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Journal of Dan T. Cook - Fly Fishing the Globe

Traveling 75,000 miles around the world in search of fish and friendship.
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July 2, 2006

Tanana, Alaska
N 65 10 13
W 152 04 56

It has been raining for the better part of the last 6 days. But in this part of the world, if one waited for the skies to clear before leaving the house they most likely wouldn't be seen again. Today I went Northern Pike fishing with Jim-Bob. James Roberts ("Jim-Bob" in the local community) is a modern-day renaissance man. In addition to being a hunter, fisherman, woodsman, carpenter, dog musher and sled dog trainer, he is also the potable water treatment plant supervisor for the town.

Jim-Bob coasted his skiff into the bank next to my boat. "You ready to go?" he asked. "YEP!" I replied, even though I was comfortably holed up in my sleeping bag reading a book. After pulling on my waders and loading my gear into his boat we headed upriver in a steady rain. We pulled into the mouth of a slough that I'm sure hardly anyone knows exists and preceded upstream a mile or so.

While I set up my rod, reel and wire leader, Jim-Bob began casting his 4 inch "Red Devil" lure with oversized treble hook. Within 5 minutes he has one on. I quickly grabbed the net and scooped up a nice 2 foot Northern Pike. Nice start! Fumbling to join the action, I throw out the most delicious looking frog popper and brace for the massive strike. Nothing on the first cast. Nothing on the second cast. Jim-Bob pulls in 2 more back-to-back. I switch to a mouse pattern and anticipate a huge pike crashing the surface and hitting it with "extreme prejudice." Nothing. Jim-Bob has pulled in a couple more pike by now. I reel my line in and take a seat to assign the proper gravity to the situation (contemplation best done with beer in hand). Fishing with a "Red Devil" is truly the antithesis of fly fishing. There is no beauty to it. There is no naturalness to it. It hits the water like a tiny anvil. Unfortunately for me, it was also working like magic. I had to come up with something. Jim-Bob was expecting me to hold my own if not impress him with the art of fly fishing. I tied on a fluorescent pink streamer that I had intended to utilize for salmon. 3… 4… 5 casts and the disappointment began to… BAM!!!!!!! A hook up! Finally! I played the pike to the boat where I was already handing the camera to Jim-Bob to capture the moment. Thankfully the tide had turned and for the next hour we both had consistent success. The last fish of the day turned out to be the biggest. I always like it when that happens. We headed back in a heavy rain and I arrived at my boat rather drenched, but happy. It felt great to get back to fishing… I hadn't even cast a line since Hootalinqua over 1,000 river miles ago. It felt great to figure out the Pike dilemma. Most importantly, it felt great to get back to the purpose of this journey; to meet authentic, hard-working, richly charactered people and go fishing.

This afternoon I leave Tanana behind and float about 10 miles downriver to the mouth of the Tozitna River where I'll try for salmon and perhaps a few more pike.

Happy 4th of July!

The Tanana liquor store. Hardly adequate for the crowd back home.
They call it the "House (Shack?) of Pain" here.

Dan's first Northern Pike caught on a fly.

Jim-Bob, master outdoorsman

The trophy of the day!

Main Street Tanana, Alaska.


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