Long-hairs in baggy pants and red-necks in camo swirled in the eddies of Fred Meyer aisles, the Kenai’s fish harvest in full swing.
“This feels so Alaskan to me,” commented Jazz, her mom nodding. “Just the buzz in the store and the eclectic blend of people gearing up for the outdoors.”
We were in Soldotna, picking up Jazz after her camping trip with a couple Homer friends. She’d suggested we come fishing, since we’d be down there to get her anyway.
So there we were, part of the swirl, getting our tags for the Kenai River’s dip-net fishery. That’s what kids are for: inspiration to do the right thing for the family
It’d taken years to recover from the last skunking I’d gotten here, when an emergency opening had sent fleets of commercial boats into the inlet to scoop fish with industrial sets before the runs would reach our own wee nets groping blindly from a sandy river bank.
But I’d also been “that guy”, the one next to you standing chest deep in gray water, hoping to feel the bump of fish muscle in your net. The guy who catches fish after fish, who drags them to shore and while he subdues them for his cooler, you take his place in the river line of nets and he takes yours only to catch one in your old place, while you catch nothin’.
The guy next to you, who after standing in the icy water through a tide turn, you finally ask in desperation, “Heh, can I try your net?” and he takes yours and catches another fish with it while you pull in nothing but a fish head.
Yea, I‘ve been that guy, but yesterday, alas, I wasn’t.
Still we caught 5 reds in about 2 hours water time and 2 hours prep and break-down time. Enough to send me down again. Soon, I hope, as the peak has passed.