On the 21st we arrived in Sitka at midnight and set the anchor. On the 23rd April and Joe dropped me off on a floatplane heading to Port Alexander. I was lucky, it was the first clear day of the month, plus, just me and the pilot were on the plane so I got to ride in the front seat. When I got to Port Alexander, Finn, Odin, and Torin came down to the floatplane dock (which is just a extension to the regular dock) to greet me. Finn, Odin, and my Aunt Kaiti were visiting from Chico. They were staying in the upstairs of my grandparent’s cottage (in Port Alexander we call it the cottage), my grandparents were staying in the downstairs. That day we played outside on the beach all day. That night we had sushi for dinner. For the whole time I was there, I slept at Sage and Torin’s house. On my 3rd day there, we were playing on the beach when this farmer/fisherman named Jamie came by the lodge and dropped off 3 black and white ducks for Sage and Torin to care for. They already had a brown, black, and white duck so there was almost one for everyone to take down to the beach to feed sand fleas.* The next day was Odin’s 8th birthday. In honor of his birthday, we had a beach fire and hot dogs for dinner and a white cake with stripes of berry filling shaped like a poop emoji. It was the best cake ever. On the 28th, April and Joe came to Port Alexander. The next day we left to go fishing.
*Sorry, the picture equipped with this entry is outdated. The duck in this picture has passed away, but it has similar coloring to the black and white ducks I mentioned above.
We started this trip with sea lions in the morning and orcas in the afternoon. Sea Lions are hard to fish around, they pluck the fish off our lines and are very destructive to the gear. Orcas are lovely to fish around, we don’t see them very often so it is a real treat.
We trolled to the fishing area that had been our destination but rather than anchor and try our luck in the morning plans changed and we charged off in the sunset. Really. It was one of the few sunsets that we have seen this summer. It was gorgeous and Ocean and I watched for the green flash as it set over the Pacific. We ran for a couple hours then Joe turned off the engine right where we were. A flat calm night is a good excuse to drift instead of anchor, get far enough offshore to not drift onto it but close enough to stay out of the cruise ship lane. We woke up to see a little sun on the glacier. There we were fishing below an enormous glacier carving its way to the beach. We found a spot to fish a whole 4 days. Making a full trip. Much better than last short trip and always easier when you are on the fish.
Last night I went to bed exhausted. I woke up with the Advil bottle right next to my pillow. We were tied to the fuel dock in Sitka waiting for morning fuel. Luckily fuel dock first thing is late compared to troller first thing so in addition to a free tie up we got to sleep in. We fished cohos for 3 days then decided it was time for an area change. But we were also exhausted, more worn out than we should have been after the first 3 days of relatively easy fishing. Exhaustion is a trolling reality that we need to adjust to again. Finding the fine line between just enough sleep and non-stop fishing. The line between days fished and days off. Enough days fishing to make money but enough days off to keep on fishing. I ran into a first year fisherman in the hall today and we had a discussion about finding your own pace. Then he told me about his elbow aches. I probably should have told him how I had to ice my hands after the first day and sleep with an Advil bottle but it isnt big news, just a troller reality. Tonight I am being gently rocked to sleep in a beautiful anchorage near a new fishing grounds counting the fish we haven’t caught yet. Tomorrow we will find out if it is still the big smash or maybe it is yesterday’s big smash. All I need is for us to find our troller pace and have a healthy, safe and fishy 5 day trip.
July 1: After all the excitement and anticipation the first day was a bit of a mediocre let down. It was so slow in the afternoon I had time to finish the book I was reading.
July 2: The standout for us. We didn’t expect much after the first days dismal performance but for lack of a better idea had decided to stick and stay. By 10 am we had what we had the day before. By the end of the day we doubled it. Monkey got his sea legs. He started eating and drinking again. That was a relief. At noon the 3 day fog and drizzle blanket finally broke and at sunset we saw a little pinky orange sky.
July 3: On the third day we learned it would close at midnight on the fourth day. So to make the most of it we fished a “morning” spot, then stacked it and ran to an “evening” spot. It worked out ok but we almost missed the “sleeping” spot.
July 4: We still had a decent scratch right where we were. At dusk Joe decided he could finally pull the gear in and let his favorite fishery be over until the second one in August. We anchored, slept in and sold our fish to our favorite tender. By dinner we were tied to the dock in PA and Ocean was roasting hot dogs with his cousins. Short and sweet would be a good way to sum up the opening.