Of Fish and Friends


Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2003

I was on a plane flying from Anchorage to Kenai and met an elderly lady from Kasilof who identified herself as Mary Lamm. I was not sure what went through this lady's mind when this big burly guy with long hair sat down beside her. She seemed to be a real pleasant lady and reminded me of my own grandmother back in Wisconsin. You know the type, those that have canned about a zillion jars of food throughout their lives and shared it with all their friends and neighbors.

We visited about the weather and even though many of you who know me may find this hard to believe we even discussed fishing! Mary told me that she always was able to get plenty of salmon to eat here in Alaska but getting any rainbow trout was a little more difficult. In fact she went on to say she had not eaten any rainbow trout in several years. I assured her that I would see that she got a few meals of rainbow trout to eat.

With a special mission on my list of things to do this fall I had hoped for early ice so I could get out and get some fish for my new friend. I hate the period of time when there is too much ice to put the boat in but not enough to get out and fish on. This fall was a real difficult time for me, as that thin layer of ice seemed to hang there forever.

Finally after a brief cold snap Steve and Isaac Dambacher and I headed to Upper Omar Lake off the Skilak Loop to try and catch a few rainbows. After three jabs with my ice chisel I was through the thin ice and made us very cautious about going out on it. We estimated it to be about 3" thick and it made some pretty scary noises as we walked out a few feet from shore and drilled a few holes.

Isaac soon pulled a couple of feisty trout through the ice and his dad Steve also caught a keeper rainbow. I was the victim of a very upset stomach that morning and while the other guys were fishing I was back in the woods .....Never mind!

By the time I got to the fishing hole the fish were either all caught or they just quit biting. If these guys caught the last three fish you might want to call Fish & Game and have them restock

Upper Omar Lake! In any event since the ice was pretty thin I didn't want to venture across the lake to some of my favorite spots so we packed up and left. My first fishing trip of the year and I got third place out of three fishermen!

We decided to drive to Watson Lake and try our luck there especially since we could stay in shallow water just in case the ice gave away and sent us scrambling for membership to the Polar Bear Club. Steve and I walked straight out from the boat landing where I know the water is always less then four feet deep. As we were walking we could hear the ice cracking and even feel the vibration on the bottom of our boots! Several times Steve and I stopped with our knees bent and listened to the crackling ice under us and between us not sure whether we should go on or head back! We both agreed not to walk near each other and Isaac optioned to stay in the truck and howl like a coyote.

We were almost three fourths of the way across the lake where i found about 3 feet of water and as I was raising my jig to the surface a nice rainbow took a swipe at it! I quickly drilled another hole and sat down to fish. We soon had some nice rainbows on the ice between 12 and 16 inches. We were able to catch a lot of small fish but had enough larger ones to take some fish to Mary Lamm. I did much better fishing in this lake since Isaac optioned to stay in the truck I moved into second place losing only to Steve!*?I#@!! *!!

I met Mary and her son at the bank in Soldotna the following morning and they gave me 5 jars of homemade pickles, relish, and salsa in exchange for the fish! Not only does Mary remind me of my dear grandmother she also makes pickles as good as she did! What a pleasant surprise for me to get such a nice gift back in return from a very special lady.

Sometimes it is hard to get ahead of these Alaskan people who I have always said are among the most gracious in the world. I urge each of you to share some of your fish and other wild game with those in need especially our elderly. Besides I don't want to feel guilty being the only ice fishermen eating homemade pickles here in Alaska.

Shortly after the pickle for fish swap with Mary Lamm I spotted a turkey on the bottom of a shopping cart in the parking lot of Three Bears! Great I thought a Christmas gift of turkey to go with my pickles. Life just doesn't get any better then this! Yes my family and friends had turkey for Christmas dinner and yes the turkey was free...Never cost us a dime! One of the best free turkeys I ever ate too. Do I feel a little guilty you ask? Not a bit You see the turkey we ate was the one we won at Alaska Trading and Loan in their turkey drawing last November. I returned the one I found to the lady at the checkout at Three Bears.

Even though I may appear rather gruff to some of you out there, I wouldn't feel right eating someone else's turkey when I had one in the freezer and seven live ones out here in the shed!

The lady at the store looked shocked when I carried it back inside and told her I had found it in the parking lot. She replied most people would have simply put it in their car and took it home with them. I'm not so convinced that most of my fellow Alaskans would have took the turkey home instead of returning it. But if it had dressing with it that might have been more tempting.

See you next Week!

(I will be here too!)

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