I awake to the sound of a dog’s raspy bark that is quickly replaced by the soft and constant patter of rainfall on the surface of water outside my window. The sun has not risen, but the sky is far from dark. It is 4am. We don’t head out till 6am. I pull my eye shade back over my eyes and quickly return to slumberland. Rainfall has a way of doing that. The forecast today is rain and more rain, to be followed by rain into the evening. It is not cold or even dreary. It is calm and soothing, yet there is a small craft advisory in effect. 3-4 ft seas are on the menu for the Chatham Strait. We however, will peak our collective heads out of the mouth of Mitchell’s Bay to see if it’s something we want to, or can fish in. It will be the three amigos, as Jill has wisely decided to stay inside and hold down the fort. She’s done the fowl weather fishing and frankly knows better. We on the other hand have to give it a go, just because…it’s fishing, and it’s Alaska darnit. By the time we head out the door from the wonderful Bed and Breakfast place, called Eagle’s Wing Inn (operated by John and Kathy of the Salvation Army), the rain has stopped. The air is sweet smelling and rich with moisture. We walk down to the docks and prep the White Whale. As it appears to be “clearing”, I decline to don my rain gear. This proves to be folly in that no sooner than we push away from the dock, the rain begins again. Thank you Mr. Murphy. I can not say how much I admire your consistency and attention to detail on our every adventure. No, really. I truly can’t say. Luckily it was a light rain, and gave me enough time to pull on my rain gear. And of course, no sooner had I water-proofed myself, the rain stopped. I give up. We peaked our nose out of the mouth of the bay and found it not too bad. It was a little choppy, but not scary for the size of our boat. In no time we had a bucket full of herring and the hunt was on. Unfortunately I forgot my grapes, so it took us awhile to land a fish…any fish. In some ways, however, our day started out like an episode of the Three Stooges. We jig for bait, and because of the initial choppiness of the seas, a good portion of the herring we snag never make it into the boat. Hmmm, wise guys! When they do, they “rain” all over my father (“Moe”) who is trying to deftly shake them off the tiny hooks and into a five gallon bucket that shifts with the seas. It didn’t help either that we would both swing our herring laden lines into him at the same time.
Once the bucket was full “enough” it was non-stop action, initially of the Humpy variety. The Humpys are passive aggressive fish and would gladly allow us to net them (rather than shake themselves off or allow us the honors), and then do an alligator death roll in the net as one of us had another fish on and needed the net. At one point we had landed a fish, had another on and realized no one was driving the boat in 3′ seas. Ooops. After a while we settled into a rhythm and functioned like a well oiled machine. At the tidal change we found the bait and the the Silver bite was on. I dare say however, we lost twice as many Silvers as we landed, and caught easily double that in good sized Pinks that we released. Two King (Chinook) salmon found their way onto my line, but they were just shy of legal and had to be released. My son had another hog of a Silver that again just didn’t want to get in the boat. They say ‘three’s a charm’, so maybe tomorrow will be his lucky day.
After a hard fought day, we called it quits with six Silvers in the box. Not bad for amateurs.