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Winning not required We’re idling along on a glassy sea. Somewhere ahead of us water meets sky, but a thin veil of fog renders the horizon indiscernible at times. Behind us, the town of Valdez has revved into the full swing of its 55th annual silver salmon derby.  I’m with my brother Chris aboard the Cape Corona, a vessel of his own handiwork, thanks to the events of 2020. While many of us flocked to the stores to garner toilet paper, Chris procured gallons of fiberglass resin and rolls of the various fabric that comprise the laminate. With months of downtime on his hands, he gutted a 22-foot hull to its bare bones and built what he hopes is the ultimate saltwater fishing machine. With us today is 26-year-old Sarah Minturn, whose dexterity at untangling lines and agility on deck are at once enviable, if not a grim reminder that…

A hidden gem on the Middle Kuskokwim by John Chythlook Note: This article is reprinted with permission from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s ReelTimes newsletter. Additional species information is also from ADF&G. Ever thought of fishing a little-traveled river in the middle Kuskokwim River drainage? If so, a trip on the Hoholitna River should near the top of your list. The Hoholitna River is a tannic, clearwater river that flows 165 miles north from its headwaters in Whitefish Lake in the Nushagak Hills to eventually join the lower Holitna River. There is excellent fishing for Dolly Varden and arctic grayling, as well as large, voracious northern pike in the lower river and sloughs all summer long. King and chum salmon are available late June and July, while coho salmon are present during late August and September. Anglers normally access the lower Hoholitna by chartered boat from the village of Sleetmute.…

Alaska’s Other Gold A decade ago in late July, my wife, MC, was picking salmonberries at the edge of the forest on Admiralty Island when she startled a brown bear. I spoke to the bear gently as MC backed away. As we left, we walked past the end of the berry patch, where we had stashed our kayak, to the edge of a meadow where the sea met a stream. Pink salmon leapt continuously into the air. Hundreds, maybe thousands, were schooled up at the mouth of the stream. That evening, we went to retrieve our kayak. Next to its hull lay a bright, silver-colored pink salmon with one large bite taken out of it. Nearly all the salmon we’d watched jumping had begun to mottle with their spawning colors. I knelt over the salmon, pondering why the bear had dropped it there until I sensed the bear was bedded…