October 2009 Issue
Alisa & Mike's Alaska Woods n Water Adventure
By: Alisa Schiffner
Like most of you who read this magazine regularly, my husband, Mike Embry, has an obsessive-compulsive fishing disorder (also known as OCFD) surpassed only by his obsessive-compulsive hunting disorder. It has gotten so bad he won’t even look at me twice (or longer than two seconds) unless I am holding something with fins, fur or antlers.
However, I’m learning to deal with it and found I actually enjoy following him around with my rod and/or rifle.
In July, I decided that a change of species, scenery and climate might alleviate his symptoms, so I consulted with his doctors and received approval to book a once-in-a-lifetime Alaska trip. (I’m still trying to convince our insurance company and the IRS it was medically-necessary.)
Prince of Wales, Alaska is three commercial flights and a float plane trip from Florida. I must say the trip is worth every miserable bag of stale pretzels. Our destination, Thorne Bay, is tucked into the east side of the island surrounded by the Tongass National Forest and Clarence Straits. It boasts a population of 475 (citizens of El Jobean, Fla. Rejoice, there are people living in smaller towns than you!)
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Thorne Bay started out as a logging camp and grew into a delightful community with a gas station, post office, grocery store and tackle shop. It offers one of the most complete self-guided fishing lodges anywhere - Adventure Alaska Southeast, owned by Jason and Trisha Clowar, two of the nicest people you will ever meet.
Upon arrival, we were handed the keys to a pick-up truck, a 16-foot Lund aluminum skiff (with brand-new 25HP motor), crab traps and a spacious cabin furnished with everything we needed. A for-hire charter boat was also available to take us to the Pacific side of the island for the “Big Girls” (or halibut, as we Southerners refer to them.)
Mornings were spent fishing for silver (coho) salmon in Thorne Bay, Tolstoi Bay or aboard the charter boat. Afternoons were spent at many local river holes catching dog salmon, pink salmon, king salmon, dolly varden and rainbow trout, while dodging eagles and trying not to get eaten by black bears.
I hung in there cast-for-cast with Mike as we caught some of the most unique fish in the world. At one point he told me, “My home will always be in Florida, but a piece of my heart will forever be on Prince of Wales Island.”
On the flight home, I glanced over at my sleeping fishaholic and grinned in satisfaction at the thought my Alaska therapy trip had finally cured at least one of his diseases (effectively wearing him out).
However, this fantasy was quickly shattered upon our arrival in Pensacola. when he immediately informed me that there was only two weeks of red snap per season remaining. and we needed to schedule his next round of “treatment.”