This is one of the deckhands filleted a fish.
Went to Buttwhackers again to check out the damage. Biggest halibut on the end (on the left) was a 45 pounder, so just a teensy bit bigger than mine.
So, after getting back into Homer, we went over to the fish processing place so I could send all of the fish home to my mommy. Guess how much it cost me - for 25 pounds of meat - just guess. Betcha guessed wrong! Cost me 175 bucks to send that sucker home. After filleted the fish, I was left with 25 pounds of meat. So there'll be plenty to make dinner for those hungry for halibut. I'll definitely be taking some up with me to Gainesville.
This picture below is of me and Ed, a volunteer here at the refuge. This is when I caught my first Alaskan salmon! As much as I hate to admit this, my fish is on the right. A nice woman volunteered to take the picture for us - but unfortunately, took a crap photo. I'm not just saying this to atone for the fact that my fish looks tiny in this picture. It was small, I grant you that - but not as small as it looks here. The way it's held you can't tell how big it was around. Anyway, Ed and I went fishing around 10 at night for about two hours - and didn't get a thing. We both had a few bites, hooked a few but lost them as they started jumping out of the water - but nothing after that. Then suddenly, Ed caught his big 'un. His is a male Sockeye. Once he caught his, I said to myself, I aint leavin' this place empty handed. So I fished with a determined gleam in my eye (oh yes, I'm editorializing) and in no time, caught my salmon. Mine is a female King. She was probably about 5 pounds. Her body was mostly filled with eggs - but we still got two good-sized fillets out of her and it was SO good. I cooked the salmon the next night. I marinated it in teriyaki, italian dressing and cajun seasoning - and boy, was it good. I cooked some for Sam and had 5 other taste testers - and they all assured me it was finger lickin' good. So no biased-ness there. No worries to the family - I'll be catching some more salmon to send home.
Shortly after I caught my first salmon, I foul hooked one close to the size of Ed's. Unfortunately, it was foul hooked so I had to let it go. To this day I still beat myself up about it, because I should have kept it. The hook was just under the gills, the fish had tired out, and it probably died after I let it go. I should have kept it.
Anyway, since that night, I've fished three times. Hooked and caught a few, but haven't managed to land them. I'm supposed to go out again tonight, so hopefully I'll have better luck.
Last Wednesday, I went over to the Russian River ferry and caught my first Rainbow trout. The limit for that is one per day, less than 16 inches - and it was bigger than that, so I didn't get to keep it.
The Sunday after I caught my salmon, I went to Girdwood with Ed to go gold panning. Girdwood is really close to Anchorage, if you want to look at it on the map. It was an absolutely beautiful drive to there. I swear, the mountains and scenery here are 10x better than what I've been showing you guys already on this blog. The mountains were bigger, and more snow-covered. We saw Turnagain Arm and the Alaskan Train that runs from Seward up to Denali (and probably more North).
We gold panned at what I think was Copper Creek. I can't remember the name of it now. I do recall that the creek's name started with a C. We got our pans, two buckets, and two shovels and then hiked down to the creek. We shoveled a ton of dirt and gravel, put them in our buckets, and then sifted that material handful by handful into the pans, searching for gold. I could almost taste the metallic sweetness of that nugget I was sure to find.
To tell you the truth, I never had much of a hankerin' for gold panning, but I figured I'd add that to my repertoire of Cool Things I've Done. In addition to the fact that you can't go to Alaska - the Last Frontier - place where thousands of men, with hunger in their eyes, pilgrimmaged to make their living - the Gold Rush - without searchin' for a little gold. So search I did. For two hours. And found four flecks. I wasn't expecting much - so I had that going for me. I went for a good time - and a good time is what I got.
Above: Me looking through my pan for gold. Below: Ed searchin' for gold. He reminds me a bit of you, Dad. Not in the looks, but in the personality.The four flecks I found. Ed had been gold panning before - so it was funny that I should find some - and he didn't find any at all.
Before and after we gold panned, we took a little drive around the area - saw Alyeska Ski Resort - and made a lot of stops at overlook areas. I got some really good pictures.
After we gold panned, we took a hike to the Copper Creek Gorge. We took a hand tram over the gorge to get to the other side of the river.
This is a picture of the path we took to get to the hand tram. The forest was beautiful, and it left kaleidoscope dappled sun patches on the ground wherever we went. This is Ed and another man on the tram. It took you 500 yards across the swallowing depths of 500 yards below your feet. This is a picture looking down from the grate of the tram cage. My shoe is on the lower left corner. The water was running so fast. It was an amazing and beautiful sight. This is a picture of the Alaska railroad and train. It was headed in the opposite direction, away from the mountains. In between the mountains there is a glacier.
Another photo of the train, this time of the front.This is a picture of a mountain peak from the car. Can you believe it? Just from the car. It's really cool to look at the shadows from the clouds on the snow. Took another one from inside the car. This is on the drive back to Soldotna. Such a breathtaking drive, isn't it?
Photo of the rushing water of the gorge.
The loon tagging and capturing I did last Tuesday was absolutely amazing. I held two loons in my hands. I held their beak tight shut with my left hand, and kept their head down with the right. The two researchers took blood and fecal samples, made several measurements of their beaks, and then tagged their left foot. I met them at the Drake/Snookum Trailhead at 8 in the morning, and didn't get back 'til 9 at night.
The second loon we captured was a thrilling adventure. We set the capturing net and grid and all sat in our designated spots hidden by camouflage curtains we had hooked up. The one researcher (Chris) started playing loon calls from a device, and the three of us sat silent, waiting. Within ten minutes of making the calls, we spotted a group of four loons way down the lake. Four loons is unusual. Loons are, by nature, solitary. They have their one mate and that's it. When another loon comes onto the lake, that loon, by the other male loon's perspective, is not respecting his territory. And this is just what happened. The loon we eventually captured was being extremely territorial. He chased the other loon on the lake for a good ten minutes. Apparently, I witnessed something that was extremely unusual. Chris had said that that was probably one of the longest chases he had ever watched - and he's been working with loons for years.
When males feel threatened, they do the "yodel" call, which only males do, and they do the "penguin dance," in which they make the call, careen their heads to one side, hold their wings outstretched, and kick the water out from underneath them. It quite literally looks like they are walking on water. This male was doing that several times. It was such an amazing sight. When they "chase" another loon, they stay on the surface of the water, but flap their wings and use them as propellors as they speed through the water. The territorial male was clearly faster than the other, but the other was doing these sharp and quick turns and so was able to escape. After the other male left, we finally were able to snag the other and then do our measurements.
Unfortunately, I didn't take my camera out because I didn't want to risk it falling into the lake - so the pictures with me and loons in my lap are with the researchers. They said they would send me pictures in August. Those should be awesome.
Anyway, that's all for now - but more adventures are sure to follow!