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Kenai Opens To Catch-And-Release For Kings

Well, it’s better than nothing, right? The Kenai River’s king salmon season, which was delayed until at least June 30, will  have an opening day on Saturday. But there’s a catch (and a release), as the Peninsula Clarion reports:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued an emergency order Friday that opens the Kenai River downstream from the outlet of Skilak Lake to catch-and-release only king salmon fishing. Unless altered by emergency order, the river will be open for king salmon fishing through June 30.

The early-run king salmon run has shown strong returns to the Kenai River so far this year, area management biologist Robert Begich wrote in the emergency order. As of June 1, 2,375 king salmon had passed the sonar in the Kenai River, according to Fish and Game’s sonar counts.

Anglers cannot retain king salmon of any size and can only use one unbaited, barbless, single-hook, artificial fly or lure. Fishing gear is limited to barbless hooks when fishing is catch-and-release only in the Kenai River King Salmon Management Plan.

That doesn’t mean that everywhere on the lower river is open to king fishing, though — there are still certain waters that are closed by regulation. For example, there is a total fishing closure in effect between the outlet of Skilak Lake and the mouth of the Lower Killey River, which will be closed until June 11 to protect spawning rainbow trout, said assistant area management biologist Jason Pawluk.

There are also closures to king salmon fishing at the confluence areas of the Funny and Killey rivers and Slikok Creek, as well as closures to all fishing from boats. The Moose River confluence is closed to all fishing from boats, as is the Soldotna Centennial Campground boat launch lagoon and Morgan’s Hole.

Take what you can get.

Father, Son Drown In Fishing Accident

Glacier Bay National Park was the scene of a fishing accident that took the lives of a father and son. (DAVID BARON/WIKIMEDIA)

Glacier Bay National Park was the scene of a fishing accident that took the lives of a father and son. (DAVID BARON/WIKIMEDIA)

Sad report out of Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska, where a small fishing boat capsized, resulting in the drownings of a father and son.

Here’s the Alaska Dispatch News with more:

Park spokesperson Tom VandenBerg said Alaska State Troopers were notifying the families of the deceased Tuesday. According to VandenBerg, the Invader, a small aluminum fishing vessel, abruptly capsized in Glacier Bay between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday.

“There was no mayday call or anything,” VandenBerg said. “It happened pretty quickly, and then they were in the water and nobody saw them.”

Jim Kearns, operator of the local charter Fairweather Adventures, helped rescue three of the boaters. The survivors told him they’d been fishing. One of the boaters was investigating a slow leak in the boat when everyone moved to one side to catch a glimpse of a freshly caught fish, Kearns said. He was told that’s when the boat capsized; no one onboard could reach a radio in time.

A statement from VandenBerg said word of the sinking near Strawberry Island, about 10 miles from Bartlett Cove and park headquarters, came in from other crews in the area after one of the survivors made it to shore.

The Associated Press, via the Juneau Empire, released the names of the men who died:

Tom VandenBerg, chief of interpretation for the park, listed the men who died as Larry Roger McWilliams, 75, and Gary Roger McWilliams, 48. Their hometowns were not immediately available. The elder McWilliams carried an Oregon driver’s license, and the younger man was from California, Vandenberg said.

The boat was privately owned, VandenBerg said. He did not know the owner.

The cause of the capsizing also was a mystery. The weather was clear and calm in the area where the boat was fishing.

The boat was near shore on the back side of an island, away from a main channel. One person managed to swim to shore and flag down a passing boat, VandenBerg said.

“That was the only way they were seen,” he said.

Condolences to the families of the victims and to those who survived the ordeal. .

Remembering Our Fallen Heroes

 

 

Happy Memorial Day. It’s a big sports holiday for me – my hockey team opens the Stanley Cup Final and my basketball team rallied to get to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals – but I’ll take some time to reflect about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

On a lazy, rainy Sunday yesterday I watched too awesome movies that reflect what this holiday is all about, Glory and The Best Years Of Our Lives.  

That above video clip from Glory gets me every time and turns me into a glassy-eyed mess.

And the The Best Years Of Our Lives always sucks me into watch and tear up multiple times.

Enjoy your day off and if you’re a Penguins puckhead or OKC Thunder supporter best of luck to your teams. Just don’t forget while we’re celebrating today.

Is This Bear A New Record?

Photo by Chris Stewart

Photo by Chris Stewart

 

Our correspondent Scott Haugen filed this report for Outdoor Life on what could be a record-setting brown bear.

Here’s Scott with more:

Friday the 13th. If you’re superstitious, you likely wouldn’t spend that day perched atop the tundra in Alaska, bowhunting brown bear.

But that’s exactly where Chris Stewart was on May 13, 2016. Stewart has always dreamed of taking a brown bear with his bow. This would be his second brown bear hunt, and he hired Bruce Hallingstad, owner of Becharof Lodge in Egegik, Alaska—a place known for big bears.

“It was day four of my 10-day hunt, and my guide Carl Adams and I sat overlooking miles of tundra,” Stewart recounts. “At 6:30 p.m., Adams spotted a wolf in the distance. It was raiding duck and gull nests, but moving our direction. Soon, the wolf closed from 800 to 350 yards. That’s when I let him have it with my 7mm Ultra Mag.” ….

 The bear’s hide squared over 10 feet, 6 inches, and the skull green-scored 29 8/16 inches. Thecurrent Pope & Young world record brown bear stands at 29 3/16 inches. Could Chris Stewart’s brown bear be the new archery world record? We’ll know in mid-July, after the 60-day drying period.

“I didn’t care how big the bear was,” Stewart says, smiling. “The amazing thing is, in bowhunting, when one little thing goes wrong, the hunt is over. But on this hunt, every single aspect played out perfectly, making this Friday the 13th one I’ll never forget.”

 

Congrats to Chris no matter what the bear gets classified as.

 

 

Size Matters For Smallish Salmon Numbers

Good read in the Alaska Dispatch News, as the Copper River’s sockeye season last week started with kind of a thud:

The first opener produced a catch of 25,000 sockeye and about 1,500 kings.

“It was pretty slow to start. Small fish, not too many of them,” said Kelsey Appleton with Cordova District Fishermen United.

Weights recorded on several hundred samples after the 12-hour fishery showed sockeyes averaging just 4.2 pounds, 15 percent smaller than last year when fish size was the smallest in 50 years. Sockeye salmon normally average 6 pounds.

“It’s bad for our economy and bad for our fishermen,” said Rob Campbell, a biological oceanographer with the Prince William Sound Science Center. “It’s not necessarily bad for our fish.

“It’s just been astoundingly warm in the entire North Pacific for two or three years now, and for most cold-blooded things like salmon or plankton, in warmer conditions they tend to reach a smaller final body size,” he said.

Of course, the biggest fish story of the week was the price for the first fish — a whopping $6.50 a pound for sockeyes and $9.50 for kings. That compares to starting prices last year of $5.15 and $6.50, respectively.
Those dollar numbers should provide some hope for fishermen as projections are for a much smaller run of fish this season.

A Rookie Skipper Takes On The Bering Sea

 

Captain Sean Dwyer and the crew of the Brenna A.

Capt. Sean Dwyer and the crew of the Brenna A.

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

BY CHRIS COCOLES  

It was a classic mentor/rookie moment for Sean Dwyer.

In the dangerous world of commercial crab fishing off the coast of Alaska, Dwyer’s debut as a fishing vessel skipper couldn’t have been more pressure-packed. The cameras of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch followed Dwyer’s boat, the Brenna A, during his maiden voyage as a captain. If that wasn’t enough of a welcome-to-crabbing moment, his mentor on this journey was venerable and wonderfully gruff Sig Hansen, who set a 290,000-pound bairdi crab benchmark for the 24-year-old Dwyer to reach during this 12th season of the popular series.

“One of the pieces of advice that Sig gave me is, you’re only as good as your last season,” says Dwyer, who was at even more of a disadvantage given that he didn’t have a last season to measure himself against. “You don’t know what’s going to happen next season. You just can’t predict it. I’d like to think that when I stop learning about crab fishing is when I’ll stop crab fishing.”

But once a fisherman, always a fisherman. It’s the kind of career Dwyer was destined to fulfill from the start. Sean’s dad Pat Dwyer was one of the most respected commercial captains along the Pacific Northwest coast, and Sean tagged along from the beginning, soaking up the lifestyle and dreaming of a similar career path. Fate intervened along the way, but this was meant to be a family business from the start.

Pat Dwyer passed away at age 52 on June 4, 2013 after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Before that, Pat’s dream of his son following in his footsteps became reality when he purchased a new fishing vessel, theBrenna A, which became the younger Dwyer’s home-away-from-home on Bering Sea.

Dwyer, who grew up in and still calls the Seattle area his home base, says he spends at least eight months out of the year plying his trade in Alaska. We chatted with Sean about his father, life at sea and just how difficult the crabbing game can be for both the young and young and heart.

Chris Cocoles So what was the experience like for you – captaining your own fishing vessel and having all of it captured on camera?

Sean Dwyer I don’t know if it was a good year, but it was what I wanted to do. It’s definitely a challenge to do it on TV and being a new captain at the same time. But I think I do better under pressure, so why not bring it on all at once? It was a good opportunity, and whatever it entailed I just couldn’t pass it up. The TV thing wasn’t top priority, but it’s pretty fun. And what I really appreciate is that Discovery and Original Productions have done a really good job of keeping it real. It’s been a lot of fun.

Sean and his late father, Pat Dwyer.

Sean and his late father, Pat Dwyer.

 

CC With your background in this industry, were you preordained to do this too?

SD It’s almost been my passion and dream. I followed my dad around when I was a little kid and I started salmon fishing when I was young, like 12 years old. Once I actually got my feet on the boat and I started working, I knew that’s all I wanted to do – much to my mother’s dismay, initially. Because it was my passion, I’m really fortunate that I was able to share that with my dad because in that, he taught me a lot of valuable information that I used going forward.

CC Can you share one of your early experiences on your dad’s boat?

SD It was during the summer and we used to go out on Jennifer A, which was named after my mom [his current boat, theBrenna A, pays homage to Dwyer’s sister of the same name]. We used to go out on the Jennifer A for two to three weeks at a time. I remember being in Southeast Alaska and there were icebergs and whales; I was just a kid running around in my life jacket watching the big guys work. It was awesome to see the big-boy stuff: the machinery, fish flying around. I think I was probably like 5 or 6 years old. It just stuck with me ever since.

CC What kind of impact did your dad have on you? And it had to be such an emotional time for the family when he was sick and bought the Brenna A.

SD It was a huge impact. He bought that boat after he was diagnosed. It was one of those things where my dad would buy equipment, machinery, 4X4s – whatever – without telling my mom and just show up with them. It got to the point where, once she heard a big truck outside the window, she just hoped it was the garbage man and not my dad showing up with a new piece of equipment. But he kind of did the same thing with the Brenna A. He always wanted to have two boats and he figured no better time than the present. The one thing we all learned through my dad’s dealings with ALS is that time is really valuable. If you want something and have a passion, you should just follow it. And that’s what he did; he just went out and bought another boat.

CC When he passed away was it in your and your family’s mind to be able to carry on his legacy with the new boat?

SD I definitely did. For me, I’ve watched my dad go through that whole thing, and he was always a hands-on guy. And for him to be sitting in his wheelchair for the last four years of his life, not being able to go down to the boat every day and work, it was tough. What he did was teach me to be his hands. I would go down there and take pictures and send them to him midway through the day. And he’d call me and say, “Hey, you need to do this, or, This is in the wrong spot.” We did that for awhile and he taught me a ton that way. And because of the unfortunate later stages of ALS, I think, for me personally, I was relieved when he finally did pass because he just wasn’t happy. He was frustrated but he held his ground until the end. He passed in June and in May I was with one of the boats in the shipyard. And he was still telling me I was spending too much money on paint and I needed to do this and that. Right after that he finally said, “OK, you’re good.” And after that, he passed away.

CC Is there a lot of solace for you in that you’re able to do what he spent his life doing?

SD Definitely. He was proud – he is proud. And it’s pretty cool. Obviously, it’s not a job that everyone can do; and it’s not a job that everyone loves. A lot of people go up there and their heads are not in the game. The thing about it is, you can be the biggest, the strongest and toughest you guy you want. But if your head’s not there, you’re not going to make it. And I think on all those promos – “The Bering Sea will make you or break you” – but what it does is test how mentally strong you are and how bad do you want something. And when he saw that in me, he was proud and he wanted to fuel it because he knew the potential. And it took us a little bit of time after he passed, but we’re at the point now where we’re doing what he wanted – fishing crab – and it’s great.

 

Captain Sean Dwyer of the Brenna A.

Captain Sean Dwyer of the Brenna A.

Brenna A Captain Sean Dwyer.

Brenna A Captain Sean Dwyer.

 

CC You have an engineering degree. But you’re at heart a fisherman. Tell me how it was to be stuck in classrooms when you could have been on a boat.

SD [Laughs] It was tough. I have a two-year technical degree in diesel engines and heavy equipment technology. What that meant was over the course of the two years, basically half the time we were in the classroom doing the books; and the other half we were out in the shop. South Seattle College was where I (studied) and we mainly worked on trucks, though there were a few marine engines and some pieces of heavy equipment. So it wasn’t the field I wanted to go in, but it all applies. Mechanics are mechanics, and having that mechanical mind is really what benefits you. Whether it’s a car or a boat, you can eventually figure it out if you can troubleshoot. The cool thing about the program was that it was from 7 a.m. to noon, so from noon to 5 p.m. I’d go into the shipyard and go work on boats. I was able to kind of do both at once.

 

Cape Caution and pot of crabs.

Cape Caution and pot of crabs.

Captain Sean Dwyer of the Brenna A.

Captain Sean Dwyer of the Brenna A.

CC How challenging was it to hire a new crew for the
Brenna A?

SD It’s tough because everybody has the best intentions. But when you’re out there on the banks there’s nowhere to hide, and like I said, your head has to be in the game. It doesn’t matter how good you talk and how strong you are or how far you can push the pot. If you’re not into it, you’re not into it. What was challenging for me was trying to find guys that, first, were best for the boat and best for us as a team. And I was concerned that I was going to get guys who just wanted to be on TV. But I hired one guy who I’d worked with before on a deck crab fishing; he’s my engineer. And the other guys – with the exception of my greenhorn – the others were just word of mouth or some had left me a card and they said to call if there was ever a spot. So you just start going through the list to see who’s available. I was kind of scrambling but was happy with the way things turned out. We had our ups and downs, but the guys really pulled through at the end. And they came as long a way as I did. It was a learning experience for everybody.

CC Did you have to find your niche as a first-year captain?

SD Definitely. I didn’t go out there and expect to be a Sig Hansen right off the bat. I went out there and I needed to make sure that, for one, we’re safe. And two: to try and figure out and apply all these things that I learned and see if I could catch these crab. I tried to tell the crew that we’re all after the same goal; you gotta work together, and it did take some time for all those guys to find their roles. And once that was established and we knew who was where, things really flowed. It was cool to see that process, because it’s not every day that you just get to
start fresh.

Portrait of Captain Sig Hansen of the Northwestern.

Portrait of Captain Sig Hansen of the Northwestern.

Brenna A Captain Sean Dwyer.

Brenna A Captain Sean Dwyer.

 

CC You worked toward Sig’s quota demands. Has he been a mentor for you on the journey so far?

SD He’s given me a lot of really useful information. When we started this thing we really didn’t know each other; I knew of him from the show and outside the show in the industry. We weren’t friends or anything and it was business first. But he gave me some really good pointers, and I think the most important one was just to be honest with the whole TV thing. This show is such that it’s not scripted; you can’t make it up. You can’t take a second to think about what you’re going to say. Even the camera people only get one shot to film these things. But you have to be honest with yourself. When you mess up, you mess up. That was the biggest piece of advice that he gave me and it holds true. To keep it real you make the show what it is:
a documentary.

CC How much did Sig’s health scare – his heart attack – provide a wakeup call for you and your colleagues? He is the epitome of a tough customer, but it reflects what a challenge this life can be.

SD It’s hard on everything – the boat, the crew and your body, and it’s hard on your relationships back home. What we go through to get that crab off the ocean floor and onto the table is tough. Sig and I were the only two boats left still fishing when he had his heart attack. I was a little bit scared for him because it is a stressful job and you never know what’s going to happen; you don’t know how you’re going to react with everything. Unfortunately, sometimes that takes a toll on your body.ASJ

Editor’s note: You can keep track of Sean Dwyer on Twitter (@captseandwyer) and Facebook (facebook.com/seandwyerbrennaa). For more on Deadliest Catch go to discovery.com/tv-shows/deadliest-catch.

 

Happy Anniversary To Historic Salmon Catch

Good stuff from the Alaska Dispatch News commemorating a world-record fish caught in Alaskan waters.

Les loved to fish, but that’s not the same as a love of big fish. He was just out there to have fun, and honestly, he was always — before and after — the type of guy who was just as happy to bring someone along and see them catch a fish,” said Clara Anderson, widow of Les Anderson, who 31 years ago today (Tuesday, May 17, 1985) landed a 97-pound, 4-ounce king salmon to set the world record.

The fish was more than four pounds heavier than the existing record one caught by hook and line, a 93-pound king caught in June 1977 in Southeast Alaska by Howard Rider of Juneau. Les’ record still stands, and it has secured him a place in the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

“It was quite an exciting day for him, for us, for all the Peninsula. It was a grand day for sure, but Les just looked at it as being in the right place at the right time,” Clara said.

That right time wasn’t just early in the year. Most anglers then and now consider spawning kings that return in May and June to be smaller than the late-run fish of July. It was also early in the morning, around 6:30 a.m.

“We fished every day before work back then, and he took off around 3 or 4 a.m.,” said Clara, who’s no salmon-catching slouch herself, having landed an 85-pound fish that held the family record until Les hauled in his hawg.

It’s a really good read, and though Les is no longer with us, the spirit of his accomplishment lives on. Congrats on a wonderful record-setting king.

A Love/Hate Affair With Nome

Emily Riedel out on the Bering Sea closeup.

Emily Riedel out on the Bering Sea. (PHOTOS BY DISCOVERY CHANNEL AND EMILY RIEDEL)

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

BY CHRIS COCOLES 

About the only thing Emily Riedel has in common with one Francis Albert Sinatra: they both have/had quite the singing pipes.

Sinatra once famously crooned about hitting it big in the Big Apple. Riedel’s little-town blues are melting away thousands of miles west in Nome, Alaska, a place where dreams live and die in the form of gold hidden at the bottom of the Bering Sea.

If I can make it there, I’ll make it … anywhere. But can you imagine Ol’ Blue Eyes trying to do the same in old Nome?

“Or maybe it’s, if I can make it here, I’ll never make it anywhere else,” Riedel deadpans.

She jokes that every time she boards an Austria-bound plane for classical music-inspired cities like Vienna and Salzburg, the flight charts must be screwy because the plane always seems to end up in Nome.

(She playfully blames the Discovery Channel, which chronicles Riedel’s and the other dredgers’ highs and lows on Bering SeaGold.)

But the lure of striking it rich – even amid a setting that’s caused undo frustration, tension and, at times, failure – has swallowed the 27-year-old whole.

“It’s something I find myself not being able to quit doing,” she admits. “Unless I go through intensive reconstructive therapy involving a really insane addiction to the trials of gold mining, I will continue to do this.”

She purchased her own dredge – with modest success – and even called a truce in her feud with childhood pal and onetime boyfriend Zeke Tenhoff to work together during the winter season (they are at odds again as rivals this season). But give her credit for being tenacious, if not stubborn as seasons go by with less-than-prolific profits being made.

“I consider myself dedicated, period. This is a challenging industry – both television and gold mining in their own way,” Riedel says. “But you can’t go halfway in this business, especially after all these years of doing it to not succeed at it fantastically means to have failed. So that’s taken over my head quite a bit. I’m no longer a beginner. What can I do to evolve and be better?”

Bering Sea Gold 2

RIEDEL WAS ASKED IF her time on Bering Sea Gold has been a real-life opera. If you count romance, conflict, heartbreak, personal tragedy and more, you have all the elements of a musical epic.

“It’s a grand question because being in Nome is a great drama. I graduated from arts school amid all these divas, and then I came to go gold mining in the Northwest and found more divas,” she says.

(Riedel also points out that – we kid you not – early 20th century German composer Kurt Weill did write an opera about Alaskan gold miners, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, or Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.)

“Everyone here is part of that drama. When I’m in a place like Manhattan or San Francisco or Seattle, I’m never normal but I feel relatively sane or even-keeled,” she says. “But when I’m in Nome I’m this crazy person, this broken-tooth old sourdough. But we’re on our own stage up here.”

Oh, how her classmates at the University of North Carolina School for the Arts would be curious about Riedel’s whereabouts when they meet up for their 10-year.

“It would be a puzzling reunion,” Riedel says with a laugh. “‘You’re doing what?’”

Her alma mater’s more famous alumni include actors Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Mackie, Danny McBride and Anna Camp and several prominent singers and dancers. The school can also claim one of the biggest celebrities in Nome, Alaska.

For that reason, Riedel considers herself as a Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde hybrid – half the sophisticated opera singer and sweet voice, and the other a foul-mouthed, not afraid-to-get-her-hands-dirty Alaska girl. And among the future thespians, dancers and singers she went to college with, this wasn’t the stereotype student on campus. Leaving Alaska meant getting out of her comfort zone.

“I would walk around campus barefoot in the winter. I was the Alaskan hippie and they’d say, ‘What is she doing here at this conservatory and school of opera?’ Everyone else was a lot more classy than I was.”

In hindsight, her time as a gold miner was a lot closer to her roots – Riedel was active performing in Homer, one of Alaska’s most artsy communities – than she might have once believed. She goes as far as saying she needed to experience life like an Alaskan.

It’s not likely any other alums from the university’s Winston-Salem campus would list Nome gold dredger in the what-are-you-doing-now questionnaire. So she can embrace that she’s a little bit eccentric in the two worlds she’s split her life around.

“I didn’t feel entirely right amidst the elitists of the operatic world. I kind of got a little bit tired of them,” Riedel says. “Alaska is in my blood and this state feels right to me a lot of the times. It’s who I am.”

“There’s a certain spirit that comes from being raised in Alaska. You don’t have any preconceived notions of identity. You can be whomever you choose to be. And most choose exactly that. We don’t have any lineage of a certain career. The opportunities are endless, and we’re all raised believing that of ourselves.”

Emily Reidel and Zeke Tenoff of The Clark.

Emily Reidel and Zeke Tenhoff.

NO PART OF EMILY Riedel’s “opera” existence in Nome is more dramatic than her relationship with Tenhoff, a complicated dynamic that continues to be one of the major backstories of this production known as Bering Sea Gold.

When their brief rekindled partnership (strictly professional, of course) deteriorated again as Tenhoff went to work for a corporate dredge owner, they stared each other down on the dock as the subplot thickened. She still considers Tenhoff to be a part of her life through the highs and lows they’ve shared off- and on-screen. She calls him “instrumental” in the journey she’s had a gold miner.

“We’ve grown up in Nome doing this business. The way that Zeke has changed in my eyes has been huge,” she says. “He’s been a lover, a friend, a brother, a bastard enemy. And we’ve found ourselves in situations where we’ve had to do business together, whether we’ve liked each other or not. I can look at Zeke and see a bunch of history or I can look at Zeke and see Zeke as someone to do business with; that’s what I tried to focus on.”

After a disastrous debut to Season 6 – damage to Riedel’s boat, The Eroica, forced her to suspend dredging operations – more mechanical issues cut short a promising dive and triggered tension between the captain and her top-notch diver, Daryl Galipeau. Riedel reported Murphy’s Law to be alive and well in Nome during her stint there.

Emily Riedel helping her diver with his scuba mask.

Emily Riedel helping her diver with his scuba mask.

“The only thing I can do to keep my people around is make sure they keep making money,” she says in an early episode that ended with her crew cashing in 10.76 ounces of gold, worth $12,912. That total didn’t exactly prompt the popping of any champagne bottles from her crew. But this is what Riedel signs on for when she goes back every year.

Riedel believes there are so many gold deposits still undiscovered on the sea floor off Nome that it’s a little easier for herself and colleagues to justify why they keep going back. Some of the other dredges had more success over time, but perhaps that’s even more reason to keep coming back – the body blows she’s taken be damned. On a 1-to-10 scale, Riedel puts herself around a 6½ to 7 as a gold dredger.

“Leadership for me on a boat has been a lot of trial-by-fire and learning on the job – quite often learning on the job. There is a traditional way of doing this; I could have been raised on a boat and could have had a dad who was a captain and was organized,” she says of her dad Steve, who also has tried his hand as a dredger on Bering Sea Gold. Like Emily, Steve was also new to the industry when Tenhoff convinced them to give this career a shot.

“I got on a boat before knowing anything about boats. I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll take over a dredge; this is starboard and this is port.’ All I have to do is learn as fast as I can and get better.”

Being a woman – on the season six premiere Riedel said at times it’s been difficult for the men to take her seriously – makes the challenge that much greater, though Riedel is defiant.

“The most important battle to me is to do a really good job as a gold miner. What’s important is that I know that I deserve their respect,” she says. “Being told that you can’t do something is an amazing motivator.”

So as the planes continue to divert from Europe or other cities with storied opera scenes and Riedel finds herself back on Nome’s Front Street heading toward the harbor, she understands Nome is – for better or worse – part of who she is, who she’s been and ultimately who she wants to be.

“Six years in Nome. And one of the locals told me, ‘Once you’ve been to Nome 10 years, you can never leave because you can’t function normally in any other society,” she says with a laugh.

“So you learn to function here. And I’m terrified because I’ve noticed this. I’m always so happy for work to be done and to be leaving Nome and seeing my family and that sort of thing. But it’s become increasingly more difficult to disconnect from this place. And I’ve started to feel better and better to come back here. I’ll think, ‘Thank God; I’m back in Nome with the crazy Nome-ites. I’m my old self again.”

Start spreading the news; she is not leaving
today. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more on Emily Riedel, follow her on Twitter
(EmilyRiedel23), Instagram (Sluice24) and like her at facebook.com
/theemilyriedel. New episodes of
Bering Sea Gold air on Wednesday nights (check your local listings) on Discovery Channel. For more, go to discovery.com/tv-shows/beringseagold

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Football Or Not? An Alaskan Lets A Bear Hunt Decide

“I know I’ll go after another bear but try not to get too caught up in what was best because it’s all about the context of the speci?c adventure,” Lund writes. (JEFF LUND)

 (JEFF LUND)

Ever had one of those decisions where you just wanted to flip a coin or play rock-paper scissors to decide? Check out this story of how a teenage Alaskan decided what path he wanted to take to college:

From Deadspin via the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman:

Ferris, a standout in multiple sports and the classroom at Palmer High, is also an avid outdoorsman. He picked a spring bear hunt earlier this year to help him make the final decision. If he got the elusive bear he’d tracked before, Ferris would follow the call to play football at the University of Mary. If not, Ferris would turn his focus to academics at the University of Wyoming.

As it turned out, the hunt was a success. And now Ferris, a two-time all-state running back, is ready to make the run to the next level.

“I let it all come down to fate, and fate chose University of Mary,” Ferris said Monday after he signed his National Letter of Intent to attend the Bismarck, North Dakota, school and play for the Division II Marauders. “We’d gone up for (the bear) once. We hadn’t seen it in two days. I said, we kill it, I’ll go play football.”

The hunt was not just a thrill for Ferris, but a relief.

“Once I made the decision, it’s a full commitment,” Ferris said. “(The) decision was weighing me down. I was losing sleep over it. It’s the biggest decision I’ve had to make.”

The bear was obviously not available for comment.

 

 

Moose Takes On Wind Chimes: Guess The Winner

What’s the old saying? Music calms the savage beast. Tell that to this Alaskan moose.

From the Alaska Dispatch:

On May 4, Britta Schroeder was drifting off to sleep when her wind chimes began to ring. It’s windy in Healy, the Interior Alaska community just north of the park, so at first she didn’t think much of it, Schroeder said.

But “it continued on and on,” Schroeder said. Once her dog’s ears perked up, she realized an animal must be outside her door.

She peeked outside and saw the moose, which a co-worker told Schroeder is likely a female. Schroeder opened her door just a crack — so that her dog wouldn’t get outside — to take video.

Schroeder is a GIS specialist with the National Park Service, and she works in Denali National Park year round. She believes that the musically inclined moose is the same one that has frequented her yard before, along with a mother moose and another sibling.