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Old 07-30-2020, 01:17 PM   #1
Mahigeer
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Alaska trip 7/20-25/2020 part one.

ALASKA TRIP 7/20-25/2020




After about a seven months of planning, making lists and purchasing various lures, it was finally time to get on the Alaska Airlines, Airbus A320 plane. I had seen almost every videos of fishing in Alaska and studied the various lures, bait, etc. I must have watched the Stoked On Fishing (SOF) on YouTube and TV, so many times that I can almost recite the dialog!
Below is the account of that trip. As usual it is a long and detailed post. Somewhat like a travel log, but also a fishing adventure tail.










In December of 2019, I noticed that the crew of the Stoked On Fishing is traveling for the second year to a small town called Gustavus, Alaska for filming a new fishing show. Having enjoyed a trip to Cedros Island several years back with them, I decided to join them and mark off one more item from my bucket list.
Their trip last year was in early July, thus not too many salmon were caught. Therefore, they made reservation later in July; for this year’s trip, it was from 20th to 25th.

By July first I had my bags packed 95% with all the purchases done. Only few personal items had to be added the last minute.

Then it came the Covid-19. Thus, there was a last minute glitch with regards to obtaining a Covid-19 test, 72 hours before arriving in the state. Which is now required by the State of Alaska before entering the state.
When it was resolved, a big burden was lifted from my shoulder. The trip was almost cancelled.






Monday July 20th, 2020




I was at the LAX for the 9:00 AM flight. The lines were very short to non-existence due to lack of travelers. Four of the ten of the Stoked On Fishing (SOF) group were in the same plane with me.
When I arrived at Seattle, about three hours later, we joined the rest of the crew who were there earlier flying from Orange County.



1-While waiting in Seattle-Tacoma Airport, we had some food and drinks. Swapped fish stories and contemplated the coming trip.

From left; it turns out that I get to fish with the same person that I had on the panga in Cedros Island.
Next is Shea of (SOF). His brother across from him. To the left of Shea is the angler who caught the big king salmon last year. Next to him is his son.
The lady was a freshwater angler on her first saltwater fishing trip.

We boarded a Boing 737-700 to fly to Juneau.
After a stop in Juneau to pick up more passengers, we arrived at Gustavus about 7:00 PM. There were maybe 20 people in the whole plane leaving for Gustavus from Juneau.



2-The Gustavus airport.




Covid-19 inspection:
3-There was a tent at the airport and before we left the airport we had to visit to submit our paper work. A filled declaration form, from the Alaska Health Department along with a written proof of the test taken within past 72 hrs. is submitted. More info on line if interested.




We were greeted by the Alaskan Anglers Inn staff and after loading the vans with our luggage, we took a 10 minutes ride to the lodge.
Before the Covid-19 issue there would have been a stop to pick up any adult beverages (not included in the package) before getting to the lodge. We now had to put in an order and the staff would get it for us. Less visitor contact with an elderly lady who runs the liquor store.



4-My room at the Alaskan Anglers Inn was great. A private bathroom was behind the wall with TV.





We were given dinner later than usual due to the late arrival time. Also we received instructions on how the system will work and the timing of various activities.
6:00 AM -----Breakfast
6:45 AM -----Van leaves for the dock
7:00 AM -----Boat leaves for fishing grounds [different captains fished different ways]
11:00 AM ----Boat leaves salmon grounds
3:00 PM -----Boat leaves halibut grounds
4:00 PM -----At the lodge (except on Saturday, the last day) [for some Jacuzzi time]
5:45 PM -----Appetizers served
6:00 PM -----Dinner is served
After dinner we had free time to visit the town, go river fishing * (more on that later), go on a trail, and even bike riding on the bikes that were available. No charge.

We were disappointed to hear that the rockfish season was to remain closed. But the King salmon limit was raised to two per year for now. So we did not try for Lingcod or Yelloweye. The fishing regulation can change with very short notices there.

After dinner I made a short tour of the lodge and proceeded to set rods with my left handed reels for the following week. I was in bed by 1:00 AM, for the 5:00 AM wakeup call.

My fellow anglers on the boat went for a walk and had a picture of a grizzly bear with a cub, not far from the lodge.

(*) According to the Google Maps, there was a river not far from the lodge. I had planned and brought a lot of gear for fly fishing, (including vest, waders, etc.) and bead fishing for Dolly Varden with a spinning gear.
My plan was to go after dinner, since it is still light until 10:00 PM! However, due to several reasons, I did not achieve my plan. The first night I had to setup the loaner rods with my left hand reels. There was also a grizzly bear and cub sighting not too far from the lodge. This I was told later.
Then each day after the full day of fishing and riding the waves, this old body needed the hot, bubbly Jacuzzi dip. The delicious dinners were also too good to miss.
The fish in the river would have been catch and release anyways, so as much as I wanted, somehow the river fishing did not happen. Next time my load would be lighter by not taking all that gear.
I think, even Shea who was planning to film some river fishing did not go. I may be wrong. Perhaps, we will see in the show if he did go.




We lost or released many fish. What would have been a jackpot winner on some boats in SC, was considered a pee wee and was released.

At the lodge we were told no rockfish, one halibut per day, 6 Coho salmon per day and two king salmon per year. Also the fish is divided by four per boat. Thus, everyone on the same boat comes home with some fish. At first this put a damper on my fishing, but it turned out alright later.

The plus side of sharing, is that like mentioned, everyone comes home with some fish. However, when I tried to use some of my many lures, scent juice, etc. it was not well received. Reason being if I did not catch fish to contribute to the boat, it was frowned about. So in one incident, after trying a different color Hoochie, I had to change to what the captain was using on the other rods.

On the surface it looks like not much to bring home. Some did not, but our group each had a full 50 lbs. box plus 1/3 of 50 lbs. box the last day. That is a lot of fish. Due to additional cost and handling issue of two boxes, I decided to give my 1/3 to others who did not do as good with halibut.






Tuesday July 21th, 2020




Breakfast was served at 6:00 AM, and by 6:45 AM, we were in the vans to take a 10 minutes ride to the dock.
Every day a cooler was taken to the dock that held our sandwiches and some other goodies and soft drinks.
I was surprised to see that I was assigned to the same captain that Shea of (SOF) had last year. His boat was called Raven.
My friend from the last Cedros Island trip was also on the same boat as me.


Every day we would first troll for salmon for about three hours. Then anchor at a different location for halibut.


5-Each captain has his favorite spot, and most of the boats are in view of each other. Most of the time.




I had started to take my pills on Saturday at home, to give my body a chance to adjust and not be sleepy on the boat. It did not work. I did not get sick because of the pill and my Relifband gadget. But I was still very sleepy. Fortunately, only for the first day.
The rest of the week we fished in calmer water and even in a rough swell on Saturday, I was not sick.
I was very proud of myself, I must say. I was even enjoying my sandwiches on the boat.


This day, the captain decided to go to the “open water” and it was rough part of the way and once we were there.
However, eventually it got calmer. Even the sun came out of the clouds. It had been hiding and raining for the past three weeks, according to the captain. The changed weather was a welcomed sight.




6-We are trolling for salmon. First day with four rods, after that with only two rods.

With only two rods, we took turn. The two who were not attending the rods, were in charge of reeling in the down riggers once the fish was hooked and driving the boat. The captain would net the fish, gut and gill fish and put it in the holding tank.

By Thursday, we were a fine tuned team.



7-This is where fish are kept.




8-Our captain is looking for the productive grounds.





9-The first sighting of killer whale (Orca).




10-Seems like a small one.




11-We had the same captain that Shea had last year. The other two anglers were friends who came together. And of course my friend from Cedros Island trip.




12-Some scenes from the area that we fished each day.



I was very grateful for many calm days like this.

We caught many fish, but did not take picture of each. Captain wanted to release the fish ASAP.
We did take time later to take fish pictures.



13-The first “gaffed fish” that measured 60” and at a cost of $400.00 to keep. It was caught on day one of fishing by angler holding the tape.

The term “Gaffed fish” is for a large fish inside of the slot limit.…. The halibut regulations in Alaska are confusing and change frequently. They are governed by federal law with big fines for unlawful take and possession.
There is one halibut per day bag limit per angler.
However, if I understand correctly, if a fish is outside of the slot limit, it could be purchased at the cost of $400.00 each, one per day. It does not count toward the daily limit. If the fish is bigger than 80”, it can be kept free, providing the one per day limit is not achieved yet.


Side note: Note the rod in the rod holder. During halibut fishing the baited rod was put in the holder (four rods per boat), then all the reeling was done with the rod in the holder. Once the fish is at the surface, the captain removes the rod and hands it to the angler. Captain then gaffes the fish and pulls it onboard. At which point he gives the heavy sinker (from 2 to 4 lbs.) to the angler to hold for captain’s safety. He then removes the 16/0 circle hook from the fish. Not sure why, since it was rods out of holder last year?



14-You have to be very strong to handle a big fish like this. The white side looks better in the photos.


This angler and his friend shared the $400.00 cost for this fish. According to a chart available based on length, the fish may be 110 plus lbs.



15-Great first day of fishing.




16-Captain fillets the fish on board in large section. Later at the lodge, the skin along with undesirable spots are removed, vacuum packed and flash frozen for the duration of the stay.




17-There is a newly built large pier for the ferry that comes to bring cars, supplies, etc. to the town. Below is the dock for the fishing boats.




18-More scenery from the pier.



19-At the lodge, there was an enclosure with four Jacuzzis and a wood burning fire pit in the middle.




20-After the boat ride and pulling on heavy halibut all day, the Jacuzzis were a rejuvenating break before dinner.




21-Tonight for dinner was elk on the menu, following a bowl of soup. Mussels were apatizer.




22-The recreation room was a nice place to spend time after dinner if you wished. There are other outdoor activities, if you have the energy.







23-There was even a small theater style room at the recreation building.




Early to bed for me every night except the first night.






Wednesday July 22th, 2020




24-Our chef in the middle. To his left the very hardworking manager. To his right another hard working staff. Here breakfast is being served.

The Staff was working hard to make sure we had the best time.


Covid-19 regulations:
Due to Covid-19 issue, instead of buffet style like last year (which was easier on the staff), we were served meals individually. This, to keep minimum contact of the consumable by everybody. In the dining room during meals, wearing masks was not practical. Neither was the (6) feet distancing. Since everybody had passed the test, we felt safe.

To keep the town people happy, who wanted no outside visitors, we wore masks to and from the lodge to the boats. Once we departed on the boat, we then removed masks.




25-The lodge was surrounded by beautiful scenery.



26-Where we stayed in Gustavus, Alaska. A town which was a 14 minutes’ plane ride from Juneau on Alaska Airlines.





27-This is a new ramp to go from street level to water level. With low tide it would be very steep. Usually when we left in the morning. On the return (in the afternoon) it would be at a lesser angle, and easier to get up the ramp.




28-Captain is getting ready to net a salmon. It was a Coho, or silverside.






29-A second “gaffed fish” (60”) halibut is being subdued by the captain. Notice the very large hook with rope attached to it. It is used to “gaff” the very large fish. The rope is attached to the boat, to make sure the large hook is not lost during the gaffing.




30-Catch of the day the second day of fishing.
One “gaffed fish” which was split four ways. One halibut per angler kept. Not a limit on Coho. But plenty of pink that fought a good fight. Especially against the current while trolling.


Pink salmon was kept in a separate holding tank.



31-One of my Coho salmons.




32-With exception of the (60”) fish, the fish we are holding may not be the one we landed!




33-Even the halibut cheeks were removed. Apparently it is sought after section of the halibut.




34-To your health. Wish you were here.




35-Tonight’s dinner is halibut. It must be purchased by the lodge from commercial fisherman to be served. I could not finish mine.




36-The gang of Stoked On Fishing sharing meals together.







Thursday July 23rd, 2020




37-We saw some sea lions. One took my friends salmon that he was fighting. The sea lion was very relaxed when we saw it, but as we past he saw the hooked fish and took it along with about $20.00 worth of salmon rig.




38-Humpback whales.










39-Bubble netting.
If you are not familiar with the term bubble netting, here is what I have learned:
When there is a school of bait fish available, the whales form a circle and dive. Then they blow bubbles and form a circular net made of bubbles (thus the name) surrounding the bait fish. The bait fish does not go through the bubble net, so it is sort of trapped. The whales then come up vertically with mouths open and gulp huge amount of bait.






40-Not enough whale pictures? Here are some more.



On the last day of full day fishing, on the way home we saw a lot of sea otters. They are too many and have decimated the crab population. Thus, considered by locals as pest! Captain did not slow down for picture as he did with others, like whales



41-My friend had hooked a halibut, and the captain was helping him land it.







42-One more good day of fishing.




43-More Coho salmon.




44-Every night at 5:45 PM, we would have appetizers before dinner. Tonight was deviled egg with salmon, of course.




45-Followed by salad with delicious dressing…….




46-….and Prime Rib.










Friday July 24th, 2020




47-These guys are almost as common of sea gulls up here. They like to scavenge for food rather than hunt!




48-While trolling two rods with Dodgers (not the baseball team……. hae, hae, hae.) and Hoochie (not what you think), we took turn holding a third rod with a red lure at the end. I was lucky to hook a King salmon.




49-This Nice King salmon was released promptly, since it was 1” short of legal limit.


The captain was happiest when he landed any fish. He did not like us losing fish, but it happened a lot.



50-Another days’ catch.




51-As seen here, the rod stays in the holder during reeling, with captain helping the keep the rod in the holder.


Not sure if it would have been better to remove the rod and pull, drop and reel?



52-That is one bait combo. The inners of pink salmon with its section. Called the bait bomb!!




53-A happy angler with his catch after waiting for seven months for the trip.




54-The Coho catch of the day.




55-Tonight’s dinner is a bucket of seafood which included,




56- ….corn on the cob,




57- …….potatoes and sausages,




58- ……..two kinds of crab,




59-……And of course lobster tails.







Saturday July 25th, 2020




Today was only a half day of fishing and for halibut only.

60-Today the water was rougher than previous days.





61-The gill of the fish is sliced, so it can bleed in the tank while we are fishing.




62-This monster (66”) halibut weighing about 150 lbs. was caught literally five minutes before we pulled anchor for the last time.

After watching the same rod for hours, I rotated with another angler who was using a jig. About 45 minutes later, the fish bit and the hook was set.
The captain could tell by the bend of his rods that it was going to be a big fish.
It was another “gaffe fish”, but we released it.



63-The fish was trashing too much for the captain to remove the hook in the water, so he brought it onboard for hook removal and picture. No gaff or tail snare was used. Just strong arm.
Here he is rubbing the belly of the fish to calm it down.




64-However, the fish got mad again and started to jump.




65-The “rodeo” riding captain once more calm the fish




66-So he can measure it. Sixty-six inches. It was then released with the help of the angler.




67-Saturday (the last day) it was BBQ, since we were at the lodge for lunch. We would leave (sadly) at 4:00 PM this day.




68-We were provided with heavy duty rain gear, if desired.

After last outing on the boat, we returned them to this location. What a service.



69-Our luggage was left here to be put in various vans on the way to the airport.



70-The airport is very small. Yet they have all the security measures as the big boys.




71-Lots of fields with these flowers.





72-On the plane ALL center seats were empty. It therefore; was more expensive to buy ticket the last minute.





73-Arieal view from the plane flying from Gustavus to Juneau.










74-My plane to fly from Juneau, Alaska to Seattle, Washington.

We took another Boeing 737-700 to Juneau and Seattle. From there I took a Boeing 737-900 to LAX.



75-There was a kids’ play room at the airport, to keep the waiting kids happy.




76-No one at my gate yet. Thanks to another passenger who let me use this cart. My backpack was 28 lbs. My other bag was 15 lbs. and camera bag about 3 lbs.




77-From the gate that I arrived to the departing gate, was a long hull. Including a short metro style train ride and long escalators.





78-I was at the airport from 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM, next day. Almost an empty airport with 99% places closed.






We lost or released many fish. What would have been a jackpot winner on some boats in SC, was considered a pee wee and was released.

At the lodge we were told no rockfish, one halibut per day, 6 Coho salmon per day and two king salmon per year. Also the fish is divided by four per boat. Thus, everyone on the same boat comes home with some fish. At first this put a damper on my fishing, but it turned out alright later.

The plus side of sharing, is that like mentioned, everyone comes home with some fish. However, when I tried to use some of my many lures, scent juice, etc. it was not well received. Reason being if I did not catch fish to contribute to the boat, it was frowned about. So in one incident, after trying a different color Hoochie, I had to change to what the captain was using on the other rod.

On the surface it looks like not much to bring home. Some did not, but our group each had a full 50 lbs. box plus 1/3 of 50 lbs. box the last day. That is a lot of fish. Due to additional cost and handling issue of two boxes, I decided to give my 1/3 to others who did not do as well with halibut.



I was on the plane once more having gotten very little sleep. By 10:00 AM I was home unloading my luggage. The daydream was over for now.

I plan to go back next year, much wiser, much lighter as per luggage.



Here are some links for the YouTube videos.
Alaskan Angler Inn, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2ptHJ7xI8Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpMzjajBEVg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlX3fR17Lso
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlX3fR17Lso&t=331s


The End.

P.S. See part two for advise on how not to repeat my mistakes.
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Old 07-30-2020, 03:12 PM   #2
Fishon14
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Your report makes me want to go back to Alaska.
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Old 07-30-2020, 04:23 PM   #3
Mahigeer
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Glad you like it.

Makobab used to say "don't wait 20 years, and then say I wish I had done it 20 year ago"

" If you want something bad enough, find a way to do it".


Unfortunately, time and money are the two biggest obstacles for what we really like to do.

Hope you make it.
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Old 07-30-2020, 04:35 PM   #4
matthew7!
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Great post!!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Old 07-30-2020, 05:15 PM   #5
Mahigeer
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Since there are interests in the cost of the trip, here is what I responded to a member here.


There was no discount due to Covid issue, since we did everything that normally is done. Their business has suffered enough. The town wants all of the lodges close. Some have closed.

The package excluding tips and alcohol was gone up this year to $3,690.00. If you pay by CC, the lodge charges additional 2%.
I was lucky to reserve an airline seat for about $635.00 round trip. The lady in the first picture at the bar had to pay $1,200, is what I heard.

Since the plane was not full, they had to makeup with last minute price hike.

I 100% recommend the lodge. I plan to go back next year, with or without the (SOF) gang. I have to see how nicer it is without all my extra weight.
I already paid $40.00 for the second check-in and close to $100.00 for freight for the fish.

I am even buying a new small freezer to keep the fish.

Hardworking staff. We all had the same captain for the duration, so I cannot speak about other captains.

There was notice on the back of the door as suggestion for the tip. $200.00=$40.00/day for captain and $150.00 tip for the housekeeping, others. I paid bit more.

I am glad you like the report.

Please be safe,
Hashem
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Old 07-30-2020, 08:02 PM   #6
YellowYaket
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Very nice report. I fished out of Valdez (highly recommended) for halibut and salmon and Ninilchik for halibut in 2018. Had a great time and brought home about 80 lbs of fish. Thinking about going back again in 2021, but it is an expensive trip so it might not happen. Thanks for posting. It looks like you had great fishing and a great time!
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Old 07-30-2020, 08:27 PM   #7
LEEZO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahigeer View Post
Glad you like it.

Makobab used to say "don't wait 20 years, and then say I wish I had done it 20 year ago"

" If you want something bad enough, find a way to do it".


Unfortunately, time and money are the two biggest obstacles for what we really like to do.

Hope you make it.
What MAKOBOB said...

Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:07 PM   #8
Mahigeer
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Thanks guys.

I used to fish the piers about three nights a week long ago. It was cheap, but not much fish.

Now I save time and money and go to destination trips.

Next is Hobie inflatable fishing in Catalina.

After that, depending on Covid, ice fishing in Colorado.

See my ice fishing reports, if not done so.

Last edited by Mahigeer; 07-31-2020 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 07-31-2020, 05:37 AM   #9
tunaseeker
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Looks like a great trip, thanks for sharing!
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Old 07-31-2020, 07:05 AM   #10
katchfish
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Great adventure! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:27 AM   #11
JohnMckroidJr
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Amazing photos and details, Thanks.
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Old 07-31-2020, 03:59 PM   #12
Mahigeer
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Glad to post it.
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Old 08-01-2020, 04:46 AM   #13
MrPukaShell
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Very nice as usual. Thanks for taking the time to
share
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