One Last Cast – Chapter 71

One Last Cast
From Alaska Outdoors Radio Magazine
By Evan Swensen
Chapter Seventy-One

Deshka Daredevil

My first fly-in fishing trip in Alaska was to the Deshka River in 1959 during silver salmon season. We fished all evening and had the mouth of the river to ourselves. Back then, Bob Farmer was a teenager tending his father’s boat rental business a mile up from where the Deshka meets the Big Susitna. We were his only customers of the afternoon, renting a 12-foot aluminum car-top boat with a 10-horsepower outboard motor.

Our party of three inexperienced anglers, using minimum fishing gear borrowed from a neighbor, and lacking knowledge of the river, almost went home skunked. At first, we thought there weren’t any silvers, although Bob Farmer said a run of fresh fish had just entered the river’s mouth. Occasionally we saw a jumper or two, but none were interested in our meager offerings. They ignored everything we threw at them. Admittedly, we didn’t know what we were doing, and we didn’t have a great variety of terminal tackle.

About the time we were ready to give up, I discovered an old, experienced-looking florescent Daredevil in the bottom of our borrowed tackle box. As a last resort, I attached it to my line and made a hope cast. No sooner than the lure began its wiggle-waggle, a fresh silver hit like it was mad at everyone in the boat and Bob Farmer upstream in his dad’s tent camp. With little skill and a lot of luck, I got the fish close enough to the boat for my fishing buddy, Ron, to net my catch.

Catching the prime silver prompted us to continue fishing, where just minutes before we were ready to give up and go home skunked. We each, in turn, took another cast, my turn being last. As Ron and Ted dragged their lures through the murky water, my lure was tossed in the direction opposite from their casts. Again, to my surprise and delight, another silver rallied to the call and tried to take my lure down the Big Su. My partners quickly brought their lines in and assisted me in landing my second silver.

And so it went for the third, fourth, and fifth fish. We now had five fish in the boat, my legal limit. I quit fishing, and Ron took my rod. Like my five casts with the fluorescent Daredevil, Ron soon played and landed five silvers. At first, Ted continued fishing, but he quickly put his rod away and became the designated net man.

With the boating of Ron’s legal limit, Ted and Ron traded rod for net, and Ted took his turn with the fluorescent Daredevil. Just as the ten casts before had produced ten strikes, the following five casts did likewise, and Ted soon had his limit of fish in the bottom of the boat.

After cleaning the fish and returning our boat to the Farmers, we headed back to Anchorage’s Lake Hood floatplane base. While Ron and Ted tied up the plane, I put the gear away. I couldn’t find the fluorescent Daredevil, and I asked them about it. They hadn’t seen it. They didn’t know what happened to it. They said I must have dropped it, lost it, or something.

I learned later that the next day, while I worked, Ted and Ron returned to the Deshka and caught ten silvers on ten casts using an old fluorescent Daredevil.

Evan, who lives in Anchorage, has 9 children, 25 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren. As a pilot, he has logged more than 4,000 hours of flight time in Alaska, in both wheel and float planes. He is a serious recreation hunter and fisherman, equally comfortable casting a flyrod or using bait, or lures. He has been published in many national magazines and is the author of four books.