Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sanak Island to Nagai Island, Shumagin group, Alaska

August 21, 2014

Sanak Island was a favorite. Salmon Bay lived up to it's name and was truly awe inspiring to see tens of thousands of salmon nosed up to the beach ready to head up the creek to the lake and streams beyond. At high tide we stood at the edge of the shallow creek as hundreds of fish attempted to navigate the shallow rivulets of water crossing the threshold of the beach. We witnessed many die trying as they skittered out of water and flopped helplessly as gulls swooped into peck out their eyes. We gave many a helping nudge back into the water, but nature was at work selecting only the fittest. The unlucky and weak perished and they lined the beach by the thousands, the sheer scale was incredible.

Seeking new adventures we moved to Northeast harbor and spent the afternoon fishing there on two occasions, the first involved some good catching with a bag limit of 5 beautiful bright silver Sockeye and the second only 2 as we timed the tide wrong and the falling water dispersed the fish throughout the bay. Pavlof Harbor was tricky, but the abandoned village was a treat to explore with half a dozen buildings, some with the most unlikely contents like a tractor parked in a kitchen and the wall boarded back up so outwardly nothing was askew.

One building was in very good condition and appeared to be used as a hunting outpost, it was stocked with literarily enough food to survive a winter in style, but the food was all expired in 2009. Writing on the wall indicated only occasionally used by passing fishermen and a 2007 Sanak Island clean up crew. The most recent date on any thing was 2013, but most things were from 2004.

Nearby maybe 20 test / monitoring wells had recently been installed and we suspect oil/gas or mineral exploitation is forth coming.

Sanak Peak beckoned and we made an exploratory trek about 1/3 of the way up in search of blueberries of which we found none. The slopes are either bare rock or a thick spongy carpet of moss that is so thick and springy that it defies explanation. Wild horses and cows roam the island and we deduce that a ranching operation failed around 2004 leaving the heard to fend for itself. Piles of both cattle and horse bones were frequently found at the base of cliffs near the shore, maybe the cows were trying to reach that tasty morsel just a little to close to the edge?

We set crab and prawn traps in several areas, but disappointedly pulled zeros. Late in the evenings we've been watching Deadliest Catch, but any tidbits of knowledge gained have yet to produce results. I even baited my pot with freshly caught Cod and after 6 hours all that remained was a skeleton, so whatever is down there is hungry. We've tried setting gear in 44 to 57 fathoms, but still no luck.

We over-nighted from Sanak last night and after a 2 hour session of beach combing at a cove called Saddler's Mistake, Nagai Island we're moving on to Falmouth Harbor for the night. We're happy to report that the beaches on Nagi are much cleaner than any others we've encountered, very little fishing net or floats, lots of 5 gallon oil buckets and only a few cans and plastic bottles and only one glass Saki bottle in several miles of beach.

That's it for now.

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