Every year for the past several, Andy Couch, a member of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission and owner of Fishtales’ River Guiding, has offered to take the other commission members on a fishing trip as space allows. With the onset of the new Lower Susitna personal use dipnet fishery, that trip is also an option.
This year, I was one of a few who opted for a regular, rod and reel fishing adventure. The rest wanted to go dipnetting. My turn came this past Friday on the Kashwitna River with a couple of clients Andy was taking out. Pat lives in Palmer. His older brother, Pete, is up visiting from New Mexico and had never caught a salmon before. We met at Susitna Landing at 5 am.
I had driven my RV up the night before and camped out, avoiding the 35-mile one-way drive at 4 am. I was still a little bleary eyed as I said good morning to Andy. After getting the boat organized and last-minute restroom stops, we piled into the boat and were off. Andy was looking to get a feel for how the silver fishing was this early in the season on the Kashwitna River.
I caught the first fish, about a 10-inch rainbow trout. I also caught the first silver salmon, a silver dollar bright, approximately 8-pound fish. Things then slowed up for me. I eventually hooked and landed a sockeye while the other guys were limiting out on silvers with one of the brothers also landing a sockeye. Since Andy could legally fish with us, he began flipping a small lure and was catching pinks and a small silver.
We were fishing with bait using a technique involving drifting eggs with the current under a bobber. I had heard Andy’s presentation on this technique at the Sportsmen’s Show but had never tried it before. There are a lot of little details one needs to watch to make the technique work, but we finally mastered enough to catch some fish.
After arriving back at the Landing, I caught a nap in the RV and headed for home later that afternoon. It was a good trip and Pat and Pete were great companions to be fishing with. Pete caught a good silver and was taking pictures to email home to prove he had caught a nice salmon. Apparently, fish don’t get too big in New Mexico because Pete had complimented me on my “nice sized” rainbow trout. This was before we all started landing salmon.
I’ve known Andy for, probably, 25 years. You won’t find a harder working sport fishing guide when you go out with him. He’ll do his best to get you on fish, providing there are fish to get on. We were early for the Kashwitna silver season and while we did catch fish, we were not “overwhelmed” by sheer numbers. Things should keep improving as August wears on.
On another topic, I was looking back through some of my older columns and noticed one dated August 4, 2002. As I began reading it, I quickly realized this was the first column I had submitted to the Frontiersman. If my math is correct, that was 19 years ago. Thus, I’m beginning my 20th year writing this column.
In reviewing the column, I’ve done most of what I had initially stated I wanted to do. Over the years, I’ve gotten more into hunting, fishing, and related activities. Other folks have kept you informed about the non-consumptive outdoor sports.
Here’s a little history on how I got started. Eowyn Ivey was the outdoor writer for the Frontiersman at the time and I saw a request she had printed in the paper asking if anybody had any outdoor related stories they would like to see published. I submitted a moose hunting story I had been working on. She liked it but had a lot of suggestions on how to improve the storyline writing. My great story wasn’t as great as I had thought!
The story was eventually printed. Eowyn was looking to move on, and she recommended me to Frank Ameduri, the then managing editor. I had a meeting with him and brought along some stories I had already written. Frank called me back a few days later and asked for a meeting. When I got there, he offered me the job of writing a weekly outdoor column for the Frontiersman, which was transitioning to three editions a week. I think he needed extra copy to fill space!