Wide-eyed seals bob in the surf where the Pasagshak River meets the bay. A black dog whines at the long-lashed creatures and barks at the silvers being hauled ashore on fly rods and reels. The sky reflects blue on the large cove of Pasagshak Bay, which although capacious is still but a blip within the much larger Ugak Bay on the northeast side of Kodiak Island. This is road-system fishing, so the Dela Cruz family is not alone on the sandy bank. But it is Alaska, so the wildness still makes the heart pitter-patter in time with the flicks of the returning silvers’ tails.
“They are coming up the river!” Randy shouts at his 12 year old son, Isaiah, on the other side of the bank.
“I see them!” Isaiah hollers back, whipping his neon fly line just in front of the noses of the swimming salmon. Shortly later, Isaiah runs back to the mouth of the river, empty handed.
The fact that Isaiah is on the river bank at all is a success story. This August 31 was the two-year anniversary of his liver transplant. Standing in the sand, he wears a hood and a long-sleeved jacket even though it is nearly 80 degrees, since immune suppressing drugs make him particularly susceptible to sunburn.