Having climbed, crawled and waded into a career chasing fish and game across the great state of Alaska, one might flirt with the notion that it’s all about chromers and critters for Mac and those like him, a motley crew of misanthropes, miscreants, misguided liquor enthusiasts and outright con men who would rather bend a rod than break the bank. However, far from being just a model case study for a psychology major’s thesis on the Peter Pan complex, the characters one encounters in the woods and waters of Alaska are as much a part of the occasion as the day’s quarry. In time, one might even realize it’s the people, not the fish and game, that make a lifetime spent in the outdoors so special.
Tennessee Flat Top Box
A friendly, quirky and dangerous fellow: don’t be surprised if you find a blade pressed up against your head if TFTB has a sleepwalking episode. Don’t make any sudden moves and he’ll probably go away. Good man to have with you in tight, bear-infested country. Wrong choice if looking to impress at any sort of black-tie affair.
Pre-disposed to interrupt conversations with inane statements that are completely off-subject and rarely make any sense. Last know profession—sex therapist. Capable of reeling in fish very slowly, only to have them come unbuckled next to the boat. An odd duck to say the least, though generally harmless and loves sandwiches.
The ever-affable Rusty Hook is forever down-on-his-luck and just needs a loan until “receivables” catch up. You’ll recognize him on the river with the brown vest bulging with rusty hooks, an extra-heavy Ugly Stick and a fly rod for appearances rather than for landing fish. He’s conspicuously without fish, and spends as much time talking with other anglers and taking a break on the riverbank as he fishes. If you have a spare sockeye, be a good angler and give it to RH.
If you need a man to drop a deer at 200 yards without breaking stride or stopping the conversation, then he’s the one. If there are a lot of bears in the area, leave him home. His bear paranoia runs deep after several close encounters of the ursine kind. Don’t forget to bring an extra-big pack because Sniper has got bad knees, and he didn’t earn the nickname Pack Mule.
Capable of spotting animals at ridiculous distances and known for finding likely big-game targets when no one else sees any. Give him a spotting scope and good pair of binos and take a nap. He’ll wake you up when he finds an animal for you to chase.
Queen of Kings
Maybe it’s her electrical signature that draws in Chinook. Maybe she’s got the right fish pheromones to attract king salmon. Or maybe she’s lucky and good. Whatever the culprit, Queen of Kings, aka Barracuda, sinks her hook into more Chinook than most anglers. Be it on the salt or in freshwater, open ocean or protected bay, the Queen of Kings finds, hooks and lands chrome Chinook while the rest of us flounder through the process. In a state where kings are harder to come by, QoK is setting a new standard.
The intrepid rainbow fanatic, Wally has been known to cast a dry fly in a parking lot puddle suspected of having a stocker trout. Springtime finds Wally creeping along the snow encrusted riverbanks, tossing fry patterns into low-water streams. As summer approaches, Wally moves to the surface, probing with Stimulators, caddis patterns, mayflies and the occasional mouse. Wally enters the egg drop with a bit of contempt, preferring to fish trout with more traditional patterns than a plastic bead or Glo-Bug. And as September rolls into view, Wally enters his most triumphant and anticipated time of year when he can toss big, ugly patterns and swing them on tight lines to the huge trout of rivers like the Kenai, Naknek and Kvichak. Just don’t ask him to go on another death march, as he prefers to slowly and methodically work every bit of water.
Certain people assume to know everything, and end up making an ass of u and me. In the case of Mr. Know-It-All, this truth never rang so clear. Unable to listen to direct instruction, he routinely puts you and other members of your party in potential danger from his bad decision-making. And if that wasn’t bad enough, if you get stuck with him, you’ll have to endure countless long-winded tales of his bravado and feats of gusto that are obviously and poorly embellished. You’ll need to think ahead when dealing with him, and be certain to head off any potentially dangerous outcomes by being direct and assuming nothing.
There are a few things readily obvious about CF; he loves to drive and explore gravel roads, and he should never play in the field on the soccer pitch. When it’s time to explore new country by road, get Crazy Feet on the horn and he’ll be the man for that mission. Throw in a couple R-dogs and you’ve got the recipe for hours of entertainment. Be warned, however; Crazy Feet sometimes has difficulty telling time, which can lead to situations like rolling a black bear in the dark down an old logging hillside littered in nurse trees. In the end, he’s got the winning personality to pull it off, and you and the others drawn into helping will be laughing about it over said R-dogs (possibly substituting High Life, if he’s been into the cooler for longer than four hours, in which case the Rainier is long gone).
The Angry Angler
It’s really too bad that The Angry Angler is so angry, because he sure knows how to fish. Mac’s first encounter with really big rainbows was with the help of The Angry Angler. In future encounters, TAA did little to make friends and influence anglers, as the pair that Mac brought were both barked at and belittled by TAA. Mac showed just enough angling ability to remain outside TAA’s barbed outbursts, but the furious guide continued to lambast Mac’s guests and that ended their dealings. Really is too bad, because TAA sure knows how to find big ‘bows.