Saturday, August 7, 2010

Trip Recap

Trip Recap:
August 7th,

Now that I've been back for about 2 weeks I can look back on the trip and share some general overall thoughts on the whole experience.

Was it what I thought it was going to be?
Not really but to be honest that was only because I didn't go up there with too many thoughts on what I was getting into. I did know that it was going to be camping on a boat and that is exactly what it was. There were no daily hot shower, there was not much in the way of personal space and it was 6 guys on a 27 foot boat for 7 days. I kind of knew that we'd be spending the whole time fishing but I didn't put too much thought into it and I probably should have. It was 7 days on a boat fishing and I've discovered that I'm not that into fishing. A day or two on the island seeing more of what Kodiak is all about but that is for the next trip. I did think we would be eating more fish but that didn't happen as by the time it came to eat nobody was really in the mood to cook for themselves let alone the group of us. The fish that we did get around to eating was good stuff as you couldn't get it much fresher.

Would I do it again?
That depends on if I get invited back again? Doug and Chris are the regulars as well as Art and Reily as it is their boat. Everybody else are just visitors that happen to be in good standing with Doug and Chris, enough so that they'll ask you to join the trip.

What was Kodiak like:
The amount of area of Kodiak Island that is covered by people and businesses is pretty small. We didn't go much farther from the harbor but as we were motoring out to the fishing area the part of the island with houses on it ended pretty quickly. There was a Wal Mart, McD's, KFC and I think a Taco Bell but that is about it for recognizable establishments. The harbor had a couple of large buildings around it that were for fish processing and there were a few restaurants and bars there as well. The people were incredibly friendly, and it was not just because we were there with Doug and Chris who have become repeat fixtures on a yearly basis.

Did I get a lot of fish?
A lot is an understatement as the total catch was approx 493 lbs of filleted fish. If you totaled the entire catch before the fish were cleaned I'd say it was well over 750 lbs. My take was 114 lbs of frozen fish fillets of Lingcod, Halibut, and Rock Fish. Part of the take was fish cheeks as they're reported to be pretty good eats and we're ready to find out if that is true.

Did I see any wild life?
If you've ever seen a Discovery Channel show on sea life, that is what my week was like. We saw whales that were just swimming along and splashing around. On a couple of days we would be motoring in our out and somebody would say "whale" and we'd stop to check it out. There were about two or three sitings of sea otters swimming on their backs eating that day's meal. Bald Eagles are every where on Kodiak island and mostly sitting in a tree, on a rock or on the rigging of a boat. A brown bear made an appearance on the first day that I was there and it was about 20 feet across the river from us as we were fly fishing. Lastly there was one day when I saw a sea lion in the harbor and about 15 feet off the back of our boat. Art was telling me that it lives in and around the harbor and swims in as it feels fit. It was rather big ( about 20 feet long ) and pretty quick in the water so I think it was given the run of the place without much argument.

Did my back hurt at all?
For those of you that don't know, I had emergency back surgery about 12 weeks before the trip. How I don't know but I ruptured a disk and the fluid managed to lodge itself on my sciatic nerve causing insane amounts of pain. I spent the better part of 4 days flat on my back trying to deal with the pain and finding a comfortable position to be in. Thankfully there was not much in the way of back pain at all on the trip. I did have some pain in my upper back but that was because the fishing caused me to use muscles I never really used before. So all in all, there was not much lower back pain at all on the trip.

Today's Pictures:
I wanted to show the fish cleaning table there are two pictures where you can kind of catch a glimpse of it. One picture is me showing off a Yellow Eye Rock fish and the table is behind me. There is another picture of Chris and Art cleaning fish with Vinney at the end of the table screwing around doing something. There is another picture is of Chris resting on the trip back to the harbor but in the background you can see the beautiful landscape on the island. I don't know the exact numbers but there is only roads and people on a very small portion of the island. The rest is uninhabited. The last picture for today is of me looking kind of dorkish ( I was pretty tired at this point in the day) but in the background is some of the most increadible mountains you've ever seen. The cool thing is that they were everywhere you looked and I'm told that the snow never melts. Pretty cool.

This post is long enought so I'll sign off for now.

Right on.

Doug's plug:
Ina's plug:

Friday, July 30, 2010

What did the boat look like?

Now that I’ve done the day by day blow of the trip I can get around to answering some of the common questions people have been asking.

The first is: What did the boat look like.

The first picture on this post has a boat that is very similar in setup as the Emerald Queen and since none of us took a picture of our boat I’ll use this one as a stand in. You can see the stern of a number of boats lined up and the one that has a small inflatable boat strapped to the back of it is very similar to the EQ. As you walk through the sliding doors from the stern into the salon, on your left there is a small oven, sink, counter top and college size refrigerator. On the right is an open area with some cabinets on the right hand wall. The area of that space is about 8 feet wide by 8 feet long but with six adults fishing it was covered with boots, gear of all kinds and foul weather pants and jackets. Going farther into the boat on your right after the sink and small counter top was the steering console and levers to control the engines and propellers. Directly opposite that was a small table and bench seats that all dropped flat to become a sleeping area for the vertically challenged fisherman, Vinny. The second picture on the post is Vinny and I sitting at the table and you can see there’s not much room for more than our two large butts. Behind us is our pantry or pile-o- food, along with the always helpful can of WD-40. Remember, never leave port without your can of wd-40, you’ll never know where you’ll need it. To go any farther in the boat you now need to go down a small set of stairs where on your left was the bathroom and on your right was the spacious state room. The bathroom was more like a long closet with a toilet, sink, and shower all packed into a space about 4 feet wide and 8 feet long. The state room (as Doug like to refer to it) was also 4 feet wide and 8 feet long but had built in bunk beds and a tiny closet. Finally at the end of the 4 foot hallway that separated the bathroom and state room was another sleeping area that was large enough for two adults to sleep comfortably as Art and his son did each night. You might be wondering where I was sleeping and I’ve saved the best for last. My spot was the floor just inside the doors that separated the salon from the stern of the boat, right next to the stove, sink and refrigerator. If you ask me it was not as bad as it sounds as we were all camping on the boat and it was just that I was the one in front of the stove or if it was camping, it would have been the fire.

I’ve added two more pictures so you can round out the cast of characters and get a partial picture of the stern of the boat. One picture is Doug (guy with hat) and Chris holding a nice catch of Lingcod, and the other is Vinny also holding a Lingcod.

I was talking with a friend today that asked for more pictures so I’ll try to put 4 on each post. If there’s something specific that you want to see, use the comment link at the bottom of the post and let me know. I’ll see if I have a picture of what you’re looking for that can be shared.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Goodbye Farewell, Amen:

Today was the last day of fishing and we tried our best to have it end with as many fish as it began. Much to our dismay, that was just not going to happen as they were just not biting today. Art and Chris put the boat on top of multiple points that the fish finder showed large amounts of activity but we just couldn’t get them on the line and into the boat. There was a joke made that they seemed to be running in schools today and we’re hitting the nursery school. The first few fish we caught were embarrassingly small and needed to be thrown back so they could grow up big and strong to be caught at a later date.

The return to the dock had the normal routine, clean, clean, clean some more and then eat. By the time all was done and we were headed to dinner it was about 9:45 and the kitchen at our normal joint was closed. Kodiak doesn’t have much in the way of a booming restaurant scene and our choices at that hour were limited. We almost hit McD’s but at the last minute a phone call to one of the local hotels found their kitchen still open and we were set.

The rest of the evening was spent packing up our gear, clothes, and everything else that needed to be shipped back. We packed the van with the boxes of our stuff, the day’s catch and then crashed for the night. My flight is the first one out so I’m set to get up at 06:30 and head to the airport for a 08:00 flight.

The picture for today is the view from the back of our boat that we would see most mornings. This view helped me remember that I was in ALASKA of all places and you don’t see this anywhere else. The weather forecast came from the maritime daily report over a marine radio but all it took was one look outside to get the real scoop. If this was what we saw we knew there was promise that the weather was on our side.

Now that I'm heading home I'm going to keep the blog going but it won't be the daily fishing activities but more of questions that people have been asking. I'll run through some topics like, fish cleaning, the boat, the rods and reels we used, who went, the Kodiak harbor and town. If there's something you wanted to know and I didn't mention it in the blog, use the comment link at the bottom of the page and I'll see if I can't help.

Right on.

Doug’s Plug,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Saturday July 24th,

You win some, You lose some.

Today’s start was like any other this week and we were all very hope full that if we returned to the last point we fished yesterday our chances of hooking some Halibut would be pretty good. It was the same point where I landed the 57lb Halibut. Man were we wrong, set after set we had nothing. We had two fish in the keeper bucket that were put there early in the morning and then we hit a major dry spell. Art picked some of our set points and the fish were not hitting. Chris then took a turn picking some points with the same result. At one point in time I even took a turn driving the boat and picking a drop point but still nothing happened. The fish were just not biting. Plain and simple, today was a bust when it came to hitting large amounts of fish. It wasn’t like we were not catching fish, they were just too small to keep. The day ended with Doug, Art and Chris catching a couple of very large Lingcod at our last set so the day was not a total bust with no fish.

There was a highlight once we decided to head in and that was I got to drive the boat back to the harbor. Earlier in the day everybody was unmotivated to do much of anything and we were drifting aimlessly so I asked if I could drive the boat and see if I could find a drop point. Art said “Yes” and much to the dismay of the other guys I managed to drive to a point on the GPS that looked somewhat decent. When it came time to drive back to the harbor Art asked if I wanted to drive. I managed to get the boat 90% of the way back to the slip and didn’t crash into anything. Art took care of the last part of the drive as it required tight maneuvers in the harbor.

The fish cleaning part of the night went pretty quick as there wasn’t much to clean. No surprise there. Dinner plans were for Henry’s a local restaurant right next to the harbor. Just as I was about to leave the boat for and walk up to Henry’s there was a special visitor to the harbor, a Sea Lion. An honest to goodness sea lion was swimming around inside the harbor. From what I understand it lives in the waters close by and from time to time comes into the harbor to things out. I couldn’t get in position fast enough and close enough to get a good picture so I have one to post. It looked as though it was about 15 feet long but that is only a guess because it didn’t come out of the water too much. It did splash and roll around while thrashing a halibut carcass around. It was pretty interesting to see one in the wild as compared to seeing one in an aquarium.

That is all for tonight.

Right on.

Doug’s Plug:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24th, The good, The bad and The ugly.

The good: I did it again, actually I did it more than just once today, I landed more fish and another big one. The day started off with me pulling in the first few fish that were large enough to be kept. Then last spot we fished today was one of the best for me as I landed another big Halibut. This one was not as large as the monster one the other day but it was nothing to laugh at. Today’s fish was 48 inches long, weighed 57 pounds and was pulled into the boat in just under 10 minutes. Chris also caught a Halibut to round out our day’s total at 3 fish worth keeping. Another positive point about today’s fishing is that I caught a new species that I’ve not had before. The picture on the blog today is of me catching a Black Rock Fish, and I’ve posted the picture of it so you can see what it looks like.

The bad: This really is not that bad but due to our late arrival in the harbor last night and the large amount of fish to be cleaned we didn’t get asleep until well after 1:00am. Normally we’re all up by about 7:00 am, but not today as we didn’t get up and going until well after 8:30. Our goal is to get out of the harbor as early as possible and now that we had repairs to make it didn’t help that those didn’t get started until well after 9:00.

The Ugly: Unfortunately there was some minor engine repairs that were essential to the boat running properly that kept us from fishing for most of the day today. There are two diesel engines that power the propellers for the boat and one developed a leaking water hose. The leak caused large amounts of water to be sprayed onto a fuse box like part, for that specific motor. The result was Chris had to spend a couple of hours repairing the hose, drying out the electrical box and checking all the wire connections. The repairs were severe enough that they prevented us from leaving the harbor until all the work was done. There was a saving grace to the length of time the repair work took and that was it allowed a run to the grocery store for food.
Another god item for today was a local friend of Doug’s invited us to their house for dinner. Ian (from Island Seafood) invited us to his home for dinner with he, his wife and daughter. It was great to have a chance to eat more Salmon and Ian didn’t let us down on that point. There were three kinds of Salmon prepared and all of them were fantastic.

I need to explain a little background information to help make sense of the people we had dinner with tonight. Every year the trip happens Doug makes more and more friends in town. At the end of each day we filet the catch of fish and then take it around the harbor to a seafood processor named Island Seafood Co. Island Seafood then takes the fish, cleans up anything we missed, cuts them into manageable sizes, vacuum packs them and freezes them for shipping to where ever we tell them. We do the initial filet part as the cost is per pound and it saves us some money to do it ourselves. Ian is the manger of the company and lives in town with his wife and daughter.

I also have put up the bear picture from the first day that I was here. The bear was about 15 yards away from us at one point in time.

That is all for today

Right on.


Doug’s plugs:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wow, Wow, Wow, what a day. I’ll get to the point as quickly as possible so you can understand where all the Wow’s were coming from.

The morning was the usual procedure, bathroom, coffee shop, fish processing company and marine supply store. We also managed to get out on the fishing grounds at a pretty decent hour as there wasn’t much to slow us down today. The weather was rainy, cold and thankfully no waves on the ocean which allowed the boat to stay where we wanted it to without drifting too quickly. Chris was in the driver’s seat today and putting us on top of some locations he chose before coming up here. Most of his choices were based on the geography of the ocean floor, rock piles are good as that is where fish like to hang out. The day was semi successful as we managed to pull in about a dozen Lingcod and Yellow Eye Rock fish.

Then around 7:00 the excitement hit. Some absolutely large fish thought my jig was enticing and took hold. For about 15 minutes I fought with a 145 lb Halibut that had to be harpooned twice just to get it into the boat. If Hollywood wrote a scene about getting a fish into a boat it would happen similar to what we did today. Believe it or not Riley managed to get most of the whole thing on film from the flying bridge above the deck of the boat, so video will come some day. I was doing the rod work, Art was coaching on how to keep the fish on the hook and Chris was making sure I knew how to line up the fish for harpooning. Because a flopping Halibut on the deck is so dangerous, Doug and Vinny mainly kept back.

Yes it was the highlight of my day and one more part that is making this trip a “Once in a lifetime trip”. After the monster was on the boat it was time to call it a day and head back for fish cleaning.

As a side note, we dropped some crab traps yesterday and while part of our group was cleaning fish the other part went to check the traps. It seems that we’re better at catching snails than crabs. The fish cleaning took 4.5 hours so we didn’t finish up until 12:30 and yes it was finally dark by then. Another 30 minutes of cleaning the fish smell away from our hands and gear, and it is now time to call it a day.
The picture for the day is me with the 145lb Halibut, that measured 66 inches long. We didn’t get around to taking the picture until it was dark out so it might be hard to see.

Right on.


Doug’s Plugs:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday ( Day 3 )

The day really never did get off on the right foot nor could it right itself. The morning started out fine with the usual trip to the bathroom, coffee shop and today an added stop at the fish processing company. The fish that was cleaned yesterday sat on ice for the night and we dropped it off first thing this morning with the company that will vacuum pack and ship it to our homes. The total haul was approx 115 lbs of usable fillets from all the fish we caught. Not that bad a haul considering it was our fist day out and a two of us were rookies to AK fishing. A quick stop for coffee at our favorite coffee shop, the marine supply store for rubber gloves and a knife and then it was back to the boat. This is where we started to try to find out what the deal was with Bruce and the jigs that were shipped up here last year.

This is where the day was thrown off track and didn’t get a chance to get corrected. The deal is last year some new hooks were ordered and shipped to Art’s friend Bruce’s house. Bruce lives on the island year round and his address was used to ship the hooks to. If all went according to plan the hooks were arrive in time to be used on last year’s trip. The problem is they didn’t arrive on time and the trip ended before they could be put to use. Then they sat in Bruce’s house for a year so that when the return trip was made this year they could be put to use. That sounds well enough but we couldn’t connect with Bruce to get the hooks. I think he was out on his boat fishing/working. After many phone calls and juggling we connected with Bruce and made a trip to his house to pick up the hooks. A quick stop at another marine supply store and we had the remaining rubber parts needed so we could make new jigs to use today.

The departure from the harbor didn’t happen until about 1:00 this afternoon at which point we motored in a different direction than yesterday and went to a cove to drop two crab pots. Once the pots were in the water we headed back across the cove, past the harbor and out to our fishing grounds. We did manage to get in three or four hours of fishing but didn’t get much of a haul of fish. The wind was blowing, the seas were about 2-4 feet and as soon as we would drop our lines the boat would begin drifting. Most of the time we would drift far enough in 15-20 minutes that boat would need to be positioned back on top of where we thought the fish were according to the sonar. After moving a half dozen times and fishing for about 4 hours we decided to head back in.

As we did the other night we cleaned everything, the tackle, the gear, the boat, the dishes, and the fish, everything was cleaned. Since we didn’t make it back to the dock until 8, the fish cleaning didn’t finish until about 10 and by then we were dead beat. Dinner tonight was Art making sushi rolls out of the Yellow Eye Rock Fish from yesterday. Now it is about 12:30 and the boat is down for the night and I will head to la la land myself in about 10 minutes. We plan to be out of the harbor at about 7 or 8 am on Thursday so we can get in a whole day of solid fishing. I’ll keep my fingers crossed on that plan.

The picture for today is the view from right out the back of the boat when we’re in the harbor.
That is all for now.

Right on.


Doug’s Plug: