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Missouri Man, Dog, Eat Berries And Plants To Stay Nourished While Lost In Interior

As the tweets above explain, another tale of survival in Alaska took place recently, when Holmer, 26 and from Missouri, and his dog Mike were lost for 3 1/2 days in snowy and foggy conditions in the Alaskan Interior. Here’s the Fairbanks News-Miner with a little more:

Holmer brought two days of food. He camped alone the second night, and continued hiking the third day, thinking he was on route and would soon reach Chena Hot Springs Resort. However, at some point he realized “things just didn’t look right.”

He spent the third and fourth day doing some “heavy hiking,” trying to find a familiar landmark. Most of the hiking he realized was in the wrong direction. He ate the last of his food — a tortilla and some peanut butter — on the morning of his fourth day. …

Holmer started supplementing his diet with bearberries and a rooty moss. He chose the rooty moss because it was plentiful and he had heard somewhere that roots are usually safe to consume. The roots were painful to chew, but he believed he gained some nutrition from them, especially on the cold night when he struggled to stay warm enough to sleep.

A helicopter finally spotted Holmer and Mike. Man and dog are both doing fine.

First Copper River Salmon Delivered In Seattle

The salmon are here! The salmon are here!

So it goes as the first load of Copper River fish were shipped on Alaska Airlines and arrived today at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. KING5 in Seattle shot video of the event:


ADFG Joins Western Native Trout Challenge Program

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game: 

Deep in the West, under a secret rock in a cool stream, lies a prize worth finding. Anglers of all skill levels are invited to participate in the Western Native Trout Challenge and put the lure of the West on their bucket list. In addition to earning bragging rights and prizes at the Expert, Advanced and Master Levels, participants will help the Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) conserve 21 species of native trout.

The 12 states where these native trout can be found are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The state fish and wildlife agencies in each of the 12 states are partnering on the effort, along with the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management and Trout Unlimited.

“We are excited to showcase some of Alaska’s exceptional native fish species as part of this challenge,” Dave Rutz, the director of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game – Division of Sport Fish, said. “Alaska is known world-wide as an angler’s paradise. We hope anglers who participate in this challenge use this opportunity to explore Alaska’s vast waterbodies to knock a few species off their list. Get out and fish!”

Native trout are the embodiment of the West. The wild rivers, alpine lakes, and trickling arroyos – the fiber of Western geography – are the habitat for the redband, the cutthroat, and the Gila.

The Western Native Trout Challenge invites anglers to help celebrate this legacy by catching native trout and char in each of the 12 Western states, at their own pace. There are three levels of achievement: Participants who catch six trout species across four states will earn “Expert Caster” rewards. Those who catch 12 trout species across eight states will earn “Advanced Caster” rewards. And those who catch 18 species across all 12 states will not only enjoy the adventure of a lifetime, they will also be designated as a “Master Caster” with rewards to match.

Anglers can get details on which fish to catch and where to find them by registering on the WNTI website. Registration is $25 per adult and is free for those 17 and under. The vast majority (92%) of the fee will go toward helping conserve native trout populations for future generations to also enjoy.

“We’re thrilled to be launching this fun way to support native trout conservation across the West,” said WNTI Coordinator Therese Thompson. “For every $25 program registration fee, $23 will go directly back to conservation projects that are helping native trout populations thrive. We want anglers to learn about these unique species and where they can go to catch them. In addition, catching the selected species helps conserve them by promoting angling and fishing license sales for native trout species, which also supports conservation efforts. It’s a wonderful way to help conserve these beautiful species, in beautiful places, at your own pace.”

The Western Native Trout Challenge is complementing a similar effort in some states. Anglers can participate in the Western Native Trout Challenge at the same time they participate in state specific programs, including the Arizona Trout Challenge, California Heritage Trout Challenge, Nevada Native Fish-Slam, Utah Cutthroat Slam and the Wyoming Cutt-slam.

Learn more, and register at www.WesternNativeTroutChallenge.org.

Follow the action on:
Twitter: @WNativeTrout
Instagram: @WesternNativeTrout
FB: /westernnativetrout

The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) is a program of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a nationally recognized partnership under the National Fish Habitat Partnership program that works cooperatively across 12 Western states to conserve 21 native trout and char species across their historic range. Since its inception in 2006, WNTI has directed more than $29 million in federal, public and private funds to serve 139 priority native trout conservation projects. WNTI and partners have removed 87 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,130 miles of native trout habitat and put in place 30 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout populations.

The Great Steelhead Debate: Jigs Or Beads?

Photos by Tony Ensalaco


The following appears in the May issue of Alaska Sporting Journal:


This country is being torn apart, and it appears that our differences won’t be resolved anytime soon. 

No, this isn’t about politics. Both sides of the aisle have been acting like stubborn, immature siblings who are fighting over the last scoop of ice cream, and I want no part of that toxic dialogue. The subject I’m referring to hits closer to my home and is much more relevant for the readers of Alaska Sporting Journal. It’s the long-running debate about what’s the best bait to use for spring steelhead: jigs or beads. 

This has become a hot topic among river rats lately, a debate that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be resolved anytime soon. I recently sat through a heated discussion between two hardcore metalheaders who saw eye to eye on just about everything that has to do with the sport – until this particular question came up. That is when the camaraderie went south and the gloves came off. 

One of the guys who happened to be a huge jig fanatic swore up and down that a properly presented jig dangled beneath a bobber was the perfect weapon to entice an Alaskan steelhead. 

The other dude was a devout bead junkie and stringently professed his loyalty to those tiny round devices. He wanted no part of the opposing testimony of the jig fan. It was fun listening to how passionately they defended their choices, and they were even more adamant about not giving in to the either’s opinion. 

Of course, bar stools and an abundance of libations were mixed into the fray, which didn’t affect the validity of the conversation. But it did make the verbal sparring quite fascinating throughout the bout.


There was a period of time when a plastic single egg or a yarn fly secured to a tiny hook were author Tony Ensalaco’s “go to” baits of choice. After three decades things really haven’t changed. I pretied my leaders and used them in low water or heavy fishing pressure,” he says. (TONY ENSALACO)

IT’S NOT UNUSUAL FOR anglers to become overprotective about their personal preferences. It’s also a fair bet to assume that beads and jigs account for the majority of steelhead landed by gear anglers throughout the Last Frontier, and there is no denying that either of them can be deadly at any given time. 

The bead guy made a compelling argument that salmon eggs make up a large part of a juvenile steelhead’s diet while they are still living in their parent streams, and they will spend months gorging on them before heading out to sea. 

When the fish return as adults, they will recognize something that resembles an egg, which automatically triggers a learned feeding response. 

Then, it was the jig man’s turn to chime in. He claimed that since steelhead feed on squid, crustaceans and small fish in the saltwater, the most effective presentation would have to be a jig. He attributed the jig’s success to the undulating action created by the marabou body, which mimics food found in their ocean diet. 

Steelhead will actively feed up to the time they enter the streams, and it would make sense for them to continue attacking something that they have been recently foraging on. 

When the clash ceased to make progress, they looked to see what I had to say.

And that is when I purposely chose diplomacy by replying that both of them made convincing arguments and had interesting theories on why those baits are so effective. I added something about each method having its place in a steelheader’s arsenal, and neither of them should be fished exclusively or be overlooked. 

That wasn’t quite the answer that either one was looking for and I knew that, but I also realized that ambiguity was the best way to step away from a conversation between two mooned-up steelheaders who had just completed 12-hour shifts on the river.

Besides, whatever I came up with would have been long forgotten by the time they woke up, bleary-eyed with pounding headaches, unfortunate derivatives from their inevitable hangovers. I also knew that if I shared my thoughts, it would have prolonged the conversation until last call, and I wasn’t really looking to start a two-front war with either one of them.


Ensalaco fighting one of the many Alaska chromers he’s hooked on jigs along the opposite bank holding under the shadows of the trees. (TONY ENSALACO)

TRUTH BE TOLD: I’M always apprehensive about expressing my opinions when the subject of adult steelhead feeding in freshwater comes up. There are a lot of fishermen who believe the fish will continue to feed once they have entered a river. But from my experience, I haven’t found that to be true. 

I have performed countless makeshift autopsies on hatchery steelhead that were taken home for the grill or the smoker and haven’t found any definitive evidence that steelhead feed in streams. 

Can it, or does it happen from time to time? Probably, but I don’t believe they enter a river with that intention, as much as they are instinctual creatures that will bite something that happens to float past them. 

I have found an occasional egg or two in the stomach of steelhead, but that was a rarity, even when the river was teeming with spawning salmon. I’ve also found bits of twigs and leaves, along with unidentified river gunk, which tells me they’re picking up whatever that comes at them. 

Besides that, on several occasions I have observed steelhead holding along a current seam that appeared to be mouthing and rejecting various debris that drifted past, telling me that it’s their way of defending their space. The fact of the matter is that we will never know the true reason why a steelhead hits a bait until we find a way to communicate with animals. The most important takeaway is knowing how to get fish to bite and not be too concerned about why they do it. 

When re-examining that night at the bar, I don’t know if anyone was trying to imply that spring steelhead actively feed once they enter the streams, as much as they believe a steelhead will hit something because it resembles a past food source. My perspective is that although steelhead have no intellectual abilities, they are certainly territorial and will instinctively respond to objects that approaches them. 

It doesn’t matter if an offering appears to be an exact facsimile of something found in a stream or happens to look like it has been fabricated by a flamboyant circus clown. Steelhead respond to various presentations because they are predators.

There is nothing in the wild that resembles an erratically vibrating plug, yet a steelhead will often pulverize the lure if it comes within 10 feet of the fish. Why? Because it instinctively knows that it has to protect its space. Anglers call that a reaction bite and it’s possible to trigger a response from a fish even when you present something that looks nothing like anything found in nature. That example seems to prove that steelhead will react to or ignore different presentations because they are territorial, and not because it was a past food source.

One of the many piles of jigs the author tied in preparation for his April spring steelhead trip to Alaska. These are some of his favorite color schemes. (TONY ENSALACO)


SO, WHICH BAIT DESERVES the top honors in the aforementioned debate? I can say without hesitation that it depends. I’m sorry about the evasiveness, but I have to analyze the conditions before I can determine what I’m going to use. 

I will consider several factors, such as how long the fish have been in the river (stage of the run), fishing pressure, water clarity, current speed and the depth of the holding water. All of these things influence my decision about what I attach to the business end of my leader.

What I can tell you is that I have been using some sort of egg imitation since I started pursuing salmonids back in the early 1980s with fantastic results, and I don’t think it’s ever a mistake to try faux eggs in any condition. 

There was a period of time when a plastic single egg or a yarn fly secured to a tiny hook were my “go-to” baits of choice whenever I wasn’t able to get my hands on the real thing. I have always fished them with complete confidence. I would use an imitation almost exclusively, even on rivers that didn’t enforce a bait ban. A lot of the guys around me were using fresh eggs, but their catch rate didn’t seem to be significantly higher or lower than mine, so there was no reason for me to change my style.

Fast forward 30-some years and now beads are the “glamour bait” in the steelheading community, which doesn’t surprise me. They’re inexpensive, simple to use, and most importantly, they’re super effective. You can fish them under a plethora of conditions and remain confident that you are fishing at a high level. 

What I like about beads is that they can persuade a neutral or negative fish into hitting, which can be a difficult task when the fish have been in the river for a while or there is heavy fishing pressure on the stream. There are days late in the season when small beads and light tackle are the only way to get a response.

Beads are also hard to beat when fishing in clear, shallow water, especially when you can see the fish holding in front of you. Beads are the perfect size to get a steelie’s attention, but subtle enough so they will not spook the fish. 

Another productive way to present a bead is to remove the bobber, add some weight to the mainline and roll them along the bottom. This allows you to change and control the route the bead is traveling downstream, which can help entice a finicky steelhead to bite.

If there are any disadvantages to bead fishing, the most obvious one would be that beads might not be the best choice in off-colored water due to their small size. When the river is running high and dirty, you will be better off using a bait that has a large profile, or better yet, something that creates some flash and gives off a vibration, such as spinners or spoons.

Besides the problem with the visibility issue, beads aren’t very intimidating to a steelhead in heavier current flows. Oftentimes, a steelhead will ignore an offering and/or move out of its way if it doesn’t appear to be threatening. 

If you insist on drifting beads in excessive river flows, then I recommend trying to compensate for the poor visibility by using fluorescent, supersized beads that could help increase your chances of a hook-up. But in my opinion, there are better options when faced with high-water conditions.

  So, it sounds like I’m a dedicated bead disciple, right? Wrong. I’m a hardcore jig man. I love fishing painted lead and colored feathers whenever I can, but I didn’t initially embrace the jig revolution the first time I tried the method. It took some time.  

An Alaskan steelie taken on a bead. So we can probably say you can catch fish via both beads and jigs. And as veteran angler Ensalaco writes, this represents “A debate that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be resolved anytime soon.” (TONY ENSALACO)

I WAS INTRODUCED TO jigs by a well-known guide on the Skykomish River, near Seattle, Washington, back when the method was just starting to gain momentum. My guide anchored the driftboat over an uninviting, slow-water side pool, and he handed me a long spinning rod rigged up with a bobber and some sort of pink, fluffy concoction attached to the end of my line. 

He instructed me to let the rig float downstream until I lost sight of the bobber – then do it again and again. The time it took to finish a drift could have been measured in minutes, which doesn’t really hold the attention of someone who suffers from ADHD, like myself. 

The guide didn’t fully grasp the concept at the time and thought jigs were only used in slow currents because of the expanding and contracting motion of the marabou. After going fishless for about 20 minutes, I wasn’t all that impressed by the new sensation, so I asked him if we could scrap the plan and go back to plugging. In the guide’s defense, he admitted that he’d just started experimenting with jigs and hadn’t figured out all the nuances.   

 It wouldn’t be until several years later that jig fishing became a regular fit into my steelheading regimen. I learned how effective the technique could be while I was fishing with my buddy Danny Kozlow on a less-than-average week of steelheading on Alaska’s Situk River about a dozen years ago. 

The spring run was late that year because the river’s water temperature was averaging in the low to mid-30s during the week we were there. Due to the frigid water temps, there was only a trickle of fresh steelies that were willing to leave the saltwater and ascend the stream. 

The fall-run holdovers hadn’t flushed back downstream out of Situk Lake and the few ocean fish in were bright. Despite the icy water, they were more than willing to play if you happened to find them. We did have some sporadic action, but unfortunately, there weren’t very many fish congregated in any one area. 

Danny elected to use a bobber and jig, while I chose to stick with a traditional drift-fishing presentation. I would start at the top of the run and systematically work my way downstream, making several repeated casts through the holding water. It would take me several minutes to thoroughly cover a run. 

Meanwhile, Danny would position himself in the middle of the run and cast as far as he could upstream and let the bobber float to the end of the drift. It only took Danny a handful of casts to cover the water. 

Because he was fishing quickly and efficiently, Danny was able to pick off most of the cooperative steelhead before I got the chance to get my bait in front of the fish. That experience (ass kicking) taught me that a bobber and jig set-up was the perfect tool to search for active fish, and that I needed to re-examine the jig phenomenon if I wanted to keep up with the times. 

Since then, I have implemented a jig strategy whenever there is a recent push of fish in the system, and I am sure that the change in tactics has improved my fishing. It’s no secret that when an ocean-run rainbow first enters a tributary and becomes acclimated to the freshwater, it will be at its physical best. There is a definite advantage to tossing jigs. 

DON’T GET ME WRONG: A chromed-out steelie that is fresh in from the salt will attack almost anything. However, I prefer to use jigs when the fish are super aggressive. A brightly colored marabou jig with pulsating action seems to challenge the fish to attack.

I also dig the larger and stronger hooks found on most steelhead jigs because they increase my landing percentage. These new arrivals haven’t been subjected to fishing pressure and they’re definitely not line shy, which means you can get away with using heavier equipment. 

I enjoy putting the “screws” to a steelhead from all of the years I spent fishing the log-infested tributaries of the Great Lakes. It’s reassuring to know that I can lean back a little harder when I am fighting a hot fish. Bead fishing is more of a delicate presentation, which normally requires lighter line and smaller hooks that matches the size of the bead. 

That’s fine if the river is wide open and void of snags or if the steelhead have been in the stream for a long period of time and they are not at their physical best. Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible to land large fish on light tackle. Noodle rod enthusiasts have been proving that for decades. 

However, a good fisherman knows that the odds of landing a steelhead are usually stacked against him, so it makes sense to use stout equipment whenever you can to help balance the playing field.

Another scenario when a bobber and jig might be the best option is when you are fishing from a moving boat and you’re targeting pocket water, the small, relatively shallow areas around or behind rocks, logs, or other obstructions where fish will often rest. 

When you pitch a jig into these places, the weight of the lead head will straighten out the line and pull the jig down into the fish zone. Your jig will be fishing shortly after it enters the water. That’s important when you are floating downstream and you might only get one chance to place a precise cast into the pocket water. 

Unfortunately, the reason why a jig works well at times can also be a disadvantage in certain situations. I’m talking about fishing in water about 2 feet or less. The difference between jigs and beads is where the weight is located. The weight of a jig is attached to the body of the bait, while a bead rig is weighed down by a sinker – usually a split shot – that is secured several inches above the bead. 

If an angler misjudges the depth of the holding water and has too much line between the jig and the bobber, the jig will dredge the streambed and won’t be very desirable to a steelhead. I have seen steelhead dig a jig out of the gravel, but I wouldn’t recommend fishing that way. 

A bobber and bead combination have more room for error. If you run a bead rig too deep, the bead will still drift downstream below the weight while still continuing to fish. 

There are times when I am bead fishing and I will purposely hold the bobber back in the current by creating tension on my mainline. This causes the bead to drift in front (downstream) of the bobber instead of letting it suspend directly underneath of the float. 

Fly anglers who use indicators have been practicing this technique for years while sight fishing for fish in shallow water. This trick works great when the steelhead are holding in water that can be measured in inches, and there isn’t enough depth to fish the rig the way God intended it to be used.

THESE ARE SOME OF the things that I have discovered from my past piscatorial experiences in the 49th state. I strongly recommend cataloging some of these ideas in your steelheading archives under the title “Loose Guidelines to Follow” section. 

None of these concepts are written in stone anywhere; just ask any veteran steelheader. He will most likely tell you that there is an exception to every rule, and to fish whatever way that gives you the most confidence, which is probably the best advice an angler can receive. 

One other thing: Remember the two guys I mentioned at the beginning of the story who were arguing at the bar? Well, I saw one of them on the river the next morning. He appeared to be a little slower than usual, probably due to the residual effects from all of the escapades of the previous night. 

I am not going to say which one, but as soon as he caught up to me, he looked over his shoulder and whispered, “Dude, don’t tell ‘so and so,’ but do you have any extra __? I never carry the stuff.” 

What can I say? Steelheaders can be opinionated, but they certainly listen to one another! ASJ


Minto Flats Northern Pike Limits Reduced

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

The Division of Sport Fish is reducing the bag and possession limit for northern pike in all lakes and flowing waters of the Minto Flats area (including the Chatanika and Tolovana drainages, and Minto Lakes). The bag and possession limit is decreased to two fish, only one of which may be 30 inches or greater in length. This northern pike bag and possession limit reduction will be in effect from 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 1 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, October 14, 2019.

Between January 1 and the ice-free period of 2019, 820 northern pike were harvested in the subsistence fishery from the Chatanika River between an ADF&G regulatory marker 1 mile upstream from the confluence of the Chatanika River and Goldstream Creek and a regulatory marker approximately 1 mile downstream of Murphy Dome Road. When subsistence harvests in this area exceed 750 fish, the Minto Flats Northern Pike Management Plan (5 AAC 74.044) mandates a two fish northern pike sport fish bag and possession limit for the 2019 season.

For additional information contact Heather Scannell, Tanana River Area Management Biologist, 907-459-7357.

Tickets Still On Sale The Wild Premiere Screenings In Seattle

The following is courtesy of the new salmon documentary, The Wild:

It’s Time

If you’re reading this letter, you’re a part of this thing. You’ve invested your effortmoney or time into the creation of The Wild. They’ve all been critical in pulling off this feat, but anymore, of the three, personally, I am finding time to be most precious these days.

As such, I humbly invite you to go one step further, and invest just a little more time to join us, in person, this coming SUNDAY MAY 19th for the world premiere of The Wild How Do You Save What You Love? At the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). The first of three screenings SIFF has generously bestowed on this film and this team who created it.

Click HERE to buy tickets to any one of the three screenings.

Connect Further = Afterglow + After-Party

What’s more, since you are a part of this creation, I would be honored if you would join the filmmaking team, friends, family, allies and special luminaries from Alaska and beyond to celebrate, connect and prepare for the fight ahead to Save Bristol Bay. We’ll have a Wild Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon barbeque; salads from our dear friends at Bounty Kitchen; drinks; live music; a special raffle and a new, turnkey way to take immediate action in the urgent fight to save Bristol Bay.
You can show up starting at 3:30 – right after the Q&A for the film. We’ll be celebrating On The Hiyu – a super-cool converted ferry boat on South Lake Union. It’s about an 8-minute drive from the theatre. There will be spacious, ample parking – lots of signage and even golf-cart rides to the boat if you’re so inclined. All of this amazingness is being rocket-fueled by our incredible friends Tiffany, Lori, Misha, Kara and Kat – from The Extra Ingredient.
TICKETS are $15 and all net proceeds will go to our partners, SaveBristolBay.Org
Through them, you’ll have the opportunity to write the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and tell them, emphatically, that Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place – right then and there on the boat.


With Gratitude

I’ve dispensed with the illusion that I’ll remember everyone to thank on Sunday. I am terrible at remembering – (Ask my wife, when she’s pointing at the glasses on top of my head) – and if somehow you aren’t acknowledged personally or in the credits of the film – I want to thank you right here and now.

You are in the DNA in this project – the Starlight in my sky – and will continue to be as we begin this next, critical leg of the journey.

Most importantly, I need to thank our small but powerful Tribe who came together with their dazzling talents and grinding, persistent efforts to pull this film off. (I’m handing the final DCP files, still hot from the oven off to the projectionist wizards at SIFF this very morning). HA!

What you see on screen are the blood, sweat and definitely tears of these people who are my extended-family:

Todd Soliday – Our Post-Production Supervisor and Visual Wizard. Todd made everything that looks cool on screen happen, with his own bare hands. AND he landed this bird on the tarmac. In a storm. In winter. In Barrow.

Leah Warshawski – Our Impact Producer. Todd and Leah sort of come as a package, they’re committed by vows of filmmaking and marriage. Leah is a brilliant filmmaker of her own accord who co-directed and produced Big Soniawith Todd – and somehow, some-way showed an interest in salmon and some-how we landed her to crack the whip to get this film out into the world.

Shane Dillon and Jeff Tillotson of LightPress – I love everything about LightPress – especially their tagline: Look By Lightpress. Yup. That about sums it up. These guys made the colors beautiful, the files match, the picture snap – Jeff even made it look like I know which end of a camera to shoot out of.

Dave Howe of Bad Animals – Listen for it. Every little drop of water, the dips and swells of the music. That’s all Dave. Also a Saint, putting up with 4 hours of me reading into a microphone, over and over and…Dave is a master at his craft and I am lucky and grateful to have spent time, again, making this film sing.

David Parfit – Speaking of music – David Parfit scored The Breach and now, The Wild. Gorgeous, haunting, shimmering. I love working with David – a fellow salmon-nerd and Soul of the Pacific Coast – and a goddam genius. David put this score together in a matter of weeks. Really.

Leah Andrews  – Our Second Editor – or maybe our first?? All the raw material that I (and many others) shot got sifted, sorted, assembled and lovingly crafted by Leah. Some of the best ideas in this thing are hers – and she still says she doesn’t hate me after 2 years of grinding through it all. Leah is amazing – and rising…
Domitille Colomer – Domi. Domi was my glue over the last year and is one of our Associate Producers. We lost her immediate physical presence to Ireland and Love (not necessarily in that order) – but you will still see her work in every social media post and graphic design. And as we all know, we are all connected by water.

John W. Comerford – My longtime friend and mentor in many ways. John has brought the weight and depth needed to get this mountain climbed and is lighting the fuse for what’s to come.

Tom Douglas – Tom is an Executive Producer on this film and has been a champion for Bristol Bay and my storytelling for many years now. He’s supported this process in every conceivable way and has been a good friend and mentor. He also makes a mean coconut-cream-pie.

Linda and David Cornfield – Executive ProducersChampions of art, justice and the environment, Linda and David have lifted this film up on to the screen for us all to see – and I’m eternally grateful.

Kazumi Mechling – A friend and long-lost-sister on this big journey, Kaz is also an Executive Producer on this film and her light shined bright for me and this project, just when it was needed.

Eric Frith – Saving the main course for last. Eric has been my friend and creative partner for six years now. He edited and co-wrote The Breach and has co-written, edited and co-created The Wild. A finer man you will not find and a deeper, more devoted craftsman I have never met. I am humbled, connected and fed through my friendship with Eric.

And none of this would have happened – none – without my wife, best friend and life-partner, Wenche Friis – who is my rock and the archangel who walked beside me when there was nothing and no-one else. Deepest love, respect and gratitude.


Well that about wraps ‘er up. We’ll see you at the movies. And then, the work begins…

In Wildness,


ADFG Kills Anchorage-Area Brown Bear Believed To Be Threatening Residents

As winter fades away into an Alaska spring and summer of warmth and extended sunshine, bears will be bears. But when a young bruin spotted around Anchorage was deemed a threat, Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials were forced to kill the animal. Here’s more from the Anchorage Daily News:

For several days, Fish and Game received reports of a brown bear in South Anchorage. The bear tried to get into someone’s chicken pen and it wasn’t easily scared away, Marsh said.

Fish and Game believes the brown bear killed this week was the same one captured in a video circulating on social media that shows the animal lunging underneath a guardrail toward a car.

“It was just showing all the signs of a brown bear that’s becoming habituated to people in a neighborhood,” Marsh said. “It was getting very brazen.”


Copper River Gearing Up For Chinook Opener

Copper River photo by Erin McKittrick/Wikimedia

Opening Day is almost here! Alaska’s salmon season usually kicks off with the Copper River king salmon opener (Alaska Airlines makes a big deal out of the occasion). The salmon season opens next week, and the Alaska Journal of Commerce has a little more on the opener:

Prince William Sound, traditionally the first salmon fishery to hit the markets, is expected to open May 13 in the Copper River and Bering River districts, with the subsequent areas opening in June. The sockeye salmon are the most famous fish from the Copper River fishery, but the kings kick off the season with the annual airplane ceremonies in Anchorage and Seattle for the first king deliveries.

The forecast for a return 55,000 Copper River kings is about 20 percent above the recent 10-year average run of 46,000 fish, according to the Prince William Sound 2019 forecast.

The forecast for sockeye salmon in the Copper, which is regarded as the most accurate forecast in the region, is about 1.4 million wild fish and 98,000 hatchery fish, about 31 percent and 69 percent below the recent 10-year averages respectively. But ADFG warns caution there as well; last year, the summer brought about 1 million fewer fish than the forecast predicted and there were just a handful of openings for kings.

Wildlife Forever Hands Out Art Contest Awards

The following is courtesy of Wildlife Forever:

Wildlife Forever Announces 
Winners of the 
State-Fish Art Contest!

White Bear Lake, MN – Wildlife Forever, along with Title Sponsor Bass Pro Shops are proud to announce the winners of the 2019 State-Fish Art Contest. A distinguished panel of judges selected National Winners from thousands of entries received from 43 states and 7 international countries.

“State-Fish Art is an incredible tool to connect youth with the outdoors. Students often put in hours creating their Fish Art and learning about conservation. As a recruitment model, this is a great opportunity for states to adopt and expand youth engagement,” said Bob Ziehmer, Senior Director of Conservation at Bass Pro Shops.

“For many students, this is their first experience learning about fish and fishing. I’m thankful for all of the partners and dedicated teachers and parents who support their students learning about our natural resources,” said Pat Conzemius, President and CEO of Wildlife Forever.
And the 2019 National Winners are…

GRADES 10-12:
First Place: Edward Bae from Virginia with an incredible underwater painting capturing the release of a Striped Bass. Edward also won the covetedArt of Conservation Award.

Second Place: Anna Chang from California. Third Place: Helena Merker from New Jersey.

ZiHan Wang from New York took First Place with a fantastic painting of an Atlantic Sailfish.


Second Place: Mayah Kim of Virginia. Third Place: William Kim of New Jersey.

Stephanie Wang from New York took First Place with an outstanding painting of moonlight walleyes. Stephanie’s painting also won the
2019 National Best of Show Award.

Second Place: Lea You from South Korea. Third Place: Jennifer Chei from Virginia.

Top honors went to XinWei Wu from Florida with a wonderful leaping largemouth bass.

Second Place: Samuel Chen from California. Third Place: Adeline Suh from New Jersey

Additional National Awards included the Invader Crusader Award for art depicting invasive species which are one of the greatest threats to fish and fishing.  Sharvani Bhagroo from West Virginia took home First Place by integrating invasive Hydrilla into their artwork.

The SMILE Award is a unique category depicts the humorous and whimsical side of Fish Art and ultimately makes everyone “smile”. The winner is Jared Huneycutt from North Carolina!

FISH MAKE YOU SMARTER AWARDS” is an essay division and writing component of the State-Fish Art Contest. Winners are announced on the program website, www.StateFishArt.org.

All state winners from across America and internationally are listed at www.StateFishArt.org

State-Fish Art – The Art of Conservation®
The Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest™ celebrates over 20 years teaching children about fish and aquatic conservation through the Arts! The contest is made possible through support from Title Sponsor Bass Pro Shops, The USDA Forest Service, Triarco Art Supply and contest state hosts in Alaska, Georgia, Missouri and Texas.

Contact Wildlife Forever to host the State-Fish Art Contest in your state and begin recruiting the next generation of anglers and conservation stewards.

To enter, students create an original art illustration of any official State-Fish and an essay detailing its behavior, habitat, and efforts to conserve it. Entries are in four grade levels: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. Entries are always due on March 31st.  Visit www.StateFishArt.org

Digital images in low and high resolution are available upon request.

About Wildlife Forever (WF): Wildlife Forever’s mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife. Join Today and get involved.  Learn more about the award-winning programs and habitat restoration efforts at; www.WildlifeForever.org.