The fishing up here in Sitka has been donkey kong. The best salmon run they have seen in 20 years. We have had many days where we get our limit in just over an hour. From there, we usually chase halibut. When halibut fishing we have had trouble getting our baits down to the bottom (where halibut generally live) as silvers and king salmon have been taking them mid-water. The weather has been absolutely wonderful also. Considering Sitka is a “temperate rainforest” I haven’t even seen rain in weeks. I have made some amazing memories that I will never forget.
Although I haven’t had a day off since mid-July I have been finding a good amount of free time to have a lot of fun, much of that being fly fishing. There are 5 species of salmon in the north pacific: Chum (dog) salmon, pink salmon, silver (coho) salmon, sockeye (reds) salmon, and king (chinook) salmon, So far I have landed 3 of the 5 species on my light 6-weight fly rod: King, pink, and chum. I won’t have a chance at sockeye but I hope to get a silver in the next week before I leave. It’s crazy how fast this whole summer has flown by. Although I look forward to getting back to Minnesota to see family/friends and relax on the pontoon with an ice cold beverage of choice, I will miss this place. Sitka truly grows on you and with every day I spend up here my passion for fishing grows. I can’t speak highly enough about the crew I work with. It makes all the world of difference living with great people and working with a great captain/crew. This summer is one for the books.
I now remember exactly why I decided to come back to Sitka this summer. This place is unbeatable. I am so fortunate to have this opportunity again. What we do along with the amazing scenery makes 90 hour weeks fun. Derek has had a rough few weeks between getting over sea sickness, and more recently salmon poisoning and infection putting him off the water for a few days. However, he is pushing through just fine and will turn out to be a great deckhand. The first month is always tough as there is a lot of pressure on you. There are so many situations that you are required to know exactly what to do and there is so much information to pick up on. We have been blessed with phenomenal weather and I have already seen the sun more this year than last. A group cancelled on my boat and my schedule opened up for 3 days. The last few days have been INCREDIBLE. Some of the best days of my life. They wouldn’t have been nearly as fun as they were if they weren’t spent with some of the greatest people. On Sunday I went fun fishing with a boat of Angling Unlimited crew members and we limited on kings and halibut on a beautiful day. The following day we decided to take a day hike up to the summit of Mt Edgecumbe. So we grabbed our bear protection (.460 mag and a 12 gauge), left the docks at 4:30 am and boated out to Kruzof island. From there we took a skiff to land on the volcanic black sandy beach and began our 14 mile hike up and down the dormant volcano. The view was amazing until we got into the clouds and crazy wind at the peak. It’s pretty awesome to now look at the 3,202 foot monument of Sitka and know that you have taken it on and climbed to the summit. Loving life up here
6 years ago I drew a DNR guided youth hunt for spring turkey hunting. My father and I talked with our guide and met him near Lakeville, MN at 4:00 am. That day at 10:30 a.m. began the addiction I now have for turkey hunting as I bagged a monster 25 pound tom with a 12 inch beard and 2 inch spurs. Ever since then I have gone out every spring. Last year my buddy and I were lucky enough to double up on two nice toms at the same time. A few days after that I took my father out and called in a beautiful 24 pound Tom with a 12 inch beard for him. This year my father and I have decided to go traditional and use only bow and arrow. This takes an already challenging hunt to the extreme. Today we saw 9 birds total. Lots of action but because of the weather they were very quiet. I called out a couple jakes within shooting range with bows but there are enough big boys in the neighborhood that makes it worth passing up a young guy. Tomorrow’s weather is looking up to be in our favor and excitement is rising. Hearing a big Tom scream a gobble in response to your call is one of the most exciting things hunting has to offer. Turkey calling is much different than other game calls in the fact that you are having a “conversation” with a mating tom acting as a lonely hen looking for a little lovin’. Unlike waterfowl calling, it is a back and forth interaction and you have to “feel” the bird and act accordingly. You have to know when to be soft with calls, when to hammer on it, and above all when to shut up. I practiced for hours on hours in my room with all sorts of calls but replicating sound recordings from your computer does not make you a great caller. Experience interacting with the animals is, in my opinion, the only thing that will make you good at it. Although they seem to be unintelligent birds their survival skills make them a very tough hunt. They have phenomenal hearing and vision. They are able to pinpoint noises from over a mile away and they have a 270 degree point of view with vision which is 3 times better than the humans. Once those senses catch onto the slightest peep or movement you make, they run up to 25 mph and fly up to 55 mph. One wrong squeak from your calls and you can bet that it raises enough curiosity in a wild turkey to make him stay where he is at. Between their keen senses, the time and effort required in the hunt, and the excitement that these goofy birds provide makes spring turkey one of my favorite types of hunt. Whether you even see one or not, its tough to complain about being in the great outdoors on a nice spring day. I can’t think of a better way to send me off to Alaska than some father-son time in a turkey blind.
Sitka, Alaska sits in the Sitka sound which connects to the gulf of Alaska where we take our clients to fish. Geographically, Sitka is a temperate rainforest and consists of 3 islands, (Archipelago, Baranof, and Chicagoff) making up the largest square mileage of any other town in the US of A. Baranoff island is almost the size of Delaware and the one island alone is said to hold more brown and grizzly bears than all of the lower 48 states combined. The town sits in Southeast Alaska not too far South from the state capital, Juneau, and just west off of mainland British Columbia. There is a strong and very present Russian culture that has influenced the town to this day as Sitka was the capital of Russian America. During world war 2, Sitka was a strong point to hold and concrete bunkers, cranes and many other items left behind from the war remain on islands through the sound. Sitka’s number 1 commodity? You guessed it, fish. For a good reason! It remains to be number 1 catch rate for salt water King Salmon where the “catch rate” is defined as the length of time your line is in the water before you hook a fish. The town’s population is said to triple in the summer because of fishing. Sitka has the largest fleet of smallcraft fishing boats in the whole state. The town is built on fishing and that’s very apparent immediately upon arriving in the town. Apart from the phenomenal angling it provides, the little town has much, much more to offer. It was named #9 in the top 20 small towns to visit by Smithsonian. Beautiful Mt Edgecumbe (picture connected) is the only dormant volcano in all of southeast Alaska. Many hiking trails are located everywhere around the town providing breathtaking views and unmatched natural beauty of untouched forests and ancient trees that you couldn’t put your arms around if you joined hands with 10 people. Waterfalls fueled by consistent melt from snow-capped mountains flow all year round. Wildlife is seen everywhere you go. Bald eagles are so abundant that they become pests on the dock. Between the unmatched fishing, natural beauty, originality, and rich culture it is no wonder many people’s hearts remain in Sitka, Alaska, the “small drinking town with a fishing problem.” There is simply no comparable place in the world.
The spring semester is quickly coming to a close. Between final exams, spending time with family, and turkey hunting it will be a blink of an eye before my childhood friend and I go on our greatest adventure and hop on an airplane to “The Last Frontier”. This will be my second summer up in Sitka, Alaska. Leaving Minnesota for 3 months definitely has its downs. 3 months of 90-100 hours of work per week grows long and I miss the cabin life, my family, my friends, and those special to me. In contrast, I’m young and this is the time to be crazy and do things, like this, that I will remember for the rest of my life. Despite last summer being, weather-wise, “the worst summer I have seen in many many years” according to the co-owner of the family-owned company I work for, it was nothing short of a dream and I get more and more excited as the day gets closer. Last summer, there were 10 of us guys in a 3 bedroom house right on the dock where we busted our ass day in and day out. Working and living with that group has impacted my life in more positive ways than I have time to explain in one blog post. It was sad to hear some of you will not be back this summer. However, I look forward to befriending the new young bucks that will, hopefully, take as much out of their first year as I did mine.
A special thank you goes out to my friends and family who continue to support me through all of my crazy ideas and adventures. Y’all are the best.