“So we walked all this way and there’s someone here”.
Sooo…. There was this one day when Kristie and I were fishing at one of our secret holes. Not really a secret place to fish it was our secret short cut to get there that makes it “secret” but you get the idea. It is a great place for Rainbows and Dollys when the salmon are spawning. The first time we went there we caught and released over 90 fish between the two of us in under 4 hours. We like this part of the creek because there are usually only a handful of people who will walk all the way to this spot. We only have to walk about 10 minutes as opposed to over 40 minutes from where other anglers come in from. That being said this part of the creek usually has one or two people pass through while we are there fishing. On this particular day, fishing was great, and there happened to be about 7 people there most of the time while we were there. We always get there early and then other fisherman start showing up. This day was no different, we had all staked out our areas and were catching and releasing up and down the creek repeatedly. I was around the bend of a corner from Kristie so that we could only see each other from the shoulders up. Because of bear mostly we don’t stray too far from one another ever. And that way we are close to each other to help net or get a picture of a particularly good looking fish. I usually carry a pistol or like this day a shotgun for protection. So my backpack was about ten feet from me, shotgun laying on grass behind me and I’m fishing away. The Rainbow's were plentiful and hungry, the Dolly’s were huge and had attitude to match. We had been there for a couple hours and several people had politely (like most fly fisherman are) passed along the bank behind us as they came through to reach an area to fish in. When, I see this man, woman and younger guy coming up the creek, tromping along and scaring anything and everything in their path. Dressed to the hilt with all the latest style and gear. The younger guy and woman both had exhausted looks on their face while the man in the lead looked like someone had improperly fixed his cheerios that morning. As they rounded the corner closest to me on the right they stopped mid stream and stared at me. The last 50 or so yards they came up the creek there is a tangle of logs and deep holes that criss cross the creek, you have to get out of the water and then back in a couple times to circumvent the corner. As they stood there staring at me I smiled and nodded. The older man says, “so we walked all this way and there’s someone here”. I cast into the water to my left and let the fly float downriver amongst the spawning salmon towards the people standing about 20 feet to my right in the center of the creek. The man starts walking up stream right where I was letting my flie float. I pulled my line in and cast to my left again and let it float towards them just like before. This time letting my line get within 5 feet of them and took two steps out into the creek further myself. I pulled my line in again and stared at the man, he turned and started walking towards the bank to my right. As they approached the man says to me, “are there more people on up around the corner” motioning towards my left. I cast again and answered, “yes, my wife is right around the corner and there’s at least 6 maybe seven more people on further up” He says something to who I assume are his wife and by appearance their son. They stand next to my shotgun on the bank as he continues to walk up around the corner, he let’s out a huge sigh, curses and turns to walk back to his family. As he gets close he asks me, “how long have you been here?” I think about it for a minute and respond, “since about 10” it’s close to 1 at this point. He looks me right in the eyes and says, “do you know we drove down here from Anchorage to walk past all those other people all the way up to here and find all you people” I responded as nicely as possible, “did you know we got up at 7 drove here from Kenai and walked all the way up here ourselves” He doesn’t miss a beat, “are all those other people with you too?” I answer, “nope, just me and my wife, they all got here after us as well, like an hour ago” He glares at his wife and son, then back at me and says, “how long are you going to be here?” I politely state, “until we get tired or it gets dark” It’s fall here in Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula, it doesn’t actually get dark, I mean it gets to the point you have to turn on your headlights but never really dark. He knows this means we aren’t leaving until we get tired of fishing. I felt a bit bad for the wife and son but not for the man acting like we had done something wrong by being there before them. He threw his hands up and says, “well there’s no use fishing and I’m not walking anymore” the son says something I can’t hear. His dad turns and waves his hands at me and says, “he’s not going anywhere so we aren’t going to be able to catch any fish today”. At this point I’m starting to laugh because with the Salmon spawning through the entire creek you can go anywhere and catch fish, some spots are better obviously but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish virtually anywhere along the creek. The three of them stand there while I continue to fish, I get one tug but I’m more paying attention to the man who’s clearly agitated with me. He says something to the other two and they all turn and start heading back the way they came but this time on the banks mostly. I watch as they disappear into the distance the man continuously spouting off to his family. What I found interesting in the whole exchange was that there was plenty of room for them to fish, beside me and also upriver on the other side of my wife before the other people. I assume he only wanted to be exactly right where I was and only there. We fished for probably another two hours before moving onto another spot. My point with this is, there are many times when my wife and I arrive to a particular place only to find someone is already there. We make snide funny comments about being late to the party, blame each other for getting up late, shouldn’t have stopped for coffee, how someone stumbled into our spot etc. We move around and find new places to fish, sometimes they are even better than the original. Most people we run into out fishing are nice, easy going, friendly, share information. But sometimes, just like in day to day travels you meet people who…. shall we say think the world owes them something. I don’t expect everyone to be polite, to be easy going etc. I expect people to be jerks, I expect people to be selfish. What i was surprised with was that this man made his family trek all the way to that exact spot and then, decided to turn and go home rather than make the best of a bad situation. A situation truly out of his control. Hopefully it doesn’t take away from his wife and sons appeal towards fly fishing and/or fishing in general. I don’t know their situation, maybe this is a normal day for them. But my take from the experience was, I’m glad I was there with my wife, I’m glad we get up when we do, I’m glad we try to find a way to enjoy virtually every situation we find ourselves in. Next post I’ll talk about sharing the river with a family of Brown Bear as we all attempt to catch our share of fish.