“Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest, largest and most effective youth mentoring organization in the United States. They have been the leader in one-to-one youth service for more than a century, developing positive relationships that have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of young people. Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors children, ages 6 through 18, in communities across the county, including Sitka.” ~ Exerpted from Big Brothers Big Sisters website at www.bbbs.org.
Our lodge, along with other member lodges of the Sitka Charter Boat Operators Association, teamed up with the Sitka branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters to take some of the kids and mentors out for a great day of fishing.
All told, we had six boats from four separate charter lodges meeting at Crescent Harbor to take out twelve adults and eleven children on the open ocean. We all met at about 1:00 pm, posing for a group photo before separating into six separate groups on the boats. We met our group, two adults with two kids and headed out of the harbor in a convoy motoring north to where the salmon fishing has been excellent so far this year.
We couldn’t have had a better day for this kind of outing; the weather was fantastic. There were only a few clouds in the sky, big white cumulus clouds, floating contentedly through the azure blue sky. The sunshine was welcome, as it always is here in the Pacific northwest, and it felt good to soak in its warmth. There was only a slight breeze coming out of the north, and the seas were very calm, almost flat. Ideal conditions for a day on the water.
Our kids were aged 10 and 11 and had just finished the fourth grade. They were excited about the upcoming summer vacation, and were looking forward to catching some fish. They asked a lot of questions about the boat: about our depth finder, GPS, and other gauges, and how long we would be running before we started fishing. Mostly, they had fun sitting on the salmon cooler located up front, forward of the cabin. They liked the bouncy ride, especially when passing over the wake of other boats. They were kids—being kids.
When we arrived at the fishing grounds on the north side of Kruzoff Island, we pretty much had it all to ourselves. Captain EJ motored us into position to set up the drift and we began fishing. The other boats in our “fleet” all fished in the same area, so we could watch and see how everyone else was doing. It wasn’t long before everyone started catching fish. One of our boats, the Triple Play, had on four fish at once, and you could see the smiles on the faces of the anglers from quite a distance. Since all of our guests were residents, they could each keep two king salmon per person. Some of the boats came close to getting limits in the hour and a half of fishing time we had, which was quite impressive.
We were heading back into town, passing near Eastern Point and Beehive Island, when we saw the tell-tale spout of a pod of humpback whales surfacing. There were three in this pod, and they were swimming in the same direction as we were going. This allowed us to match their speed, and we were able to get a good look at them from a safe distance away. We stayed with them for a couple of minutes, before we saw them arc their tails skyward and dive down deep.
We docked the boat, and began bagging up all of the fish the group had caught. Everyone had caught some fish, and some of the kids were bringing home two nice king salmon for supper. It was awesome. Everybody had a great time, from the boat crew to the big brothers and sisters, and especially the kids. That was our goal, to show the kids a great time out on the ocean and we achieved it.
Written by Tom, Deckhand ~ Checkmate