Sunday, June 30, 2013

#2013-34 Return to King City

After a good night's sleep we once again began trolling off Port Banks about mid-morning.  We also fish off Krishka Island and our old favorite King City.  We boat many Cohos and by 3PM we are releasing large King salmon.  The crew has reached their daily limit of one King salmon each, as well as the annual King limit of 3 each, on the very last day possible.  It's back up the Small Arm for the evening. After the fish cleaning and vacuum bag sealing, we sit down to Willie's Sashimi and clam linguine.  Awesome!

Eagle watches over our fishing.
Fish cleaning just like cleaning chickens, says Joe!

Fresh Coho salmon sashimi in soy with capers.
Baby shrimp over salad greens then clam linguine.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

#2013-33 Emergency Fishing Order Flop

On June 26th the Alaska Fish and Game issued an Emergency Order opening up a section of Silver Bay for King salmon sports fishing.  Luckily (not), Alex just happened to peruse the AFG website and discovered the 3-day old Order. This order was unique because any King salmon landed did not count towards a fisherman's annual limit.  The current annual King limit was 3, dropping to 2 by Jun 30th, then just 1 by July 15th.  Silver Bay is just a 30 minute run south of Sitka, keeping us close to port.  So with visions of landing countless King salmon, we shoved off at 6AM for a full fishing day.  We began trolling just after 6:30 surprised not to see a gaggle of sports-fishers choking Silver Bay.  

This was not Whale Bay fishing.  The first 3 hours were biteless.  It took until near noon to land a fish, and it wasn't a King.  We struggled through to 2:30 finally giving up.  

Realizing we were spoiled, we headed into Sitka to provision for another Whale Bay expedition.  We were off the dock again at 5:30PM and made it into Still Harbor at Whale Bay by 10PM sunset, enjoying flat seas the last 7 miles. It had been a long day, the crew was ready to sleep in.
The Sitka to Whale bay route runs through narrow passes with
 flat waters for 25 of the 32 mile run, the last 7 miles in open ocean.

Friday, June 28, 2013

#2013-32 Fishing at 500 Feet, then Sitka Civilization.

On Friday we pulled two crab traps set last night and scooped up three large male crabs.  They were boiled before breakfast and ready for a crab taco lunch.  We returned to the Port Banks fishing ground and bagged several Cohos in less than an hour before putting out to sea, 4 miles northwest of Whale Bay in open ocean.  At 500 feet deep the location is considered a Halibut Hole.  We have just one rod rigged for DEEP water fishing and Willie dropped a white-wiggly lead head to the bottom.  We drifted along for a half-hour in the relatively flat sea without a hint of breeze.  Willie hooked up spending the better part of twenty minutes getting the monster form the deep up topside.  Expecting a Halibut we were surprised to land a very pretty yellow eye.  These fish are said the be over 50 years old for the 20-pound size Willie landed.

 It was time to get our fish into Sitka for processing and freezer storage and prepare for a night at the Sitka Summer Music Festival.  After crab tacos we hit the road.

Mike, Joe and Willie hold a 20-pound Yellow Eye.
Yummy crab tacos.
Salmon transporters haul fish to processors so trollers can stay out longer.
Sea Otter is surprised by the big blue hull. 
The route to Sitka winds through narrow but protected passes.
We enjoyed an early dinner won-tons, avocado shrimp salad, risotto, and fried Coho salmon bits. By 6PM we were on our way to the Sitka Summer Music Festival.  The Wild Blue crew had cleaned up.  Willie wore a new Hawaiian shirt with clean walking shorts.  And he hosed off his flip-flops so even they were sparkling, or at least without fish guts.  We were in our front row seats for the pre-concert orientation.  The presentation was a bit slow and Willie, as expected, began nodding his head.  Tonight's performance was videoed for later release, so Joe was assigned to keep Willie from snoring.  Joe did a great job and we all enjoyed pianist Natasha Paremski, violist Kirsten Docter, cellist Zuill Bailey, and cellist Melissa Kraut in a brilliant classical music performance.

Avocado shrimp salad, risotto, and fried Coho salmon bits.
Willie's spicy won-tons

Thursday, June 27, 2013

#2013-31 Another Great Day of Fishing Whale Bay

On Thursday we awoke in our Port Banks anchorage and retrieved the two crab traps we set last week.  They contained 7 days of emptiness, but the morning was enlightened by the site of a moving brown rock just along the shore.  This furry rock was busy turning over other heavy gray rocks in search of edibles.  So we diverted the tender close ashore for some exciting Brown bear close-ups.  Mister Bear was not in the least disturbed by us humanoids.

Brown rock turns into Brown bear.
Brown bears can not be bothered by close humans.
Yum!  Something under that rock looks good.
Anchored at Port Banks
 After breakfast we got back to fishing just outside Port banks in flat calm weather and water.  The bite was on and by noon we hand our daily King limit plus so many Cohos that the fish cleaning crew, Willie and Joe, would be overburdened.  Joe caught a pretty good-sized salmon and we anchored in Kristoi Basin for lunch.  After lunch we headed to Small Arm anchorage for the evening.
Joe's BIG King.
Landing a Coho Salmon.

Cigar-smoking King.

After a several rounds of refreshment during the heavy fish cleaning session, Willie still was able to prepare a dynamite dinner that included fresh King Salmon Sashimi and giant prawns New Orleans style.

Willie's King Salmon Sashimi.
Willie's Prawns a la New Orleans.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#2013-30 The Cal Poly College Roommates Arrive

June 24, 2013

This afternoon three of Alex's college buddies arrived in Sitka for our annual fishing cruise on Wild Blue. Willie Benedetti, Joe Cebe. Mike Celentano and Alex are alumni of Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, members of the 1970 and 1971 graduating classes. As expected we did have fun in college, and each year we reflect on those wild "learning" times. Surprisingly, all of us ended up in business for ourselves: Willie runs turkey ranching, restaurant and poultry products business; Joe runs a specialty chicken ranching business selling live chickens to the Asian and Hispanic markets; Mike has a CPA Auditing Practice for governments and non-profits, and Alex has a real estate and lodging business  This is our 4th time crewing together on the Wild Blue.

As always, Willie arrives with a GIANT cooler full of food: smoked chicken, duck breast, chicken thighs, prawns, salad shrimp, seasonings, salad dressing, croutons, ribs, steaks, whole chickens and a couple bottles of his favorite beverage, cranberry juice.  Seems we're always running out of cranberry juice on the the boat when Willie is around.  He leaves all this food behind in hopes of filling his cooler with fish.  To that end Alex breaks the news to the new crew: the local fishing sucks but we found some good spots in Whale Bay.  So provision the boat tonight with fresh food, bait, hooks, leader, nose clips, lots of ice and beverages and we'll get an early start tomorrow.

June 25, 2013

We're on the way by 8am headed for the Bay.  The last hour in the Gulf, the seas are 5 feet but coming from the starboard aft quarter so the ride is OK.  We arrive and begin trolling out in front of Port Banks, an area that is protected form the ocean swells.  Soon we have 2 kings aboard both over 32 inches.  Later we move down to King City and land a 33-inch King.  We're done for the day and head over to anchor on the eastern shore of Port Banks.  As soon as the boat is anchored Willie is ready to serve a delicious baked chicken dinner.  

Surfbird shared the fish with us in Whale Bay.  A nice group charter boat.
Willies Baked Chicken
Salad with shrimp topping, potatoes, and dressing accompany
the half chicken.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

#2013-29 Cape Edgecomb Fishing and Chamber Music Concert

June 21, 2013

Friday morning we gave Sitka local fishing one more try.  We fished just inside Cape Edgecomb under the ever-present Mount Edgecomb, an extinct volcano.  The fish were there but not in the numbers to which we've become accustomed, as we have been spoiled by Whale Bay fishing.  By 3pm we headed into the harbor and a night of Chamber Music at the Sitka Music Festival.

Great classical musicians at the Sitka Music Festival.
The decorations aren't too bad either.
On Friday we heard music composed by Stravinsky, Batok, and Brahms. On Saturday we heard music from Chopin and Brahms again. Great musicians led to super performances.

June 22, 2013

Saturday was boat clean up day.  All the crew pitched in and Wild Blue is clean again for Monday's arriving guests. 

It's been great fun fishing, dining and hanging out with Roger, Dave and Sid.  If Roger will start taking swimming lessons, we can do it again next year!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

#2013-28 King City Revisited

There was no question where to fish today. King City is it.  We fished until noon and departed for Sitka to get our fish to the processor before the end of business.

This week we've consumed some kind of fish every day.  Here's a short list of our "fishy" epicurean adventures:
Barbecue marinated king salmon on cedar plank
Steamed king salmon in pouch
Barbecue grilled king salmon.
Salt and Sugared Gravlax Coho "Lox"
Salmon salad sandwich
Whale Bay salmon and fish soup
Baked salmon bellies
Crab enchiladas
Fresh warm crab
Baked Black Cod

Another fine coho salmon dinner.
Crab quesadillas and variations..
Cod and king dinner.
The Coast Guard rescue is always at sea or in the air.
The bridge marks the return to Sitka Harbor.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

#2013-27 King City: The Grapes of Wrath.....NOT!

Out of The Small Arm early, we decided to set crab traps in a place that looked to be favorable in Port Banks.  There's a fresh water outflow from a river on the east shoreline.  After the traps were soaking, we began trolling again along the north shore of the Whale Bay entrance.  We landed several cohos then moved down to the shoreline between the Small Arm and Great Arm.  There's a spot there at 56 37.5 N, 134 58.82 W we have named King City!  Each time we crossed that spot we hooked a king, on three consecutive passes, and a 4th king after a couple blank passes.  No Grapes of Wrath in this King City, just many rich King salmon.  We reached our daily limit and headed to Port Banks for the evening. Our crab traps again were empty.

Four kings, some coho and a black cod.
Dave only has to clean 10 fish today, not 17 like yesterday.

Dave was in a filleting mode so we packaged the king salmon.

Baked salmon bellies, black cod, salad and fish soup. Delicious.
The river that flows into Port Banks is a spawning salmon waterway.
Wild Blue anchored in the river delta.
Crab retrieval team.

Nice crab retrieval form.  Be nice if there were some crabs here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

#2013-26 Back to Whale Bay

Yesterday, the crew took the day off from fishing, to the relief of many salmon, and toured Sitka.   By day's end the boys had located the local Elks Club Lodge and payed a visit with the Exalted Ruler.  Roger, Dave and Sid are all "Elkies" and are experts at the Elks Hailing Sign.  Their Signing improved as the drinking progressed.  Non-member Alex was coerced into ringing a bell, not once but twice, causing everyone present in the Elks Lodge to receive two rounds of drinks, on Roger, Dave and Sid.

Dave, Roger, The Sitka Elks Exalted Ruler, Sid and Alex

On Tuesday we got going at 5am to do some local Sitka fishing.  In 30 minutes were at the Rock Pile known as Vitskari Rocks.  We had landed a King there last week and wanted to see if more were around. By 8 without a bite, it was unanimous. F--- this! Let's head back to Whale Bay.  We arrived at the Bay at noon dropped our line along the northern shore, just inside.  Before the down-rigger ball was down to depth, the bell was ringing.  Dave landed a nice 34-inch king.  We fished the Bay until 4pm and anchored back in beautiful Small Arm.

Dave's nice king.
Yacht Golden Boy anchored inside Kristoi Basin.
This trip to the Bay, we seemed to be fishing near Jamie Jo a lot.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

#2013-25 Give Us This Day, Our Daily.......Limit!

It's Sunday and we should be in church. Just can't make it today, so we'll worship on the water in our beautiful and natural surroundings.  The choir is ready for our favorite hymn.  All together now....FISH ON!

Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the limits for all fisherman.  Alaska residents have no limit.  We non-residents are allowed 1 King per day up to 3 fish per year, if caught before June 30th.  So when the bite's on, we have to stop landing Kings after one per fisherman, or 4 total for the day.  As soon as we get our King salmon daily limit, were headed back to Sitka to get our fish into processing.  So just give us our daily limit......  Luckily we can keep up to 6 coho salmon per day per fisherman.

What fish we've caught takes Dave a long time to clean.  It takes much longer to fillet it all then vacuum package it.  Even so, the Wild Blue just doesn't have the freezer space for so much fish. So the cleaned fish is iced down and kept in coolers.  It will be filleted and packaged in Sitka by a private seafood processor and stored frozen until ready to ship home.

Today we fish at the entrance to Great Arm and the shoreline between Great and Small Arms.  The bell is ringing all day long.  As the morning wears on, we've landed many Cohos, 3 Kings but one shy of our daily limit.  We've lost 8 fish due to broken line, poor netting, smart fish and too tight reel brakes.  But the bell keeps ringing and by 1pm we're talking crab enchiladas again.  We pull into Kristoi Basin and anchor for lunch.  An hour later is fish time again, yet we need to head north by 5pm to make high tides in the narrows.  Just give us our daily limit.  At departure time, we just can't find that last King, even so it's been a record setting day!

Roger is King for a day.

Dave's King.

Roger's 35-inch salmon weighed 19 pounds.

3 King and 14 Coho for 17 fish total, 
a new Wild Blue daily record, but
we missed our King limit by one!

Just before 8pm we crept into Kliuchevoi Bay aka Hot Springs Bay and set the hook.  Dave and Roger began cleaning fish. We'll make Sitka tomorrow and get our fish to the processor and then we're taking the rest of the day off.  Anybody for a barbecue fresh salmon dinner?

Fresh barbecued King salmon for dinner.

Served with the appropriate accouterments, of course.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

#2013-24 Whale Bay's Small Arm is a new favorite anchorage.

Coast Pilot states "The depths are too great to afford anchorage."  The Douglass guide states "Small Arm may offer reasonable anchorage...".  Sounds discouraging, however in our opinion, Small Arm is one of the finer anchorages in SE Alaska, especially for the magnificent views..  We anchored in about 6 fathoms on the south side of the bitter end, tucked just behind the small peninsula.  It was out of any wind and quite secure.  We asked others who have anchored there and they too have had great experiences.

A pretty morning in the Small Arm.
Dave takes in the morning sun.
Amazing views of snow-capped mountains.
Shore excursion shows westerly view up to Small Arm's elbow.
We're up at 7am and with the crabs collected last night and today, we're ready for a crab breakfast. Fresh sweet crab is quite good when cooked with Pappy's seasoned saltwater.  Served with butter and mayonnaise, Sid reminds us he has extra and will sell us gout tablets for $100 each!

Crabs in a cage.
Crabs a cookin'.
What patience to pluck all the crab meat before a taste!
Even with all this sunny morning's activities, we are still able to get fishing by 9am. We troll back and forth across Whale Bay in warm weather and flat waters. We have a lazy day of fishing shagging a King or two and a few Cohos, but there's talk of crab enchiladas tonight, and a possible Alaskan trifecta.  The trifecta is three species caught on the same day.  Today we've caught salmon, crab and, if our traps don't fail us, prawns. The last trifecta on Wild Blue occurred in 2009 at Lituya Bay when we caught salmon, halibut and prawns. By 2pm we're headed back up the Arm to pull prawn traps.  The champagne is on ice.  Is it a trifecta?  A BIG no....the prawns aren't in the Arm for us.  Hopefully we can suffer through the rest of the day on fresh salmon with sweet crab enchiladas.  Hey Sid, any of those gout pills left?

Chef Dave preps his famous crab enchiladas. 

So good the crew demanded a repeat performance for tomorrow's lunch.