Coho fever

Andrew went with me hand trolling on Monday.  It was so choppy I would not have been able to fish I don’t think if he wasn’t there driving.  The jacked up cleaning tray worked great.  My back is still sore, but better.  We caught 23, which is another good day and for sure I caught many more than I would have if Andrew wasn’t driving. 
Too windy to go out to the hand trolling waters today, so I delivered my catch from yesterday to Chris, then took Andrew and his newly arrived daughter sport fishing.  We only caught one coho, but it was a hog, and there were half a dozen crab in the pots, so the daughter got a good first boat ride and day fishing.  When I got home, I decided to swap out the home made hand troll gurdies from Cannon to the Penn downriggers I picked up over the winter on craigslist.  
It took a couple hours but once I did the first one, the second one went quickly.   I like the brake on the cannon over the penn, but the penns are more skookum built, especially the handle, which is metal.  I’ve already broken off 2 cannon handles.   We’ll see how they fish tomorrow.

Perfect trip for good friends

Chris and Sheila left this morning after a week of fun here.    Sheila is the sister of my late friend from grad school, Jimmy, who made me feel most welcome among his family during my 2 years in Mississippi.  Chris was Jimmy’s best friend growing up.
Dropped them off at the airport shortly after 3 am for their 5 am Delta flight to Seattle.  Wheeled in their fish box and it was dialed in at the maximum 50 lbs on the nose, which was not surprising given the week they’d had.
Every day was exceptional for them.  
We took a ride with Larry to Tenakee and back and saw humpback whales bubblenet feeding.  
We caught 13 coho salmon in a day, then saw orcas on the way home.  
We took a ride to Haines with Larry and Roy showed them around town and we saw the cranky sea lions hauled out on the way home.
We caught a pile of crab and overnighted at our cabin eating all the crab we could for dinner, then picked the rest.  
They took some walks and drives around town, and saw a sow black bear with cubs, went up the tram and climbed further up Mount Roberts, and they loved the whale statue park.  
Yesterday, we drove out the road and stopped at the Shrine of St Therese, and they did some praying in the church, walked around the stations of the cross, and then Sheila walked around the labyrinth.  Chris explained to me what a Columbarium is.  On the way home, we were running low on electric for the car, and luckily Sara was also in the same area, so I plugged my car in at a station,  jumped in with her and we all went over to Zarelda’s to order take out, then I took her car to get ice for fishing from Chris, dropped it back at my car, and when I returned to pick them up they came out with food in hand.  I added leftover salmon to my vegetarian curry and it was excellent.
We learned alot about the Methodist Church from these two ministers, and interesting to hear about their different congregations in Mississippi and their daughter’s in Atlanta.    Also how long term a “mission” can be, as they spent 10 years at a site just helping to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, and now are headed back to see what the situation is with Ida, that passed through their area when they were here.

Back to fishing

Got in a couple days of hand trolling the past two days.  Had my best days for coho hand trolling in my second year, two days in a row.  My friend Gordy had his best day yesterday, too, fishing south of me, and he’s been hand trolling a long time.
And wow, is my back sore from cleaning because my cleaning trough is too low.  Got to take tomorrow off at least.  Now that I don’t need the money, my health takes priority over fish checks, and my back needs to be in good shape to go elk hunting with Roy in about a month.
The fish were coming about as fast as I want to have them come yesterday for awhile.  I had to quit pulling fish and just clean, and in doing so, realized I should let the lines load up with fish like that all the time as the fish on the hooks attract other fish to hooks without a fish.   I had four fish on each side – with the only hooks not with a fish were fouled and maybe one of the hootchie hooks was bare.  Of course, fish could have got on and off with all the soak time as I was cleaning the other fish.
Coho dock price from my buyer is $3.50/lb, so the pay checks are somewhat stunning just for catching the coho with cannon manual downriggers rigged for trolling.  
Of course, I lost the first fish of the day and the last.  Both hogs.  And I think each time – there goes 35 bucks.
Still refining my little troll show.  Realized I can just take out one of the benches behind the captain seats and put the cooler there, instead of having it in the way all the time, so that’s one of the next projects.   I must get some welding done for better mounting of the downriggers, too.  
I started off just fishing flashers and hootchies as that’s what I’d been catching coho on sport fishing.  I put in an orange spoon here and there as well.  When I saw the coho start to hit the spoons, I swapped the flashers to spoons, except for some 4 inch flashers I got from Cabelas to try.  They seem to work okay at times, and create no drag on the wire like the bigger flashers do. 
Yesterday a humpback whale surfaced right next to me, then started cutting in front of me.  I yelled to him or her, and she seemed to hear me and dove across my bow at a safe distance.

God on our side

We have the sister of one of my best friends who I met at graduate school who passed away too young in December, along with her husband, in town.  They are both Methodist pastors from Mississippi. And they seem to have put God on our side, if God chooses sides.  When we got to the harbor to take a trip to Haines with Larry on Wednesday, we got the parking spot right next to the ramp we had to descend with our day packs of food and clothes.  Yesterday, the fishing was as hot as I’ve seen it.  We had several instances where we had coho on both rods, and we did not lose any fish that got hooked.  On the way home, we saw a group of orcas – 2 cows, a bull and an itsy bitsy calf  and shared the viewing with just one other boat.  We got to watch them as they cruised up the shoreline towards Pt Retreat Lighthouse.   We had fresh salmon for dinner.  While I was butchering the catch, I called to the new neighbor kids to ask their dad if they wanted a fish for dinner.  He and the kids then came over, and the youngest picked out their fish from the cleaned fish in the tub.  It was our first time meeting the dad and we’re glad to have such personable new neighbors like our good friends who moved were.   And nice to have more kid chatter in the neighborhood.

Whales and Salmon

Took Andrea, Christopher and Odessa whale watching and sea lion watching today after leaving for the cabin yesterday afternoon, catching a coho, and spending the night at the cabin.  After the watching, we put the gear out for coho fishing.  We caught 4 or 5 coho in an hour or two.  The kids are a well oiled machine now.  I butchered the fish, and the kids rinsed and bagged and vac packed while I ran to find a new fridge as our old fridge acted up again.  We had white king salmon for dinner with corn Andrea brought, and then I took off the doors to the new fridge to get it into the house, swapped the way the door opened at Sara’s request, then plugged in the new fridge.  We had rhubarb crisp for dessert while the new fridge was cooling. 

I wish I was 13 years old again

I’ve had 13 year old boy (Christopher) and girl (Odessa) twins here for the week.  We went fishing the day they got in, caught a coho, had it for dinner, and they were hooked on fishing.  Are we going fishing tomorrow is the question each evening.  We stayed at our cabin a few days, and the day it was too windy to fish, we picked berries.  Most years, the island is covered in blueberries and blue huckleberries, with red huckleberries here and there.  This year, red huckleberries are the only game in town, and we picked for a couple hours til we had enough for a batch of jam.  We caught 4 big coho the next day and butchered and vac packed those back at the house.    We also caught some huge dungeness crab – my first decent catch of the season – and had those for dinner.  These kids are lucky.
The next 3 days we went to Chatham Strait.  There’s a new ADNR cabin there I’d rented from Mon to Wed.  We got an early start as the kids wanted to get fishing.  We arrived at my spot at about high tide at 8 am or so.  I put the first rod out, and as I was rigging the second rod, we got a coho on.   Odessa reeled it in, and I put that rod back out.  As I was getting the second rod ready to go, the first rod hit again.  This happened at least a third time.  The rest of the fish were shaker kings, though, so we were still on the first coho when I finally got the second rod out.  The kids got to fighting over who was driving and who was fishing as we got on fish after fish.  We caught a dozen cohos and a nice white king, over the next several hours.  By early afternoon, I’d filled one of the coolers with dressed coho and ice,  and we were ready to go find our cabin across the strait.   I texted their mom.  Time to get a freezer, which she did the next day.
We found the cabin and got ourselves settled in.  The kids love salmon so we had fried salmon and venison pepper pieces for dinner with instant potatoes and beach asparagus.  It was supposed to blow the next day, so we were sort of expecting a cabin day on Tuesday.  We did try to fish for about 30 minutes, but it was too rough, so back to the cabin.  Odessa was tormenting her brother, and then me, and I put my rain gear on and went looking for some berries to pick.  The weather picked up as predicted, and I had to move the boat twice over the next 12 hours.  The kids made dinner with bagels and cream cheese and jarred smoked salmon.  
Today, we slept in and packed up as the winds laid down.  We headed back to our fishing hole, and the crossing was a little lumpy.  Both kids were a little sea sick, so I said we’ll just fish the drag from one end to the other and pick up and go and they agreed to that.  We got 3 more nice coho, and headed for home.
The kids are constantly bickering over 13 year old things, but the twins sure do make a good work team.  I filleted and sectioned the fish, Odessa rinsed the pieces, Christopher put the fish into bags, and when I was done butchering, I started vac packing.  When Odessa was done with the rinsing, she took over vac packing.  They are good workers.  And good fishing companions.  Mom gets here tomorrow for the next three days then they will all leave together.