One evening while down on Afognak Island, my buddy Luke Randall decided it was time to spool up some of his new halibut reels. This sounds like a pretty straightforward task, as most of us have spooled miles of fishing line over the years, but I found out that putting line on a halibut reel is not as simple a routine as it sounds. [ Read Full Post ]
While madly snagging sockeye salmon in a remote cove on Afognak Island, we got a little more excitement than we had expected. We were busy casting our treble hooks into boiling schools of salmon, when our fishing buddy Mary shouted that she had one on the line. Then the salmon suddenly took off for the ocean, the drag screaming. [ Read Full Post ]
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 ]