It seems like I have a knack for choosing vacations times with questionable weather

Those of you who know me realize that on my vacations it seems like there is a little grey cloud that follows me wherever I go.

It doesn’t seem to matter if I vacation in the tropics, where I saw the aftermath of a hurricane several years ago, or the desert Southwest, where we saw pouring rain and a massive snowstorm last fall.

This summer we decided to try Alaska, where the weather is often at its best in August.

As our vacation approached, we began watching the 10-day weather forecast for Sitka, a mid-sized town on Baranoff Island in Southeast Alaska. We saw day after day of sunshine until just before it was time for our trip. By the Thursday before we left, the 10-day forecast called for rain each and every day.

Friday morning, Aug. 8, we boarded a plane in Seattle for the trip to Sitka. As we belted in for the flight the pilot came on the air and began with the usual pleasantries.

“Welcome to Alaska flight 62 to Sitka,” he said. “It’s a typical sunny Sitka day — low visibility and rain.”

Surprisingly, when we landed, it was not raining. However, by the time we had finished checking into our hotel it was starting to rain again. When we left for our daughter’s house, Cascade Creek, the rippling stream next to the hotel, was small enough you could step across it.

By the time we started back to our hotel Friday night, the rain was falling in torrents. As we walked down the muddy road, which was torn up for road repairs, we were constantly splashed with muddy water from drivers hitting potholes in the road. By the time we reached Cascade Creek, we were totally drenched and the brook had turned into a raging torrent.

For the next week, I watched salmon attempt and fail to get upstream against the raging flow of water. They constantly threw themselves into the torrent, leaping valiantly only to crash onto the rocks and be violently thrown back downstream. As days went on and the rain continued, more and more fish moved up the stream to the first rapid, and more and more fish failed to make it up the falls.

The rain continued throughout our trip. Although, to be fair, there were moments of dry weather, and I think late on the second Friday we were there, I had a brief glimpse of the top of some of the many local mountains.

The rest of the time, nothing but rain and more rain.

The plan was to spend much of the time hiking in the mountains. That didn’t happen since visibility was less than 400 yards once you got above about 1,500 feet of elevation.

As gloomy and depressing as that sounds, the trip did have highlights. Monday, for her birthday, my son-in-law and I took one of my granddaughters rock fishing in the bay. The fishing was great. Using bass plugs and plastic grubs we were able to catch fish from the bottom all the way to the surface. Averaging from four to six pounds, the fish hit virtually every cast no matter what we put in the water. The fishing was absolutely incredible.

Although the weather wasn’t good enough to go out in my son-in-law’s small boat, the rest of the trip we still had some incredible fishing. I wrapped up each night casting into the surf in front of the hotel catching pink salmon from the surf until it was too dark to see.

We also spent precious time with family.

And then, of course, there was the ever present rain. By Saturday night when we were packing to leave, every article of clothing I owned was soaked, so I had to wash all my clothes just so I could run them through the dryer so my luggage would make weight.

For those who wonder how good the fishing really is in Sitka, Sunday, as we waited for our plane we watched box after box of fish checked through baggage. Then we heard an announcement over the loudspeaker saying, “The flight is overbooked. Due to the large volume of fish that you are taking home, we are looking for volunteers without fish who are willing to take a later flight. We are also looking for passenger’s whose final destination is Seattle who are willing for their luggage to be on a later flight.”

So, there you have it, a typical vacation. Terrible weather. Great fishing.

Lon Austin is the sports editor for the Central Oregonian. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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