The Kodiak Islands are famous for their enormous salmon runs, and I was smack dab in the middle of the sockeye run during my fishing trip on Afognak Island. My buddy Luke Randall sent me a picture a few days before my arrival of a school of hundreds of sockeye (red salmon) making their way up a small creek. I could hardly stand the wait, and before I knew it, we were pulling up into a lagoon chock full of silversides.
Reds are basically just krill feeders, and will almost never bite a lure. This means the best way to catch them is to snag them with a weighted treble hook. There’s no doubt that snagging salmon is considered despicable by a certain class of anglers (which is a class I will never be able to attain), and it's also illegal in some states. But is snagging reds really wrong? [ Read Full Post ]
It’s probably safe to say that most of us are perfectly adequate at filleting fish, but when approached with a deep sea monster like this big halibut, we would probably do more head scratching than cutting. That’s definitely not the case with my buddies at Afognak Wilderness Lodge, however. These guys clean more fish on a daily basis than most people (including myself) process in a year’s time.
Needless to say, they have the system down. Even with some hands-on help, I was embarrassed by how slow I was compared to everybody else. Garrett Wood, one of the lodge staff, patiently showed me the different techniques for each species of fish, explaining that it took him about 50-60 fish to really get the feel of it. Filleting is all about feel. It’s quite a bit different than the knife work I’m used to—skinning furry critters—and requires long, smooth strokes and really employs the flex of the blade. [ Read Full Post ]
Halibut are generally associated with either overpriced dinner plates, Dramamine-drugged days on choppy seas, or arm burning battles. You get the latter two here in Alaska, where halibut fishing is relatively accessible. Whether at $50 a plate, or a tank full of gas, halibut is without question one of the finest eating sea fish there is. Its flaky white meat is one of the most sought after in Alaska. If you’re fortunate enough to find some of this fresh delicacy, don’t bother with the fancy cook books, here’s a surefire way to prepare it that will give you thanksgiving food coma flashbacks. [ Read Full Post ]
On my first afternoon of fishing out on Afognak Island we already had hundreds of pounds of fish between our two boats.
Each morning we would head out a relatively short distance from the lodge and start walloping fish. Much of the halibut fishing in Alaska involves hours on the boat before you even get to the good spots, but out on Afognak, the fishing is pretty much all within an hour of the lodge. I caught my biggest halibut, a 150 pounder, only 20 minutes from camp. [ Read Full Post ]
Black bear season here in Alaska, or anywhere for that matter, brings its share of challenges. Don’t let a poorly placed shot be one of them.
When bowhunting bears, shot placement is super critical. They are tougher than nails, and don’t leave much of a blood trail, so putting a quick killing arrow right through the boiler room will help ensure a speedy recovery. [ Read Full Post ]
Forget about the Florida Keys and Venice, Louisiana. Alaska’s Afognak Island offers the greatest saltwater fishing on the planet (at least in my opinion). So with a little time off of work for the Fourth of July, I made my waydown to Afognak Wilderness Lodge for the first time during the summer months.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for, since I’ve seen Afognak only in the winter. I arrived at the Kodiak airport at 7:30 a.m. and had to rush over to the floatplane dock just in time to jump on a Beaver bound for Seal Bay. For what was supposed to be a relaxing trip, I was moving fast! As soon as we landed, I hauled my bags up the ramp, shoveled down a plate-full of breakfast, grabbed a set of rain gear, and then hit the water in search of halibut and lingcod.
After only about 45 minutes of running in the boat, we were on the fish. We found a spot where the whales were churning up baitfish while hundreds of birds hit the water. The sounder was going nuts, so we... [ Read Full Post ]
The Yukon River stretches 1,980 miles across the Last Frontier and basically drains half of the state’s water. It’s peppered with clear-water sloughs, feeder rivers, and marshes and it’s also home to some of the world’s largest pike.
The biggest challenge of pike fishing the Yukon is just getting to where the fish are. If you don’t have a boat or a floatplane, you can forget about it. The best spots are extremely difficult to reach even if you’re set up. My Yukon pike trip had been long overdue, so last month my cousin and I decided to take my boat up to the Big Muddy of the North to see what we could find. [ Read Full Post ]