After a warm winter with almost no snowpack, Alaska is experiencing hot, dry conditions and, consequently, a rash of more than 50 wildfires. The Sockeye Fire, just north of Anchorage, and the Card Street Fire, on the Kenai Peninsula, are listed as highest priority in the country and Alaska Governor Bill Walker has declared a state of disaster. Hotshot crews from the lower 48 are arriving in force to battle blazes that are now threatening homes and sensitive watersheds.
The same factors encouraging an intense fire season are causing low, warm-water conditions across the state. Temperatures in the salmon rich Bristol Bay region topped 90 degrees F. last week. The heat and lack of snowpack has fishing operations praying for relief and a spate of moisture. With more hot weather in the forecast though, anglers are stocking up on sunscreen and Buffs.
As chinook runs trickle in across the state, anglers are pinning hopes on the Bristol Bay sockeye run. Beginning imminently, the forecasted return is 54 million fish, the largest in 20 years. The trout are waiting, granted they have enough water to swim in. Time to start painting beads and tying flesh.
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.