Day 21 – Nashville > home

Had about 6 hours to kill today.  Spent most of the day wandering around this huge mall out near the Opry, and had my last meal of fried food (note:  I’m banning fried food from my diet for a while).  Made it to the airport, dropped off the car and am now sitting in the Admiral’s Club sipping a chardonnay. Plane leaves in an hour, then its a 29 hour commute.  Lucky me …

Been a great trip.  The fishing was excellent.  The music week was a little slower paced, but was able to see some great icons that I’ll probably never see again.

Perth on Monday … back at work on Tuesday.

 

Day 20 – The Grand Ole Opry

Can’t be in Nashville without visiting this great old institution.  I did the backstage tour and bought a ticket for the evening show. The backstage tour was great, and I got to get my photo on the stage in the Grand Ole Opry.  We saw all of the dressing rooms and stage gear as well as s complete history of the show.  It really opened my eyes as to how revered this really is.  Keith Urban is one of the newer members of the Opry … which is not bestowed on everyone and is quite an honor.

 

 

IMG_0747[1]

IMG_0784[1]

I bought a ticket to the show and saw performances from bluegrass to rock. The star of the night was this young bloke called Hunter Hays who had the teenage girls going mad.  He’s like a young version of Keith Urban … but he knows his audience and put on a great show.

 

 

Day 19 – Drive to Nashville

The drive to Nashville was pretty easy. The roads are great and TomTom got me straight through the center of Nashville and into my hotel without any problems.  I checked in then headed for the downtown to have a cold beer on a hot day.

I found the Musicians Hall of Fame Museum and had a great tour through there.  This is focused on the bands and musicians rather than the stars.  Some really old and great instruments and memorabilia from a bygone era.

IMG_0724[1]

I went in search for a cold beer and found a small bar with a guy strumming on a guitar and belting out some great country tunes.  This guy had a great voice and sung some great songs.  His name is Ben Mathis … check him out at benmathis.net.

 

 

Day 18 – Elvis

Drove out to Graceland and beat the rush of several bus loads of Japanese tourists.  The mansion is quite amazing and well worth the trip.  Actually, if you let yourself get really absorbed it can be quite touching.  Especially in the Meditation Garden and where Elvis and his parents are buried.

IMG_0657[1]

Sun Studios is also a great spot to visit.  I walked up there from the hotel.  Quite a haul in the hot sun. It looks pretty much as it was in the 50’s.  This is where Elvis recorded his first big hit That’s Alright Mamma, and where Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, and Johnny Cash all recorded.  Actually it is still a working studio and high profile bands still record there.

I stopped for a beer at the BB King Blues Club to cool off and got talking to some retired folk from Kentucky. They were heading to a James Taylor concert at the Mud Island amphitheater later tonight.  This outdoor theater is only a 15 minute walk from my hotel.  I got on line and bought a pretty good seat.  So I’ll be heading off in an hour or so.  Pretty cool … James Taylor and the All Star Band in Memphis.

Wow.  What a great concert.  I had a great seat and James Taylor was flawless.  The sound quality was amazing with such crisp vocals from a great singer/songwriter.

 

Day 17 – drive to Memphis

Over 6 hours.  Thanks to TomTom I made it to the hotel without any problems.  Nice hotel in the center of Memphis.

Took a walk down Beale Street and got my fist taste of Memphis Blues. Pretty happening place …

Nice meal of BBQ ribs and brisket at Rendezvous Grill and then off to bed.

 

Day 16 – Presonus

Today I had a breakfast at the hotel with a nice coffee to wake me up.  Gees I needed that sleep. I poked around on my computer for a while and worked out my TomTom route to Presonus.  This is the company that makes the mixers, audio interfaces and software that I use with my PA and recording studio.

I met with Rick Naqvi – VP of Sales, and he gave me a tour of the premises.  They have a great recording studio, video production and live band room on the premises.  We fired up the Presonus PA, as well as took a look at some of the new developments that are in progress but yet to be released.

Rick is a real nice guy and we shared some stories about music, recording and live sound.

 

IMG_0593

I’ll certainly be endorsing Presonus whenever I can.  Great company with great gear …

 

 

Day 15 – travel to Baton Rouge

I packed up my bags, fired up TomTom and headed out on the third leg of my journey.  Finished with fishing … now to focus on music.

It was about 4 hours drive to Baton Rouge Louisiana.  I arrived at my hotel Bell of Baton Rouge without any problems, and more importantly, without getting lost.  Thanks TomTom.

I didn’t realize that this hotel is attached to a casino.   I had a wander through but didn’t lay a bet.  I had a nice meal in the restaurant of gumbo and a burger.  I’ll have to get a gumbo recipe and give it a go.  Pretty spicy and not too fishy.

Time for an early night and some well needed sleep.

 

Day 14 – Houston

We landed in Houston after the overnight flight from Anchorage.  Not much sleep on a packed flight.

After breakfast at IHOP, Tom headed home to Lafayette Louisiana,  and Jay and I headed to his house in Houston.  Great to get some washing done and have a mid afternoon kip.

Janet Jay and I went out for a great meal and some real nice red wine.  Great way to finish the fishing trip.

 

Day 13 – Half day for Sockeye

This is our last day and we are flying out this evening.  We organized a quick half day fishing for sockeye to bolster the production.  Early 4am start and we’re on the water with Chris.  We hit a great spot and were soon on to some big ones. Tom gave some comic relief with a twist and shout as he hooked up and stumbled back with a 8ft fly rod twisted through his legs.  I added to that when I stumbled over a grass lump on the back with a large salmon still hooked.

But we caught fish … and that’s what it was all about.  Did I catch that big one??

IMG_0574

We got the fish to the processor who had it all bagged an boxed in a few hours.  Then we headed off to Anchorage airport. Another 7 hour flight in economy … yuk.

 

 

Day 12 – Sockeye Salmon on the Kenai

A sleep in this morning … 5.30am.

Today we fished for sockeye salmon on the Kenai river. There were people everywhere, but the fish were plentiful.  Glenn got us to a nice bank where we “flossed” for salmon.  It’s pretty tough on the shoulder, but fantastic when you hook one.  The key is not to let then get out into the main running stream, as it is almost impossible to stop them  Our limit is 3 fish each, and we pretty much have them nailed by about midday.

IMG_0544

We then did some spinning for pinkies (catch and release) before we called it a day and headed back to camp.

Funny what wanders in during the afternoon … a herd of elk.  Now you don’t see that down in Aus.

IMG_0530IMG_0526

 

 

Day 11 – more Halibut fishing

Another early start … but the weather looks fantastic.  Back out again on th Badger with Zac and Forest.  The water is like a mill pond.  This time we did hook up on some salmon on the troll.  Then we headed way out for a crack at some big Halibut.

IMG_0477

The tide was running very fast in 270ft of water.  We anchored up on a big reef lump and sent the lines down.  This is tough fishing in deep water, 6 lines out and at least a kilo of lead on each. We got some big fish and plenty of tangles with the skate (shovel nose shark) and small school sharks.  It was tough but good. The snow capped mountains and volcanoes gave us a beautiful back drop to a great day.

IMG_0484

Back to the fish processor to hand over the catch for bagging and freezing.  This is all done separately as part of the fishing package, and all we have to do is pick up the frozen travel boxes at the end of the trip.

IMG_0508

Back to camp …

 

 

Day 10 – offshore Halibut fishing in the Cook Inlet

Another early start with a 2 hour drive south of the lodge. We had 6 fishermen, a captain (Zac) and deck hand (Forest) on the Badger. Yes, the Gump jokes were rolling all day, but Forest took it in his stride.  He’s a real nice youn bloke, and a great deckie.

A troll for salmon yielded a big zero and I’m starting to think that the Aussie is a bad luck charm.  We headed way out and then it was on to the Halibut.  These are a deep sea flounder that hit hard and are quite a haul to to the surface (from over 250ft – 70m down).  We’re using large gear, big lines and its pretty hard on the back and shoulder. Out legal quota is 2 fish each … on less than 29 inches plus one other of any size.  It’s a bit of a juggling act to maximize the size of the big one. The tides are running hot, and we only have a few hours when the the water slackens enough to get a hot bite going. I got a pretty big one, with a sore back, sore right shoulder and a large bruise on my thigh where the gimbal fitting just dug in during the fight.

IMG_0452

We all caught our limit and had some nice fillets for the fish processor to bag and freeze for the trip home.

Back to the lodge for a few well earned brewskies.

 

Day 9 – King Salmon on the Kalisof

4am and it’s bloody fresh this morning!  We push off on a guided float trip with Phil … our young but confident guide.  The water is running pretty fast and he guides us through a series of eddies before anchoring up to run some spinners into the strike zone.  No hits abut we see plenty of fish action in the river so our confidence is up.  The sun is well behind a thick layer of cloud and did I mention that it is bloody cold!

IMG_0420

We kept moving down stream and running lures into likely holes without success.  We did get some strikes and a couple of fish to the boat, but none landed … or is it ‘early release’.

Then the rain came …. and stayed.  Did I mention that it was bloody cold … well it was. And my rain jacket that I got cheap in Anchorage is not really waterproof.

Tough first day.  Cold , wet and only one landed fish.

IMG_0424

We finished the day with a warm shower, nice red wine around the fire pit and swapping stories with the other fishos at the lodge.  Most of the visitors are Texans which was a bit odd.  Anyway it seems that “ye-alls” is a common word, and shooting things is common pastime for some … especially for Terry who was keen for me to give him a complete summary of all Australian animals that he could “come down there to hunt and kill”.

Halibut fishing in the Cook inlet tomorrow.

 

Day 8 – drive to Hooksetters

The fishing lodge is about 3 hours drive south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. We picked up our rental car (truck) from the hire company, and headed off.  Tom’s GPS seemed to be in a bit of a funk and we circled the city and the airport a few times before finally hit the correct freeway out of town.  We had a lot of laughs about that and looks like we have a pretty fun trio.  Tom has trouble with my accent and me with his.  This has the makings of a fun trip.

IMG_0410

We stopped at the town of Soldotna which is near to the lodge.  We had a great lunch on a beautiful warm day at Buckets … a small sports bar on the outskirts of town.  The chili cheese dog and a couple of black breakfast beers went down a treat.  We arrived at the lodge and settled into our digs for the next 4-5 days.  A few beers around the fire pit, a great meal in the dining room.  Great start to the Alaskan adventure.

4am start tomorrow morning for a run at catch and release the big King Salmon on the upper Kalisof river.

 

Day 7 – Travel to Alaska

We clean up Jay’s beach house and head off on the 2 hour trip to Houston.  A quick stopover at Jay and Janet’s house, and then off to the airport.  The 7 hour trip to Anchorage in economy was tough but not brutal.  The snow capped mountains have me worried.  I did not expect it to be a cold summer and I may need some more warm clothes.

IMG_0407

We arrived at our hotel the Captain Cook in the center of Anchorage … which is not a big place.  We had a great meal in the hotel restaurant, some expensive cleansing ales in the bar afterwards, and then a good nights sleep to begin this portion of the trip.

 

Day 6 – Rest Day

Sightseeing today in Galveston today.

Our Alaskan fishing buddy Tom arrives.  We had a few brewskies and then headed to Stingarees for a few more beers, some great music from a local rock band and a meal in the restaurant upstairs.  The sunset over the bay on a warm evening was a pretty nice way to finish off our Texan portion of the trip.

IMG_0406

 

Day 5 – Fishing Galveston Bay

Another big day on the water, and another big day in the fish production stakes.  Jay was in form today, and I spent much of the time tossing lures, and netting his action.  We finished off the day with another haul on a beautiful but (thankfully) cooler day.  We cleaned up the boat ready for a rest day tomorrow.

IMG_0391

 

Day 4 – Fishing Galveston Bay with Jim

Our Venezuelan fishing trio was re-united when Jim arrived from Houston.  After a late night on the red wine, we hit the water again and Jim was in form.  He nailed some large speckled trout on a very hot day. We caught a dozen or so and made some nice packs of fillets (or “fillays” as the Texans call them) for the freezer.

IMG_0374

 

Day 3 – Fishing Galveston Bay

Another early day on the water. More speckled trout and sand trout.  Slow start until Jay spotted some birds working on a school of bait.  We headed over and had about 45 minutes  of insane fishing on the trout. Birds, bait and fish flying everywhere.  There were hitting the soft plastics like it was their last meal.  Great day.

IMG_0335

 

Day 2 – Fishing Galveston Bay

Up early for a bacon and eggs cook up, load the boat and then out on the water.  We went to a spot called Frenchies and were soon to hook up on some speckled trout and some smaller sand trout.  Good fighting fish on soft plastics.  Jay certainly got us off to a good start. We moved around a bit but had some very good action.  Bloody hot though. Probably 100 degF and very high humidity.

Finished up with a burger for lunch fom Stingrays and a few cold beers. Then to the fish filleting and clean up the boat. Hot shower and then the jet lag kicked in. Put my head down for a quick nap … 4 hours later.  I musta needed that but gotta be careful not to sleep this trip away.

Cookup for dinner, some Buds and red wine. Got Jim Green on the phone. Been about 6 or 7 years since catching up with Jim  He’s heading down from Houston tomorrow for Wednesday’s fishing trip.

Good first day.

 

Day 1 – Perth to Houston

Mmmmm … early start out of Perth, and a tight connection in Sydney.  Hard to imagine that you leave on a Sunday, fly for ever, and land on the other side of the planet on the same day!

Jay waiting to meet me in Houston City airport.  We drive straight to Galveston Bay to their beach house.  Nice couple of Cacique rums and bit of shut eye. Bloody jet lag. Can’t sleep.