Blessed with remarkable weather…for the Alaskan rain forest (Coastal Temperate Rain Forest– one of 6 or 7 in the world) we had no trouble our first venture out filling the cooler with, as we like to call them…Nice Fish. Small boat, four people, two rods at a time made for a bit of a fire drill. Luckily it was dead calm conditions.
Not bad for his first time in Alaska. My dad doesn’t want to bring in anything bigger than that, as the bigger fish, the “barn door” sized ones, are recognized as the “breeders” and their steaks are pretty thick and frankly a little on the tough side when it comes to eating and prepping. Trevor and I, however, would like to land a 100 lb plus halibut, just for the mere fact that it would be a challenge (and a great story) to get it into our 18′ boat. My father on the other hand has already wrestled a 169 lb halibut into his boat (last season) and doesn’t want to re-live that again. He said if we get one that size, we can take a picture in the water. Now where’s the fun in that? And, would we still get a hat? (You get one from Whaler’s Cove Lodge if you bag an over 100 lb halibut). Once done, we motored over to Whaler’s Cove where they hung our fish for our photo op, and then processed them for eventual transport back home.
This days catch will net an easy two boxes (50lbs a piece) of fish.
The following day was just as nice, but dare I say a little slow for us and the entire fleet of boats out of Whaler’s Cove. The morning started with a hunt for herring to use as bait for todays’ search for Coho (Silvers). We start by looking for boiling bait balls of herring and jig until we get what we think will be enough bait for the day. If only snagging salmon was as easy…once you find them of course. The Silvers proved quite allusive for most of the day, while the Pink (Humpy) where jumpng everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE…non-stop! The theory being that they jump out of the water (to me it seems more like they are skipping) to either get their bearing/location, or they are trying to wash of the lice. Maybe they are just simply frolicing…because they can. The Humpys weren’t the only things jumping, as we were treated to a Sea World worthy whale show for most of the day. This becomes all the more exciting, in a small boat. As they surfaced, they would exhale loudly shooting tall blasts of misting water that would hang in the air long after they had slipped below the water’s surface. Occassionally they would leap out of the water and land with an impressive and explosive crash, like the “fat kid” doing a cannonball off the high dive. For most of the day however, the Silvers alluded us and the rest of the fleet for that matter. After a while the fleet dispersed in a divide and conquer mentality to search for where the Silvers were hiding out and to hunt and land other edible fish. We stayed put, off Danger Point. In addition to the whale show, we got front row seats to raptors fishing. Bald eagles are a plenty up here and they are amazing fishermen. They float overhead and then drop sharply, snag a fish with their outstretched talons and continue on either flying it back to their nest or to the shore and feast on their catch. We watched as one “hooked” a fish much larger than his flight to weight ratio. While surprised, the eagle was unfazed and just simply used its wings to stroke to shore. Take that NatGeo! We continued our search for Silvers. My dad was convinced they were still in the area. At least they were, in mass, last week. The mystery now was at what depth. After trolling on the “surface” and mooching for the shiny buggers for a bulk of the morning, we had one small Silver and three Humpys. Just after 1pm we (as in the Captain) decided it was time to get serious. Out comes the down-rigger, and Wa-La. Fish on! In a matter of less than two hours we had five in the box and about twice as many to lament about, one of which was a hog of a Silver, whose loss we captured on video. (If I could figure out how to post it, I would) Now this could have, and dare I say, would have happened sooner if ol’ Major General of Fishlandia would have heeded his crew, of which he taught how to fish in the first place, and thus read the conditions. My theory was that it has been so hot and sunny that the salmon (the Coho variety) being a cold water fish, have gone to deeper depths to feed and meander about. In any event, Silver are crafty fish, if fish can be crafty with a brain the size of a pea. They like to tease…incessantly. In fact, they are assholes, which makes them all the more fun to land. They bump your bait. Maybe nibble it a bit. Bump it again. Wait for you to get excited and pre-maturely yank your line off the down-rigger, and usually out of their mouth. But, unlike Humpys, when they do hit, they hit hard and you know it. This is when the reel(real) fun begins. When you think you hooked them good they swim at you and make you think you’ve lost them tricking you to slow your pace or pause in your reeling to check your line which allows them to spit out the hook or shake it off. Worse yet they surface and thrash about, turning sharply away from your net as you attempt to capture them…and then shake themselves off. Or better yet, they will surface, run towards the boat and your waiting net and dive sharply toward the bottom. They mess with you… get you flustered. As we trolled, I found myself talking to them…’Come on ya bastard, commit already…Come on. Come on. Commit. Do it! Do it!’. All the while, thinking, ‘If only I brought some grapes’. My kids when they were little and fishing with Grandpa and his fishing buddy, used to throw grapes in the water, probably out of boredom, and often almost immediatley the bite would be on. His fishing buddy told them it was because of the grapes. Thus the logic of grapes = fish. I plan on bringing grapes tomorrow. It can’t hurt.