Fishing

Alaska Ride – June 20th – Day #26

Today is halibut fishing day! We woke up to blue skies and no wind – it doesn’t get any better than that. We walked down to the charter office to check in and get our licenses and derby tickets. There are only 6 people going today, so they are putting us on a smaller boat. We walk down to the boat an meet Monica the bait girl. This is only her second trip! We’ll try to be nice 🙂

It is a 1 1/2 hr ride out to the halibut fishing spot, but there was still tons to see along the way. Lots of sea otters – didn’t get any good group pictures, but did get this ok shot of an individual.

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There were also views of several volcanoes. Don’t remember their names though (I suppose I could go look at a map and figure it out, but I’m a bit tired and lazy tonight)

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We get to the spot and the captain anchors the boat. Put my line down and I get the first fish on! Which I promptly lose – we are using circle hooks and it is bad to try and set the hook. We re-bait my line and I get another hook up right away. First fish on the boat! The limit for halibut is two, but one of them needs to be less than 29”. This fish counted as my “small” one.

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There was a little bit of a lull, and then I was on fire. I probably caught the most fish on the boat. I lost track of the number I was throwing back – my goal was to catch a “big” one for my second fish. Eventually I get a pretty nice one – the captain said it was 25#, so I’m gonna believe him. I think it ended up being the 2nd largest fish on the boat. This also sets me as the first person with a limit.

Meanwhile, the old man can’t catch a thing. He keeps getting strikes and no hook ups. The captain was worried that the boat was going to run out of bait. Eventually, he does finally catch his fish.DSC03594

about to come aboard!

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we took a picture on the way back in. The fish closest to us it the largest one…it doesn’t look that much larger in the picture, but it was.

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Once back in port, we had a fish processor come down to the boat and pick up our fish. They will vacuum seal it in 1# bags for us, flash freeze them, and then FedEx them home. Although, it is probably cheaper to just buy the fish at Costco (the whole process ended up being ~$12/lb)

After taking showers, we went down to the Salty Dawg Saloon for a beer. It is a pretty cool place, but the beers were expensive.

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We moved on from the Salty Dawg to a restaurant and had a nice shrimp dinner. After a 15 minute walk back to the hotel, my dad realized he forgot his camera at the restaurant. So, we got a little extra exercise tonight.

Tomorrow we start pointing our bikes toward home! Right now it looks like we should be home right around the end of the month.

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Alaska Ride – June 19th – Day #25

Woke up in our stinky room – smoking rooms suck. We quickly dressed and went out to breakfast at ihop. After we finished up, it was off to get my tire installed.

We showed up at the motorcycle dealer, and they had the shop door open waiting for me. They got right on the tire and it took 1/2 hr max to get it installed. Then we hit Fred Meyer for some supplies – we need lunch for the halibut fishing trip tomorrow.

We drove the 2 hours back to the Harley Dealer, and picked up some beer for the guys along the way. Once we were back at the shop, it was time to mount the tire. There is a spacer between the wheel and the brake caliper mount that was a bitch to get in. We eventually did it though. Then it was time to pack the bike.

I also had to get the rental car back to the airport (and then back to the HD dealer). Turns out they needed to pick up a bike near the airport, so I drove the rental car to the airport to return it, and the truck swung by and brought me back (did I mention these guys rock?)

Now it was time to go. Got all geared up and said good bye to all the guys at the dealer. Did a couple of laps around the parking lot to test out the rear brake. Once I decided all was well, it was time to head off to Homer.

Dropping into Homer is really cool. You approach on a downhill toward the town. You can see the spit with mountains and glaciers as a backdrop. Even after all of the mountains we’ve seen on the trip, this was still one of the coolest views.

We checked into the hotel with no issues. Once we get the bikes unloaded and our gear in our rooms, it was time to head out to dinner – we haven’t had any food since breakfast! We ate at the restaurant in the hotel, which had some spectacular views of the mountains and people fishing on the spit. We even had a Bald Eagle buzz by and land on the roof just above us.

Mountain views from the restaurant.

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Zoom in on the glacier

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More mountain views.

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This dinner was our “end of the road” celebration. Once we leave Homer, we are officially on our way home. There are still some cool adventures we haven’t done yet, but every mile we travel is a mile closer to home. So, I splurged for dinner and got King Crab legs.

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And Chocolate Lave Cake for dessert.

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after dinner, we walked down the spit to find the halibut charter office. We found it, and it seems to be about a 15 minute walk away. We chatted with the ladies working the desk – our check in time is at 7:30a tomorrow morning. The limit is 2 halibut, and one of them must be less than 29” long.

On the way back to our room, we walked along the marina

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Back at the room, my dad booked us a ferry for part of the trip back. We’ll be going from Haines to Price Rupert via ferry. We may take the Prince Rupert to Port Hardy ferry after that, or we may just ride home from Prince Rupert, we’ll probably decide on the fly. Given the ferry dates, we should be getting home on June 30th or July 1st.

Alaska Ride – June 5th – Day #11

Today was our first rest day. We did not ride the bikes at all today, just did some chores and walked around Dawson City. The first task of the day was to do laundry.

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I needed to get the laundry done so I could have clean clothes to put on after I took a shower. Of course the clothes I was wearing didn’t get washed, so I brought them in the shower with me and washed them by hand. Put another $1 in the drier and all my clothes were clean! I also managed to get some shampoo and ditch that other stuff that I was using.

We spent some time walking around the waterfront. You have to take a ferry to get across the river and continue on to Alaska, we watched it go back and forth for a bit.

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We checked back in at the info centers to get the latest updates on the Dempster. Everything sounds good. There is a card lock gas station at the start of the Dempster (there used to be a resort there that burned down). The lady at the info center called the owner and verified that our non-chipped credit cards will work. We did all of our fuel range planning from Dawson City, so being able to top off our tanks after 25 miles will add a bit more buffer to our calculations.

The weather is improving over the next week, so we are good to start for tomorrow. Although it is raining outside right now. We’ll make the final call in the morning based on the weather.

We purchased our fishing licenses, so now we can legally fish at all the streams we ride by and never stop at. Maybe we’ll have a bit more incentive to stop now, although I’m not sure how excited I am about getting fish smell on me while I’m tent camping in Grizzly country.

Stopped at the hardware store to pick up a screw to replace the one I busted yesterday. Fixed that up, and then opened my top box to find out that it leaked as well. Now my passport is all wet. I shouldn’t have to use it though, my passport card should be good enough. I need to figure out why the panniers are leaking – i may have them too full so I’m not getting a good seal around the top. I’m a bit disappointed since these cost double compared to the panniers I sold with my KLR.

For dinner we hit the downtown hotel. They had an awesome guy on the piano for entertainment while we ate. At 9p, they started serving up the sour toe cocktail. We watched for a bit, but I weenied out. Maybe on our way back through. I did get a picture of the official human toe though…

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This will probably be the last entry for a few days. I don’t think I’ll have an internet connection until we get back to Dawson City in four or five days. It’s going to be a little scary, but a lot of fun!

Lake Pleasant

After the big race, I decided to stay in Arizona for a few more days.  My parents drove their RV down from Seattle to find the sun, so I hitched a ride on their couch for a few days.  We stayed at Lake Pleasant Regional Park.  This is a big park around, surprise, Lake Pleasant.

The campsite was on top of a small hill overlooking the reservoir.

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We brought kayaks along, and my dad and I spent quite a bit of time fishing. As much as I hate to admit it, I did not catch any fish while my dad caught a nice Largemouth Bass and a decent sized Striped Bass.

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I love stargazing while I’m out camping.  Unfortunately, the moon was out making things difficult because it is too bright.  One night, Jupiter was very close to the moon (the picture came out surprisingly well for being a handheld photo).

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There is really only one short hiking trail in the park – a bit of a disappointment given the size.  I spent one afternoon with my Mom following the trail through the desert.

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There were a few critters around, but not as many as I expected to see.  There were a few rodents and lizards around, and the coyotes would howl like crazy at night.

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Overall, the park was ok – it would be better for a one night stay, there just aren’t enough activities to keep things interesting longer than that (unless you want to fish all of the time). This was a great extension to my trip, allowing me to hang out in the sun and relax while my legs recover.

Car Backpacking? Walupt Lake and Nannie Ridge Trail

Kim and I have been doing a bit of hiking lately, and we’ve decided to take it to the next level and do some backpacking.  So, we went to REI spent a ton of money on gear.  Now we need to go use it! 

To ease into things, and to try out the new gear, we decided to go car camping and do a hike that originated near the campground.  After doing a bit of research, the campground at Walupt Lake and the Nannie Ridge Trail looked like an ideal setup for this task.

We loaded up our packs (my new REI pack) as if we were going to go backpacking and tossed them in the truck.  The total weight of my gear was 35# while Kim’s was 27#.   Much of the gear that we are using I actually purchased for camping on my motorcycle.  Since I have a bit more room and can carry a bit more weight on the motorcycle, the gear is a bit on the heavier side.  I could trim this down quite a bit, but it would be spending some $$$ on a new sleeping bag and tent.

In addition to the new backpacking gear, I’m looking for a better camera to take hiking with me. I’ve been using my canon point and shoot, but I want to get something that takes higher quality pictures, but isn’t as large as bringing my Canon 1dmkii. I managed to borrow a Sony NEX 5N from my brother to try out.

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The goal for the first day was to get to the campground, set up the tent and go kayaking in the lake with our inflatable kayak.  Since we are taking the truck, the kayak is a bonus that we get since we aren’t actually backpacking.

Many of the trail reviews discussed all of the berries along the trail, and how lucky you are if you can eat them because other hikers and bears tend to nab them first.  So, I decide that we need to bring my bear spray just to be safe.  Normally I keep the spray in the garage with my motorcycle camping gear, but I couldn’t find it there.  I ended up searching the entire house for it, and never found it…so, we stopped at REI in Issaquah on the way down and picked up another canister.

The estimated drive time to the campground was about 3 hours.  With our detour to REI, lunch in Enumclaw, and driving down the dirt portions FS 21 (which is part of the WABDR as well) it took closer to 4 hours to actually get to the campsite.

The campground was quite a bit larger than I expected, and more crowded too!  We had hoped to get a spot right on the lake, but all of the lake sites were full.  The lake sites were also crowded together.  We ended up with a secluded site on the far side of the campground.  While it was a little bit of a walk to the lake (and the trailhead) we couldn’t see our neighbors on either side! Setting up the tent went pretty quickly and easily – I’ve done it many times on motorcycle trips.  The weather forecast was for hot dry weather, so I decided to skip putting up the rainfly.

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(note the chairs in the picture were “bonus” items that we brought because we were car camping, they were not included in the pack weights above).

Once we had the camp set up, we drove the truck to the lake and inflated the kayak.  Of course we needed to fish while we were kayaking!  There were fish jumping everywhere – unfortunately I did not have my fly fishing gear with me, but I did have my packable fishing rod (also not included in the pack weight above).  We spent a couple of hours touring around the lake with the fishing rod.  We lost one small trout about ten minutes after we started.

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After kayaking, it was time for dinner and a fire.  We brought some crappy fire starters that we couldn’t get to light, so Kim went back to the truck to scavenge for paper.  Not only did she come back with some paper, but she found my bear spray as well!  Once we had the fire started, we settled down for dinner.  Again we cheated a bit and brought some appetizers with us…but we did eat freeze dried food for our main course.

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After dinner we sat around the fire until after dark and then climbed into bed.

Nannie Ridge Trail

We were up early the next morning – neither of us slept very well.  Started chatting about 5:30a and actually rolled out of the tent around 6:30.  We made a quick breakfast and then loaded up our packs.  Since this hike was about 9 miles, and we hadn’t really been backpacking yet, we decided to “lightly” load our packs so we could start to get a feel for things.  We ended up with the packs in the 15#-20# range.

The first task was finding the trailhead from our campsite.  We had driven by it while picking out a campsite, but didn’t pay that much attention.  Fortunately it wasn’t too hard.  Where the trail exits the campground, there was a typical trailhead sign that said we needed a permit or face a $100 fine.  However, there were no permits or a box to place them once filled out.  We decide to continue on without a permit.  It turns out that the trailhead is for two different trails, and the permit station was where the trails split apart – about 100yds from the campground.

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Most of the elevation gain is in the first two miles of the hike.  It starts out as a nice hike through the forest.  The trail is fairly wide and there are plenty of signs that people take horses on the trail.  On the way up, there was a small creek crossing, and the remnants of several seasonal creeks that were now mostly dry.

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As we went up in altitude, the trail narrowed and the trees became a little more sparse.  Tons of wildflowers started popping up.  No evidence of any of the berries that I had read about.  After a little more than two miles, the trail comes to a crest.  At this point, there is a small trail that takes off to the summit of Nannie Peak, which is hidden from us by the trees.  We decide to go check it out.  After a short hike, the peak comes into view and we decide that it is beyond our ambition for the day.  We take a short break near a meadow with spectacular views of Mt Adams, and unfortunately a bazillion mosquitos.

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The mosquitoes forced this rest to be a quick one, so it was back down to the main trail to continue on.  The trail gives up a bit of altitude to skirt around some cliffs that weren’t really evident until further along the way.  We did come to one small snow crossing which didn’t prove to be too difficult.

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Hiking along the ridge was nice – not a lot of ups and downs, and the scenery was fairly open so you could get a good look around at things. 

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Eventually, we passed Sheep Lake and shortly thereafter  intersected with the Pacific Crest Trail, which was our turnaround point.  Near the intersection, there was a tent set up with nobody around.  This was the first evidence of people that we had seen on the entire hike.

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We hiked back to Sheep Lake and had a nice leisurely lunch.DSC02555

After lunch, we hiked back down the same way we came up.  The views on the way back were much more interesting. Mt Adams was a constant backdrop in this direction.

We finally saw our first hiker with about a mile and a half to go on the trip…we were hoping to not see anyone, but we couldn’t complain too much.

Once we were back to the campsite, we dropped off our gear and went for a quick swim in the lake.

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Then it was some wine (another advantage of car camping), dinner, and off to bed early.

The next day was pretty straightforward – wake up, eat breakfast, break camp an drive home!  Good first backpacking test for us.

Overall, hiking with the pack on was a bit harder than I had expected.  Starting off with the pack on felt easy, and it didn’t bother me much during the hike. My knees got a bit sore coming down the hill at the end.  I really noticed the weight (or lack thereof) was when I would take it off at a break.

As for the camera, I’m still unsure.  I mostly used it in the various automatic modes since I didn’t really have time to become familiar with it.  In these modes, it seemed to be really aggressive about shifting the ISO up – as a result, a lot of the pictures were very noisy when viewed full size.  The advantage was that you could take photos in extremely low light.  I’ll have to play with it more in the manual modes before I decide if it is the right choice for me.

Gone Fishin’, Again

Well, the plan this week was to go halibut and lingcod fishing on Wednesday and Thursday.  On the weekend, it looked like the weather was going to be bad, so we started to prep for fly fishing in Eastern Washington instead.  However, on Monday, the wind forecast improved, so we decided to hit the Halibut and Lingcod after all.

On Wednesday morning, we stopped by John’s Sporting Goods to get some pointers on where and how to catch halibut.  He talked us out of going to Hein Bank, and told us to go to Partridge Bank instead.  After dropping $100 on gear that we probably didn’t need, we continued our way up to Anacortes.

Halibut is only open Thursdays-Saturdays, so we decided to hit the lingcod on Wednesday afternoon.  Did I mention it rained on Wednesday?  It pretty much rained nonstop, the entire time we were out there.  Fishing was good though, and we had our limits in about an hour.  Threw back several that were too small, and one monster (38”) that was too big (there is a 36” maximum size limit for lingcod, all of the really big ones are females).

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Thursday came and it was time to chase after halibut.  There was a slight breeze in the morning, but we cruised out to Partridge Bank at normal cruising speed for the Arima.  We got our lines down for the first pass and things were looking good.  As we moved around for our second drift through the area, the wind started to pick up, to the point that we were having issues keeping our bait on the bottom.  Then the seas started to pick up, so after about the fourth pass, we decided to head to the islands to see if we could get a better drift while going after lingcod again.  So, no halibut for us.

The ride back up to the islands was a little bumpy.  We decided to pull into McArdle Bay to get out of the seas and relax for a bit while we changed from halibut gear over to lingcod gear.  Then, it was off to the secret lingcod spot.  Well, it was just as windy there as it was out halibut fishing.  In order to keep the line down, I backed the boat into the wind while my Dad fished.  We nailed one right away using this technique (see video here).

We tried a few more passes through the secret spot, but it was tough fishing and we were worn out from getting banged around all morning.  We then had a bit of a rough ride back to port.  Overall it was a great trip – three lings in two days, plus threw back an oversized one.  Better than a good day of trout fishing!

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Video that my Dad took:

http://www.vimeo.com/23717684

Opening Day of Lingcod Season

May 1st was opening day of Lingcod season.  So, we made our traditional trip up to Anacortes to go after the big ones.  Grandpa and I went up on Saturday afternoon – we needed to go put the boat in the water so it would be ready to go first thing in the morning.  I bought an adjustable drop hitch for the new truck on the way up, slapped it on, backed the truck up to the boat by myself with the cool backup camera, hooked on the boat – Uh Oh, the plug doesn’t reach the outlet on the back of the truck!  After doing the rounds at the auto parts stores in Anacortes, we ended up getting a cool adapter at West Marine.   Once the trailer was plugged in, went over to Washington Park and dropped it in the water.IMG_0080

Tide change was around 9:45a, so we wanted to leave the dock around 7:30a.  Actually left around 7:45 and got to the secret spot around 8:15.  On the first pass through, Mark nailed one about 29” long.  Next pass, I got one that was barely legal (26”).  We ended up catching a few small ones, and a rockfish before catching a couple more keepers.  The limit is one – we had the whole boat limited by 9:45.

Towed the Jeep back from Anacortes so that Melissa will have a car to drive.  The new truck handled it without issues – got 13mpg on the way home.  Not too bad.

More Pictures….

Caught this one lookin Smile.

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Mark and Ryan with one that was just a little too small – had to throw it back.

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Awesome day!

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Limits of Lings!

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More pictures and a video can be found at http://charlessk.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/skyline-sky-line-and-lingcod-opener-2011/.