Land of the Midnight

Alex Spies

We have so many updates it is hard knowing where to start!  I will start by saying that Alaska sure could use some ice and snow right about now.  Currently there are 3 wild fires that are burning their way across the state that are still at 0% containment and are still threatening to destroy more homes and cabins in their wake.  I am not usually one to complain with high-80, no rain, and a breeze on most days, but now I am praying for winter already.  This past Sunday we were floating on Blodgett Lake and trying to catch rainbow trout on our ice rods.  As we looked above the tree line we noticed huge plumes of black smoke followed by the sounds of sirens wailing down the road.  After checking the scanner it was confirmed that a wild fire had started in Willow Alaska.  Willow is above 20 miles north of Wasilla and is world renowned dog mushing town as many of the annual Iditarod mushers and their teams live in Willow.  The Sockeye Wild Fire was started by people lighting off fireworks nearby and one of those danged bottle rockets or roman candles had sparked a now massive blaze covering over 7,500 acres.  Now, if you ever get the chance to visit, or have visited, you notice that people are much more familiar with Mile Posts (or MP’s) than actual street or road signs.  We heard the evacuation zone was from MP 62-80 along the Parks Highway and our house is down MP 56!  Having the fire a little too close to comfort, we decided to be proactive and load up our valuables into my boat and our truck and stored them about 20 miles to a safer location.  What made the situation so alarming was that in 1996 there was another infamous fire that wiped out over 37,000 acres stretching from Big Lake to Houston called the Miller’s Reach Fire.  Oh that is awesome we thought, staring at our Miller’s Reach street sign a mere 6 miles from the growing wild fire(sarcasm again).  Over 300 Smokejumpers and expert firefighters have been pouring into Alaska to help combat the blazes.  Along with the Sockeye Fire near my house, there is the Card Street fire raging down on the Kenai that has already consumed over 5,000 acres along with another burning in the tundra near Delta Junction.  Apart from the obvious devastation that comes along with losing a home, loss of valuables and pets in a fire…these fires are causing some major headaches for some of us who like to go fishing you know!  The Sockeye fire in Willow has completely torched a few of our favorite spots to fish along the Parks highway.  Montana Creek and the Nancy Lake chain and Deshka landing are great fishing hotspots for locals and tourists alike.  Now it will be some time before those will be available to fish sadly.

It was the strangest thing because just as the fires erupted on Sunday, a day earlier I had just landed my first King Salmon of the season from the Deshka.  I may be crazy but I have been trying to use my Jason Mitchell Mackinaw Clam ice rod as much as I can this spring and summer.  Everything from trolling, a little casting, to some bobber drifting salmon roe; if it is available I am using that rod.  I know that there are more practical open-water rods but I wanted to say that I was able to land a King Salmon on my Mackinaw!  Unfortunately on this trip I was only able to hook up while casting a green and silver #5 Kodiak Custom spinner.  Up here, you don’t go anywhere without a few Kodiak Customs in your tackle box.

As we were drifting on the Deshka River, we went all the way to see the weir and get a count as to how many king salmon had made it up so far.  The weir counts are imperative to the Department of Fish & Game so they know how well the salmon are running and if they need to make any emergency orders.  To my absolute astonishment, there just so happened to be a Clam Outdoors Quik-Set Escape Tent up at their campsite!  I couldn’t believe it so I thanked them for their support and asked how they liked it…all smiles and thumbs up.  After going back and forth personally on buying my own, I guess we were just waiting to see one up and in action in Alaska.  We made the trip back into town to get one from our local Three Bears store (think Fleet Farm meets Kowalski’s).

Looks like I saved the best for last…or at least my own best, and that would be what I had received in the mail from the Department of Fish & Game.  As I told you in my first posting, this winter I was able to land a massive 31” Arctic Char and being the steward that I am it was released healthy to fight another day.  Well under the guidance of fellow Alaskan Clam Pro Staffer, Dennis Musgraves, he told me about the Trophy Fish Program and that I should submit my picture to them.  Low and behold I finally received my Catch-and-Release Trophy Certificate.

With nighttime becoming a rarity, the King, Coho, and Sockeye salmon run peaks are still about a month out but the anticipation is almost too much for me to handle.  This is about the time when I have a hard time putting down the rod for the night…because in the land of the midnight sun…you can fish endlessly for days (or as long as you can stay awake to shake a pole at)

Until then we are looking forward to keeping up all updated on our adventures up here.  Tight Lines, and see you all soon!
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