Nice Long Day

I took an extra day of whale watch duty Saturday for a captain with a sick dog. Good things happen when you help others.  After my trips, I went to the fuel dock as usual. A cruiser was filling up and I asked how fishing was. They proceeded to fill me in on some extra hot coho salmon fishing. They had caught so many they had to come to town for more ice from their distant cabin, and so got fuel while they were at it. Of course, I set my sights on going there the next day. I cast my net far and wide for someone to go with me. Anyone. You think people that live in Alaska are always up to go fishing and hunting and trapping. I can tell you if you live in an urban area (by Alaska standards) like Juneau,  they are not. I think I asked 10 or more people to go. Oh, did I mention the weather?  It’s about 80 degress. And did I mention the ocean conditions?  Nearly flat calm. Not a single taker. Not one.  My nephew would rather lay on the couch in his underwear and watch TV all day than go fishing. Not my favorite nephew John. He’d have been up and ready to go at 4 am. But unfortunately he can’t get here from Pittsburgh on that short of notice.

So I went to our cabin first to tidy up a bit as friends of friends are coming next week and maybe we’d go there for dinner. I got up when I got up, and headed to the hot spot. I got there 8 ish after about a 1.5 hr run and turns out I wasn’t the first boat. I put my gear down and had my first fish in about 20 minutes. Not a real big coho, but not bad either. Maybe 6 lbs dressed,   I trolled around more and although the downrigger released several times, I caught now more, so I headed towards more boats in the distance. As I passed a point, boom. There goes the rod. I was fishing a red flasher and yellow and red hootchie. It was gear I still have from commercial trolling. That hootchie was a favorite for cohos when there weren’t pink salmon around, because when there are pinks around, they’ll bite anything red. The second fish was a soaker. 12 or 15 lbs. As soon as I got the fish landed and the gear down, another one was on. I lost that one, which was smaller. I caught 2 more in the next 30 minutes and had 3 nice coho in the bleed bucket.  I got to cleaning, thinking I’d be done soon. More and more boats showed up.

Then the coho went off the bite for awhile. It took me a couple more hours to get the last 2 for a daily limit of 6. I’m sure if I’d had another rod, we’d have caught 12, and maybe faster. When you have more than one rod down, you can fish at different depths and with different lures so if one works, then you switch the other to be the same. Anyway, I left shortly before 2 pm for home. I passed a ton of boats on the way home.

The parking lot of the boat ramp at N. Douglas was full with trucks and trailers parked all along the highway above.  I was lucky to not have to wait and got my boat pulled right out. I got home and immediately started to process the dressed fish, which I had on ice gel pacs.

I steaked all six fish. I heard the neighbor munchkin across the street yelling so called out and asked if her dad was home. She said yes. I said to send him over if he wanted some fish, and I gave him the tail section and a couple more steaks for his tribe.  More good karma.

I’ve been smoking and canning fish this year and eating so much of it already I wanted to get more put up, plus send some to my cousin Aileen who just got married yesterday and whose wedding I missed. I mixed up a 50:50 batch of salt and sugar in a big bowl. Then I dredged each steak in the dry brine, and layered the pieces in a bucket. I worked quickly so the last steaks would be in the brine within about 5 minutes of the first.

After everything was dry brined, I set the timer to 40 minutes, cracked a beer, and relaxed. I still had boy scouts tonight, so this was a good break. When the timer went off, I rinsed off each piece of fish and drained them till all were done. Then I loaded up the smoker nephew John mostly built. The 5 and half fish filled 4 of the racks and about 1/4 of the fourth rack. I plugged in the fan and will let it dry til it gets a good pellicle. That’ll be a day or two. Then I’ll put the electric hot plate in and smoke a few pieces of alder through the fish, then can the fish.