Keep the oily side down…

sockeye_funnel.jpgExhibit A: This is a photo that I’ve had in my head for months, and wasn’t sure if I’d ever get. I got it today. This is, without a doubt, the single most incredible thing I have ever seen in Mother Nature’s bag of tricks. Mind blowing. Tens of thousands of sockeye stacked three-deep in a river most people would call a creek. This is something worth protecting. Photo by Ben Knight

Quote of the Day: “It’s another good day of flying as long as you keep the oily side down.” —Not-so-funny bush pilot humor.

bear1.jpgSpent about an hour with this lovely family. Photo by Ben Knight

Close enough to piss your waders. That is how close we were. 18 grizzly bears in 3 river miles. They were chasing salmon, eating salmon brains, napping in the bushes, rolling playfully in the tundra and doing belly flops into the river. There were wet ones, smelly ones, cute fluffy blond ones, old grumpy ones, cubs and a mom that was in no mood to breast feed. The moments that got to me were when they looked into your eyes [before you had a chance to look away] and when you strolled past a bush and there they were, 20 feet away. It doesn’t take long to get your heart up to warp speed. Needless to say, we’re finally getting the “intimate” wildlife footage we hoped for. Many thanks to our guide Todd at the Alaskan Sportsman’s Lodge.

This is when you want to quickly row your little raft in a less menacing direction. No rapids to speak of, but I’d call this a class IV wouldn’t you? Photo by Ben Knight


17 thoughts on “Keep the oily side down…

  1. Ben, nice photo! it makes an Alaskan boy’s heart squirm with delight to see those salmon.

    Isn’t their life-cycle just an incredible thing!? The way they are driven to return to their birth place to spawn and die is so . . . I don’t know what to say, bewildering and mysterious. All those fish on a mission to reproduce once, and then die in the place of their birth. Willing to do anything to get there. It makes me feel like they certainly understand something that I’m just not getting.


  2. Unbelievable stuff – keep up the amazing work guys. And we really appreciate that we can keep tabs on such a worthy project. I anxiously await the film – was a huge fan of the other two.

    Maybe you can get some film footage of the bears “snorkeling”…

    Cheers, ashton

    PS – any idea where to but the infamous Rastas?????

  3. Awesome photos guys. This whole blog has taken me on a journey with you all and I look forward to the updates. It will be wild watching the documentary and reliving the stories that were told throughout the last few months. Thanks.

  4. That is an amazing photo. I was just turned on to your blog and will link from mine, and continue to follow your great journey.

    Chief Angler
    Lateral Line

  5. Maybe next year you could come up and do story on how catch and release is destroying the trout in our heavily fished streams. Nothing like catching a one-eyed trout, right?

    If the system can’t support you eating it, do not fish for it. Fillet and release is the only way to go in the long run.

    Good luck out there in BB, stay dry and stay safe! I love your guys work.

  6. Well. After reading the article in the Anchorage Daily News today, I thought I’d log on and leave a snotty comment. However…I’d have to be a hardass not to appreciate the wonderful, beatiful photos. (My favorite is Mary’s hands. But I am sad that there aren’t any from Newhalen/Iliamna.) And I’d really have to be a hardass not to enjoy the Funnies By Ben.
    Did you happen to interview George Hornberger? Or photo my brother, Chester Hornberger? (If you posted him, you’d have half the female population hitting your site. Well, okay, maybe not half. Probably 90% or so.)
    I’m off to find something else to bitch about. And eat some really good, perfectly salty dry fish (compliments of the Newhalen River). Hopefully I’ll remember you in about a year or so and look for the film.

  7. You have visited the villages and areas downriver from the proposed mine site. What about visits to the villages of Iliamna/Newhalen and Pedro Bay. Pedro Bay will have an “unwanted” road through the village, if this Project goes through.

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  9. Will you post the trailer site for the film? I hear from Ryan that is is more than awesome!!!
    There are so many environmental battles being fought these days, film is an invaluable tool to help people understand.

    Thank you,


  10. I count fish in Bristol Bay I passed 60,000 fish one hour, Sixty thousand sockeye, thats more than the columbia sees in like a decade, in one hour, that was nuts. They were ten fish deep coming faster than I could click.

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