Floated a creek up north with a couple of friends. Only used mouse patterns. Had blue skies and a lot of fun.Life is better with dogs.Navigating the cold clear water.We caught lots of fish. They weren’t all this happy.
Hooligan (Thaleichthys pacificus), otherwise known as “eulachon” or “candlefish”, are a type of anadromous smelt that makes its way into a number of rivers in Alaska during the spring spawning run. They arrive in some river systems in the hundreds of thousands, and are an important forage species for eagles, gulls, bears and other species. The fish is found from the Pacific Northwest to Alaska, and the name “eulachon” is thought to derive from the Chinookan language. “Hooligan” is thought to be a derivative of the Chinookan name.
Hooligan are of interest to subsistence fishermen, who net them out of rivers in the spring. The fish are eaten dried, smoked, canned or pan-fried. In years past, they earned the name “candlefish”, because when dried, the oil content of the fish was sufficient to allow it to burn like a candle. Hooligan were formerly harvested and rendered for their oil, which can comprise 15% of their body weight during the spawning run.
Hooligan make their spawning run in May, with the males usually coming in first, followed by female fish a few days later. Males develop two fleshy ridges along their sides, and most hooligan die after spawning. They lay their eggs in sand or gravel, and the eggs hatch in roughly a month. The fry make their way to saltwater immediately, where they live for four to six years. They do not always return to the same stream where they were spawned, but they do return to the general area. They prefer slower rivers without a lot of current velocity, as they are fairly weak swimmers.
Hooligan average between eight and ten inches in size.
Hooligan are typically caught by dipnet, a long-handled net with a bag that has fine mesh in it. The fish school up in deeper pockets, and in these places hundreds of hooligan can be caught. At this writing, a dipnetting permit is not required, and anyone with a valid sport fishing license can catch hooligan. There is no bag limit on hooligan.
Hike 12/52. Bird Ridge ain’t no joke. Especially in the winter. It is only 2.5 miles each way, but 3400 feet of elevation gain.
4 dogs and 3 people made it damn near to the top.
We went up, up, and up some more. Like a snowy stair stepper.
The views seemed to just get better and better.
We made it as close to the top as was safe and returned to the car.
Walking was a little tricky for the following few days.
Sometimes you have to stop in the middle of your run just to take a picture.
Every year, I complain about finding the perfect tree. Every year, I go out and whine for hours about how cold it is and how dumb we are for being out there. This year was no different. We went out in stupidly cold temperatures and looked at hundreds of trees that all looked the same to me.I stopped to take a couple of pictures. I was pretty happy when we weren’t actively hunting for a tree. It is rather beautiful. I hate to admit it.This is my favorite way to look at the trees. From the warmth of a car.
We headed into Hope, Alaska, hoping (hahahahaha) for a warm meal or really just for something to be open. There was a kayak place that will microwave a sandwich for you. The cafe was closed.
It was rather beautiful, but I hate to admit it.We found lots of snow. That is better than last year!
Beautiful. It is all so damn beautiful.
We headed up the Parks Highway (names for George Parks, not Denali National Park, even though that is the direction it heads) to follow little blue lines that we had seen on Google Maps. We found a place where the power lines cross the creek. This is usually a good spot to access the water.
Many other places I have fished have lots of private property preventing a person from accessing the water. Here, you really just can’t get to the water. The bushes are too thick, the mud is too deep, and there are no trails. It is perfect. When you do get to the water, you might be on a cliff too high to fish properly. The other side of the river always seems to look better than wherever I am standing.
Plus, there is the added bonus that I am always looking over my shoulder for wildlife. Maybe something to see that is cool, maybe making sure that nothing is going to attack me. Either way, I feel like I am always looking out for something. We found a piece of water that looked like it would have some fish. The water was higher than we wanted though. It was muddy. There were hardly any bugs (except the mosquitoes). There had to be fish here.
It was too early in the season for anything salmon related. No eggs yet. No flesh unless it was left over from last year. These are meat eating trout. It was time to swing some streamers. The bigger and uglier the better.Somehow, we fooled them again. Total solitude. Hungry fish. The fear of being attacked by wildlife overcome. Mosquitoes swatted. Headed home, we felt accomplished. Rugged. Alaskan like. Bear spray safely in the car unused, we stopped by Starbucks for our usual chai lattes. We aren’t that rugged.As the fishing season starts to heat up, my heart races more and more before each adventure starts. Every time that we step outside, I am amazed at what we see.