Louisiana district judge enjoys fishing trip in Alaska

Published 12:32 am Sunday, August 29, 2010

VIDALIA — Judge Leo Boothe, and his son Wyatt landed in Alaska with only Louisiana clothes.

The district judge for the 7th Judicial District in Louisiana and his son decided to visit Boothe’s brother Shelby in King Salmon, Alaska, in late July for a fishing trip, and the airline lost their luggage.

“The only downside (to King Salmon) is the bugs,” Boothe said.

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“We were dressed in short-sleeve Louisiana attire when we got off the plane, and the bugs ate me alive. We had to wait until 2:30 the next afternoon before they got our luggage to us, so we couldn’t do anything the first day because of the bugs.”

But once the trio was able to visit their fishing destination on the Naknek River in Bristol Bay, Alaska, the memories of the bugs soon became distant.

“It was between 48 and 52 degrees, and we didn’t see the sun but four hours the whole time we were there. We used a lot of rain gear while we were there,” Boothe said.

“Wyatt caught the biggest king salmon caught there up to that point (in the year). We didn’t have too much luck catching any rainbowfish though — we just got three small ones.”

The Naknek River wasn’t the only fishing stop for Boothe and his companions. They also visited Brooks Falls, which is notorious for its bear population.

“We were sitting there catching reds every cast. We saw the bears out there fishing, and we even saw an eagle catch a fish and then eat it on the bank,” Boothe said.

“That’s as good as it gets. There were no human beings there other than us.”

While there, Boothe said Wyatt tried to convince Shelby he could withstand the cold water temperatures.

“Wyatt bet his uncle he could swim for five minutes. As soon as he jumped in, though, he didn’t stay in two seconds,” Boothe said.

“He lost the bet.”

After a day’s worth of fishing, Boothe said the trio returned to their camp on the Naknek River and cooked the fish they caught..

“The Naknek is a huge commercial fishing center for salmon. If you eat wild salmon, there’s a good chance it came from King Salmon,” Boothe said.

Boothe and his son stayed for 12 days, and this year marked the second time he’d gone to see his brother in King Salmon, Boothe said.

“It was a totally different experience than the first time. When I went in ’06, we had nothing but sunshine, and I ridiculed Shelby the whole time we were there for telling me to bring all that cold weather gear,” Boothe said.

“This time, I knew what he was taking about.”

But Boothe said he definitely had a great experience despite the cold weather.

“I saw a lot of interesting wildlife, most of which I’d never seen before,” he said.

“If they’d take the bugs away, it’d be a great place.”