The ultimate fish story |

The ultimate fish story

Peggy Bristol
Peggy Bristol shows off her halibut.

I just got back from a trip to Alaska where I got a chance to fish.

My friend and I flew into Anchorage two weeks ago, and rented an RV and did a road trip all over Alaska. (This was my third trip there). We went up to Denali and took the tourist bus into the heart of Denali, and managed to see grizzly bears, caribou, Dall sheep, foxes, bald eagles, moose and a lynx.

Words can’t describe the beauty of Alaska and the majestic mountains. I got to ride on a dog sled at the Iditarod center in Wasilla and that got me hooked on the history of dog sleds. I read a couple of history books, one on the people who helped in the inception of the park, which was called Mount McKinley. One particular woman who was instrumental in the history was named Fannie Quigley, and her biography was fascinating.

I got to go halibut fishing out of Homer — what an experience that was. I picked a day when many other charters were canceling their outings, as the seas were rocky. Not my captain and crew. I was fortified with two days of Dramamine, as I get seasick, and out we went.

The captain piloted the ship for an hour and a half (I thought we were going to Russia). The limit of halibut was two and the ones caught that day were all the same size. I did get sick, but didn’t give up on bringing in my two fish. I learned ocean fishing isn’t for me. The halibut were heavy to land, it felt like I was bringing up a bathtub. But I did have them shipped home and all of my neighbors are lining up at the driveway for samples.

But my favorite time was on the Kenai River while the red salmon were running. I fished out of a place called Cooper’s Landing, a popular place. They have a ferry there that takes people across the river, and they’re all lined up, elbow to elbow — no kidding, combat fishing at its finest!

They do a fishing thing there called the “Kenai Twitch.” You use a fly rod and fling it, and I mean fling the line, out in the river, then snap it right back. The purpose is to hook the fish. It’s like snagging them, really. It was quite a sight to see everyone, elbow to elbow, flinging the line out in the water, then snapping it back, all trying to hook a fish.

I was lucky enough to hire a guide with a drift boat, and we began the trip right where these folks were. Drifting down the turquoise waters of the Kenai in a drift boat was one of the most joyful and memorable days of my life.

The day was picture perfect. It had rained most of the two weeks but I got a nice day for the Kenai fishing. The young guide was patient with this old grandma who couldn’t get enough of the experience. I let out such a shout of excitement when I caught my first one, all the guys fishing just howled … and clapped.

The limit was three. I caught four and two got away — snapped the end of the line, which was 30-pound test (unbelievable to me). Then the guide lost a couple when he was trying to net them. All in all, the time of my life.

When I caught my first one the guide did a ceremonial painting of blood on my cheeks.

What made me happy was being in a place where everyone was wearing their fishing waders. It was like standard wear. I was in heaven, I tell you. The guide practically had to drag me off the boat, I didn’t want to leave.

Now, I’m anxious to go fishing here. When I left, the rivers were still not good so I can’t wait to get out and fish our beautiful holes. I wait all year for this stuff.

Here’s hoping you are, likewise, enjoying yourself in what you truly love.