Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fishing With Bears: An Interview With Larry Quilling

Here is the last post in the four part series that started with my investigation into the difference between anadromous and catadromous fish (a difference which you can learn about HERE).  My investigation resulted with me contacting Dr. Joe RichardsonWallace Westfeldt, and Larry Quilling, three people with an enormous quantity of knowledge when it comes to the different fish that fit under both categories.  We've already heard from Dr. Joe and Wallace with a post featuring each of them (Dr Joe's post HERE and Wallace's post HERE), and now it's time to hear from Larry Quilling!  The youth director for Boulder Flycasters and a member of the Board of Directors of Trout Unlimited, whose mission is to conserve, protect, and restore cold water fisheries.  Larry is another one of the expert fisherman that came into my Outdoor Ed class last year to teach us how to fish.  He took us down to Viele Lake, the lake right next to my high school, and we did our best to reel in some dinner!  (Except you would probably not want to eat the fish in Viele Lake, the lake is pretty stagnant and foul.)  I remembered that Larry had mentioned that he had fished for salmon alongside grizzly bears, and so I knew he would be a good person to contact in regards to salmon fishing!  I've reproduced the interview here for everyone to read: there are some pretty awesome pictures within!
Larry Quilling holding a spring Chinook salmon in the Trask River in Oregon!
The Natural World:  In the last few blog posts, we've been talking about anadromous fish, and focusing specifically on the mass migrations of salmon.  What experience do you have when it comes to these mass migrations?

Larry Quilling: I have a good friend whom I visit in Oregon every summer and winter when possible to fish for steelhead trout and salmon.  Here are a few pictures of Tom and I fishing the Oregon coast. Tom has a cabin on the Trask River near Tillamook where I love to fish for spring Chinook. We regularly head to the Columbia River in the late summer where we fish for them as well. The fish I catch in the Trask in late summer are spring spawn fish still held over from the spring run. You will notice their colors morph from the bright silver to dark green and beyond once in the rivers.
Fall Chinook(Kings) from the 2013 Columbia River Trip.
Trask Spring Chinook, 2013
Tom's daughter Margie with a steelhead.
TNW:  I remember you mentioned fishing in Alaska last year.  Do you have any pictures from that?

LQ:  Tom and I went to King Salmon, Alaska two summers ago. The pictures below are from the NakNak River and Katmai National Park.
Fishing with the bears in Katmai. We were fishing just 60-70 yards upstream of these guys. They are all fishing for the sockeye run.
Tom's King from the NakNak.
Me with a a NakNak sockeye.
Patricia and I with a sockeye.
TNW: Tell me more about fishing with the bears! Were they good about maintaining their distance, or did you have any encounters which were a little too close for comfort?

LQ:  Fishing just downstream of the floating bridge at Brooks lodge, I hooked a sockeye.  The commotion and splash alerted another interested party on the other side of the bridge who swam underneath to come see what was going on.
This young griz came to investigate. He is standing right where I was in the previous picture! We took this picture after I landed my fish and got the hell out of there. Rangers were yelling at me the whole time but no one told me the break off my fish.
A picture of my catch....
....and a pose with my fishing partner.

What an incredible opportunity to go fishing so close to wild grizzly bears!  Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me Larry, and we hope to hear from you again soon!  To learn a little bit more about Larry, you can check out his profile on the Boulder Flycasters website HERE!

Unless otherwise noted, the photo credit for all of the photos in the post goes to Larry Quilling.

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