A mist settled in the port town of Valdez, masking the blue Alaskan sky from sight. The charcoal-colored mountains and gray water added to the serene setting as we sauntered down to the wharf.
We stopped to take in the scenery on this cool, cloudy morning and to watch the anglers. Some were old "salty dogs" who looked like they were born with fishing rods in their hands, others looked like the summer visitors they were and some looked like locals.
Approaching one such angler, we asked her about the silver salmon, both dead and alive, that were in the bay. A cheery sort, she gave us a Silver Salmon 101 talk and ended by saying to a very attentive Mariah, "Would you like to fish?"
Mariah beamed. We were surprised and pleased with Nancy's offer since our 11-year-old had been anxious to fish for the previous two weeks.
Nancy rigged up a pole using chunks of cod as bait and guided Mariah down to the south end of the wharf, where a colorful crew of kids were abuzz. Mariah made a cast as Nancy provided tips to increase the chances of catching a big one.
While salmon were illusive, Mariah snagged small cod and started collecting them as Robert commenced cleaning. Some of the other young anglers contributed their catch and before long we had enough for a "shore lunch".
Mariah resumed fishing and after several casts, emitted a squeal that quickly drew our attention to her. A quick glance told us all we need to know. Her pole was bent into a U-shape as she danced around on the wooden pier.
With the prospects of a silver salmon dinner, we all cheered. As she reeled in inch by inch, the tension mounted.
Imagine our surprise when a really odd-shaped fish appeared at the end of her line. "OMIGISH what is it?" Mariah shouted.
Quickly we discovered the dangling dark purple mass was indeed a fish--a starfish that is! We were glad to see the beautiful creature was lightly snagged and easy to unhook. After much oohing, ahhing and picture taking by a naturalist mom, Mariah released the starfish back into the bay.
Later in the afternoon Mariah snagged another starfish, which parted ways with one leg (arm/ray) before being unhooked. The starfish will regenerate and replace the missing ray. In addition, by returning the separated appendage to the water, there is a good chance it too will regenerate to become a whole starfish once again.
While the scenery and weather were subdued, clearly one young lady was not. With a huge grin, Mariah gleefully stated, "I want to move to Alaska!"
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