You think after 35 years owning Talaheim’s Alaska Fishing Lodge I’d lose interest in fishing and want to do something else with my time off. But instead, all I dream about is venturing back into the water, rod by my side, in search for one more slice of paradise.

Let me set the scene on my latest slice of paradise: My wife and I are hotter than hell as we vacation just south of the equator in the Cook Islands, celebrating our 9th year wedding anniversary. I’m about to head in for the nightly whiskey, but before I do, I wade knee deep into the water and set up for one more cast. I work that rod back and forth-I mean, Brad Pitt has nothing on my back cast-then guide that nine-weight toward the ends of the ocean. Before my floating line even has a chance to float, a big pair of silver lips breaks the water’s surface and takes advantage of that little pink shrimp fly. Strike! I pulled back but that fish runs like a freight train down hill and steals 220 yards of my line before I gain ten back.

“Holy Smokes it’s a giant trevally!” I yell. But that fish jumped straight into the air and stared me down with his baseball sized eyeball. “No, my God, I’m wrong! It’s a giant bonefish!” I mean, I’ve only seen two bonefish in my lifetime but I’m an Alaskan Flippin’ Lodge Owner, I know these things.

Forty-five minutes that bonefish and I played tug-of-war and just when I was down to my last ten yards of line, that fish tuckered out and headed straight at me like a mosquito hatch in June. “Felicia, get the camera. Boner is coming right at us!”

Felicia handed me the camera and then bent down to grab that large boomerang of a fish tail.  “Hey Boner,” I said as I leaned down, just in time to watch that pink shrimp drop like a wad of tobacco out of that fish’s mouth. “Boner, were you even hooked?” I asked. “You’re a flippin’ Christmas miracle!”

“Watch your language Mister.”

Felicia and I looked at each other, then back at that big baseball eyeball. Was that fish talking to us?

“And stop embarrassing yourself,” that fish said. “I’m a milkfish, not a boner.” Apparently, in the Cook Islands, I didn’t know my way around fish or sex. That milkfish, according to a local guide, was a record catch caught from the flats on a fly.

“And let’s get one thing straight,” that ladyfish continued. “I caught you Mister, not the other way around.” Apparently that milkfish didn’t catch many Alaskans in the Cook Islands. “Now take the damn picture already, your wife is pinching my ass.”

And with that, the three of us posed Hollywood style.

At least, that’s the story I told the reality TV show last month when they started calling. After 35 years in business, Alaska’s Talaheim Fishing Lodge doesn’t serve up Reality Fishing. Instead, we bring angler’s fishing fantasies to life.

May all your fishing fantasies come to life in 2015, whether that be around your holiday dinner table, or in Alaska’s Talaheim country.

Merry Christmas and have a Healthy, Happy, New Year,

Mark, Felicia, Milky the Milkfish

(and my daughter’s wild imagination)