TNB Night Owl – Gone Fishing!

Fishing vessel Tacoma docked at Wrangell. Photo by brewbooks.

Fresh water verses salt water, what’s your poison? Or is it both? If your answer was one, the other, or both, then Southeast Alaska is the place for you. When we think of Alaska we conjure up mountains and glaciers, snow and ice, frozen fingers and toes, but Southeast Alaska is actually considered somewhat of a rain forest with an average 90 inches of rain annually and summer temperatures averaging 65 degrees.

Balmy, indeed.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game  the Southeast region of Alaska is where both “Marine and freshwater sport fishing opportunities abound” and the “sport angler can stay busy year-round fishing for wild trout, all five species of Pacific salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish and a variety of other species. Opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater shoreline fishing for salmon exist near most towns and cites.”

For us it’s a ‘working’ vacation. We go for the salmon runs to fill up the freezer, but missed it this year. Depending on which local we spoke to either we were early or the fish were late.

They are having low rainfall this month and even set a record high one afternoon at a whooping 82 degrees.

The running theories are they were still out to sea, not enough rain for the rivers, they just don’t like the sun and heat, and are staying deep. And they were. All of the above actually. We were catching coho, what few there were to be found, at depths of 110ft.

At this depth, and deeper, is normally where we fish for King – the big daddy salmon. And non-residents are only allowed one King per year. Our salmon fishing was turning out to be pretty much a bust this year so we developed plan B and ventured out to hopefully fill up our freezer with white fish instead.

Funny how that works. Normally we’re limiting out daily on salmon and the white fish are elusive so we do a charter one day to fill the white fish gap – halibut, lingcod, yellow-eyed –  but this year we took ourselves across the Clarence Straight to fish the east side for those usually elusive white fish to make up for those lazy salmon still out to sea.

I say elusive unless you know where to go. Up till now we haven’t been brave enough to cross on our own, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Just kidding, sort of. As long as you pay attention to the weather, and ferries and cruise ships, it’s fine. So it’s into the boat we go for a 20 mile trek heading for what is known as Vixen Point on the east side of the Clarence Straight and hope the seas stay 3 feet and below and the wind is no greater than 10 knots.

And there’s fish in them there hills! Underwater hills, but still. See that ugly fish in the picture? That is a lingcod. It is forty-two inches of yummy goodness I caught at about 200 feet deep.

For the fisherman out there, we were on a halibut rig consisting of two dropper loop knots spaced 18 inches apart. We used B2 red-eyed glow squid with a 9-0 octopus hook on each loop and a green label herring on each hook for added scent with a 16 ounce cannon ball weight trailing about 18 inches below that for jigging off the bottom.

I’ve caught a ling before, but nothing like this one. This felt like I was stuck on bottom, hooked on a rock and then, that baby took off and it was reel, reel, reel!

We ended up coming home with a 100 pounds of fish total so not a bad haul all in all. And by the way, there is more than just fish. There are shrimp and crab and whales and bears! Oh my! Well, don’t eat the whales or bears, or if you do, good luck trying, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Question for the night: What’s your favorite fish to eat?

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