“Y’all did alright today, but just wait until tomorrow. We’re going to hike up through there and hit the honey hole,” George told us as Dad was cleaning the day’s catch.

The term “honey hole” is widely used in fishing lore. To keep it within the realm of fishing, it’s the proverbial end of the rainbow where there’s an abundance of fish just waiting to be caught. It’s El Dorado; the lost city of gold. There are numerous abstract descriptions to conceptualize what a honey hole is and what it means to a particular individual. What’s incredible to think about is that a honey hole as described could actually exist.

Walk upstream from camp about 100 yards towards the back of our island. Walk across the “sometimes-creek” bed and from here you can wade up through the river to a nice pool that holds an adequate amount of salmon, or just before you reach said pool there’s a trail in the thick conifer tree line. The trail is tight and just wide enough to go one by one between tree trunks and boulders. The trail then rises up over the first pool and cuts through the woods which gives access to move further upstream to access the next pool just below the same ridge. The floor is advantageously lined with the same thick moss as the campsite which keeps your approach quiet as if you’re walking across carpeted floors. Walking along the ridge by the edge of the river you’re given a roughly 8-foot elevation above the water’s edge where there’s an excellent vantage point looking down into the next pool. The trail ends by dropping back down to the river about midway through the pool.   

There’s an excellent view of this pool at the trail’s highest level. You can see back towards your feet there’s a shallow enough bar that will allow anyone wading to cross to the other side, but if you sit still long enough you can look down into the pool directly below you and have absolutely no doubt about where you are. The water’s surface is moving slowly left to right with the current headed back towards camp, but the riverbed isn’t. It should be motionless contrasting against the moving surface water, but it isn’t. It’s seemingly moving upstream against the current. The movement is subtle at first and by no means obvious until a small spot in the riverbed flashes and you realize it’s not the riverbed.

George speaks up, “Y’all ever seen anything like this before? It’s like this every year.”

Hundreds of salmon are stacked up virtually on top of each other bottle-necked in the pool below waiting for their opportunity to make it to the next one upstream.

Welcome to the honey hole.

Alaska 2007 - part 2 012

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