For about the past 10 years or so, I've been wanting to head up to S.E. Alaska and fish with Robbo and his operation out of Craig. I vividly remember when photos surfaced of summerruns father's 70+ king and I was hooked. I *had* to get up there someday. It was really only a matter of time. On the other hand, I've been fishing with Bob on the Kasilof since 2000 and that's a hard operation to leave. It just so happened that I'm not scheduled to fish The Ditch with Bob until 2011 so that left this summer open. As fate would have it, I got the call from Robbo asking me if I'd like to come up for some pre-client exploratory fishing in Craig. You already know what I said.
This is a trip report of what one can expect if they book a 3 or 4 day fishing package with Rob Endsley's Prince of Wales Sportfishing. Stories might be a big embellished, as my traveling companion was CanyonMan, Bucket, and Stam. That story alone is probably worthy of a separate post, but not today.
CanyonMan stopped by my house at 4:35 for the scheduled 5:00 am pick up to the airport. Why 4:35? Well, all I can say is that he showed up having not gone to sleep yet and had a grin on his face that said...er...well, you get the idea. We meet Bucket and Maris at the gate and the four of us promptly get upgrades to 1st class for the flight up. We are all 3-4 doubles in the bag by the time we land in Ketchikan. A quick walk down the hall and we're all set to fly out on the Pacific Airways flight to Craig. The plane ride was entertaining, but a bit loud (bring ear plugs) and a bit wobbly, but we made it to Craig only to see The Gringo Grande waiting for us at the dock with his new stretch-limo van. Robbo has this operation down to a science and you don't not feel used and abused by travel when you get to Craig. A quick 3-minute van ride and we're checked in to a couple of rooms at Ruth Ann's.
Not a bad view from the Honeymoon Suite:
The dock leading out to Man Town is just across the street from the hotel. Man Town was to be our home away from home for the next few days. The only time we were at the hotel was to sleep.
Robbo had just put the Polar Bear in to the water, so there was some work to be done in Man Town. First order of business was to rig up the rods, reels, and pipe jigs for the season's clients.
Man Town might not win any interior decorating awards, but Man Town was freakin' cool with it being upgraded every day. Bucket wasn't happy unless he had 6-8 projects going on at once, and he quickly took over Man Town and went to work.
While Bucket was busy pulling new circuits, making new fish signs, tables, and working on the Polar Bear, the rest of us went over to Tim's garage and started putting together the 400+ Prince of Wales Sportfishing fish boxes. The paper cuts were brutal.
The day wasn't going to be entirely wasted on work, as we had to pick up some beer and head out to Brother Bill, AKgirl, and Uncle Dave's remote mansion for a BBQ. These are the same people that hang out with BigStick over on that "other" board. I didn't meet a single person at the BBQ that wasn't cool as all hell. Unfortunately, BigStick was not at the event, so I can't say that I've met him in person. In the meantime, Maris and CanyonMan work the MonsterGrill and cook up some killer ka-bobs and ribs.
Damn good food and beer. The entertainment of the evening was when the 13 year old stold AKGals car and crashed it in a ditch. A BIG thanks to Katie and Dave for the evening! Sure hop you get hurt really bad in Africa, Dave!
Well, that wrapped out our first day in Las Craigas. We were to have breakfast at the Cafe and be on the boat by 6:00 am for a run to the Chicken Hole to see what was in the water.
Good thing we left the BBQ somewhat early, as we were a man down as soon as we left. Casanova had a long day.
The 5:00 am alarm came way too quickly, but after a good breakfast, we were on the Polar Bear zooming our way towards the Chicken Hole and the first drops of the season.
Robbo decked out the Polar Bear in new state-of-the-art hidef Lowarance electronics and was right at home in his "office".
Maris has done this before and it didn't take him too long to find his favorite seat on the boat.
Mooching! Mooching! and more Mooching!
Once at the Chicken Hole, rods were grabbed, herring were slapped on the hooks, and away our baits went to the bottom. Didn't take too long before I hooked up on one of the many mid-20's slab of the day. These fish bit like champions and fought like hell. Robbo uses top of the line new 8'6" Salmon Mooching Lamiglass rods and line counting Shimano reels that result in a fun time with a king salmon!
Maris was not to be denied as well.
I was on a roll. Another slab for me as Maris silently flips me off behind my back.
Don't ever count out CanyonMan. The guy is a salmon-catching machine!
Maris with a smile on his face!
It wasn't even noon yet and it was time for us to head to deep water for some halibut and bottom fish. Not a bad haul for this crew.
We left the Chicken Hole in search of other fishing grounds to see what was there and what wasn't there. On the way, we passed some of Maris's buddies.
At this point, we started fishing for halibut and other bottom fish. Plenty of paddle and chicken halibut were caught, but nothing worth of a photo or two. Eventually, we'd come across some fish that we really didn't want to harm, but once caught, they were dead.
I'm going straight to hell for killing this awesome yelloweye.
The rule of thumb down on the ocean floor is if you can fit it in your mouth, you'd better eat it. Poor little fishy.....
We found a few lings to play with during our time on the water.....
Wildlife was aplenty. I ended up seeing sea otthers, stellar sealions, killer wales, bald eagles, and even Harry the Humpback Whale stopped by to raise a flipper at us.
Back at the dock after a hard day of fishing, CanyonMan poses with some salmon on Bucket's newly crafted Prince of Wales Sportfishing sign and meat hooks. Looks like he needs to turn the hooks 90 degrees to get the fish to show up better.
After a hard day on the water, what else is there to do? Why, throw out some crab pots, of course!
Prince of Wales Deadliest Catch!
Because without crab pots, how else would anyone be able to sit down at Man Town and eat fresh dungeness crab?
End of Part 1.........