Friday, June 19, 2009

#22 - Prince of Wales Island: Craig to Sarkar Cove in El Capitan Passage

Today we left Craig at noon to get the tidal current behind us as we entered El Capitan Passage's southern entrance. We want the tide to be rising, so just in case we hit bottom, (softly that is) we can just sit tight while the tide lifts us off, and we continue on our merry way. Don't laugh. It happens.

Our Route to from Craig to Sarkar Cove

It been raining lightly but the seas are quite flat in these protected islands on the west side of POW Island Just prior to our departure, we saw two 70 foot yachts leave going our way: Yachette and Shearwater. We followed them northbound and later they evaporated into one of the numerous anchorages in the area. They will surface later. We continued into El Capitan Passage noticing hundreds of sea otters at Tonowek Narrows. Our navigation was good and not once did we touch bottom. At around 5PM we turned northeast from El Capitan Island, set our prawn trap just outside, motored into Sarkar Cove for the night.

There was a small trawler already at anchor in the Cove and we set ours nearby. Bait fish were jumping on the surface and as soon as our crab traps were down, the fishing poles were baited and dropped. Even with all the bait fish jumping, we didn't get a bite and reeled in at 9PM. Hopefully our shell fish traps will produce. The morning will tell.

Sarkar Cove, and Sarkar Lake that feeds it, have an abundance of salmon. Early the next morning we noticed three fisherman in waders fishing where the lake enters the ocean, the freshwater-saltwater zone. The surface was busy with bait fish and occasionally a larger fish would attempt to fly, becoming completely airborne. But the fisherman in waders, as hard as they might try, were not landing any salmon.

River from Sarkar Lake enters the Cove filled with fish.

Then, out of the blue, a small skiff with four persons on board comes motoring up the Cove directly in front of the wading fisherman. In just a few minutes the boat crew deploys a large fishing net by hand. Within 10 minutes the net is being pulled next to the skiff with hundreds of large salmon. The contrast is remarkable: 3 fisherman in waders fishing for sport, casting back and forth for an hour without fish; 4 fisherman throwing and filling a net, and landing hundreds within 20 minutes! The net fisherman were obviously playing by a different set of rules, most likely native people's rules.

Native Peoples gather hundreds of Salmon in Minutes

In this cove fishing paradise, we dreamed of traps filled with large, male crabs and fat prawns. We found out otherwise, as our pots yielded nothing.

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