Tips and Mistakes Spearfishing Whitefish on the Chatanika River near Fairbanks

Spearfishing whitefish on the Chatanika River, September 2023. Photo by Clay Duda.
Spearfishing whitefish on the Chatanika River near Fairbanks, Alaska, September 2023. Photo by Clay Duda.

I didn’t even know what a freshwater “whitefish” was when I applied for a permit to spearfish them. I’ve lived in Alaska for 7 years now and never drawn a tag. I’ve put in for moose and mountain goat and Kodiak elk and a bunch of other things with no luck. So I figured my chances of getting a whitefish tag was slim to none.

Then, in August, I got an email back from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game awarding my first ever Alaska draw tag: to spearfish whitefish in the Chatanika River near Fairbanks. Me and my friend Dan were the only 2 people on the Kenai Peninsula to earn a tag.

Pew Pew Portraits with the Boys from Pig Problem, Inc.

Hog hunting guides with Pig Problem, Inc. in Americus, Georgia.
Handgun drills in Homer, Alaska with the Pig Problem, Inc. guides from Americus, Georgia.

It is September in Alaska, which means the fishing season is finally slowing down for us fishing guides in Homer. It also means that we have more time to hang out and goof off with friends since we’re not offshore fishing seven days a week.

A few days ago I caught up with some of the guides from Pig Problem, Inc. and went out for a little target practice. Most of these guys do thermal night hunts for hogs out of Americus, Georgia during the winter months and work on fishing boats in Alaska during the summer.

Ring leader Maximus Maximum was training up a new recruit and refreshing skills with handgun drills to put down charging boars or cardboard hitmen or something like that. I really just tagged along to take photos and smell gunpowder.

Some Gritty Black and White Photos of Days N’ Daze Playing Live in Homer, Alaska

Days N' Daze play live at Alice's Champagne Palace in Homer, Alaska. July 30, 2023. Photo by Clay Duda.
Days N’ Daze play live at Alice’s Champagne Palace in Homer, Alaska. July 30, 2023.

Dude, I used to love concert photography. Back in the day when I worked as an editor at Creative Loafing Atlanta (RIP), I used to go photograph shows weekly, sometimes more. It wasn’t really in my job description as “Digital Editor” or whatever, and I made salary so they didn’t really pay me to do it, but I got to see a lot of really cool shows for free and got to meet and hang with some pretty cool people.

That’s one of my biggest peeves about now living at the end of the road in Alaska — there’s not very many touring bands coming through. Probably because there is no “touring through.” You get to Homer, and you either stay or you turn around. I prefer to stay.

Goofing Off and Winning the 2023 Captain’s Invitational Halibut Tournament in Homer, Alaska

2023 Captain's Invitational Halibut Tournament in Homer, Alaska.
Brian and Chuck offload one of the winning fish from the Early Riser. The crew of 6 took first and second place at the 2023 Captain’s Invitational Halibut Tournament in Homer, Alaska.

One of my very first fishing trips when I arrived in Alaska more than 6 years ago was with my friend Jordan, who invited me to join a bunch of guys competing in the annual Captain’s Invitational Halibut Tournament in Homer, Alaska. We did not win the tournament that year, but I started to find my sea legs and understand a little bit about what drew such an eclectic group of guys together with a love for the ocean.

A First Roll of Film Thru the $30 Reto Ultra Wide “Selfie” Camera

My lovely wife outside of Grace Ridge Brewing in Homer, Alaska.

As my chronicling of cheap toy cameras continues, not too terribly long ago I picked up a Reto Ultra Wide & Slim (yes, that’s the camera’s full name) 35mm film camera off of Amazon for about $30. I guess these things have been around for a few years now but, honestly, I just found out they existed, and for 30 bucks I figured why not and clicked the “buy now” button.

If there was ever a 35mm film camera made for the selfie age, this might be it.