John in Town

John arrived about 15 minutes after Sara did on Thurs evening.  John helped me with salmon deliveries to Juneau households on Friday, and we fished in the evening but no fish.  On Sat, I did one whale watch trip and John fished around the harbor while I was gone.  Then we got home and loaded the boat and headed out fishing.  I had John drive so he could learn to run a boat.  We had no action for 3 hours and then good fishing.  We landed 3 coho and as many came off, and shook a couple pinks.  Also saw a deer on the beach and saw the splash of a full-size humpback breach that must have been 30 feet high.   We went to the cabin with the fish on ice at sunset, and I picked a 1/2 a coffee can of blue and huckleberries while John cooked a pizza.  Off to bed and I was up at 4 am making coffee.  John’s alarm went off at 430, and I took off the coffee and went and picked another 1/2 can of berries.  I got John up and he was dressed and out the door in 5 minutes.  He said we could eat breakfast in the boat.   We went back to Pt Retreat and got 2 more coho, again after several hours of fishing. The wind picked up, so we went to Hand Trollers, where we lost a nice one.   The winds were hitting there too, so we left at 11 am and John drove us all the way back as he’s competent now at running the boat.  When we got home, I showed John how to fillet the first fish, then he filleted the other 4 while I vac packed.  Then I ran out to our fish processor and dropped John at a nearby creek so he could check out the spawning chum and pink salmon.  He got several photos and liked being down on the creek with the fish.     –

Bolivar Principal saves the day

The principal from my hometown high school is coming in to fish with me today off the cruiseship.  So, I thought I’d check to see if I had any frozen gel pacs in the freezer in the garage else I’d need to get ice to keep the fish on the boat.  When I got to the freezer, the door had opened and after one of the hottest days of the year yesterday, things had started to thaw.  I probably would not have gone up there for another day and I might have lost much of it.  I transferred everything to our other freezers, as it was time for a defrost of this freezer anyway, and then a fresh start.  As always, it pays to take your friends fishing. I fished with John and Lorraine last evening.  3 or 4 pinks and a coho so not great but not skunked.  And another beautiful evening as we fished till sunset about 930 pm.

Better days ahead

Took Emmanuel and Peter out fishing on Saturday morning.  The boys had a hard time driving by GPS in the fog but Emmanuel was much better at landing cohos.  We caught 6 and a pink in the fog.  I took them back to the dock, cleaned their fish for them, then sent them on their way to their second jobs.  I returned and got 2 more hog coho for us.   Yesterday I ran the whale watch boat for a late trip.  After big winds and cancellations during mid-day it laid right down and was flat calm and warm on the water last night.  Most of the whales around were in North Pass bubblenet feeding on herring and put on quite a show in the late sunlight.  Quite a night to be on the water. I collected a free fridge from Craigslist and will make a smoker with my nephew John when he arrives later this week. –

Biggest loser II

I took the lead as the biggest looser in the fishing category yesterday.  Jeff and I lost my only king salmon to a seal 100 yards from the dock at the end of our fishing trip earlier this spring.  After blowing me off for a month not accepting any requests for fishing or berry picking, I was assigned babysitting duties of one Samuel Conteh yesterday, and therefore he could not decline the request this time.  The trip did not start off well.  The boat stalled about 1/2 mile from the dock.  Water in the fuel – again!  Hopefully this is just a remnant of the early trouble.  I got the small kicker going and figured we’d just troll out to George Rock and back for the time we had on the little motor.  Near the rock, we caught a big coho.  Samuel tried to hold the rod but was too scared so he had me land it.  A big, fat 10 lb coho.  As soon as I got the gear down again, another fish was on.  Then the downrigger drag slipped, and 150 feet of line went out and the wire jumped the pulley and it took quite a while to get it back on the pulley – this is a flaw of Cannon downriggers. I had put the first fish on a stringer, broke a gill, and was towing it alongside the boat.  Then I put the second fish on the stringer after fixing the downrigger and we trolled on.  Then the little motor quit.  I could not get it started.  Again, looked like a fuel issue.  In drained the fuel filter, pulled the plugs, and as I was doing so, Samuel was pulling up the line that held the fish in the water and letting it down, pulling it up and letting it down.  After I was worked up into a lather both physically and emotionally trying to get the boat going for 15 or 20 minutes, Samuel says “hey, where did the fish go?”.  I look back and he’d work the double half hitch loose.   The line with the fish were gone.  A short outburst Samuel’s way led to laughter as now the trip was complete.  Two motors out of service and the only bright spot so far -the two fish- were now gone.  I told Samuel this story would now replace his first trip to the cabin, where he announced he wanted to go home as there was no video games or TV at the cabin.  I finally got the little motor going and we idled back to the dock.  –

Alaska Fish Harvest

Just got back from dipnetting on the Kenai River.  We got 72 for 4 of us, which is the lowest in 3 years but still pretty darn good.  Keith had taken two trips for single digits days before, and the fish just hit the river a tide or two before we went so we lucked out.  I had to go from Anchorage to Cordova before heading to Juneau, so I rented a vac packer in Anchorage from Alaska Butcher supply and it worked great to fillet and pack the fish at Todd’s and put them in his work freezer until Sara goes up in a few weeks and can bring them back.     I went out on a boat in southwest Prince William Sound for several days, and when we weren’t working, we caught some rockfish.  A school of coho came in under the boat when we were at anchor and we got several of those mooching with salmon flashabou hootchies and flies on a banana sinker. As we were checking a string of shrimp pots, we caught squat for shrimp in the first 3 pots clipped to the long line. I could see the 4th pot coming up and a flash of white around it I thought might be an octopus.  When it got to the surface, up popped the head of a 100 lb halibut.  From the looks of it, the fish was caught on an (illegal) three hook sport fishing set up, and broke off.  When he went sniffing around the shrimp pot bait, one of the two free hooks not in his mouth got caught on the shrimp pot. I got in last night and Kurt picked me up as Sara is still south playing.  He said fishing was good here, and he got a big king salmon, too.  I vac packed fish in the evening and dropped off salmon fillets at the fish smoker this morning.  Lorraine and Michelle said they took their kids fishing here over the weekend and got 9 coho.   Sounds like a decent year for salmon in most of Alaska, although our local Taku River sockeye return is not so hot.  Maybe the fish are late like they were in Bristol Bay. –

Bring your Xtratuffs, people!

I entertained 5 off the cruise ship, 3 of which who were sisters that were friends of my cousins back in Olean, NY. We went fishing and caught salmon steady for an hour. Then took one of the fish to our cabin for lunch. The pilgrims all got wet feet on the way in to our cabin. It wasn’t that they forgot to bring boots. They didn’t even bring them on their 2 week cruise which ends with a land portion up in Fairbanks. One of them had some plastic bag booties to go over their sneakers, which I knew would not make it to the cabin. I asked them that if we happened to meet anyone along the trail to our cabin, to please indicate they were not with me. This cannot stand, people. It’s turning a cruise into Disney World where each stop is another ride. The cruise lines should charge everyone an extra $100 and include Xtratuffs in their travel package. That way every time people leave the ship in their boots they’ll be ready for whatever weather or conditions happen, rain or shine. Xtratuffs are comfortable to walk in, so they can shop all they want and make a fashion statement at the same time in some of the get-ups we see around town. Happily, my new friends were not put off in the least. They loved the salmon and scenery and Alaskan harassment for choice of footware and tolerated the wet feet. Pretty hard to be too demanding if you grow up in Allegany, NY. I hope they come back.