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.