The winning True Value team with their Haines hardware. Mel Telloni
Skagway women bring home the hardware
By ROBERT WARREN
The Skagway women emerged victorious at the Haines Sunball Softball Tournament during fair weekend.
The gals were confident they were the most skilled team at the Dustball tourney last month in Whitehorse, but missed one important component of success: a pitcher.
This time things were different. The ladies fielded an all-star team from Skagway and Juneau, proving that with a little pitching help from the Capital, the best female athletes in the Upper Lynn Canal reside in the Home of the North Wind.
Soapy would have been proud of the slick pitching, which was stereotypically Frank Reidesque in its dead-on accuracy. The true value of the team sponsored by Skagway Hardware was in their ringer pitcher brought in from Juneau, Gina Chilcroft.
She started out a little rough, walking some batters, but things went smooth when she found her groove.
As soon as she found the strike zone, we were unbeatable, said coach John L. ODaniel.
The big hitters of the bunch were Dawn Brown, Mel Telloni, Cindy ODaniel and Jean Fairbanks.
The ladies ended up playing the Bamboo Babes of Haines four times. They lost to the leading contenders on both of the single-pitch games, 18- 2 and 10- 8. The regular games proved to be different with a 20-4 pounding over the Babes followed up by a close championship game.
The final game came down to the last inning. Skagway was up by one with a score of 15-14. The Babes had the potential tying and winning runs on first and third, but a brilliant defensive catch by Cindy ODaniel ended the game and tourney, giving the Skagway gals the championship and closure they sought after the Whitehorse debacle.
Skagway also fielded a mens team in the tournament. The conglomeration of local teams showed up strong, but dwindled in numbers due to work and party obligations.
The guys looked sharp against the Sitka/ Juneau team that eventually won the tourney, easily giving them their only defeat. That was the only win, however, for the Skagway men.
We proved that we could beat the best, and we didnt have to do anything else, said ODaniel.
Softballs last summer blowout will be this weekend when White Pass sponsors a team of Vigilante and Hambone players at the Dawson City Co-Ed Softball Tournament.
Runners coming for big weekend in Skagway
The annual Klondike Trail of 98 International Road Relay will team up with the Skagway Invitational Cross-Country meet for a weekend of running Sept. 5-6.
The relay, which will include about 30 local residents among the more than 1,000 runners, starts at 6 p.m. local time on Friday Sept. 5 at Second and Broadway. There will be starts every half hour, with the slow teams leaving in the first batches, and the fleet elite teams hitting the road about midnight.
Skagway will be represented by the same three teams that ran last year, some with different runners, different goals, and a team with an entirely different name.
The WP&YR Highballers will be captained by Jeremy Simmons, and Team SNAFU returns, captained by Beth Winslow. Last years Fairway Market Couch Cowboys team, captained by Tim Fairbanks, has evolved into the Trail Turtles but doesnt plan on slowing down, just luring the rabbits to sleep.
The running doesnt stop that night.
The Skagway High School cross-country team will host teams from Southeast Alaska the following day, Sept. 6. The starting line will be on the Dyea Road near the AB Mountain trail head. The girls race begins at 10 a.m. and will be followed about 45 minutes later by the boys race.
The team, coached by Gary Trozzo, will be running in its first race this weekend at Sitka. Skagway junior Kyle Mulvihill, last years Southeast small schools champion, will be one of the favorites in regional races this season.
Trash Fish Spectacular
By ANDREW CREMATA
Leaf through any sport fishing magazine and youll see a parade of photos designed to stir the senses of every angler. Photos of guys and gals like you and me hauling in that 300-pound marlin. There is also the classic shot of the fisherman in the foreground, slightly out of focus, fighting a fish in sharp focus leaping from the water in the distance. That out of focus fisherman could be you or me!
These are the photos that urge the senses toward fulfilling our fishing dreams. So we grab our rods, our favorite set of lures, and undoubtedly our camera, and head out to our fishing hole. WE cast and wait until finally there is a nudge on the line.
The rod is bent and the fight is underway, all the while visions of that beautiful fresh fish dancing in our heads. As we get close to landing the fish we think to ourselves, Is it a king salmon? Is it a trout? Its a... What the heck is it?
Yes, you have caught what many refer to as the trash-fish.
The trash fish falls into two categories. One is a fish so common that catching it requires only a line in the water. The other is a category of fish hideous in their outward appearance, equally grotesque to the senses, usually with gaping toothed mouths, a horrible stench and a penchant for grunting.
We have many of such fish here in our local waters and indeed everywhere we may decide to wet a line.
The curse of commonality befalls one of our most well known summer visitors. The humpie. Much like our annual run of camera-toting tour-seekers, their numbers are almost staggering. These pink spawning salmonids are so numerous that if one had the urge to get a running start, you could almost run across the backs of the fish, traversing any body of water.
Is the humpie really a trash fish though? It depends on your perspective. For the seasoned Alaskan angler, adept at the subtle nuances of catching the more prized salmon species (see: boat owner), the pink salmon is nothing more than a nuisance when caught, and certainly not a fish any real sportsman would intentionally seek.
For the more traditional angler who traverses the shoreline, or the fisherman whose pockets are free from monetary entanglements, the pink salmon can be as prized a game fish as the mighty leaping swordfish.
A little ketchup may make all the difference.
There is a lesson to be learned here. One mans trash...
There is another truth to be learned. Its axiomatic in nature. The more one invests in their angling experience the more arrogant they become in their denunciation of certain fish as trash.
Example: The simple fisherman with only a rod and some bait will seek out the beloved Dolly Varden, a beautiful bejeweled prize of our local waters, and fine fare for the outdoor grill. Once that same fisherman invests 20 grand on a hunk of fiberglass with a combustion engine and a myriad of moving parts, that same prized char becomes nothing more than bait for a shrimp pot. Sort of like the favorite family member who gets drunk and belligerent at one too many Thanksgiving dinners and finds himself absent from future invitation lists.
What about the ugly ones?
I guess it depends on how we define beauty. If symmetry of form and contrast of color helps us designate the parameters of what we consider appealing to the eye, then the absence of these qualities could help categorize certain species of fish as trash.
One local inhabitant of our ocean is the lowly sculpin. Some call them hardheads, Irish Lords, or even toadfish. Unlike our most popular fairy tales, kissing a toadfish will not yield a princefish. It gets its colloquial names from its many unappealing features.
This is a fish that is mostly head, and what a head it is. Flat, bony and ridged with spikes, housing iridescent green eyes that seem inwardly bent to almost a scowl. Its colors are mottled black and a garbage-pail green with large billowing fins that seem more like appendages. And those are its good qualities.
When the fish is brought ashore it grunts like a congested pig while rows of stubby yellow teeth that line its jaws chatter and click. This is a fish that Michelangelo would never paint, Hemmingway would never write about, and has instilled more fear in first time anglers than the greatest of all the great white sharks.
I have read that it makes excellent table fare. One would truly have to be starving to discover this bit of information, for the first man to ever eat a sculpin was undoubtedly the bravest of men.
Can I catch a Sculpin?
If you have a hook on the end of your line chances are that you will catch a sculpin. The best spots to land one of these goblins of the sea around town include anywhere that there may be saltwater. A shrimp pot is a common hangout for the sculpin, as it likes nothing better than an easy meal.
It isnt the smartest of fish either. While fishing the ore terminal dock for sole this past winter, I reeled in what appeared to be a large bottle with algae covering its surface. Upon closer inspection I had caught a sculpin that somehow had become trapped in the bottle. I wondered how a fish four inches wide could fit into an opening only one inch wide.
With a little research I discovered that sculpins will make their homes inside of bottles and cans when they are young as it provides shelter and many an easy meal, but they do not have the sense to move out of their makeshift home before they grow too large to escape, thus dooming them to a life in quarters that will only become more and more cramped with time.
And you think its hard to get your 18-year-olds to move out of the house.
I now wonder if anyone has caught a sculpin in the shape of a bottle. A fish that grew so large it burst from its manufactured home and blossomed into a one-of-a-kind freak of the deep.
The trash of the sea is great indeed. Its good to remember that no matter how ugly or common a fish may be they still play an important role in a healthy ecosystem. So if you catch something that grosses you out or isnt exactly what you had planned to catch, throw it back and give it a fighting chance. If there were nothing ugly in the world, there would be no beauty. If there were no trash, there would not be anything worth keeping.
Chances are that many a childs first fish will be a trash fish. To that child it will be the most beautiful fish in the ocean. And if he or she is adamant, you may find yourself discovering the subtle flavors of the mighty sculpin.