It all started for me when I was about 4 years old when we moved to Alaska from New Jersey. My parents had originally met and fell in love in Alaska, and for a short time moved to New Jersey where I was born. When we moved back to Alaska my dad already knew his way around the surrounding areas of Anchorage and the best fishing spots.
I assume he desired to have boys as children so he could spend outdoors time with them – but when his 3rd daughter arrived (that would be me, yours truly) he realized he better get these girls fishing, hunting and camping.
I remember him setting me up with a string, a hook and an egg which I would then tie to a stick, and then fish for small fry. I loved watching the little fish attack the egg and of course the one that would gulp it – I was hooked. I loved pulling it out of the water and wrapping my little fingers around the fish and unhooking it. You couldn’t entice me away with anything, except for telling me we would do more fishing! I remember my dad taking me on long hikes over railroad tracks, across bridges and through the woods and once we’d arrive he’d explain to me that the banks were equivalent to “fish ears” so to be careful and quiet as we walked along to find just the right fishing spot. Still to this day I believe that the banks of the river are the fish ears, I’ve never wanted to ask the truth on this matter, assuming now that it was just a way to keep an excited 8 year old calm.
Through the years my passion for fishing grew and I was pulling in 50 ll king salmon that I was DETERMINED to hold and photograph all by myself. Years passed and we moved to the Pacific NW when I was 15. High school, internships and marriage came and there wasn’t much fishing during these years. Now that I’m in my 30s the love for fishing has been rekindled. I’m like a spawning salmon and return home to Alaska every year. I can’t stay away. My passion now is to catch those trophy trout on the Kenai river that grow to more than 30 inches.
In most of my girlfriend circles I get the crazy eye when I start to talk about fishing, you know, the crinkled jaw, furrowed eyebrows and wide eyed look “you actually enjoy that?” The answer is: I do, I really do. I know most women entertain themselves with the typical girl things, cooking, organizing, which don’t get me wrong – I do too, but I also relax breathing in the fresh air, (fishier the better) the quiet sounds of river bubbling over rocks, trees swaying in the wind. It’s all relaxing to me, even writing this I long to be on the river. The fish are just the added bonus – the thrilling added bonus.
When the bite hits it shoots adrenaline all the way down to my fingertips. Set the hook. Reel. Wait. Let him run. Reel. Let him jump. Catch your first glimpse of him. Reel! Reel! Reel! Calm your panic and bring him into the net. Streeeetch. Reel. Let him run. Reel. Lift him up. Bring him into the net. Heart slows to a steady normal pace as you look down and see him in the net for the first time.My hands are still shaking from the adrenaline rush as I pick him up out of the freezing water. I take a quick pic and let him be on his way.
I’m eternally grateful to these beautiful rainbow trout, for offering me the thrill and relaxation that I long to chase after. Is there anything more beautiful? Not to me. I’m an addict. A fly fishing addict. I dream to travel the globe catching these giant rainbow trout, and then let them be on there way to see another day.
You can follow Kari Maddox on Instagram: @akkenaigirl