King Salmon Frenzy

Summer has come to Sitka, at least for the time being. The last few days have been beautiful, bright, and sunny, with highs in the 70’s. Shorts and t-shirt weather, even out on the ocean! It feels HOT, compared to our usual marine temperate weather with highs in the upper 50’s. We’re not that used to these temperatures, and it has been the topic of almost every conversation.

Friday was one of those days where you’d swear the Salmon gods are smiling upon you. I went fishing with several members of the APC staff and one Grandmother. (Eighty-seven year old Grandma is in Sitka visiting Dianne, our office assistant, and we invited her along.) Walking out of the lodge that morning, there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. I knew right then that it was going to be another gorgeous day. All of us piled onto the Triple Play, and we motored north to the north end of Kruzoff Island. Coming through Sinitsin Narrows, we found the seas flat and calm with hardly a breath of wind.

As we neared our fishing location, we saw two of our boats, plus groups from several of the other local lodges fishing the same location, a possible good sign that the bite was hot. Captain Greg positioned the boat to drift right over the best flat and gave us go ahead to start fishing, or should I say catching?

On my first cast, I hooked into a king salmon, and fought it around the boat. Two other people also got bites right away, and we put on a circus show of trying to keep tension on the lines while continuing to reel in the fish without tangling our lines with each other. The rule is: Always follow your fish. So if you see your line whizzing out below the boat, you should know that you’d better come around the front or the back (depending on where you are) to keep one step ahead of the salmon.

A beautiful day to catch a salmon

A beautiful day to catch a salmon

We all landed our fish, rebaited, and sent the spinning herring back down again. I caught another salmon less than five minutes later. This one fought harder than the first, and when I reeled it to the surface, it decided to show me who really was in charge and dove back down to 180 feet! All of my hard work to that point was for nothing. I really didn’t mind, to be honest; I enjoyed the fight, dancing around the other people on the boat, reeling it in, and finally releasing it. As a non-resident, I can only keep one king salmon per day, and three total for the year. Since I kept my first, we released every other fish I caught. It was so much fun—everyone was catching fish. Even Dianne’s Grandmother got in on the action and reeled one in. What a Kodak moment! (Check out the Catch of the Day for May 28th for a picture.) She also caught and released a ling cod at one point in the day.

The day heated up like the salmon fishing—that is to say it was hot out. We were baked by the sun on flat seas, catching fish all morning long. It was as good as it gets, and we were all happy with our efforts.

Dianne and her Grandma King Salmon Fishing

Dianne and her Grandma

We had on board one of our newest staff members, who’s going to be a deckhand on the High Roller this year. Captain Greg decided to have some fun with him, and told him that we didn’t need the anchor anymore, so he should go and pull it up. Poor Nate, he hauled on that anchor for about 50 feet, before we let him in on the joke. It’s nearly impossible to pull our anchors up from the bottom without the help of the anchor ball. We all laughed, and gave Nate a pat on the back for trying. He was a good sport about it all. As it was, he got his hands dirty learning how to gut and gill king salmon, and fillet halibut. A good deckhand training day if there ever was one.

At the end of the day, we got to see the results from the other groups that were out, and it wasn’t surprising to see full coolers and totes hauled into the processing room. I think everyone had a good day out on the water, and that is what we are all about

Written by Tom, Deckhand ~ Checkmate

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