49 Voices: William “Pops” Wilson of Wasilla

William “Pops” Wilson (right) poses for a photo with his grandkids. (Henry Leasia / Alaska Public Media)

This week we’re hearing from William “Pops” Wilson in Wasilla. Wilson has been fishing in the Wasilla area his whole life.

Listen now

WILSON: Look at the creek right now. It’s crystal clear. I mean you can see the fish. I mean that’s the kind of rivers I go — I’ll go up to a creek and I’ll look in it, “Hey there’s a fish! I’m gonna go catch it.” That’s why I say I go catching, I don’t go fishing. I don’t go to a creek that’s muddy, milky, murky, anything like that right there. To me that’s a waste of time and a waste of effort.

I will not go to a river or a creek that is — you got to catch it and then turn it loose. Ain’t gonna happen. If I catch something it’s going home. I’m in it for the food. If you ever go into a grocery store and price a trout — I mean a small what 8, 10-inch trout — it’s like 11, 12 bucks. Last year I had to actually buy fish because all the creeks were flooded. That was very disappointing. I did not like it.

As I’m fishing and harvesting, I’ll leave ’em in the water. I gut ’em and put ’em on stringers, leave ’em in the water. They stay fresh. You put ’em up on the bank you either draw flies or some kind of critter. A lot of folks will bring ice in an ice chest. I don’t like work. Why am I gonna bring a cooler when I’ve got the nets and then I got all the fish to pack? No, I’ll put the fish in the nets and carry it over my shoulder and go.

When I was a kid, we’d make our own dipnets out of homemade stuff and chicken wire. And it worked. The chicken wire never collapsed and whenever a fish went in it stood straight up.

If you like fishing, Alaska’s the place to do it. I’ve fished the Lower 48, you know, you catch catfish, burbot, sunfish, stuff like this here. There ain’t nothing better than trout and salmon.