I am still itching the bug bites, and can still smell the salmon on my clothes that I just unpacked. I miss Alaska so much already.
It all started with a Simms photo contest on Facebook. They were giving away a week long guided Alaskan fishing adventure through Deneki Outdoors.Â Matt entered thinking he’d never win… but with him constantly begging and nagging our friends to vote for his picture… they voted… and we actually won a trip to Alaska. He ran around the house screaming like a little girl and I haven’t seen him smile like he did for a while. I joined in on the girl screaming action and we just sat there looking at each other in shock.
I have to admit, he was a lot more excited than I was. My dream vacation was never Alaska. I want a beach, and margarita’s, and crystal clear water, and more beach. And more margarita’s. Months later, there we were. Packing for Alaska hours before we were to walk out the door and head to fish-ville. I started to fold my shorts and tank tops, and I threw my rainbow flip flops in and asked Matt where the sunscreen was. He looked with his really sweet “I love you but you are so retarded sometimes” look that I get more than I’d like. He asked me where I thought we were going. I shouted “ALASKAAAA!”. He asked how I thought the weather was there. I said, “It’s summer… Duh.” His “I love you but you need help” look reassured me that I would not be wearing shorts and tank tops in Alaska. Out came summer clothes, in went long underwear, wool socks, more long underwear, and more wool attire. In my mind that made Alaska sound even more stupid but I smiled and told myself we’d have fun no matter what… even if I had to have 9 layers of clothes on.
We were off to the airport at 5am and I could not believe how fast it came. We landed in Alaska, rented our car and we were off to have one of the best weeks EVER. I had no idea what I was in for. I do love fishing, don’t get me wrong. Matt has really showed me what loving fly fishing was all about. I never thought I would want to be on the river as much as that boy. Alaska can do crazy things to a girl.
So anyways… back in Alaska… we had a few days to hang in Seward before our trip so we went on an evening dinner cruise where we saw tons of whales, dolphins, seals and puffins! It was amazing, we met some really cool people too. The next day we went on a guided fishing trip to catch salmon right next to the bears! It was pretty amazing. We literally were catching fish yards away from bears! So cool! The next day we did some deep sea fishing and we caught some halibut, cod and some silver salmon. Then we were off to Quinhagak to Deneki Outdoors “Alaska West” location. It took two flights on tiny planes, a bus, and a boat to get there. You know it’ll be good when it’s a journey like that.
So there we were. Standing in our “camp” for the week and loving every second of it already. All this because of a facebook contest. Crazy, right?! We got a tour of the camp which consisted of all tent buildings. There was the dining area tent or “chow-hall”, there was a little hangout lounge with couches, games, and darts, and there was a bunch of tiny little tents where we all stayed. Bathrooms were the wilderness, or an outhouse. There were a couple shared outdoor sinks to wash up or brush your teeth. And there were 4 showers that were sometimes hot, and sometimes cold. I took one shower the whole time I was there. I know, I know… it’s kinda gross. But no one noticed. I still brushed my teeth and wore deodorant and a lot of perfume to still make myself smell awesome. We all stunk of fish and we were living semi-caveman style. It was sah-weeeeet.
The staff there is incredible. Seriously some of the nicest, coolest people I’ve ever met. Our guides were amazing every single day. We caught so much fish my arm still hurts. Kings, chums, sockeye, pinks, dolly, rainbows & more. I landed a 26 inch rainbow trout and it was one of the coolest moments ever. Anytime I have a nice fish on my line, inside all I am thinking is “Okay Tracy, keep calm. Just keep the line tight, reel in and land it.” That is a total lie. And every guide there will tell you that. This is what I am actually thinking inside when I have a beast of a trout on my line: “OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH!!! What do I DOOOOOO?!?!?! Shit, Shit, DON’T LOSE THIS FISH!!! Ahhhhhh the line is not tight I LOST IT, I LOST IT!!! Okay, nope… you are correct, guide. I didn’t lose it! IT’S RUNNING STRAIGHT AT ME! Can’t keep LINE TIGHT!!! OH MY GOOOOO- IT’S IN THE NET! Sweet baby Jesus I did it.” That is more like it. I go crazy. My head does not work right. I act like I just chugged 90 red bulls and my brain is on fire. I am sorry to every guide that had to witness that. It must have been hard to watch. Speaking of hard to watch… Matt had a ginormous rainbow trout on the line at one time and we all got to see it swim by and flip us off before it snapped off the line. Our guide said it was a 28-30 incher. I have never seen Matt so sad. I could literally hear the heartbreak.
So everyday, we’d wake up at 6:30, head to breakfast and chat it up with our new friends, go back to our tent, change into our fishing gear, go meet our guide at the boat by 8, and we were off for the day. Some days were rainy, some were really cold, and one was sunny. But even with pretty chilly weather, it was still epic. When you are fighting a fish… you don’t care what the weather is like. You don’t care if you ankle is sore. You don’t care about all the work waiting for you at home. You think of nothing but that awesome fight with that fish you are having. Wow… I am really starting to sound obsessed. I never thought I would love fly fishing this much. It truly is an amazing sport and I can’t wait to get back out on the rivers.
Matt has always prayed that I fall in love with fly fishing. So now he thanks God for Alaska West.
I want to share so many more photos right now, I promise I will soon… but real life is calling again, and we are getting ready to head to Chico Hot Springs to shoot Steph & Chet’s wedding!
To every girl that thinks they can never love fly fishing… give it a chance. You might surprise yourself.
To Simms: THANK YOU. Thank you so much for giving us the trip of a lifetime. We already love all your stuff and are completely decked out in simms gear when we fish… and now we love you even MORE!!!
To the Alaska West crew: Thank you so much for everything. We totally love all of you!! Ken, Trevor, Jordan, Hawkeye, Rich, Rob, Jakob, Ben, Jeb, Adam, Robert, and everyone else… you made our time there so incredible and I hope we get to see all of you again someday.
“There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind.”Â ~Washington Irving
The following pictures were taken by lots of different people: myself, Matt, Ben, Hawkeye, Charlie and maybe some others…
Trevor holding my beastly trout!
Photo Shoot on the river shore!Our new friends, Jack and Kae.Â Matt and his huge King Salmon!Â Ken (one of the coolest guides ever) holding my awesome Kingy!I tied this mouse fly a couple nights before this. So cool watching a fish slurp up something you made…
thanks for teaching me how to make it, Rob!I tried fresh salmon caviar that I helped prepare… it was actually pretty amazing!More pictures to come. Thanks for taking a peek at our journey. It was truly amazing.
“I love fishing.Â You put that line in the water and you don’t know what’s on the other end.Â Your imagination is under there.”Â ~Robert Altman