Sunday, September 21, 2008

The "Hinter" of Hinterlands"

Nunuvak Island is beautiful, with its diverse coastline, its rolling hills and larger mountains in beyond, and its highly fish populated rivers. The village, Mekoryuk, sits on the eastern end of the island and the rest of the island rarely gets visited except by circumnavigating the island by boat or taking a painstakingly slow, bumpy, and sometimes barely navigable 4 wheeler ride across the tundra. One nice thing about the village of Mekoryuk is that it is more sand than muddy, which is much easier to deal with as far as keeping your house and yourself clean.

It’s always exciting for me to see and explore a new place. Friday evening we to a 4 wheeler out to some big sand dunes on the coast and walked out over tidal flats and rocks as the tide slowly crept in. After taking some death defying leaps off the dune tops, we cruised back to town and starting cooking up a vegetable medley, many veggies we couldn’t even identify. A short jam session with Kale on Ukulele and me on guitar followed by some vaguely interesting tele and I headed to bead. Our plan for Saturday was to take a slow, bumpy, and sometimes barely navigable 4 wheeler ride over the tundra past the tidal section of the Mekoryuk river to search for Dolly Varden. Saturday, we slept in till 7:30ish, ate a quick breaky and head to the fishing grounds. Kale fished with a heavy duty spin rod and me with my 6 weight fly rod. The section of water was beautiful. A long slow, deep section of water in between to steep, bouldery rapid sections that held fish by the hundreds. We spent about 4 hours catching many Dollys and Kale even caught 4 nice silver salmon. It was much different than fishing the little river outside of Toksook. First of all, the Dollys didn’t aggressively take salmon egg imitations, which are an easy and rich source of food for them. Instead, they wanted to chase some kind, any kind, of streamer. Unfortunately, I only had a couple of flies that made the cut for appearance and actually caught fish. The weather had gotten cold over the past couple of nights and the wind combined with dipping your hands in water to release fish quickly turned my hands into numb clubs of wood. This lead to me dropping one the four flies, that was working for me, in the water, never to be seen again. Luckily I still had a couple of large nymph patterns that surprisingly worked just fine. I caught many fish, some 10 – 12 inches, but most 15 -18 inches. This was okay with me, because between Kale and I combined, we probably caught 80 – 100 fish in four hours. Sometimes on every cast you would have a fish. It was great.

After arriving back to Toksook the next day, I had felt like I had taken a week long vacation. But alas, back to work. I’m pretty happy that I got to see another part of the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta and I hope to get back out to Mekoryuk for another visit. Maybe Katja will join me next time.


Alaskan Teacher Mentor Pat said...

Two of my favorite teachers on the same island. No way! Way!

I believe you might have more empathy for my experiences with the "you can't get there from here" frustrations on my mentoring journeys last year. I could almost see Toksook from Mekoryuk and vice versa but had to carefully orchestrate my monthly visits to you guys.

It looks like you're still living the dream.

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