21 August 2017

Summer 2017 Total Eclipse

Cody planned and planned our August trip to view the eclipse in its totality.  Originally, for many, many months, we were headed to Missouri, and then, at the end of July, Cody informed me we needed to go to drier climates to avoid cloud cover.  After studying totality length and time of day of totality, Cody settled on Nebraska.

Hoping to avoid crowds, traffic, noise, and wanting an unobstructed view, Cody chose the small town of Stapleton, population 305.  Finding a place to stay in Stapleton was not so easy, because everything was booked.  However, Stapleton planned and planned well, and they had a wonderful Chamber of Commerce Facebook page where land and homeowners were offering a place to stay on their property.  We ended up at the Bar 11 Ranch, home of Kristy and Jim Opela, about nine miles west of town.  What wonderful hosts the Opela's were, allowing us to bring our RV on its maiden voyage trip and for Cody to set up his telescope equipment.  We enjoyed the town's parade, craft fair, rodeo--seeing some events for the first time, such as the Porta Potty Pull.  During the rodeo, storms developed in the east and provided Cody with the opportunity to take some fabulous lightening photos.

On the day of the eclipse, all preparations were readied, all weather apps and forecasts studied, and recording equipment in place.  We awoke at 9:00 a.m. to dense fog with maximum 20 feet visibility, so we watched weather programming on t.v., and made the decision to stay put and photograph what we could.  We had a great time, recorded many things, and Cody snapped some great photos in spite of the day's beginnings!
Cloud Cover 21 August 2017 @ 10:03 a.m.

Cloud Cover 21 August 2017 @ 11:02 a.m.

Capturing the Sunspots just prior to the eclipse's beginning

Sunspots @ 11:35 a.m.

11:36 a.m.

11:55 a.m.

High cloud cover creates a hazy effect @ 12:06 p.m.

12:16 p.m.

12:26 p.m.

12:33 p.m.

12:38 p.m.

12:43 p.m.

12:50 p.m.

12:53 p.m.

Sun's Corona @ 12:54 p.m.

Prominences @ 12:55 p.m.

Diamond Ring @ 12:56 p.m.

1:01 p.m.

1:09 p.m.

1:14 p.m.

1:23 p.m.

1:35 p.m.

1:52 p.m. last photo before the cloud cover returned
I was curious as to all things that would occur during the eclipse--shadows, animal reactions, temperature, humidity, and light-to-dark-to-light, so I took readings and videos of some of these events.

The last of eclipse totality and the quickly emerging sunlight.

Turn an object one way and it appears fuzzy, but rotate it 45 degrees and it appears clearly

Temperature and humidity changes throughout the eclipse.  Temperature was recorded in Fahrenheit and humidity is in percent.

11 August 2017

Somewhere in the Unalakleet Watershed

On our last day, Cody almost secured an Alaska Grand Slam.  We found only one Chinook or King Salmon; it wasn't moldy, but it was moving so fast, we never had a chance to cast to it, because it disappeared while Cody was landing another salmon.

Sockeye Salmon (only about 1,200 in this watershed)

Chum Salmon (Released alive and well; gill raker wasn't hooked)
"Coho Cody" and his Silver Salmon

Pink Salmon Hen (weighed over 8 pounds)

10 August 2017

Maybe, Noteworthy Fish?

I don't just like to fish; I like to experiment with fishing.  I also thoroughly love a challenge, so I did some IGFA record research prior to our trip and packed accordingly.  I came to the Unalakleet with the intent of trying to set seven IGFA records, even with their new rule where a fish must weigh at least half of the class tippet being fished.  I left the Unalakleet with four potential records--three which were vacant and breaking a previously set Pink Salmon record, which was a spontaneous opportunity merely because it was caught.  Unfortunately, I could only submit three of the four applications, because the picture showing the weight of one of the fish was too blurry to interpret, regardless Cody's photography talent.  I moved during the weighing photos, which caused the blurriness.  Crushing, yes, but a valuable lesson learned.  Of the memorable fish, there were two that were more memorable than the three submitted for verification.

On our last day of fishing, while Cody was catching his Sockeye Salmon, I had also been trying to tempt a Grayling to eat my fly tied to a class 2 kg/4 lb. tippet line.  Not having any luck, I decided to switch flies, and in making that decision, I chose to pick up my other rod with a class 4 kg/8 lb. tippet line and bigger fly, one of Cody's purple and silver "Messy Dress" flies.  BAM! FishOn! with two strips--a spawning-colored Coho with a nice kype at the end of my line weighing 9 pounds 6 ounces--12 ounces more than the current 4 lb. record fish!  Crushed and simultaneously delighted,  I just keep telling myself that with a 4 lb. class tippet, chances were pretty decent that I would not have landed that fish.  Either way, I enjoyed catching it.

Taylor boated Cody and me a considerable distance upriver to target large Dolly Varden.  We anchored the boat near a mid-river gravel bar and wade fished swinging streamers.  I swung a nice purple-bodied, pink, bead-like head streamer tied on 1 kg/2 lb. class tippet.  Several Dollies nipped at the fly, but another fish kept disturbing the Dollies, so their feeding wasn't wholeheartedly enthusiastic.  Giving it one last cast and swing, I had FishOn!  Taylor waded farther out to get a good look at the fish and announced it was ChumOn!  OH! MY! WORD!  Thank goodness, we did have a flurocarbon 16 pound shock tippet tied on, so there was hope at landing this piggy fish; unfortunately, I struggle with tying the Bimini Twist knot, so my surgeon's knot was stiffer than I wanted for a 2 lb class tippet. Fighting this fish was definitely a team effort.  Cody was snapping swell pictures and offering lots of encouragement and keen advice.  Taylor advised how to fight the Chum, letting him run downstream right out of the swift current.  We let him run--about 100 yards in to the backing; we put just enough pressure to retrieve the line back through the guides four different times.  I waded downstream with him; I bowed when he jumped.  I changed angles; I had a nice, spongy two-piece rod.  My drag was loose; I palmed only lightly.  We played him well going on 10 minutes and were prepared to do this for as long as necessary.  The Chum began tiring with the downstream runs/upstream retrieves and jumps.  Just as determined as I was to land this beast, he was just as determined to get away, and so, with a spectacular thrash of his head, the class tippet broke exactly in the middle, at the 7½" mark, much to the heartbreak of us all.  The most memorable fish is the one that got away; cliché, I know, but the truth nonetheless.

The applications that we did submit were Silver Salmon on 1 kg/ 2 lb test (the one I thought would be impossible to set), Dolly Varden on 1 kg/2 lb test, and Pink Salmon on 2 kg/4 lb test.  Now, the waiting game begins.

Coho Salmon

Dolly Varden

Pink Salmon

08 August 2017

Unalakleet River Lodge, Revisited

We returned to the Unalakleet River Lodge for some of the best Pacific Silver Salmon in North America.  We visited Unalakleet earlier in the season than compared to our 2010 visit and were treated to some days filled with warm sunshine, pre-spawn Cohos, beautiful scenery, and some of Alaska's wildlife.  It made finding some of the more sought-after species a little difficult, but it was a grand week, filled with fine food, excellent friendships, and great days on the water.

Unalakleet River Lodge

Dolly Varden

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