Monday, January 4, 2010

Deshka River '09

Alaska is about as wild and pristine as it gets. The vast outdoors, teaming with wild animals nearly everywhere one could possibly look. There are literally many adventures available to me I would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Coupled with the wilds of Alaska are things that I would not expect to see anywhere and can even be a bit of a surprise. One of these small surprises was my experiences on a four day float/fishing trip on a fairly remote Alaskan river, the Deshka. As the above picture shows, this trip down the river was filled with large, decaying salmon along the rivers edge. I've known that after a salmon spawns it is the end of its life, but this was the first time really experiencing the end of that life so up close. Of course it makes sense, but I had never seen so much evidence of the salmons circle of life. It was just one new experience that was unexpected along this phenomenal river trip.

This first float trip was my first of hopefully many more to come. Only my brother in law, Richard (Luffinator) and myself were able to make it on this trip. The intention was to take advantage of the record numbers of silver salmon that had been recorded traveling up stream. In our first fishing attempt all that we were rewarded was the small trout you see below, which I was extremely ecstatic about.

That tiny trout however, was to be quite telling of our fishing yet to come. Our second (first full) day on the river we began looking for the ginormous swarms of silvers that we were expecting, only to catch a few small trout early in the day, and then be completely drenched in rain the rest of the afternoon. The rain filled our inflatable kayak's soaking us from the waist down, and we saw no sign of any catchable salmon, only paddled and paddled towards the end of the day. There are no pictures of this tremendously wet day, because it never let up even one iota for me to pull my camera out and document the down poor. Both Richard and I were extremely grateful for wool clothing, as well, I cannot emphasize enough how grateful we were for our uncle's suggestion that we take a can of charcoal lighter fluid with us to start fires with. If it had not been for that one suggestion we would have been much more miserable that night for sure.

The next day was a complete opposite of the previous one. The sun was absolutely gorgeous and the weather totally perfect. It was literally as if the whole river, wildlife and all, was out to play and bask in the warm sun. We saw numerous birds from the mighty Bald Eagle to ducks and geese. We even had quite the experience with a whole family of swans that we thought was going to lead to the mother dive bombing us from the air as she circled us from above and the babies swam next to our kayak's. The river also ran us right into a grizzly bear, that was scared off fairly easily by Richard yelling at me to get the camera, so no picture of him, but it was a bit of a exciting sight. There were piles of river otters, that would spook easily, but when we could were fun to watch play around.

We did finally get into some silvers on the last day, almost as we were ready to give up trying to find them. The river was fairly high from the rain and we probably floated right over most of the Silvers. We did have some fun catching a couple nice salmon, as well caught quite a lot of nice rainbow's as we figured out how to fish sitting up on our kayak's as we floated down the river. The fishing was not as we had hoped, but for our maiden river voyage it had a lot to take in and enjoy along the way.

(Click to view large images)

First campsite

Second night campsite (morning)

One of the nice trout caught

Our last nights camp

Hauling in my monster

Sleeping next to the bear repellent

One of Richards Silver's

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