Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2016-21 Fishing Our Way to Ketchikan

Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, July 27-28-29, 2016:  Moored at Craig's South Harbor

The Movie People crew headed back to California today.  Vince and Alex had a couple days free time in Craig.  Most was spent walking the town and shoreline and sampling pizza offerings.  We also keenly observed the fish being caught by other boaters moored at South Marina, also known as Shelter Cove.
A pretty graveyard for Craig folks just near the Cape Suspiro trail-head.
A beautiful manicured trail terminates
 at Cape Suspiro shoreline.  Then a narrow
pathway leads along the shore, through
dense woods eventually connecting
 with a return trail.
This semi-improved trail returned us
 from Cape Suspiro to town.
Each day, the Albin 31 Snow Goose moored just across from us, left the dock by 7AM.  By noon the Snow Goose returned with several salmon and large halibuts.  Each afternoon the crew spent hours cleaning and packaging fish while Vince and Alex watched.  There's nothing like fishing info from locals or veterans so we invited the Snow Goose crew over for cocktails.  Figuring that secret fishing info is sacred, we planned to sacrifice lots of Wisers.  Turns out Jim and Linda are from Tacoma-WA, this is their first time fishing Craig, and they don't drink. Luckily one of us stayed sober enough as the Snow Goosers were way too kind and disclosed their fishing methods and the sacred GPS coordinates.

Friday, July 30, 2016:  Fishing Snow Goose Halibut Spots

Two new Wild Blue crew arrived last evening.  Marvin and Lee are from San Luis Obispo and we all belong to the same cowboy club, Caballeros of SLO.  Cowboys like fish too, especially halibut so the crew wants to take advantage of the Snow Goose hot spots.  Jim and Linda left this early morning for a long fishing ride through SE Alaska and BC, home to Tacoma.

After some morning provisioning, we got going just before 10.  We motored SW for 90 minutes out of Bucareli Bay to a rise on the ocean floor just 3/4 mile due N of Point Arboleda.  We baited two halibut poles using weighted circle hooks with frozen herring and mooched using a lead-head hook with white wiggly on the third pole in 180 to 200 feet on the ocean rise.  It wasn't long before Marvin had a big fish hooked and struggled reeling in a 47-inch flattie.  Once on the surface Alex speared the fish insuring it stayed connected to the Wild Blue with a 1/4 inch line. (Yes Roger we did it right this time, thanks!) Once exhausted, Vince's cowboy instincts caused him to lasso the fish tail, and he now has a good tale to tell!  Needless to say Marvin was pooped after 20 minutes of reeling a 48 pound fighting fish and needed a nap.

After 2 hours, we moved further SW to a new halibut hotspot 1.33 miles due W of Point Arboleda.  We fished with the same gear in 120 feet and Lee caught a good-sized fish.  We stayed 45 minutes then the building wind and current drift was too fast, so we moved inside to 1.75 miles due E of Point Cocos.  This 150 foot ocean floor plateau depth yielded a yellow eye rock fish and two more halibut including a 47 1/2 inch fish at 50 pounds.  Vince didn't gloat too much, and as Marvin extended his nap.

By 2PM we were finished fishing for the day.  Next we had a 5-hour motor ahead to get over near St Joseph Island where we hoped to fish for king salmon tomorrow.  After a long motor we anchored in Anguilla Bay just off Anguilla Island.  The fish processing crew then went to work, withholding alcoholic drinks until the knives were put away.  I believe Dr Lee uses the same policy in his medical practice!  All anyone can say for sure was the fish fillets were expertly carved!

Fishing waters near Craig, AK
Lee, Vince and Marvin process and package fish.

Saturday, July 31, 2016:  King Salmon Fishing

Early Saturday we motored the five miles over to St Joseph Island.  The Island's west side is a excellent King salmon fishery.  Numerous guided sport fisherman regularly fish there and land the king salmon.  In 2014 Bob Silva landed one of the largest Kings we have boated.  Although the west side is the sweet spot, its open ocean means wind and seas have to be calm for Wild Blue fishing.  Today's seas were 5 feet spaced close together and the wind was over 10 knots at 7AM.  After coming all this way, we were confined to fishing the east side of St Joseph.  We landed no Kings but did boat 6 coho salmon.  By noon we headed back to Craig for full provisions and dinner at the Shelter Cove Lodge.

Sunday, August 1, 2016: Craig to Natzuhini Bay

We provisioned for our expected 5-day cruise to Ketchikan and departed Craig by noon.  The plan is to  fish salmon along the way to Natzuhini Bay near Hydaburg.  There we will soak the crab traps overnight.  Seems like crabs are always near native villages, and funny thing is, sea otters aren't.

First we trolled along the eastern side of Bucareli Bay just beyond Point Tranquil.  We caught and returned two small cohos.  We then moved across Ulloa Channel to Cangrejo Point and found a great fishing spot in the waters between the point and the small group of nearby islets.  There we landed 5 coho and a 33-inch King salmon.  Actually Marvin landed the big King and barbecue will be light tonight.

At 2pm we pulled the lines and headed down Ulloa Channel to insure we crossed Tlevak Passage near slack current.  We coasted through Tlevak Pass with a 2-knot push into Tlevak Strait.  Eventually we turned to port into South Pass headed towards Hydaburg.  We continued past Hydaburg into the sparsely charted Natzuhini Bay, setting our traps near the Bay head at the river outflows. By 9PM we were enjoying fresh caught fillet of King salmon, barbecued to excellence.

Monday, August 2, 2016:  Natzuhini Bay to Nichols Bay

With our bellies still filled with King salmon, it was tough arising.  So afterour 10am start we hauled the crab traps.  Yikes!  The cages were filled to the grill with male Dungeness crabs.  We selected 10 of the largest and returned the rest.

Our goal today is Jackson Island off the near the SE end of Tlevak Strait.  As we motored, Alex cleaned the crab, we fired up the convection hot plate and boiled a pan of saltwater with crab boil mix.  It took two boils in our largest crab pot to complete the cooking.  Once seawater cooled, the crew picked, and picked, and picked crab, until it was again time to fish.

We trolled Jackson and Lacey Islands for a couple hours with just a couple cohos then motored southeast looking for a secure anchorage as big winds were starting to fill in.  We tried Leading Point, Hessa Inlet and Buschmann Pass anchorages but all had a bunch of wind or irregular bottoms.  We finally bit the bullet and made time to Nichols Bay nearer to Cape Chacon, enjoying Vince's crab meat pasta along the way: totally spectacular!

At 10PM we entered Nichols Bay under the floodlights as night was falling.  Our first anchor set left us just too close to the big rock in the NW cove.  We had to re-set, and eventually shut off the engine after 11PM.  At 2AM we were awoken by the floods from an 120-foot commercial fishing vessel setting up next to us for a seiner opening.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016:  Nichols Bay to Ketchikan

By 7:30 this morning, we raised the anchor slowly as the windlass was making a low grinding noise.  The winch pulled so much current that the 250-amp breaker popped!  Once the anchor was secured, we made way to Ketchikan.  We'll need a backup anchor system for the Ketchikan crew.

This was a day early end to our fishing expedition but the freezer had so much fresh processed fish, it could not reach freeze temperature.  In town we will take the fish to a processor and pay a fee to have it frozen and boxed for air travel.  The ocean and winds at the Cape and across Clarence Strait were placid.  We cruised by seiners readying for a south Prince of Wales Island opener.  But otherwise it was quite an uneventful 6-hour motor.  By 1:30 we spied open dock space at "hard to get" City Float in the downtown zone.  We quickly parked before someone else did, facing the cruise ship float.

Now here's the best part of the Marvin, Vince and Lee crew, who was thinking of future crews.  Having caught the elusive crab with salmon heads as bait, we ended up with a rather large package of the cheapest chicken thighs, an excellent crab bait.  Even though there was lots of crab on hand to dine on, the crew thought it best to season and barbecue those chicken thighs!  After 45 minutes on a rather greasy and semi-controlled fire, the charred (but delicious) thigh remains were served to a hungry crew.  Needless to say the next Wild Blue crew will be most thankful that crab remains.

As always we enjoyed our time with Vince the chef, and Marvin the fisherman, and new crew Lee, the fish processor....

No comments:

Post a Comment