Our new best friends Dave & Pam, whom we had met in McCarthy, invited us to sponge off their friends Bob & Patty for a weekend at their cabin, so we could fish for King Salmon on the Kenai river, which boasts some of the best salmon fishing in the world. Obviously after long and careful consideration we said yes!
Bob who is half Eskimo, raised by his Eskimo mother, has hunted whale in just a canoe. Eskimos now use modern weapons in their canoes, rather than the traditional method of jumping out of a canoe onto the whale’s back and spearing it down its blow hole to sever its spinal cord. Given Bob’s credentials we thought that the odds for catching a really big fish were good!
The weekend began with a bonding session which consisted of eating and drinking whilst sat around a camp fire. Pam and Patty thought it would be a great idea if one of the men in a neighbouring cabin took us girls fishing that evening. We raced up the river past all the other boats until we found our spot. I think I impressed everyone by managing to hold a full glass of red wine over the side of the boat without spilling a drop. After a few hours we had caught nothing and so returned to the cabin. We continued to bond until late into the early hours. It eventually began to get dark in the late Alaskan summer.
Bob and Patty’s cabin is situated within a forest. At about 2 a.m. a series of long deep growls came from the direction of the trees. I sat there thinking, these are Alaskans, they’ll know what to do, they have guns, they’re not panicking, so I won’t. The growls became louder. Still no one moved. So I didn’t. The growls became even louder. At this point Patty jumped from her chair, grabbed Bob’s arm, cowered behind him and screamed.
“Oh, s**t”, I thought, the Alaskans are beginning to panic. Not a good sign, but at least I won’t get eaten first as Pam’s chair is closer than mine! All I have to do is run faster than the slowest person! Just then a black Samoan came out from the trees growling and laughing. He was introduced as Opapa and he told us that his country’s rugby team was better than England’s. We didn’t understand much else he said, as he was very drunk and his English was poor and our Samoan was non existent. Then he staggered back into the forest. We girls continued our bonding after the boys had gone to bed.
The next day Bob the Eskimo took Chris and Dave fishing on a boat on the Kenai river. It was a miserable wet rainy day. Chris’ first strategic move for the day was to cast his line and immediately bird nest it! Bob gave Chris another rod to use. Within minutes Chris had a bite and the real excitement began. He had hooked a 35 lb King Salmon. Now all he had to do was land it! This is nothing like fishing in the UK - these fish are huge and strong and usually fight like hell not to be landed as you pull and reel in...pull and reel in. Whilst Chris was fighting, it jumped out of the water 3 times and tried to swim under the boat. Landing a large fish in a small boat like this, usually involves the occupants (one with a net) dancing around the boat, making it feel very unstable. Its easy to knock the fish off the hook with the net if you aren’t careful. After a half hour struggle the fish was in the boat.
A few hours later we were eating the salmon, with some more new best friends that Pam and I made who have a second home in Hawaii...
The next day it was the girls turn to be taken fishing by Eskimo Bob. At dinner the night before, Pam had the foresight to invite one of Patty’s friends whom Pam had just met and who had a bigger and more comfortable boat...so us girls could fish in style. Pam and Patty had thoughtfully loaded a cooler full of Bailey’s alcohol (the traditional fair on a girls only trip). Fishing Alaskan style seems to involve more alcohol than it does catching fish! It helps relieve the boredom when there is no action...so I was told.
After several false nibbles and having our bait stripped off our hooks without catching a thing, Pam was handing us our second ‘breakfast Baileys’ when she got a bite! A 45 LB salmon this time, which beat the boys weight! It was less exciting trying to land it, but even so it fought so much that Pam was so exhausted despite her weight training that she had to let Patty take over and land it. Again we had to dance around the boat to Eskimo Bob’s instructions. Patty had previously caught a 70 LB King Salmon, which was stuffed and mounted on their cabin wall, which she said was easier to land than Pam’s. After a 20 minute struggle, it was in the boat being hit over the head by Bob, using Pam’s “Flashing Bitches” sign. This called for more celebratory drinks. Bob remarked that fishing with women was far more fun than fishing with men. (Oh, no shit Sherlock!) Then Bob whizzed us back to the cabin. As we passed the boats on the river that morning Patty raised her arms mouthing “this big” to anyone that looked up. The mostly men on the river were surprised to see a boat full of women.
Later that evening we ate fresh King Salmon for the second time...Pam puts her luck down to her lucky rubber boots (Wellingtons), which afterwards everyone wanted to borrow! I’m not so sure, I believe it was down to the “Flashing Bitches” sign which Pam and bought along from a previous fishing competition on an all girl team.
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