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This chum aggressively chased and took a deer hair popper.

The first time you cast a pink streamer -- whether the ubiquitous "humpy hooker", a pink egg-sucking leech, or anything else that's pink -- and hook into an Alaskan pink salmon fresh from the salt, it's exhilarating. Somewhere between there and the hundredth one, you start looking for ways to liven up the game. One way to do so is to head to the top with surface poppers.

When most people think of popper flies, they think of stalking largemouth bass and other warm water species on still water lakes and ponds, not chasing wild Alaskan salmon. But as it turns out, on southeast Alaska's many tidal rivers and creeks, pods of staging or migrating salmon can provide prime opportunities for taking to the surface to entice salmon to your popping, waking or gurgling fly.

Chris Hunt holds an egg-eating chum salmon.

Though I can't say it comes as much of a surprise, my best laid plans of providing frequent updates from Juneau have fallen by the wayside. It's not that the connectivity has been an issue, but that there's simply been too much of the Tongass to breathe in.

Several days of uncharacteristic weather that brought balmy temperatures and bluebird skies have given way to more expected grey, cloudy days with sprinkling rains. We've seen the Tongass by foot, by boat and by air and each day's destination has brought new views of the staggering biomass of the rainforest.

With now 19 hours to go, this looks more organized than it is. Half those reels don't even have backing. And the list of 25 other TODO items isn't helping.

In about 20 hours, I'll be boarding a plane for Juneau, Alaska, the starting point for what I'm taking for granted will prove to be the trip of a lifetime. During this trip, I'll have the privilege of touring two regions which are inarguably two of the last great strongholds of wild salmon worldwide.

My trip begins in southeastern Alaska, where I'm lucky enough to be included in a ensemble tour of the Tongass National Forest -- also known as the American Salmon Forest -- that is comprised of representatives from Trout Unlimited, a diverse group of journalists and bloggers, professional photographers and more. We'll get a first hand look at the commercial and recreational fishing industries and the amazing ecosystem that sustains them.

Brook trout like this one are less heat tolerant than browns and rainbows.

With many of this year's Independence Day celebrations set to be hot and steamy ones, it seems like a good time to send along a reminder about fishing during times of high stream temperatures. If you're taking advantage of the holiday to chase trout, it is important to know when and where it is safe to fish during the hot summer months and the warmer water that comes along with them.

Each species of trout has specific tolerances when it comes to stream temperatures. Regardless, though some species tolerate warmer temperatures better, all trout fall into the same general range. A good rule of thumb is to avoid pursuing trout in streams where the water temperature has increased to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above. For optimal fish safety, avoid water that's reached 68 degrees or higher.

Camped at Palisades on the Madison River.

Lists. Some people thrive on making lists. I can appreciate the satisfaction that comes with checking off items on “to-do” lists as well. But most of the time, once all of the items are ticked off, the list goes away.

This is not the case with trip checklists. I can barely recall where I keep these things (currently in a tattered high school style composition book – and floating around in folders on a computer I can never seem to find). They also differ widely from trip to trip, location to location.

So in the interest of a virtual archive that may just be helpful to you, here’s my checklist for 12 days in eastern and central Idaho and southwestern Montana, July 3rd – 16th. I plan to spend five or six nights in comfortable accommodations and the balance of the nights camping. (I mean Larry Keel is playing at Trouthunter in Island Park, Id., on July 4th for goodness sake – I’ve got to go and stay there, right? And if you’re in the area and not planning to spend a night at the Murray Hotel in Livingston, Mt., you’re doing it wrong.)