Back in ’77 at the waterfall camp on the fjord on Prince of Wales I was watching Silver salmon jump the falls on their way to the big lake. There were lots of Sockeye salmon jumping but they basically had to swim up the edges of the falls where the water ran in stair-step rapids. It was the big Silvers that impressed me. They would circle in the pool below until they got the courage to just jump the falls in one big jump. Seeing a two to three-foot long fish jump over ten feet is a sight to see. Some of the fish would make the jump only to miss the water at the top and land in the rocks. Those would be quickly eaten by the bears.
After watching this for a while I decided to see if I could hit any of the jumping Silvers with my 44 magnum. I stood at the edge of the falls with my gun in my hands. I emptied my gun. Of course I didn’t hit anything. I knew I wouldn’t.
I told this story to a bus driver in Denali a couple of years ago. A person on the bus asked me why I shot at the fish. I said, “Well, I didn’t have anything better to do.” The bus driver then said it was the best story he had ever heard that explained the Alaskan lifestyle.