If you’ve seen the GoPro video of my close encounter with a grizzly from earlier this summer, you probably have some questions. I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I kept it together and why I didn’t shoot.
Here's a re-cut video to give you a little more explanation of this situation, and to show some alternate footage of the encounter.
One evening while down on Afognak Island, my buddy Luke Randall decided it was time to spool up some of his new halibut reels. This sounds like a pretty straightforward task, as most of us have spooled miles of fishing line over the years, but I found out that putting line on a halibut reel is not as simple a routine as it sounds.
While madly snagging sockeye salmon in a remote cove on Afognak Island, we got a little more excitement than we had expected. We were busy casting our treble hooks into boiling schools of salmon, when our fishing buddy Mary shouted that she had one on the line. Then the salmon suddenly took off for the ocean, the drag screaming.
The Kodiak Islands are famous for their enormous salmon runs, and I was smack dab in the middle of the sockeye run during my fishing trip on Afognak Island. My buddy Luke Randall sent me a picture a few days before my arrival of a school of hundreds of sockeye (red salmon) making their way up a small creek. I could hardly stand the wait, and before I knew it, we were pulling up into a lagoon chock full of silversides.
Reds are basically just krill feeders, and will almost never bite a lure. This means the best way to catch them is to snag them with a weighted treble hook. There’s no doubt that snagging salmon is considered despicable by a certain class of anglers (which is a class I will never be able to attain), and it's also illegal in some states. But is snagging reds really wrong?
It’s probably safe to say that most of us are perfectly adequate at filleting fish, but when approached with a deep sea monster like this big halibut, we would probably do more head scratching than cutting. That’s definitely not the case with my buddies at Afognak Wilderness Lodge, however. These guys clean more fish on a daily basis than most people (including myself) process in a year’s time.
Needless to say, they have the system down. Even with some hands-on help, I was embarrassed by how slow I was compared to everybody else. Garrett Wood, one of the lodge staff, patiently showed me the different techniques for each species of fish, explaining that it took him about 50-60 fish to really get the feel of it. Filleting is all about feel. It’s quite a bit different than the knife work I’m used to—skinning furry critters—and requires long, smooth strokes and really employs the flex of the blade.
Modern compound bows are making shots of over 100 yards not only a reality, but something of a regularity. I'm not really into compound bows, but I wanted to see if I could shoot at those super long ranges with my recurve.
Shooting heavier arrows at significantly slower speeds than most modern compounds produce, I knew I would have to hold way over the target, but I wasn't sure how far. To further complicate things, I don't use sights, so it would have to be totally instinctive.
Halibut are generally associated with either overpriced dinner plates, Dramamine-drugged days on choppy seas, or arm burning battles. You get the latter two here in Alaska, where halibut fishing is relatively accessible. Whether at $50 a plate, or a tank full of gas, halibut is without question one of the finest eating sea fish there is. Its flaky white meat is one of the most sought after in Alaska. If you’re fortunate enough to find some of this fresh delicacy, don’t bother with the fancy cook books, here’s a surefire way to prepare it that will give you thanksgiving food coma flashbacks.
On my first afternoon of fishing out on Afognak Island we already had hundreds of pounds of fish between our two boats.
Each morning we would head out a relatively short distance from the lodge and start walloping fish. Much of the halibut fishing in Alaska involves hours on the boat before you even get to the good spots, but out on Afognak, the fishing is pretty much all within an hour of the lodge. I caught my biggest halibut, a 150 pounder, only 20 minutes from camp.
Black bear season here in Alaska, or anywhere for that matter, brings its share of challenges. Don’t let a poorly placed shot be one of them.
When bowhunting bears, shot placement is super critical. They are tougher than nails, and don’t leave much of a blood trail, so putting a quick killing arrow right through the boiler room will help ensure a speedy recovery.
Forget about the Florida Keys and Venice, Louisiana. Alaska’s Afognak Island offers the greatest saltwater fishing on the planet (at least in my opinion). So with a little time off of work for the Fourth of July, I made my waydown to Afognak Wilderness Lodge for the first time during the summer months.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for, since I’ve seen Afognak only in the winter. I arrived at the Kodiak airport at 7:30 a.m. and had to rush over to the floatplane dock just in time to jump on a Beaver bound for Seal Bay. For what was supposed to be a relaxing trip, I was moving fast! As soon as we landed, I hauled my bags up the ramp, shoveled down a plate-full of breakfast, grabbed a set of rain gear, and then hit the water in search of halibut and lingcod.
After only about 45 minutes of running in the boat, we were on the fish. We found a spot where the whales were churning up baitfish while hundreds of birds hit the water. The sounder was going nuts, so we dropped our jigs and I started pulling up fish nearly as fast as I could get my jig back down to the bottom. We were slaying not only halibut and lingcod, but sea bass (black rockfish) too!