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Picture Of The Month

Swede P's first AOTY fish is a bruiser!

Topic: Many Alaskans Can Relate To This  (Read 1495 times)

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Klondike Kid

  • Lingcod
  • *****
  • The Eagle Whisperer
  • Alaska Outdoor Journal
  • Location: Kenai Peninsula, AK
  • Date Registered: Sep 2016
  • Posts: 488
Had a relaxing day on Johnson Lake yesterday. Wind was blowing so traditional tackle was my "forced" choice of weaponry for the time being and the fly rod remained in the truck waiting on the wind to  die. But the fishing is only part of the story I'll get to in a minute.

After a break back at the truck the wind started to lay down at least on the lee side of the lake and I headed out with my fly box in hopes of sight fishing rising trout as the water glassed out.

I spotted a brown object on the lake shore several hundred yards away which appeared to be too big for a brown bear. I headed in that direction and then let the wind drift me closer. It was a cow moose looking quite bedraggled (ribs showing) but alert and attentive. We had a tough winter with lots of snow.

I could see some movement behind her and allowed the kayak to drift for a better angle. It was one of those moments that made your entire day! These two little guys/gals were but a couple weeks old and very curious of their new environment like a playful kitten. One had found a lily pad with its stalk along the bank and proceeded to nibble on it, pick it up and fling it towards its sibling who would have none of that foolery! Mom continued to feed on new willow leaves and had some long drinks, no doubt to replenish nursing two growing calves. Moose cows have a biological 'switch' that produces twins as the norm when range conditions are favorable for nutrition levels that can support the cow. Triplets are not uncommon in these conditions too.

I spotted a man walking his dog on leash heading through the campground unknowing of the potential danger just 50 yards ahead of him. So I peddled over to him to warn him of the cow and calves. Ironically he said he lives on the Peninsula not far away and just had a boar brown bear kill a cow moose in his front yard the day before. And this morning a sow with one cub showed up to feed on the carcass. This incident is not uncommon for Alaskans to experience when you live in rural areas. I've got brownies passing through my backyard along the riverbank every year and I can see McD's and Arby's signs across the river from me.

I'm seeing dimples and strong rises, even jumpers now so I head back across the lake to the glassy side. Rainbows were targeting surface insects so a dry fly would be the ticket. I was hitting a fish every couple of minutes and with no wind it was dead silent except for a few bank anglers having good luck further down the lake.

I was playing out a ten incher that was all over the surface jumping, splashing and running like a torpedo. I thought "too bad this guy isn't a 20 incher, what a good fight that would be." As I was watching the fish and taking in line the silence was broken with a thunderous roar. I've heard that sound many times and knew instinctively to be alert as to what was going to unfold.

Over my left shoulder and by this time less than 50 feet away was an Alaskan Condor with bright yellow legs and talons outstretched heading straight for my little trout....dropping out of the sky so fast its feathers were roaring from the vortex. Oh did I forget to mention, these adult male Bald Eagles can weigh 14 pounds and have a wingspan of eight feet.

 My 'computer' operates at the speed of light after living in Alaska 51 years now. It's a survival thing ya know.
Make sure I'm not in the flight path of those wings and talons. It looked like it was going to be a near miss.
Give the fish some slack to dive below the surface it was splashing on to keep from feeding an eagle with a hook in the fish.
Lower my rod to the water to prevent a mid-air collision with rod, line, and a B-52 moving at the speed of a falcon.

Everything fell into place and the fish, myself, and gear were none-the-worse for the experience. However, my friend who was still circling at low altitude knew the routine and the potential for another opportunity.  I had just unhooked the fish and let it slide back into the water as it swam out of sight. But the stress of the struggle had exhausted it and about 20 seconds later it floats to the surface, white belly up trying to recover.

I hear the familiar roar of the jet plane just out of my view and instinctively ducked. But I did look up to see the Bald Eagle snatch that fish from the water just six feet from my kayak. I kid you not, I felt the vortex wind from its body it was that close. Good thing he probably had done this many times before and knew his limits....or mine.

Here is the opportunist after he had finished that snack and returned for seconds.

For as long as I fished he remained in that tree waiting for another opportunity. Not today Baldie! I counted that fish as one of my five fish limit which is what you must legally do if a bear or eagle grabs some or all of your fish. They were caught and part of your daily bag, no matter who eats them.

Hmm, I wonder what will happen when I finally get out on the salt chuck this summer?  I've already had thoughts of a ten foot salmon shark coming to my kayak to snatch my halibut I'm dragging back to camp.  ;D  Or a thousand pound sea lion with the same intent since both predators will be in the vicinity.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Take a Kid Fishing and Hook'em For Life!  ~KK~


  • Salmon
  • ******
  • Location: Lebanon
  • Date Registered: Mar 2017
  • Posts: 750
Awesome story KK!
I tried to video two bald eagles terrorizing an osprey last week but I was too slow to get a good clip of it.
Those moose are really cool! I have only seen 3 wild moose in my life and they were the Shiras variety so much smaller.
Good luck on getting your barn door halibut to the cutting board intact!
1991 Desert Storm (USMC)
2004-2005 OIF (US ARMY)
2006-2007 OEF (US ARMY)
2009-2010 OIF II (US Army)
2016 Retired!