The July first king opening is an important one. Kings are much more valuable than coho. Most people, given a choice, will choose a king salmon over a coho. They are big tasty fish. With a prospects of a decent price and good weather, anyone with any kind of boat and a power troll permit will be out fishing on July first. The opening might last 5 days, maybe a couple days longer. There is a certain number of fish that the regulators are allowing all the power trollers as a fleet to catch. It is our goal to get as many of those as possible into the hold of the Caribou. Picking the right place to start on the first day is pretty important. We can have our pick of any spot between Dixon entrance and Yakutat. You can fish right next to the rocky shoreline. Or 7 miles off shore. You can even go 60 miles offshore to the fairweather grounds. Lots of fish have been caught in almost any area. Popular spots have their own local names, the mushroom or the double 40s. Both named for what the contour lines on the chart look like. Some fishermen go right to their favorite spots. Some fishermen like us, without years of experience and confidence, spend a couple days looking for a place that looks fishy. This looking around has its own challenges and uncertainty. A lot of area, a ticking clock, and we are looking for something we can’t see.
We arrived in Sitka 48 hours ago. Our trip up from PA was pretty sloppy, we were running with a 20-25 knot southerly, not a lot of weather but after a bucolic month in Chatham we needed to get our sea legs back. The Bonine really helps, even Monkey gets Bonine these days. 7:30 pm. We arrived at Sitka just in time for the cheap tie up at the fuel dock. They were closed and we needed fuel in the morning. They don’t seem to notice you spend the night there if you spend a few thousand dollars on fuel the next morning.
8 pm. Happy time on the Duna. Calm night on the back deck to catch up with friends and eat Duna snacks. It feels good after a day of rolling around on the ocean.
10 pm. Make it to the grocery store in time to get the traditional back to town ice cream.
11 pm. Bed time. Whew.
5:30 am!! The fuel dock attendant is knocking on the side of the boat with the fuel nozzle in hand. Whoops. We thought they opened at 8.
8 am. Tied to the real dock. Time to start shoveling the ice out of the hold. Joe gets on the phone to find the part we need for the autopilot.
12:30. Still shoveling, at my own pace.
2:00. Ocean visits with some friends his own age from the Sea Lion. Lego playing happening.
3:00 Sea trial the auto pilot. Working!
6:00. Get the boat filled with nice cold town ice.
8:00. Hurry out for dinner. The streets roll up early around here.
9:30. Showers at the SPC fish plant.
I am exhausted. I walk back to Caribou myself. Leave Joe and Ocean to research Pokemon and the weather on the Internet. Tomorrow is bound to be just as busy with grocery shopping and the gear store. We might see cousins Finn and Odin and Kaiti as they pass through Sitka on their way from California to Port Alexander.
Things were on hold for us for a few days until they announced whether or not a nearby area would be open this weekend. Sounds like not so that signals time for us to get ready for July fishing. Compared to June’s relaxed pace and low expectations July is a hectic race. To get ready for the race we are going to Sitka to fill the hold with town ice and town groceries.
We see different wildlife in each area that we fish. On this popular fishing drag in Chatham the Eagles know to keep their eye on us. They have learned that every once in awhile we catch a small shaker fish and as soon as it is off the hook and behind the boat there is an eagle swooping down to get it. Ocean has taken a lot of pictures of the Eagles grabbing the snacks but we are still waiting for the perfect one, it is really impressive to watch. When he gets it he will post it. This was the best one for today.
On June 10th we were in Port Alexander. I was at the lodge and Delila and Teagan came to the lodge to trade two two day day old ducklings for one rabbit pup. (Molly gave them a albino rabbit.) While they were picking out a rabbit (AJ, Cameron, and Mira were at the lodge too) the kids took out the rabbits, played with them, and fed them salmon berries. By Ocean.
We have been out fishing for a few days and we just aren’t catching. When this happens we try to switch gears and just enjoy where we are. Being out here puts us in some cool places. We left PA at first light one morning and the bay was alive with tiny baby salmon “leaping” out of the water. It sounded like rain. At the mouth of the bay a humpback whale was busy eating as many as she could scoop up. That night we anchored in a bay on the Kuiu side of Chatham and watched a wolf walk all the way around on the beach. Tonight we tied up at the forest service dock in Rowan Bay and went for a walk on the logging roads. On the way in we saw lots of otter moms teaching their babies how to be otters. They would watch the Caribou get close and when they decided we were too close they grabbed their baby and held them on their bellies until it was safe again. On our walk we had our eyes out for little black bears, we had seen one on the beach and there was sign on the road, eventually one ran across the road in front of us. To our suprise monkey started to take off after it. He didn’t get far, luckily he responded to Joes calls to stop. It is odd that the old tilted dog who is indifferent to chickens, bunnies, baby mallards, kids climbing on him, and his dog “friends” always nipping at him, has a thing for bears.
Tomorrow it’s back to Port Alexander to barbecue up a fish. As is our tradition we saved our first fish for eating. Maybe it will bring us good luck.