Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Homer Feeder Kings - Sept 20, 2014

I hear the Homer Elks King derby is Oct 4 & 5 so I thought I better go check out the action. I am still not sure whether I am fishing it out of a power boat or a kayak.

Launched by Land's End around 2pm to hit the falling tide. The good news, in the first 30 minutes I pull up a half dozen kings. The bad news, they averaged about 16 inches long. Nice thick chunky, but small kings.

Over the course of the next 4 hours, I manage three solid big fish strikes. Hooked 2, landed 1. As always, the fish I lost seemed much bigger. But I did manage a 10 to 12 pounder plus I kept one of the larger "shakers" that was a bleeder.

The pollock have thinned out but still too many to be using bait or a down rigger, I used a deep six diver, to a flasher, to a needlefish hoochie. Worked great!

Good to see tons of bait and a lot of the smaller kings. I am hoping the larger fish will chase the soon to spawn sandlances closer to shore. I did hear that another kayaker managed a king further North. So they are there and available!!! 

Monday, September 01, 2014

Kodiak trip August 24-30


Kodiak 2014 report

I was fortunate enough to fish with Kokatat Pro staff Allen “Polepole” Sansano, Allen “Bushy” Bushnell, Mark “Spot” Veary, and Chris Mautino from Liquid Adventures.  Jeff and I were the Alaska representatives of the team (Polepole and Bushy run that site along with KayakFishingMagazine.NET).  I can’t believe I had the opportunity to fish with people of this caliber!  Even if I had not caught a fish, I am sure I would have come back with knowledge and connections worth every penny of this trip and then some!!!!

Day Zero (Saturday/Sunday August 23-24)

I pick up the out of state portion of the team at Anchorage International Airport.  It’s always a tad nervous meeting new folks, but thanks to, it was like I already knew these folks well.

I pick them and ask “Ok, do we need any gear?”  The answer in almost perfect unison…”Heck no, let’s fish!”  Ok, this is going to be epic with a great group of guys.

Load up the vehicle and we stop by the Russian River at the confluence with the Kenai River.  Get there late, but we get about 3 hours of fishing.  Tomato Sockeyes, a few dollies and rainbows somehow find the end of our line.  We even manage to see a bear on day zero!

We crash at a friend’s house in Kenai to prepare for the nine hour voyage from Homer to Kodiak on Sunday.  We meet up with Chris Mautino of Liquid Adventures at the Ferry dock in Homer.

We took two vehicles via Ferry from Homer and rented a house.  Round trip cost for 5 people on a ferry plus two vehicles and berths for six (only one way for berths) was roughly $1,600.  The house for the week was $1,400 making the cost $3,000 or $600 per person for an entire week of unguided fishing.  Pretty dang reasonable!!!

Day One 

We try Kalsin Bay.  The bay looks great.  We see birds working out in the middle.  Silvers are jumping but generally speaking no love.  Bushy hammers a nice 13-15 pound silver but that was the only fish for the entire day.  Hmmm…this is going to be a little harder than we thought….

I’d find out later after the trip, that the silvers and kings were being caught exactly where we were at the following week.  Arghh.  Missed it by just a few days! 

Ok, I am a tad superstitious… I used my “new” reel today and left my girlfriend’s (and MY lucky reel) back at the rental house…. switched out to the pink avet sx on day two….

Day Two

This time we get a tip from local fishermen and we try Pasagshak Bay.  Weather is beautiful AND we find fish. It’s the best day of the trip.

After scrutinizing the charts, 2.5 miles from the launch, there are kelp beds and some very good terrain.  I start fishing on the edge of the kelp beds but quickly slide downhill from a bout 40 ft of water down into 80 ft of water.  Second pass at about 60ft, I hit our first halibut of the trip! 

I manage a 40 ish pounder and a 20 pounder.  I release another one.  The other team members land 4 other fish.  The biggest was Polepole’s 51 pounder.

Fishing was best as the tide was rising.  The current appeared to create an eddy in the area and the fish were stacked in one fairly small location. 

I’m telling ya!!!! It’s the pink reel!  lol.

Day Three
Weather is blowing hard.  It looks like we might not get on the water.  We try Kalsin Bay a little further to the East.  We fish in pouring rain and 20 knt winds.  Fortunately, I was wearing a new Kokatat Hydrus 3L SuperNova Angler Paddling Suit and Kokatat SeaO2 PFD.  The Hydrus 3L kept me bone dry and with a few layers of fleece, I fished comfortably all day!  The SeaO2 is a design with 7.5 lbs of flotation but you can inflate it (CO2 or manually) to get 22.5 lbs of lift.  Super comfy!  Highly recommend!!!  

I troll looking for anything that will bite.  10 minutes from launch I troll up a 25 pound-ish halibut.  Mid day I do find a big school of black rockfish that I played with for an hour or so.  The rest of the day almost nothing until once again I am minutes from the launch and almost in the exact same place I manage another 20 pounder.  Hmmm…what’s that saying…”Never leave fish to find fish?”  Well I guess we are exploring Kodiak so it was ok, but I was the only one lucky enough to run into the fish that day.

An interesting side note to the day were the foxes we saw at the launch. One scraggly looking hybrid was working our scraps hard.  Even taking an apple to stash away for the winter.  

Day Four

We head back out to Pasagshak Bay.  Half of the group opts to fish silvers in the river even though it is a touch early in the season.  They manage two SUPER nice silvers.  In the gin clear water, you could sight cast to them. 

Out in the Bay, Spot, Jeff, and I fish in shifting winds.  I miss four or five good takes because I had switched over to a circle hook.  I HATE THOSE THINGS!!!!!  Missed every single one despite letting them take the bait for 10 seconds or longer and engaging the drag as they are just ripping out line.  I am sure its operator error since many people are successful with the circle hooks, but I didn’t lose a single fish after a solid takedown using the Gamakatsu 12/0 Big River hooks.

Spot manages a nice 65 pounder in very challenging conditions.  His fish would win the "fight of the week” award.  His fish manages to take down an A2 Buoy for over 30 or more yards while 12 pounds or more of drag was also being applied.  We aren't talking “surface skimming” take down.  We are talking “no wake” completely submerged takedown.  His buoy was nearly as twice as large as the buoy I was using.  Just an AWESOME show of power.

 I think the biggest disappointment was our failure to find Silvers in the salt.  There were enough fish jumping and in the streams that we thought we could have hooked a few of them.  From the launch which is right next to the river mouth, to the halibut grounds was roughly 3 miles each way.  I trolled a dodger and hoochie on both days to and from halibut fishing and did not get a single strike!  Not even from cod or pollock.  Inside the Bay seemed fairly void of life.

Day Five

Well we have to try Pasagshak again after that nice fish.  I pedal 3 miles out and in the first 15 minutes I am hooked up.  The area we were fishing was super rocky and snaggy.  Over the course of the week, I had to cut my line several times and I was actually running low on line for my “lucky” reel…ok, ok it;s my girlfriends but I think I am taking it back!

I drop my bait to the bottom and immediately it seems stuck to the bottom.  I yank on it several times…thankfully I had switched back to a J-hook.  All of the sudden the “snag” starts throbbing!  NICE!!!!!  The battle is on.  

After a few mistakes, I manage to harpoon it, bleed, and apply the club.  But now what?  I can’t get it into my kayak so I pedal what turns out to be a mile back to find a suitable beach.  I finally get it strapped onto the back of the kayak.  Hmmm….it rides nicely….limit is two…I am going to back out again!!! 
Bad idea that I was fortunately saved by luck.  The halibut was so heavy, it was causing my rudder line holes to submerge under water.  Fortunately for me the group was already headed back since I had taken so long dealing with this one fish.  Once I got back to the launch, there were several gallons of water in my hull.  ACK!  I have closed cell foam noodles and empty gatorade bottles stuffed into my kayak so it wouldn’t sink.  But it would have made a long pedal back a WHOLE lot longer if I had fished longer.  Lesson learned.

I didn’t think the fish was that big but on tape it came out to 59.5 inches.  59 inches was 103 lbs and 60 inches

was 108 pounds not he weight length so I am calling it 105!!!!  WOW!!! mission accomplished for a triple digit ‘butt from a Kayak!!!!  SWEEEEET!!!!!!!!!

Day 6, the final day. 

We are too tired.  We had to check out of the house so we fished the Buskin River.  LOTS of pinks and a quite a few silvers.  They weren’t hitting though and I was a little disappointed to see the method of choice for 90% of the Anglers was the “flossing” method.  Beautiful river…but was disappointed in seeing that.  I did manage one on a pink fly, but I think I flossed that one too….

Day seven (bonus day!)

On the way back to Anchorage, we stop by the Russian River again.  Although its only been a week, the silver salmon have entered the stream and the team hooks up to a few nice silvers as well as a few trout.  Along the way we manage to bust the factory roof on the explorer but other than a slight ding on the roof of the SUV, all looks good.  You can see the problem in a good write up here at Kayak Fishing Magazine.

A short video of the offload.


So the trip was pretty dang good given that none of us had fished Kodiak from a Kayak before. I want to thank the Polepole and Bushy from and, Spot, and Chris Mautino from Liquid Adventures out of Seward and Baja,  To be able to fish in the company of such skilled Kayak Anglers really gave me the confidence that much more can be done from this platform.  

We fished some very challenging weather days.  But the ability to launch from virtually anywhere gave us access to water that even power boaters would have had a difficult time fishing.  In the 6 days, we saw two trollers on Day one in Kalsin and one troller who was waiting to pick up passengers in Pasagshak fishing the entire time we were there.  It was amazing!!!!!! 

We set out to catch a 100 pound halibut.  Mission accomplished.  I am pretty fortunate to have been the one to get that lucky strike.  It wasn’t easy trying to learn all of the spots. Of course we all have our favorite fishing holes that we know like the back of our hands and that consistently produces fish.  To not have the advantage was a bit of an eye opener.  We had a lot of good assistance along the way.  I want to specifically thank Hank and Abel who gave us TONS of good information and frankly made the trip for all of us.  

In some ways you could sense the disappointment that more and larger fish weren’t caught.  But we walked away impressed with Kodiak’s potential.  With a kayak we could launch and fish in semi-sheltered areas no matter the wind direction.  A few more trips and I think I could get Kodiak dialed in.  Hmmm…maybe next spring?  I hear they catch big kings in Kodiak in the spring time….I LOVE BIG KINGS.  The wheels are already turning…..