Tuesday, July 5, 2016

2016-18: College Chums Fish Sitka Yet Again

2016-18: College Chums Fish Sitka Yet Again

Sunday, June 26 2016  The Boys From Cal Poly aka The Fish Boys

One-half century can be a lifetime.  Today it's difficult to remember much from five decades ago.  Yet 50 years ago, we high schools kids met in San Luis Obispo at Cal Poly to get an "education".  That we did, and we're still around today, all of us trying to relive our past, one story a time, while fishing in Alaska.

Willie, Joe, Mike, Brian and Alex met in 1966 and 1967 and are now The Fish Boys.  We grew up to become a turkey farmer, chicken rancher, Certified Public Accountant, pharmacist and real estate developer, each of us in our own independent business.  Hanging out with these guys is just like the old days, but the stories have changed.  Now it's Medicare, medicines, hearing aids, retirement, taxes, and Viagra, all hot topics in our conversations.

Mike, Alex Joe, Brian and Willie with Kristina, our Sitka Sound
Science Center guide.
The almost 70 year old college boys arrived on Sunday.  To calm everyone, several beers were rapidly consumed.  As usual Willie arrived with a large, wheeled cooler filled with duck breasts, prawns, bay shrimp, clams, Pappy's, Gilberts, and cranberry juice (for the gout).  Then everyone invaded the liquor store for bourbon, various whiskeys, Titos, beer and triple-stuffed Oreos.  We also filled up with too many more provisions, including three large Best Foods mayonnaise jars, as though our arteries weren't already hardened enough.

Monday-Thursday, June 27-30, 2016:  Whale Bay

By 4AM Monday, Alex had the boat away from the dock headed for Whale Bay, a favorite salmon trolling area.  It was a pleasant ride even though we went the ootside ocean route, and by 8:30 we were trolling the northern side of Whale Bay, without a whale around.  That's not a good sign.

We fished all Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning racking up nearly 30 hours.  For all that effort we had just 8 Kings and 4 Cohos, with two 31-inch keeper Lingcod.  On the Thursday trip back to town we fished Biorka for 4 hours and landed two Cohos.  Yuk!  But we did see an Alaska Air land at SIT.

Motor Yacht Ice Bear and entourage fished Whale Bay near us. Their
radio fish reports didn't sound any better than our fish stories.
White log beach along Whale Bay's northern shore is completely exposed
to the Gulf of Alaska's southern storms which drive the weathered logs onshore.
Rugged Whale bay coastline.
Small island near "King" city in Whale Bay.

Back in town we turned our small batch of fish into the processor and read the weather report.  Friday would be need to be a weather day as the ocean was to be miserable.  We decided to be tourists in Sitka.

Sunset over Eliason Harbor on Thursday, June 30th. Something
about red sky and sailor take warning?

Friday, July 1, 2016: Accidental Tourists

Well maybe not accidental, just weather driven to tour off the water.

First we toured the Fortress of the Bear a safe haven for orphaned bears.  Bears become orphaned typically when their parents become a danger.  The dangerous bear is put down by the authorities and their cubs are orphaned.  Enter Fortress of the Bear to take over raising these orphans.

"Don't tread on me!"

After the bears, we had the taxi drop us at the Sitka Sound Science Center.  There we met Kristina, our tourist guide, a fellow Californian, graduate of UCSB and new resident of Sitka.  Having arrived from Santa Barbara in the frosty chill of last winter, she's come to enjoy living here and plans to stay.  Kristina was very kind to our older bunch, restated what we couldn't hear, smiled (sometimes even laughed) at our weak humor and conducted a fine tour the the Center and Hatchery.  We wish her the best.

By now our group was thirsty so it was over to the Mean Queen, a new and rather fine establishment patterned after the very successful Village Pizza in Anacortes.  You guessed it: a complete bar, excellent pizza and lots of locals filling the seats.  For its odd location, on a back street, high up a long flight of stairs, it gets a lot of play.

Maybe an album cover?  Probably better as a Crown advert.
At the Queen the Boys did an imitation of college days....noisy drinking.... and remained quit gentlemanly.  Unusual!  Then it was off to the Pioneer Bar.  We finished the day on Wild Blue under the spell of another Williebird Epicurean feast.

Just above the bar are photos of all the boats that ran aground
in Southeast. As expected, not a single boat carried a GPS antenna!

Otters live in Alaska.  There are River Otters who make a mess ashore.  They like to mark their territory then roll in it.  Best not to get one aboard or on your swim-step.

This River Otter has come ashore next to the Harbormaster's Office.
The one in the background is already rolling in it.
Pretty sure this one is female.
This pretty little Sea Otter is a much cleaner cousin of
the River Otter.  It doesn't make a mess but it does like Dungeness crab.
When you see a Sea Otter, there probably isn't any crab around.

Saturday and Sunday, July 2 and 3, 2016: Salisbury Sound

With just three days of fishing left, we chose to go north 3 hours to the Kalinin Bay area.  There we could fish salmon and bottom fish.  We caught One king on Saturday then anchored up for bottom fishing.  Brian landed a nice 34-inch Lingcod keeper.  Then the Alaska Sate Troopers boarded.

Of course our licenses were in order, each having been scrutinized.  The Ling was remeasured for the benefit of the Trooper.  When business was completed, we attempted small talk in hopes the officer would reveal the fishing hot spots. he said "Well someone's catching a lot of salmon somewhere!"

By Sunday afternoon we had boated just one more king then headed back to town, hoping for a big day on Monday at Biorka Island.  We enjoyed a great dinner for July 4th, then some of us nodded off before the fireworks started.

MV Liseron a small passenger ship northbound form Sitka.
Liseron calls man overboard drill, throws lifevest into water to represent person,
announces"Man-Overboard", crew launches small boat which quickly reaches
near drowning lifevest. All within 3 minutes!
Lifeboat is ready to race for man overboard.

Monday, July 4, 2016: Fishing on Independence Day

Today we fished at Biorka Island.  Fishing sucked but it was great being with our college buddies.  Last year this group landed 68 fish including 24 King salmon, the annual maximum.  This year just 18 fish total, with 12 Kings.  Interestingly last year 2 Cohos per 1 King.  This year 1 Coho per 2 Kings.  Oh well that's fishing!

As always it's a great time to be fishing with old friends and we already look forward to next year.

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