Munsey’s Summer 2017 News

I began our 2017 season in a hospital bed and didn’t know how we would make it through our summer, but I forgot about three things: the toughness of our crew to fill in for me, the magical curative qualities of nature, and our wonderful guests, always there to lend me a helping hand. Once I returned home, I managed to go out on our boat, the Mary Beth, with our guests nearly every day. I appreciated each moment this summer offered and reflected on how lucky I am to have a job guiding wildlife viewers and sport fishermen on Kodiak Island. The best part of this job is sharing our home here in the wilderness with our amazing guests from around the world. 

We and our guests were excited to have Mary Schwarzhans back for her fifth year, performing magical spells in the kitchen and keeping the camp running smoothly. Our camp helper this year was Emily France from Willow, Alaska. 

On July 12th, Craig and Pam Smith from Australia and Zach and Eli Culbertson from New York arrived as our first group of the summer season. I unfortunately never met this group, but Mike reported their adventures to me. They were greeted their first morning by our resident doe and two fawns, and they watched seals and sea otters and saw a red fox, eagles and a bear. Zach and Eli had to leave after only two days, but Craig and Pam watched a sow with two cubs from a distance and got closer to a single bear on the beach. On their last morning, they cruised toward the mouth of the bay where six huge fin whales surfaced near the boat. 

John and Jane Birman, Dave and Sarah Jane Vaux, and Garry and Pauline Hall, all from Australia, arrived  July 16th. Their first afternoon, they saw sea otters and several fin whales; two of which, surfaced beside the boat. I arrived home that evening to a wonderful welcome from Mike, Mary, Emily, and this fun-loving group of Australians. Garry caught a 20-lb. halibut (just in case there is anyone left who hasn’t seen the photo), and John, Pauline, Dave, and Garry had a great time salmon fishing while Jane and Sarah Jane relaxed. This group watched a sow with three, large two-year-old cubs fish, growl, and fight over salmon. 

On July 20th, we greeted Frank and Tracey De Bacco from Pennsylvania. Frank and Tracey enjoyed a sunny day salmon fishing in Brown’s Lagoon, and kept seven salmon and released six. One day, Frank, Tracey, and Mike watched a sow with two cubs, a sow with one cub, and a single bear, and on another day of fishing, Frank caught a 20 pound halibut and his limit of salmon. On their last morning, the De Baccos saw 12 orcas soon after leaving our mooring. One whale breached several times, and Mike snapped a great photo of her. 

Later in the afternoon on July 25th, the orcas were still frolicking near our lodge to greet the plane carrying Andy Vena, Albert Strydesky, John Mayer, Frank Bialas, Silvio Squieri, and Rob Varvar. Andy, Albert, and John are old friends who have visited us many times, and Rob joined us several years ago for a deer hunt, but this was the first of hopefully many visits for Frank and Sil. After lunch, Mike took the guys out for a closer glimpse of the orcas, and then they cruised north where they saw sea otters and fin whales. This group enjoyed a fun day of salmon fishing in Brown’s Lagoon when they kept 20 salmon and released 22. On another day, they kept six halibut and released ten, and the following day, Al and Rob became the first inductees of the year into our halibut club (40 lbs. or larger). 

On August 3rd, Christie Lahusen and her boyfriend, Robert Stankovic, both from Oregon, Christie’s father, Larry, from Canada, and her brother, Derek, from Utah arrived for a 3-day stay. One day, this group saw a sow with three newborn cubs, a sow with two newborn cubs, a sow with a yearling, a sow with three 2-year old cubs, and a single bear, and on another day, they watched a large, old sow catch a salmon in front of them on a small stream. On their last morning, they saw foxes, eagles, sea otters, and two fin whales. 

On August 6th, we were excited to welcome back Bill, Judy, Michael, Brian, and Tess Micheli from Illinois. Tess wasted no time proving her fishing skills were still sharp. She was reeling in a 40-lb. halibut when her Uncle Mike hooked a 60 pounder. Awhile later, Bill joined our halibut club by landing a 52-lb. halibut. This group battled wind and rain one day to walk up a small river and watch a sow with three cubs demonstrate her fishing prowess. She fished near them all afternoon. They also saw two single bears, a large male, and a sow with a single cub. 

On August 11th, we greeted Mike and Janna Turpin from Florida and Skip and Susan Parker from Nevada. On their first day, this group watched a bear fish and tend to her three young cubs. On August 13th, they were joined by Hannah Hillebrand and her boyfriend, Logan, both from Oregon. This group watched two, young, sub-adult bears fish and play on a log, and on the next day, they saw a sow with two cubs chase away a single bear and then fish in front of them. Skip and Susan enjoyed the excitement of halibut fishing in shallow water, and Susan joined our halibut club with a 50 pounder. 

On August 16th, we were thrilled to welcome back Andy Erickson from Rhode Island and his grandson, Drew McDonnel, from Seattle. Joining Andy and Drew were Bob and Tami Bancroft from Indiana, and Andrea Schmidt and Bernhard Diemer, both from Austria. This group enjoyed four great days of bear viewing. They sat on the bank of a small stream and watched a sow with a yearling cub fish in front of them. Mom caught several fish and ignored the people, while the cub watched the humans and growled. On another day, a sow with two newborn cubs fished near them. On their last day, this group watched a sow catch and eat fish, while her two cubs wrestled, boxed, and climbed a tree above her.

On August 21st, we were happy to welcome back Bud Coughlin, Lisa Bill, and Jim Bill, and we were pleased to meet first-time members of the group, Bill Mullin, and Yocasta and Joanna Hudson, all from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This group enjoyed great halibut fishing. On their first day, Bill, Joanna, Jim, and Bud joined our halibut club, and they caught their limit of halibut by 2:00pm. Bill caught a 150 pounder, our largest halibut of the year, and Yocasta caught a 70-lb. halibut. This group also had good pink salmon fishing, each person catching his or her limit two days in a row. In addition to fishing, everyone enjoyed excellent whale watching , and one afternoon, they sat on a riverbank and laughed as they watched a young bear play with dead salmon.

On August 26th we greeted Dan Robertson from Nevada, and Gene Fanucchi, Gordy Sexton, Howard Hancock, Mike Saner, and John Mendoza, all from California. These guys have had a standing reservation with us for a decade, and we appreciate them. Over the years, they have become friends, and we always look forward to seeing them. Last year, they enjoyed good weather, but this year they were here for a storm that affected their fishing. Nevertheless, they caught their limit of halibut on their first day of fishing, and Howard and John both joined our halibut club. Once the weather allowed us to get to Greenbanks, the guys caught several salmon, including seven silver salmon. 

On September 5th, we were excited to welcome back Tony and Karin Ross from Pennsylvania for a 12-day stay. Joining Tony and Karin, were Bill, Terrie, and Donny Stone from Canada. This group spent two spectacular days bear viewing on a salmon river. One day, they photographed a tolerant, blonde sow and her two, tiny cubs. After fishing, she stretched out to nurse her cubs, and when one of the cubs bit her, she growled and hit him. On another day, this group photographed a huge, old, male bear as he calmly walked down a stream. Donny proved to be a master salmon fisherman when he landed four silvers, and Karin joined our halibut club with a 60 pounder. 

On Sertember 10th, Jaromir and Jana Jiroudek and Jiri and Jamilla Kalina, all from the Czech Republic joined Tony and Karin. Instead of sitting idly, waiting for the plane carrying our new guests to arrive, Tony caught a 74-lb. halibut! On a gorgeous autumn day, this group watched 25 bears, including several sets of sows and cubs On their second day, they were thrilled to see a huge, old bear. The weather turned ugly on day three, but these hearty souls braved wind and rain to hike two hours to watch bears. On their final full day, they opted for a marine-mammal tour, and we saw sea lions, seals, sea otters, porpoises, and fin and humpback whales. 

Tony and Karin spent the final two days of our season with us, and they wasted no time topping off their fish boxes by catching six silver salmon. Their final day was sunny and beautiful as they sat on a river bank and watched nineteen bears, including two small cubs that played on a log and tried to grab the salmon swimming below them.

It is difficult to explain our bear-viewing experience to people when they first inquire about our trips. Guests who have been bear viewing elsewhere tell us they much prefer the experience we offer because here, they see bears that have not been habituated to humans. One guest described it as, “Stepping into the bears’ parlor and seeing how they live.” To get to these “wild bears,” though, requires effort because If they were easy to access, they would be surrounded by humans. On our trips, you must take a 1 ½-hour ride in our big boat, followed by a ½-hour boat ride in our whaler through shallow, tidal waters. Then, you must hike for 2-hours over a rocky beach and narrow, uneven bear trails. It is a wonderful but rugged experience, and it is not for everyone.

Thanks to our wonderful guests this summer, and a special thanks to all of you for putting up with my physical limitations. I plan to be 100% by next summer!  Thank you, Mary, for being wonderful, creative, and always funny, and thanks, Emily, for doing a great job. I’m already looking forward to next summer!

If you would like to read my weekly blog on Kodiak wildlife and life in the wilderness on Kodiak Island, you can find it at  I post every Sunday and would love your input. 


2011 Bear Viewing News

Bear in water looking

Young Kodiak  bear waits for fish

 A huge Kodiak bear climbs the riverbank across from you, his white claws gleaming in the sunlight.  He glances at you and then stretches out for a nap.  Suddenly, a bear charges out of the woods to your left and into the river.  She pounces on a salmon and carries it to a fallen log.  You hear bones crunch as she consumes her lunch, and you hope your video camera is picking up the sound.  Splashing water and pounding feet cause you to lift your head from your camera and glance to your right, where you see one bear chasing another bear down the middle of the river.  The lead bear has a salmon in his mouth, and his pursuer seems intent on stealing the prize.  You realize that you are nearly surrounded by bears and look nervously at your guide, but when he smiles and nods, you return to the difficult task of deciding upon which bear to focus your camera first.  Welcome to Munsey’s Bear Camp.

Our 2011 summer was different from any we can remember. The pink salmon run was nearly a month late and much smaller than predicted, and while bear viewing was good all summer, we didn’t see many bears catching salmon until August. That, coupled with a poor berry crop, had us concerned that the bears wouldn’t get enough to eat, but by the end of the summer, the streams were full of salmon, and the bears looked fat and healthy.

Marcia Messier was our cook and so much more again this summer. While salmon runs aren’t always predictable, wonderful meals from Marcia are a sure thing!

We began our season on July 10th with the arrival of friends Val and Terry Zimmer from Kansas, and Zac Bishop and Francesca Teeters, both from Colorado. On their first day, this group saw several sea otters and particularly enjoyed seeing the mothers with babies on their stomachs. They watched three bears chase each other and feed on grass, and one walked down to a stream near them and drank water. This group caught several halibut and enjoyed an afternoon of Dolly Varden fishing in Brown’s Lagoon, where Frankie caught our first pink salmon of the summer.

On July 15th, we welcomed back Mike and Chris Sargenti from New York and greeted David and Ann Jefferson from Scotland. On their first day, this group photographed foxes and deer and watched two bears nap in the sunshine. On July 17th, Dan and Yehudit Mizrahi from Israel joined the Sargentis and Jeffersons. This group saw a bear in the woods that rubbed his back on a tree and then walked down the bank to within 30 ft. of them before continuing on his way. Awhile later, they watched two sub-adult bears play, standing on their hind legs to bat at each other. On another afternoon, a bear seemed to follow them as they walked up a stream, and he paid little attention to them as he fed near them.

We welcomed Bink Frayne from Australia and Steve and Deb Bootz from Wisconsin on July 20th. This group enjoyed a leisurely day of fishing that included a lunch of grilled salmon. Steve, Deb, and Mike watched several bears, including one that caught a salmon and was immediately chased by another bear who was trying to steal the fish. The first bear gulped down his lunch before the second bear could catch him. Later that day, this group enjoyed watching a sow with three newborn cubs. Meanwhile, Bink experienced the excitement of catching and releasing a 40 lb. halibut in 20 ft. of water. Bink’s halibut placed him in our prestigious halibut club (40 lbs. and over).

On July 25th, we were pleased to welcome back Bud and Joan Coughlin from Pennsylvania and Diane and Gene Fantini and Junior and Carol Constrisciani, all from Delaware. Fishing was this group’s main interest, and Bud got things rolling with a 35-lb. halibut the first afternoon. The next day, Joan caught a 54-lb. halibut and joined our halibut club. On the third day, Bud and Carol caught salmon and Dolly Varden in Brown’s Lagoon, while Gene, Diane, Joan, and Junior kept five halibut and released four on the Mary Beth. On their final day, this group kept 10 and released 38 halibut, and Carol caught our first silver salmon of the summer. One evening, Diane and Gene videotaped a bear that walked along the shore near their cabin, and this group had the unexpected thrill of watching a mountain goat on the beach by our dock.

On August 4th, we welcomed back our dear friend Dick Zander and greeted Beat and Marie Christine Frankhauser from Switzerland and their teenage daughters Karin, Sabine, and Nadine. On their first morning, we encountered three orcas just minutes after leaving our mooring. The whales swam beside us for a distance and even dove under the boat. On a cruise to the mouth of the bay, the girls loved the bobbing sea otters, and Nadine showed her elders how to fish when she landed a nice halibut. By this point, the salmon run should have been hitting its peak, but there were few fish at the head of the bay, and this group saw the heart-breaking consequences of a poor salmon run when they watched a sow abandon one of her three newborn cubs. The sow probably wasn’t getting enough nutrition to support three cubs. Sows abandoning cubs is a common occurrence in nature, but it is rarely observed, and we saw it happen twice this summer.
On August 9th, Dick was joined by Peter Rim de Kroon, Elisabeth Schippers, and their teenage children, Rimke and Ferk, from the Netherlands. When we reached the head of Uyak Bay on August 10th, we were thrilled to see that the pink salmon had finally arrived, approximately one month late. We saw twenty-five bears fishing on the tide flats, and the de Kroon family and Mike sat on a riverbank and watched twelve bears fish and walk in front of them. One bear caught four fish right beside them. On another day, they watched twenty bears, including three very large males, fish and interact with each other. The de Kroon family all proved to be excellent fishermen, and Ferk decided fishing was almost too easy after catching his limit (five) of silver salmon and releasing twelve halibut.

On August 15th, our friends Barb and Tim Gilligan from Kansas joined Dick. Tim and Barb both caught silver salmon and their limit of halibut one day, and Tim joined our halibut club with a 45 ponder. Janet Ward and David Cresswell from England joined Dick, Barb, and Tim on August 17th. This group spent two days sitting on a riverbank watching bears fish and parade in front of them. Barb said there were so many bears she didn’t know which way to point her video camera, and Tim commented that he could hear bones crunch on their video when one of the bears ate her catch near them (as you may have guessed, my scenario at the beginning of this newsletter was drawn from actual events this summer).

On August 21st, we were pleased to welcome back Andy Vena II, Andy Vena III, Charles Reilly, Dennis Reilly, Albert Strydesky, and John Mayer, all from New Jersey. As always, these guys brought high energy and kept us smiling. They caught fifteen silver salmon and four halibut in two hours at Greenbanks. The next day, they caught eight halibut, and Andy Sr. demonstrated the perfect technique for landing a 52 pounder and joining our club. Mike took this group bear viewing on a side stream one afternoon for a couple hours, and they watched a large male catch several fish.

Kodiak Bear with Salmon

 We greeted our second straignt group of fishermen on August 26th.  We were happy to welcome back good friends Dan Robertson from Nevada, and Gene Fauncchi and John Mendoza, both from California, and we were pleased to meet first-time members of the group (aka “the new guys”) Ray Arreola, Bob Lipscomp, and Michael Saner, all from California.  Bob claimed to know little about fishing, and I knew immediately who would go home with the most fish.  Bob began the first afternoon by landing his limit of halibut, and he won the largest-fish bet with ease by catching the three biggest halibut of the trip.  The other guys caught plenty of halibut too, and Dan caught his limit of silvers one day.  Mike took “the new guys”  gear viewing, and they watched five bears, including two large males, fish on a small stream.

We were happy to welcome back Andy Erickson from Rhode Island and Rene Bär from Switzerland on September 3rd. Andy and Rene were joined by Tony and Karin Ross from Pennsylvania. On their first day, this group watched several bears fish, including an accommodating bear that caught a salmon and then carried the fish up the beach within full view of the cameras before eating it. On the way back to the boat the first afternoon, Andy slipped and broke his ankle. He had to be flown to Kodiak to have the ankle stabilized, and then he traveled home to Rhode Island for surgery. Although he never complained, I know it was a painful ordeal for him. Rene, Tony and Karin were joined by Walter and Eva Ortwein from Germany on September 4th. This group experienced the fury of a Kodiak storm when the wind blew nearly 60 mph, but they spent the following two, beautiful days watching bears on the main river. One bear ignored the live salmon, preferring to dig dead fish from the river bottom and eat them. Other bears were obviously getting more than enough to eat and would only take one or two bites out of a salmon before tossing their catch.

On September 8th, we welcomed Shinji Sato, Kazuko Yamade, Sho Komorizono, Ayuko Shiobara, Kazuhiko Yakushiji, and Kume Shizuko, all from Japan. This group enjoyed a spectacular first afternoon when we sat in the midst of ten fin whales that fed and surfaced around our boat. They spent the next four days photographing bears. One day, a large male strolled past them, and at the same time, another bear emerged from the brush across the river from them. Meanwhile, a bear walked toward them from upstream and caught a fish beside them. The dilemma was which bear to photograph first. One afternoon as we cruised back to the Mary Beth, we were surprised to see two orcas in the shallow water at the head of the bay. The whales, including a large bull, surfaced near us several times.

On September 13th, we were pleased to welcome back Gene and Denise Brown and their friends, Cynthia Spawn and Janis Allen, all from the state of Washington. This was a fun group to close out our summer season, and they enjoyed four beautiful days of bear viewing. One afternoon, they watched a bear take a bath near them in a stream, and on another day, they photographed two young bears play and wrestle. The bears got so carried away that one rolled down the bank onto the beach. When a third bear approached, the playing stopped and a tense standoff ensued between the three bears . After a few moments, they all continued peacefully on their way. Finally, this newsletter would not be complete without mentioning that this group as well as several previous groups enjoyed watching a cute, curious weasel that inhabited a log pile near where they sat to bear view.

The salmon run is crucial to the Kodiak ecosystem. Many animals, including bears, seals, eagles, orcas, many species of fish, humans, and yes, even the curious weasels depend on salmon for sustenance, and once they spawn, the nutrients from decaying salmon support everything from bacteria and fungi to plants and trees, to the salmon fry that emerge from the eggs that were just laid, all of which provide food for other organisms. Our summer season is carefully planned around the expected arrival of salmon in our bay. No one knows why the salmon run was late this year or why it was smaller than expected, but we assume it was one of those anomalies of nature that make our jobs frustrating at times but never boring. It is difficult to watch a sow abandon a small cub, but it is also fascinating to see how nature adjusts to deal with variances from the norm. When there is less food available, a sow must abandon one cub to expend her resources on successfully raising the two she has left.

I want to thank Marcia again this summer for her wonderful food and great sense of humor. She always keeps us smiling. We had guests from nine different countries. Half were new and half were returnees. One hundred percent of our guests were enjoyable, and I want to thank each one of you for sharing a piece of your summer with us. We wish Dick Zander and Andy Erickson speedy recoveries, and we hope to see you both back here soon.

Robin Munsey

Alaska Bear and Wildlife Viewing – 2009 Newsletter


Bear Drinking Water

Bear glances at bear viewer as it takes a drink

Greetings from Amook Pass.  Our big news this year is our new boat, the Mary Beth, a 43-ft. Delta charter boat with twin engines and plenty of cabin and deck space.  After using it for one summer, we are thrilled with it.  We were also thrilled to have Marcia Messier back again this summer to cook and pamper us.  Marcia has become such an integral part of our operation that we can’t imagine doing this without her.

Last year I dedicated my newsletter to our many returning guests, and while we once again had several returnees this summer, the bulk of our guests were first-time visitors to Kodiak Island and Munsey’s Bear Camp.  Mike and I know we are extremely lucky to live and work in the midst of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, but it is always rewarding to watch the awe and wonder in our guests’ eyes when they first see a Kodiak bear chase a salmon.  Bear viewing in a wild, pristine setting with no manmade platform in sight is what appeals most to our guests.  Each bear sighting is unique, and no two photos look the same.

We began our season July 15th with the arrival of Thomas and Inge Hartke from Switzerland.  This delightful couple set the tone for a summer filled with wonderful guests.  On their first, sunny day, the Hartkes watched several bears, including two that sprawled in the water to cool down.  Thomas and Inge both caught halibut, and from the smile on his face, we could tell how much Thomas enjoyed landing a 36 pounder.  On July 17th, the Hartkes were joined by Eric Baccega, Loic Poidevin, and Yves Couedic, all from France.  One day this group watched 15 bears.  Several caught fish near them, including a sow that shared her catch with her yearling cub.  On their last morning, this group photographed fin whales and sea otters during a wildlife cruise. They also watched a fox and her two kits.

On July 20th, we welcomed Estelle Barnes, Adrian Russell-Smith, Rachel Lambert, Rob Kennelly, Karen Jones, and Ray Stevenson, all from England.  This group saw thirty bears fish on the tidal flats during one of the lowest tides of the year.  They sat on the beach and watched bears on either side and in front of them chase fish, squabble, and mock fight, and they saw two cubs whine when their mother insisted they follow her into the water.  On another day, they were watching a bear, when he jumped into the stream, swam across it, and climbed onto the bank twenty feet from where they sat.

Mike and Chris Sargenti from New Jersey arrived on July 25th.  We enjoyed watching Mike relax during his stay in the wilderness.  The Sargentis watched one bear catch a fish and eat it thirty feet from them, and several other bears caught salmon and walked right past them with the squirming fish hanging from their mouths.  On July 28th, Mike and Chris were joined by John and Dorene McCune and their teenage children, Eric and Kelsey, all from North Carolina.  This group watched a bear catch and eat a salmon in front of them, and then the bear chased another fish to within twenty feet of them.  On July 30th, we waved goodbye to Mike and Chris, and the following day, Mike led the McCune family up a river where they watched several bears.  On their last day with us, the McCunes spent a beautiful, sunny day watching huge fin whales surface beside our boat and saw Stellar sea lions, sea otters, and puffins.

Art and Gay Schroer from Missouri arrived August 4th.  On their first day, they watched several bears, including one that brought a fish in near them to eat it.  Awhile later, a sow and cub walked down the beach in front of them, and under mom’s watchful gaze, the curious cub walked closer to get a better look at the humans.  Dirk Schilder from Germany joined Art and Gay on August 6th.  One day this group had a very cooperative bear walk past them,  plop down on the beach, and roll in the seaweed. Several other bears fished and interacted in front of them as the cameras whirred, and Dirk said it was one of the best days of his life.  On August 8th, Gay, Art, and Dirk were joined by Ann Larner from Massachusetts and her two daughters; Sara, also from Massachusetts, and Rebecca from North Carolina.  On August 9th, Art and Gay departed, and our good friend Dick Zander from Maryland arrived for a 17-day stay.  This group enjoyed beautiful, sunny weather.  They had a great day of bear viewing on the tidal flats, and the next day, they walked upriver, where several bears fished and walked past them.


     On August 11th, Johnny and Sue Wright from Texas and Jennifer Crawford from Wyoming joined Dick.  Jennifer caught a 35-lb. halibut the first afternoon, and at the head of the bay, this group watched a sow take a dip in the ocean, while her two cubs wrestled on the beach.  Later, a sow and cub and several single bears walked in front of them while they snapped photos.  On another day, this group watched several bears fish on a small stream.  One bear was so intent on the fish he’d caught that he ran straight toward them, salmon dangling from his mouth, before Mike reminded him of their presence.  On a rainy, windy day, Mike and Jennifer hiked upriver to bear watch, while on the Mary Beth, Sue caught a 20-lb. halibut, and Dick landed a 60 pounder.

On August 17th, Dick was joined by Paul Kludt from Florida and Eric, Carolyn, and Chris Gustafson from New Mexico.  On their first day, a bear ran up to them and then stood on his hind legs to take a better look at the humans.  Another day, they photographed a bear sleeping on a rock, and on their third day of bear viewing, a bear ate a salmon near them and then walked to within thirty feet of them.  Awhile later, two sub-adult bears relaxed on the beach near them.  At Greenbanks, we saw fin whales and sea otters and enjoyed a sunny afternoon of fishing, and on their final morning, Chris decided it was time to join our halibut club (40 lbs. and over) and landed a 46 pounder.

Albrecht Seitel from Germany and David and Pam Slaughter from Colorado joined Dick on August 21st.  On their first day, this group enjoyed a spectacular show by a young sow.  She chased fish the traditional way and also jumped in the deep water and snorkeled for salmon.  At one point, she was playing on a log in front of them, then dashed into the river, caught a salmon, and turned toward them with the wiggling fish in her mouth, posing for photos.  At the mouth of the bay, this group watched fin whales, saw sea otters and Stellar sea lions, and each caught a silver salmon.

On August 26th, we welcomed back Dan Robertson from Nevada, Gordy Sexton, Gene Fanucchi, and Howard Hancock, all  from California and met the two newest members of this party: John Mendoza and Chris Ratfield, also from California.  These guys were here to catch fish, and Gordy wasted no time, landing a 55-lb. halibut the first afternoon.  On a stormy day, these guys caught eight halibut to fill their boxes, and at Greenbanks, they landed 17 silver salmon and two halibut.  By the time they left, each guy in this group had a fifty-pound box full of halibut and salmon fillets.

On August 31st, we greeted good friends, Ed and Jean Matusik from Pennsylvania and Andy Erickson from Rhode Island.  Ed and Jean were here for a ten-day stay, while Andy was here for five days.  Andy had his usual first-day fishing luck, landing a 75-lb. halibut on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.  At Greenbanks, Ed hauled in one fish after another and ended up keeping four silver salmon and two halibut.  Two days later, Ed caught a 50-lb. halibut.  This group watched several bears, including one that walked in front of where they sat and then caught a fish and ate it on a rock.

On September 5th, Ed and Jean were joined by Carl Pirro from Minnesota, Sheila Gauthier from Washington, and Petr and Barbora Slavik from the Czech Republic.  This group watched several bears on a river, including one that performed in front of them for twenty minutes.  Another day, they saw 22 bears on two small streams.  They hid in the tall grass where they could hear the bears fishing and interacting near them on the stream.  When the bears caught salmon, they’d climb up on the bank and eat their fish within view of the group.  Mike says one of his favorite memories of the summer was the look of wonder on Sheila’s face as she watched this incredible spectacle of nature.  Petr is a professional photographer, and he will almost certainly include some of the wonderful photos he took with us in his next book.

Mirjam and Ulrich Wiede, Peter Wiede, Michael Schnapp, Friedel Papmeyer, and Babo Graf Von Harrach, all from Germany, arrived September 11th.  This group watched several bears catch salmon.  After filling his belly with fish, one bear crawled up on a log near them and draped his paws over it, as if posing for photos.  They also watched two large cubs play under the watchful gaze of their mother.  The cubs sat on a log over the river and attempted to reach down into the river to grasp salmon as they swam past.  Not only was this fishing method unsuccessful, but one of the cubs lost his balance and fell into the river.  On a day at the mouth of the bay, we saw a dozen fin whales, and awhile later, Mike spotted a pod of orcas that swam past us.

On September 15th, we welcomed back good friend Jerry Burblis from Alaska and greeted Ed and Tom DeGraan from Massachusetts.  This group watched bears on a side stream one day.  One bear walked out beside them, wandered over to the stream, slowly backed into it, and swam to the other side.  On the main river, a young bear seemed to want to hang out with these guys.  Twice he walked up very close to them, and Mike had to talk to him to remind him they were there.  The last day of our summer season couldn’t have been more perfect.  We cruised out the bay on a calm, sunny day and enjoyed the spectacular view of the snowy peaks of the Alaska Peninsula, a plume of smoke rising from one of the volcanoes.  After watching fin whales, we anchored, and between Jerry, Tom, and Ed, they kept 4 halibut and released 36.  Ed and Tom also each caught a beautiful silver salmon in Brown’s Lagoon.

One of the things we love about this business is watching our guests arrive as strangers and depart as friends.  The first afternoon on our boat is fairly quiet as the new guests take in their surroundings and get to know each other.  By the last afternoon, though, the boat is alive with laughter and chatter as the guests recall shared adventures, review each other’s photos, and exchange e-mail addresses.  When we see a guest depart looking much more relaxed than he did when he arrived, we feel we’ve done our job.

Thanks again to all of our guests this summer.  We’re proud to say that many have already re-booked for next summer!  Also, a big thanks to Marcia for another job well done.

Robin Munsey