Gypsy Corner

travis, truckTravis keeps a firm grip on his Sage spey rod while cruising for chicks in downtown King Salmon at 10:30 PM. Photo by Ben Knight

The two other members of the crew [who will remain unnamed] have decided that my blog entries must begin with a disclaimer so I don’t offend the governor of any states that we happen to be filming in.

Disclaimer: Ben Knight’s opinions and comments expressed in this forum in no way reflect the wholesome, politically correct, fun-for-the-whole-family and completely A-political stance that Felt Soul Media proudly represents. Just ignore him.

Dear Lauren,

Seriously, don’t read the next few blog entries because you’re going to freak out when you realize what you’ve missed. [Lauren, our tall assistant from Trout Unlimited who likes to dance till 3 AM at the Red Dog fisherman bar in Naknek] ran off to Juneau to take care of a few things and left Travis and I alone to have incredible experiences that we’ll never forget. [But I’m sure the TU office in Juneau is awesome too]

Ok, so there’s this huge boat yard where random characters from all over the world gather to prepare their fishing boats for the rapidly approaching sockeye salmon spawn. Many of these people do not fit the fisher person “look.” It reminds me of a Burning Man/Bluegrass/Rave/meth festival of sorts. One area of the boat yard is called ‘Gypsy Corner’ where an eclectic group of extremely welcoming fishermen gather every night around what reminds me of a scene from Mad Max. A 10-foot tall stack of oil drums with etchings of a nude woman is the centerpiece of the gathering as a raging bonfire illuminates her perfectly plasma cut-breasts and wavy hair from within. Massive aluminum commercial fishing boats tower over the Gypsy Corner flanked by cargo containers that people use as makeshift homes while making repairs on their boats. A random assortment of old speakers running off car stereo amps that look abandoned dangle from a shack with a tarp roof where the resident salmon fishing DJ mixes some seriously sick, thumping beats from his Powerbook. A digital projector screens “Death of a president” onto an old ripped sheet tied to the boats while beer drinking locals dance and throw rocks when George W. Bush is shown. Next film up for Gypsy Corner movie night… you guessed it. Running Down the Man. Our strangest screening yet by far. Folks seemed to really enjoy it until the end when Frank speaks of “Killing less fish.” Some dude sarcastically yelled “Let’s all catch and release this year” and received a roar of laughter. Saw that one coming. The sky is a deep, dark blue by 2:45 AM but the party isn’t over yet, and although it never got completely dark, the sun is already poised for sunrise. The DJ [Kai] puts the beats on auto-pilot and starts twirling the fuck out of a stick with flames raging from both ends in his one-piece navy blue work suit. The Gypsy Corner is a 20+year tradition in the Dillingham Boat yard.

naknek_graveyard.jpgOld Russian Orthodox graveyard in Naknek. Photo by Ben Knight

Note: Do not eat raw salted salmon eggs unless you need to forge steel with your breath.

Spent an entire day filming Dylan [the young talented boat builder/set-netter] and his his super loud but passionate and well-spoken father-in-law Ole preparing to launch a 30-foot skiff/barge of theirs. This is the first time Travis and I have actually imbedded ourselves with a subject we didn’t know. Turns out, we should do this more often. It takes an ass load of patience, but it really paid off. It took all day to get the prop running that Dylan bought from Pedro in North Carolina off E-bay, but eventually we were in the water and off to their remote fish camp at Nushagak Point. 3 minutes later the engine is dead, the plastic bottle of whiskey is out, and we’re waiting for a tow. Eventually we made it to camp but didn’t beat the tide and were left wading a quarter mile through knee deep tidal mud. A bush plane landed on the black pebble beach in front of us loaded with moose and caribou antlers as hundreds of white Beluga whales fed on sockeye behind us. Wait, where the fuck are we? Oh yeah, ALASKA. We were greeted by friendly fisherman and welcomed to a ground-elk spaghetti dinner by Ole, the honorary Nushagak Point mayor. The Point is a small beach spotted with tiny rugged plywood cabins with spring-fed running water from the rolling green hills above. Dylan’s wife Sarah found time to bake the best yellow cake I’ve ever had with home-made chocolate icing that I would bathe myself in if possible. The evening was capped off with our strongest interview of the trip from Ole, who sat on his porch as the sun began to set at 11 PM and cast a soft red glow. I took one of my few pills of Ambien sleep crack and dozed off in the loft of a cabin while mosquitos injected my lifeless drugged face with Alaskan malaria all night.

Note: I have entered a realm of abusive gluttony that I had no idea I was capable of thanks to a general over-abundance of salmon and the delicious buffet and condiment selection at the Peter Pan cannary.

nush point Remanants of the pier from an old burned-down canary on the Nushagak Point set-netter fish camp. Photo by Ben Knight


5 thoughts on “Gypsy Corner

  1. Howdy,
    saw an ad in a gun magazine about bristol bay. I worked up there for the red salmon co. in the late 90s and cherish the time i spent there. Fishermans bar in naknek is great, the only bar ive ever stayed in till 7 in the morning,anyway dont know what i can do to help but that part of the world is way too precious to be molested by big business.

  2. Travis,

    Kool blog, but I’m lookin’ forward to the movie. I look back on that movie night as the highlite of the month I spent in the srangest trailer park errr.. I ment boat yard in north america. I’m back in Portland shoot me an email if you want some film resources linx for here in PDX.

  3. the red gold trailer looks amazing… wow the paf boat yard that brings back some memories those gypsy fleet guys are something else huh… anyways as a bristol bay drift permit holder off having wild ass adventures in afghan and iraq thank you for caring… it is people like you guys that really make this world a better place…

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