One More Set of Aerials

Our ever-shifting sands and river channels...  This is the Old Italio as of Wednesday.  There are three day fishermen at the first curve (not the two lagoons in the lower left corner)

Our ever-shifting sands and river channels… This is the Old Italio as of Wednesday. There are three day fishermen at the first curve (not the two lagoons in the lower left corner)

Middle Italio Wednesday - a pretty straight mouth,  but as the flood dropped and tides got smaller,  a slot formed and fish have been holding down low.  It helped to spread the fishermen around a bit better.  Also a small slot right along the grass just above my cabin.  No hole in front of the air strip at all.

Middle Italio Wednesday – a pretty straight mouth, but as the flood dropped and tides got smaller, a slot formed and fish have been holding down low. It helped to spread the fishermen around a bit better. Also a small slot right along the grass just above my cabin. No hole in front of the air strip at all.

The Akwe Mouth as it is now - very close to the Italio River Adventures camp.  When we built the camp,  it was 1 1/2 miles away from the Akwe.  A dozen years later and it is right in front of the IRA yard.  15 years and it'll be in front of my cabin!

The Akwe Mouth as it is now – very close to the Italio River Adventures camp. When we built the camp, it was 1 1/2 miles away from the Akwe. A dozen years later and it is right in front of the IRA yard. 15 years and it’ll be in front of my cabin!

Confluence of the Akwe/New Italio/Back Rivers.  Ryman's Italio Sport Camp is center right.  You can see how the Akwe has closed the distance between where it was when it cut into the Italio and how close it is getting to the Middle Italio Mouth.

Confluence of the Akwe/New Italio/Back Rivers. Ryman’s Italio Sport Camp is center right. You can see how the Akwe has closed the distance between where it was when it cut into the Italio and how close it is getting to the Middle Italio Mouth.

About 7 miles upstream on the Akwe is John Latham's Akwe Camp,  where Chris has been guiding most of the fall season.  The fishing out there is just now really getting good,  but they had their last group last week.

About 7 miles upstream on the Akwe is John Latham’s Akwe Camp, where Chris has been guiding most of the fall season. The fishing out there is just now really getting good, but they had their last group last week.

Tanis and my nets from the air in the Akwe.  They are about 4 miles up from the river mouth and about 140 yards apart from each other.  They can't be closer than 100 yards.  The lower river this year is very braided,  so we have the nets in different channels in the flooded river.  Usually there isn't enough water for two clear channels like this.  A very wide and flat river now,  probably because the river is getting longer but the drop isn't...  Flat and wide.

Tanis and my nets from the air in the Akwe. They are about 4 miles up from the river mouth and about 140 yards apart from each other. They can’t be closer than 100 yards. The lower river this year is very braided, so we have the nets in different channels in the flooded river. Usually there isn’t enough water for two clear channels like this. A very wide and flat river now, probably because the river is getting longer but the drop isn’t… Flat and wide.

Yes, Another one of “Those Posts”…

Seems like I have to do one of these every year,  so here goes…

***WARNING***  LANGUAGE CONTENT MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME OF OUR YOUNGER VIEWERS:

What the hell is wrong with you people???

OK,  now that I have that out of the way,  I feel so much better!  This has been one of those “odd” weeks,  where you can only shake your head at some of the people that come up here from the real world.  Makes me even more glad I don’t experience the real world very much!  Case in point…

Tanis and I went out to check our gear on the Akwe Monday morning.  We came back to the cabin and I noticed someone standing immediately behind the plane.  On closer inspection,  his pants were down around his knees.  WTF???  He is balancing himself by holding onto the tail of the plane while taking a dump.  REALLY?  Right there??  Where I have to walk???  Yep.

I approach and ask relatively politely why.  He responds,  “I shit my pants Bro”.  Yes,  but why do you have to take a crap right next to my plane,  where I have to step for my preflight and it will attract animals to the plane???  He responds again,  “I shit my pants bro”.

1) I’m a white male,  just as this guy is.  We have no cultural connection in white America to unite us in any way.  No shared experience that could in any possible sense of the word make us “brothers”.

2) I don’t speak Jive.  Any modern colloquialism involving the word “bro” has absolutely no place in my vocabulary,  nor that of anyone I know.  If you are trying to sound cool and hip by calling me “bro” while taking a shit next to my airplane,  you have already failed.

3) As I tried to get across to him…  he had to walk about 100 yards across tall weeds and beach rye grass amongst piles of driftwood and logs to get to the only small spot that is mowed and obviously cultivated as someone’s yard.  ANY place other than immediately next to my plane would have been fine for him to unload.  ANY place would have been easier for him to take care of his business.  He had to work hard to have this “event” adversely impact me and he made a conscious decision to impact me.  Like I said earlier…  WTF???

Not to worry too much.  This is the second such event to happen this week.  I noticed the day before that there was another runny pile of shit next to my plane about 10 feet from where he made his pile.  Someone I didn’t catch in the act left their mark over by the right wing.  When Tanis and I went to load our fish into our bins,  I discovered that the other person was kind enough to “bury” their mess by placing one of my fish tubs on top of their smeary pile of TP,  so I had human excrement stuck to the underside of the tub,  where I would need to lift it with my hand and skid it across the floor of my plane.

Our guest did offer to clean up his mess (with one more expression of my favorite salutation “I shit my pants bro”).  I wondered at the time how exactly he planned to do that,  with runny diarrhea in the mowed grass.  Scooping with his bare fingers?  Probably not.  I left him alone to “finish up” and returned with a shovel a few minutes later to clean up what he made no attempt to deal with.  By then,  he was over by the river tying on a lure.  At least he didn’t cover it with one of my fish tubs.

What is it with my plane and fishermen in need of crapping?  Two years ago when I had the plane tied down in the cutout in the trees,  an entire group of fishermen had some sort of communal crapfest next to the plane.  The shit and TP mess was so bad and so widespread that we ended up having a gigantic bonfire that we rolled around the area to consume it all.  This is the f-ing Alaska wilderness!  You can crap ANYWHERE!  Why does an aircraft attract shit?  Literally!

Imagine some homeless guy coming into your yard and taking a crap on your lawn,  right next to your BBQer.  Would you be pissed?  Would him saying “I shit my pants bro” ease your pissedness?  Are you really this oblivious,  or do you really think this is rational?  I know you were having a bad day and that was why I was trying with all my might to be nice about it.  But come on!

There is a bus stop in front of my cabin.  The “bus” flies,  but it is still just a bus.  I have had the bus passengers come into my cabin and take my kitchen chairs to the river to clean fish on.  They have dumped my gear out of my totes,  so they could put their stuff in them.  I have come home to find guys in soaking wet waders sitting on my cloth couch.  It takes about a month for that to dry out,  in case you were wondering…

Tuesday,  4 guys took my white fish tub that I had protecting nets down to the river’s edge to cover their fish.  They were nowhere to be seen.  After I retrieved it from the river where it easily could have floated away,  they returned to take two of my fish cans we use to fly fish in.  I only have 6 of them and all 6 are needed to fill a load in the plane.  The next day after putting fish in whatever tubs I could scrape together (shitsmear and all),  we found the two missing tubs in the grass 100 yards away where their plane picked them up.  At least we got them back again.

Last week,  a guy unloaded a long string of f-bombs at Pat because he chose to fish in the middle of our designated ATV crossing.  We cross the Middle Italio at two possible designated spots and the Forest Service doesn’t allow us to do it anywhere else.  These two spots are below the tideline and the shallowest fords,  therefore fish don’t hold there.  He was demanding Pat’s name,  so he could look him up online (presumably to write some bad review on Angie’s List or some dumb thing like that),  then reached into his coat like he was going to pull a gun on Pat…  That’s just about the f-bombingest dumb thing you could do out in the Alaska wilderness and his embarrassed buddies knew it…

Like I said,  it seems like I have to type one of these posts once a year…  My apologies.  Understand that we had about 200 people dropped off on the Middle Italio this week.  2 of 200 shit by the plane.  4 stole my equipment.  One threatened the only guide on the river with a gun.  Two groups stuffed their lunch garbage into my ice tote.  4.5% of the people are absolute dumbass morons.  95.5% are decent human beings that have at least enough common sense not to shit themselves and then share it with complete strangers.  The odds are good,  but boy do those few cast a big,  stinky shadow.

Let’s hope next week goes a little smoother.  Bro.

Right where I need to walk,  when inspecting the plane before flight and/or where the nose-wheel will roll through

Right where I need to walk, when inspecting the plane before flight and/or where the nose-wheel will roll through

Identity concealed to protect the stupid

Identity concealed to protect the stupid – notice all the “good” places to take a crap?

Yakutat Assembly and Mayor Positions

Yakutat has an election approaching and several potential openings from Mayor,  to Assembly and School Board.  This is the time to stand up and make a difference in our small community.  Stop by the city office to declare your candidacy for one of these 6 positions.

Declaration of Candidacy is open until 5 pm Sept 30th.

Office                                                           Term

One (1) Borough Mayor                              2 year Term

Three (3) Borough Assembly Members      2 Year Terms

Two (2) School Board Members                 3 Year Terms

Great Bear Picture

This is one of the best bear photos I have seen in a long time!  It feels exactly like what you feel like when you realize you aren’t alone.  I LOVE it!  Especially since it was just sent to me in a batch of photos by a friend with no info…  I didn’t know what the picture was of and it took me a little while to see it.  What a delightful surprise!  Photo by Rick Ranny…

A 9/11 Thank You

It isn’t fun to look back on such a tragic anniversary as this.  9/11 is the Pearl Harbor of my generation.  Sad to see the world falling apart as we see it now.  My grandparents looked at a world also falling apart,  but did something about it.  They literally saved the world.

If you remember this past spring,  Honor Flight flew a group of Alaska veterans to Washington DC to see their memorial.  It was the very least we could do,  for the sacrifices they made for our freedom.  Yakutat’s only living WWII veteran was on that flight.  Unfortunately both he and his escort Tina came home sick from the trip and spent weeks healing up from so much attention and contact with the outside world.

I had wanted to post some photos from their trip and the send-off Yakutat gave them,  but time slipped away and I didn’t post my follow-up.  Here they are at one of the airports along the way – not sure if this is in Anchorage or Portland:

Sig and Tina Edwards,  waiting for their Honor Flight trip to DC last spring

Sig and Tina Edwards, waiting for their Honor Flight trip to DC last spring

I got an e-mail this week from Sig’s nephew,  who lives down in Washington.

“I am so proud to call him Uncle.  I’m attaching a photo of Sig taken on his return from over seas.”

A slightly younger Sigurd...

A slightly younger Sigurd…

A teenager volunteered to put his body between us and true evil.  I’m so proud to call him a neighbor.  Just a punk kid with his whole life ahead of him.  Our lives are ahead of us because of what he and so many others did to make sure we would have a future.

They continue to volunteer to put their bodies between us and true evil.  On this day,  I send out a thank you to all our military,  veterans and families.  We are proud of and remember your sacrifices for us,  then and now.

Flooding Destruction

Yesterday,  a guy who we have a little history with passed through the shop.  Great guy who actually met Tanis on the Italio about 10 years ago in front of the cabin.  I remembered him from the story he mentioned…

Tanis' first "fish"

Tanis’ first “fish”

Back when Tanis was just a cute little kid,  he wandered out from the cabin and started visiting with the day fishermen that were waiting for their plane.  He plopped down next to one of them and was offered a cookie from the guy’s lunch.  He said Tanis waxed on about fishing as if he was an old man with years of experience.  The guy was a little concerned about this little kid wandering around all alone in the wilds of Alaska with no parents in sight…

Here,  Tanis is showing a passing sport fisherman a few tricks

Here, Tanis is showing a passing sport fisherman a few tricks

Tanis said he had a fly rod,  so ran back to the cabin to retrieve it.  Everyone was impressed by the little 5 year old and his double-hauling technique.

The guy (and I’m sorry I can’t remember his name right now) flew out to the Italio on Monday right after the flood.  He said he will never do it again.  I can’t say I blame him.  There were more than 50 people out there trying to fish that day.  I understand that the Situk was totally blown out and the Middle Italio was the only river that was fishable for fly-outs.  It is a GREAT river,  but a small one.  Too many people for the limited space.  This year,  the river is so straight that there aren’t any holding slots in the lower river,  so the only real place for fish to stack up is upstream.  50 people in the Spruce and Alder Holes doesn’t work.

What a place for kids to grow up

What a place for kids to grow up

The air taxis are just that – a taxi.  They drop people off where the people ask to go.  They ruined that river in the eyes of a lot of their customers by not advising them of just how many people were being dumped there on Monday.  Many of those fishermen will never do another fly out because of the bad experience on Monday of extreme overcrowding.  That one-time sale of a flight to the Middle Italio will now be their ONLY sale for those former customers.  That is really too bad.  There was virtually no one out there Tuesday and Wednesday.  No one wanted to return.

He had fully transitioned to fly fishing by now

He had fully transitioned to fly fishing by now

I partially blame the mess on the Forest Service as well.  Pilots can not make recommendations on where to drop people off because that crosses the Forest Service’s definition of “guiding”.  The air taxis can only legally do point-to-point transport and not provide genuine customer service to their clients.  What a shame that the combination of government restrictions and business-as-usual ended up making it a miserable day for those who shelled out a big chunk of change to do a remote fly-out,  only to stand shoulder to shoulder.  That isn’t why people travel all the way to Yakutat,  Alaska.  They expect some sort of remoteness,  not like fishing in a crowded airport terminal.

Standing in my yard looking upstream on September 12th,  2007 - no fishermen visible!  Imagine 50+ people in this view last Monday...

Standing in my yard looking upstream on September 12th, 2007 – no fishermen visible! Imagine 50+ people in this view last Monday…  Photo actually taken 7 years ago tomorrow!

Of course I sold my guide business on the Italio two years ago and I really don’t have any direct skin in that game anymore.  I do lose business in the fly shop if Yakutat continues to offer substandard service as a destination,  when people choose to go elsewhere instead of battling the crowd in Yakutat.  Such a shame,  especially when you consider the vast number of salmon streams in the region have NO ONE fishing them!

Landing a nice silver on a fly he tied himself - hard to beat!

Landing a nice silver on a fly he tied himself – hard to beat!

I love the Italio.  It has been my home since I was 4 years old.  Raising my own kids there has been an immense joy.  One of the greatest features of the Italio system is that in the worst storm – the highest flood – it is still fishable.  Its flow also drops the quickest of any river in the region.  When there are no other reasonable options for fishing,  everyone wants to fly to the little ol’ Italio.  On Monday they did.  Unfortunately,  the flood of people caused the destruction of a great river’s reputation.

There is no better wog fishing for salmon on earth than the Italio.  Tanis has been doing it since he was 7.

There is no better wog fishing for salmon on earth than the Italio. Tanis has been doing it since he was 7.

Such a shame.  We can do better.  The Italio deserves it.

OK,  I posted a bunch of pictures of Tanis growing up out there…  now it is Eden’s turn to follow in her big brother’s footsteps:

P8300028 P8300043 P8300069 P8300048 P8310124 P8310131 P8310132

2014 Moose Harvest Quota

Bull Moose Harvest Quota Established for Unit 5A, except Nunatak Bench

Release Date: Sep 5, 2014   Yakutat, Alaska
USDA Forest Service News Release

Contact(s): Lee Benson

The Yakutat District Ranger, under authority delegated by the Federal Subsistence Board, has established the moose harvest quota for Unit 5A, except the Nunatak Bench, at 55 bulls. No more than 25 of those bulls are to be taken from the area west of the Dangerous River. This quota is effective for the 2014 Federal Subsistence moose season, which is October 8 to November 15, 2014. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has established the same quota in Unit 5A for the State season, effective October 15, extending through the end of the State season on November 15. The State and Federal quotas are not cumulative.

Recent surveys by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service indicate a low bull:cow ratio, particularly on the western forelands. The Yakutat area received heavy snowfall during the 2011-2012 winter, which may have impacted the overall population. The harvest quota has been established to improve the bull:cow ratio and increase productivity of the herd, thereby providing long-term subsistence harvest opportunities.

Please be aware of recent land status changes in the Yakutat area. Specifically, National Forest lands within the Nine Township area are now designated as Federal Lands open to subsistence hunting. Updated maps are available at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Forest Service offices in Yakutat.

For additional information, contact U.S. Forest Service Yakutat District Ranger Lee Benson or Wildlife Biologist Susan Oehlers at 907-784-3359.