South for the...summer

SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Planning for deprivation  



August 14, 2018
Tuesday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - It’s 9:38 a.m., I’m four cups of coffee, five pink salmon and 45 pages of The River Why into my day.

jpg Jeff Lund 

It’s at least my fifth read of the book, because as is the case with any book worth re-reading, it’s not just about how the linear story goes down, it’s the universal application and resolving of conflicts that’s the real meat of it. 

I went from the couch to the laptop to type (with caffeinated fingers and brain) a response to the following passage:

“The once-monthly fisherman adores his rare day on the river, imagining that ten times the trips would yield ten times the pleasure. But I have lived the gallant fisher’s life, and I learned that not fishing is crucial to the enjoyment of fishing: fishing is a good thing, but too much of a good thing is a bad thing.”

This morning was the first trip to the river this month (eight days old) and I felt it. It’s not that I’ve been sitting around my house reading while the great heat wave of 2018 scorched southeast Alaska and thinned the rivers, I’ve been up on mountains looking for red meat for the freezer. One of the great things about living here is there are often overlapping seasons, so attention to one sport can create the necessary deprivation of another (without the ache) and prevent anything from becoming too routine. 

It is also the benefit of having buddies visit. It’s their once-a-year fishing trip, so you can’t help but be swept up in the wake of their excitement. I suppose that’s how guides feel too when they get a good group. As a side note: I could never be a guide because guides aren’t fishing every day. They are guiding. As a teacher for most of the year, I’d rather not teach during the summer and instead enjoy getting myself mentally prepared for the intellectually, emotionally, and otherwise demanding career of educating, by catching fish myself. When my buddies visit, I can show them what to do, take a moment to remember what the euphoria of a first fish feels like, and appreciate my next catch on a deeper level.

Anyway, in addition to applying the tired “absence makes the heart grow fonder” phrase in the context of fishing and hunting, the book also forced me to confront the selfishness of my routine.

In the book, the protagonist, Gus, develops the, “Ideal Schedule” in which he eliminates everything but things pertaining to fishing in an attempt to maximize his existence. It is void of distractions and people, which he eventually finds to be a huge mistake. He discovers that life is about people too, not just a passion.

I often brag about my unsupervised schedule and ability to wake up and do whatever I want without consulting any sort of entertainment coordinator. Like this morning. I woke up, felt like fishing, and did. After one humpy shy of a half dozen, I decided to go home, have smoked king salmon and cream cheese on a bagel, drink coffee, read, then head up a mountain to try and shoot goats with my Canon. (When was the last time I showered?) I still have the Mohawk carved by a softball player with whom I made a deal regarding a state championship appearance before school was out. Why? Well, why not? Though it did seem like most of the encouragement to keep it came from married dudes probably excited at me looking like a fool for longer than the arraingement stipulated.

Anyway, with deer season starting (after eight months of deprivation) and the decrescendo of salmon fishing (and eventual deprivation) no month moves at a more frenetic pace than August. Before we know it, the thermometer won’t touch 60 degrees, let alone 70, friends will again subject themselves to the Lower 48, and we will have to find ways to fill the hours. Though I’m not old enough to have had the necessary life experiences to be considered a sage (for what it’s worth, Sage is my favorite brand of fly rod) I am wise enough to understand to some degree that what we have today, we will be deprived of tomorrow. 

It’s impossible to apply proper value universally on today knowing what’s coming tomorrow, but we can try, knowing the ache of loss will be later replaced, hopefully, by enthusiasm born only in deprivation.





Jeff Lund ©2018
Jeff Lund is a Teacher, Freelance Writer, living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @alaskalund

Contact Jeff at Email –


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Ketchikan, Alaska

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