplane trips were not far from Lafitte. Yes, our Louisiana species of black bear was de-listed a couple years ago, but I fear there is chatter about reinstating a black bear hunting season here. I think it’s way too soon for that. I have a friend who drives to Tensas wildlife refuge and sees black bear there from time to time. I haven’t see one yet, but I’d really like to. Thinking about taking a ride with him and his wife later this fall.

      1. Yes, it was Theophile Bourgeois they were talking about. Two stories got conflated: one about Mr. Bourgeois’s death, and one about a seaplane trip in Alaska. One of the fellows who mentioned him is a fishing guide in Venice. We get regular reports from several guides in Louisiana, which always make me think of you.

        1. Linda, I recently judged some radio shows from a Florida radio station . . . and outdoors talk show, and it made me think of you and your telling me about the show you listen to down in TX!!! Don Dubuc did a four-hour in-studio tribute to Theophile this morning. Very good show, and at the end, Theo’s partner, Ginger, announced that the US Coast Guard had awarded him the Gold Lifesaving medal, the highest civilian award. His two passengers survived the crash, but yesterday the news announced that they had given up the search for his plane. I’m not sure why they can’t find it . . . . but the radio show this morning was a wonderful memorial tribute to his life.