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Alaska Fishing Report

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First Blog for 2017

And so another season begins. I apologize for the late start, but it’s been a busy spring getting things together as usual. But, truth be told, I’ve kind of been stalling hoping for something more exciting to report.

 We’ve been fishing now for about 2 weeks and started off with a trip on the Huntress for primarily Steelhead, with a side of King salmon and Halibut hold the fries. Steelheading was great. With a good snowpack this year, and plenty of water, our destination was Whale Bay, and a small stream in the back end. After a 1 mile hike we found lots of fish, and they were very bitey,( guide term for stupid and liked our offerings). As a bonus, there were plenty of nice trout averaging around 12 -16”. That was the good part of the trip. The bad side was a very snotty ocean that didn’t want to give up her Kings but was willing to let us have some pretty nice Halibut.

 Since then, our lodge boats have been plying the waters of the Gulf of Alaska, in search of a very elusive King Salmon. I can’t really sugar coat it and say anything but - they have been really tough to find and the ones that we are finding are not very big. The boats, with a very experienced returning crews, are averaging 3 -4 kings per boat, per day.

There’s a couple of reasons this is happening I believe. Mostly, this is the delayed effects of Elnino, which because of poor ocean conditions have not had a lot of food to fatten up the fish. There is hope though. Our Columbia River Spring chinook were late in arriving, and the popular thinking is these chinook will follow suit. There’s still plenty of season ahead and I’m sure there’s a big heard just around the corner.

The other bright spot is of course the bottom dwellers. Thank god that they have all been plentiful, and nice sizes too. The Halibut and Sea Bass are running a little bigger this year helping to make up for the Salmon shortage. What’s funny this year is usually we hear, “I’ve got plenty of Salmon, but I need more Halibut”, but this year it’s the exact opposite, with plenty of Halibut (if that’s possible) and we need more Salmon. After 25 years here, you learn, no2 years are the same.

 Well, that’s about it for now. You’re up to speed on the latest and greatest in Sitka Alaska. Stay tuned for next week’s report.

Until then, keep wishin’ to go fishin’

 

Bruce

 

 

 

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Fish Blog for June 18, 2017

You are never too old to learn new tricks. I just didn’t think it would come from the internet.

 I call this new fish catching technique “reverse fish psychology “, and it works like this. You just post a really bad fish report on your blog, wait 2 days, (the fermentation period), and just like magic, the ocean is full of fish. No kidding!

 As you might remember at last report, fishing was not too hot, and I had concerns for our season, but voiced hope that the fish were late and were just around the corner and headed this way. You would think that I was a mind reader or something because lo and behold 2 days later, just like magic the fish showed up. Instead of scratching to get a limit of Kings, the boats were catching and releasing Kings, and even getting steady amounts of Silvers as well, averaging 4-8 Coho a day.

Hopefully that’s a good sign for salmon fishing later on. Still not a lot of size to the Chinook we are catching, but the average is more normal at 18-20 lbs. Still haven’t broken the 30lb mark yet, but no complaints.

One of the highlights this past week was caught on Capt. Mark Diaz’s boat, “Ocean Shadow”.  He got a Salmon - grand slam. All 5 of the Pacific Salmon species in one day. We usually do this every year but not until mid-July, so this is the earliest I can remember.

Most of the bottom fish activity is about the same, with plenty nice fat Halibut. They seem a little thicker this year for some reason, and we are catching lots of oversized ones as well. Limits of Yellow eye also being the norm, and of course the ever popular Sea bass.

Today, the sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky. On top of that, the ocean is flat as a pancake. I think I’ll go work on my tan. I want to look good for Peggy.

Until next week, stay safe and hope to see you soon.

Bruce

 

 

 

 

Fish Blog for the week of June 25th

This last week could almost be a clone to the week before, I thought about just reusing last week’s blog, but hopefully I can do better than that.

 The King activity continues to be good and at times - really good.  The average size at 16-18 pounds hasn’t changed much. I was slicing and dicing at the filet table yesterday when Capt. James threw up a king with some girth.  I said, wow, that’s a big one, and after looking at the Kings we’ve been fileting for so long, I thought it was at least 28 lbs, but when we weighed it, it was a whopping 22lbs. I’ve kind of lost my perspective on size. So even though we are seeing decent numbers of Chinooks, we have yet to break the 30 pound mark. That is really unusual.

The other bright spot continues to be a consistent presence of Silvers. For the last 10 days the Silver action has been steady, starting out with averaging 6-10 a day, and slowly building steam until now that average is more like 10-20 fish per day. Not bad for this early in the season. The Size of these Coho has been a mix with some dandies at 10-12lbs and then some rags at 4lbs.  mixed in. I hope the consistency of Silver action is a positive sign for the months to follow.

 The bottom action has had no change, and should hold steady, weather permitting. The weather has been its usual mix of wind, rain, calm, and of course poopy. Overall I think we’ve had more calm days than not, and the long range looks to be improving.

That’s about all for now. Heading back out on the Huntress tomorrow, so we will check next week for the continuing saga of “as Sitka turns”, part 2, section 7 titled, “the Pitbull is back”.

Stay tuned.

Bruce

 

Fish blog, last week of June 2017

This week was good in a little different way, but there was still lots of fish involved. The King action, which should be in full swing right now, actually slowed a bit, but still able to get our limits, plus. The big problem was that there was a bunch of Silvers in the way, and you had to weed thru them to get your Kings. Coho limits became the rule this past week, not the exception, with a mixing of sizes from jumbo to rags. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen this consistent Silver action this early in the year, so hoping that July and August will be banner Silver fishing this year.

The highlight of this past week was a 30lb White King that was caught by Larry Guerrero, fishing on Ocean Echo, with Capt. Kyle. That’s the first 30 plus pound Chinook landed this year which is a statement on the King sizes in itself.

Keeping it short and sweet this week. I’m on the run. I will be returning to my blog in 2 weeks because I’ll be out of town on a secret mission, (Peggy calls it screwing off. OK, maybe she has a point). I’ll have some catching up to do by then.

Until then, stay safe and hope to see you soon.

Bruce

 

 

Fish Blog for mid July 2017

Well, I’m back from my 13 day hiatus to parts unknown and ready to get back in the middle of it. While I was gone, life here in Sitka moved along smoothly and I’m not sure that anybody noticed me missing.

 The crew, on our 4 day commercial opener break, probably did things that is best that I don’t know about. I do know there was lots of family and friend fishing going on, and fishing was pretty dam good. We resumed normal operations on July 5th, and fishing has been really good ever since. Limits of Silvers and quite often easy and fast limits of Silvers has been the norm until yesterday. King limits also the norm.

Yesterday, the 14th, for some reason, the boats got there Coho but had to work for them, and only found a few Chinooks. But with sunny weather and calm seas, nobody was complaining much, except for the fishing crew that stayed up until 2:30 the night before, go figure. The size of the Kings has continued to improve with an 18-20lb average, which is pretty normal. This year, the year of dinky kings so far, I’m good with that average. The second 30lb King of the year was caught last week on Capt. Kyle Parks boat, ‘Ocean Echo’, by Steve Parks, (may be some genetic link), so hopefully we will continue to see this bigger Chinook trend persist.

 On the bottom fish front, nothing new to report. Lots of decent size flatties, and some oversize. Yellow eye, Sea Bass, and the other odds and ends of sea creatures, are still showing in good numbers.

 Some folks have asked where I went on my not so secret mission, and the answer is Mozambique, Africa.                                                                                                                                   I’m always searching far and wide for new fishing adventure, and after a Report of hot fish action from deck officer Jam Jam, on his recent visit to that continent, I decided to go look for myself. I searched far and wide, and all I found was Crocodiles, lots and lots of big ol’ water lizards. 12’ to 15’ bull Crocs were littering the beaches. Since it was 80 plus degrees in the daytime, I thought about taking a swim, but something in my inner guide told me that might not be a good idea.

Well, since I wasn’t finding any fish, and I just happened to have my Kimber 300WSM with me, (how did that get in my suitcase, I was wondering where that went), I thought I might as well just Shoot one. So I set might sights on a Croc I called “Mr. stumpy”. Now Mr. Stumpy was a 13.4’ lizard with about 1 ½ foot of his tail bitten off. At about 70 years old, he was a crafty old fart, but I was craftier and just as old and farty as him. After 2 days of chasing him around, finally got the best of him. These things didn’t get to be 70 years old by being dumb. Seriously, it was a hell of a hunt and if anybody is interested, give me a call for details. I give 2 thumbs up and it’s a very well run operation.

Well, that’s all for now, it’s time to get back to fishing. Don’t forget to come up and see us.

Until then, stay safe and don’t go swimming in the water.

 Bruce

 

 

 

Fish Blog for 3rd week July, 2017

We start out this week pretty much as last week ended, with lots of Silvers, Chinooks still showing in good numbers but a little more challenging, and bottom fish a plenty. Fast forward to the end of the week and you have still a lot of Coho, Kings starting to thin out somewhat but getting bigger, and still bottom dwellers galore.

OK, that’s the blog for the week. No, I can’t stop there can I? So the 2 things that are worth mentioning are weather and FINALLY, jumbo Kings.

We caught 2 big salmon this week, both on Saturday, and both out of the same area. On Ocean Shadow, with Capt. Mark Diaz, Bill Urban, who has been in this blog before, caught our biggest King to date, a dandy 34 pounder, which this year is more than respectable. Just a few minutes after that, on the Ruckus with Capt. James Hollingshead, Dan Newman bested Bills fish with a 45 pound honker, which is more than respectable any year. Congrats to both fisherman!

The other honorable mention goes to the weather. We have had day after day of calm seas, very little rain. Four days ago, it was so calm out there it was glass smooth with not even a wisp of wind all day long. Needless to say, this has led to some happy smiles on our fishermen, and not a lot of wasted breakfast.

 On the Huntress this last week, we had the Nan Faile group of 4 ladies, and what a great time we had. Lots of ocean fishing, but the highlights of the trip was probably either catching Silvers under a waterfall at Port Banks while holding an aggressive Brown bear at bay.( No problem with pepper spray and a 45-70 to reach out and touch something if needed). Or could have been catching Red salmon in Redfish bay while again holding Yogi Bear at bay. But maybe soaking in a natural hot tub at Goddard hot springs, after a long day of catching fish and a few evening libations is hard to beat. It was a fun time for crew and guest and hope to do it again next year.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m off for another adventure this week to parts unknown. And thats just in my own head. Until next week, be safe and don’t forget to take time to enjoy family and friends.

Bruce

 

     Fish Blog last week July 2017

This last week was one of those weeks that we professional fish blog writers (local union 582 of the fish bloggers union), hate. It was a good week overall, but nothing spectacular happened overall.

 On a year where the Coho run started early and has stayed consistent for 5 weeks, which in itself is pretty spectacular, we saw our first hiccup this week. On Wednesday and Thursday, after days of easy limits of Silvers, the day boats struggled to find a limits of Silvers. You could feel a nervous shudder thru the fleet as every Captain was thinking, since the Coho came early this year, are they going to run out before the end? But Friday dawned with a little shiver of a south wind, and with it the Silvers returned in mass. There were fast limits of the tasty little critters for all, and this new batch of fish had seemed to have grown an extra pound in 2 days. Average weights have creeped up to 8-10 lbs., which is very respectable for this time of year.

 On the chinook front, this week saw nothing special or anything that stands out, boring I know. The boats were averaging 2-4 Kings per trip, about normal for this time of year, with an average size of 18-20lbs, which for this year is a good average. But, there were no Jumbo’s or Donkey Chinook this week, so again boring.

One of the biggest stories this week was the weather. All week, 10 knot winds, 3-4’ seas. I’ve seen beaver ponds with more chop on them. It was a salvation for me on the Huntress. This week, I had 3 couples from Texas, with a combined age of 474 years. Nicest people in the world but they all had one problem, standing up or more importantly not falling over. They were game to fish and catch fish they did, never giving up, they did very well! We made it back Friday with a few bumps and bruises, but no broken bones, I think. Joey and Logan, my crew, saw them off then decided they needed a break. and maybe a beer.

Well, that’s about all for now. Next week’s adventure starts tomorrow and I’m hoping you will be part of it. Who knows, maybe you’ll be in next week’s blog, see you then.

Bruce

 

Fish Blog, first week of August 2017

I’m back again from the southern region of Baranof Island where this last week’s fishing was absolutely amazing. But then again, it’s been pretty much awesome everywhere up here.

This last week the day boats got early and easy limits of Silvers, and the average size is now in the 8-10lb range, which is normal for this time of year. There’s a few more 12-14 pound Coho’s in the mix now and at this rate, the end of the season could be really exciting.

 Kings have continued to drop off a bit, with a 1-2 fish per boat average hitting the docks. As an example, yesterday, 1 boat had 4 kings, one had 2 kings, and 2 boats had none. If you are coming up in the next couple of weeks, all I can tell you is I’m sure the boat you are going to be on is the same one that’s catching all the Kings.  I can’t tell you the name of said boat to protect their identity. Overall, the catches and catch rate are consistent with what we consider a great season.

And if that wasn’t enough, the weather has continued to be unbelievable. Four weeks in a row, with mostly 10 knots or less wind and waves that resemble a ripple rather than a wave. This next week’s is forecasted for more of the same. Life is good, unless you’re a Coho.

That’s it for now. Hope y’all get to come up and get some of this hydro therapy. As good as it’s been, it should be considered illegal. Hope to see you soon.

Bruce

 

 

Fish Blog  2nd week of August   2017

I had this dream -  I’m really young, like you know around 45 years old, and I’m sitting in my little red wagon.( hey, it’s a dream. Cut me some slack here) I’m at the top of this really big hill. I take a deep breath and push off. I’m going faster and faster; my ears are flapping in the wind and my tongue is hanging out and I’ve got a big ol’ grin on my face. All of a sudden, I hear a bang, (now you know it’s a dream, because you know I can’t hear), and I look down and one of my wheels comes off. Then I hear another Bang and guess what, one of my other wheels comes off. Sparks are flying as I slowly come to a stop, ride over. Bummer.

OK, maybe it wasn’t a dream but there were some striking similarities between last week’s report and little red wagons. We started out the week like the last 5 weeks, with clear blue skies, flat calm seas, and Coho’s a plenty. And there were some pretty good Kings still around.  On Wednesday, we see warnings on the horizon. They came from ADF&G in the form of a first ever emergency King Salmon closure. Because of low returns to a lot of systems, they were afraid they wouldn’t meet escapement goals, so down it came.

 I was on the Huntress when word came down, with the Vic Toscana group of rowdy’s. We were fishing in Hoonah Sound catching Big fat football size Silvers. Do you think we could hook a King? No.  Next day when it closed, we moved out front to Kruzof Island and of course couldn’t keep the kings off our lines.

There was one really nice King caught that last open day.  Dan Thompson fishing aboard Ocean Echo, with Capt. Kyle Parks caught a 35 pounder! Nice fish for this late in the season. Great job Dan!

As the story goes, towards the end of the week, silvers started getting a little harder to find, but still getting limits most of the time. Just having to work a little harder for them. By the time the weekend got here, our weather turned to crap (guide term for not very nice), which did effect our ability to catch fish. One good thing though, the Coho are really putting some pounds on right now. Nice 14-16 lb. fish starting to show up more regularly.

That’s about it for now. I’m hoping the weather will improve and the fish will be in a bitey mood. Until next week, be safe.

Bruce