Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Monday, October 4, 2010
After walking the beach for 10 minutes I looked out at the water we had just crossed and was horrified, in minutes the water had turned white. I knew it was building and we needed to get back across pronto! I waved Jake closer to shore and said "We gotta go, now!!!" I jumped on the bow and we headed out. It was about a 10 mile run back across but I knew the other side of the bay would be much calmer.
As we motored towards the opening of the cove we made sure that the VHF radio was set to channel 16 in case a Mayday to the Coast Gaurd was required. We left the mouth of the cove knowing thing were going to be bad. We started to get to the nasty section and were rolling through 4-6 ft. seas, but that was just the beginning. All of a sudden we saw huge waves towering over the 6 ft. seas. They would crest and start rolling towards us, completely burying the bow and ending up against the windshield. We had no choice but to keep going forward, turning around would have been fatal. At one point we had water flowing through the closed cabin. To say I was scared is an understatement. Each set of large waves that would come crashing towards us would bring a new exclamation from my mouth that Meg determined, "Were not helpful." Going over the large steep waves would lift the motor out of the water causing us to momentarily lose control. More than once the waves pushed the bow sideways and our boat would lean dangerously over on its side. Jake masterfully handled the boat, a point I shared with him more than once after we had safely crossed.
Needless to say after 15 of the longest minutes of my life we made it through the bad stuff and we were back into "comfortable" 4-5 ft. seas. We got back to shore and just sat in silence as we all gave a thank you to God for getting us through.
Sorry about the lack of pictures, somehow I didn't think to get out the camera....
DISCLAIMER: The location names have been left out of this posting to protect the moose.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
With the seasons changing so do my activities. Of course I still have a couple months of salmon fishing left, I'll be out chasing cohos in the local streams regularly. Deer season has been going for a little over a month now and it's time to get serious. So far I've made one trip up into the alpine but the only success there was watching the sunrise at 3500 ft.
I don't necessarily have a ton to report at this time, I've been on vacation in New England for the past two weeks so my outdoor experiences have been limited. I hate to have a post without pictures so I'll leave you with this picture of a nice king I caught awhile back. Let me know what you think of the new site and layout. Stay tuned this fall, there will be lots more changes going on.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
We had an uneventful ferry ride down to Petersburg on July 3rd and arrived around noon. The rest of that day was spent relaxing and catching up with family (read we took a nap). We awoke on the 4th to find cloudy, rainy skies but strapped on the rain coats and headed downtown to enjoy the festivities. Petersburg always has a great celebration, the main downtown area is blocked for traffic and everybody plays street games and eats at various food vendors. We spent a couple hours walking around downtown then headed out the road for a picnic with Anne's family.
Luckily the weather south of town was nicer and we got to enjoy cloudy dry weather. We arrived to find some of Anne's relatives had already started a fire and we got straight to roasting hot dogs, and making S'mores. Once the eating was out of the way, we all took time to enjoy the outdoors.
Everybody came equiped for a good time, some of the family got out in the kayaks while Anne and I tried our hand at fishing. The fish around our picnic spot were a bit on the small side so Anne, my father-in-law (Dan), and I headed down the road about a mile to another spot we knew about. Dan had just purchased a 5 wt. fly rod and wanted to try it out.
Monday, June 28, 2010
I arrived at the trailhead at 4:00 Saturday morning for the roughly 2 mile hike into the local Sockeye hole. I was pleased to see that a friend's car was already there. With a pack full of waders, boots, and enough fishing gear to conquer any situation that might arise, I headed down the trail at a brisk pace. Preferring to spend less time hiking and more time fishing.
I reached Windfall Creek just as my friend, Torsten, was packing up to leave. I listened with horror as he relayed to me that there wasn't any fish in the stream. My worst fear for today had come true, the rain and high water during the week had pushed all the fish upstream and into Windfall Lake. Never-the-less, I refused to believe that there weren't any fish to be caught. I donned my waders and strung up my rod hoping to prove Torsten wrong. Two hours and a couple trout later, after hiking the length of the stream, I gave up. We decided to hike out and see if any Chum salmon were showing up at Amalga Harbor.
We arrived at Amalga Harbor to find a lower than expected tide. The water where I usually fish was too shallow. But our spirits were brightened when we saw some Chums jumping farther out in the bay. Torsten started fishing while I rigged up my rod.
Just as I got my gear all set up, I noticed that down the beach a bit some fish were jumping close to a point of steep rocks. I made my way along the slimy seawead and barnacle covered rocks to a spot I thought would work. I immediately started seeing fish swim by and my hopes only rose higher. Now it was time for trial and error, what would the fish bite today?
For those of you that don't know, Chum salmon can be quite finicky when it comes to persuading them to bite your hook. Unlike silvers that are aggressive and sometimes bite anything that drifts past, Chums will generally swim right past your lure without a second glance.
For the next half an hour I tried a multitude of combinations. Watching each school of fish swim past, just waiting for one to finally turn and take a bite. The fish were schooling 6-8 ft deep so I tried a heavier sink tip to bring my fly down to their level. For saltwater salmon, I've found that having various sinking tips can mean the difference between success and failure. A few years ago I purchased a Cabelas brand multi-tip fly line. Immediately, I started catching more fish. The more well known variation of this line is the Rio Versatip line. The price tag on the Cabelas line was my only reason for going with this brand. Most of my saltwater fishing is from sharp barnacle and mussel covered rocks and I couldn't stomach the idea of tearing up an expensive line.
One by one I presented different flies to the passing schools of fish, trying different colors and sizes and striking out each time. Finally I switched over to my own invention, the Pink Maribou Thingamajigger.
A little side story and background on the history of the Pink Maribou Thingamajigger. Back in college I was up late one night tying some flies for a morning fishing trip chasing Cohos at Windfall Creek. As the time approached midnight I needed a break from tying Clouser Minnows and Egg Sucking Leeches so I let my creative juices flow. The result of that creativity was the Pink Maribou Thingamajigger.
The following morning I met my friend Ray and we hiked our way into the creek. We started out fishing with some known patterns and weren't having any luck so I decided to try my new invention. Immediately I tied into a fish, then another. At the end of the day I had landed 5 Cohos, 6 cutthroat trout, and 8 Dolly Varden. To say it lightly, my new fly was a success.
Now back to the present day. As I tied on the Thingamajigger, I shared that story and a couple others with Torsten. I had never tried this fly on Chums but given its success on Cohos and trout I was hopeful. I cast the fly out to a passing school of salmon and almost immediately I saw one turn and follow. I turned all my attention to not screwing up. I watched as the Chum opened his mouth and chomped on my fly, FISH ON!!!!! The silvery Chum started shaking his head side to side in an effort to throw my hook, but he would have to try harder than that. He took a run and it felt great to hear the line streaming off my reel. My heart was still pounding from the excitement, but I settled into a well practiced routine. Keep the tip up, watch the line tension, and search for a place to land this fish.
As the fish started to tire, I worked my way along the slippery rocks. Trying to plan each step. All of a sudden my feet became entangled in some discarded fishing line and I started to go down. Instinct alone prevented me from slamming my rod down on the ground. I tried to catch myself with one hand and I felt my shoulder bend in an unnatural direction. When I came to a rest my head and shoulders were down in a hole, my feet were in the air, and my rod was still bent with a fish on the other end. I quickly tried to regain my footing so I could land my fish.
With the fish now tired I worked him into a low spot on the rocks and grabbed him. Success, I had caught my first salmon of the 2010 fishing season. We took a few minutes for the trophy pics and Torsten went back to fishing. This time he was equipped with a Pink Maribou Thingamajigger. I rested for a couple of minutes and tried to work out the pain in my shoulder, but in the end I decided to call it a day. I cleaned my fish and headed home. I know it's not a good pic of me, but it was the best picture of the fish.
This morning I learned that Torsten took a similar spill on the rocks and broke his rod. Did I mention they were slippery?
Sunday night the clouds parted and it was a perfect opportunity to grill up some fresh fish. I decided to throw a deer roast and some vegetables on the grill as well. Looks good doesn't it.
Well, we're beginning our decent into Ted Stevens International Airport so I'll have to sign off. I brought my pack rod with me so I'm hoping to take advantage of the endless daylight and catch some Rainbow trout or maybe a Northern Pike. Stay tuned for a mid week update. As always, thanks for reading.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Well, I finally jumped on the band wagon and started a blog. Seems like everyone today has one so why not me? While I doubt "Round 1" will garner much attention, I'll fill everyone in on what this blog will be. My plan is to document all of my outdoor adventures. Most weeks from April till December I'm out and about in the Alaskan outdoors. I hunt, fish, hike, boat, and camp whenever possible.
Last weekend my wife and I spent most of our time hiking. Saturday was our weekly trip up Mount Roberts. Mount Roberts is a local mountain that tops out at about 3,800 ft. The one unique feature of this mountain is a tram was built to carry tourists up to the 1,800 ft level. This makes the hike an enjoyable one. After hiking the first 1,800 ft (about a 2.5 mile trail) there is a visitor center complete with restaurant and bathrooms. Some days we will just hike to the visitor center and have lunch in the restaurant. Last weekend we kept going past the visitor center to about 2,300 ft (or just below the snow line).
On Sunday we made our semi-regular pilgrimage to the Mendenhall Glacier ice caves. This involves hiking about 3 miles along the west edge of Mendenhall Lake. At one point this hike requires a small portion of rock climbing. Then you descend down to the west edge of Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier is always moving and changing so the caves are different each trip. It's always a little nerve racking to go into an ice cave. The edge of the glacier is always breaking off, and the entrance to the cave can be sealed. Or worse the cave itself can collapse. With all that in mind, I still venture in if I feel the conditions are right.
This cave dropped about a 100 ft below where I'm standing, then leveled out. It's definitely an erie blue world down there.
Well, next week I plan to chase some local sockeye salmon so tune in for a write-up of that trip and many more to come. Thanks for reading.