Sunday, July 20, 2014

2014-21: The San Luis Obispo Cowboys are Back!

July 8th through July 20th: Sitka to Craig

Tuesday: July 8th:  Those cowboys from San Luis Obispo arrived today for almost two weeks of cruising in Alaska.  Vince Fonte, Marvin Dee and Bob Silva are Wild Blue veterans each having served aboard from 3 to 8 cruises over the years.  In SLO town they ride horses and play poker.  They seem to be better at fishing than cards than horses!

The cowboys arrived around 1pm and immediately headed to the tackle shop and supermarket for spares, fishing gear and provisions. By late afternoon we were on our way southbound towards Whale Bay.  We decided to anchor in beautiful Scow Bay at Beauchamp Island, just off our route.  We threaded our way around the shoals and rocks deep into Scow where the winds died and the water glassed off.

Entering deep into Scow Bay,
Cowboy Bob locates rocks hopefully before we smack them!
There was just enough leftover fresh salmon for Bob to craft delicious first dinner.

Tuesday, July 9th: Today we fished the Whale Bay hot spots including the Northern Shoreline, Port Banks entrance, Krishka Island, and King City.  We boated plenty of fish attempting to complete each fisherman's daily limit.  

Wednesday, July 10th: We had enough fish to get processed and we needed time to get down to Craig Alaska by July 19th, so we motored back to Sitka.  

Thursday, July 11th: Today we completed a round trip fishing Salisbury Sound, Kakul Narrows, and the Shark Hole.  Cowboy Vince caught a nice Yellow Eye and Ling Cod.

Friday, July 12th: Stayed in Sitka. We had the fish caught so far processed, bagged and frozen for shipping home.

Saturday, July 13th: Again today we completed another round trip fishing Salisbury Sound, Kakul Narrows, and the Shark Hole.  And cowboy Vince caught a nice Pacific Cod.  

Alex has been around boats and boating since about 1976.  Over those years he met many sailors, boat maintenance workers (BMW's), yacht club folks, harbor masters and boat brokers.  Twice this season in Sitka Alex met old friends from his boating past.

Alex noticed some familiar voice similarities while chatting with the Captain of a neighboring 100 foot mega-yacht.  As the conversation progressed, the name "Tim" came to mind.  Tim was foredeck crew on Ricochet, Alex's Schock 35 racing yacht from the 1990's.  They had a nice chat about competitive sailboat racing in Southern California some 23 years ago.

The second "voice from the past" occurred while dining at the absolute best restaurant in Sitka, and arguably all of Southeast Alaska:  Ludwig's Bistro.  As a new group of diners were seated behind our table, another set of "voices from the past" tweaked Alex's memory.  Within just a few minutes, he turned around and welcomed Steve and BJ Curran to Alaska.  Alex purchased his J-36 Greyhound from Steve in 1980 and BJ was a regular crew aboard.  BJ met Steve after a race and later were married.  It really is a small world!

Ludwig's Bistro Sitka, Alaska "The Best of Southeast"

Sunday, July 14th:  This was our final day in Sitka for the 2014 season, having arrived on June 2nd.  Again we headed northerly bottom fishing in the top end of Neva Strait.  Timing Sergius Narrows for slack water, we transited Peril Strait eventually anchoring for the night in Hanus Bay.

Coast Guard crew maintains light in Olga Strait north of Sitka
Deer on Partofshikof Island in Neva Strait
Monday, July 15th: We got going early from Hanus Bay, rounding Catherine Island then fishing off its southern tip in Chatham Strait by 8am.  The weather was OK so we continued south to Chatham's intersection with Frederick Sound.  We fished off Yasha Island boating a halibut, but the current was building.  So we moved south and fished Tebenkof Bay boating a few more bottom fish.  By 6pm we had set the crab traps and anchored deep inside Gedney Bay on Kuiu Isl;and in Sothern Chatham Strait.

Tuesday, July 16th: There were no crabs in Gedney Bay this morning, and they weren't in our traps either.  By 7am we were moving south along Kuiu Island's west coast.  We timed our arrival for 1020am slack current at Cape Decision.  We fished Decision Passage then anchored between a couple of the Spanish Islands for lunch.  The fishing today actually sucked for the first time in many days!  We eventually gave up, anchoring in Port McArthur on Kuiu's east coast at 2pm.  Marvin slipped a baited hook over the side and we all went for a nap.  

After about 90 minutes, some of us awoke to the loud whizzing sound of line spinning off a big reel.  Luckily Cowboy Marvin made it to the rod before the all line was gone.  He quickly began fighting a big fish.  After almost 15 minutes, all crew was in the cockpit ready to relieve an exhausted Marvin, and soon all helped land a 60 pound halibut!

Wednesday, July 17th: We headed further south today crossing Sumner Strait to a bottom fishing spot off the south end of Warren Island.  No luck so we continued on towards St Joseph Island.  Just off its northwest end we spied a 10 boat charter sport-fishing fleet.  The kings were running and we joined the group dragging our watermelon lures.  In short order Cowboy Bob had a heavy king aboard,  After a couple more we headed into Craig.

Thursday and Friday, July 18th and 19th:  We fished locally a bit southeast of Craig in Bucareli Bay. Several small fish were returned to the seas and a couple good sized coho salmon were boated.

The "Cowboys in the Boat" had great fun this year and we hope they're ready for more.  We had so many rock and bottom fish this week it was time for another taste test.

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