PITCHING IN

Skagway grabs WHS/SKY Cup win on third hole of playoff
With help from a Canadian
For just the third time in 15 years, a Skagway team won the annual WHS/SKY Cup between Whitehorse and Skagway golfers at the Mountain View course. After 36 holes of team match play, the two sides were tied 11-11. Four golfers were chosen for a playoff, Dave Hecker and “Mac” for Whitehorse and Jeff Hammermeister and Mitch Malchow for Skagway. Malchow, a Whitehorse golfer had been picked up at the last minute to give Skagway enough golfers and played well for the Americans. With a gallery in tow, the teams tied on the first two holes, then all four faced birdie putts on the third hole. Malchow drained his 10-footer and won the tourney. “He’s the first Mitch now,” said Skagway captain Mitch Snyder. “He’s an American now, because they’re not letting him back in.” Snyder thanked AP&T and Skagway Fish Co. for supplying 15th anniversary balls and towels for all golfers, and “Dan Henry for bringing his wallet.” – JB

Tanner Hanson (above) and Gary Hanson (below) work a good short game with pitching wedge shots to the green at the annual WHS/SKY Cup

Fish This!

A moment out of the fog

By ANDREW CREMATA

This morning, one of the cruise ships came into port and was shrouded in the mist and fog that sat on the fat tide just offshore. Like some phantom vessel it appeared from the tentacles of the white, wispy gauze, and steadily came into focus as it neared the dock.
The passengers were the usual lot; some Americans, Europeans and Asians, a few from Australia, Africa and the Middle East. They carried cameras and binoculars. They wore parkas and hoisted umbrellas to protect them from the rain. They went on tours, ate at the restaurants and bought souvenirs in the shops along Broadway.
About an hour ago I watched that same ship disappear around the mountainside out of sight, the last light on the stern flickering through the tree line like some heavy setting star. The fog was higher, the water calm, and the stillness of the moist air a blanket without warmth.
Tomorrow it will start all over again.
It seems to be the nature of many things here in Skagway. People come and go. Businesses do the same. Birds migrate in the spring and fall, and even the fish arrive for their various runs with no recognition of our own secular timeline.
Right now the king salmon are gathering together in the salt water for their run. A few of the eager ones have already found their way to Pullen Pond. Next it will be the pinks, then the chum, and if we’re lucky a few coho will swim into our waters soon after the last cruise ship disappears around the bend.
The fact is that with all this tourism happening all around us, all the time, it’s hard to find free spaces during the day to enjoy these passing moments of summer before the opportunity is lost. When the run is done, you are left facing a calendar full of months, weeks and days until the earth can maneuver through space around the sun, back to the time and place you just missed.
And there is no escaping the grim fact that it’s a year later, you are a year older, and there are never any guarantees.
It is with this in mind that I set out on my days off to fish for whatever happens to be running. It’s not easy to find the time. There are always more ships and more people to care for, and this is how most of us, myself included, make our living.
With time short and opportunities few it’s important to be prepared. And I always carry a backpack arsenal of rigs, lures and accessories that maximize my potential when I set out for the purpose of catching fish.
Last year, a man at one of my favorite spots for catching lake trout hooked into a small fish. As he lazily played it toward shore you could see it swimming in the current. From underneath a true monster trout, approaching the 40-pound mark, swam up and began tasting the smaller hooked fish. The man playing the fish suddenly had a renewed interest in the situation and made ridiculous attempts to get the larger fish to eat the smaller one. At one point he even yelled at the fish with a certain maniacal shriek I was not familiar with, nor had ever read about in any of my fishing how-to books.
It was a futile attempt, but I wished at the time that I had prepared a rig suitable for casting to the hungry trout that could mimic an injured fish, something he certainly could not resist.
The long winter months can inspire, and I put together a rig comprised of an Apex trolling lure with a series of split-shot lead weights tied behind the leader. The idea was that it would turn this lure into something that I could cast with aim and direction if a similar situation ever presented itself.
An unlikely scenario to be sure, but the thought of watching a once-in-a-lifetime trophy disappear into the depths, with no chance whatsoever of catching it, was not a prospect I was willing to face a second time.
So this year I set out for trout with this makeshift rig in hand along with the other setup I typically use. It sat idly by on three separate trips with no opportunities to even get the line wet.
On the fourth trip I sat for a few hours next to a fellow who managed to mysteriously make beers appear from his tackle box. He offered me one which I willingly accepted, and we struck up a conversation about the fishing we had done in various places around the continent.
I showed him my rig, explaining the story about the big trout. He lifted an eyebrow and said, “That’s some heavy duty hardware, eh?”
I could sense his skepticism.
When his beer was empty he packed up his gear and said he was leaving to get something to eat in town.
No sooner than he had left the area, a school of ciscoes (freshwater herring) appeared in the current, scurrying frantically toward the surface, their silver sides reflecting the glare of the midday sun.
It occurred to me that if these fish were running, they were definitely running from something. I thought to myself, “That’s why they call them baitfish.”
I grabbed up my special rig and cast the lure to the rear of the school. It rotated twice in the current, emitting sparks of light from its plastic reflective surface. Before it rotated the third time a beautiful, lunker trout swooped up from below and devoured it in one quick, heart stopping grasp.
One of the greatest thrills in the entire sport of fishing is watching a fish hit a lure. And since lake trout usually run and feed deep, this was the only time I have ever witnessed one actually hit a lure in plain view.
It was a fantastic sight.
It was a mere moment, to be sure. But as far as moments go it was pretty darn good.
It was a moment that could have been spent on the job or wading through traffic on Broadway, or any of a hundred other things that often manage to steal those grand moments away until all of our moments have passed, making that final turn around the bend and disappearing into an unrelenting fog.