The trials and tribulations of the annual pilgrimage to Haines, Alaska, wherein the faithful endure as many as two weeks of soul-destroying insults and mockery, loosely organized around the migratory habits of one unfortunate species of salmonid.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Ethics of the Program?

From the Environmental News Network:

Animal Rights Group Baits Anglers with Ethics Pledge


October 31, 2005 — By Doug O'Harra, Anchorage Daily News
The animal rights group PETA wants fishermen to promise they will follow a federal "Code of Angling Ethics" before they can legally hook salmon, trout and halibut in Alaska.

Last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals faxed a letter to McKie Campbell, commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, asking him to require Alaska anglers to take an angling ethics pledge before they can buy a fishing license.

The department hasn't officially responded to PETA, and Campbell was out of state and unavailable for comment Thursday. But a state fisheries official said the answer will almost certainly be something like "No, thank you."

The sportfish division posts its own angling code on fly-fishing Web pages, and many Alaska fishermen voluntarily follow similar principles, said Jon Lyman, aquatic education coordinator with the Division of Sportfish.

PETA wants it mandatory.

Story continues here.

There's also something at the fishing hurts website. Reader discretion advised.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

More Haines Pics






Hi all,

Here are some pics from the week. Had to include a pic of my 16.5 lb Silver, which I think was the largest fish taken all week, and by a rookie to the program!!! HAHA! Actually, Marlon also pulled in a Coho the same size. Was a great week and hope to do it again in the future.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Haines Pix






Hi, guys. Here are a few pix from Haines. It would only allow me to upload five, for some reason, and I'm far too technologically challenged to figure out how to upload the remainder.

Thanks for allowing me to join the PROGRAM and add another small whiff of estrogen to a highly testosterone-charged PROGRAM.

What an incredible week. The PROGRAM is indeed highly sound.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

History of The Program

By Marlon Bessie

It wasn't always like this. In the old days, the beforetimes,
Haines and the fish swimming thereabouts remained a bit
of a mystery, even when we were there.

I cannot take credit as any sort of originator. I was merely a
conduit for those who came before me and gladly spread the
word. In March of 1994, I met Doug Schildwatcher on a work
course. Doug was in Whitehorse Tower at the time. Two days
of northern fish stories ended with Doug inviting me to drop in
anytime and he would set me up right. In September 1994,
after a transfer to Yellowknife and a free in-house "fam" flight to
Whitehorse, I took Doug up on the offer. He drew me a crude map
of Haines area's fishing spots and sent me off. That first year I
pretty much just caught Dollies and snagged the odd pink at the
Chilkoot lake. I did see some of the local land two silvers.
More importantly, the hook was set...

The next year Doug invited me to join his group in the great RV
adventure for a week in early October. A mid-summer transfer to
Edmonton Tower for Doug cancelled the trip and sent the pro-program
away from the RV design. Undeterred, I cast about at work for
interested parties and landed a game young Brian Konwitschny, who
met me in Whitehorse courtesy of the "fam." We spent three days
fishing, primarily on the mudflats near the Haines airport pullout on
the Chilkat and found rooms at the Halsingland. We could not identify
properly a chum from a silver and had many a shocked fisherman
wondering what we were doing when we threw back everything we
caught. A fellow from Haines Junction thought we were amusing boobs
and showed us a few spots along the Chilkat, including 21 Mike and
the landing above Mosquito Lake.

Nineteen ninety-six was an anomalous year. Brian and I plus fellow
Yellowknife ATC Tim Davis drove the 2,400 kilometres to Haines and
back for three days of fishing. That year saw us again at the Halsingland.
We fished mainly at the Chilkoot and there was quite a run on. Brian
and Tim each caught two, but it wasn't until the last hour of the last day
that I finally caught a real, live properly identified silver salmon.

Next year we were back on the flight and rental-car routine. Five of us
made the trip. Jim Russell had – gasp -- an eight-foot Ugly Stik (TM) and
heavier reel, which made casting and fighting these larger fish a bit easier
for him. Good thing too, because Jim caught a 25-pound silver by the
airport on the 'Kat, which stands as the largest fish ever on the program.
Also that year we got Halsingland rooms with their own entrances and
discovered the convenience of their walk-in freezer. (The Hotel proprietors
decided they'd rather let us loose in their kitchen than carve up our fish in
our rooms.) Also that year, as we left, we booked in for the following year
with the hotel owner and were offered room 25 and 26, the even-better private
entrance rooms.

By 1998, the modern PROGRAM was pretty much established. Fights, rental
cars, THE rooms at the Halsingland, fishing spots on both rivers. The big
surprise that year was Mike Boyles and the magic of the waders. Mike showed
the value of being able to wade around freely on both rivers and was the
one to first mine THE POOL on the 'Koot. Not surprisingly, the next year
everyone had a pair of waders.

Thus was born THE PROGRAM. So, mock the individual if you will (actually a
mandatory part of the PROGRAM), but never mock the PROGRAM.
-- mb

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Scintillating conversation. Spectacular scenery. Crackpot theories. Fine whisky. Endless taunting and mockery. And salmon. Coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch), to be precise. Lots and lots of salmon. At least, that is the theory.

It all began in the fall of 1994, when Marlon Bessie failed to catch anything during a solo trip to the famed coho runs of the Chilkoot and Chilkat rivers that empty into the Gulf of Alaska near Haines, Alaska. Despite that setback, the lack of scintillating conversation, adequately elaborated crackpot theories or really decent scotch, he returned the next year for another crack at it. Following him were various friends, colleagues and other gullible poltroons he conned into providing the missing elements. Thus was born The Program.

Now, each year, for the two weeks leading up to Canadian Thanksgiving, some two dozen rubes from across the North American continent converge on Haines to engage in relentless jibes and witty rejoinders, all designed to undermine their companions' self-confidence and take their minds off whatever it is they left behind in the real world. That and fish for salmon.

Quality control for this blog is ensured by restricting posts to Haines Program alumni (i.e., no meaningful posts allowed). Email jamesh@cyamid.net if you think you've been unfairly left out of the loop.