Anna, a Bluebell Flower and a Rainbow Trout
by Michael R Dougherty
A Bluebell Flower - but fish bait?
Wasilla, Alaska is surrounded by rivers, lakes and streams where the fishing is good.
And when you're ready to fish, the first thing you want to know is "what are the fish hitting?"
When you fish in Alaska you use lures, spinners or bait like single salmon eggs or salmon clusters. Knowing the right answer to "what are they hitting?" can make the difference between going home with nothing but Alaskan mosquito bites, or your limit of Rainbow trout. I've gone home with both and I can tell you that of the two, it's way better to go home after having caught your limit.
When our family lived in Wasilla, Alaska, we spent a lot of time fishing on the banks of the Little Susitna river, which was a nice drive from our log cabin home in downtown Wasilla in the 1950's.
After our dad came home from working on Goose Bay road, we'd have dinner, pack up our fishing gear and head off for the banks of the Little Susitna where we would relax and enjoy the beautiful scenic river and get in some seriously good Alaska fishing.
I was 10 years old, my sister Anna was 9 and our brother Tom was 8. Dad and mom really knew how to fish and they taught us well.
But on one trip, Anna showed us all how it's done -
After dad parked our car near the river, we got our fishing gear and were ready to catch a big one. We decided to head down a path toward a nice bend in the river that had lots of good fishing holes.
As we walked along the path, each of us found a place to fish and mom gave us a small amount of single salmon eggs for bait.
For the next half hour or so, fishing was slow -
Then dad and mom said it was time to head back to the car and hollered for us to reel in our fishing lines. But Anna hollered back that she had a fish on her line, so we all headed for Anna's fishing spot.
Just as we showed up to see what was happening, Anna was pulling a really big Rainbow trout out of the river. After the slow fishing the rest of us had experienced, it was exciting to see Anna's big catch.
As Anna was taking the hook out of the fish's mouth, dad and mom asked her if she had caught her fish on a salmon egg. "No" said Anna, "I used a Bluebell flower."
Dad's immediate response was "no way", but Anna just laughed and then told us her fish story.
It seems that after Anna had been fishing in her spot for a while and hadn't gotten any bites, she started to reel in her line and was going to look for another fishing hole. But as she was reeling in her line, she felt a strong strike on her hook, so she stopped and waited.
There were no more strikes, so she continued reeling in her line, only to discover that her bait was gone. A fish had struck and taken her bait.
Excited by the hard strike, Anna quickly baited her hook again and threw her line back in the river.
Bang, another strike -
Once again, the fish had taken her bait right off the hook.
The same thing happened over and over, but Anna wasn't able to set the hook because the fish was only hitting once and getting her bait every time.
Then as Anna brought in her hook, she caught a short glimps of a large Rainbow trout swimming toward her hook, and then away.
Anna said "wow, it was a big Rainbow."
Then Anna quickly turned to get another salmon egg, but discovered that she was out of bait. Not wanting to let this be the fish that got away, Anna started looking around for something she could use as a bait substitute, something the Rainbow might be attracted to.
And there it was, on the bank of the river - a Bluebell flower.
In a flash, Anna had the flower secured to her hook and down into the water it went. Now Anna lifted her line up and down just a little so the Bluebell would catch the attention of the trout who she hoped was still hungry.
Wait for it, wait for it -
BANG, the Rainbow hit her line full force, Anna set the hook and the fight was on.
Moments later, she had landed her catch and the rest of the family was congratulating her on not only the catch of the day, but for catching a big Rainbow trout with of all things, a Bluebell flower.
In the years that followed, Anna proved to be a very talented and gifted "fisherman."
There are folks who just seem to have a knack for knowing where the fish are and when and how to catch them. Anna was and is one of those folks. I also think my sister might be one of those alien "pod people" but that's another story.
Catching a large Rainbow trout with just a flower was the first of many times Anna proved herself to be the best fisher person in our family. And many times, both me and our brother Tom found ourselves fishing as close to Anna as we could, hoping that her fishing luck would rub off on us.
The Bluebell flower catch was only scratching the surface -
Years later on another family fishing trip to Railroad lake near Wasilla, Anna accomplished the all-time record Alaska grand slam. She caught the first fish, the last fish, the biggest fish, the smallest fish and the most fish. I kid you not.
But that's another story -