Kathy Barry wanted to do something nice for her husband so she decided to check the destinations on his bucket list and plan a trip.

By RIMSIE McCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com

Kathy Barry wanted to do something nice for her husband so she decided to check the destinations on his bucket list and plan a trip.
He had always wanted to fish in Alaska so she planned the vacation, invited his best man and his wife to go along and then surprised him with the news. Both couples were married in 1980 and have been friends for many years.


Surprising her husband with a trip he would love turned into a win-win for the couple. Kathy ended up catching a prize-winning salmon and won a prize of $2,500 for the effort.
Kathy learned to fish when she was a kid as a camp activity and she was the only girl who would tag along with her neighborhood pals to try to catch sunfish in the local park pond.
Her next-door neighbor, who was her classmate, taught her, but her husband has given a lot of time and patience to teaching his wife the art of successful fishing.
“After I got married I would go to Minnesota to visit my in-laws’ cabin in Bena, and would fish occasionally in Lake Winnibigoshish for northern and walleye,” says Kathy. They now fish at Lake of the Ozarks where Kathy reels in catfish and crappie.
With many fishing trips behind them, the couple experienced the trip of trips when they headed for Waterfall Resort in Alaska.


“The adventure began right away,” says Kathy. “To get there you have to take a floatplane or boat or both. The cloud ceiling was low in Ketchikan, Alaska, so we took a floatplane half the way there then took a bus halfway around an island to meet a bunch of fishing boats that took us to the resort which is on a secluded island. The resort is rustic but comfortable. We stayed in cute, small bunglaows with front porches with comfortable beds, a refrigerator and a bathroom. No Wi-Fi no TV.  You could walk to a pub that had TV and Wi-Fi and happy hour and then walk past deer to the dining facility. The food was gourmet quality, wonderful. Also on the resort was a small store, an equipment issuing facility (rain gear and waterproof boots were definitely needed), a fish processing area and the area where you weigh your fish. There was also a path through the woods where one could see a waterfall and bears going after the salmon. You would get up at 5:50 a.m., have breakfast and be on your boat with your guide and leave at 6:30 a.m. promptly and back at 4:30 p.m. The boats were out and in with military precision.  There were about 25 or 27 boats each with four people and a guide. You fished  all day, then came in with your catch. The fish were transferred off your boat into a tub with your boat’s number, it was hoisted to the upper dock and then the larger fish were weighed. The fish were then hung and laid on the ground for photos. You would go back to your room, change, go to dinner, talk with your tablemates and then head to the pub or go to bed. Our group of four caught 250 pounds of fish in 2.5 days that were processed and flash frozen that we brought back with us. Most of it was salmon and cohoe with a little bit of cod.”


Although more men fish, Kathy doesn’t believe it’s specifically a man’s sport.
“I am glad I did it but then I am always up for an adventure,” she said.
She is also grateful for the expert assistance of their boat guide at the resort. Kathy believes the best technique for catching “the big one” in Alaska is listening closely to a guide on how best to lure and catch specific types of fish.


“Our boat guide, Jeff, was awesome,” she said. “He knew where to take us to catch a lot of fish. If we weren't catching a lot in one location he would move to another quickly. He had great fishing gear and worried about getting the bait, boat ready, etc.  We were at a very remote location. You had to get there by seaplane or by boat or a combination of both depending on the weather. He said at the beginning of the trip that women often had better luck fishing when trying a new style of fishing  because they seemed to listen to the instructions on how to catch the fish and then follow through. My friend, Mary, and I caught more fish than the guys. We were never bored. One of the four of us were continually bringing in a fish. It’s great fishing with someone you know in your group  in case you get that person who can’t hang and is negative. The water is unpredictable. You can be rocking and rolling in huge waves when you are near, or in the open ocean. We went around a point and were on about a 15-foot, unexpected swell. It was crazy and awesome at the same time. We caught and brought home king salmon, cohoe and halibut. We caught black bass and rock fish but did not keep them because they were not in season.”


The experience of reeling in the 13.3-pound silver salmon was challenging, but Kathy will always remember the satisfaction of finally getting it in the boat.
“I would get it near the boat and then it would jump out of the water and splash and then go out again,” she said. “I got really excited when the guide saw it as it approached the boat and said it may be a prize-winner. I was hoping the fish would not jump off the hook. My arm was sore but it was great fun and worth it. I followed my fish off the boat to the weighing scale in hopes of a prize-winning fish. I could hardly stand it. I found out it was the largest so far but there was one week of fishing to go. I was excited to have my name at the top of the largest fish board. It was a long week to wait to see if I won. I would have just been happy with the bragging rights of that one week if someone beat me the next week.”


The resort gives people the opportunity to pay $100 for a chance to win prizes and Kathy initially thought there was no point in trying because she would never catch a prize-winner. After she gave it some thought she decided if she didn’t enter and ended up catching the largest fish she would be angry with herself and she made up her mind to go for it and try to win one of the many prizes being offered, including a Ford F-150 pickup truck for the largest king salmon of the summer. 
As a busy realtor in Lansing and Leavenworth, the trip proved to be a great way for Kathy to relax. In addition to the scenic Alaskan landscape, daily gourmet food and camaraderie with friends, the resort offered an escape from the hustle and bustle of her job.


“We were totally off the grid most of the day. No phone calls no email,” she said. “At night back at the resort there were only two small locations where you could get internet. Ironically, while I was there, I put together a deal from Alaska for a house sale by an owner and a local buyer. It’s hard to put my real estate hat down completely.”


She can’t wait to return to the resort and plans to go back in 2019.
“I love being in a boat and on the water,” she said. “I love the unpredictability of the conditions and the beauty of the nature around me. We saw many whales close to our boat, bald eagles, sea lions and sea otters, to  name a few. The water and scenery one minute would look like silver and then gold. I loved the fact that you were never bored. Someone on the boat was bringing in a fish all the time. I will go back to have fun and catch a lot of fish. If the fish that wins the big prize for the truck lands on my hook I will certainly bring him in. You can always hope but the trip will be worth it without a prize. The adventure is worth the trip. Carpe diem.”