Friday, August 15, 2014

The Summer of 2014

ARGH! Are you kidding me?  The summer goes by and I didn't update my blogs once.  Fortunately, I do post almost all of my reports on Alaska Outdoor Journal's reports page  .

I suppose I should go in reverse Chronological order....

August 9th: Resurrection Bay Coho's.  Here's my report to AOJ

So Saturday, I pack up my pink and trout gear for a day's outing with my son.  The plan was to look at Hope, then to drive on down the Peninsula looking for any fish I could find.  My son had luck during the first Russian River run but due to the spotty on and off second run, he had fished hard without landing a lot of fish over the past few weeks so he deserved this trip.

As I drive by Potter Marsh, a buddy calls and say "Hey, I just passed you, where ya going?"  I reply "Pink fishing with my kid."  He says he is going out to Seward with another buddy of ours Sean.  What?  Silvers? Gotta do that!  So an abrupt change in destination and we are off to Seward.
Leave the harbor about 11pm.  Water looks flat calm.  Looks good!  Get out to Caines Head and about 3 dozen boats are fishing there but we only see one hook up.  Water is good, let's head out to Pony Cove!  Well, once we hit the open gap, the seas were 4 to 6 ft but fortunately the periods looked long so we make it out about half throttle. I know I can't talk because I fish out of a kayak, but there were several boats out there that had absolutely no business being there.  16 & 18 ft open skiffs with 50hp or less.  That's just insane. 

Good thing we made the run though because once we got there, it was the best coho fishing I think I have EVER encountered.  We anchor up in about 250ft of water with the other boats.  Drop mooching rigs down to about 100 ft and it was NONSTOP.  We had 5 people, fishing 4 rods plus a proxy and we boat 36 fish in 2 hours!    We lost almost as many.  When we cleaned out the fish, they were loaded with sand lances and a LOT of cut up bait.  Someone was using whole horse herring with the tails cut off because we found a few of those in the stomachs as well!

Weather was a bit rough and rainy, but the action sure made up for it!

Good luck and be safe to all of those who enter the derby.  I may give it a go off the kayak next weekend hoping the fish are a little closer to town.  

July 26: Whiskey Gulch Halibut

I took two guests from Japan out fishing this weekend. We give Whiskey Gulch a go off the Kayaks. Flat calm to start, three footers as the tide turned. Back to one footers at noon. They had never fished halibut or from a kayak.

 Day 1 the weather was flat calm as we launch prior to the low slack. I managed 5 fish landed in 5 hours keeping a 30 pounder and a 15 pounder. My guests shakes off a couple of ping pong paddles before keeping a nice 30 pound fish. Shift 2, I let the two guests go out unassisted for the high slack. Nothing...bummer. 

Day 2. The two guests hit the morning low slack, One limits on two 10 to 15 pounders. The other doesn't get hit. I go out with the one guest in the afternoon and he shakes off a ping pong paddle. The only hit of the afternoon. 

So the fishing is spotty but still producing. I ran into a fellow kayaker I know from and he did great by anchoring. Set up an anchor and buoy system so he could quick release and not have to deal with any of the scope in the line. I may have to try that during the hour before and after slack tide. 

Maybe more interesting than the report were the fish we caught. One of my guests 10 pounder caught on day 2 had only one eye. No signs of any scar or healing where the other eye should be. It sort of looks like there is a wound in the photos but there isn't. I wonder what happened? Otherwise it looked perfectly healthy. 

The other "hmm..." moment came as we noticed small 4 to 6 inch dollies swarming around the halibut carcasses. Caught a few of those, but a few feet deeper, there were numerous 10 to 12 inch dollies. I am sure there are larger ones close by. May have to give it a go with a flyrod or ultralight. We were using small spinners and tiny spoons.
We saw quite a few salmon jumping. Couldn't tell what they were, We also saw LOTS of fish that looked to be small dollies or salmon about 6 to 8 inches long hopping around over 35 to 50 ft of water. 

So here's the video of my guests 30 pounder. Little longer than normal and sorry in advance for the dirty lens.

And of course the pictures!

July 22(?): Upper kenai River float
I floated the Upper Kenai with my guests from Japan, Seiya and Ken san.  Fishing was a little slow due to high water.  But we manage a bright sockeye and a few dollies.  Then we find a nice slough that held some fish and we manage a few more nice trout and dollies.

Saw eagles and bears up close.  Did see a big pod of sockeye milling in the frog water above Jim's Landing. 

Video is a little longer than normal.  I made it for my guests.  

June 27-29: Whiskey Gulch Halibut.  2nd Annual NWKA Alaska Yak Classic

I have been focusing more on halibut this year.  I was fortunate enough to win the yak classic with a 40 pound fish caught on the last day!  This year the size of the halibut has been good.  Lots of 25 to 40 pounders.

A really good two and a half days of fishing though too bad it was the slowest I think on Saturday the full day of the tournament.  

Here's a video clip.  Skip to 2:10 of the video if you want to skip to the harpooning of the first fish.

And a few photos.

June 22:  77 pounds of Halibut

June 20:  57 pound Halibut Whiskey Gulch

So Friday was a company holiday.  What to do?  Hmmm…

So weather forecast is looking iffy but I head down to Whiskey Gulch to see if I couldn’t catch the low slack tide. Weather turns out to be PERFECT!!!

In the water around 1pm.  Action was good for the little chickens.  Boated 4 or 5 under 15 pounds in the first two hours.  Decided to keep one and then fish for a larger fish.  

3 hours passes and nothing.  I get a few really good strikes but can’t hook up.  I am really starting to detest these circle hooks. But so many people use them, I want to give them a fair shot.

Tide finally turns around 4pm.  By this time I am off of Anchor Point about 1.5 to 2 miles offshore.  45 to 60 feet of water.  FINALLy!! Hook up to what feels like a good fish.

I have never caught anything much bigger than 30 pounds on a kayak, so this fish was new.  I could have edited the video down to about 2 minutes and made me look like I knew what was going on.  But I decided to leave all of the screwups in the video.  Gotta learn from your mistakes!  

First, I need something better than rubber bands to hold the harpoon tip in place.  Second, I wonder if an A1 buoy is enough.  I wasn’t sure if the buoy was caught under me or if it had pulled it down.  That would not have been good news to have line wrapped around my drive and have the halibut dive deep.  I was reaching for the mirage drive as the buoy popped up.  Not sure how I snapped 200 lbs mono without breaking anything.  

Initially I thought it might go 40 pounds.  But got home and measured it and it was 49.5 inches.  That’s 57 pounds plus on the commonly used weight length tables.  So got my 50 pounder out of the way.  Now the goal is 75!! 

June 15: A pair of 20 pounders
Ok.  Probably more like culling the smaller ones out.  managed two 20 pounders.  Both caught in 35ft of water on herring.  

Tried to use my bigger boat net.  FAIL.  If I posted the video unedited, the title would be "Mistakes to avoid when netting halibut."...well it should still be titled that!  A lot of it was me just being lazy and unfamiliar with the gear.  Using a mega sized deep bagged net mesh is out.  That was a nightmare.  I still can't get the spreader bar and weight out of the net!  

Well I suppose that's why you try new things before the gathering! Not my best video effort but another limit from a kayak documented!

May 11: Mother's Day King and a limit of Halibut

Hit the water at 5:30am.  Was bummed for the first hour thinking why did I get up so early.  But about 7:15 I managed the first halibut.  34 inches so thats 17 pounds I think on the charts.  

If you watch the video, you'll see my line act like it just got caught on some debris as the line angle gets shallower but nothing that looks like a strike.  Downrigger was set at 10ft (per Rimfirematt's instruction) in about 20ft of water.  You can see the fish actually comes up like it's seaweed.  No battle no nothing.  But once near the yak, it puts up a better fight.  Fish are super shallow right now chasing the herring and hooligan around.

About 30 minutes later I get hit by a king.  I pride myself in getting fish into the net, but 6 months of no kings made me rusty.  Lucky the hooks didn't catch the net.  Somehow managed to land it.

In this area, once you keep a king, you have to move a mile offshore to get out of the King Salmon conservation zone.  So I pedal another half mile or so out and immediately hook up to a tiny halibut...barely 10 pounds.  Not sure it was worth the effort but I had to head back to Anchorage so I kept it.

Feels good to finally catch something after getting blanked on 5 or 6 consecutive trips but since that was December through April, I guess it's not  a bad thing.

All fish caught on herring.  First two on a down rigger, the last one mooching.

Stopped by the parent's house on the way back and mom got a gift of fresh king and halibut!  I'm such a good excuse to go fishing!!!!