Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sitka Silvers

September 9, 2014

Approach to Sitka

Kathy had the early morning watch and shortly after sunrise she deployed our heavy duty trolling gear baited with a large artificial tuna lure.
Mt Edgecumbe in the pre-dawn

Waking from a short 4 hours of sleep, I was keen to get fishing and unaware that Kathy already had a line out, I rolled out of bed a few minutes later. I groggily wandered out on deck thinking I would deploy the fishing line and then found it already in the water. Perfect, now I could grab some coffee and enjoy the amazing scenery. Mt Edgecumbe was standing tall in the warm morning light, a welcome sentinel to the entrance to Sitka Sound.

Our crossing of the Gulf of Alaska went perfectly, our weather window held as predicted and we couldn't ask for much more this late in the sailing season.

I had about 1 sip of coffee and Kathy yelled 'fish on'!

Reeling in the line I figured we had a small Albacore, but much to my delight it was a 10 pound Silver Salmon. Without a net I heaved the fish up out of the water and on to the trampoline. This is not how you're supposed to catch and land salmon, it should take skill, patience and a landing net. Wow. Lucky us to catch one with Tuna gear while running at nearly 6 knots.

De-slimed and gutted silver ready for filleting.  This one is about 8 pounds.

Curious if we were on to some new fishing secret I began letting the line out again and before it was 20' behind the boat I had a hook up. This one got away in short order as the heavy offshore pole is far to stiff to properly play a salmon. The salmons mouth is too delicate for this size gear, a salmon should require some finesse. I put away the tuna gear and got out my proper salmon fishing pole and simply tied on a 3" blue and silver Crocodile spoon, no weight, no down rigger, no flasher, just slipped the spoon over the side and bam. Fish on. Wow! This was good fishing. I kept at it and in minutes of getting the line back in the water bam fish on. Between fighting the fish on the light tackle and landing them without a net, each fish probably took 10 - 15 minutes.

Kathy, always the trooper, slimed and gutted. In the few short moments between catching I was trying to clean up the blood trails I was making as I carried the fish from the stern to the bow where she was gutting. Once we had our limit of 5 I was my turn to wield the knife and fillet all the fish.

The biggest was 12 pounds dressed (bled and gutted) and the others were 8-10 pounds. We easily had 50 pounds of fresh fish to process. The first 2 fish I filleted and quickly got in the fridge and we'll plan to eat them fresh, the others I filleted and skinned. Then loaded 8 pints into our pressure canner. Each pint jar holds about 14-15 oz of fish and requires 100 minutes at pressure, so it looks like we'll be busy canning fish for half the day.

Loading the 'Little Cheif' Smoker for our first batch of smoked salmon with nearly 9 pounds of Silver salmon.

Blue skies and calm conditions today with sweeping views of the mountainous coastline. Alaska is truly a magical place.

Preparing to tie up in Sitka with Alaska style fenders.

That's it for now.