Monday, September 19, 2016

No thanks to Picasa moving to google photos, there aren't any more Jpg extensions.  So trying to add to blogs and see if they work...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Summer 2016 update

This summer, though I think most Alaskans would say we have had a great summer, the weather from a kayaking perspective has been brutal.  Constant Southwest winds meant big surf in Lower Cook Inlet and Homer.

I need to do a better job of keeping up with the blogs, but I do post a lot of my adventures online.

So here are a few videos and short commentary on the few days I did get out this summer

May 15th.

So in my previous post I mentioned Ryu caught a nice 40 pound halibut.  He is becoming quite the fisherman!

May 27th

A family outing!  Anyone can do this!!  My 14 year old daughter joins us and we manage a nice limit of chickens.  Nothing huge, but when you can keep 6, these were perfect eating size!!!

July 16th

Ryu out of 2 dozen anglers wins the 2nd annual BArbaie Rod classic with a 45 pounder!  Great job Ryu!!!

July 18th

What?  No kayak?  Ok, we went shore fishing for reds.  Action wasn't fast, but we did manage a few nice reds!!!

Aug 6th

We try Homer due to bad weather and though its earlier than normal, Ryu and I manage some nice feeder kings!

Aug 8th

The biggest halibut of the year for us.  a 73 pounder off Anchor Point

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May 14 Anchor Point Calcutta King Derby recap plus crazy Halibut

Fished Saturday with my son Ryu in the Anchor Point Calcutta King Derby.  I had to bid $225 for Ryu's kayak when mine only went for $150,  LOL.  Kayakers did great though with SwansonSilver from the NWKA boards placing 3rd overall!

For Ryu and I, we only managed one King Salmon of maybe 10 pounds that I released,  But the fishing was ON!  The bad news...they were mainly 5 to 10 pound halibut.

After the derby was done at 4pm, Ryu wants to fish halibut so off we go.  We land a LOAD of fish.  But they were small.  We keep the three largest fish and they went roughly 20, 25, and 40 pounds.

Maybe the most interesting part of the weekend was the super sunny days, clear waters, and aggressive halibut made for some interesting episodes of halibut chasing our baits on top.

So here's one of those episodes.  Halibut follows my bait up.  Looks at my sinker and swivels.  Then runs off to check out the commotion Ryu's small halibut is causing and hits Ryu's swivel.  Then it comes back to grab my bait and I hook it.  Crazy!!!!  I bet we saw a dozen halibut come to the top.  Can you imagine if a 100 pounder followed it up!!!

So here's my first video of the weekend....The crazy topwater halibut.

May 6-8 Lower Cook Inlet King Salmon and Halibut

So the full report...sort of.  Bits and pieces of it at any rate.

Short version: So a 3 day weekend.  Total was 2 kings and 6 chickens.  Not bad.

Long version:

First day was a tad sporty.  Ended up with a small king and a couple of chickens that averaged maybe 15 to 20 pounds.   After limiting on halibut, I begin trolling for kings.  In 30 minutes I had a couple of take downs and landed a small 10 pounder.

I did deploy the down rigger camera.  Some might find it boring but I watched it a few times.  Definitely have some take aways from the clips.  Too bad all the fish are 5 to 10 pounders.  Be fun to see a 50 pound fish come crashing in.  Can't use a down rigger, the halibut will just follow along forever.  Maybe a bigger one will just grab and go.  I think spoons might be as effective as the bait.  One clip I didn't add because I found it later was when I clipped the down rigger release to the 200 pound mono.  No swivel so the bait wouldn't roll.  There was a small halibut that came up to it and then just left.  I think because the herring didn't have action.  Larger fish trolling seems reasonable given the clip with two fish.  Stopping once after the strike, letting the fish reposition the bait, then setting the hook seems prudent.

Down rigger takes up too much space, but I will try it again maybe when I have my son with me for more storage.

Day 2, Started fishing halibut.  Headed South.  Super Slow at first.  Water super dirty.  As the tide begins o come back in, the water clarity improved and it was non-stop action.  I bet I landed 20 halibut.  All 10 pound-ish or less.  Kept one 10 pounder and started to head in.  Strong winds and huge tides started to carry me back too fast.  I changed my halibut gear for salmon gear so I could troll faster back in.  Right at the launch as I was about to pick up gear, a 20 pound halibut strikes my salmon gear and I get carried a quarter mile past the launch and the current is ripping.  Beached there and thankfully I bought a 4wd truck so drove down and got my kayak.

Day 3.  Decided with the derby coming up, I better try kings.  6oz of weight, a flasher and green label herring.  First 5 minutes I go to talk to James on a kayak.  I hook a 5 pound halibut.  10 minutes later, I am hooked up to a 15 pound-ish king.  I was going to release it and fish some more, but decided I would go catch two halibut and quit early.  Managed to bring the fish in without a net...though I had one.  Couple hundred yards past the markers and 1.3 miles out, I manage two chickens right as the tide is turning and start heading in just as the current was turing north.  Launched at 9:30am.  Out of the water by 1pm.  Not bad.

So first the underwater video.  I'll edit out my gopro video though rain and moisture in my housing made for less than stellar footage.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lower Cook Inlet Halibut. April 16, 2016

Halibut fishing in April…hard to believe.  But in reality, I know of folks off of kayaks who caught halibut in January this year though they had to release them.

Still it’s not something I would have thought to be productive despite fishing these waters since I was a kid.  I have seen the occasional halibut catches during the winter king season posted and this year those numbers have increased for sure.  Warmer water?  Something else going on like with the common murre die offs?  I don’t know.  

It’s still hit and miss, but if you wanted to keep a limit of 10 pounders, it wouldn’t be much of a problem.  But we are also catching fish from 30 to 60 pounds enough to make it interesting.

On Saturday, I head out with my son around 3:30pm a few hours before low tide.  Fishing was relatively slow.  My first two fish came in the span of less than 20 minutes.  I guess the fish went 25 and 45 ish…In fact I was dealing with the first fish when the second fish strikes.

My son manages a small chicken at the end, and I release several more ping pong paddles.

Sunday, my son releases two oversized ping pong paddles…maybe tennis racket head size.  I manage something on the order of a dozen sculpins.  So its still slow, but enough fish to make it interesting with a decent chance at a 30 plus pound fish.

I struggled with my fishing and near disastrous mistakes were made.  It’s amazing what was so easy last season was so difficult after a half year layoff from halibut fishing.  

I heard of at least two kings caught by the kayak crew.  We tried for about 3 hours on Sunday and my son had one really good takedown where the fish didn’t stick.  

One oddity to note was that both large halibut had what looked like a pollock.  Other kayakers reported running into schools of pollock.  Odd to see a halibut without crab in it.  Other anglers reported seeing sand lances but no more hooligan and no herring.

It only gets better from here!!!!   

Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 Homer Winter King Derby! Out fished by Ryu again!!!!

Ryu and I enter the Homer Winter King Derby along ten or so other kayak anglers.  We had a great time!!!

Ryu is the first Kayaker to hook up and he did great!  Despite dad yelling instruction (which he couldn't follow himself later to lose a big coming), Ryu keeps his composure and successfully lands the fish with me netting the fish.

At first Ryu thought he was reeling in a pollock as the king steadily swam towards him.  Once at the kayak, Ryu realizes that its no pollock...not even a small king...but a possible contender!  He was worried about the fish coming off because he felt he had not set the hook at all, but that point was moot after the fish takes a screaming run after it sees the kayak.  I had to hustle to get over there because I thought it was something smaller as well.  

Its hard to fully understand without being a parent but I'd like to think just about every parent would do just about anything to make their kids happy.  I think Ryu is generally a happy kid.

How fun is it to see them smile and get a big thank you for a long awaited Birthday gift or Christmas present?   That kind of happiness is something to cherish.  But how often do you get to make a kid so happy that he loses a little composure like he does in the video below. Ok, sorry buddy that I have to embarrass you a little bit, but this has to be the best video out of 200 I have ever shot!!!!

Ok, we didn't win any of the official prizes though he was only a pound off of winning the youth division (youth winner was off a powerboat of course) and maybe 18oz from making a top 20 finish!!!  But without a doubt, I think I was the biggest winner of the day along with Ryu.

This experience is going to be tough to beat.  Video is a tad longer than normal, but his reaction after landing the fish is priceless.  Its something I know I will remember forever.  I hope he does too.

I am proud of ya buddy!

Here's the video:

A few pictures

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My 2016 Plans for the Homer Winter King Derby

My 2016 Homer winter king derby planning and strategies

First off, I want to make sure everyone understands that I am no veteran of this derby.  I have fished it for three years getting totally skunked the first two years.  Last year I caught one fish the day before the derby and got lucky and landed another the day of the derby.  I did catch a king February of 2016 but the ocean conditions are different.  So take it for what it’s worth, but just as much for my benefit as anyone, I am going to layout how I am going to approach this derby.  If you choose to follow any of advice, just remember its being given by a guy who has fished three of these derbies and has only entered one fish.  Haha.  Buyer beware!  Good thing it's free...except for your time!  

Before we begin, I highly recommend checking out the rules of the derby at: Homer winter king derby rules

So, first, let’s look at the basic conditions that we will be facing outside of weather.  The tides are not favorable in my opinion.  Lines in at 9am and out at 4pm means I don’t get the fish the last half of the outgoing tide which has generally been more consistent for me.  A significant portion of the derby will be fished during slow/slack high tide which means the fish will be more spread out.  I may have an hour or two at the 9am start time to fish some of my low water spots.  But location is going to be much more of a crapshoot this year I think.Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 10.21.21 AM.png

Now the general lay of the land….
Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 10.31.36 AM.png

So the above shot covers 99% of the areas I fish.  Depth are in feet.  I would venture to guess that 75% or more of my fish come in this section between the two mileage pins on th map below.  But once again this is at low tide.  
Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 10.34.56 AM.png

My “highwater” fishing tends to be more spread out.  I will fish along the contour lines all the way out to the Green can as well as head up the spit if I think the fish are shallower.  Basically everywhere.  I realize that’s not helpful but it just seems to be the case.

If the pollock are not around (and they seem to be around right now) you can fish off the very tip of the spit.  Typically there are too many pollock in the area to fish.  But if you can avoid the pollock, like any “point” it can concentrate fish.

So even in the areas I have covered the water is from 1 ft to 150ft or more deep.  So where do I plan to fish?  I don't know.  I will let my sonar tell me.  BUT here’s the way I plan to approach things.  So a few tidbits of intel to consider:

  1. Last year I caught both king using a 10oz sinker ahead of a flasher.  That means I caught the fish less than 20ft down if my recollection serves me correct, it was in about 60ft of water.

  2. Many powerboaters I have spoken to fish right off the bottom during the winter months.  That’s one of the reasons why if you follow some of the Alaska boards, you will  notice a lot of the trollers are also hooking up to halibut.  

  3. My February king came while downrigging in 100ft of water at 85 ft down.  But I marked fish at 40ft and cranked my gear up and immediately got the strike.  

Well, that intel seems like they could be anywhere.  Well once again, that’s the truth of it.  But here is my plan….after re-reading it, it doesn’t seem very useful but….

  1. At lines in, it will be well past sunrise.  That’s too bad.  I have found that while it is still a little dark, the fish tend to be higher in the water column.  I still plan to start my son off with my sinker and flasher combo working shallow at first...20 to 40 ft of water along the condos.  I don’t have time to teach downrigger use to my son.  I am going to outfit him with a 10oz sinker and the heaviest (double weight) deep six diver in lieu of a downrigger.  I think he can get it down to 50ft or more if lets out 100 ft maybe a bit more of line.  Unlike normal fishing where we pass time fishing side by side, he is capable enough to fish alone so until we find fish, he will be covering the shallower areas, and I will start scouting the deeper areas.

  2. I plan to start with my downrigger and start heading deeper always monitoring my sonar and changing depths accordingly.  Conventional wisdom says to fish right off the bottom.  I tend to fish 10 to 15 ft off the bottom as I believe the an actively feeding fish will have no issues chasing down bait 15 ft above them.  The only exception to this concept I think is when the kigns are known to be feeding on polychaetes worms.  Then they are probably looking “down” but I have to trust the flasher will get their attention.  Also the kings loaded up with these worms tend to come more from the Seldovia side.  I haven’t caught any kings off the spit with those worms in them but I have heard of stories where trollers drag up kings with “sore noses” where they have been rooting around the bottom for feed.

  3. As it gets closer to high tide, if I still haven’t caught anything, I plan to spend at least sometime fishing crazy shallow.  Under 20ft of water down to 10ft or so.  I think the incoming tide can push them up against the shoreline a little bit.  Not as much as during a fast outgoing current.  

  4. As a general rule, the less light available, I fish shallower.  The colder it is, the deeper I fish.
  5. Another primary consideration on where to fish is the clarity of the water.  Obviously you don’t want to be in brown murky waters, but there are always subtle difference in water clarity depending on things like surf action, water current and even algae blooms.  As a rule of thumb, the clearer the water the better the fishing has been for me.  But often time the dirty scummy water you see does not extend more than a few feet deep.  It's worth trying for sure, but given a choice, I like to fish the clearest water.

  6. Speaking of water clarity, when novices just look over the water, it’s hard not to wonder where to start. It’s a big ocean out there.   As I troll along, I ALWAYS head towards anything that looks different. Of course bird are an obvious sign.  Better that they are feeding actively, but I have been amazed that as I troll over an area with just resting birds, there are often bait fish deeper down.  It’s like the birds know they are there and are just waiting for them to come shallower.  But I am always looking for any subtle differences.  Is there a patch of flat calm water amongst the chop?  Is there a line of debris floating in a line along the surface?  Trolling along the edges of two distinct colored water is also a good bet.  


Bait vs lure:
20150927_151247.jpgMy winning fish last year came on the Silver Horde Coho Killer spoon.  I will be carrying a few of those.  I will say that I have not seen sandlance or heard of them.  My king had two pollock and in late November the fish were 2 to 4 inch herring.  So I will also be carrying a couple of slightly larger profile spoons.  Every year I gain a lot more confidence using artificials.  

But I have to say, I have been a life-long bait guy.  It’s going to be hard not to run herring at first.  I’m going to use red label.  If I can find some quality anchovies, I may even use them.

What’s probably going to happen is I run spoons when I am fishing deep on the downrigger and bait when fishing shallower with a sinker or diver.  Checking bait after every little tap from a 100ft down on a downrigger is no fun.  Ok, I am lazy.  

I have successfully run flies and hoochies.  Make sure you sue a swinging flasher and keep the leader length short and the leader extra thick, 50 to 100 lbs test as it helps to transfer the action of the flasher to the lure.  I just think spoons are a tad more productive.

I will let my son decide himself what he wants to use,  I bet he uses bait.  I think that’s actually a better choice for him even if strikes were proven to be 50/50.  The two hook trolling rig I use seems to hook fish MUCH better than a single hook spoon.  I like the Silver Horde Coho Killer because they are super light.  The heavier the spoon you run, the more leverage a fish has to throw it when you are fighting it.  The two hook gamakatsu rig is the lightest setup and often times both hooks are in the fish making it better for those a little less experienced in fighting fish.  


Personally I think the large flashers that swing side to side are more effective than the triangular flashers that spin on an axis.  For flies and hoochies, you have really no choice.  You have to use the flasher that swing side to side to give the hoochie or fly action.  

Despite saying the large swinging flashers are more effective, the past few years, about 90% my fishing has been with the triangular flashers. Two reasons that when kayaks are factored in, the in-line flashers are the way to go.

First is they seem to have less drag.  But it's important to keep in mind that added drag means the flasher is moving more water.  There are many that believe that the fish can detect this change in water pressure and it is a primary attractor of the fish.  It’s the primary reason I think these large swinging flashers are more effective off of a boat.  On a boat you can run heavy weights, troll faster to get the diver down, or are using a downriggger with big weights.  Drag becomes less of an issue.  

Meaning for the same weight or diver, you can get down deeper.  But maybe more importantly, Unlike the swinging flashers that require your sinker to be at least 1 ft or so away, you can attache the sinker directly to the flasher. This means you can increase the distance between the flasher and lure since one of the number one rules for kayak fishing is that your total leader length (i.e. when your gear can’t be reeled in any further) MUST be shorter than your rod length.    


I use 50 to 65 lbs powerpro braid as my main line.  I use 40 to 60 pound fluorocarbon for leader material.  Yah it’s heavy, but I have had at least a half dozen times my leader has come back completely sheared off.  I have no idea by what.  More importantly, I have had more than too many times where the leader has caught on the rudder or drive briefly.  I know guides that run 100lbs.  I can’t help but feel I would catch more using 12 to 20 pound leaders but...nah…not during a derby where the big fish will ALWAYS expose your weakest link.  

Rod & Reel:
For a reel, I like the lever action reels.  It just allows for more control while fighting a fish.  

My rod selection goes against I think conventional wisdom.  I have two rods.  One is a more conventional salmon rod I think 8ft Seeker with a parabolic softer action rated at 20lbs.  Love the rod, but I am going to use my other seeker rod, which also happens to be more goto Big Halibut rod.  It’s a 6ft Seeker Hercules rated for 40 to 80 pounds.  So the rating is much more like a halibut rod.  

So let’s think about why the 8ft softer rod is considered a more conventional rod for salmon trolling and also for downrigging vs a stiff 6ft halibut rod.   First I think the the whole big bend in a long soft rod for downrigging is better because it snaps up and takes up more of the slack line is a MYTH.  When I run the math, unless you are fishing 10ft down and the gear is less than 10ft behind the ball, that extra line pick up is just a very minor advantage that can be overcome easily.  Let’s say you have a ten foot rod, just for easy math bent in half.  when the rod snaps back up, it picks up 5 ft of line.  Even with braid, if you are fishing more than 50ft deep and have your gear say 20 to 30 ft behind the ball, that 5 ft of pickup is irrelevant.  

Another reason for a longer softer rod is that it protects the line and hook pulling out when a fish suddenly surges.  Well I am using 50pound test gear so I don’t need the line protection.  My drag is set at a super light 5 to 8 pounds and my kayak easily gives so I lower considerably the odds of a hook pulling out versus say a angler fishing 15 pounds of drag on a several thousand pound boat that also typical continues to troll hoping for multiple hook ups. We kayakers don't need to do that.  I think that really increases our hook up to landed ratio over a power boat.

The advantages of a shorter stiffer stick (oddly my halibut rod would be considered a softer parabolic action I think if we were using big halibut gear) shines when the fish is coming to the net.  It is a HUGE increase in fish control as you try and guide a fish into the net.  I can show you multiple videos of the difficulties in landing fish with long soft rod whether it is for halibut or salmon.  I would add the caveat that I try and land fish as quickly as humanly possible.  I do NOT subscribe to the make sure they are worn out before you net them school of thought.  The simple truth is the longer they are on the line, the greater chance of them coming off given you don’t just horse them in.  

Another advntage is when I set the hook, I set the hook by pedaling as fast as I can until the rod is fully loaded up.  Once the line tightens up, I think the stouter rod transfers the motion of the kayak more powerfully making for a better hook set.  

If I can get the fish close to the kayak quickly, the instant my gear touches the tip of my rod, I am immediately thinking about netting it.  I will say that I try and take a very good look to see how well it is hooked.  If it is lightly hooked, I of course back way off the pressure and it takes longer.  But if I see the hook is firmly in the corner of the mouth or I have two hooks in the fish, I will just clamped down and guide the fish into the net.  With a stiff rod and thick line, the fish is much less likely to be able to take off and miss the net.  

Rod Holder:

I am convinced you MUST use either the folbe or the scotty orca holders.  I have seen too many fish lost as a good fish pins the rod to the rod holder and because we are often sitting and off to one side, rod removal is difficult.

A few more random thoughts.  

  1. When using a downrigger and you want to check bait or whatever, first pop the line off the downrigger clip.  But then put the rod back in the rod holder and reel up the downrigger ball first.  I’ve had an abnormal amount of strikes on the free floating gear while I have been dealing with the downrigger ball.  

  2. When you catch a fish, obviously secure the fish, but IMMEDIATELY get your line back in the water.  Even if it’s just drifting around.  Once the bait is in the water, you can more properly deal with the fish.  I have had a few strikes due to the few extra minutes of “bait in the water” time...which coincidentally is the ONLY time you will ever get a strike.  LOL.

  3. Obviously you must show common courtesy in terms of fishing proximity of others.  BUT without a doubt the best fish finders on the planet are your eyes...or more accurately seeing other boats hooked up to fish.  If you see a fish hooked up, you’d be foolish to not immediately head that way.  Often times on a power boat where we deploy 4 lines or more, a bad day turns into a great day when multiple rods go off.  These fish do seem to school around and stick to an area for a while.  

  4. Most of us are pretty good anglers.  But one of the things I notice but don’t often comment on because I think everyone has their own style but in my opinion the second biggest error I see when landing fish after too long of a leader is that people have their drag set way too tight.  yah I realize that I am using 50 pound main line and 50 pound leader, but I always set my drag to not much more than 5 pounds or so.  Part of it is because I use braid.  Instead of the line being the shock absorber.  I let the kayak and the drag take that place.  5 pounds of drag will still allow the kayak to be pulled around.  Right as I net and or when I need to turn the fish, I just thumb down.  This also allows me to use the shorter stiffer rods I prefer.

  5. As a general rule, especially when i mark good fish while using a sinker, I will slow the troll down if the fish are below where I think the lure is running.  Then as I thhink my lure is getting to where the marked fish are I speed up. Two reasons, if its pollock, it discourages a strike.  If its kings, I think they strike more aggressively.  But I continue trolling until I am confident my gear has passed where I marked the fish.  Then I make a hard turn in a direction which lowers the speed and gives a different look and as I complete the turn, I am also passing over the same general area of the good marks.  I get a lot of strikes as I am turning hard and the gears changes speed. Often as it slows, then suddenly picks up speed as the line straightens out.  

  6. Do NOT be afraid to try something new.  Last year, I had a guide friend tell me the fish were in 8 ft of water.  Of course I was totally skeptical.  Moved into 8ft of water and 4 fish on in 30 minutes between my son and I.  Another example is if a lot of boats are in the area, I might fish a bit without a flasher.  Hoping something a little more subtle might get a strike.  I’ve caught enough kings without flashers using a barbie rod to know it at least has a chance.  During lunch breaks and rests, I plan to just drift around with a herring.

  7. Finally, perseverance pays.  The difference in this derby is one fish.  Zero fish sucks.  One fish is awesome.  The area is proven to hold fish,  It may not be hot fishing, but I GUARANTEE there is at least one respectable fish in that area.  As long as the bait is in the water, you have a chance,  Keep in mind, even off of powerboats, only one in 5 or 6 anglers land a fish.  

Monday, January 04, 2016

My 2015 Kayak fishing highlights!

A little anti climatic after posting my sons, but I had a pretty good year too!  Here's my 2015 highlights!