Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sum Fun Fishing

My sister, Carol, wanted to try her hand at saltwater fishing so when Groupon offered a deal out of Dana Wharf, she asked me to join her.  We chose 9/11/17 for our adventure.

We checked into the landing, parked, got our tickets and got in line by 5:15 am.  There were 15 people ahead of us already.  We started boarding at 5:45 am. 

Jake checked our licenses and collected our tickets.  I noticed the passengers ahead of us were lining their rods along the back of the boat so I asked Jake if there were assigned spots.  Jake said you select a number on the rail and that is your fishing spot. Whoa!  Now that was a new one to me.  That makes for difficult fishing especially since they put 45 people on a 65 foot boat.

Everyone stacked their tackle boxes/bags on top of the life preserver box.  We had a small spot inside a ring of tackle bags.  We had to put our backpack (with our lunch and purses) on the deck.  The galley was small and only had 12 seats inside.  Of course there were no seats available by the time we boarded.

Our first stop was the bait receiver where we loaded giant sardines and anchovies that looked like two eyeballs on a string.  The Captain Brian gave the safety speech and said we were making a two hour run north where the yellowtail bit on Saturday.  He also said Shane would handle the Galley and was the other Captain on board.  Jake would handle the activities on deck.

The weather was wonderful.  Flat calm seas and very little wind.  It did get quite warm in the afternoon.  Shane spent the travel time making breakfast sandwiches early then hamburgers and hot dogs later.

I got our rods set up for yellowtail and tried to sit/lean on the tackle rack such as it was.  We got up to the Long Beach area and I noticed many large black buoys.  Jake said they were a mussel farm.

A couple other sportboats were in the area but quickly bailed as the yellowtail didn't cooperate.  We ended up working our way south back towards Dana Point.  The Captain tried very hard to find fish.  I tried baiting and casting then handing the rod to Carol but nothing worked.  Finally, the captain decided to anchor and try bottom fishing.  Shane came over to help me get Carol set up.  He had some great suggestions for Carol.  She learned how to handle a conventional reel and bait her own hook.  She felt some small bottom grabbers take her bait but no hook-ups.

I tried everything too.  I fished the bottom and flylined.  I tried squid, anchovies and sardines.  I tried small hooks with 15# line on up to 30# line.  There were perhaps 3 small calicos, 2 small sheepshead and a couple legal whitefish for the day.  The Captain gave us an extra hour to fish and when that didn't help, he gave us all a 50% off coupon for another trip.

I really enjoyed spending time with my sister even though we didn't catch any fish.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Alaskan Wilderness!

August 14th Jim Carlisle, Al and Rob Scow and I met at Seattle Airport for our annual flight to Sitka to fish with Outbound Alaska Charters.  Uncle Vinnie picked us up at the airport and drove us to the new lodge, the Longliner.  Emily checked us into our rooms - Suite A for Al and Rob, Room 8 for Jim and I lucked out with Room 3 with the best view on the ground floor.  My room was next to the ramp down to the boat dock and across the hall from the breakfast room.

Longliner Lodge

View from my room.
Jim and I walked to the Super Market and Liquor Store to get snacks, water, beer and wine for our rooms so we could enjoy cocktail hour after each day's fishing.

Al suggested we have dinner at the Westmark Hotel, our old lodging place.  It was dissappointing.  The chef served oil soaked halibut nuggets because he failed to heat the oil to the proper temperature.  We took that place off our dinner list.

The Longliner Lodge has comfortable rooms and a peaceful atmosphere plus it has its' own dock for their boats - three boats this year.  Jon bought the Endeavor to add to the Micah and Jager. 

After a good night's sleep, we packed up for the day's fishing. Breakfast Buffet was served from 5 to 5:45 am and lunch ingredients were set out so everyone could make their own lunch.  Sure beats Subway!  We boarded our boat at 6 am.

Day 1, Riley's boat, the Jager, was our fishing accommodations for the day.  We departed about 6:15 am heading north to Salisbury Sound. Weather was cool with rain off and on but not too rough - it was fishable.  We started fishing around 7:30 am and by 8:45 am I had my 6 fish limit of Coho.  We fished to 140 foot depth and hooked fish anywhere from 3 feet to 110 feet deep.  Rob and Al were in catching mode too but Jim got a slow start but caught up later.  We were all limited out by 10:30 am on Coho.  Riley made a short move to fish halibut.  We had our limit of 1 halibut per person per day by 2 pm. This was a great day of fishing and we got back to dock early.

Blue Shark


Jim and Al


Salisbury Sound

Our Catch Day 1

Our Catch Day 1

Herb's Catch
We decided to try a new place for dinner - The Baranof Fish Market Restaurant.  We were pleasantly surprised.  Everything was quite tasty!  This one will stay on our dinner list.

Day 2 we were back on the Jager with Riley,  Since the first day was so good, we headed back to Salisbury Sound.  We fished for our halibut first then our salmon.  Weather wasn't quite as nice as the previous day, but plenty fishable for Alaska.  Halibut came easy although on the small (but tender) size.  Salmon fishing was slower but we still managed 6 fish limits of Coho for each of us.  We were back at dock early again.  We felt pretty good about our catch so far until Herb got in.

Herb returned with his group shortly after us.  They had made the long run south and were really beat up.  Apparently it took over 2 1/2 hours to get there instead of the usual 2 hours, however, they were rewarded with full limits of large coho and halibuts.

Our halibut catch.

Rob fishing.

Jim Fishing

My big Coho ready to go up stream.

Jim and I went to Murray Pacific and we each bought a pair of XxtraTuf Boots.  They were about $20 cheaper than we can buy them for at home.  We had a great but expensive dinner at Ludvig's Bistro.  I had the Black Cod which was delicious.  Jim loved his Paella which was quite good but spicy. 

Day 3 When we got to the dock, we learned we were fishing with Riley again.  We were supposed to fish with Jon on the Endeavor but he had a meeting at the University he needed to attend.  Riley headed the boat back to Salisbury Sound.  The weather turned worse and we had heavy rain all day. Unfortunately, the big silvers had moved.  We fished hard until noon for 17 small salmon.  We moved to the halibut grounds and managed to catch our 4 halibut but they were smaller than previously too.

We got back to dock around 4 pm soaking wet.  Our light weight rain gear just couldn't hold up to the heavy rains we endured all day.  I was chilled through and through.  The hot shower was wonderful.  We took all our wet clothes and put them in the boiler room to dry.  I went to the salon and picked out a set of heavy rain gear to wear instead of my light gear.

Herb's group decided to go north in calmer waters and catch dungeness crabs.  As it turned out, they also caught large silvers there too.  Herb said it looked like the feed had come in and it was setting up for some good fishing. 

We decided to eat again at The Baranof Fish Market.  Fortunately it is a short walk past Murray Pacific as it was still raining.  I had the Caesar Salad and Clam Chowder, a perfect meal for a rainy day.
Salisbury Sound

My waterlogged hand.
Day 4 "Lead Foot" occupying the room above me, woke me early by stomping on my ceiling. I dressed, grabbed my stuff out of the boiler room, packed my lunch and headed to the boat.   Since Herb's group had done so well with crab and silver salmon, we decided to try it too.  Jon took us North on the Endeavor a smaller boat.  The cabin was much smaller and less comfortable, however, the seas of the inside passage were calm.  We traveled about an hour north then set out cages - 7 in all.

Once the cages were baited and dropped, we fished for salmon.  While we were fishing, NOAA wanted to board us but Jon told them "no" since he had been boarded twice in the last month.  They left and headed to another boat in the area.

The salmon were a "No Show" for us.  Not one single bite for the day.  The crabs were cooperative though.  We managed full 3 crab limits per person.  We enjoyed the calm seas and beautiful scenery but were extremely disappointed we didn't get any fish to take home.  Andrew cleaned the crabs on our way in.  We got back to dock around 3:30 pm.

We were invited to a crab boil down on the dock for dinner.  We met up with the Captains, crew and other passengers around 6 pm.  It was great to meet up in a casual setting with everyone.  The food included crab (our catch was contributed to the meal), spot prawn, sausage, fried potatoes, corn on the cob, salad, wine and beer.  As soon as we fixed our plates and sat down to eat, we had a downpour and all the food was in the open air.  It lasted just long enough for us to move the food indoors.
Al coming down the ramp at low tide.

Jim pulling a trap.

Crab Boil!

The Rain Storm

The Rainbow after.

Day 5 we were supposed to fish with Jon again, however, plans changed again.  We headed back toward Salisbury Sound with Riley. He thought the weather would come down enough that we could fish black cod.  Herb was heading back south with his group.  After 30 minutes Herb phoned and let Riley know our fishing licenses were still on Jon's boat.  We had to return to dock and get them.  We lost at least an hour of fishing.

We headed back towards Salisbury Sound in rough seas and heavy rain.  When we got there, Herb was next to us.  The seas had been too rough for him to make the long run south.  We started fishing for salmon while the seas continued to build.  It was too rough and dangerous for Al to try to fish and Rob wasn't feeling well.  That left the fishing to Jim and me.  I sure was glad I borrowed the heavier rain gear because it was needed.  We managed 11 salmon then Riley moved us to our halibut area.  We quickly got our halibut and a few more coho before the seas became too rough to continue.  Herb and Riley decided to head to another area that was calmer.

We ended up fishing at the Shark Hole, an area Al had fished before.  It was calm enough that Al and Rob could fish.  We picked up a couple more salmon before Alaska Department of Fish and Game boarded us.  They checked our catch and licenses.  Jorden was cited for not having a fishing license in addition to his crew license.  Plus we had caught a couple rock fish that we released, one of which failed to go back down.  Fish and Game picked up the fish, put it in a bucket and gave it back to us to release back down at the level we hooked the fish.  By then, we were out of time.  End of trip.
Alaska Fish and Game

When we got back to dock, we settled up with Herb, tipped Riley and Jon and scheduled an early trip to the airport then headed for a sushi dinner. Nice way to end our trip. 

Sunday morning Uncle Vinnie took us to the airport at 7:15 am.  Salmon Shares, the fish processor, met us there with our catch which was less than half of what we had the last three years.  One 50# box of Coho Salmon and two smaller 25# boxes (because they ran out of the larger boxes) filled with halibut and salmon.  No black cod or king salmon this year.  Too rough to fish for black cod and fish and game closed the king salmon season the week before we arrived due to a smaller run of kings this year.

Our flights home were on time and smooth.  Our fish arrived without a problem.  When I got home, I decided to double bag my salmon as I had in previous years.  As it turned out, some of my packages were not sealed properly and some were not completely frozen.  The large box was only half insulated with the silver padded lining. Worst of all, the processor packaged too much fish in each bag.  Most bags were 2 to 2 1/2 pounds each - much too large for us.  Herb plans to do his own processing in future years which will be an improvement. 

All in all, the lodge is a great improvement, the Captains and crews good as always and although the fishing and weather sucked, we came home with some great eating fish.