Horizon West | Sitka, Alaska Guides & OutfittersHorizon West - Sitka,  Alaska

Alaska Fishing Report

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FIRST  Fish Blog (late) for2018

Welcome campers, to Horizon West camp 2018. We’ve been working hard to get the tents (boats) ready or shipshape as we like to call it.                                                                                                                                           With operations finally up and running, I thought I’d take a minute and bring all you campers up to speed.

 First, my apologies for being late, which has been brought to my attention more than once. But I have a good excuse and very original. The dog ate my blog. You may find it hard to believe but it’s true. After the digestive process, what was left, wasn’t worth printing so I waited until the air cleared to write it again.

Peggy and I, along with our new operations manager, Mark Diaz, arrived in Sitka on April 28th. We set about putting camp together. By the way, did ya’ll get the memo about our new operations manager? Well, in a stroke of pure genius, Peggy and I decided to make our long time Captain, Mark Diaz, operations manager paving the way for him to start the process of taking over the business.                                                                            Backed into a corner, with the threat of castration and disembowelment hanging over him, he excitedly accepted. We also had to agree to hang around for 5 years or death us due part, whichever comes first. Mark also agreed to name his first born after us. Gipple Diaz, has a nice ring to it don’t you think? Poor kid.

Anyway, after much spit and polish, we started out the season breaking in some new motors and a new Captain on some less than stellar fishing.                                                                                                                        We promoted Ben Rudolph, who decked for Capt. James Hollingshead, to captain this year and he caught on in no time. Knowing our program from the last couple of years, you would never know that he was a first year captain.

The King salmon fishing was predicted to be challenging this year, and to date, that prediction has proven to be true. We are working hard for each and every King that hits the deck. So far, we’ve been averaging about 2 chinook a day per boat, which means you have some days where we got limits, but also have had days where there was no salmon in the boat when it returned to the dock. We are hoping that this year is just starting out slow and things will be picking up shortly. The catches have improved the last couple of days, so keep your fingers crossed.

On a positive note, Halibut and bottom dweller fishing has been great. It’s been kind of a flip/flop year. Normally we go out and spend a couple of ours catching 8-12 salmon, and then spending the rest of the day looking for bottom fish. This year so far, halibut limits have been in minutes sometimes, and all day searching the briney deep for something that is silver sided. To quote a famous person, “fishing Sitka is like a box of chocolates, you just never know what you’ll get”.

Since I’m spending more time as captain on the huntress, I don’t have a handle on the day to day reports like I use to, so Captain Mark will be stepping in as a guest blogger to help me fill the gaps. I’m sure his blogs will make more sense than mine. Most of the words he uses are actually in the dictionary and can be used in a mixed crowd.

Until next time, stay healthy, spend time with family and friends, and keep wishin’ to go fishing.

Bruce Gipple

Supreme ruler of the Huntress

Legend in my own mind, (taking a page out of Trumps book)

 

 

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Fishing Report #2  

 

Hello everyone, this is Captain Mark Diaz filling in for Bruce. I know how much you look forward to his weekly fishing report and hope I can fill the void while he’s away on the Huntress. The truth is, my lack of any literary talent is just one of the many reasons I chose fishing as my primary occupation. I’m currently sitting in my apartment with Merle (my dog) wondering how in the world I’m going to match up to the standards your all so accustomed to. I’ve asked him for some advice and maybe even a proof read, but all he’s done is chew on my fingers and flop lazily down on his bed. Guess I’m flying solo on this one!

I often roll my eyes when I hear catchy phrases like “When Life gives you lemons…” yet here I am, attempting to pour sugar on something that’s relatively sour. If you read last week’s blog then you’re aware of our struggles when It comes to capturing the elusive King Salmon. Unfortunately, to date, not much has changed. Our guys leave the dock every morning optimistic that today is the day our chinook show up, and thus far the struggle continues. This is not to say that we aren’t catching any Kings, it’s just important to us that we set a reasonable level of expectation. If chinook are your priority species, you can expect to put in a LOT of time either mooching or trolling for your opportunities.

The good news is that Black Rockfish and Halibut fishing has been on fire! We’ve also managed to boat several nice keeper sized Lings and even some Black Cod in recent trips.

Fortunately for you and me both, we have some of the best crew on the Island (pardon my bias). Our senior Captains James Hollingshead, and Kyle Parks know how to find fish, and always go the extra mile for their passengers. Ben Rudolf, in his first season as Captain, is fishing like a veteran and holding his own with the rest of the Fleet. Our deckhands and land crew also deserve an honorable mention. We are very fortunate to have the team that we do here at Horizon West as they are sure making things fun in spite of the low salmon numbers.

I will try to make this report a weekly occurrence, I only hope that the next time around I’ll have more to report on. Thank you all for your interest and for your business. I look forward to seeing you on the dock!

Captain Mark Diaz

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Blog FOR THE 4TH week June 2018

Welcome to the weekly or bi-weekly (depending on how attentive the blogee’ happens to be) blog for Horizon west.

This week, on top of answering all question on Sitka’s hot fishing, I will debunk that age old myth on hair loss for men. For year I have, like so many others, thought that my slightly thinning hair (depending on how fogged up the mirror is I’m looking at), was due to my genetics, however after the last few weeks, I now believe it’s directly related to our King Salmon fishing. You can only scratch your scalp so much wondering where the Kings are before you start to have some hair loss.

 

Here we are in the last week of June, and we’re still waiting for the big push of Chinook which should have shown up weeks ago. The numbers are still not here. Averages have changed very little from the previous weeks. Actually, that’s not true. The averages for King Salmon have actually doubled this past week, from .75 Kings per boat a day, to 1.5 Kings per boat a day. Anytime catches double is pretty exciting, don’t you think?

 

 There is always bright spots and you have to be optimistic. Just 4 days ago, Capt. James Hollingshead fishing on board the Rukus, with Beverly McConaghy (aka, the Pitbull), who is just south of 59 years old (I’m not getting in trouble again), maneuvered into a group of 12 boats. Capt. James hooked 8 Kings and landed 4 of them! Now out of the rest of those boats there was only a total of 2 more fish caught. There was a lot of skill involved, and a little or a lot of luck involved. It just goes to show you that you never know, unless you go, what you’re gonna get.   

                                                                                                                                                      

 I also heard a rumor yesterday that the Chinook showed up 2 days ago north of us off of Elfin Cove, so maybe there is still hope. One thing about fishing up here, Hope and big schools of fish, can be just one tide change away.

 

 On top of that, the Coho are finally starting to make an appearance. Still not in big numbers, but at least they’re coming. And we are so happy to see them.  

 We have also discovered a new salmon species called a Big Eyed Coho, or Okie Coho for short. They look a lot like a Chum salmon, taste like a chum, but after our tough June, we are really excited to see these new fish. Some people might call this rebranding, but I Prefer to call it desperate.

 

Enough of all the salmon cheer, let’s move on to the really bright spot, BOTTOM DWELLERS. Thank god for those creatures from the black lagoon that have been doing such a great job of making up for the tough salmon action. Halibut have been very plentiful, with pretty easy limits of perfect size fish.  

There’s also been a few nice 100 plus pound flatties caught and released, but mostly there’s lots and lots of Butts. And for those willing to brave the 700' depths, some nice catches of black cod to go along with the Sea Bass and other fish. 

There has also been an uptick in the number of keeper size Sea Dragons (Lings) that have been boated.

 

 Well that’s about all for this week folks. My 2 good brain cells are starting to sweat, so it’s time for my new hobby, SPORT NAPPING.                                                                                                                                              

Until next week, when someone with more common sense than me, Captain Mark Diaz, will be back. Be good.

Bruce

 

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UPDATE JULY 15TH

 

Hello everyone! Mark here again to fill you in on what’s happening these days in Sitka. I’m sure by now you’re more than aware of our struggles in the salmon department. June came and went without the anticipated arrival of any large numbers of Chinook. Our ‘weekly’ blog hasn’t been so ‘weekly’ due to the redundant nature of what we’ve had to report on. “No salmon yet… still catching halibut…”

 

Fortunately, I now have something to talk about! Through the last week of June and the first week of July we slowly started to build on Coho numbers. We were cautious to get over excited about just a few salmon, but it appears now that we truly have cause for celebration. A substantial number of fish hit the coast last week and seem to be sticking around. Most days we aren’t getting that coveted limit (6 fish per person) but we are catching enough to keep it fun and to put some meat in the freezer. To make things even better, these fish have been what I consider above average size for this time of year. Many are 8-12 pounds with thick shoulders and a lot of horsepower. After the season we’ve had, we’ll take any bonus we can get.

 

As always, I feel compelled to compliment our staff here at HW. The Captains, Deckhands, Processor, lodge ladies and of course Mrs. Peggy (who works harder than any human I know) all put in a lot of effort to keep things running smoothly.

 

Most of all though, I want to take a moment to compliment our customers. Many of you have fished with us before and have seen this fishery at its best. The positive responses that we’ve received so far, in spite of the lower fish numbers has been overwhelming. It is a true testament to your loyalty as friends and to your understanding as sportsmen. Everything in nature runs in cycles. We enjoy the peaks and endure the valleys. I truly appreciate you all for taking the ride with us.

 

Here’s to a great second half of the season!

 

 

Mark Diaz

 

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Fishing Report July 28th

 

I hate excuses! If I show up late for work it’s probably because I snoozed the alarm until my phone lost all hope in me and just quite trying (it’s only happened once this season). I’ve found that honesty is always the best policy whenever I fall short on people’s expectations of me. Which is why I now want to come clean as to why I haven’t written a post in two weeks…

 I’VE BEEN BUSY CLEANING FISH!!!!!!

That’s right, there are a LOT of hungry mouths out there right now and it’s all I can do to keep up with the boys at the fillet table. I’m wiped out by the time we get things cleaned up and make it back to the house (maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that I hate excuses).

 

The Coho bite has been outstanding the past few trips and the body size of these fish is nothing short of impressive (many at or above the 10lb mark). Even more great news is that some chinook have shown up to play. One of our last groups, fishing on Ocean Storm with Captain Ben Weiland caught eight kings in three days with one that tipped the scales at 32lb (Way to go Dom). The kings are still unpredictable and difficult to target but its sure nice to know that there’s a few around.

 

Bruce and the crew have been running every week on the Huntress. They leave early Monday morning and return Friday afternoon. It sure looks like they’re having fun out there. They docked the boat yesterday with a beautiful limit of silvers, which is just a cherry on top after a full week of cruising, shrimping, freshwater fishing and exploring. Everyone came back with big smiles and even bigger fish stories.

 

Well its getting late and my eyelids are telling me it’s time to go to bed. I’ll do my best to get you more regular fishing reports for the remainder of the season. Until then, be safe and keep your lines tight.

Thanks For Your Business

Mark Diaz